Thank you for visiting our site on this most interesting form of visual electronic communication. I feel privileged that you have taken the time to explore via the Internet your interest in PGS and Gunsmithing. Many exciting things have happened in the career field of Gunsmithing since our site was developed in 1996. It has been my hope that someone in the Sporting Goods retail field would recognize the need to service the firearms that they sell.
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For too many years only the factories offered service to the public on their firearms. I would compare this to buying a car from a dealer then having to drive to Detroit to have it serviced. Gander Mountain has pioneered the concept of placing Gunsmiths in each of their stores along with sales associates who are familiar with the firearms they sell. PGS graduates staff many of Gander Mountain stores that are expanding throughout the Northeast and Midwestern United States.
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Current News

PGS Graduate Dino Longueira, 1982, talks about his new lease on life.

Brownells Conducts Alternative Finishes Seminar at PGS on September 29 to October 3, 2014.

PGS was pleased to welcome Brownells Gunsmithing Tech Staff members to conduct an optional seminar made available to students who achieve specific GPA and attendance percentages. The seminar addresses proper application of Alternative Finishing techniques and is offered periodically to PGS students. "We're grateful to Brownells for bringing their expertise to our classroom," said PGS Director Bob Thacker.


Dean Batchelder, Brownells lead instructor,  is teaching the formula for several types of Parkerizing, a coating that will make for a durable gun finish.


Dean is examining a spray-on finish by a student.


A student and a PGS instructor (background) applying a coating to small parts.


Several of the finished projects completed during the seminar.


Brownells Awards Bi-Annual Scholarship to an Academically Gifted Student on October 3, 2014.

"We are very thankful to the entire Brownells team for their commitment to offer scholarships to exceptional students who show high promise of becoming future leaders in the Gunsmithing profession," said PGS Director Bob Thacker.


Six candidates are being introduced to the student body by PGS Communications Director, Mrs. Robin Mahon.


Dean Batchelder presenting the scholarship to the Fall 2014 Brownells Gunsmithing Scholarship recipient, Cameron St. Onge.


PGS students attend 8th annual Brownell's Career Fair, April 1-2, 2014

Brownells hosted the premier event for gunsmiths and gunmakersin Des Monies, Iowa. The Gunsmith Conference & Career Fair (GCCF) is the only gathering of its type where gunsmiths, future gunsmiths, and industry leaders can mix freely and share expertise. And it’s entirely FREE for both exhibitors and attendees.

Thirteen Students along with Career Services Director Maria Bergmn and PGS Director Bob Thacker attended the 2 day event.


The PGS display.


An impressive display of handguns.



PGS Director Bob Thacker discussing American Pistolsmith Guild Scholarships with Hangun legend Ron Powell.


American Gun Making Legend, Jerry Fisher visits PGS October 9-11, 2013

Jerry, a charismatic man and a teacher at heart, is demonstrating a European Gun making process called "striking". We in the U.S. simply call it draw filing. Its purpose is to remove rust pitting and ripples or unevenness in the steel.


The smile on this students face says it all! Having guidance from one of the best in the world is priceless.


Here is Jerry at his finest, conducting a question and answer session and sharing his years and years of wisdom in the custom Gunsmithing field.


Celeste Fisher, Jerry's wife, who is the manufacturer of the famous Jerry Fisher stock inletting scrapers, conducting a session on how to properly heat treat steels that are required to hold and edge.


PGS school Director Bob Thacker pictured with Jerry and Celeste. Thank you very much for traveling from far away Great Falls, Montana to visit with us and share your years of experience with our students. Your visit will be something we will talk about for years to come.


Doug Turnbull, Turnbull Restorations visits PGS to conduct on-site hiring interviews October 11, 2013

Doug Turnbull and his manager of Gunsmith's, 2001 PGS graduate Sam Chappel, visited PGS to conduct interviews for their new special 1911 custom handguns. They interviewed several potential candidates and one or two PGS students will soon be proudly working for the top notch and state of the art Gunsmithing facility.

PGS Director Bob Thacker greeting and welcoming Sam Chappel to the school.


