Colonial Williamsburg Gunsmith

by Miles

I came across this movie on youtube from a TFB reader recently. It is a series of movies made about various artisan trades in the 1700s, there is one on blacksmithing and so on. However this entire movie is about the process that a colonial gunsmith would go through to produce a single flintlock rifle. I can’t tell if the actors set up a shop similar to what a shop would look like from the 1700s, or if it’s a modern day shop where the owner makes everything old fashioned. Either way, the process, tools, and materials seem true to the 1700s and they go from the raw materials to actually test firing the rifle. The final portion seems to be the only part not 1700s as I believe shooters back then used white targets with a large “V” shape as the bullseye. Can anyone shed some light as to why a “V” was preferred over a bullseye? Regardless, the process is just fascinating, every bit of hammering, cutting, and smelting was done by hand and individually, no mass production here. As we get more technologically advanced, one would scuff at such processes and say well of course that’s how they did it. Still fascinating.

I’m hesitant to call it a musket, because this particular process includes rifling, which done by hand looks excruciatingly difficult and laborious.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I've made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at

More by Miles

Join the conversation
2 of 26 comments
  • Rick Rick on Jul 25, 2015

    My Wife and I vacation in Williamsburg at least once a year and we always visit the Gunsmith Shop. We got to know the chief gunsmith very well. To those who are planning a visit to Williamsburg; I strongly recommend a visit; the Blacksmith Shop as well.

  • I1776 I1776 on Jul 27, 2015

    The smiths there used to sell their custom built rifles but they were $10-20,000 a piece. I heard they closed the gunsmith shop last year and I used to go regularly until 2 years ago when I relocated.