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Thread: Careers in the Firearms and Reloading Industries

  1. #21
    Boolit Master
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    The Lyman load data is generated in their ballistics lab, using scientific method, pressure barrels, and precicely hand loaded cartridges. Only new powders l/primers/projectiles are tested each issue. All other data pre exists from earlier testing. All of that labs employees have grey or little hair.

    Working for one of the companies that design manufactur ammunition manufacturing machinery would be a nitch.
    QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES?

  2. #22
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdfoxinc View Post
    ...Working for one of the companies that design manufactur ammunition manufacturing machinery would be a nitch.
    If you speak French, Flemish, Italian, German or Korean. Most of it these days is produced offshore.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  3. #23
    Boolit Grand Master

    Wayne Smith's Avatar
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    I know someone with her MS Engineering from Virginia Tech who is working at Scandia Labs investigating making explosives more effective. You gotta be one of the best to land a job like that.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  4. #24
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    I know someone with her MS Engineering from Virginia Tech who is working at Scandia Labs investigating making explosives more effective. You gotta be one of the best to land a job like that.
    Yup! The Corps Review magazine in a recent issue had a brief update on her. Bravo Zulu!

    It is amazing to see what the former cadets from previous graduating classes are doing now.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    I don’t know how applicable this is to your situation, but the most difficult problem in getting into any energetic materials R&D area is that the field is so rarefied. There simply aren’t all that many jobs. The Safety Slogan we had was “Minimize, Minimize, Minimize.” As small quantities of material, as gentle a handling, and as few people around as possible.

    When one of these people retires, the network does indeed light up as a replacement is sought, but what they typically want is the maximum level of experience, there already, in the replacement.

    The military research facilities generally have some sort of Development Programs where they bring in engineering and science degrees out of college. Check with the Army, Navy and Air Force labs. The problem there is that the “window” for hiring sometimes stays shut for years.

    Get your name on the list, and get your degree, or degrees, if possible. A chemistry background is typically wanted, but if you could add it to your electrical degree, you would be better set up to build test equipment and instrumentation for the things you are working on.

    With a background in government work, you would at least have some experience on your resume. IIRC, one of our people went to work at Remington, but I don’t know what kind of job he got there.

    But getting in in the first place is going to be largely a matter of right place, right time.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Smith View Post
    I know someone with her MS Engineering from Virginia Tech who is working at Scandia Labs investigating making explosives more effective. You gotta be one of the best to land a job like that.
    Did you mean Sandia Labs in New Mexico? I had to turn down a very good job offer there last year, not with the labs, just an onsite contractor. Even so, it seemed like a prestigious place to be. The recruiter got to the point of asking what date he should buy the plane tickets for, for my wife and I to go check it out. I asked her to check her calendar, and she finally said she just flat didn't want to live in Albuquerque, so that was that.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master

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    I can give you 2 cents worth about gunsmithing. I did it for a long time. Loved it. It was, for me, exactly what you say you want, which is working at something you really like. I have always been passionate about guns, and the opportunity presented itself to attend a gunsmithing school. Of course, I had fooled around with them for years prior to attending, but the formal school taught me many things and skills I did not previously possess, and a different way of looking at problem solving. After the school I did it pretty regularly for 30+ years, so picked up some opinions.

    One thing, you'd be well advised to do if you decide to be a gunsmith is to take some business courses! Of course you're going to make money because that's one reason why you're in business, and you have to decide how to manage the business income and expenditures. The occupation is notorious for "nickel and dime-ing" you to death, as there's always another tool to buy to do a particular job. But, maybe the market place and common sense dictates that you not do some of those jobs. I was a general gunsmith, and there wasn't much that I wouldn't tackle, but to some extent that was a mistake. There are so many makes and models of guns with so many problems that working on anything and everything can become a problem, in that a particular tool, for example, one to help replace Remington rifle extractors may be a good investment as there are a lot of Remington rifles out there, but another tool for replacing rivets for a Remington Mod. 11 shotgun's internal recoil pad may not be a good investment as you may not see many of that obsolete shotgun come through your door. There's some guns you shouldn't even bother to work on. How can you charge someone $150 to repair a gun that originally cost $95.50? Tell them to take their RG revolver to another 'smith. You'll need some capital (money) to get into the business, as there are some tools you must have, not to mention a place of business and the expenses associated with that such as electric bill, maybe rent, an FFL, etc.

    Today gunsmithing has sort of evolved from the generalist (M.D.) to the specialist (Brain Surgeon). Some fellows are very successful by specializing in building 1911s or AR-15s (seems like these areas are getting crowded), and fewer can work on S&W revolvers anymore, and even fewer on Colts. I'm not knocking this at all--just how it is. Even myself, the general gunsmith, eventually specialized and found 80% of my business, my niche if you will, in re-bluing. I still worked on general repairs, but became selective in what I would work on.

