Sunday, April 23, 2017

Kris Polizzi Custom Weaving


Kris Polizzi at the Lancaster Show

I met Kris Polizzi a few years ago at Dixon’s Gunmakers Fair and I was struck by her tightly woven straps. Subsequently she joined the Honourable Company of Horners and I have gotten to know her as an active and engaged member as well as a weaver of wonderful straps.

Scott Morrison is a well known horner in our Pacific Northwest and was asked to ruminate about Kris. He submitted this…

As a horn maker, I am always looking for the right strap to complement and complete a project. I have found that Kris Polizzi from Pennsylvania, makes excellent straps that will complete any project.
I first became aware of Kris and her work a year ago at the West Coast Horn Fair in Vancouver, Washington. Kris had donated one of her straps as a raffle prize which I was fortunate enough to win at the banquet on Saturday night. That day I had discussed a custom horn for a friend and when I picked up Kris’ strap I immediately knew that it had to be incorporated into the project. I was impressed with the quality of the strap; it was very well made with a historic looking pattern and would fit well with the project.
My friend participated in the David Thompson Columbia River Brigade this past summer. The brigade was a joint Canada/USA canoe trek commemorating the 200th anniversary of Northwest Company’s explorer David Thompson and his trip down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean in 1811. My friend carried the horn with Kris’ strap with him on the brigade and received many favorable comments on it.
When I was working on a French & Indian period engraved and lobed horn, I thought of Kris’ straps. I looked through the patterns on her Facebook page and chose pattern number 61. Kris worked with me on this and wove the strap to the length that I needed. (See Kris’ Facebook page here.)
Kris has over 100 patterns available to choose from with more seemingly everyday and a variety of colors. She is willing to work with the customer and customize the strap to their specifications. Though I have yet to meet Kris in person, I consider her a friend and a great craftsman. You cannot go wrong with her straps.

-Scott Morrison

I agree with Scott totally. I have two of her straps and plan to buy more.

You can find some straps made by Kris for sale on this link.Kris Polizzi Straps

Building the Southern Banded Horn – A Book Review

Scott Sibley on the range in Wyoming.

Everybody involved in our hobby of making powder horns knows of Scott and Cathy Sibley for their carved and engraved 18th and early 19th Century style powder horns. And if one wants to build such a horn the go-to book is “Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn.”

I love that book! When Scott and Cathy came out with “Building the Southern Banded Horn,” I had to have it. My first observation is that the new book compares very well with their previous one. If you liked the color photos and clear, concise descriptions in “Recreating the 18th Century Powder Horn,” you will not be disappointed in their new book, “Building the Southern Banded Horn.” The quality is great in this 125 page soft-bound book.

As a Prideful Southerner and horner, I like to think I know a thing or two about Southern banded horns. I have had the privilege in handling a few originals, seeing many and being tutored by some wonderful horn turners in the Southern tradition of banded horn making. While this book was not written by a Southerner, it could have been!  So I must say, while it would not hurt to be Southern, it is not a requirement to turn a Southern Banded Horn.

Right off, I like the fact that there is no “outboard turning” in this book. That is a big deal as a lathe outfitted to do outboard turning with very slow rpm settings is very expensive.  What that means is you can do all of your turning with a typical lathe with a Nova type chuck.

As we have come to expect from the authors, the reader is carried step-by-step from a tool list to the completed project. Wisely, Scott and Cathy did not repeat their antiquing process in this book; they used the space for new information.

I must mention that there is a picture of a very easily made accessory that holds the horn tip between the chuck and the dead-center. This is makes for a scar-free horn tip. This book has just the right amount of detail.

The book has many full-color photos of many original Southern horns as well as a gallery of Sibley built horns. (By the way, sometimes the Sibleys sell their finished horns online <<click here>> to see if any are available.)

I heartily recommend this book!

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

1132 RD 7
POWELL, WY 82435

To order the book online, <<click here>>

Every Insult and Indignity: The Life Genius and Legacy of Major Patrick Ferguson

February 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Review, Gift Idea, Product Review

Ricky Roberts and Bryan Brown sporting their Ferguson Rifles at Loch Norman at the Highland Games 2010.

