Franklin Countys First News

The making of flintlock rifles with the Western Maine Blacksmith Association

Wallace Gusler, the first master gunsmith of Colonial Williamsburg tests a flintlock rifle in a 1968 video documentary that will be shown Tuesday, March 3, at the Farm and Home Museum in Wilton.

WILTON - The public is invited to attend a video presentation and discussion about the making of flintlock rifles to be hosted at a meeting of the Western Maine Blacksmith Association on Tuesday, March 3, at the Farm and Home Museum, Canal Street, Wilton.

Colonial flintlock rifles required a mix of skills to make, including blacksmithing, metal casting, and woodworking. All of those skills were expertly combined in the person of Wallace Gusler, the first master gunsmith of the Colonial Williamsburg gun shop. A 58-minute documentary film made in 1968 and narrated by famous news anchor David Brinkley shows how Gusler made every part of a Kentucky-style long rifle, from forge welding and rifling the barrel to handcrafting screws and hardware, carving the stock, casting brass furniture, and even applying elaborate hand engraving.

Showing of the film will be accompanied by discussion about the processes involved and some showing of other examples of handcrafted black powder firearms and parts.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. with a brief business meeting for the organization, followed by the discussion and video presentation. WMBA secretary Will Sampson will lead the discussion with some background information on Wallace Gusler’s life and how a hobby of making reproduction firearms became Gusler’s life work. He’ll also talk about sources of information and supplies for people who want to try crafting a traditional black powder rifle themselves.

The Western Maine Blacksmith Association was founded in 2002 and is dedicated to preserving, advancing, enriching and encouraging the arts of blacksmithing and metalworking. WMBA meets at 7 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at the Farm and Home Museum, Canal Street, Wilton, Maine. Most meetings are followed by a demonstration. Membership is open to anyone interested in blacksmithing. Members range from beginners to professionals and some folks who just like to support traditional arts. Dues are $20 per year and include membership in the Wilton Historical Society, which so generously allows us to use their forge room in the basement of the building. Open forge nights are the second Tuesday of the month and the Friday 10 days later.

For more information about WMBA, phone Stan Tilton at 207-778-0792 or visit their website at or look for their group on Facebook.

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2 Responses »

  1. This should be very interesting !! something with a little effort and blacksmith knowledge should help to make one,

  2. Sir , Madam

    We need to preserve these for additional handbuilt items for historical events plus to keep those trades alive so I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we need to do something like that maybe shipbuilding gun building restoration or type things to keep our historical roots in tact we don’t want to lose these trades to the computer type things in the hands of the handmade things like the quality