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  #16  
Old 02-17-2021, 12:04 PM
webfoot56

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LDBennett View Post
Here is a true story about the state of the gun industry employees today:

A friend of my son's (a trained auto mechanic, tool truck owner, and hazardous waste route driver), moved to a small town in the south where he got work at the only large company in the area. It was one of the famous custom gun manufacturers. He has zero interest in guns but this company was the only game in town for employment. They trained him to be an assembler and he was good enough that they used him in an instructional gun maintenance video. So they hired him off the street with no gunsmithing experience to build custom pistols. Is there something wrong with this? I like the guy but......???? He left after a few years and went back to hazardous waste pickup route driving in a much bigger southern city.

I assume S&W does the same...hire and train people off the street to save a buck rather than hire real gunsmiths with real in depth training (think college level two year programs). This kind of leaves me with the thought that real gunsmiths may eventually go away unless they open their own shop or work for a another gunsmith. Can those people make a living at gunsmithing?

There were a lot of "horse industry workers" who lost their jobs when autos replaced horses some 100 years ago. Is this what CAD/CAM has done to the manufacturing industries? Can gun repair alone support gunsmithing? I don't know.

I will add that in over 30 years of an active interest in guns, I have had more negative experiences with gunsmiths than positive. They seem to be parts changers and some don't really understand exactly how guns work. So I have done my own work by training myself with a library of books (before the internet) and some videos still offered today. But that is not necessarily an option for everyone.

LDBennett
I agree with this LD on this one. Small gun shops are going to be a thing of the past. I doubt in another ten years there will be very few around as the ones still in it are quite old. Only way you would be able to make it if your are a bona fide gunsmith with skills and sell guns and ammo too.Of course if you are a custom maker like Clark or Wilson or any of the other custom pistol smiths you have probably more than you can do. In my area there are no gunsmiths that I know of just shade tree types. I have a Cz 82 that is in the shop now I called CZ in kansas city they would not work on it because they have no parts took it to local gun shop and asked them if they could fix it. I told the guy who checked it in the problem with it and he assured me between him and guy who works on guns there they could fix it. That was in August, I have checked twice on it say they were looking for parts still for it.They asked me if I wanted it back. I knew they were a PIA to disassemble when I took it in there to this day it is still there.
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  #17  
Old 02-17-2021, 02:09 PM
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wproct

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Just offering a different view on manufacturing of quality guns. It all starts with a vision and determination at the top to build a well designed and finished product. In this case we are talking guns, but the same principal applies to most any commodity. Most successful companies are built from the top down, and likewise most failing companies become that way because of poor decisions and execution once again from the top down.

You don't have to be a qualified gunsmith or even have an active interest in guns to become a good employee, assembler, finisher, quality control person, and on and on. You have to have good management committed in hiring good people who can be trained and properly paid and promoted accordingly. Probably the best example as far as American gun manufacturers in my opinion was Bill Ruger Sr, but he couldn't live forever and the Ruger company struggles to maintain their premier reputation. Smith & Wesson has been a roller coaster over the last half century and is in desperate need of that good vision and leadership from the top down again. I'm sorry, I'm done rambling.
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  #18  
Old 02-17-2021, 02:40 PM
Rick H.
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As long as this conversation came up on gunsmith's I will add a bit to it. When I was a kid my Dad was a tool and die maker, but started out as a machinist. We are talking old school stuff here that he learned mainly from German people that worked in shops and plants around Chicago and Milwaukee. Most all his friends were of the same background. These guys didn't live in a world of 1,000th of an inch, they lived in 10,000th of an inch world and were incredible mechanical geniuses. There was simply nothing they couldn't make or repair from a mechanical standpoint. Most of them had their own milling machines and lathes at home and worked on side jobs to make extra income. Only a few had college degrees and many never needed one as they learned their trade on the job. My Dad had a large Clausing lathe that he would do things on and he tried to show me how it worked, but I had more important things to do, like cars and girls!!

