Michael Yardley offers his personal list of the top 10 gunsmiths working in Britain today. We direct you towards competence and good-training.


The top 10 gunsmiths list is a difficult one to restrict. But we gave the task to Mike Yardley and he has compiled a personal list of the most excellent. Mike Yardley outline his reasoning for his choices below. CONTINUED BELOW…


Carl Langton. Top 10 gunsmiths.

Carl Langton: top 10 gunsmiths

Carl Langton didn’t do a formal London apprenticeship, but works for London makers now. They work with all marques and…

If your barrels are in need of attention, see Paul Stevens.

Paul Stevens: top 10 gunsmiths

Paul Stevens is a barrel blacker and browner, keeping your barrels in tip top condition with traditional techniques. The art…

One of the best general gunsmiths, John Wiseman has been in the trade since 1966.

John Wiseman: top 10 gunsmiths

John Wiseman is a general gunsmith, with some specialisations. So when your gun needs to be serviced before the season…


Finding good, properly trained, craftsmen to work on sporting guns is becoming increasingly difficult. One purpose in writing this piece is to honour the best; another is to direct the reader towards competence (and it must be said that not all who offer themselves as gunsmiths today are entirely satisfactory). This is a personal list; I know the work of all upon it. It is not comprehensive list fo the top 10 gunsmiths, nor entirely objective (though opinions have been canvassed within the gun trade).

For example, Carl Langton one of my top 10 gunsmiths of Ladbrook & Langton and John Wiseman of FJ Wiseman are first-class general gunsmiths but there are many others who might have been included, among them Mark Crudgington, Alan Rhone, Erwin Peumans, Chris Symonds, Paul West of William & Son and members of long-established firms such as Elderkin, J Roberts and Richardson of Halesworth.

Where specialists are concerned, there are usually several at the top of their game. Paul Stevens on my list of top 10 gunsmiths is gifted at the arcane business of blacking and browning barrels but no one would deny the competence and vast experience of Ron and Matt Johnson (who black for Boss and Purdey) or, indeed, the firm of John and James W Gibbs, which offers barrel finishing among its various services. As with barrel blacking, so it is with barrel-making. Bill Blacker is highlighted but Peter Higgins and Mick Kelly are masters of the craft, too. I have included stocker Stephane Dupille because of his dynamism, relative youth and the quality of his work but Mark Course, Donald Custerson, Derek Mills and Jim Spalding, among others, are highly skilled veterans of the trade.

The emphasis here is on gunsmithing – implying repair and renovation. Some great modern gunmakers are omitted (such as Mark Sullivan, Lee Butler, David McKay Brown, Phil Butcher, John Craven, Pete Boxall, Richard Tandy, Callum Ferguson, Richard St Ledger, David Dryhurst, Garry Hibbert and Colin Orchard).

Although I have listed a member and an ex-member of the GMK workshop, I have not included members of the highly efficient servicing operations at ASI (AYA), Purdey, Holland & Holland and Browning UK.

Some guns come with the assurance of a long-established service department should anything go wrong. However, when something goes breaks on an older gun or we need modifications or maintenance, most of us depend on luck or word-of-mouth recommendation to connect to a suitably skilled person. Unfortunately, as each year passes their number diminishes. Those remaining deserve all the more respect. There may be omissions but those included have earned their reputation. Here they are in alphabetical order: