Armorer and Gunsmith: What is the Difference?

Armorer and Gunsmith: What is the Difference?

When it comes to repairing your gun, many have the skills to complete minor repairs at home, especially if Gunsmithing is your main hobby. But for people who do not like to repair their guns themselves or if their firearm has a more complicated issue, Armorers and Gunsmiths are available to help. Many people think the terms “Armorer” and “Gunsmith” are synonymous, but each profession has a distinct place in the firearms industry.

The Armorer

An armorer is a factory-trained skilled person who is an expert at firearm diagnostics and replacing defective parts. With the utmost respect, they primarily replace parts on firearms to the manufacturer’s specifications. Where an Armorer skill truly lies is when older guns need parts replaced, for example, replacing a thumb safety. This gives an Armorer a more comprehensive range of skills and knowledge.

The training of an Armorer mainly consists of learning in detail the workings of a pistol and how to disassemble and reassemble it. Armorer learns why every piece is needed within a gun and how that piece is utilized. A good Armorer should be able to put a pistol together from scratch easily. During this training period, they learn which parts would likely malfunction and how to repair them. Some firearm parts need to be replaced as units, others as pair, and some can be replaced singularly.

Armorers can determine what part is malfunctioning within a firearm, what components need to be repaired or replaced, and has the skill to replace the broken part.  While many confuse Armorers and Gunsmiths, the U.S. military defines Armorer in this way.

Interesting story, most collectors of World War Two military memorabilia like the M1 rifle made in 1942 by Winchester are very particular about what parts are on their guns. A lot of the time, they will want these guns restored with pieces from this exact period. But during World War Two, Armorers that would have worked on the front-line repairing guns for soldiers were not picky about what parts they were repairing guns with. They needed to get working rifles and firearms to the soldiers as quickly as possible. Most Armorers were known to have boxes and boxes of random parts from random periods to change parts when needed efficiently.

The Gunsmith

On the other hand, a Gunsmith is an armorer but is much more knowledgeable. Anyone who is a true gunsmith should be able to complete any task an Armorer can do and much more. Gunsmiths should be able to replace any part of a firearm. But a true Gunsmith should also be able to make that part work more efficiently, or if they cannot source a part, they should be able to make it from scratch.

Many Gunsmiths work with rifles and other firearms that are hundreds of years old and are from historical periods. Armorers would not be able to work with guns like these as it can be tough to source the required parts for a piece of machinery so old. This is where Gunsmiths come in because if they cannot source a part, they will give manufacturer a custom one. Most parts needed for these types of guns will not take a reconditioned part from a more modern rifle that has been modified; they would need parts specifically designed and constructed for this specific gun.

Gunsmiths are excellent at solving mechanical problems and adding non-standard modifications. As with anything non-standard or custom, Gunsmith’s skills come at a price, and depending on your wants or needs, they could be considerably more expensive than an Armorer.

If you are looking for someone to do more than change out a part on your rifle, you need a Gunsmith. A real gunsmithing school should train them or comes with an excellent reputation from word of mouth. Be careful when choosing a Gunsmith as many claim to be incredibly skilled, but you could even end up with a “Shade Tree Gunsmith,” that will either repair your gun on a surface level but not the internal mechanics or actually damage your rifle to wear it is not working or is a danger to people around them.

To be a true Gunsmith, you must have the knowledge and skill that an Armorer has but also design techniques, an eye for mechanisms, and a thirst for problem-solving.

Both Armorers and Gunsmiths have a place in the firearms world. Armorers do a great job at repairing and replacing parts on a factory-standard gun to a high-quality standard for an affordable price. But if you are looking for someone to do repair work on a modified or historical firearm, a reputable Gunsmith is what you are looking for. They will know to repair your gun and modify it to your exact specifications.

If you want to start on the road to becoming a gunsmith or wish to learn more about Gunsmithing as a profession or hobby, visit MGS Trade School to avail of their comprehensive knowledge base and course available.


Written by: Ryan Clancy, Engineering HQ

Armorer and Gunsmith: What is the Difference?