Learn How To Be a Gunsmith

Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Gunsmith Career Diploma

You can become a gunsmith in as little as three months. Penn Foster’s online gunsmithing school has been training gunsmiths for over 30 years, and we’ll help you study at a pace that’s right for you. Our accredited gunsmithing program was recently updated to include 10 streaming videos conveniently accessed right from your personal homepage, and includes information on how to apply for your Federal Firearms License and complete a comprehensive Brownell’s practical exercise.

We’ll help you succeed with expert instruction from dedicated faculty such as Steve Felgenhauer, certified gunsmith. This accredited gunsmithing program provides everything you need to prepare for your future—all for a cost significantly lower than that of other schools.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To provide students with a working knowledge of basic gun repairs and modifications and to allow students to gain an entry-level career in the gunsmithing field.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Develop a full awareness of the rules for the safe handling of firearms
  • Identify and evaluate firearms by type, manufacturer, history, and physical characteristics
  • Know how to disassemble and reassemble various firearms; correctly identify and qualify the fit and finish of each part
  • Identify the correct replacement or customization parts required for a job, and properly order them from key suppliers
  • Know how to modify, custom-fit, and install stocks, sights and optics, and accessories on various firearms
  • Be familiar with the design, assembly, and fit of the modern sporting rifle, modern revolver, and modern semi-auto sidearm
  • Know how to identify, evaluate, apply, and repair various metal finishes, including blue and Parkerizing
  • Show familiarity with basic machine tool operations required of a gunsmith
  • Show basic knowledge of cartridge loading specifications and basic ballistics

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Getting Started in the Firearms Industry


  • Identify career opportunities.
  • Outline basic firearm assembly and disassembly procedures.
  • Describe government licensing safety, personal safety, and liability insurance.

Unit 2

Identifying and Evaluating Firearms


  • Identify firearms and caliber.
  • Determine if a firearm is safe to shoot.
Gun Stocks


  • Explore gun stock function and design.
  • Make, inlet, finish, and repair gun stocks.
Customizing Gun Stocks


  • Glass bed, checker, stipple, or carve a gun stock.
  • Install recoil pads and buttplates.
Practical Exercise

This practical exercise will help you learn how to locate sources of information and perform business research that will improve your probability of becoming a successful gunsmith.

Additional Unit Materials

Learning Aids:

  • Cartridge Wall Chart
  • Using a Micrometer
  • Modern Gun Values


  • Firearms Glossary

Unit 3



  • Understand the history, design, and function of rifles.
  • Repair and modify various rifles.
  • Explore re-barrel safety, headspacing, go gauges, and no-go gauges.
The Modern Sporting Rifle


  • Explore the military and civilian roles of the modern sporting rifle.
  • Describe the care, cleaning, maintenance, troubleshooting, assembly, and disassembly of modern sporting rifles.
Gun Sights


  • Describe the design, function, and installation of various gun sights.
  • Install, mount, and alter mounting scopes.
  • Explore installing new safeties.
  • Install new safeties.
Practical Exercise

This practical exercise will guide you in familiarizing yourself with gunsmith work, gun hardware and tool stores, and your workshop layout.

Additional Unit Materials


  • Customizing Rifles
  • Firearms Record Book

Unit 4



  • Outline the history and development of shotguns.
  • Install, modify, and repair chokes and ribs.


  • Outline the history of muzzleloaders.
  • Load, fire, troubleshoot, repair, and customize muzzleloaders.
Practical Exercise

In this practical exercise you'll research and design a blueing shop, purchase an inexpensive military surplus rifle to sporterize, and familiarize yourself with Brownell's catalog.

Additional Unit Materials

Learning Aid: Customizing Shotguns

Supplement: Gun Parts Catalog

Unit 5



  • Outline the history and identification of handguns.
  • Describe revolvers and single shot/specialty pistols.
Ammunition, Reloading, and Basic Ballistics


  • Understand basic ballistics.
  • Describe reloading and bullet casting procedures.
Practical Exercise

This practical exercise will help you become familiar with gun shows, shooting ranges, as well as becoming involved with safety training.

Additional Unit Materials


  • Customizing Handguns
  • Firearms Assembly: The NRA Guide to Pistols and Revolvers
  • Firearms Assembly: The NRA Guide to Rifles and Shotguns
  • Reloading Manual
  • Smith & Wesson® Wall Chart

Unit 6

Basic Metalwork and Machine Tool Operation


  • Outline basic metallurgy and the welding process.
  • Describe soldering, brazing, and heat treatment techniques.
Metal Finishing


  • Describe metal preparation, touch-ups, and finishes.
  • Identify electric counter mounted buffers.
Starting Your Own Business


  • Outline sales and services, types of ownership, licensing requirements, and seasonal issues.
  • Navigate Internet auction sales sites.
Additional Unit Material


  • Drill and Tap Wall Chart
  • Applying for Your Federal Firearms License
Access online to instructional videos
  • AR-15
  • Checkering
  • Clearing a Firearm
  • Disassembling and Assembling a Firearm
  • Engraving
  • Glass Bedding
  • Metal Finishing
  • Reassembly of a Colt 45
  • Removing a Live Cartridge
  • Stock Finishing

Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Gunsmith sample lesson, click here.

Earn Your Accredited Career Diploma From Our Gunsmithing School

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to become a Gunsmith:

  • Basic metalwork, metal finishing, and machine tool operation
  • History of rifles and handguns, and antique firearm restoration
  • Firearm assembly and disassembly
  • Customizing gun stocks, mounting telescopic sights, and custom loading ammunition
Gunsmith Training Online

A Gunsmith designs, builds, and repairs firearms, which includes rifles, handguns, and shotguns. If you are considering becoming a Gunsmith, here are some qualities that will make you successful:

  • Patient: Repairing or building firearms is a step-by-step process that can take time.
  • Creative: Gunsmiths need to think outside of the box.
  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Problem solver: Finding the missing piece can be challenging and rewarding.
  • Cautious: Being cautious helps prevent accidents or injury.

After completing my Gunsmith Program, I opened my own gun shop. Penn Foster is a great way to get ahead in a career and the way the program was set up, even the busiest person can get through it. I'm so glad I found Penn Foster.

Guiseppe S, Gunsmith Career Diploma Graduate

I have had great feedback from my employer after my training from Penn Foster. I have also had other job offers for gunsmithing. The knowledge that you learn is priceless. Penn Foster is an excellent school.

Kenny B, Gunsmith Career Diploma Graduate

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids included
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Gunsmith academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

Where can Gunsmith students receive hands-on training?

The best ways for Gunsmith students to receive hands-on training is through work with their own firearms or by volunteering with their local gun club or shop.

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