A gunsmith is a person who repairs, modifies, designs, or builds firearms. Good gunsmiths have encyclopedic knowledge of firearms and their components, metallurgy, woodworking, machining, and history. Today we meet Budd Gardstein, a Jewish gunsmith and learn more about him and the work he does:
1. Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
I grew up outside of White Plains N.Y. I now live in Laurel County Kentucky, in the southeastern part of the state bordering Tennessee and West Virginia. Here, kids walk the hills and streets with .22 rifles, 20 gauge shotguns, and fishing poles and nobody thinks anything of it. It’s a different world and I love it.2. What do you do for a living?
As a gunsmith, I repair and restore guns, whatever my customers need: repairing broken stocks, hand-fitting custom scope mounts in the machine shop, and fine woodworking. I also do blacksmith work. Lastly, I am a certified Kentucky Firefighter-- as a Gunsmith-Blacksmith I work to keep the guns firing hot all the time, but as a Firefighter I work to go to the source of the fire and fight it to put it out!3. Who introduced you to firearms? How old were you the first time you went shooting?
As an adult, through military service. I served 4 years in the Air Force, including a year in Vietnam.4. How did you get involved in gunsmithing?
It started by wanting to work on my own guns, and with a lot of effort I expanded out. I went to school in the days when they had shop classes. I took mechanical drawing, drafting, wood shop, metal shop, auto mechanics, and machine shop. Literally, anything I could get my hands on. I have always been working with my hands, and of course, I love good tools: Both hand and power. I learned well, adapted well, and I improvise as needed. To put it bluntly, I can fix almost anything.5. Are you involved in any shooting clubs or sports? Have you earned any awards or classifications?
I do participate in Single Action Shooting Society (SASS “Cowboy Action Shooting”). But here in the Kentucky Hills people shoot as part of everyday life.6. What do Jewish family members and friends think about your gunsmithing and gun ownership? How do customers and shooting buddies respond to your being Jewish?
I do not have much interaction with other Jews in the area. My customers have no clue about Judaism, I don’t think it crosses their minds one way or another.7. What do you like most about your job?
I work on people's guns that are their dreams. Some of the projects that come here have been in the family for generations, and have stories and emotions attached. Many are being given that special attention so that they can be handed down to grandchildren. We talk with everyone. We coined the phrase “Junk or Heirloom? You Decide, We Repair. I heard years ago “The Difficult We Do Immediately, The Impossible Takes a Little Longer”. One of my Blacksmith books talks of a man’s concept of “you have to be more stubborn than the iron”.8. Have you ever done any gunsmithing work on a firearm with any sort of Jewish connection?
Many of the jobs that come here wind up more complicated than thought of at first. Often customers bring or send me guns that appear Dead On Arrival. They might be rusted solid, broken, missing vital parts. Some have not worked in a generation. Some would say that these are impossible jobs, some would not even talk with the potential customers. There is a lot of satisfaction in bringing a dead gun back to life. We are problem solvers. People’s treasures come in with all sorts of problems, and we talk with them. We try very hard to make the broken dream whole again and come true. The smile on the clients face shows me that we made the dream come true. That is very satisfying.
I don’t remember if I worked on Jewish guns, but I have worked on UZIs and clones.9. Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers? Interesting stories, words of wisdom?
The biggest thing we should ask ourselves is what is our attitude towards defense of ourselves and others? Do we assume that people around us are safe, or should we be prepared for the enemy and other dangers at any time, as Torah tells us? And what about the safety of others, are we people who depend on others and just rely on 911 in an emergency, or should we be the answer? As a firefighter, we run in to fire when others run out…isn’t that part of what being Jewish is all about?Check out Budd's web site (http://www.buddsgunsmith.com/) which I've added to the links at the right. If you need a gunsmith, give him a call!