Meet young Wallace Gusler, a master American gunsmith, 51 years ago

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by John Bradford, Mar 28, 2020.

  1. John Bradford

    John Bradford Member

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    In Colonial and early American times, a single flintlock rifle could have taken at least 300 man hours to complete. It makes me think that 'lowly' muzzleloaders were as expensive as Rolex watches in their heyday. The early gunsmith was a master of several trades. It is loving hand craftsmanship as this that is largely missing in a modern world. Fathers should show their boys this video to truly appreciate excellent workmanship. Certainly this video is much more fascinating to me than any computer games. It is old-fashioned pride in workmanship as this that made America a once-great nation. Mr. Gusler exhibits the genius of Einstein and the work ethic of an Amish plow horse.

    Look at the hard labor of forging and welding a single barrel by hand.

    Now my questions: how are modern American guns made today and do the manufacturing techniques today differ from those shown in the video? Has the industrial revolution greatly changed gunmaking? Are modern barrels still beat seemingly endlessly with hammers by hand?

    It seems as an early gunsmith had to be a blacksmith, a forger, a farrier, a founder, a welder, a hand machinist (largely with files), a woodworker, a stock maker and an engraver as well as he had to know how to proof newly-made barrels.
     
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  2. goofy

    goofy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yes the way they make guns is different now then back then.
    BUT
    I have been a gunsmith for many years and do ALLOT of restores and have to do all of what you list to do my job right.
    All of my work is done by hand. NO machines.
    Mike
     

  3. John Bradford

    John Bradford Member

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    I was wondering if Smith & Wesson, Colt, Browning, Remington, Mossberg, Benelli, Beretta and Weatherby would still hammer forge barrels by hand and weld the seam with flux as Mr. Gusler did on that flintlock rifle back in 1969. Or, would modern barrels be made using a different process? I was highly impressed by that video. It's a masterpiece video for those appreciate old-fashioned craftsmanship. The video said that one gun took at least 300 man hours to make. I can imagine that those rifles during Colonial days and during early America were exclusive in price for their times. The black powder muskets were the cheaper less-embellished weapons for the soldiers while rifles were for the richer people and pioneers for hunting meat while expanding westward. 300 man hours to craft a lowly muzzleloader. My goodness!

    I saw a youtoob video of Holland & Holland's making side-by-side doubles. Some of those Brit shotguns are priced for more than some houses. I was surprised to see women at the H&H factory in the video. They were hand engraving these guns. I have always thought gunsmithing was an exclusive male trade. How many men would make wedding dresses or nuns' habits for a living?
     
  4. goofy

    goofy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    There are quite a few videos on the internet that show you how they are made now.
    It is all done by different machines. Although you can find out how to make your own.
    Mike
     
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  5. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    Modern hammer forged barrels are made by a machine, and no they aren't forge welded. Modern hammer forging creates the rifling inside the barrel.

    A barrel blank is drawn over a mandrel as the machine hammers it around the mandrel to impress the rifling inside the bore. The barrel blank does grow longer and smaller in diameter during the process but it already had a hole in the blank before it gets hammer forged.

    And no, this is not done at red heat, as far as I know the blanks are at room temperature at the start of the process, I'm sure the get hotter from being beat on by the hammer forging machine but not red hot.
     
  6. Grizzley1

    Grizzley1 Well-Known Member

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    John, I forgot to mention that I make barrels for muzzle loading and black powder cartridge rifles.

    The barrel starts out as a solid round bar of the appropriate diameter and grade of steel and the bore is drilled using a machine called a deep hole drilling machine.

    Barrels haven't been made from forge welded tubes since the beginning of the 20th century.
     
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  7. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

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    Forge welding was the only way to make barrels a long time ago. It wasn't the best way, either.
     
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  8. John Bradford

    John Bradford Member

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    Forge-welded barrels would probably be no good for high-pressure smokeless-powder guns these days. In the 1969 film, Colonial Williamsburg, VA, they were showing the exact quaint methods of gunmaking. The forge-welded barrel would undergo a proof test at 4 times the normal powder charge. Anyway, America was won from King George III with forge-welded barrels.