Sonoran Desert Institute: First Semester

Just finished the first semester of “Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate” from Sonoran Desert Institutes (SDI). I was very unsure of what to expect from an online curriculum that focuses on gunsmithing. The portal is very functional and the lessons are split into manageable sections. On top of that, a variety of addition resources are accessible for each section. These include videos and articles that tie into the lessons.

This semester consisted of the following classes:

FAT 105 – Introduction to Firearms
FAT 100 – Firearms Technology I
FAT 200 – Firearms Technology II
AFY 100 – Accuracy and Functionality

Being an avid shooter and raised on various types of firearms, I went in expecting to snooze through this semester. This definitely was not the case. FAT 105 went strait into covering the basics of firearms, including safety. Next up was rifle and shotgun action types and gauges. The shotgun portion had a ton of great content, including:

– Identifying gauge by barrel diameter
– Shot pellet sizes
– Effects of chokes at varying distances

FAT 105 went into the evolution of firearms from black powder to modern weapons. Handgun action types were also covered with deeper diving into specific revolver and 1911 designs. Gunsmith shop setup, tooling, and design was also very useful.

FAT 100 expanded on everything from FAT 105. Going even deeper into the action types, gauges, and chamberings. From the ground up with working on lathes and cutting barrel threads to headspacing. Triggers, barrel lapping, brazing, and soldering.. Tons of great information. Ending with making and replacing obsolete gun parts.

Fat 200 really moved into the finishing of firearms. including

– Metal polishing
– Engraving
– Bluing metal
– Parkerizing, plating, and restoration
– Hydrographics

Closing with the extremely popular Ruger 10/22 rifle history and design. Tons of information on accurizing and customizing this platform, including some hands on. Completing a Ruger 10/22 80% receiver gives some great hands on experience with the platform.

AFY 100 reviews the basic concepts of accurizing and firearm care. Normal lubing and preserving museum quality guns. Correctly using sighting styles from open to optics definitely helps newcomers into the firearms world. Ballistic tables, sight in procedures at the shop and the range. Drill / tap for mounts were all covered. Very detailed instructions into both the 1911 platform and bolt action rifles.

I loved this first semester! Was very surprised at how much information for black powder weapons and muzzleloaders is included in the curriculum. Having a soft spot for black powder, this was really appreciated. SDI did a great job at covering the history of firearms and the transition to modern weapons. Even for someone like myself with a wide background in firearms, I learned a lot. Definitely recommend checking out the SDI gunsmithing school for people interested in continuing their journey in this industry.

We will be following the accurizing principles listed in the classes on an old Mauser 98 based sporter rifle in the future. Keep an eye out for updates!