I think my Dad was disappointed I didn't follow in his footsteps and instead went into law enforcement, but I was always attracted to firearms and how they worked. I became an armorer for my department and learned all I could from the various schools I was sent to, but I never claimed to be a gunsmith. A "real" gunsmith is as much a genius as a good machinist or tool and die maker. I am sorry to say I don't have many good experiences with some of the people coming out of gunsmithing schools today, as some leave a lot to be desired. My first hard lesson came at the expense of a Uberti 1873 Winchester clone rifle I bought new. It had a tendency to rupture cases every time I shot it and I couldn't figure out why. I should have sent it to Uberti, but I choose to take it to a "highly trained" gunsmith at one of the big chain stores close to me.

I showed this gunsmith what was happening, in essence, cases were cracking near the case head leaving the majority of the case in the chamber upon ejection. I left the rifle with him and after 2 months of not hearing a word I called him. I was told they were working on it and it would be done soon. Another month passed and I got a telephone call telling me to come and pickup the rifle and bring $225.00. This was in about 1990ish or so and $225.00 was a lot of money! So I picked up the rifle and went straight to the range to test fire it and I'll be darned if the same thing didn't happen with the very first shot. I took it home to ponder the situation and look at the rifle and I then noticed what could be called a large dent on the very end of the muzzle which went into the rifling. I was hot! I took the rifle back to this "gunsmith" with the stuck case body in the chamber and I pointed out the dent in the barrel crown. Big surprise, they said I had to have pointed out the damage to the crown before I left with the rifle. Shame on me for not looking I guess. They took the rifle back for examination and after about 20 mins came back and told me the bolt was not the correct one for a .38/.357 and that it must be for a .45 LC. I was quite surprised by this and just took my rifle and left.

A few days later I did the right thing and called Uberti and explained my situation. They were quite nice but told me my warranty was void on the rifle after the other guy worked on it. With nothing else to do, I sent the rifle to a Uberti repair facility in Texas. In about 3 days I received a telephone call from the person working on my rifle and his first question was who worked on this rifle. I told him what he wanted to know and he asked if the guy was a real gunsmith and I said yes he even has his sheepskin from his school hanging above the counter. The Uberti gunsmith told me the guy that worked on my rifle was nothing more than a "hack" that didn't know anything about old style lever guns. The problem with mine was a small tab on the bottom of the bolt face had broken off and the case head was not being completely supported when in battery with the lever closed/locked. I needed a new bolt and the crown needed to be re-done none of which was covered by warranty. So another sum of money went out the window. In all honesty the gentleman in Texas was very nice and he said in all probability the tab was missing/broken right from the factory, but there was nothing he could do on warranty and that the rifle would never have any warranty coverage after the chain store gunsmith worked on it.

After receiving the rifle back from Uberti I took it to the range and tried it out and it worked just great. Unfortunately, I lost any desire to keep the darn thing and I traded it on something else I wanted. I learned a couple of things with that rifle though. If you have warranty use it. If you take a firearm in for work make sure you look it over completely before taking it from the shop. Lastly just because someone has a piece of paper that says they completed a gunsmithing school doesn't necessarily mean they know what they are doing. You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and a hack by any other name is still a hack.

Rick H.
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  #19  
Old 02-17-2021, 11:18 PM
lil_Glock

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick H. View Post
As long as this conversation came up on gunsmith's I will add a bit to it. When I was a kid my Dad was a tool and die maker, but started out as a machinist. We are talking old school stuff here that he learned mainly from German people that worked in shops and plants around Chicago and Milwaukee. Most all his friends were of the same background. These guys didn't live in a world of 1,000th of an inch, they lived in 10,000th of an inch world and were incredible mechanical geniuses. There was simply nothing they couldn't make or repair from a mechanical standpoint. Most of them had their own milling machines and lathes at home and worked on side jobs to make extra income. Only a few had college degrees and many never needed one as they learned their trade on the job. My Dad had a large Clausing lathe that he would do things on and he tried to show me how it worked, but I had more important things to do, like cars and girls!!

