Greatest Gunsmiths: Nicolas Noel Boutet

  • Jack Collins

In our previous editions of Greatest Gunsmiths, we’ve mostly covered tinkerers and inventors. That changes today! The art of gunsmithing dates back hundreds of years, and countless ingenious minds have made their mark on the trade. One of those minds is Nicolas Noel Boutet, a French gun and bladesmith who churned out the majority of the Napoleonic Wars’ weapons.

Who was Nicolas Noel Boutet: Napoleonic Weapons Master

Nicolas Noel Boutet was born in Paris on August 31, 1761. His father, Noel, was the Royal Gunsmith at the time, and taught Nicolas the trade. Before the French Revolution, he became a gunsmith for King Louis XVI himself. It was at this time that he became the director of the state arms factory in Versailles.

But when rioters stormed the Bastille, Boutet could tell which way the wind was blowing. During the revolution, he became the chief blade and gunsmith to none other than Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest conquerors of the early modern age. Boutet even crafted Napoleon’s sabre himself. He died in Paris in 1833, but not before he managed to churn out around 600,000 weapons.

Napoleon’s sabre, which Boutet designed and built. Photo courtesy of user:shakko

Incredibly enough some of Boutet’s work continues to survive to the present day. Some of his weapons exist in museums and private collections (like the Queen of England’s) around the world. But you can still find some available for auction – if you have over a million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, that is.

Learn at One of the Best Gunsmithing Schools Online

There’s no denying that Nicolas Noel Boutet is one of the all time greats when it comes to early modern weaponsmiths. And the tradition he helped to develop continues with modern gunsmithing today. If you want to get started on your own legendary gunsmithing career, check out all the programs we offer at SDI.

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