Firearms industry (advice needed )

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Jonathanw
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Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Jonathanw » Wed Apr 20, 2016 9:55 am

Hello,


I'm currently finishing up my AA in General Engineering and will soon be transferring to USF for the mechanical engineering program. Before I make this big financial commitment, I want to research my options first. My goal is to work as a firearms designer or be apart of a firearm research and development team for big or small company. Does anyone have experience with this? Is the pay worth while considering the growing cost of degrees, is there an alternative to getting a full 4 year degree such as trade schools in Florida? Any help is appreciated

My end goal is to start my own company however that down the road, and not a major concern at the moment

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Rentprop1 » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:12 am

Id say learn to program CNC code and CAM machines, and come up with your own innovative products.... if you can dream it up, measure it, and make it from scratch, thats where you'll do well.....you will hate making $20 an hour working for someone else, sitting in a cubie all day, never getting to go play at the big shooting events etc.....You should have talked to Mike Papas at the shoot he's the brain behind Dead Air ....BTW....the job your describing is the guy who got stuck back at the factory answering the phone while he was away at the shoot...YMMV
In the days of the old west a 6 shooter was as common as cell phones are today and just annoying if they go off in a theater.

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Jonathanw » Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:58 am

Rentprop1 wrote:Id say learn to program CNC code and CAM machines, and come up with your own innovative products.... if you can dream it up, measure it, and make it from scratch, thats where you'll do well.....you will hate making $20 an hour working for someone else, sitting in a cubie all day, never getting to go play at the big shooting events etc.....You should have talked to Mike Papas at the shoot he's the brain behind Dead Air ....BTW....the job your describing is the guy who got stuck back at the factory answering the phone while he was away at the shoot...YMMV
I would much prefer working for my self and I am actively working on an idea I have for firearm related item however start ups require a lot of money(double if not triple the cost of a college degree so unless I had someone to help invest or partnered up with someone who already had the equipment than, I couldn't start a business until I earn enough from working as an engineer [smilie=012.gif]

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Cloaked Dagger » Wed Apr 20, 2016 12:55 pm

An engineering degree is definitely worth the money one way or the other. Engineers easily make six figures once they get some experience to go with their degrees.
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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by NorincoKid » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:02 pm

Jonathanw wrote:I would much prefer working for my self and I am actively working on an idea I have for firearm related item however start ups require a lot of money(
Depending on the physical size of whatever it is you have the "idea" for, maybe a 3D printer would be a good (less expensive) way to get some designs done up. Probably alot cheaper to practice/tweak with one of those...

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by NonConformist » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:41 pm

Def need to learn cad/can
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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Jonathanw » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:43 pm

NorincoKid wrote:
Jonathanw wrote:I would much prefer working for my self and I am actively working on an idea I have for firearm related item however start ups require a lot of money(
Depending on the physical size of whatever it is you have the "idea" for, maybe a 3D printer would be a good (less expensive) way to get some designs done up. Probably alot cheaper to practice/tweak with one of those...

That's a good idea, however I have full size model of what I want to build, I just need to take that model and drawings I have and put it on a CAD software than the manufacturing process begins [smilie=pdt_xtremez_23.gif] which is costly project to produce it so that's a future project when I have the funds and support to do it

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Cloaked Dagger » Wed Apr 20, 2016 3:56 pm

Jonathanw wrote:
NorincoKid wrote:
Jonathanw wrote:I would much prefer working for my self and I am actively working on an idea I have for firearm related item however start ups require a lot of money(
Depending on the physical size of whatever it is you have the "idea" for, maybe a 3D printer would be a good (less expensive) way to get some designs done up. Probably alot cheaper to practice/tweak with one of those...

That's a good idea, however I have full size model of what I want to build, I just need to take that model and drawings I have and put it on a CAD software than the manufacturing process begins [smilie=pdt_xtremez_23.gif] which is costly project to produce it so that's a future project when I have the funds and support to do it
I have a student version of SolidWorks on my computer and I'd like to get some more practice with it. I wouldn't mind CADing it up for you on SolidWorks if you want to send me scans/pictures of your drawings.
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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Jonathanw » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:08 pm

Cloaked Dagger wrote:
Jonathanw wrote:
NorincoKid wrote:
Jonathanw wrote:I would much prefer working for my self and I am actively working on an idea I have for firearm related item however start ups require a lot of money(
Depending on the physical size of whatever it is you have the "idea" for, maybe a 3D printer would be a good (less expensive) way to get some designs done up. Probably alot cheaper to practice/tweak with one of those...

That's a good idea, however I have full size model of what I want to build, I just need to take that model and drawings I have and put it on a CAD software than the manufacturing process begins [smilie=pdt_xtremez_23.gif] which is costly project to produce it so that's a future project when I have the funds and support to do it
I have a student version of SolidWorks on my computer and I'd like to get some more practice with it. I wouldn't mind CADing it up for you on SolidWorks if you want to send me scans/pictures of your drawings.


