How do I order a custom firearm?

First off, thank you for your interest in my work. I have a particular fondness for iron mounted southern rifles; particularly the guns made in the region from Rockbridge County Virginia southwest into East Tennessee. I am currently concentrating on building rifles of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee; but I welcome orders for any flintlock sporting arm. If you are considering ordering a custom firearm from me, you need to understand a few things about how I work and what I need to know to make you a gun.

I base my work on original guns without trying to make an exact copy of any particular weapon. I try to imagine myself in the place of a particular 18th or 19th century gunsmith and build a gun that he might have created. I feel that there should always be something of myself in everything that I make, but consistent with the stylistic elements of the maker, shop, or region that I am trying to re-create.

In an effort to put myself in the shoes of the original gunsmiths, I use as many period tools and techniques as is practical. While I do use some power tools, I still use planes, chisels, knives, rasps, and files as my primary instruments in the creation of a longrifle. Most of my finishing is done in the 18th century manner using fine files and scrapers with very limited used of sandpaper and steel wool. This results in a somewhat rougher finish complete with tool marks consistent with the finish of the original products. That way, you get both the look and feel of an original gun. I usually start from a stock blank, hand inlet my barrels, and also hand forge all my iron mounts. The goal is to produce a rifle that looks and feels like it came out of an 18th or 19th century gun shop.

If you are looking for a completely custom rifle, it is best that you come to me with some idea of what you want me to build. If you have a particular original gun in mind that is either well documented or that I can borrow, that is great! Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age by Joe Kindig or Rifles of Colonial America, Volumes I&II, by George Shumway are the best references for building a historically correct gun outside of having the original gun to study.

As you consider what type of gun to have built, you should take into account the suitability of various styles for particular applications. It turns out that 18th century rifles, particularly the pre-revolutionary guns, tend to be more compatible with the expectations of modern hunters and are very popular these days for large game. For a target rifle or small game rifle, you are going to probably want to look at a Golden Age or an early 19th century gun.

After you have a good idea what you want, then we will discuss the details. Assuming that the style of gun you have chosen is appropriate for your intended use, there may be some additional choices in barrel length, caliber, lock, mounts, decoration and the like; but these choices will be constrained by your choice of style. We will discuss all these issues along with your preferences with regard to trigger pull, drop, and cast off and how these may affect your other choices.

Once we have settled on the specifications for your gun, I will work up a quote for you. Since each gun is different, there is no set price. The price will depend on the cost of parts with the quality of the wood being the greatest variable. The typical parts set (including a stock blank, barrel, lock, set triggers, butt plate and trigger guard) will run roughly $700-$1400 with a grade of wood appropriate to the decoration level of the gun. A fully mounted, but undecorated rifle will cost around $3500. A typical carved and engraved rifle will cost $4000-$5000. An iron mounted gun, which has hand forged mounts, will cost more than a gun using commercially a available brass castings. An aged gun will cost more than a gun finished “as new”. Basically, the more details, the more decoration, and the more period hand work, the more the gun costs.

There is one more option for obtaining a gun that will reduce the cost. That is to use a parts kit with a machine inlet and shaped stock. A good kit can run $1000. I will charge $1000 for a basic assembly. Carving, engraving, or extra features would cost more. The bottom line is that you can knock about $1000-$1500 off the price of a gun by using a kit. I am not crazy about kits as they require a different set of skills from stocking a gun from a blank, but if there is a kit available that matches your requirements, it is certainly worth consideration. It will reduce the assembly time as well as the price. A kit might make it possible to fit the project into a gap in my schedule. I can recommend kits from Jim Chambers and Jim Kibler.

As a part of the contract that you will be required to sign, there is a general waiver of liability and an acknowledgement that you have read my care and use instructions which also includes my warranty information. I always collect 5.3% Virginia sales tax for guns delivered in Virginia.

Before scheduling work on the gun, I require a deposit to cover the cost of parts and materials. The labor charge, sales tax (if any) and any shipping will be due on the delivery of the weapon. You should plan on a year delivery time after a contract has been signed. The actual delivery date depends on the availability of parts and how much other work I have. A custom barrel can add another year delivery time. Actually, some barrel makers are so far behind on their stock production, that a stock barrel could take the better part of a year to be delivered. I should be able to give you a estimate of the delivery date when I work up your quote, but I cannot guarantee any delivery date.

If I haven’t scared you off by now, please get in touch with me by using the Contact page to send me an e-mail.