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No matter what kind of agitprop the Gun Control Industrial Complex™ may be spouting, the gun industry is very much alive and well. That’s what months of panic buying will do for you. Which explains the turnout for Brownells’ Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair held in Des Moines last week. Someone has to work on all those firearms the industry’s so assiduously cranking out. And if they ban some or (God forbid) all of them some day, there’ll be that much more demand for people who can keep grandfathered guns — the ones you can’t get any more — happy and shooty. Press release after the jump . . .

More than 400 attendees and 50 exhibitors filled the Des Moines, Iowa, Downtown Marriott, March 27-28, 2013, for the Brownells 7th Annual Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair.

Doubling last year’s turnout, this year’s event drew 155 gunsmithing students from seven of the country’s premier gunsmithing schools. In addition to the students, the record crowd consisted of working gunsmiths and gun shop owners seeking networking opportunities. Additionally, legendary names like Joe Balickie, Ron Power, Sharon Dressel, Stan Chen, Jason Hornady, Jerry Fisher, Roy Huntington, and Frank Brownell presented industry-focused seminars aimed at improving gunsmith’s skills at the bench and in business.

Brownells’ CEO Pete Brownell spoke with attendees about the importance of networking with fellow gunsmiths and honing their individual crafts. He also reminded the audience of the need for qualified gunsmiths, not only for their skills, but as representatives and guardians of the Second Amendment.

Organizations including Hornady Manufacturing, JP Enterprises, Coonan Inc., Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Taurus, Cylinder & Slide, Turnbull Manufacturing, the NRA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, plus dozens more were on hand to show off their products and to educate attendees. Many of the companies and organizations had job openings available and conducted on-site interviews.

Steven Durren, Head Gunsmith at Johnson Sporting Goods, located in Adrian, Michigan, came to the Conference and Career Fair looking to hire a general gunsmith. Impressed with the quality of job seekers in attendance, Durren added, “I knew all the schools would be here with a lot of candidates. I’m seeing some very qualified people bringing some great skills with them. I have several I’m very interested in hiring.”

Wabash Valley Community College gunsmithing student Lucas Webster was also enthusiastic about the event. “Amazing,” said Webster. “The amount of people here and the bigger names all together going over everything is impressive. A company from Florida wants me to interview with them.”

A number of students were presented with sponsor-funded scholarships to assist with educational expenses, plus more than 50 raffle items were given away.

The 8th Annual Brownells Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair is scheduled for April 1-2, 2014, and will again take place at the Des Moines, Iowa, Downtown Marriott.

Stay tuned to the GCCF official website for further details and registration information.

Founded in 1939, Brownells is an Iowa-based, family-owned company that supplies more than 82,000 firearms parts, accessories, reloading components, gunsmithing tools, and ammunition to armorers, gunsmiths, the military, and shooters worldwide. In addition to their industry-leading 100% lifetime guarantee – forever – on EVERY product sold, their staff of veteran Gun Techs is available to assist customers with technical help to fix any gun-related problem – free of charge. There are no minimum order sizes or return/exchange fees. To place an order, or for more information, call 800-741-0015 or visit

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  1. it’s not about keeping the grandfathered guns “happy and shooty”; it’s about gearing up for war.

  2. Irrespective of the “I am a toy” orange cap on the barrel (?), isn’t the gun in the pic pointed at something the owner – or the customer – likely does not wish to destroy?

  3. I should have gone to gunsmith school instead of being a stupid idealist and thinking getting a journalism degree meant I could spread truth to the masses.

    • You can still sell truth to the masses…”will you be wanting anything to eat with your Starbucks coffee?”

    • Unless you can find someone to sell a lot of $5k 1911s to, you’re probably going to take a large pay cut.

  4. I wish I could go to a gunsmithing school, but there closest one is two states away. One day, perhaps. Too bad it’s not an apprenticeship thing like other trades.

  5. Good to see this covered.

    I attended this as a student graduating later this year. The report is accurate as far as the participation is concerned and the level of the seminars were very good.

    Students did have the opportunity to display firearms as well. All firearms were inspected before allowed on the floor and the actions were locked on all long guns. Handguns were also locked unless the firing pin was removed. This is on par with what I have seen at both SHOT show and the NRA annual meeting.

    Yes, unless you are very good, you are not going to make a fortune in this line of work. It is very satisfying though.

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