Freedom’s Steel™ Damascus Pistol

Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol
Re-Discovering the Lost Art of the Damascus Barrel
Supporting NRA-ILA and the Second Amendment!

A One-of-a-Kind Custom Percussion Damascus Barrel Pistol
Crafted by Master Bladesmith & Master Gunsmith Steve Culver
Incorporating Historically Significant Materials
(Click images for higher resolution photographs.)

Knife Rights has donated Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol to the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) in appreciation for their support of Knife Rights’ legislative efforts in fighting the Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment. Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol was conceived of, and sponsored by, Knife Rights expressly to benefit NRA-ILA.

Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol will be a featured auction item at the NRA-ILA Dinner and Auction to be held at the NRA Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, the evening of April 10, 2015. Proceeds from the sale of Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol will support NRA-ILA efforts to defend the Second Amendment.Click here for information on the NRA-ILA Dinner and Auction

“Knife Rights and the NRA have a common interest in protecting our civil rights and specifically the right to own and use tools appropriate for self-defense. At a time when our Second Amendments rights are under unprecedented assault, we are proud to assist NRA in protecting these rights.” said Knife Rights Chairman and Founder Doug Ritter. “We are sincerely grateful for the support provided to us by NRA-ILA as we fight the Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment.”

“Since 1871, the NRA has fought to defend the rights of law-abiding Americans. We are truly grateful for the support of our friends at Knife Rights and their continued contributions to our ongoing efforts to preserve our freedom,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.”

Ritter noted, “we are indebted to Master Bladesmith & Master Gunsmith Steve Culver who contributed his extraordinary talents and materials to support Knife Rights by creating this historic pistol.” Culver generously donated the pistol to Knife Rights to support its efforts to defend and enhance our right to own and carry knives as tools used daily by millions of Americans and at times wielded as an “arm” in self-defense.

After the better part of a century, the lost art of making spiral welded Damascus gun barrels has been re-discovered by Master Bladesmith & Master Gunsmith Steve Culver. This history-making hand-crafted .45 Cal. percussion pistol incorporates only the second spiral welded Damascus gun barrel ever made since the last one was produced in 1930. Culver experimentally produced the first one in 2012 after years of research and effort.

Spiral welded Damascus gun barrels were produced for about 150 years. The last spiral welded Damascus gun-barrel was documented as made at Jean Decour-Dupont’s works in Nessonvaux, Belgium in 1930. Unfortunately, the secrets to making such barrels died with the makers. Many of what records existed were destroyed in the war.

The .45 caliber barrel used on Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol is of Bernard pattern Damascus steel. Firearms historians believe that gun barrels of Bernard pattern were last made in Belgium. The Damascus gun barrel industry was wiped out during World War I, but was revived briefly in Belgium starting in 1924 with some of the last remaining forgers. Unfortunately the effort didn’t last. As the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI was in 2014, this creation of a gun barrel in Bernard pattern was done on the 100th anniversary of the last time that this Damascus pattern barrel was made.

There are 81 steel rods stacked into the billet, 41 rods of 1084 steel and 40 rods of 1018 steel. The rods were stacked in a 9 x 9 checkerboard arrangement. This stack of rods was forge-welded into a solid block which was then drawn out by forging and cut into two equal lengths. Each length was then drawn out into rods that were 1/2″ square and then the two rods were twisted along their entire length, at a rate of 3 1/2 revolutions per inch. The rods were then forge welded to each other along their lengths to make a “riband,” or bar of Damascus. All of the Damascus steel for the pistol came from this riband.

In order to create the barrel, the riband was wound around a steel mandrel to form a coil. The turns of the coil were then forge welded together to create a solid barrel tube. It is much more difficult, technically, than it sounds. It took Culver years to figure out how to do it.

The bore of the rough forged barrel tube was drilled and reamed to remove imperfections and create the smooth finished bore. The outside of the tube was then machined into its final octagonal form.

The lock was designed and hand-crafted by Culver in the traditional side-lock style. The lock-plate is made from the same Damascus steel as was used to make the gun barrel. The intricate trigger guard was forged to shape from this same Damascus and then hand finished. A Sterling Silver blade sight was inlet into the barrel.

