With the new movie, The Revenant, about to open, we found on the Contemporary Makers blog a fascinating story by Ron Luckenbill about the two identical rifles he built for the movie — in less than 60 days for both.
Ron is justly proud of the work he’s done here.
This is the gun that I built for Leonardo DiCaprio to use in his portrayal of Hugh Glass in The Revenant movie. The movie will be released to the general public on Jan 8, 2016. I have been getting a number of request for photos of the gun, but was restricted from posting them until the movie release.
I was contacted in July of 2014 by the prop master for the movie relative to building two guns exactly alike. They were initially interested in an Angstadt rifle that I had on my web site, but I just sold the gun and it was no longer available. After discussion other possible guns they decided to go with this Bucks Co gun that I had in stock. I then built an exact duplicate and had both guns in British Columbia by the end of August. It was exciting to be involved in a project like this. I like many others am waiting to see the gun in the movie. I hope it helps to raise awareness of the sport of muzzleloading.
via Contemporary Makers.
Ron builds hand-crafted rifles in the 18th and early 19th Century Pennsylvania tradition. He has made a third copy, which he’s going to be offering for sale at the 18th Century Artisan Show this year. He also has a number of other fine rifles and fowling pieces, reproductions and originals, on his own website, where he shares further details of the Revenant rifle.
The gun was built on a moderately figured piece of curly maple in the classic Bucks County style.
(Look at those stripes! If that’s moderately figured, we’d like to see what Ron calls fancy maple).
The build is based on an original which was handled and photographed by the builder. The hardware is copied from an original John Shuler, Sr. rifle. The barrel is a 44″ Colerain B weight 50 cal. While many original Bucks Co. rifles had English import locks, the original had somewhat larger than normal Germanic lock.
I found that a Jim Chambers Golden age lock was a near match for the original. The carving of this rifle is somewhat atypical for a Bucks Co. gun in that it is a blend of both raised and incised carving, showing a decided Lehigh Co. influence.
We don’t presume to be able to ID classic frontier rifles by state, let alone county. But we sure can admire this kind of work.
We double-dog dare you to go to Ron’s website and not come away with a jones for these classic guns, a uniquely American extension of a German gunsmithing tradition (which is why they’re Pennsylvania rifles, and not New York or Massachusetts rifles; early German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and points west). You can spend a lot on one of Ron’s creations, or one of the higher-end originals he has for sale. But he also has some reasonably priced original rifles and fowling-pieces, especially the later, percussion firearms.
He does make a very good point: given the antiquity of these guns, if you want a shooter, you’re probably better served by a replica than by an original. And given the current prices of the better mass-produced replicas, having a smith like Ron make you your own heirloom might not command the premium that it really deserves.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.