I think my Dad was disappointed I didn't follow in his footsteps and instead went into law enforcement, but I was always attracted to firearms and how they worked. I became an armorer for my department and learned all I could from the various schools I was sent to, but I never claimed to be a gunsmith. A "real" gunsmith is as much a genius as a good machinist or tool and die maker. I am sorry to say I don't have many good experiences with some of the people coming out of gunsmithing schools today, as some leave a lot to be desired. My first hard lesson came at the expense of a Uberti 1873 Winchester clone rifle I bought new. It had a tendency to rupture cases every time I shot it and I couldn't figure out why. I should have sent it to Uberti, but I choose to take it to a "highly trained" gunsmith at one of the big chain stores close to me.

I showed this gunsmith what was happening, in essence, cases were cracking near the case head leaving the majority of the case in the chamber upon ejection. I left the rifle with him and after 2 months of not hearing a word I called him. I was told they were working on it and it would be done soon. Another month passed and I got a telephone call telling me to come and pickup the rifle and bring $225.00. This was in about 1990ish or so and $225.00 was a lot of money! So I picked up the rifle and went straight to the range to test fire it and I'll be darned if the same thing didn't happen with the very first shot. I took it home to ponder the situation and look at the rifle and I then noticed what could be called a large dent on the very end of the muzzle which went into the rifling. I was hot! I took the rifle back to this "gunsmith" with the stuck case body in the chamber and I pointed out the dent in the barrel crown. Big surprise, they said I had to have pointed out the damage to the crown before I left with the rifle. Shame on me for not looking I guess. They took the rifle back for examination and after about 20 mins came back and told me the bolt was not the correct one for a .38/.357 and that it must be for a .45 LC. I was quite surprised by this and just took my rifle and left.

A few days later I did the right thing and called Uberti and explained my situation. They were quite nice but told me my warranty was void on the rifle after the other guy worked on it. With nothing else to do, I sent the rifle to a Uberti repair facility in Texas. In about 3 days I received a telephone call from the person working on my rifle and his first question was who worked on this rifle. I told him what he wanted to know and he asked if the guy was a real gunsmith and I said yes he even has his sheepskin from his school hanging above the counter. The Uberti gunsmith told me the guy that worked on my rifle was nothing more than a "hack" that didn't know anything about old style lever guns. The problem with mine was a small tab on the bottom of the bolt face had broken off and the case head was not being completely supported when in battery with the lever closed/locked. I needed a new bolt and the crown needed to be re-done none of which was covered by warranty. So another sum of money went out the window. In all honesty the gentleman in Texas was very nice and he said in all probability the tab was missing/broken right from the factory, but there was nothing he could do on warranty and that the rifle would never have any warranty coverage after the chain store gunsmith worked on it.

After receiving the rifle back from Uberti I took it to the range and tried it out and it worked just great. Unfortunately, I lost any desire to keep the darn thing and I traded it on something else I wanted. I learned a couple of things with that rifle though. If you have warranty use it. If you take a firearm in for work make sure you look it over completely before taking it from the shop. Lastly just because someone has a piece of paper that says they completed a gunsmithing school doesn't necessarily mean they know what they are doing. You just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and a hack by any other name is still a hack.

Rick H.
Just what did the "Gunsmith" that charged you $225 do to it?

Last edited by lil_Glock; 03-04-2021 at 08:51 PM. Reason: To add sarcastic quotations ;)
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  #20  
Old 02-18-2021, 08:03 AM
LDBennett
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RickH:

There are gunsmithing schools and GUNSMITHING SCHOOLS. There use to be (and maybe still are) resident schools with two year programs usually at local junior colleges. Those schools are vastly superior to most of the "home correspondence" schools that teach nothing about how guns work but how to mount scopes, refinish stocks and clean guns. A true gunsmith must know how guns work in detail to be able to determine how to fix them in a correct manner. The one home correspondence school that I am aware of is headed by a 50+ year gunsmith who ran the college level gunsmithing school in northern California. I have many of his videos and he stresses knowing how it works before starting any gun work....he teaches theory mainly along with how-to. That being said a good resident college program is still better because of the projects you have to do. Experience trumps reading about it.