The historic Cherry wood used to make the pistol stock came from the site of George Washington’s childhood home and was provided by Historical Woods of America. Culver hand-carved the final lines of the 1850s era style stock, carefully fitting it to the mechanical parts of the pistol.

Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol is fully functional and has been test fired (watch video)

Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol is presented in a custom-built black walnut display case by Brookfield Case. It features glass on four sides and the top.

Extensive Work in Progress video and photos documenting the making of this pistol will be provided to the purchaser. You can watch a brief video (edited from these WIP videos) about the making of Freedom’s Steel Damascus Pistol:

A sampling of the WIP photos can be viewed by clicking here or on the montage below.



Steve CulverGunmaker: Steve Culver
Meriden, Kansas

Steve started making knives in 1987, sold his first knife in 1989 and passed the American Bladesmith Society’s demanding Master Smith test in 2007. He has been a full time knifemaker since March, 2004.

Steve is also a Master Gunsmith. He no longer takes in gunsmithing work, having chosen to concentrate primarily on knifemaking. Becoming an accomplished Master Bladesmith has steeped Steve in the intricate, but brutal art of forging and working with Damascus steel.

With a background as both a gunsmith and a bladesmith, and an insatiable curiosity, the mysteries of Damascus gun barrels soon became a siren’s song for Steve.

Steve spent two years researching and experimenting in his shop to re-discover the process of making spiral welded Damascus gun barrels. On September 26, 2012, he successfully test fired a Damascus gun barrel that he had made.



Handle Wood: Historical Woods of America, Inc.
Woodford, Virginia

Historical Woods of America’s (HWA’s) goals and services are squarely focused on the reclamation, salvaging and creative repurposing of historical trees and timbers, as well as trees from private, non- historic clients, such as homeowners who have trees to which they have a sentimental connection.

HWA works exclusively with trees or limbs that have fallen in storms, are diseased, unsafe, or are being removed for construction or to maintain the health of the tree — along with timbers removed from historical sites during renovation of existing structures. The wood thus harvested can then be turned into a host of items which have historical connection or sentimental significance.

HWA has preserved the historical legacy of many of America’s “witness trees” that grew at the sites of government, national landmarks and historic colonial mansions. Much of this wood has a presidential connection, such as Washington’s Mount Vernon, Jefferson’s Monticello, Madison’s Montpelier, as well as several Civil War sites in Virginia.



Display Case: Brookfield Case, Inc.
Les Yoder
Coopersville, Michigan

Brookfield Case is this country’s oldest and largest manufacturer of custom presentation cases.  Brookfield Case has built its reputation by serving the collectable firearms and knife industries.  The company is proud to specialize in custom wood cases for commemoratives, special editions and unique, one-of-a-kind items and museum pieces.

Brookfield’s cases are the benchmark of quality for the industry. Each case reflects the skill and pride of its craftsmen.  From the furniture finish of fine hardwood, to the plush velvet interiors, Brookfield cases provide the perfect showcase for any display or presentation. Brookfield provides custom cases as well as limited production and production cases to many major manufactures, distributors, dealers.

Brookfield Case founder Les Yoder has been in the furniture business as a master craftsman for over 40 years. His experience in early English and French reproductions, high-end executive office furniture and fine clock cabinets is seen in every piece that his highly skilled craftsmen build.



Sponsor: Knife Rights, Inc.
Doug Ritter, Founder and Chairman

Knife Rights is America’s grassroots knife owners organization, forging a Sharper Future for all knife owners. Knife Rights is dedicated to providing knife owners an effective voice to influence public policy. In the past five years, Knife Rights has passed pro-knife legislation in 11 states and prevented anti-knife legislation in 7 states. Knife Rights is also the lead plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit against New York City and the New York District Attorney over their persecution of knife owners. Knife Rights is the Second Front in Defense of the Second Amendment



Recipient: National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

The Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the lobbying arm of the NRA. Established in 1975, ILA is committed to preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While NRA is a single-issue organization, ILA is involved in any issue that directly or indirectly affects firearms ownership and use. ILA is also involved in educating the public about the facts concerning the many facets of firearms ownership in America.

Knife Rights’ Donated Collaborations Benefiting NRA Institute for Legislative Action

Knife Rights’ Donated Collaborations Benefiting NRA Women’s Leadership Forum