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2,207 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
this is not exactly a scam, but it is close. :wink:

I have recommended AGI's video courses for gunsmithing on several forums (including this one).

This really takes the cake.

I purchased one of their DVDs a few months back on their website. Since then I have been receiving a "newsletter" every month...which I have been pitching in the garbage with all the other junk mailings I get.

Well, all of a sudden I have a 29.95 charge on my CC from them. I called and asked what this is as I have not purchased anything recently.

It turns out that it is for this newletter. I asked how did this happen, I never asked for this item.

Well, if you buy off their website, there is a small accept box that you MUST check to get to the pay screen. I don't even remember it, but guess I figured it was an I ACCEPT sort of deal like you see on millions of other sites for credit card purchases.

Now here is where AGI is really evil. The first two months are free.
then you get charged monthly....29.95. If I didn't go over my bill with a fine tooth comb, I might have missed it.

The lady on the phone was pleasent until I questioned their business ethics, and then she got nasty.

Here is how this went.

1. Why does AGI MAKE a customer sign up for this "newsletter" to make an online purchase? My guess here is I didn't hit the Accept button, and it wouldn't process, so I hit the button to finalize my order.

2. Why is the fine print so hidden? I don't recall reading anything about a newsletter..."Inner Circle" they call the old decoder rings.

3. Isn't this a bad business practice? Why do you not charge for 2 months? Obviously so a customer won't catch it on the first bill where they expect an AGI charge.

4. Why is the charge to some unidentified name (not AGI on the bill!!!), I only traced it by calling my CC company.

Response...she said she would reverse the charge and then hung up on me in my next sentence as I began to tell her what I thought of AGI's business practices. (I was very calm by the way.)

Now techincally this may not be a scam, because I agreed to something (even though I didn't know that I was agreeing to it)....but it is an unethical way to try and make money. from an unexpecting customer.

You don't see it on the bill when you expect to be charged for your shows up months later. maybe you won't catch it. As for the mailing, it looks like any other piece of promotional junk mail you get after ordering from any other company.

BEWARE this less than honest BS!

they have lost this customer....all I can do to make my displeasure known. and warn anyone else about this "business" practice.

943 Posts
Call your Creit Card company and ask for it to be removed. Most will comply if you already made contact with another company. They are used to the companies who automaticly bill you for magazines you didn't order.

Back before I joined this forum or started to really read up on biulding an AR from a parts kit, I was going to buy a AR-15 Gunsmithing Video from AGI to see what I was getting myself into before taking the plung. Well I called the company, it was after 5:00 and got an answering machine asking for my order including card number. For what I knew, it was in some empty Apartment. The message I left was, "Sorry, I want to talk to a Human being." Well I never called back and then researched the net and found tons of info.

30 Posts
More questions about AGI

I see this is an older post but I have recently inquired about the master gunsmith course at AGI. I'm not quite sure this course would be recognized by those here in NJ. I am interested in certification for myself so I can pursue a gun repair business. My feelings are having a certification with an FFL will help me get going much quicker then just trying to do it on my own knowledge.

If anyone here can give me a lead on a good correspondence course that is recognized by the industry, it will be greatly appreciated.

1,435 Posts
Consider this the "Dutch Uncle" talk about gunsmithing and "certification".

The internet, mail order, and AGI videos are recognized in the an absolute JOKE.
Apply for a job with a "Degree" or "Certification" from one of them and you'll be very lucky if they don't actually laugh in your face as they throw your resume in the trash.
All these are good for is to extract money from your wallet.

The best of them are the AGI videos, and all they're good for is to get you started on doing some light hobby gunsmithing on YOUR OWN guns. They will NOT prepare you to do work on other peoples guns.

There's only ONE certification that counts in the industry and that's a degree or certification from one of the top gunsmithing schools that you attend as a student.
Several of these have reputations in the industry for turning out professional gunsmiths and a degree from one of these will get you an interview anywhere.
The schools with the best reputations are Colorado School of Trades and Trinidad Junior College.
A couple of others are also top rated.

These schools take at least several years and cost a LOT of money.
Once you graduate, the industry will consider you a good option for a job, but the big employers like the gun companies will want you to have a few years working in a smaller shop to build up your practical skills.

Unless you intend to look for employment as a gunsmith with someone else, even these certifications are of little actual value.
As far as a customer is concerned, you can use your printer to make up a "Master Gunsmith" diploma and hang it on your wall.
It will have exactly the same value as a certification from one of the internet or mail order "schools."

If you have intentions of starting a gunsmithing business with a internet, mail order, or AGI "education" I can pretty well give you a guarantee you that two things will happen:
1. Some disgruntled customer will sue you for screwing up his gun, if in fact you don't get jammed for getting someone hurt.
This is because the internet and mail order/video crap can't teach you what you really need to know.

