The leading manufacturer of replica muzzleloaders and western firearms was founded exactly 60 years ago. Not everyone is aware that the company started life producing hunting-12 caliber guns
The story of the gunmaker Davide Pedersoli began exactly sixty years ago in 1957 when the company's founder, Davide Pedersoli (1924-1996), started out manufacturing side-by-side hunting shotguns and specially-patented over/unders. Muzzleloaders were first produced in 1960, and within around ten years had become the mainstay of the business.
Muzzleloaders were first produced in 1960, and within around ten years had become the mainstay of the business.
But what led Davide Pedersoli to focus on replicas? His son, Pierangelo, the company's current CEO, explains:
“As for many other companies, the start was “American”: Val Forgett, who was then president of the newly-founded Navy Arms Company (1959), came to Italy with his independent business partner in search of gunmakers capable of producing firearms to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American Civil War.
My father was initially commissioned to produce a prototype of a Winchester lever-action gun. I remember being involved in the production and testing of the gun, which I found a few years ago in the ownership of my father's then business partner during a visit to the USA. But for my father it was too soon to make such a big investment as he had only been in business for three years, so he focused on producing Kentucky pistols and rifles and powder flasks in particular, going on to become the world's leading manufacturer. The following years saw the production of a range of long and short muzzle-loading firearms”.
The production of traditional hunting firearms took a back seat in 1973 to focus on historic muzzleloaders and accessories and to broaden the range of powder flasks, the production of which dated back to 1960 and coincided with the surge in interest for muzzle-loading firearms.
The company continues to be family-run to this day and is managed by Pierangelo and his son Stefano with the support of Pierangelo's brother-in law Giovanni, and Daniela. The company is also training the younger family members who will one day be the third generation to take the helm.
The company achieved complete production autonomy in 1982, meaning that
all the wooden and metallic parts of each and every muzzle-loading and
breech-loading firearm were manufactured by the company itself. This required
the establishment of separate and independent departments specifically
dedicated to each individual firearm component throughout every stage of the
The two main departments for barrel and stock production were complemented by others dedicated to the manufacture of small mechanical parts, bolts/screws and flasks, all of which were equipped with numerical control machines. Departments were also created that were responsible for cleaning the metallic parts and for firearm assembly, as well as, of course, the semi-finished material and finished product storage departments.
Rather than being produced in-house, the company U.S.A. (Universal Special Accessories) was founded to manufacture firearm accessories. The range of accessories offered to gun enthusiasts has multiplied considerably since the first flasks were made all those years ago, and each is specifically designed for use with muzzle-loading or breech-loading firearms.
Today, Davide Pedersoli also boasts its own shooting tunnel to test shot patterns and new prototypes.
Even the conception and analysis of every project is done in-house, using the latest CAD/CAM software, scanners and 3D printers. This ensures the complete safety of each design and continuous quality control, while enabling product changes to be instantly implemented as required in response to an ever-changing global market.
Between Davide Pedersoli and Pedersoli 2 (which manufactures the stocks), the company has a 42-strong workforce, with exports accounting for 92% of all sales. Its biggest markets are the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and the Arab states.
The recent founding in the USA (Amarillo, Texas) of the Italian-American joint venture IFG (Italian Firearms Group) as the exclusive distributor of four brands (Pedersoli, Fair, Sabatti and Tanfoglio) represents a significant and noteworthy milestone, as it will showcase to the American market a more comprehensive range of hunting and sporting guns as well as historic reproduction firearms.
Before the muzzleloaders and the firearms for sale undergo final testing, they are first subjected to Pedersoli's Quality Control systems, which include ultrasound tests on the barrel material, resistance and hardness testing, verification of the dimensions, testing the operation of the mechanisms and assessing the production statistical trends.
In compliance with the applicable firearms production and sales legislation, the guns must undergo independent testing, which is performed by the Gardone Val Trompia National Proof House (in accordance with C.I.P. standards). The proof test conducted on all firearms, whether muzzleloaders or breechloaders, constitutes the most comprehensive testing process.
Quality is key for Davide Pedersoli, and the outcome of a customer satisfaction survey, conducted as part of an undergraduate economics thesis, is certainly worth mentioning. Of the more than 2000 Pedersoli customers surveyed, 98.5% said they would buy another Pedersoli product or would recommend it to their friends.
The mechanical parts of all Pedersoli firearms are covered by a two-year guarantee effective from the date of purchase. Spare parts are distributed internationally by a number of importers, while the warranty service in Europe is managed by Pedersoli itself and by Service Points spread across the European Union. To facilitate after-sales service, the exploded-view drawings and parts lists with their corresponding codes are available online for all Pedersoli firearms.
We asked Pierangelo Pedersoli about the company's product range.
How many firearms does the Pedersoli catalogue currently showcase?
“318 firearm code numbers, more if you include kits and the different calibers”.
Which are the three biggest-selling firearms in the history of the company?
“Without a doubt the Le Page pistols, the Brown Bess muskets, the muzzle-loading side-by-side shotguns and the Sharps rifles”.
Could you list the most prestigious sporting victories achieved with Pedersoli firearms?
“There have been so many on an international level. I like to think back on the first victories; 1 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze at the MLAIC muzzle-loading world championships in Versailles in 1983. There was also the 50-medal haul at Barcelos in Portugal in 2010, with 4 world records, and the most recent world championships in Hungary, which saw us win 12 gold, 12 silver and 18 bronze medals. Otherwise, the gold medals won in all long-range and muzzle-loading disciplines”.
Which sporting events does Pedersoli sponsor?
“Usually the European and World muzzle-loading championships that take place in alternate years and various muzzle-loading national competitions, but also the Quigley Match breech-loading silhouette shooting competition (up to 600 yards) in Montana (USA) as well as the breech-loading Long-Range competition (up to 1000 yards) held at Raton (New Mexico). We also support muzzleloader hunting, whether that be in Italy, the USA or Hungary”.
It seems like a contradiction to speak about the future of a company that has made its fortune in weaponry of the past, but what are your upcoming plans?
“For the time being we have no intention of producing modern firearms. Instead, we are looking to expand our range of historic guns even further, not forgetting that today's modern firearm is tomorrow's antique!”.