Your Own Business - Part I

A realistic guide to starting your own gun repair business.

Skip Walters

One of our Grads!
MGS Graduate, Timothy Davenport (left) pictured at his shop, Labascus Armory.
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If you want to start your own gunsmithing business, there are a few things that must be considered. There are important factors that many overlook when undertaking such a venture. Gunsmithing has additional liabilities over and above those of a store or service. Not only will you need business insurance, you will need extra liability insurance to guard against lawsuits resulting from negligent use or misuse of any firearm that has passed through your shop. Political winds blow in many different directions when guns are addressed. You must be protected if your business is to survive these winds.


The location of your business is very important. Many states and localities are extremely inhospitable to gun shops. For example, anti-gun states like New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Washington and California make it very difficult for anyone to open an average business because of all the state and local permits required. It becomes more difficult if that business has anything to do with guns. Unfortunately, the politicians in these states seem to think gun control will lower violent crime. Look at the area where you propose to open your shop and try to discern which way the political winds will blow in the near future. It would be terrible to establish a business and after 10 years of successful operation, be shut down because of a baseless state or local regulation. This is a difficult prediction to make, but it should not be ignored. You are betting on your future.


A gun shop, regardless of where it is located, will also require a first rate security system in a sturdy building. The type of structure and security system will help lower insurance costs. The insurance rates will also be determined by the type of gunsmithing services you will provide. If you only mount sights, engrave, checker wood, glas-bed and make stocks, your insurance rate will be lower than if you were building, barreling, chambering, repairing guns or providing trigger jobs. Your rates will also increase if chemical metal finishing is undertaken. This is because the chemicals used for bluing, blacking, browning and plating create an additional hazard to the environment. In many cases, an environmental impact study must be done by a government employed environmental engineer before a permit is granted for the use of any metal finishing chemicals.


Your abilities as a gunsmith will improve with experience, so you will most likely expand the services you offer in the future. There will be many clients that want you to do more than your liability insurance will cover. Think about each job you take in and use common sense when you accept the work. Don’t get in “over your head” on a job. People will respect you a lot more if you decline work rather than take in work that you are unable to complete. Refer those people to a colleague that has experience in that type of work or sub contract it out to the colleague. Get to know your gunsmithing colleagues. They may be sending work to you in the future.


This article is not meant to discourage anyone, but to advise you of the realities that must be considered if one is opening a gun shop. It is a big, life altering step that requires an unwavering commitment of time and capital to ensure future success. This series will help you evaluate your commitment so you are not surprised by any hurdles you may encounter as you pursue your goal. Don’t let it scare you.