American Pistol Smith Guild member and Brownells tech, Mike Watkins visits PGS to conduct a one week course on the 1911 build.

Fifteen PGS honors students who had earned a grade Point average exceeding 3.0 and excellent school attendance were permitted to attend the Brownells 1911 build course and receive credit toward their Semester IV projects. As a result of hard work and excellent craftsmanship in the class, one student has been hired by Turnbull Restorations to be on their Gunsmith staff.


Mike demonstrating proper bushing fit.


A PGS student carefully stoning the rails for a precision fit.


Examination of small parts is crucial for an accurate gun.


American Custom Gun Making Guild (ACGG) members Sharon Dressel and Joe Seeley visit PGS, July 22-23, 2013

PGS hosted famous ACGG members Sharon Dressel and Joe Seeley for two days. They displayed superb gun work and described what was necessary to become well known and successful in the Gunsmithing career field. They also shared a slide show that detailed fine work, and several custom fireams in both completed and nearly completed states. We thank them both for taking the time to encourage and inspire our student body.


Gunsmithing checkering legend Joe Balickie visits PGS, May 27-29, 2013

PGS was proud to host this famous checkering legend for 3 days and students were coached for technique and quality. Mr. Balickie was inducted into the American Custom GunMakers Guild in March 2013 as a Lifetime Honorary Member.


PGS Students and staff attend 7th Annual Brownell's Career Fair in Des Moines Iowa, March 27-28, 2013



Eager PGS students waiting for the 2013 Career Fair to open so that they might show off their work to potential employers and gain insight into what the trade has to offer. Several students were offered jobs at the fair.


The PGS booth with many fine firearms on display with an assortment of fine machine tool projects crafted at school. Each student brought examples of their work to display while interviewing.


Checkering specialist Joe Balickie discussing fine checkering.


Stockmaker Jerry Fisher discussing proper wrist thickness on a custom stock and critiquing student work.


Ron Power of Grand Masters, LLC (formerly Power Custom) addressing students in Smith and Wesson revolvers.


Discussing custom stockmaking and metalsmithing after hours. Pictured left to right, PGS Director Bob Thacker, checkering specialist Joe Balickie, ACGG member and expert stockmaker Sharon Dressel, barrel maker John Kreiger and the grandfather of American stockmaking, Jerry Fisher.


PGS school Director Bob Thacker at the exhibit table.


PGS attends the American Custom Gunmakers Guild (ACGG) Exhibition at the annual Dallas Safari Club convention, January 3-6, 2013.


PGS school Director Bob Thacker shown with well known custom gunmakers Paul and Sharon Dressel. Sharon previously made suggestions to the checkering segment of the stockmaking course that PGS implemented that has been highly successful.


Double gun expert Jack Rowe presents a seminar on the intricacies of soldering barrels. Jack comes from a fine line of London gunmakers and has many decades of experience. Both Jack and Bob Thacker plan on partnering together to provide additional education at PGS in fine double guns.


Pictured left is well known stockmaker Jerry Fisher and is considered to be the grandfather of American custom stockmakers; pictured right is the famous checkering expert, Joe Balickie who is also considered the grandfather of American checkering. Joe's checkering videos are used extensively in many Gunsmithing schools across the country.


Custom Gunmaker extraordinaire, Lee Helgeland, current member of the ACGG Board of Directors, displaying his fine work with business partner and wife, Barbara.

For more information on the American Custom Gunmakers Guild, go to Associate membership is available for a nominal fee and includes an impressive magazine, similar in quality to a National Geographic, called the Gunmaker.


PGS honors our student and staff Veterans on 11/12/12


PGS honored our student and staff Veterans the first school day after the 2012 Veterans Day observance with cupcake flags (baked by the office staff) and photos of our Veterans on a rolling slide presentation during the brief ceremony held after the students returned from lunch.  Beginning in November 2011, veterans are able to use Chapter 33 (Post-9/11) education benefits at non-degree granting schools of higher education such as PGS.

PGS school Director, Bob Thacker was instrumental in working nationally with Representatives Jason Altmire, D-PA and Michael Doyle, D-PA in helping push forward legislation to allow Veterans the opportunity to utilize the Post 9/11 benefits at all U.S. non-degree schools.