2. You'll go broke and be out of business in less than a year.

Want to be a REAL gunsmith?
Go to school. Get a real education from a real gunsmithing school.
While you're doing that, have a brain........ take some business classes.
I've known a good number of very talented watchmakers and gunsmiths who went bust fast because while they had plenty of talent and skills they had ZERO idea of how to run a business.

When you're a self employed gunsmith, you are NOT a gunsmith..... You're a businessman who happens to own a gunsmithing business.
You better have the businessman part down pat, or even if you're Armand Swenson or Bob Chow, you'll be bankrupt fast.

This is not what people want to hear. They want to be told that they can watch a few videos or look at an internet site and learn how to do gunsmithing.
Look at it this way:
If you were hiring a man to work on jet engines for passenger planes and one applicant learned at a professional school widely known in the aircraft industry for quality people, and the other applicant learned how to repair engines by watching some videos, who would you hire?

In their own way, guns are just as potentially dangerous. Plus, people are no longer willing to accept the old hammer mechanic gunsmithing of years ago.
They expect and DEMAND that the gun be restored to factory new mechanical condition and WILL NOT accept a screw up job.
Botch up someones gun because the video didn't cover that part and you're going to be in real trouble.

As said, this has been the Dutch Uncle talk from a retired watchmaker/gunsmith. As a professional I KNOW what I'm talking about in both trades.

Now, with all that said, if you stick to simple jobs like mounting sights, cleaning guns, installing sling swivels, etc, you can make a little money on the side.
However, the days when you could do that are pretty much gone.
These days you not only have to have an FFL for gunsmithing, you also have to have a State tax number, various State and local licenses and permits, be in an area zoned for business, and you damned well better be insured.
The BATF will insist you have all State and local permits and licenses before they'll issue an FFL.

I mean insured for loss or damage to a customers gun, a customer injured on your property, and insurance from some customer who's decided you've ruined his prize gun.
It might be a battered up old Mossberg .22, but damage or lose it and it suddenly becomes a fantastically valuable rare family heirloom worth thousands.
Think a good friend or relative won't sue you???? Guess again. Some of the bitterest lawsuits I've seen have been close relatives and life-long friends suing over a damaged gun.

Install a scope base and the owner manages to blow his best buddy away in the woods. It won't be his fault, it'll be your fault because you worked on the gun.

In summation, there's a LOT more to this than you think, and you better have both eyes wide open.

3,882 Posts
dfariswheel; twentypines; All,

SADLY "dfariswheel" is 100% CORRECT.

When I had a regular FFL (note the PAST tense: "had"), I returned a customer's (a local Highway Patrolman's off-duty piece.) mid-1960s Colt Detective Special to the factory to have it professionally refinished.
I packed it carefully, insured the revolver & sent it "certified delivery", charging the customer 25.oo plus S&H to do the service.
(everyone at the shipper, who handled it, had to sign for it, so I believed it was safe/secure.)

Short answer, the express company lost it & I GOT SUED, too, for THEIR negligence.
(Cost me about 10,000.oo in lawyer's fees to get the case permanently dismissed.)

yours, sw

30 Posts
I guess I should have given everyone a better knowledge of myself, First I have worked on guns since 1976, I started under a well known gunsmith her in NJ,his name was Floyd Akeman. I did start this as a competitor shooting pistol with Floyd. I continued on a part time bases while working in my own carrier (Municipal Engineering and Land Development). This was just a hobby for me,but I took it to a higher level as far as doing miner repair and alterations. I'm not saying that I am an accomplished Gunsmith. I have retired from my carrier, and since I have had a more then average interest in guns and repair as well as developing an above average firearm,It may be a good opportunity to make some additional income.

As far as business is concerned my wife and I have both been in business as well. My wife Ruth has raised,showed,and sold Brittanies from 1982 to 2002. She ran a successful Grooming business and boarding business. She no longer does this because of health reasons. We presently have a working small farm where we grow Organic vegetables as a registered business, for many reasons we have decided to look into another means of income. I'm merely trying to give everyone a better perspective of myself,then I did previously.

As far as higher education is concerned as a gunsmith, I can appreciate your advice. However I'm 67 years old somewhat disabled and taking on two to four years in a college environment,is really not a viable option for me. I am merely trying to pursue some further education in gunsmithing that will help me along with those firearms that I'm not completely familiar with.

I can understand from your vast experience as a gunsmith that you feel a formal education is the only way to go,but that is not an option for me,the schools you mentioned are geographically out of the question also,because I live in New Jersey. So now that I have elaborated more facts about myself. Perhaps you may have another suggestion. I would appreciate any help you may be able to give me.