“Every Insult and Indignity”
The Life, Genius and Legacy of Major Patrick Ferguson by Ricky Roberts and Bryan Brown

I had the pleasure reading the  trade paperback version (with color photos and illustrations) of this new book by Ricky Roberts and Bryan Brown. It is 235 pages of lively information and photographs on the Ferguson rifle and it’s developer Major Patrick Ferguson. It is written in a very conversational manner as you would expect from these two old-school flintlock shooters and experimental archeologists!

What I really like about this book on the first “assault rifle” is the authors’ rigorous methods in their first-hand research on the care, loading and cleaning of the gun. They even have replicated Ferguson’s original testing for the Crown. Further, the book challenges our common belief of the boogeymen, Tarleton and Ferguson, during our Revolutionary War. What a read!

Finally, was the Ferguson Ordinance Rifle at The Battle of King’s Mountain? I am not sure, but read what Mr. Roberts and Mr. Brown have to say about that.

One thing is for sure, thanks to the efforts of the authors, Revolutionary War scholars will have a bit to think about and have to adjust what they say in the future.

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

PS: I am pleased to announce that the definitive book on the Ferguson rifle is now available from Ricky Roberts and Bryan Brown. See

I hope you enjoy this one minute video of Ricky Roberts shooting the Ferguson Rifle.

Ricky Roberts Ferguson Rifle Timed Fire at King's Mountain National Military Park

Ferguson Rifle at Kings Mountain

Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

CLICK HERE for a short article from the NPS on the Ferguson rifle at King’s Mountain.

Recreating the 18th Century Hunting Pouch by T.C. Albert

I have been a lover of nice flintlock guns since I was just a kid. However, a real appreciation of the same qualities in accouterments like pouches and horns followed later. At one time a nice gun and just any old bag and horn would do (not so, now). Be warned! Once you associate with folks who produce good stuff, your kit will look different to you and an upgrade will be in order!

Some of us figure out a way to buy quality items for our hobby and some actually make them. I fall into the first category. But I wanted to try to make a bag. And that is how this review of Tim Albert’s book, Recreating the 18th Century Hunting Pouch came about.

First of all the book is published by Track of the Wolf, Inc. The pictures and layout live up the quality one expects from them. Super pictures and patterns are found throughout. Tim’s writing is clear and concise. Nothing is left out. All you need is the book, supplies and a few hand tools.

The book is softbound with 123 (8.5 x 11 inch) pages. The paper has a quality shine to it. The color photos are by the same guys who photograph for the Track of the Wolf website, so you know what to expect!

I mentioned that the book leaves nothing out. I am not kidding. The content includes: tools, types of leather, setting up your workspace, cutting, constructing, attaching everything and dyeing the pouch and strap. As a bonus, Tim shows you how to make and attach a knife sheath and an optional gusset as part of the pouch body. Antiquing techniques are also shown.

The book features pictures and notes about many originals and variations for the novice builder. I took various elements from a few different pouches in the book to make mine. In retrospect, I should have followed Tim’s directions on North Hampton county pouch and built that bag precisely to the instructions. This would have made the process easier I am sure. And I probably would have wound up with a better looking bag!

If you want to try to make a pouch from scratch, this is the book for you. Even if you have made a few bags, I am sure you will pick up some useful tips.

The process of learning to make a pouch was enjoyable and I gained a new respect for the leather worker who does this for a living.

The book can be purchased from Scurlock Publishing using this link.

Thanks for reading this review,

By the way, I used leather from to make my pouch. Their typical 5-6 ounce leather is a bit too heavy for most pouches, but often they will have some 3-4 ounce leather in stock even if it is not on their website. Email them through their site; they are nice people.

The buckles were obtained from . They have a good selection and their website is easy to use.


