I find good gunsmiths hard to find. I know one but he's way overworked. I know of a few others and their work is either not consistent or they are also overworked. I don't know what they make. It sounds like a plan to learn a trade and that's always a good plan. Good luck!
Great to make a living at something you love, but I wouldn't expect to get rich at the gunsmithing, at least if you live in the southern US. Good luck, and I don't mean that sarcastically. Machinists make good bucks, tho.
There is a gunsmith just a mile or so from me,who occasionally posts on these forums.He is a full time gunsmith who specialises in making suppressors,but also does other tasks,he converted his garage into a workshop (its crowded but they manage OK) and he employ's one other full time machinist in his 'shop'.He is also a licensed attorney but he gave up working in law after a few years and went back to what he really likes,gunsmithing.I asked him about this recently,he has no regrets and told me he finds his gunsmithing much more fulfilling,he won't get rich but I would say he does pretty well and he's happy in his work what more could you ask for in life.
It has been a dieing trade in Michigan. In the past 5 years we have lost hundreds of shops and thousands of machinists to China, Mexico, and other countries. Anything related to, or in support of the auto industry has taken a
nasty beating. at least around these parts. I hear the demand is high in oilfield type work, and aerospace is doing pretty good too. Southwest and
Northwest parts of the country.
It is a rewarding trade tho, I find it very nice to be able to take a hunk of metal and make something from it.
And if you can get some side work to do in your garage, as I have been able to do just recently, you can make some pretty good bucks.
If you have a certain ability with math, can remember speeds and feeds, can learn metallurgy, have a "three dimensional mind" (a person who can see from "all angles" and visually/mentally perceive mechanical objects both statically and dynamically), go for it! Without certain spacial (yes, spacial) skills it may be too difficult to stick with. If it is a passion, you must give it a try! Better to try and fail than to live with the knowledge that you did not even try. Money isn't everything. One of the best pieces of advice that I was ever given was to find something that you enjoy doing and then find a way to make a living at it. DDR