I had a new Browning BAR in 7mm Mag that would on occasion fail to fire and then take nucleon efforts to open the bolt to get the unfired case out of the chamber. I took the gun to the local gunsmith that was a Browning Warranty Repair Station. They returned it with no problem found. I throughly inspected it found that Browning had missed a chamber remaining process and the bullet was jamming into a vertical edge in the chamber. I took it back to the Repair station with diagrams of the problem and the stupid gunsmith had no idea what I had found. He sent it to Browning. They did the reaming and returned the gun which now was perfect. Turns out anyone can hang out a shingle and claim to be a real gunsmith when their expertise is gun cleaning before and after the hunting season or maybe mounting a scope.


All hands-on blue collar skilled labor jobs in America have gone to China. We have plenty of high school graduates that know how to play computer games perfectly but have a hard time doing anything with their hands beside click buttons. We are destined to be a nation of programmers and game players. No one wants to be a carpenter or plumber or electrician or gunsmith, it seems. The loss of skilled labor jobs will eventually make us a dependent nation and no longer a leader in the world. But the corporations will profit and the stock market will surge ahead while the faucets leak, and lights don't work, and guns fail to be properly repaired.

I too have watched, over the last 35 years, S&W quality roller coaster up and down with multiple new owners, each sucking more out of this fine old gun manufacturer. Greed ruins everything.

LDBennett
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  #21  
Old 02-18-2021, 08:57 AM
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When I lived in NH I ran a rather unsuccessful gunsmithing business and was a serious comp shooter in three different disciplines. I got to know quite a few people in the business that were local to me. From S&W, Ruger to Thompson Contender and SigArms there were a few constants. (1) they don’t really want gunsmiths in production. They want to train the assembly and machine operator so everybody understands the company way. Gunsmiths are fine in full on custom shops where repeatability is less common but can be a headache in assembly line production. They tend to want to improve or rethink things.

(2) Almost all of the manufacturers I was familiar with preferred ‘non-shooters’ as shooters often have sticky fingers and shoot with other shooters who always want something. In house shooters like to talk with other shooters about how their company does or does not do things which can be problematic. And like gunsmiths almost every comp shooter has an idea for an improvement that may or may not get the blessing of the company’s engineering staff. Anyway gun manufacturing plants are full of hands with no idea of what the part is or how a gun works or shoots. They come to work and run a machine or inspect and finish a part day in and day out. It’s really not much different than most large manufacturing operations. There is little room or tolerance for deviation in assembly line production work.
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  #22  
Old 02-18-2021, 10:12 AM
Rick H.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lil_Glock View Post
Just what did the Gunsmith that charged you $225 do to it?
I don't have the receipt anymore, but I did keep it above my workbench for a long time just as a keepsake to remember this ugly situation. As I recall he/they poured a substance into the barrel, but the name of it escapes me right now, that hardened up and then the drove it out with a hammer and rod to remove the broken case in the chamber. Cerrosafe comes to mind, but not sure if that was it. I think this was the point where the muzzle crown was likely damaged as the gouge in it was circular in nature as if from a steel rod of some sort. Then there was a complete (?) tear down of the rifle to examine it and the extractor was replaced and headspace checked. Allegedly it was test fired, cleaned and given a clean bill of health. They never really cleaned the rifle as it was loaded with remnants of whatever they used to remove the stuck case. Unfortunately, he missed the small tab on the bolt face that was MIA.

Rick H.

