If you think engraved guns are things of dusty old trade shops, then you haven't seen what the modern masters are turning out.
Despite the masterpieces of earlier eras, the most beautiful firearms engraving of all time is being done in the modern era. Master artisans still carve beautiful works by hand. The relatively new technique called “bulino” expanded the possibilities of engraving. Bulino uses hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of hand-punched dots of varying diameter and depth to create almost photo-realistic images on metal. Machine or laser-cut engraving has made attractively decorated firearms accessible to the mass market, but the works made with a machine process can never compare to the handwork that created the pieces shown here.
Browning Auto .22 rifle with Old West scenes by Lee Griffiths.
Manrico Torcoli bulino engraving of nudes and big cats on Peter Hofer single-shot rifle.
Giancarlo Pedretti bulino hunting dog scene on Connecticut Shotgun over/under.
Alfredo Bregoili swan & vine engraving on Rizzini side-by-side shotgun.
Engraved guns don't get much more spectacular. Firmo Fracassi bulino engraved Rizzini sshotgun, circa 1989. Fracassi is generally considered the finest bulino engraver in the world.
“Vampire Hunter’s Kit” by Colt Master Engraver Leonardo Francolini, circa1977. Colt Detective Special engraved with bats in the flutes, a cross over the muzzle, and a rampant colt on a coffin. It is in a coffin-shaped case with silver bullets with carved vampire faces, an oiler labeled “Holy Water,” and a wooden stake attachment for the cleaning rod. It has been called “One of the most unusual guns Colt ever made,” and “Francolini’s greatest masterpiece.”
Manrico Torcoli bulino engravings of elephants in the mist engraving on Beretta EEGS double rifle.
Lee Griffiths nautical-themed Bergmann Bayard pistol.
Manrico Torcoli bulino engravings of cape buffalo in the mist engraving on Beretta EEGS double rifle.
Angelo Galeazzi bulino engraving, Beretta Set of Five double shotguns depicting the history of hunting.
Editor's Note: The article is an excerpt from The Illustrated History of Firearms, 2nd Edition.
More Egraved Guns That Are Outright Masterpieces:
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- 20 Custom Engraved Guns from Gun Digest