Tag Archives: School

Gunsmithing Student Handbook Series; Comes to the Market in Time for SHOT Show 2018


The first book in the new series of Gunsmithing Student manuals is Chambering for Ackley Cartridges.  Fred Zeglin the author says, “I have been teaching gunsmithing for some time and with my experience in wildcat cartridges and dealing with clients it became painfully obvious to me that that material available to reloader, gunsmiths and the like are spread far and wide and do not tell the complete story of the mechanics of headspace in firearms.”

Zeglin went on the talk about the fact that Ackley Improved cartidges seem to receive the most mishandling both in the gunsmith trade and by reloaders who do not understand the simple headpsace method that P.O. Ackley set up very early in his career.

Ackley was no fool, he set up a method that is easy to use and will produce both safe and accurate fire-forming of ammunition.  There have probably been hundreds of articles written that tout the value of the Ackley Improved principle that allows the firing of factory ammunition for the parent case in the chamber of an Ackley Improved rifle.  Unfortunately, many folks refuse to read Ackley’s simple instructions so they end up trying to set headspace without proper understanding of the process.  Both professional and hobby gunsmiths are guilty of this.

Prove it you say…  OK, call any die maker and ask them for dies for an Ackley Improved cartridge.  They will ask you for a chamber or reamer print before they ship the dies.  Quality Cartridge is a maker of custom head stamped brass.  The owner Pete tells me he will not ship brass for Ackley designs unless he has fired cases from the clients gun, this is simply because of poor headspacing by gunsmiths, or the reloader who does not understand how his dies are adjustable.

In this booklet that kicks off the new series of gunsmithing instruction books, Zeglin clearly and without mincing words tells the reader how to correctly headspace any Ackley Cartridge.  It’s not a book about how to ream a chamber but rather about the finesse that should be applied during the process to insure accuracy and longevity of the firearm.

There is a book on how to ream a chamber that will be out in 2018.  That title is the third book in this series and Zeglin invited well known Bench Rest Gunsmith Gordy Gritters to co-author that book with him.    That will be the book you need you want to understand what it takes to make a rifle shoot, you know we all want those tiny little groups!  Watch for a follow up about that book here in the future.

coverThe second title in the series is coming out now as well, it is called, “Understanding Headspace for Firearms”  Where the first title is narrowly focused on Ackley designs this title will help the reloader and/or gunsmithing student to understand headspace no matter what firearm you are looking at.

Zeglin is pretty easy going about his work and tells us he fully expects to hear criticism over anything that was not covered thoroughly enough or heaven forbid, missed all together.  He says he expects to start the second edition for these manuals as questions start to roll in.

These titles are available from www.4drentals.com

There is a review of the first two books on GunsAndGunsmiths.com

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Filed under accuracy, Books, Gunsmithing, How To, reloading, tools, wildcat

NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program, Kalispell, MT

FVCC LogoFlathead Valley Community College is hosting the NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program again this summer.  2014 will be the third year for this program at FVCC, the program has grown in attendance each year and this year should be no different.  New classes are being offered so if you attended or looked at the offerings in the past there is probably something new for you this year.

Quality instruction is the name of the game at FVCC.  The instructors for the Short Term Program are all top notch professionals who are well respected in the gunsmithing community.  For instance, Lee Helgeland is one of the premier stockmakers in the nation.   He has spent 30 years perfecting his craft and is a member of the American Custom Gunmakers Guild.  Another instructor new to the Kalispell program this year, Sam Hatfield, certified NRA and Sig Academy Master Instructor.  Sam was head gunsmith at Green Mountain Guns in Lakewood, Colorado and served as a member of the United States Army Marksmanship Unit as a gunsmith. Sam now owns Hatfields Gunsmithing Inc. in Manassas, VA.

To learn more about the instructors for this summers program check out this link:


New classes this year include “S&W Revolver Action Work”, “1911 Handgun AMU Accuracy Rebuilding” and “Accurate Reloading for the Hunter”.  Perennial favorites like “Customizing AR-15 or AR-10” and “Introduction to Checkering” will still be on the schedule.

If you have ever wanted to learn more about gunsmithing but can’t take of the two years necessary for most schools, the NRA Short Term Gunsmithing Program is a great alternative.  Classes normally run or one week, Monday through Friday.  They are intensive hands on classes with small numbers of students, so you have great access to the instructor. This unique learning opportunity is set up as part of the Continuing Education Department of the College and the courses are non-credit.

If cost is a concern I noticed that the College has some Scholarships provided by NRA donations, details at this link:


An electronic copy of the brochure for these classes is available at this link:


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Filed under accuracy, Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, Pistol, Rifles, tools

Flathead Valley Community College Builds Gunsmithing Program.