Okay perfect, I'll send you them when I get a chance

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by g.willikers » Thu Apr 21, 2016 7:43 am

Remember small businesses often fail within six months.
And most ideas like yours are better staying at the hobby level.
Not to say that being in business on your own can't happen, though.
But be prepared to do little else for a long time.
One of my old racing pals was very well educated as a mechanical and electrical engineer.
He spent many long hours in his garage working on his race cars and inventing very clever things.
But his real job was designing shovels.
My experience was similar.
My real job was working on other people's cars.
See?
What we actually did for a living had only minimal association to our real passion.
And it proved a better mix than if both were the same.
If you are able to turn your passion into a real business, it might be great - or not.
"Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent."

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by philasteen » Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:03 am

It's worth adding that we are in a Renaissance of firearms innovation and development the likes of which has never been seen before. More creative energy is being applied by small business to this industry than anything else outside of tech.

Of course the flip side is that you need to work hard to carve out a niche. 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.

Don't overlook the value of crowdfunding through kickstarter if you hit on something. You can always contract out for tool time.

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by jjk308 » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:47 am

A Renaissance? Most recent advances seem to have been in manufacturing and materials technology and just applied to firearms. It would be instructive to go back over the new guns introduced in the past 20 or 30 years, count the real innovations outside those 2 fields, and see how many of those models have survived.

I'm not being an old curmudgeon about this. I love new technology, thought up a unique (as I thought at the time) gas released lock for handguns. I never did anything with it because development was outside of my aerospace engineering field of expertise. But I am pretty hard headed about real advances, having evaluated a lot of aircraft technology proposals in my career, and just haven't seen much in firearms form and function for decades.

As for getting a degree, I wouldn't specialize too soon and would definitely get a BS in Mechanical Engineering. USF is cheap by comparison to most schools and there should be a lot of financial aid available in Engineering. Talk to their finance office about it.

With a degree at the best you may be able to get a job with a firearm manufacturer or startup. At the worst you'll be able to earn a good living.
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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by John K » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:55 pm

Keep working toward your BSME, but also look into a vo-tech school for Precision Machining. You'll learn invaluable, hands-on skills (manual and CNC/CAM) that will put you above someone who only knows the CAD side.

Work as a ME for a few years and buy some used equipment, then you can prototype/tweak your ideas in your garage.

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Racist Infidel » Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:00 pm

I made a career out of picking up after PEs. Take a good machine shop course along with gunsmith training. CAD/CAM is required only for production, not design.

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Gmountain » Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:41 pm

Get a BS, at least, with supporting minors, such as finance, or materials science. Get a law degree or MBA after you get your engineering degree. Of course, if you don't want to move up in the firearms business, but remain on the factory floor, you can take a different route.

Remember, the firearms business is a business first and for most. Companies view firearms as a product, and think in terms of sales and profits. Guns are talked about as units. You have to approach business that way if you want to get somewhere in the industry.

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by jwperry » Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:56 pm

Every gunsmith or person I've known to be successful in the firearm manufacturing business started off as a machinist. The ability to fabricate and create with your hands is paramount.

If you want to go to work for KAC or AA or anyplace that does concept & design work and you're happy to let someone else build your ideas, don't worry about learning the hand skill.

Now my personal take is to get your ME. I'm in my mid 30's and regret not finishing my EE when I didn't have a wife & kids to support; having the engineering degree & background would sure open a lot of doors and create a lot of opportunities for advancement now that I have work experience.

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by firemedic2000 » Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:01 pm

I'd say if this is what you really have your heart set on. Then go for it. But go to work for a large gun manufacturer to start with to get experience and to to your foot into the door to learn the the people you need to know in the industry. Never burn any bridges behind you.

Sure starting out you will not get to do all the fun stuff like going to the shoots and what not. Your the new kid. Your there to learn the business end of industry first then the sales end/PR. But most importantly out of all of this is to make sure this is what you really want to do. Then go for.

It'll take years to cultivate your experience, expertise and PR in the field but if this is what you really want it'll be well worth it. After you have the experience it'd be no problem to off shoot into your own successful company. You'll have an established background people will know you but most importantly you'll be confident in your abilities to succeed.

If I were younger and wanting to start a business/career in the gun industry this is exactly what id do long with the schools
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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by Jonathanw » Sun May 08, 2016 12:30 pm

Thanks for all the advice everyone [smilie=pdt_xtremez_30.gif]
It's been very helpful, I'm going to look for internships next year at local manufacturers.

I'm also going to set up a garage machine shop(mill,lathe, etc) closer to the end of this year so I can practice and learn basic machinist skills on my free time. I think I'll start on single shot bolt action guns and work my way up.
I just invested in about 7 books on this matter and I'll studying them until I can afford the tools I have picked out [smilie=pdt_xtremez_30.gif]

Thanks again everyone

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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by fish » Sun May 08, 2016 1:25 pm

Hi,
Here is a forum I have been using for 20 years.
http://www.practicalmachinist.com/

Much good info about the issues and practice of running a small machine shop.

Not a hobbist machining forum, but lots of small business owners, as well as giant.corp types.

I mostly obtain technical advice on mill & lathe projects, as well as
"Why do my Aluminum TIG welds look like s*&%?"

Image

They have helped me more than any other forum in the machine shop area.
fish
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Re: Firearms industry (advice needed )

Post by MomentArms » Sun May 08, 2016 7:17 pm

Personally, I'd look at a small specialty aerospace company. They usually have machines, knowledgeable people and do lots of one off designs. You will learn to multitask and will have access to equipment during down time.

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