Modern muzzleloading enthusiasts enjoy building and firing reproductions of classic arms designs, but one dedicated gunsmith decided to go far beyond copying period sets of dueling pistols. Over the course of five years, from 1958 to 1963, William Diefenderfer crafted two pairs of flintlock and percussion pistols, each made completely from scratch, and wherever possible components were constructed from stainless steel. Diefenderfer fitted the two matching sets into a walnut and cocobolo casing that also contained all necessary loading and cleaning equipment, as well as spare parts to maintain these four pistols. Each .51-cal. pistol was stocked in Circassian walnut in a semi-saw grip pattern, set off by elephant ivory buttcaps and fore-end caps. While handbuilt, each pistol weighs within an ounce of its counterpart.
At The National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va., nearly 3,000 guns can be seen by visitors in the galleries, which are open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is always free (donations appreciated), and visitors can enjoy a well stocked museum store offering a wide range of arms-related books, clothing and fraternal items. For more information, e-mail NFMstaff@nrahq.org or call (703) 267-1600. View the online galleries at www.nramuseum.com.
National Firearms Museum
The NRA National Firearms Museum is home to the finest firearms collection in the world. Through 15 galleries spanning more than six centuries, this spectacular showcase offers the unique opportunity to view some of America's most significant firearm treasures.