C. Michael Briggs, North Carolina Longrifle Collector and Author

February 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Book Review, Collector, Gift Idea, Product Review

I caught up with Michael Briggs at the Greensboro Gun Show today at the Greensboro Coliseum. He had superlative examples from his collection of original North Carolina longrifles on display. The crowd was brisk at times, but Michael took his time to speak with people coming by his booth, which included me. Thanks Michael. 

C. Michael Briggs at the Greensboro Gun Show 2010


I first met Michael when he and Bill Ivey spoke at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Old Salem, NC in April of 2008. They arranged for a massive display of North Carolina longrifles (and a few pistols) to supplement the extensive slide show and lecture on NC rifles, their makers and accouterments. I have read everything I can get my hands on about NC guns and gunsmiths and I can tell you Michael has raised the bar of serious scholarship in these firearms, pouches and horns. If I hear about another lecture I will post an announcement here on BlackPowder411. If you can’t see the guns in person, the next best thing to do is get his books. 

Michael is the author of three books. The Longrifle Makers of Guilford County, The Longrifle Makers of Forsyth County & Davidson County and Piedmont N.C. Banded Powder Horns and Hunting Bags. 

Michael has just produced a conventionally bound volume of his work The Longrifle Makers of Guilford County. The pictures are sharp and clear and it is a first class production; you will be pleased with this book. (He does have a few left of this book in the unbound format, which he is selling at a discount. You will need to call Michael if you are interested in the discounted books. See the link below.) 

If you are interested in contacting Michael to purchase his books or want to know a little bit more about him, click on this link to see Michael’s Mini-Site. 

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets 

Andrew Knez, Jr. A Fine Artist and Painter of Frontier Art.

February 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Fine Artist, Gift Idea, Product Review

Andrew Knez, a painter of the 1750 to 1830 American Frontier. He uses period sources for historic accuracy in his work. (Mr. Knez’s last name is pronounced with a K sound followed by NEZ without an emphasis on either syllable.)

Mr. Knez has a love of art, history and muzzleloading arms.  He is a longtime black powder shooter and moves in the contemporary makers’ circle where he is surrounded by the best work being done today. All of these facts show in his work. You have seen Mr.Knez’s art on the covers of Muzzle Loader, Muzzle Blasts, On the Trail, Backwoodsman, Black Powder Cartridge News and Precision Shooting periodicals.

Mr. Knez received his initial training at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) starting in the eighth grade in an intensive youth art project. The program was one where the students “had to earn their way through,” according to Mr. Knez. He was one of eight that remained after hundreds did not make it through the program.  When he graduated from the program, he decided  to attend the Pittsburgh Art Institute.  Mr. Knez has never known a time where he did not use his artistic talents to make a living.

Mr. Knez made his living as a commercial artist, an owner of a screen printing business and in 1999 went into his frontier painting full-time.

Mr. Knez will paint a piece of commissioned art as long as it does not depart from his frontier niche.  He also hints that looser requirements tend to make a better painting. Mr. Knez is self-published and uses his website as his sales outlet to the public.

Let’s look at the First Attack of Fort Boonesborough


I received the giclee canvas reproduction and was pleased with its quality. What I like about a good giclee canvas print is that looks virtually the same as the original painting in that it is on stretched canvas with the texture showing through. Plus the permanent dyes really look like oil paint. The giclee canvas reproduction  is definitely a step above a lithograph print. Check out Mr. Knez’s website to see the accompanying story for this piece of art. Mr. Knez goes to great lengths to research and document his paintings’ authenticity.

There is a lot of additional information on Mr. Knez’s website. Here is his link:

Thanks for reading,
Rick Sheets

This is what I see in the First Attack of Fort Boonesborough.
The video is only one minute long.

First Attack on Fort Boonesborough (c) Andrew Knez, Jr.

“Thoughts on Loading & Firing a Flintlock Rifle… in the traditional manner.” A DVD Review.

