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Firearm Design Schools and Colleges: How to Choose

Firearm designers, often called gunsmiths, are required to have knowledge in gun assembly, loading mechanisms, optical sights and safety options. A firearm designer may work to supply firearms for retail or the military. A number of schools in the U.S. offer certificates and degrees in firearm design.

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How to Choose a Firearm Design School

Firearm designers should have skills in wood and metalwork and must be detail-oriented and able to perform precision work. The work can be dangerous so designers must be cautious when lifting heavy machinery and test-firing guns. These designers commonly work in sporting good stores, custom gun shops or military bases. Schools in the U.S. offer certificates and associate's degrees in gunsmithing as well as mechanical engineering degrees with specific design coursework.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Hands-on experience
  • Program curriculum

Hands-on Experience

Individuals may want to seek out schools with programs that offer internship programs or hands-on workshops in order to gain work experience while receiving additional education.

Program Curriculum

Some schools offer generalized design programs while others offer specific design models such as handguns, shotguns or rifles, and students can choose which program aligns with their career goals. Programs that cover regulations and legal issues with firearm ownership and transport may provide students with a more comprehensive education in the field.

Overview of Programs

Gunsmith Certificate Program

Certificate programs are suitable for novices wanting the basic knowledge and skills to enter the firearm design industry. Certificate programs may cover:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Machine tool operations
  • Hand tools
  • Welding
  • Precision measurements

Associate of Applied Science Degree in Gunsmithing Technology

Associate degree programs may be of interest to individuals with some basic knowledge of firearms or for those wanting to acquire the skills in order to become professional firearm designers. These programs include coursework in:

  • Machine metal work
  • Metal finishing
  • Functional design
  • Ballistics

Mechanical Engineering Degree with 3-D CAD Coursework

A mechanical engineering degree program that includes coursework in 3-D CAD (computer-aided drafting) may be appropriate for those who want to gain an advanced education and in-depth understanding of design work. These programs cover advanced coursework in thermodynamics, vibrations, manufacturing and assembly. Additional subjects may cover:

  • Conceptual design
  • Computer-aided sketching
  • Heat transfer
  • Stress dynamics
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