Signal Cannons and Replica Cannons

Welcome to Beaufort Naval Armorers, a division of Bircher Inc.

Beaufort Naval Armorers has been custom manufacturing machined bronze and stainless steel Signal Cannons and Replica English Swivel Guns for more than 30 years!

Contact us at the bottom of the page for questions, pricing, or quotes on any cannons or custom orders.

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Signal cannons

B.N.A. swivel gun in wooden base

Beaufort Naval Armorers replica signal cannons come in all types and sizes. Each B.N.A. cannon is produced as part of a very low count production run (typically 2-6) and many are custom manufactured to order. They are each made by hand in the USA (at our machine shop in eastern North Carolina), signed, and numbered. They are museum-grade, functional, and extremely collectible.

Swivel guns

B.N.A. swivel gun in wooden base

This model is a 10 gauge breechloader replica of an English Swivel Cannon with a plain screw breech. (Dimensions: 3” shaft stock diameter, 18” overall length, 23 lbs. approximate weight). The replica can be produced in either bronze (shown) or stainless steel to rest in a wooden base or for bushing mounting in a post or railing on a vessel.

Late 19th century pattern naval deck signal cannon in swivel mount

This replica is the 10 gauge model of a late 19th c pattern Naval deck cannon in a swivel mount. The replica is machined from solid stainless steel shaft stock. (Dimensions: 3 ½” shaft stock diameter, 21” overall length, 6” width, 34 lbs. approximate weight in swivel mount). Pictured to the right supporting the barrel is a stainless steel bushing for mounting in a post or the railing of a vessel.

10 ga. English swivel cannon in wooden base

This model is a 10 gauge breechloader replica of an English Swivel Cannon. (Dimensions: 3” shaft stock diameter, 18” overall length, 22 lbs. approximate weight in wooden base). The replica can be produced in either bronze (shown) or stainless steel to rest in a wooden base or for bushing mounting in a post or railing on a vessel.

Signal cannons in carriages

10 gauge and 28MM stainless steel breech loader signal cannons in deck carriages

10 Gauge and 28MM Stainless steel breech loader signal cannons in custom stainless steel deck carriages. The signal cannon in the foreground is the 10 gauge model and the 28mm model is in back. 10 gauge blank shells are readily available and custom brass shells are manufactured for reloading for the 28mm signal cannon. These two cannon barrels have the more modern smooth barrel ordnance design and are machined from marine grade or ordnance grade stainless steel rolled shaft stock. The deck carriage sides are cut from ½” stainless flat stock with a water knife for precision and beauty. The wheels are machined individually as are all other parts of these cannons.

10 gauge replica carbon steel breechl loader signal cannon in deck carriage

This replica is a 10 gauge smooth-barrel model comparable in shape to typical cannons circa 1898. (Dimensions: 16” length, 8” width, 8” height, 18 lbs. overall weight in steel carriage.) The barrel is heat-treated carbon steel and rests in a shape-cut structural steel carriage. This model can also be produced in polished stainless steel.

10 gauge replica of 24-pounder USS Constitution from 1812

This cannon is a 10 gauge replica of a 24-pounder “USS Constitution” of 1812. (Dimensions: 3” shaft stock diameter, 22” overall length, 10” overall width in carriage, 27 lbs. approximate weight (in wooden carriage). The piece can be produced in either bronze (shown) or stainless steel to rest in an oak naval carriage of the type originally used for firing cannons from a ship deck. The carriages have non-marring acetal wheels and are equipped with rings for lashing making them suitable for firing aboard a boat with no additional chocking. Our carriages have over 150 hand-crafted parts assembled using West System marine epoxy resin glue and the solid bronze appointments are individually machined, polished and lacquered.

B.N.A. Signal cannon breeches

B.N.A. sliding block cannon breech

Through the years Beaufort Naval Armorers has refined their breech mechanisms by experimenting with various historical designs. All breech loader designs work sufficiently but several are more desirable than the others for their simplicity and agreement with modern ordnance design parameters.

The two most common B.N.A. breech closures are:

  1. The ‘Simple Screw Breech’

    • The breech block is fastened to the cannon with a lanyard to prevent loss. Multiple entrance threads accommodate faster speed of opening and closing operation.
    • The ‘simple screw breech’ can be machined to be interrupted thread for a still faster operation. The interrupted thread breech mechanism can be hinged to swing open in any direction. (The machining process for this breech mechanism is time consuming, but it is available as an option.)
  2. The typical U.S. artillery style ‘Sliding Block Breech’

    • The B.N.A. sliding breech block opens and closes easily. It is a U.S. breech loader design which offers mechanism simplicity and is also sophisticated and safe. The breech block slides to the side to open (but it could be manufactured to slide in another direction). Both the “open/loading position” and the “closed/firing position” of the breech block are held snugly in place by cam pin pressure. A spring loaded cam pin prevents unrestrained sliding motion of the breech block. The sliding breech block stays attached to the cannon.

