5 Best Gunsmithing Schools [2019]

If you’re a gun person that wants to take that tinkering and turn it into a money-making venture, or you just want to be able to do all your own work on your guns… you’ve probably thought about gunsmithing schools and classes.

Custom AR-15
Custom AR-15

It turns out that there are quite a few gunsmithing classes and courses you can take online, from the comfort of your own home, and the good ones will help you take your hobby level skills to something you can be truly proud of, or even make money with.

Here are the gunsmithing schools, in no particular order, that you should be looking at to further your knowledge of gunsmithing, without having to step foot in a classroom.

Table of Contents


1. Sonoran Desert Institute

Founded in 2000, the Sonoran Desert Institute provides online learning opportunities to those interested in a wide range of gunsmithing and armorer topics.

Today, it is a nationally accredited online firearms school that offers several different courses aimed at various types of online students. They have two main programs of study, and you can also take advantage of individual classes if you’re just looking to learn certain aspects of gunsmithing such as advanced armorer topics or how to accurize a rifle.

SDI is a great for both hobby-level gunsmiths who want to be able to do more in their home workshops, and for professionals (or would-be pro’s that want to break into the industry).

Their instructors are highly recommended by many in the industry and SDI grads seem to have an easier time finding a job than graduates of most other gunsmithing programs.

Cost is again dependent on what exactly you’re looking to learn, and you can simply take the classes you want if you’re not looking for a certification or degree at the end of your enrollment.

Many of the tools you’ll need for the program are included in the cost of the program and will be shipped out to you when you start each course.  These tools are all high-quality and are a good way to start building out your own home workshop or to fill out your tool bench at work.

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2. American Gunsmithing Institute

One of the nation’s most well-regarded online gunsmithing schools, American Gunsmithing Institute offer courses geared towards both career gunsmiths who want professional training and hobbyists who just want to be able to work on their own guns safely and effectively.

American Gunsmithing Institute
American Gunsmithing Institute

They offer a professional certificate that you can earn in as little as 90 days, but no further training like others on this list. However, you still get 108 hours of course instruction that covers not only the basic tasks and techniques of gunsmithing but also extensive info on the design of firearms, allowing students to take their knowledge to manufacturer’s if they want a job in that field.

Best of all, AGI’s online coursework is broken down into individual lessons, each taught by a recognized industry-expert, and you can pick and choose areas to specialize in, making the entire course not only more fun, but also a better value for your money as you’ll be skipping the bits you don’t plan to specialize in, and focusing on what you do.

Students can choose to pursue a complete gunsmith certification program or take individual courses. The professional gunsmith certification will cost between $5,000 to $15,000 – if you’re looking for a full education, that is the way you get it!

But they also offer some specific Armorer’s level courses for $40 plus specialty courses and certified courses that range from $50 to $1,300.

3. Modern Gun School

Modern Gun School is committed to offering an extremely flexible course for those who are interested in gunsmithing, either as a hobby or full-time career. They have a perpetual open enrollment, so you can start at any time during the year and begin courses in either Basic or Advanced Gunsmithing.

Modern Gun School

They’ve been around since 1946, and they have lessons covering several different aspects of gunsmithing, buying and selling firearms, and basic firearms information.

These courses come in the form of online classes that you take on your terms, and they’re even personalized by the staff and Master Gunsmith for individual student’s needs and areas of interest.

MGS is a standout among other, similar programs in that they focus primarily on hands-on training and class projects where you will be completing a project such as refinishing a stock, or building a rifle lower, rather than simply reading up on a process or technique.

Their courses come in three different price tiers, $1,442 for full payment upfront, $1,542 with higher monthly payments or  $1,642 with lower monthly payments making tuition fairly affordable for the amount of instruction you get, making this an excellent option for hobbyists or those just getting started with gunsmithing and firearms in general.

4. Ashworth College

Ashworth College is located in my home state of Georgia, and their online program focuses on practical, real-world projects designed to emulate what an actual gunsmith will be working on during their day-to-day job.

Ashworth College
Ashworth College

They focus heavily on hands-on learning, and most of your coursework will revolve around demonstrating mastery of one skill or another through completing a finished piece. These projects focusing on techniques for troubleshooting, disassembling, repairing, and reassembling a variety of firearms.

They don’t do a lot of machining or metalworking, but they do offer a hefty value for what you get: the entire program costs between $559 and $699 depending on how you want to pay, with some payment plans costing as little as $49 a month.

