M1 Garand Rifle “438987”

Smeltzerby Paul Smeltzer,
Athens Gunsmith Service, Athens LA.

I was at a gun show recently when I noticed an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair gazing at several Garands and M1 Carbines that I had on my table.  He was wearing a WWII veterans cap with a good bit of “fruit salad” on it, and a wind-breaker with additional battle ribbons.  As I watched him he reached out and put a feeble hand on the barrel of a Garand and seemed to stroke or pet it.  I walked over to him and said, “you look like you are familiar with those”.  Without looking up he said, “438987”.  Not sure I heard what he said, I said, “excuse me”, he repeated “438987”, his gaze still fixed on the rifle, still stroking the front sight; I told him that I understood. Continue reading


The Business of Gunsmithing–Part 2

By Paul Smeltzer
Owner/Operator Athens Gunsmithing

Start Up

Welcome back to The Business of a Gunsmithing. We have discussed what for some may have been basic information. Perhaps, but neglect of the basics are the very reasons why new businesses fail at such a high rate. What I hope to do with this series is be honest and clear about what it takes to have the best chance of not being a negative new business statistic. With that said let us explore the start up process. Let me begin by providing you with a checklist of sorts. Continue reading


The Business of Gunsmithing

By Paul Smeltzer
Owner/Operator Athens Gunsmithing

So you want to start a ‘successful’ gunsmithing business?

I suspect the bulk of folks who “get into” gunsmithing do so as a hobby Gunsmith rather than as a Gunsmith business. AGI produces an excellent professional gunsmithing course that can provide you with the technical “how to” education to repair firearms. I am one of those graduates. I have been running a successful Gunsmith business for nine and a half years. Continue reading


Burn Guns–Part 2 of 3

Smeltzerby Paul Smeltzer,
Athens Gunsmith Service, Athens LA.

I hope the take away from part I was that all fires are not created equal. That being the case damage from different fires is not universal. The location and extent of damage is not the same between guns in the same fire, and can even differ on the same gun from one end to the other. Careful observation can give you valuable clues about the fire and damage absorbed by each firearm. Continue reading


Burn Guns–Part 1 of 3

Smeltzerby Paul Smeltzer,
Athens Gunsmith Service, Athens LA.

Several years ago at one of the early AGI “bashes” I had a conversation with Gene (Kelly) concerning the direction of my fledgling gunsmith business. One thing that stuck with me was his advice to focus on the thing that you are most interested/good at and run with it. I took that advice and focused on military firearms, more specifically restoration of military firearms. That road led to a general reputation for restorations of all kinds. Part of that rep was developed from a willingness to work with guns that have been in a fire. From the beginning I referred to these firearms as “Burn Guns”. It is a rarity that I don’t have a couple of burn guns in the shop. Presently, taking a look around I have 27 guns from two fires in the shop. Continue reading