Monday, May 20, 2013

David Crockett by Jud Brennan for Robert Weil

Jud Brennan's imagination, resulting in uniquely inspired creations, has influenced the Contemporary Longrifle Culture for over 3 decades. Still going strong, it is obvious that Jud is not lacking inspiration and he has gifted us with yet another artistic treat. This petite rifle, built around an antique "Golcher" flintlock, is somewhat a tribute to not only a famous person, but to an interesting time in the development of our young nation.

I wish I could be a little bird and hear all the conversation that will arise when photo's of this rifle hits the internet ! Wish I could hear all the various speculations of  "what it is" ???   

At first glance, it's finely sculpted stock with bold comb and tall butt , reminded me of the work of Jacob Young. Perhaps because the first antique rifle I ever owned was made by Young for Wm. Waid Woodfork. About a decade ago Jud was heavily influenced by a rifle signed "T. Simpson ~ fecit"  and inscribed on its box "G. Mansker". When this rifle surfaced it stood the Kentucky rifle world on its head and more than a few contemporary rifles borrowed elements of design from it.

Rolling this rifle over,  looking at its patchbox with captured lid,  I could feel this influence, however many other decorative facets were pulling me along a mental journey tracing the footsteps of Brennan as his creative thoughts became alive. 

An incised molding line from the heal extension of its butt-piece along the comb usually makes one think of "North Carolina". The diamond inlays made me think "Cumberland's of Tennessee", but then John Small of Vincennes, Indiana used them as well. 

The big silver "man in the moon" behind the cheek-piece made me think specifically of two Kentucky made rifles, both from the Lexington area. Here I go… getting caught up in wanting to make a statement of "what is it"! 

I hope that upon seeing these great pictures and feeling that surge of excitement, each student of the "Longrifle" will catch his (or her) breath and take some time…. and study. Study this little rifle! Get into the head of the maker! Follow wherever your thoughts take you… think about Crockett, the Alamo, Tennessee, Kentucky, and then…. GO AHEAD !!! Form your own opinions, share and discuss them freely with all the many others who will also get much pleasure from talking about this grand little rifle. For this is the lifeblood of today's Longrifle Culture. ENJOY!



Photos on the burlap background by Dr. Peter Marshall and Robert Weil. Copy by Mel Hankla.


  1. Rifle is well done and a very interesting treatment of the subject. Whoever wrote thee article however, a little over the top buddy. That last paragraph - REALLY???.

  2. "Make a rifle that David Crockett would take to Texas"

    Somewhere sometime I heard a story that when Crockett wanted to explore "The
    Texas" he needed to sell some personal items ( one being his watch) to fund the trip. He also needed
    a flintlock gun as he was using percussion almost exclusively. Percussion caps
    were scarce in 1836, and almost non existent in Texas. So, living in Tennesse
    he would have possible choices of Tennessee or maybe North Carolina arms.

    Jud Brennan's "David Crockett" rifle is for me a great improvisation.
    He has perfectly combined a romantic fantasy with a historical overtone.
    The style and flavor of the gun are correct for the period. By adding the signature
    and partial motto, he has also introduced a literary commentary. This approach
    is quite rare in Contemporary work. Most makers are connected to form exclusive
    of story. That is not to say that every new gun need to have been the result of
    a fantasy or historical notion. What is interesting is that this one conjures up
    more to the viewer than just it's form. — Robert Weil

    *Crockett did own a York Pa. rifle in his younger days, it was sold off to cover debts.
    *The Brennan rifle has a Getz Barrel 45" 45 Caliber.
    *The antique Goucher lock was found on ebay, John Ennis added a fly to it for double set trigger use.

  3. I fully appreciate and share the author’s enthusiasm here. The great old rifles and really fine contemporary interpretations like this mean different things to different people. I know guys who really just purely love shooting and hunting and just want a general longrifle- shaped gun with a flint lock for the cheapest price they can get, and could care less about what the gunmaker puts into it as an artist. There are those who love the art but more from the perspective of the what and how of the making of the rifle – understanding the process of craft and seeing perfection in the end product is what makes them tick. And there are those form whom what matters most is a pure bench copy documentable to a period/place and time because their interests are more toward the living history realm. All of these are perfectly valid and there is room for all in our hobby.

    But the last paragraph, and this rifle, for me capture EXACTLY what I enjoy about longrifles. It is more than just “study” - that sounds tedious. There really is a culture – and yes it sounds over the top - but we do get excited when we see some of these great pieces - picking out subtle details that show the influence of old guns seen at shows or in worn out copies of reference books, and the influence of old friends who have been doing this work for years. The best of these pieces – whether antiques or contemporary - spur discussion with a community of old friends and spark imagination - as to the “what if’s” - what such a piece might have encountered along the way – from bears in Tennessee to Comanches in Texas ; who might have carried it, and what the artist put into every little detail and why. It tells a story and that story can be different for anyone looking at it - I can instantly imagine a hundred that might go along with such a rifle.

    That is at the core of why many of us stay interested in this stuff - we see a piece like this as a talisman - it evokes all sorts of thoughts and brings friends together for discussion, for some of us maybe a drink or two, and sharing the love of the hobby. So, nicely said Mel – you hit the nail on the head!


  4. The Great PinyoneJune 4, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Well when I saw thus rifle ., I said Ole Davy would have been proud to own a rifle like that. Robert could have had a number of makers craft a rilfe for him. When he told Jud make a rifle thatyou think ole Davy would have carried., in my opinion Jud nailed it. He has years of study in originals., which gave him all of the details thatbhe needed. He combined the different artistic elements of rifles that wowuld have been relatively close to each other back in the period. I thinknthe original Lock is a major plus. He used a blank that would be average and not over the top. The stock color and metal aging., looks very original. I don't consider this type of work a fantasy at all., I consider it., lucky if you own one like this. I have never seen anything that Jud made that wasn't a Show stopper. Back in the mid 80,s Jud came to The KRA Show and brought several rifles., ecery body there thought they were original., Everett Partridge told Jud , you are dangerous., 20 years from now these will be selling as originals. We people now some 180 years later are at best uninformed couch observers., we really don't have a clue what Davy Crockett carried to Texas., speculation is just that. And as for the Rifle Jud made., any onenat any time would be a fool not to want it. The Great Pinyone!