PGS students awarded American Pistolsmiths Guild Student Scholarship and Brownells Gunsmithing Scholarship, August 2012


PGS students Gerry and Alex proudly display their American Pistolsmiths Guild (APG) Certificates, awarded to them along with their student scholarship $1500 checks and official APG lapel pin.  Both men, now graduates of the PGS Master Gunsmithing Program, submitted applications to the APG after learning of the scholarship availability at the Brownells Gunsmith Career Fair, which they attended earlier in 2012.  Gerry was also the recipient of the Fall Brownells Gunsmithing $1000 Scholarship for PGS students.  A Spring Brownells Gunsmithing Scholarship for PGS students will be awarded in early 2013.


Brownells Gun Techs conduct four-day "AR-15/M-16 and Variants" seminar August 27-30, 2012


PGS was pleased to welcome Brownells Gunsmithing Tech Staff members to conduct an optional seminar made available to students who achieve specific GPA and attendance percentages.  The seminar addresses solving problems on the AR platform, and is offered periodically to PGS students.  "We're grateful to Brownells for bringing their considerable expertise right to our classroom.  It's a unique opportunity for our students to expand their knowledge base without leaving PGS, and the students who participate rave about the educational experience and extra knowledge they can add to their resume when entering the Gunsmithing profession," said PGS Director Bob Thacker.


ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges) conducts periodic accreditation visit in August 2012


PGS was pleased to welcome the four-member team from ACCSC for their periodic accreditation visit in mid-August. Months of preparation by office and instructional staff preceded the ACCSC visit, and progress on our Institutional Assessment and Improvement Plan (IAIP) continues regularly, as staff work together to achieve specific goals in the IAIP.


PGS Students Network and Interview with Employers at Sixth Annual Brownells Gunsmith Career Fair April 27 - 28, 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa


A group of PGS students (and even one spouse!) made the long trek to Iowa by plane and car to interview and network with Gunsmithing employers, and attend free informative seminars conducted by industry professionals to develop their gunsmithing career and business.  The students brought custom firearm projects to display, and enjoyed the opportunity to talk shop with the hundreds of attendees.


PGS salutes our staff and student Veterans on Veterans Day, 11/11/11.


Grateful for our veterans' contributions to both our nation and our school, PGS saluted them on 11/11/11 with a brief ceremony and cupcake flags, baked and assembled by the office staff.

PGS was pleased to recently welcome the first veterans utilizing Chapter 33, also known as the Post-9/11 GI-Bill.  Recent changes to the bill allow students to use this benefit at non-college degree programs like PGS.


PGS booth at the 140th NRA Annual Meeting and Exhibits, April 29 - May 2, 2011, Pittsburgh, PA.

PGS decided to attend and have a booth at the NRA convention held in Pittsburgh, PA with its sole purposes to: partner with and establish new relationships with Gunsmith employers; have students meet potential employers and secure interviews if possible; see current products available to the community; and create greater interest in Gunsmith services. As a result, all three goals were accomplished and the time spent at the convention exceeded both students and staff's expectations.

For an overview of the show, see

PGS staff and students attend 5th annual Brownells Career Fair, April 15 - 16, 2011, Des Moines, IA.


Brownells, the world's largest supplier of Gunsmith tooling, accessories and parts, hosted a Gunsmith Career Fair in Downtown Des Moines with its purpose to bring Gunsmithing students and employers together.  PGS was honored to have a table where students could display their work and be immediately interviewed. The Brownells' goal to partner with the Gunsmithing community to create an even bigger market for 'smiths is coming into reality. Congratulations to the entire Brownells' team for hosting the event and making it a success.

For more information see

PGS, ATF and PICS hold joint workshop on Federal and State regulations, September 16, 2010.


PGS was proud to host the local officials of the U. S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Pennsylvania State Police Insta-Check System (PICS) to provide an overview of current laws and regulations. Howard Wolf, retired ATF Pittsburgh supervisor, has led these seminars for the past 28 years at PGS. He has now partnered with current ATF staff and has organized various senior leaders in PICS to be on site. PGS students are very fortunate to have Howard leading these seminars.

