Pennsylvania Rifle by Larry GardnerKatie Horn
Few weapons from American history exude beauty and mystique quite like the Pennsylvania rifle. This year’s CLF Live Fundraising Auction is pleased to offer an exquisite example of the Pennsylvania rifle by one of the most respected makers in the nation, Larry Gardner.
This classic Pennsylvania rifle sports a .45 caliber, 36-inch-long barrel paired with a strikingly figured maple stock. The stock carries tasteful and crisp carving and is fitted with gleaming brass furniture. Gardner has long been regarded a master engraver, and this rifle puts that skill on full display. The rifle is likewise fitted with a one-of-a-kind patch box of the artist’s design; Gardner, who’s been making rifles since the 1960’s, has notably never made the same patch box twice.
This rifle also constitutes a bittersweet opportunity for collectors. Gardner’s rifles are highly sought after, but due to recent health challenges, the artist has been forced to retire from the craft that he’s spent the last five decades mastering. This is the last Larry Gardner rifle that will ever be made.
Gardner spent his professional career as a commercial artist, and his design skills are a hallmark of his work. Although his rifles can be classified as Pennsylvania’s, he never adhered to a specific design school, incorporated and modifying various design elements according to his own artistic sensibilities. Gardner has pointed out that “You have to be part gunsmith, part metalsmith, and part master woodworker to build a longrifle.” That standard of excellence has come to define the work of master gunmaker Larry Gardner.
Text by Joshua Shepherd
Photography by David Wright