The Flathead valley has a long history of custom gun makers operating in the area as for back as the 1950’s.  Numerous rifle barrel manufacturers large and small have made the area home from time to time.  More recently, a large number of gun businesses have taken up residence.


In 2011 Chris Hyatt, of Whitefish, formed the Montana Firearms Institute as a 501(c)3 nonprofit along with state Sen. Ryan Zinke, and attorney Duncan Scott, seeing a need to foster communication between firearms businesses, and to help those small businesses compete for government contracts.  The MFI has been instrumental in drawing attention to the need for gunsmithing classes at the college level.

So, along with the MFI, local businesses looked to Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) to help improve the quality of perspective and existing employees in the valley by offering training.  The firearms trade requires a wide range of skills that are not readily absorbed from standard machine shop and wood working classes.  There are many specialized skills and tools that make the job of building guns easier and more efficient.

The next closest schools that offer gunsmithing courses are in Susanville, California and Denver, Colorado.  So a gunsmithing school here in the valley will have a large audience.  The first round of classes were held in 2012 and were successful by every measure.  FVCC is currently seeking NRA Affiliation for the gunsmithing program, which may make available a wider range of classes and support from the gun industry at large.

Gunsmithing Classes to be offered for Spring and Summer of 2013

AR-15/AR-10 Armorer /Customization Course  

Glass Bedding Rifles Course 

Basic Lathe

Designing Wildcat Cartridges


1911 Handguns


Alternative Metal Finishes

Barrel Relining

For more information on these classes visit the FVCC Web site, link below.



Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To

AGI (American Gunsmithing Institute)

American Gunsmithing Institute These guys are great.  I have known the owner and most of his instructors for years.  They are a highly professional bunch if Gunsmiths who have dedicated themselves to the preservation of the knowledge of a number of  the best gunsmiths in the United States.  In the process creating an easy way for new people to learn from the best.

At Shot Show I spoke with Gene “Machine Gun” Kelly.   Gene made a couple of points to me that were interesting.

Robert Dunlap, Master Gunsmith, Instructor, TeacherFirst, we were talking about the teaching style of Bob Dunlap.  Bob is a gunsmith and teacher.  I have personally known him since the early 80’s when he was the lead instructor of Gunsmithing at Lassen College in Susanville, CA.  Bob has a unique approach to gunsmithing, at least in terms of teaching it.  He teaches the design and function of firearm, in other words he teaches the systems and how they work.

When you go from one type of firearm to another there are always things that carry over.  For instance, when you look at a locking mechanism for a breech system it will be a style or type that is recognizable, even though the various parts do not interchange or sometimes even look the same.  By instructing this way Bob make is possible for you as a gunsmith to work on guns you have never seen before, because you can break down the functions of the firearm and recognize the system it is based on.

The second point that Gene made to me was that as AGI attends events and talks with industry leaders it has become obvious that, As a company AGI is training more gunsmiths than all the traditional brick and mortar schools combined.”

That’s a big statement but it’s easy to understand why.  First of all, AGI is offering a Home study program that you can do on your own schedule and you don’t have to uproot yourself for a couple of years to attend a College somewhere.  That also makes it a very cost effective way to learn.

Next I suspect that many gunsmiths utilize some of the materials to upgrade their skills.  I know there are guns that came to the market since I went to school and it is faster to review one of AGI’s courses than it is to teach myself. Plus often there are some quick little tricks and tips that come from the video that save time and money.

I’m certainly not knocking the brick and mortar schools.  I have taught NRA Gunsmithing Courses for two of them and I went to a third school to start my career.   Attending a school full time gives you an opportunity for a fully immersed learning experience that cannot be replaced by any other method.   Yet, it requires a commitment that does not work for every person who wants to become a qualified gunsmith.

Learn to make reamers and dies for cartridge design and development

DVD is a great compliment to Fred’s book, “Wildcat Cartridges”

I did a video for AGI called “Taming Wildcats”. Naturally it benefits me business wise, but the main reason I did the DVD was because Gene Kelly sold me on the fact that we are recording this information for future gunsmiths.  So many of the great gunsmiths who went before us took their knowledge and experience to the grave without really sharing it.   I am proud of the resulting course which does a good job of explaining what goes into the process of design, research, and testing of cartridges.

If your interested in gunsmithing, want to become a gunsmith, or want to expand your knowledge as a practicing professional.  I would recommend the AGI courses to all.