By the way I wasn't sold on AGI as an option for me and that is why I am doing my due diligence here.

1,435 Posts
You failed to state your experience, which changes things somewhat.

The info on insurance, licenses, fees, cumshaw, etc. to some petty bureaucrat, all still holds true.
The days when people could open a small part-time business in a basement or garage have been hounded out of existence by a government at all levels that believes you're somehow a threat that needs to be watched and controlled.

With that said, with your experience the AGI tapes BOUGHT INDIVIDUALLY would be a good source of info.
I doubt you'd need the entire series, so I'd just buy the ones you think would be useful.
As example, if you're not going to be doing stock checkering, you don't need to waste money on stock checkering videos.

Buy your AGI videos from Brownell's. They'll give you a LOT less trouble, and if you're not satisfied or have a problem, Brownell's really does have a total satisfaction guarantee.
If you need tools, buy them from Brownell's as the first choice, and Midway as the second.
Brownell's sell only top quality professional tools.
At a minimum, buy the biggest set you can afford of the Brownell's Magna-Tip gunsmith's screwdrivers.
These are the finest drivers available, they make more sizes then anyone so you seldom or never have to grind a bit to fit.
I recommend buying one of the Law Enforcement size handles. The other sizes are either too big or to short to give good control.
The LE handles in either clip-tip or magnetic are the best.

Break or damage a Brownell's Magna-tip bit and all you have to do is email them and they'll send you a new bit FREE. You don't need to return the damaged one.

Also, with a FFL Brownell's will sell to you at special Dealer prices.
The Brownell's Catalog is online, but I'd still buy the paper catalog, it's just easier to find things sometimes.
Cost is $5.00 which they refund the cost of on the first order.

Second, select a firearm you intend to offer work on and then buy a Jerry Kuhnhausen Shop Manual on it.
These manuals were written as training aid for gunsmithing students.
These show each firearm in total depth, showing all gunsmithing the way the FACTORY does it.
There is none of the shade tree gunsmithing old books show and nothing is old reprints from other sources.
This is how todays customers want it done.

shop manual at Brownells

The techniques shown in the manuals transfer over to other guns, so the info has broad based use.

Buy a two book NRA Firearms Disassembly Guide, and a Gun Digest Exploded Firearms Drawing book.
These will help in disassembly and identifying parts.
There are also five or so Gun Digest Firearms Disassembly books. One covers automatic pistols, one semi-auto rifles, etc.
This may or may not be useful, so buy only the ones you think are useful to you.
You can find the Gun Digest books in most book stores.
You can often find the Gun Digest books used on Amazon and Ebay at lower prices, but on Ebay watch the shipping charges.

Book mark the following sites. These contain very useful info:

Schematics/Factory Gun Parts Home | World's Largest Supplier of Firearm Accessories, Gun Parts and Gunsmithing Tools - BROWNELLS
For parts ID and disassembly, as well as factory new parts.
Owner's manuals.

Same site, but exploded schematics.

General gun parts suppliers:

Firearm Parts & Accessories | Military Surplus | Numrich Gun Parts
Jack First Gunshop - First in Gun Parts - Rapid City, South Dakota Top parts house, you have to call.
Poppert's Gun Parts Main Menu
Welcome to Wisner's, obsolete gun parts.
Hoosier Gun Works
About Gun Parts! ...Bob's Gun Parts. Top Page Commercial Super Site.

Best advice I can give is to stay well within your comfort level of services.
Don't take on work you're not 100% certain you can get right.
That's a hard thing to do.
One of my main source of customers were other gunsmiths who thought they could figure out the Colt double action revolver, just like they figured out the S&W and Ruger.
When they realized that No, they couldn't figure out the highly complicated Colt's, they were in too deep and needed help.

30 Posts
dfariswheel: I some times get in a hurry and tend to leave things out:censored: But really,thanks for your help. Most of the Brownells tools I already have, I have been dealing with them since the 70s and some of the others you have mentioned. I'm going to copy all of the information you gave me. I think at this point my biggest hurdell will be the application for my FFL.I have finished stocks and checkered them, so you suggestion on buying Just the tapes I need is a better deal and smarter choice.

30 Posts
Profit is a matter of how you choose to invest the pennies you make in the business you own,I found it takes a long time to actually show profit in any business. As a small business owner for me it's more the love of what I'm doing and pride in what I do then getting rich.

I know what you are saying phantom4570 is a joke but there is a lot of truth in it.

1,435 Posts
There's an old joke:
"How is a large pizza and a gunsmith alike?"
"Answer is, neither can feed a family of four".