Brownell's Conducts AR-15 and Variants Seminar at PGS on August 30, 2010.

PGS was proud to host to host Brownells for this exciting seminar. See the Exciting Events tab for more information and pictures!


PGS Graduate Dino Longueira, 1982, awarded a U. S. Patent for a multi-caliber rifle system.


Frame Stock, Complete Set








Dino Longueira, a PGS graduate (1982), owner of Majestic Arms, LTD. in Staten Island, NY is pleased to announce he has just been granted his second U. S. Patent for a multi-caliber rifle system he designed and developed. Dino and Majestic Arms have designed, developed, and produced a number of products during the 10 years Majestic has been in business. Dino’s newest patented rifle design has numerous possibilities. He is currently exploring all possibilities to produce the rifle and have it available for sale as quickly as possible. You can see the MA 4 (M.A.R.R.S.) at



National Shooting Champion, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Staff Sgt. John Ennis, visits PGS on December 3, 2009.

PGS students and staff wish to thank Staff Sgt. John Ennis for devoting several hours of his active duty military leave time to visit with us. He discussed how he manages the stress of competition and what he has done to win many championships and medals. John said that his shooting accomplishments are totally dependent on the quality of his equipment. He said that  the Gunsmith is responsible for that equipment and they must put their heart and soul into building a finely crafted weapon just as he does on the firing line. John used the analogy that an accurate firearm is a finely crafted tool similar to a hand crafted watch. Pictured with him is Lewis Patrick, right, of Black Heart International who set up the visit.


Gunsmithing expert Doug Turnbull of Doug Turnbull Restorations visits PGS on November 19, 2009.

The PGS staff and students enjoyed Doug's visit where he told the class how he got started in Gunsmithing and how he has grown the business. He interviewed several potential candidates for some new positions that have been created. One or two PGS students will soon be proudly working for the top notch and state of the art Gunsmithing facility.


Lewis Patrick, senior Gunsmith, Black Heart International, visits PGS for on-site interviews, November 9, 2009.

Lewis interviewed numerous candidates for a prestigious position at one of the nation's premier tactical Gunsmithing centers in the nation. Those candidates selected will have the opportunity to visit the facility for one week to demonstrate their skills for the final part of their job interview.


Roy Christensen, Manager of Gunsmiths, Gander Mountain, visits PGS for on-site interviews, September 25, 2009.


Before attending the on-site PGS Program Advisory Committee meeting, Roy conducted numerous interviews for openings at multiple Gander locations throughout the nation.  PGS is fortunate to have Roy on our Program Advisory Committee where he can have input into the school's curriculum.


U. S. Congressman Jason Altmire (D-PA) visits PGS on December 16, 2008.

Congressman Altmire (left) greeting PGS Director Bob Thacker (right).


The morning of December 16, 2008 came and the flurry of student activity was nothing short of awesome in expectation that a ranking U. S. House of Representatives Education Committee member was visiting PGS. Students brought in dozens of examples of their work from small machining projects to completed custom firearms. Students set up multiple displays that showed their creativity and ingenuity! At the appointed time, the Congressman promptly arrived and the “show” began with an introduction of the school and program, a short presentation by Representative Almire and individual student discussions with him over their completed course projects.

Watching student interaction with him, one could see and feel the pride in their craftsmanship and how the Congressman made each one feel important. You could sense the excitement the students felt by sharing their views with an elected official, one on one, perhaps for the first time in their lives. The projected 45-minute visit lasted almost an hour and a half. The excitement and energy of that day is still felt in the classroom today and the whole school realizes that one person can make a difference.


Do you have Questions about our Gunsmith Training Program?  Here are some of the answers that will help you choose PGS as the school for your future career in Gunsmithing.

Would you like more information about the Master Gunsmithing Program?
Please contact us and we will send you our PGS information packet.

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PA Gunsmith School is located at 812 Ohio River Blvd. in Pittsburgh PA 15202. You can call us at 412-766-1812 or visit our Contact Us Page.
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