Colorado School of Trades Reviews and Guide

The Colorado School of Trades, situated in picturesque Lakewood, Colorado, a mere 6 miles from downtown Denver, is one of the country’s most well reputed gunsmithing education institutes. A short drive away from many of the cities in Denver’s metropolitan area, its students can avail lots of amenities such as restaurants, shopping, outdoor recreation and professional sports venues.

The campus houses the US’s largest totally operational gun shop, which caters to the repair of four to five thousand firearms annually. This includes gun work for both private users as well as local law enforcement.

What follows is a description of what this institute has to offer in terms of gunsmithing training, the cost of study and the amount of time it will take for the program to complete.


Gunsmithing Program Overview

The Colorado gunsmithing schools courses have been designed with the intention to teach the skills necessary for entering the gunsmithing profession as a general, beginner level gunsmith. Students will be taught for specializing in one (or more) of the gunsmithing profession’s specialties such as custom work, repair, pistol making, accurizing, making competition rifles, shotguns and so on. Once the program has been completed, the student will be awarded an Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Gunsmithing.

Basic Course (250 hours)

This course aims to instruct the student in safety, mathematics, basic tool usage and purpose, and to familiarize them with the ideas of metal preparation and stock refinishing, as well as recoil pad fitting and the bluing process. Once this section is ended, the students will complete an activity known as ‘Cycle of Operations’ where they will be given each of the eight basic types of firearms for taking apart, so that they can gain an insight into each type’s action cycle.

Machine Shop Course (400 hours)

This course will teach the particular practical uses of the various tools, along with the theoretical usage of the same. The student will learn oxy-acetylene welding, as well as heat treatment of steel. Once this part of the program has been completed, the student will have threaded and chambered a bolt action rifle barrel (in the approved caliber of their choice), and test fired it at the school’s test firing booth.

Stockmaking Course (343 hours)

This course is meant to teach the ideas, skills and techniques which will allow students to construct firearms. It also covers aspects of metal preparation, hand loading (theoretical), ballistics, sights and various stockmaking materials.

Once the course is completed, the student will have constructed a bolt action rifle, with a synthetic and walnut stock.

Design and Function Course (807 hours)

This is the core course, making up 44% of the total hours in the program. It deals with the diagnostics and repair of firearms. The classroom portion will cover discourses on civilian to military firearms, trigger assemblies and specialty tool development. This course will teach the student how to apply their gunsmithing knowledge in practice. The students will troubleshoot, diagnose and fix 30 firearms from the school’s gun shop.

The students will also have to work on a specialization project that takes a minimum of 100 hours. This will be an opportunity for the student to specialize in their area of interest.


Colorado School of Trades Gunsmithing Tuition

Estimated Costs & Financial Aid

After grants, scholarships and other kinds of financial aid have been accounted for, the program will cost an average of $9,300 for the student. If you wish to get a more specific cost estimate – here’s the school’s net price calculator that you can use. Each applicant is required to pay $25. You may acquire financial aid information by contacting the school’s financial aid office on the number: (800) 234-4594 Ext. 44. The details mentioned here are an estimation, and may vary with time, which is why your best course will be to contact the school for accurate information.

Financial Aid Details

Here is a breakdown of the financial aid statistics for this school:

  Student percentage Amount (Average) (USD)
Any Financial Aid 65%
Receiving Student Loans 65% 11,500
Receiving Scholarships & Grants 64% 2,645


Colorado School of Trades Student Reviews

  • My time at CST was a thoroughly enjoyable one. It was a great experience in learning and I met some good people in my time there. Although living in the Denver area helped me some – I didn’t have to worry about relocation or looking for an apartment, etc. Most people aren’t happy with the school’s job placement prospects, but as a professional, I took it upon myself to find a job in the gunsmithing industry after passing out. The best thing about this school’s program is that it doesn’t slow you down with unnecessary classes as in the case of Yavapai, Lassen, Trinidad etc. It is straight shooting so you can learn about the trade and start in the industry as quickly as possible!
  • This school’s program can be compared to a liberal arts degree – it may not show you exactly what you want sometimes, but it will definitely equip you with the knowledge and understanding to discover it on your own. All in all, it covered all the aspects of gunsmithing that I wished to learn and I feel that, with this institute, you’ll learn as much as the effort you put in. The environment here is by no means like that of an Ivy League school, but you’ll have no trouble settling in if you’re focused on your education, and don’t mind being regular to your classes.
  • It was expensive at the time I attended, and since I signed up straight after high school, I needed to learn some self-discipline to conform to the attendance requirements, but the instructors I had were top notch including Corky Maeder, Ben Spahn and Dean Wentworth. The gunsmithing program was great and it got down to the basics – I even learnt how to use a file! I’m sure the techniques today are years ahead of what they were then. 



The Colorado School of Trades has a gunsmithing program that is reasonably priced, comprehensive in what it covers, and ideal for those who want to get practical gunsmithing training. Those who are already experienced in gunsmithing may be slightly put out by the basic techniques taught in the initial course, but this is great for those who have absolutely no knowledge of the trade at all.

High school students may find the stringent attendance requirements hard to cope with at first, as they make the transition to vocational education, but it will be a valuable lesson for their careers. Due to its proximity to a metropolis area, the school is recommended for those who want to experience off campus life as well.

The one thing you do need to be prepared for is hunting for a job on your own, since job placement isn’t guaranteed.

1 thought on “Colorado School of Trades Reviews and Guide”

  1. Does the school take rough wood stocks and have students fit and finish them. I understand that students would be learning as they work on the wood stocks.


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