Barrel maker Bill Blacker makes our list of the top 10 gunsmiths.

The top 10 gunsmiths are those chosen who are at the top of their trade. Whether you have a stock that needs straightening, a gun looking for a service before or after the season or a barrel with a ding, the top 10 gunsmiths will iron out your problems. If you are looking for a barrel specialist look no further than Bill Blacker.


Bill Blacker went to Holland & Holland from school at 16 as a barrel-making apprentice. He left to go to Purdey in 1983, where he stayed for several years before becoming an independent tradesman working for gunmaking’s “carriage trade” (Holland & Holland, Purdey, Boss, Hartmann & Weiss, and Peter Nelson). Bill Blacker has brought his sons, James and Matt, into the trade and can tackle – to the highest London standards – anything relating to barrels, smooth-bored or rifled. He can make new chopper-lump barrel sets for shotguns .410 to 4-bore and double rifle barrels from .22 to .700.

Blacker is expert in barrel repairs of all sorts – lifting dents, lapping bores – and is well known for his choke-work and regulation. He is one of the few who keep the latter art alive. (Steve Cranston at Holland & Holland and Stuart Richards at Westley Richards are other great exponents). “I see too many good old barrels and some new ones damaged by poor work,” Blacker comments. “If you have a best gun, it needs someone properly qualified to work upon it. A lot of hassle can be prevented by good maintenance and care and not just throwing a gun in the cabinet at the end of the season without due preparation. One good idea is a service before putting it away for the year.” Tel 01268 730375; email ; website.