Shot Show 2011, nearly all the AGI instructors were available to talk to the public at their booth.  Friendly and courteous does not tell you how nice these folks are to deal with.


Filed under Firearms, Gunsmithing, How To, tools, wildcat

School teaches mixed message.

Last week in Winchendon, Massachusetts another case of  “zero-tolerance” enforcement defying common sense, a fourth-grader Bradley Geslak was suspended from Toy Town Elementary School for bringing a Memorial Day souvenir to school.

According to a May 29, Telegram.com article, a uniformed veteran gave the 10-year-old two empty rifle shell casings from blanks used during the town’s Memorial Day celebration Monday morning.  Bradley gave one of the empty casings to his grandfather and kept the other as a souvenir.  The trouble began when he took his souvenir to school the next day. 

“He was just playing with it at lunch,” explained Crystal Geslak, Bradley’s mother. “He wasn’t showing it to anyone; he had it in his hand and was playing with it.”

A teacher saw him with the harmless piece of brass and confiscated it.  Ms. Geslak was then called at work and told to come and pick up her son, who had been suspended for five days!

Ms. Geslak arrived at the school to find her son in tears.  “I was totally shocked. I couldn’t believe this was happening,” she said.  “It was just an empty shell, not even from a real bullet.  A sharpened pencil would be more dangerous than this piece of metal.”

“He was so proud to have been given them.  His dad’s a veteran, his uncle’s a veteran, both his grandfathers are veterans.  Memorial Day is a big thing to us.  It’s a very important holiday and we have a big celebration every year,” Ms. Geslak said.

Ms. Geslak, who will be forced to miss work in order to stay home with her son, says she is worried about what having a “weapon-related suspension” on his school record will mean to his future.

To add insult to injury, the family says a school official told them that the shell would not be returned, and that the next step might involve assigning a probation officer to Bradley!  Yes, you read that right, a probation officer.

A young boy punished over a harmless souvenir.  By any standard, that’s just unacceptable.

From the Shcool Districts web site, thier mission statement:

Our mission is to enlighten, motivate, and educate all who pass through our doors.  We will provide a safe environment that promotes an appreciation of diversity and preparedness for the future.

This young man and his family understand the price of freedom, they actually celebrage Memorial Day as it was intended, not just as a bankers holiday.  They understand what it takes to be prepared for the future.  A piece of inert metal poses no safety hazard to anyone.  Of course that’s just my view, but then the mission statment say they will respect my diverse opinion???  Seems like a mixed message to me.

If you’d like to express your concern over this incident, please visit http://www.winchendon.mec.edu/.  You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  To leave a voice message for Brooke Clenchy, Superintendent of Schools, please call 978-297-0031. 

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Filed under brass, politics

Brownells & Gradient Lens Donated to Gunsmithing School

With a history of supporting gunsmiths spanning almost 70 years, Brownells has partnered with Gradient Lens Corporation to provide a Hawkeye Borescope and complete video system to Trinidad State Junior College’s gunsmithing program.
The borescope and viewing system allow the students and instructors to examine the interior of a barrel for corrosion and imperfections.





 “With the borescope, the students can examine a firearm bore for defects, fouling and erosion that affect accuracy,” said Ken Harrington, Gradient Lens market manager for shooting. “As the technology in the field continues to improve, the students have an ever-increasing need for experience with instruments like the Hawkeye Borescope.”

The video system included in the donation is digital and works through a computer based system. Students can view the images on a larger screen and capture the video or still images digitally. This allows users to e-mail or set up live, streaming video to a gun’s owner.
“It’s important that students have all the tools necessary to prepare them for successful gunsmithing careers,” stated company Chairman and CEO Frank Brownell. “The borescope lets students build experience on equipment they’ll be using following graduation.”



The donation came in conjunction with Brownells’ annual gunsmithing job fair in Newton, Iowa.
“The skills they’ll develop working with the borescope will make the students more marketable to future employers,” Pete Brownell, company president, said. “The employers who participated in last year’s job fair stated the importance of developing both depth and breadth of abilities. The Hawkeye Borescope will help the students mature as gunsmiths.”


Trinidad State Junior College  gunsmithing students Chris Lewis, John Cowell and Penny Bell inspect a factory barrel in class, as Instructor Speedy Gonzalez explains to the class what they are seeing via the Hawkeye’s Borescope live video projections capabilities.

Brownells is the world’s largest supplier of firearm parts, tools, equipment and accessories. Stocking more than 30,000 items, the company services gunsmiths, armorers and shooters worldwide. For more information or to place an order, call (800) 741-0015, Dept. #PE9, or visit http://www.brownells.com.



Filed under accuracy, Firearms