They are as beautiful as museum pieces when they leave the workshop, but destined for practical use. Renowned for their precision, weapons made in Ferlach make the heart of every collector beat faster and are coveted by hunters all over the world. 

Ales Spendal perfected his art in fine custom guns at Ferlach Gunsmiths  in the heart of Carinthia, a small Austrian town bordering on Slovenia. 

The art of gunsmithing has been practiced in Ferlach for more than 500 years, and weapons from the Rosental are acclaimed all over Europe. They grace the weapon collections of noble houses and museums from St Petersburg to Cleveland. They can be recognised by their approval mark, which is impressed on the lock, stock and barrel once the master supervisor has certified their excellence. This quality control practiced since 1631 is the foundation stone of the town’s enduring success.

Every hunting rifle manufactured in Ferlach is unique, tailor-made to the specifications of the client. They select the calibre, lock mechanism or barrel combinations, determine the ornamental engraving for the metal plates on the stock, and choose the solid wood. Then the client is measured for barrel length. It is fascinating to witness the combination of many highly specialised crafts, which only survive through the art of gunsmithing. Garneurs, engravers, stockers and basculeurs work hand in hand to produce individual pieces, which the master gunsmiths fit together to produce the perfect weapon. Once complete, the weapon is submitted to the”Beschussamt” (quality control office), where it is loaded with cartridges which produce greater force than usual. If the weapon withstands the test, it is certified for sale.

Eleven master gunsmiths manufacture around 200 rifles each year. The process takes considerable time, sometimes even years, if the engraving and decoration is especially intricate. The list of clients is proof enough that rifles from Ferlach are a royal hunting weapon of artistic merit. The international fame they have achieved is proven by the students who come to Ferlach Technical School from all over the world, to train in the art of gunsmithing and later open their own workshop with the “Ferlach Gunsmith” warrant proudly displayed.

The Powder Keg link

In essence The Powder Keg journey to find a custom gun maker began as far back as 2008 when I started a journey to own three of the finest custom made guns in European calibres. I did not want serial custom guns but guns where there would be no other the same, a gun produced by hand to the highest quality in every functional part.

My search started in Ferlach Austria, a mere 1 hour drive from my resident city. I came to know of a fine custom gun maker Ales Spendal. It was important to know the gun maker personally, to get to know his competence and his love and passion in craftsmanship. My selection was produced over a 4 year period which Ales branded as the Spendal TRIO, all engraved by master engravers in Ferlach:

– Single barrel breakdown 6.5 x57R
– Double barrel in 9.3 x 74R
– Three barrelled 20 gauge shotgun

Back then I was not involved with The Powder Keg, but I had an inclination that I would one day be part of a hunting destination store in South Africa.  I had a vision to be in a business of my passion and to bring custom guns to South Africa. I had moved on from what I can only describe as a tunnel vision of branded serial firearms.

Given my love affair with big bore doubles guns and the art in custom guns I commissioned Ales in 2010 to make the finest double in 500 NE. Maybe there was a 3rd element unknown to me at that time which influenced the build of a 500 NE because today this big bore is the emblem across stationary of The Powder Keg.