Sorting out the accuracy of both reproduced and authentic Revolutionary War firearms requires skill, which may explain why representatives from both Pawn Stars and Jeopardy have sought the opinion of Paul Ambrose — a life-long gun collector and owner of Ambrose Antiques in Trumbull, Connecticut. Inscriptions, Ambrose says, serve as one frequent hurdle in the pursuit of accuracy. Inscriptions can help verify the history of a weapon, but, as Ambrose points out, “Anyone can scratch someone’s name on something and try to falsely attribute it to someone.” Although inscription forgery is rare, it happens. But considering George Washington’s flintlock pistols sell at auction for up to $2 million, people like Ambrose dedicate years to figuring out which guns are authentic and which are not. That devotion to sorting out a gun’s history also gives a person a chance to collect a few favorites over time. Below, those who earn a paycheck holding, eyeballing, and authenticating firearms share a few of their favorites.
1776 Reproduction Ferguson Breech Loading Flintlock Rifle
National Firearms Museum (not up for sale), Fairfax, Virginia.
Doug Wicklund, senior curator at the National Firearms Museum, says the Revolutionary War failed to serve as a catalyst for notable advancements in gun technology. But, the rifle did prompt some changes. Designed by British Major Patrick Ferguson, Wicklund says this rifle allowed soldiers to load the gunpowder and musket ball into the breech (instead of loading ammunition into the muzzle). “All you had to do was swing the trigger guard in a circular fashion, and a grooved breech plug would lower, basically boosting your firepower from three shots a minute to seven or eight shots a minute,” Wicklund says. This innovation set the stage for more advanced rifles like Hall and Sharps models. It also saved lives. Regular muskets required soldiers to load their weapons while standing, putting men in plain view of the opposing forces. With the Ferguson, soldiers could load while laying on the ground and temporarily avoid the possibility of becoming a target. Though the reproduction at the National Firearms Museum is not up for sale, you can purchase a reproduction Ferguson Rifle from The Rifle Shoppe in Jones, Oklahoma for $1,795.
1760-1770 Long Land Pattern Brown Bess
$10,775 at Ambrose Antiques in Trumbull, Connecticut.
“Many consider it the holy grail of Revolutionary War period guns,” says Ambrose. Even though the Continental Army commonly used this gun in battle, Wicklund says that few original American models survive today, which makes the Brown Bess a rare find.
Authentic Black Watch Scottish Flintlock Pistol
National Firearms Museum, Fairfax, Virginia.
The Black Watch was a British unit stationed at Lexington and Concord. The gun is attributed to a member of the Black Watch from the 42nd Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Regiment). “That particular pistol would have a high historical significance,” Wicklund says, “but not so much technology.” Though the pistol at the National Firearms Museum is not for sale, you can purchase one for $3,000 from Ancestry Guns online.