Iron Mounted Rifle by Heinz Ahlers, Frank House, Jim Kibler, & Ian Pratt

The Woodbury Whitson Rifle is a result of a collaboration between Jim Kibler, Heinz Ahlers, Ian Pratt and Frank House. Jim Kibler donated one of his fine Iron Mounted Southern rifle kits to the CLA for this years auction. Heinz handled the assembly of the kit and fabricated the additional metal parts. Ian Pratt was the design consultant, historian, and trigger smith. Frank House handled the finishing work including the final styling on the rifle.

This rifle went start to finish photography in just over 90 days. This team really pulled together to hustle this rifle out.

The Kibler kit is based on the Whitson style of the North Carolina Appalachian School. The Whitson family of gunsmiths worked in Buncombe County, North Carolina from the end of the Eighteenth Century well into the percussion period. William Whitson was born around 1764, his son, George Whitson in 1785, and Joseph Whitson Jr. was born in 1825. They made iron mounted rifles of the Appalachian school with some interesting touches. In 1800 Buncombe County included what would later become Henderson and Haywood Counties. So the Whitsons, Robert Hughes and the early Gillespies would have been working realitively close to each other. Their potential customers were North Carolina hunters, including a large Cherokee population, travelers headed down the French Broad River and over to the Cumberland River country, and traders and merchants going in all directions from Morristown, which would become Asheville.

Whitson rifles sometimes have patch boxes, generally variations on the banana style box, and later rifles have the extended tang. Ian Pratt finds the Whitson’s typically used a characteristic filing technique on their double set triggers and set screws.

The Woodbury Whitson rifle features a nose cap, toe plate and patch box consistent with the style George Whitson may have used. We have also used a molding on the cheek piece similar to Joseph Whitson’s work. Ian Pratt provided the appropriate style set screw for the triggers and guided the trigger shaping. We shaped the thimbles octagon giving another Joseph Whitson touch.

This Kibler kit rifle had extremely good architecture right out of the box. However the addition of some molding, a box, a toe plate, a nose cap and Frank House’s work with the furniture scraper really brought the rifle into the Woodbury School. Frank’s finish work on this rifle is masterful.

This is a classic Appalachian rifle with a 46 inch Rice 40 caliber swamped barrel. The maple stock is nicely striped. It is very light and handy for such a long barreled piece. And how often do you find a gun with quite this list of builders?

The contact information is below:

Heinz Ahlers

Frank House

Jim Kibler

Ian Pratt

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