Beretta USA Steps Up

Beretta USA just made a substantial donation of firearms to the Gunsmithing Program at Montgomery Community College. As I am now a graduate of MCC (in Hunting and Shooting Sports Management), I am happy to see that Beretta USA is supporting my latest alma mater. As I wrote earlier, the Gunsmithing Program is top notch and has quite the assortment of equipment.

In the announcing the donation this week, which the release below notes, while some of the 363 firearms were purchased, the bulk were donated.

The Montgomery Community College Gunsmithing Program recently received 363 rifles from Beretta USA. A portion were purchased, but the bulk of the rifles were donated. MCC students will use these Tikka T3 Stainless Lite rifles in their re-barreling and refinishing classes.

“We are grateful to Beretta USA for these rifles,” said Gunsmithing Program Director Mark Dye. “It is because of this manufacturing partnership and others like it, that our students have access to exceptional firearms on which to practice new skills and techniques.”

MCC’s Gunsmithing curriculum ranges from basic diagnostics and repair to true custom builds. Students gain valuable experience in areas as varied as machining, tooling and blueprinting, metal finishing, repair, and stock work. These Beretta rifles give students high quality, current firearms on which to practice and experiment.

More than two-thirds of a student’s class time is spent in various MCC shops, bringing theory to a practical application in a hands-on setting. Valuable early machining exercises lay the groundwork for gunsmithing skills used later when working on firearms. Notable student projects include three custom rifle builds and a custom 1911 handgun.

MCC’s Gunsmithing program is fortunate to have forged many important and lasting connections with companies and individuals in the firearms industry, including Beretta USA. These long-held affiliations are one factor that sets the program apart from others. Industry partners support our students in a number of ways. Some offer substantial discounts to students on products that they will need during their education, some offer financial or material support to the program, scholarship donations, offer supplemental classes or educational opportunities, while others are interested in employing graduates of the MCC Gunsmithing program.

Other companies or organizations helping to support the program include Brownells, Midway USA, and the NRA Foundation.

From earlier conversations with Mark Dye, MCC is supposed to have a booth at the NRA Annual Meeting in Houston next weekend. They will be promoting both the full program and the NRA gunsmithing short courses.

A First-Class Gunsmithing Program

A couple of weeks ago I got to tour the workshops and classrooms of the gunsmithing program at Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina. To say I was impressed by the facilities is an understatement.

I was given the tour by Len Fagan who is one of the instructors. He also teaches most of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Management classes. Prior to coming to MCC, Len was the lead gunsmith for Alexander Arms as well as was the owner of Old Lodge Armory in Willis, VA.

The first room I saw had both milling machines and metal lathes.

Adjacent to this workshop were both a couple of classrooms as well as another workshop with both milling machines and lathes. The classrooms are not your average classroom with desks. Rather, they have six to ten heavy duty worktables with one to two bench vises attached on each. Companies such as MidwayUSA and Brownells have been very supportive of this program.

From Facebook

Mark Dye is the head of the program. Like Len, he is a graduate of the program himself. He also was a gunsmith with both Clark Guns in Louisiana and Bowen Classic Arms in Tennessee before going out on his own. In addition, he is the inventor of the Drop-In Trigger System for 1911s being marketed by Nighthawk Customs. It is essentially a drop-in trigger job.

Moving on, the equipment available for students includes:

  • 28 lathes
  • 13 Bridgeport type milling machines
  • 2 precision surface grinders
  • 1 CNC milling center
  • 3 commercial spray booths for Cerakote
  • Arms room with 350+ firearms for classroom examples and training aids
  • A myriad of bench and belt grinding equipment
  • Welding equipment 
  • Heat treating furnace
  • Hot bluing tanks

The MidwayUSA Arms Room has a wide assortment of firearms with which students can tinker.

If you work on firearms then you need a place to test them. They have two 100-yard ranges on campus which they share with the law enforcement program.

In addition to the regular degree and certificate program, they are one of four schools certified to offer NRA short-term gunsmithing classes and the only one east of the Mississippi. These classes range from an AR-15 armorer’s class up to building your own custom 1911 from a kit. They also will have classes on knife making, shooting, reloading, and finishing. I could easily see myself taking one or more of these classes.

Carolina All Out is a regional TV outdoor program available on cable in the Carolina as well as YouTube. They featured two episodes on the gunsmithing program at Montgomery Community College. The first featured rebarreling a Remington 700 and the second featured taking the rifle’s accuracy to the next stage by bedding and load development. Seen together, you get a good feel for the facilities and the expertise of instructors such as Len Fagan and Mark Dye.

If you are interested in learning more about gunsmithing as either a career or just because you want to tinker on your own firearms, I can recommend Montgomery Community College. In the interest of full disclosure, I will be graduating in less than two weeks from their Hunting and Shooting Sports Management program making me an alumnus of MCC. Nonetheless, I think they are one of the premier gunsmithing programs in the nation.

Went To Troy; Saw This Guy

I had to be at Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina this afternoon. I am getting my Associates in Applied Science from there in Hunting and Shooting Sports Management. Graduation is next month and I needed to pick up my cap and gown. In addition, I wanted to meet a couple of the instructors in that program and in their well-regarded gunsmithing program.

The head of the gunsmithing program, Mark Dye, was delayed because he and the college president were giving a tour of their workshops and other facilities to a visiting “dignitary”. I happened to see the dignitary and thought he looked familiar.

From the Richmond County Daily Journal

He should!

It was Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) who is the front runner in the GOP primary for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

Budd, who owns a gun shop and range, has the recommendation of the GRNC-PVF as well as the endorsement of Donald Trump and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R-NC). I thought it was appropriate that the one area of the college that he wanted to visit was the gunsmithing workshops and classrooms. He may have visited other areas but this is where he was spending a good deal of time.

NRA Foundation Helps North Carolina Students

Catching up on emails that arrived while I was out of town, I came across this one from the NRA. It discusses the substantial donations made by the NRA Foundation to Montgomery Community College to fund scholarships for gunsmithing students.

NRA Foundation Funds Montgomery Community College Scholarships

TROY, N.C. – Nearly $100,000 in NRA Foundation grants have funded Montgomery Community College scholarships for its gunsmithing program since 1994. These merit-based scholarships help spur high academic achievement and pristine attendance records while providing students with the freedom and flexibility to undertake notably challenging projects.

Throughout their time in MCC’s gunsmithing program, students develop skills tooling and blueprinting, metal finishing, firearm diagnostics and repair, and custom firearms manufacturing. More than two-thirds of class time is spent hands-on in the college’s 5,400 square feet of shop workspace.

“Friends of NRA and the NRA Foundation are both great proponents of Montgomery Community College’s gunsmithing program,” said Mark Dye, gunsmithing program director at Montgomery Community College. “In their biggest show of support yet, the NRA Foundation granted us funds to award 12 gunsmithing scholarships this year. We are truly grateful for the NRA’s unwavering commitment to our focus on this great American tradition.”

Both the East and West Friends of NRA State Fund Committees in North Carolina award grants to the program each year. In 2014, nearly half of all scholarships awarded to MCC gunsmithing students came from The NRA Foundation.

I am especially gratified by these donations as my family connections to Montgomery County go back to before the Civil War. My father was born in Troy and I still have cousins living there.

If you need a tax deduction for 2015, a donation to the NRA Foundation is tax deductible. You have until midnight tomorrow to make one if you use a credit card.