At the end of the program, you should have a good grasp of basic gunsmithing techniques and should be able to sit for any state or federal firearms or armorer’s test that doesn’t have its own required coursework.

5. Penn Foster Career School

Penn Foster Career School is located in Scranton, PA, but they operate around the world through their online programs. Penn Foster offers a number of degree programs in addition to their GED/High School programs. They’ve been around for a few decades now, and in that time they’ve become one of the leading schools for online gunsmithing courses.  

Penn Foster Career School
Penn Foster Career School

The Penn Foster mobile site can allow you to study your coursework on the go.

They have a dedicated staff for all firearms-related courses, and you can get an associates degree, or simply a statistic. They also have one of the lowest educational requirements for entry with applicants only needing to pass an 8th-grade education equivalency exam at a minimum.

The gunsmithing programs at Penn Foster cover topics such as gun safety and firearm assembly/disassembly, antique firearm restoration, customizing gun stocks for specific users and for specific purposes like precision rifle competition, mounting scope, handloading ammunition, basic metalworking, metal finishing, and machine tool operation, as well as the history of rifles and handguns.

Lastly, they have numerous flexible payment options including interest-free monthly payments, in addition to being eligible for veteran education credits and benefits.

Final Thoughts

Professional gunsmith instruction doesn’t have to be something that’s out of your reach because you don’t have the time or money to commit to a traditional institution. These online colleges and courses are great for professionals and hobbyists alike.

Freedom Huddle
Higher education in firearms, I love this country.

Whether you want a job with Glock, Remington, or just your local gun store, there’s a professional program out there for you. And if you just want to up your game in your home workshop, doing repairs and upgrades to your own firearms yourself, you can acquire those skills yourself.

Interested in online gunsmithing programs? Which one of these are you most curious about? Let me hear from you in the comments!

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24 Leave a Reply

  • BCurtis

    Lance Cordill. Stuck cylinder. Took mine to a gun store in San Antonio to have them send it to Taurus to fix it. Instead they store just fixed it right there in 5 minutes. 3 years ago, no problem since then.

    1 second ago

    I have several of the videos from AGI and would love to take their advanced course work but can not afford it. The jail does not pay enough to cover that cost. For being online or home course work their videos are very detailed and have helped me with work on several of my own guns to the point I am ready to apply for my ffl and start to work on other peoples weapons.

    1 month ago
  • A. Gunsmith

    SDI sucks. If you’re serious about becoming a gunsmith either find an apprenticeship or go to a brick and mortar school that will give you a hands on experience. The 2 best schools at the moment are Colorado school of trades and Piedmont Technical College. There is no replacement for hands on learning with multiple instructors being able to guide you and help you. A lot of the time you will find that they are cheaper. Always keep in mind that a lot of these listicles are paid advertising.

    4 months ago
    • Jack Doyle

      Founded in 1947 Colorado School of Trades is the best. My brother is a graduate from close on 40 years ago. If you are interested in learning all aspects of the trade you need look no further.

      2 weeks ago
    • A. Soon-To-Be-Gunsmith

      Thank you for this. A friend of mine at my LGS recommended Colorado School of Trades when he found out I was looking into gunsmithing.

      3 months ago
  • Brett

    I want to start AGI courses by ordering the Master class as it comes with tools needed. I'm on disability but not a veteran. Will Vocational Rehabilitation Services pay for me to do this? I was an electronic field service engineer for a long time. I have had 4 back surgeries & receive disability benefits but nowhere near enough to pay myself or it would've been done already. I see vets get assistance as they should but can non-veterans get assistance too?

    5 months ago
  • Ernest Watts

    Not a gunsmith nor been to school for it. Seems AGI gives you the tools you need to learn. Sort of interested in them. Going to contact for info. Most what I know came from taking stuff apart to see how it worked. I'm wondering though, even with tools, how can someone help you run a lathe properly? Some people need hands on guidance. A dvd or recording isn't going to give you that. I'd hate to be on the phone everyday with questions they didn't consider answering. Thanks for the info

    6 months ago
  • Ernest Watts

    Ashworth doesn't have Gunsmith at their website.

    6 months ago
  • Lance Cordill

    Thanks for article. Chanced upon THIS because I have a stuck cylinder on a S&W .32 CTG revolver with live rounds in it. as far as I can tell, there is NO info on the web how to get the cylinder out with the live rounds in cylinder. I figure if I had some gunsmithing knowledge under my belt, I would know how to solve this problem. Thumb release doesn't work. The cylinder MUST be removed in order to remove the bullets. FYI, I won't use a hammer to bash to cylinder...duh!