    I could go on and on about this, as gunsmithing is just about my favorite subject, but will try to wrap it up. It's an almost mandatory requirement that if you're going to go into business that you take those business courses and find out how successful business works. Next, if you can apprentice yourself to a successful gunsmith, or at the very least "hang out" it will be invaluable. Go to one of the better gunsmithing schools if you are able to do so. The one I attended had two shifts, Day and Swing, and most of the guys that attended the Swing Shift had daytime jobs to pay their tuition.
    Be aware that "the times they are a-changing" and guns and gun ownership are under attack and increasingly restricted. Innovations like making guns from stainless steel and black plastic are reducing the need for metal refinishing (bluing) and stock refinishing. To be successful you'll have to adapt.

    A last thought-- do good work. Give the customer their money's worth and don't gouge. Get paid what it's worth, but don't take advantage of customer's pocketbooks. Poor work, substandard, or outrageous prices won't be forgotten by the customer, and he'll tell ten other potential customers about his experience in your shop and your reputation will suffer. There is always room in the field for someone who is honest and does good work, and your good reputation will bring you business.

  8. #28
    Boolit Buddy
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    Or...skip all the headaches and open up a liquor store, instead.

  9. #29
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by dangitgriff View Post
    About that degree..?
    Burn it or bury it and start over at Mises University in Auburn, Alabama learning Austrian Economics. After America goes bankrupt we will need a few sound monetary advocates to rebuild the banking and financial sectors.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” ~ H.L. Mencken
    I mean, your not wrong...
    Hoping I can turn it into a law degree after I get my B.A. so maybe after the apocalypse it could be useful...
    Don't let America end up like California...
    "You've got to ask yourself a question: 'do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?"

    God bless America
    God bless those who fought for liberty

  10. #30
    Boolit Master




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    Get your engineering degree period.
    I worked in civil engineering back then there was a thing called the draft and Vietnam was a big employer. Well I went through basic and military occupation training and then someone found out I knew how to build roads, bridges and got transferred into combat engineering and then became an instructor. Came out and did 25 years of building roads, bridges and designing then my legs got bad so I went into the office where I went back to college got two degrees in computer science and did 10 years in that world and then retired and went back to college again and got my masters in Mental health counseling. The underlying thing here is never give up on schooling and be adaptable as to what direction life takes you and always be looking at what happens when you retire. Best of luck in your quest for a meaningful life career
    Beware of a government that fears its citizens having the means to protect themselves.
    NRA Patron member
    Veteran

  11. #31
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    Over my lifetime, I've heard a few people say, "Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life."
    I don't buy it!
    It appears my experience has been similar to others that have posted here in this thread.
    >>>I loved a hobby and I attempted to make a career out of it and in the process, I ruined the hobby for myself. I actually did this three different times, with three different hobbies, over my adult life ...I guess I'm a slow learner? I was lucky enough to have never done this with my shooting hobby...and while I was never in the firearms industry, I believe my career experience transfers over.

    I will offer one more piece of advice, if you still wish to continue to seek a job in the firearms industry after much of the suggestions in this thread being a bit negative about that, and that is about "getting a job". Since you don't have the type of experience that would suit you to have a head hunter seek you out, you need to forget about the email. The firearms industry is an old school industry, so you need to seek a job the old school way. Written letters/resumes sent via USPS are good, but going to visit the businesses in person is even better. Prepare your Resume as simple as possible. Research the places you apply to, and tailor each cover letter to each place, and how you could fit in. There needs to be some excitement in your letter, as well as your presence, if you visit the business personally.
    >>>This may be difficult to hear, but to your potential employers, all you have to offer as a 19 yr old is your excitement.

    That's my 2¢
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  12. #32
    Boolit Buddy
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    Back in the 80's I was in grad school in SoCal. My daily commute took me past the industrial complex where Dornaus & Dixon manufactured the Bren Ten. Being a young and eager gun nut, I spent (too) much time hanging around the place, trying to get a job- any job just to work with guns. All I ever managed was hourly work on a temp basis, unloading trucks and doing other occasional tasks. But I got my foot in the door and I KNEW my Mechanical Engineering degree was going to be my ticket to glory and fun in the gun world!

    One day while everybody was on break, Michael Dixon walked outside to chat with the staff. At one point he paused, looked at me and said," Kid, get the **** out of here. The worst thing I've ever done is getting involved in the gun industry. Don't make my mistake."

    I left that day and never went back. Dornaus & Dixon closed their doors closed their doors 4 months later. I took a more normal employment path that has kept me with the same employer for 32 years. My job is secure, I have a retirement, I raised a family and my gun hobby has benefited from a solid, guaranteed income.

    If you can get into the gun industry, good for you! Get your degree, or more than one, and have a fallback plan because the gun industry in the USA does not have a good prognosis for a healthy future. You could always learn German, move to Austria and go to work for Glock. Or learn Portuguese, move to Brazil, and go to work for Taurus. At least their government and citizenry aren't doing the same dance we are on gun rights.
    Last edited by Mr_Sheesh; 01-21-2020 at 06:01 AM. Reason: Fixed censor bypass

  13. #33
    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    Todd N.