January 20, 2010 by  
Filed under DVD Review, Gift Idea, Product Review

I have never met Don Bruton. But I have handled one of Don’s rifles that had been owned by my late friend Richard. When Richard had it made the criteria for its creation was simple; Richard wanted an early smooth rifle with English influence that could have been made by Squire Boone. Not only did he nail the request, but Don’s rendition was a flintlock smooth rifle that was trim, light and pointed like an upland shotgun. It was a gun that needed to be handled- a lot! But I am reviewing his DVD, Thoughts on Loading & Firing a Flintlock Rifle… in the traditional manner. I just had to brag on his gun building skills a little. (Don’s website shows his ‘smithing- samples of authentic leather goods, guns, hawks and knives are all there. A link to his website is provided below.)

Now here is my review. I got the DVD in the mail and was impressed with the cover art and the overall professional appearance of the packaging and the DVD itself. There was even an eight page leaflet of Don’s observations done in the style of an 18th Century broadside on parchment paper. Of course, the quality of packaging is not always a dependable predictor of the quality of content. But, I was not disappointed in any way.
First of all, Don is a veteran of portraying a longhunter for over forty years and he knows what works and lays it all out for the shooter. Don speaks with clear North Carolina accent as he demonstrates in his 18th Century skills. His kit is of his own making and his persona is believable in every way. Now that I think about it a little more, the DVD is not just for the shooter, but anyone who is interested in the history of the woodsman or longhunter. Even if you have been  portraying a longhunter yourself for a long time, you will enjoy Don’s impression and enthusiasm.

I just read a novel where the hero was using a longrifle. The author went into excruciating detail about loading and shooting and it was all wrong. He could have benefited from spending forty minutes with Don and getting it right!

I heartily recommend Thoughts on Loading & Firing a Flintlock Rifle… in the traditional manner.

The DVD is informative and fun to watch. The DVD covers loading and firing (including old time speed loading), cleaning in the traditional way (with worm and tow), the differences between the rifle and smooth bore and Don covers the longhunter‘s accouterments and how they were used. The outtakes at the end are good for a chuckle as well.

This DVD is ideal for giving as a gift as it looks nice on the outside too!

Thanks for reading this review,
Rick Sheets

Thoughts on Loading & Firing a Flintlock Rifle… in the traditional manner.
A 40 Minute DVD-Featuring Don Bruton
Price is $20.00 Includes shipping within the USA
Click Here to purchase the DVD from Don Bruton’s website.

Here is a one minute preview of Don’s DVD:

Don Bruton – Thoughts on Loading and Firing a Flintlock Rifle

“The Gillespie Gun Makers of East Fork” is back in print. A Book Review.

January 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Book Review, Gift Idea, Product Review

Dennis with two original Gillespie rifles.

Here is Dennis at a family reunion holding two original Gillespie rifles.

I was so excited to see that T. Dennis Glazener’s book on the Gillespie gun makers was reprinted I asked Dennis permission to review the book on my black powder website.
My personal copy has been read and reread many times and I have given a couple as gifts. The reason for this is pretty simple; The Gillespie Gun Makers of East Fork is a well researched and photographed work by a shooter, builder and history buff. Plus Dennis is the great, great, grandson of John Gillespie; John was the guy who started it all.
If you enjoy southern mountain rifles and southern history or are a Gillespie descendant, you must have T. Dennis Glazener’s book on the Gillespie gun makers. The Gillespie Gun Makers of East Fork details the genealogical history of three generations of the gunsmithing family as well as many pictures of the guns themselves. The book is clearly a labor of love as Dennis made many field trips and used original sources as well as public documents to bring 150 years of his prolific gun making family to life.
Another great thing about this book is that it has inspired many contemporary builders of flintlock and percussion longrifles to try their hands at recreating the Gillespie rifle. I know I enjoy my modern-made Gillespie long gun. That is it pictured above in the header of this website.

Thanks for reading!,
The Gillespie Gun Makers of East Fork
84 Pages- 8.5″ X 11″ Color soft cover.
Numerous black and white photographs of the guns, the Gillespie clan and family documents are included.
$22.50 plus $3.00 s/h via first class mail, add $1.60 if insurance is desired.

To purchase the book, make payment to:
T. D. Glazener
917 Manakin Road
Midlothian, VA 23113

To order the book online from the publisher,
click here.