Last edited by Rick H.; 02-18-2021 at 10:14 AM.
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  #23  
Old 03-04-2021, 07:15 PM
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Smith and Wesson has had a checkered past. In the 70s they were bought by a displaced by Castro Cuban railroad company called Bangor Punta. At the time they were selling lots of model 19s to police departments, dozens of pistols. I was pals with some LE guys who were armorers in various departments. There would be completely stupid numbers of brand new pistols that wouldn't even fire. Talk about quality control.
CNC machines can put out a better product if programmed correctly but their major benefit is a reduction in scrap rate. Parts that are poorly MIM cast are just that, poorly made parts. I think that the major problems of these gun companies are piss poor MIM castings that are not properly gauged and inspected. 9 companies made 6.5M 30 carbines in three years during WW2, all worked great and all parts interchanged. I suspect that a lot of time and effort was spent on inspection and deburring. Some companies were making close to 1000 guns a day with housewives doing half of the work. My point is that they could do a much better job if they knew how, but most workers today are challenged just to show up and their bosses aren't much better. We live in a "Everyone gets a trophy" times and a good try passes for sucess to these bozos.
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  #24  
Old 07-08-2021, 10:55 AM
colt45sa
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A new universal corporate attitude exists today. A fortune can be saved by side-stepping the QC steps in manufacturing. The attitude is "Let the buyer find out if there is a problem. If there is a problem, many won't go thru the hassle of returning it for repair even under warranty. Others will just sell their problem off to the next buyer. There are others who won't even discover a problem as they just put the new acquisition in the safe, or discover a problem, think they'll deal with it later and put it in the safe." Even at the increased cost of improving QC, how much could it cost per item shipped to do so~??
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  #25  
Old 07-08-2021, 11:08 AM
colt45sa
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My very best success with repairing firearms was with an older gentleman who was a retired "tool and die maker". His work and ability to diagnose were absolutely the best of the best~!
Recently I had to take a rifle to a gunsmith. His workbench had a number of plastic semi-auto pistols on it. He took my pristine 1957 built Marlin 39-A and proceeded to remove screws with his Craftsman screw drivers. My heart sunk as the blade slipped out of a slotted screw. He wasn't able to fix my problem anyway. I now have a buggered up screw in the receiver.
After posting a question on this web site, I shipped the rifle off to a recommended smith. The rifle is now working proprly and is smoother than ever~!!
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  #26  
Old 07-08-2021, 12:37 PM
Lloyd S.
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I wonder why it took so long? I bought a new m41 some weeks back and it was suffering from stovepipe jams. I put a Volquartsen extractor in it, hoping it'd solve the problem. It didn't. While I was doing some test firing to see which ammo, if any, was best (it was CCI) the magazine catch failed and magazines wouldn't lock in place. So I returned the gun to S&W for repairs, with a note describing the problems. Not counting the time in Transit, Fedex both ways on S&W's dime, they had the gun for maybe 10-12 days. Total time, including shipping both ways, was about 3 weeks. For some reason, it took a full week for Fedex to deliver it to S&W but only a couple of days to get back to me.

The paperwork I got back said they'd replaced the magazine catch and function test fired it, which it passed. They'd also replaced my Volquartsen extractor, which they returned to me in a cute little polyethylene bag.

I found in test firng later, that the worst problem child in stove piping, some old Aguila sv I had available, still wouldn't run straight out of the box. The CCI, both sv and minimags, ran fine except that about every 10th round or so failed to fire. This also happened with other brands, and the cause wasn't light strikes it was no strikes at all. The cartridge rim was barely even marked. After 50-60 rounds or so, though, everything settled down and the CCI ammo all performed flawlessly. Even the troublesome Aguila ran fine when I put a drop of oil on the 5th and 10th rounds loaded. The Aguila was, I guess, just too darn dry (It felt dry to the touch, too). So I'm happy with the gun now. In the future I'll stick with CCI ammo for this gun and use up everything else with a couple drops of oil for each charge.

Anybody want to buy a VQ extractor for an S&W 41 cheap?

Last edited by Lloyd S.; 07-08-2021 at 12:40 PM.
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