    It sounds like Michael Dixon may have liked you better than you realize at the time. You got a four a month head start on finding a new job compared to some of the others. Capisce?

    Murphy
    If I should depart this life while defending those who cannot defend themselves, then I have died the most honorable of deaths. Marc R. Murphy '2006'.

  14. #34
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Todd N.

    It sounds like Michael Dixon may have liked you better than you realize at the time. You got a four a month head start on finding a new job compared to some of the others. Capisce?

    Murphy
    I still thank my lucky stars!

  15. #35
    Boolit Mold CandyCoatedBoolits's Avatar
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    Thank you for the replies,

    They have been enlightening. I am glad I can learn from your mistakes!

  16. #36
    Boolit Buddy
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    Hey, CCB...I actually have a serious suggestion:
    Design an automated powder-coating machine, clean projectiles in, candy-coated boolits out.
    R/Griff

  17. #37
    Boolit Buddy Littlewolf's Avatar
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    i was an armorer in the Marines (small arms repair). worked on everything from beretta M92 to the 83mm SMAW rocket launcher and the AT4. my first unit in the fleet had 3709 M16A2 service rifles. were it not for medical reasons i was geared up to do another 4 years as a machinist and planned to go gunsmith after that. I've been out for 16 years and have spent every day missing the life. I'm not saying you have to go to the Corps (it's not for everybody) but the rest of the branches have weapons too.

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    While I have only a little background in firearms work, as the assistant range officer I was the armorer for my PD and went though the S&W academy, I did enjoy the work. But, it was only part time at best.

    My advice to you I get the best education you need but ALWAYS have a back up plan.

    I am 65 years of age and have had 6 careers. The important thing is not how many times you have failed but how any times you are able to restart yourself. My sixth and final (I hope) career is as an independent sharpener. I sharpen knives, scissors etc. for folks and make a good living at it. It has nothing to do with either of my college degrees nor my Maritime engineering license but it is a good career and I look forward to each day.

    If you like EE or Political Science, great, how many others are in your class? Will you graduate at th the top of your class? If so, you might get the job you want. In the top 5%? You might get a job in your chosen field. Somewhere else in the class? You want fries with that?

    Isn’t fair? No, it is life.

    ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN.

    Kevin
    Knowledge I take to my grave is wasted.

    I prefer to use cartridges born before I was.

    Success doesn't make me happy, being happy is what allows me to be successful.

  19. #39
    Boolit Mold gravel's Avatar
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    if you have a good co-op position, you should keep it. maybe ask to be moved into the CAD/FEM areas.


    research civilian USGOV (miltary services) positions a year before you graduate.

    as an EE major, take electives that fit the goal:

    at least one strength of materials course.
    at least one thermodynamics course.
    at least one metallurgy course.
    at least one CAD class.
    you should have controls classes in your EE curriculum. see if the ME dept has a kinematics course you can take.
    still have room for another elective? take a second materials/thermo/metallurgy/CAD class.


    know some programming language. take specific courses if necessary to show knowledge. it would be nice to know FEM, too.


    iirc, USGOV can hire an entry level ME into an entry level EE position. maybe vice versa, too? so apply to other entry level positions, not just EE.

    look into the services' arms development centers. Crane and Picatinny for starters.

    lastly, have a reasonable story about why you want a job like this. do not sound like a gun nut.
    got mold?

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    Forget working in the firearms field. There are only a few jobs compared to the population of the US.
    For the most part there is relatively little design going on in civilian firearms markets.
    Look at the offerings of Remington or Winchester. Most of the models are 50 to 80 years old.

    If you have an mechanical engineering or chemical engineering degree there might be a government lab or arsenal job for you but there are far more excellent paying jobs in the various high tech industries.

    There are 2 things that make for a good career. You have to make enough money to take care of your family obligations. If you do not make enough money your entire family pays a terrible price even if you are happy. If you plan on a job that does not offer much of a future or pay do not plan on a family. Otherwise you will have kids that you cannot afford to give a good education who will in turn not be able to get into good careers.
    Your work should ideally have a good bit of variety. Even if it starts out interesting, 3 to 5 years of most anything over and over will get boring. I once worked for an aerospace company that specialized in small contracts back during the 1970s and 1980s. Back then a small contract was a $1 to $5 million. I saw a wide array of different government projects for countermeasures that boggled my imagination.
    It was very interesting because almost every branch of engineering, math and physics was used.
    I later worked in semiconductor and then medical implant businesses. The semiconductor equipment business was interesting but most of that work was sent to China. The medical implant business by contrast was a very competitive but boring. The designs did not and could not change much. The human body is not evolving so the materials and designs are slow to change. Few materials are suitable so there are few metal finishing processed etc etc.
    Last edited by EDG; 01-21-2020 at 01:34 AM.
    EDG

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check