No joke, by the time you figure in the hours spent doing the businessman functions and get in a little gunsmithing work, the average gunsmith is lucky if he makes minimum wage.
Again, that's NOT a joke.

The only people who make good money are people who work for a big shop that offers good pay and benefits.
The only people who wear the Rolex, own a nice car and house, and take nice vacations are people like Bill Wilson who own big businesses employing a number of gunsmiths.
Those few are almost pure businessmen who don't do much in the shop except experimental work.

It can be a personally very satisfying career, but you have to be one of those odd-balls who gets his satisfaction from doing top quality craftsman level work.
These people are never satisfied with a job, always figuring that they could have done it better, and determined to do it better next time.

1,360 Posts
Got scammed like that ordering a FREE sample of which I had to pay ONLY shipping.
Found credit card charges from Virgin Islands coming up. They got me for some twenty bucks before I had the card number changed. Also found I had been enrolled in a magazine subscription, which I had been charged for but never got anything (part of the twenty bucks they got me for).

30 Posts
dfariswheel: I'm very aware of working in your own business and at the end of day making much less then minimum wage. Try farming vegetables for a living!! Like I said I'm not interested in gunsmithing to get rich,I love the work and the money is secondary. I have always taken pride in what ever I have done,it's my nature. In my working carrier I was always respected by my piers because of my work ethic. I am retired now after making a good living,working on guns has always been a passion of mine,so now I would like to pursue it.

Not to get on a soap box here. But there are far to many businesses today that don't give two sh#$%s about there work or have any pride in what they do. I personally can't stand that attitude. I like the idea of doing what I love and being respected for my workmanship. I have seen what these big shops and big businesses turnout, there is no pride in there work just profit margin in mind with no quality.

I had the great pleasure to work with a gunsmith that took pride in his work and it showed Floyd was a real craftsman, and gentleman.

1 Posts
dfariswheel Thanks so much for the information you provided for us concerning AGI

I have been looking into this program myself
I personally have found some of the vids very informative but the whole package for $4g's sounds crazy. I like the idea of being able to go back and look how somethings are done that you can't go back to if you are a student at a college.

I am going to heed your advice and select certain Armorer dvd's along with some custom job DVD's

I really appreciated your post

The old guys are treated like rock stars at gun shows They get me fired up when I ever get to chat with them

The liability of being a gunsmith IS HUGE something not to many people think about while they are swapping out a barrel on a .45 from home and taking cash for the work. You lose big time...probably everything you have if something goes wrong

Thanks again dfariswheel


1 Posts
The AGI vidios are ok for personal use. What no one has said is the fact that a gun smith has to be an expert welder, and machinest befor they should even start actualy doing actual repairs to firearms with any confidence. Not to mention all the tools and machines you need.

5,678 Posts
I've seen some AGI videos that were decent and some that were a waste of money. And I'm really not a fan of the Kunhausen shop manuals; can't think of a single useful thing I've ever learned from them.

If you're working on handguns, start with the 1911 since there's SO MUCH information out there on working on 1911's. From there the lessons you learn will transfer over to other handguns you work on. Regardless of the pistol, barrel fitting tends to go in the same order. Regardless of the pistol, a trigger job tends to be sear/hammer engagement and get the idea.

Rifles and shotguns gets rather specific; shotgun smithing can be the toughest of the three when you start working on double guns. But working on double guns can be a whole lot of fun when you learn how to do it.

If you live anywhere near one of the schools, then you can pick up a weekend course here and there if you can't attend full time.

1,435 Posts
Based on my experience, welding and machine operations are somewhat over stated in gunsmithing.
People who are not gunsmiths are always recommending on the gun forums starting out by taking machine shop and welding courses in Vocational schools.

There's this picture of a gunsmith standing over a huge milling machine doing some intricate machining.
In fact, the vast majority of a working gunsmiths time is spent sitting at a bench with an Optivisor, screwdrivers, punches, and stones working on some small component.

True SOME gunsmiths need to do machine work, but not many these days need to do welding, and when they do, it's rarely the kind of welding taught in vocational schools.
Many gunsmiths own little or no heavy machine tools since they don't do the type of work that requires it.

Again, if you really want to be a hard core professional gunsmith, the best way is to attend a top school who will teach you what you really need.

As an example of this discussion, I have a nephew who's the chief mechanic at a Harley dealership.
I once asked him how many of his mechanics were the old school self-taught types.
He looked at me like I had two heads, and told me that those days were LONG over.
He said no dealership these days would hire one of the old self taught guys to work on picky customers $20,000 bikes.
ALL of them are graduates of professional bike mechanics schools.
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