    7 months ago
    • Ernest Watts

      There are also forums where you can get better info

      6 months ago
    • Ernest Watts

      Of take togunsmith

      6 months ago
    • Ernest Watts

      Try wd-40 on catch. Also most revolvers have a removable plate to access workings. Open this carefully, paying attention to direction of firearm, Also you should block hammer so it can't fire, and spray wd-40 on workings. This may help. I'm not a gunsmith. Just a tinkerer. Don't force or strike catch unless you want a broken catch.

      6 months ago
    • Ernest Watts

      One final thing some old revolvers like colt peacemakers have a part that folds open so you can remove one round at a time. Revolver cylinders are made to be opened wether live or spent doesn't matter.

      6 months ago
    • Ernest Watts

      The cylinder should be removed as normal. Most have a rod under the barrel. You push it toward rear of gun. Then cylinder should rotate out. Others have a catch that let the barrel and cylinder fold down like dbl and sgl barrel shotguns. The only thing that may prevent it from opening is the hammer. Some can be half cocked. Others you would have to hold hammer open. For safety place something between hammer and gun to keep hammer from firing round. Some revolvers have a catch to release cylinder. Loaded or unloaded shouldn't matter. After firing rounds, you open cylinder and remove spent rounds to put in new. If you look in youtube there should be videos to load/unload revolvers. If you can't figure it out take to police department and tell them you don't want it before you shoot yourself.

      6 months ago
  • David C

    I tried Ashworth's online course. It was dry as dirt, I received literally no interaction with any sort of "teacher", and the entirety of the content I made it to was just reading long, bland walls of text. The author of whatever material they have you read often talks about concepts or parts without explaining them to people who might not be familiar with them. Absolute waste of $700 CAD and my time. I'm disgusted and disappointed.

    8 months ago
  • Philip Crabtree

    Ashworth College is a conduit for Penn Foster meaning they are one and the same. It looks like you only have four gunsmithing schools on your list of five. You have also left out the NRA gunsmithing programs at four different colleges across the country (one in each time zone) in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado, and California.

    9 months ago
  • rob b

    i have abut 10 years in a cnc shop running a cnc mill and other various machines would it be good to take one of these courses to learn about gunsmithing itself since i already have a leg up in the machining world

    9 months ago
  • Joe

    Unfortunately for some of us, brick and mortar locations for gunsmithing are few and far between. Since I have not been able to locate one within driving courses seem to be the best option to start a foundation

    10 months ago
  • Rob

    Pennsylvania gunsmith school in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is a 16 month course where you earn a certification is a master gunsmith. There is no online comparison. You didn't even delve into the school it's better than any school you listed, hands down! Before you put up the five best you should probably research your subject!

    10 months ago
    • Philip Cavalcante

      Isvthis one brick school or on line because they are talking about ONLINE SCHOOLS not one you go to in person

      10 months ago
  • Howard

    I am sure you can do distance learning for gunsmithing, just not quite enough to do the job. I just think there are more effective ways, and hands on is the best IMHO. Highly recommend you go to a brick and mortar school. You will learn more of what you need and not learn bad habits. You need to know how each type of firearm works in order to fix what doesn't. You also need to learn heat treating metals, welding, machining techniques and how to do all these in an efficient manner. This is because time is money in any business. And you need to have 6 billable hours a day. You will waste some time trying to find replacement parts because you can't have everything. And you will have to learn there are some jobs you will be better at than others, and I don't recommend specializing in rural areas. I went to Lassen Community College in California. I would rank it as tied for #1 with Trinidad in Colorado. Yavapi is #2 to my knowledge. Lassen used to teach Design, Function and Repair courses by Robert Dunlap. Those are the same lessons taught on the American Gunsmithing Institute videos. 5 years bench experience as a gunsmith. Worked on all sorts of guns, many that I didn't want to work on. My weakest point was customer relations.

    1 year ago
  • Extra Hard Taco

    Recently Graduated Modern Gun School, I believe it gave me a good base to build on but a distance learning course can only teach so much. I recommend anyone serious about becoming a gunsmith to attend one of the brick and mortar schools where you can get hands on training.

    1 year ago
  • Sua Sponte

    I graduated from SDI in March, can't say enough good things about the staff and instructors. Really gave me a good structured baseline.

    1 year ago
    • Barnett Frankel

      Did you go for hobby or to get a job? If for a job, did you find one?

      1 year ago
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