At LARM we use the highest grade of steel in order to ensure that our client’s rifles and guns are rigid, reliable, accurate and above all safe. To make these handmade best guns and rifles requires a painstaking process that demands intimate knowledge of each individual weapon, requiring many months of labor, many hours of testing, one at a time. But above all, to create works of art, much would help the master gun maker not only to start his craft at a young age but to have grown up in a culture were steel forging was intrinsic to its country’s own history.
In Spain, steel forging began around the year 500 BC. Iron mixed with carbon, namely steel, was being extracted and forged by the Celtic - Iberian peoples of Hispania, later to be named Spain. The soon to be Iberian master craftsmen would evolve their art to such a high level that they alone would go on to create the most formidable swords, armor and weapons made of the hardest steel the world had ever seen. And so, for western civilization, the art of forging steel started in Spain.
The most feared and famous of the ancient steel swords was the Iberian Falcata. In 264 BC this sword would be chosen by Hannibal to defeat the Roman legions, which at the time used Bronze swords. By the second Punic War the Romans would have victory by the sheer size of their army. But after this war they never forgot the Spanish Steel Swords and so Spain (or Hispania as it was known) would become an integral part and a determining factor in the destiny of the Roman Empire.
Romans were so impressed with Spain’s steel and craftsmanship that they made Spain the Empire’s center for steel forging and sword production. Eventually the Spaniards at Toledo would forge into existence the Roman Gladius better known as the Roman Sword. Toledo would then become Rome’s source of steel swords, and with it an Empire was forged that would be of great influence all the way to our days as the Greco–Roman culture; now known as Western Civilization. Spain became such an integral part of the Roman Empire that they merged cultures, language and world-views. Julius Cesar himself, in 45 BC, establishes Hispalis a Roman town; which would become one of the most prosperous cities in Spain.
Spain would eventually go on to give Rome Emperors such as Trajan, Hadrian, Theodosius and Marcus Ulpio, all of whom were born in Spaniards.
The reputation of Spain’s steel-craftsmen was so great that for many centuries Toledo became the steel capital of the largest Empire in History. Kings from all parts of the world came to have their swords made, Japanese Samurai knew of the existence of such masters and a few of the Daimyos had their katana and Wakizashi forged at Toledo. On many occasions the craftsmen were so proud of their mastery they even engraved their names on important swords and daggers. Over the centuries many foundries, like Nimes in France and Solingen in Germany, tried unsuccessfully to imitate Toledo’s steel works. For many centuries, after Rome was no more, Toledo was still regarded as the center of Best Arms production. Many aristocrats of England, Scotland, Germany and others had their armors and above all their swords forged at Toledo. Incredibly the blade’s internal structure remained a secret of the trade until the 20th Century.
In Spain the steel forging tradition continued in the Basque Country and through the Royal Armory of Madrid into the 20th century. The tradition not only evolved into the science of transforming steel into swords, armor, pistols, shotguns, and rifles but also progressed towards aesthetic embellishment. By the end of the 19-century a specialized art form “Modern Damascenin” was initiated by Eusebio Zuloaga, who died in 1898 as Royal Armor. By 1945 in Spain the tradition of working steel had produced many craftsmen. Among them was Don Teodoro Ruiz, a Master of Arms, heir of Spain’s ancient traditions, and by now a Master Gun Maker of the double rifle. It is at this time that Don Teodoro Ruiz would meet the Count of Barcelona, son of King Alfonso XIII and father of the current King of Spain Don Juan Carlos I, for whom he would serve as Master of Arms. A few Years later Don Teodoro Ruiz would be his own nephew's teacher Don Lorenzo Arribas. By 1970 Don Lorenzo Arribas would go on to have a celebrated career as Master of Arms and becoming a Best Gun patent holder. In 1975 it would be Don Lorenzo Arribas' turn to become a teacher and this time his students would be Rufino Zapata, and his own nephew Alvaro Hernandez Arribas, followed by Roberto de Gabriel.
Today at LARM Alvaro Hernandez Arribas and Rufino Zapata, together with Roberto de Gabriel are still forging together Steel, Art, Experience, History, Royalty, Craftsmanship, and Tradition in their quest to create unique, world class, bespoke rifles and bestguns.