Beaufort Naval Armorers’ most popular cannon barrel style is the traditional English pattern. B.N.A. makes every effort to maintain their traditional appearance when breeches are upgraded from muzzle loaders to breech loaders. The breech loader mechanisms are barely noticeable and Simple Screw Breeches are often undetectable.

B.N.A. Signal cannon trunions

B.N.A. proprietary cannon trunion

The manufacturing technique for Beaufort Naval Armorers’ cannon trunions is a trade secret. The trunions cannot be removed. The trunions’ design varies between the styles of cannons, but all function according to mature modern ordnance design. All B.N.A. trunions have passed ‘extreme’ high pressure testing 100% of the time.

All parts of a B.N.A. cannon are machined* from solid high strength bar stock/ rolled shafting material . There are no castings of any B.N.A. cannon parts including the trunions. B.N.A. uses ordnance grade or marine grade bronze or brass and ordnance grade or marine grade stainless steel for all cannon parts. Beaufort Naval Armorers uses modern ordnance engineering techniques. Quality, safety, and beauty are the three primary manufacturing goals.

*There is one exception to our rule that all B.N.A. cannons and cannon parts are machined from solid shaft and bar stock: eprouvette mortars.

Eprouvette mortars

B.N.A. cast bronze eprouvette

“B.N.A. Eprouvettes” are both machined and custom made castings, manufactured to stringent quality standards exclusively for Beaufort Naval Armorers. The original Eprouvette Mortar design was used in the 1700’s and 1800’s for testing and grading of black powder.

B.N.A. Eprouvettes are a convenient size, heavy duty, high quality, and fun to fire! They are louder than any gun or signal cannon and they can be blank fired. The bore in most styles of B.N.A. mortars are lathe bored to be 1.7” nominal. This assures the structural integrity as well as a clean smooth bore. The powder chamber and vent are then machined. B.N.A. also produces mortars in larger sizes by custom order.

BNA Replica Eprouvette Mortars are very strong pieces. They are also a convenient size. This mortar design has been high pressure safety tested by B.N.A. with iron shot that cleared a one third of a mile range.

How to get loud blank reports from BNA mortars

B.N.A. Eprouvettes are vented for fuses. They have a powder chamber that is to nominal print-scale size. It is not much of a charge for this strong little mortar. It takes some practice to achieve a really loud blank shot with this mortar. ‘Very fine’ (ffffg) black powder and a liberal amount of not over-tightly packed wadding should be used to help get a loud report. If the wadding is over-tightly packed then it comes out too easily. The concept is to allow the charge of black powder to do a bit of its own packing when the mortar is discharged. Looser packing of generous wadding in small mortars helps raise the internal pressure while firing. Lastly, more typically shaped longer cannon barrels have the longer bore which is full of air to raise pressure and that makes loud reports easier to achieve.

Note: The above is not to be confused with or interpreted to be firing instructions.

Cast bronze “golf ball mortar” eprouvettes

B.N.A. cast bronze golf ball mortar

The original Eprouvette Mortar design was used in the 1700’s and 1800’s for testing and grading of black powder. The ‘BNA Eprouvette’ is a custom casting made exclusively for Beaufort Naval Armorers. It is the only BNA cannon type that is manufactured from a casting. It is cast from high strength manganese bronze and the mortar base is part of the casting.

B.N.A. cast bronze eprouvette mortar

The rough castings for every mortar is artisan crafted in the machine shop. Each mortar is lathe bored to assure structural integrity and a clean smooth bore. The powder chamber and vent are added, and all outer surfaces are machine cut, polished, and finished.

A golf ball fired from an eprovette will go higher than Tiger Woods can drive it but not much further, maybe 300 yards or so. Golf balls can only go so far despite the force behind them.

Machined stainless steel eprouvettes

B.N.A. machined stainless steel eprouvette

ALL B.N.A. Eprouvette mortars have more than adequate strength to withstand unlimited blank firing loads, but still, stainless steel is the strongest material of all of the B.N.A. mortars. Machining stainless steel is time consuming and labor intensive. Stainless steel stays shiny and attractive with minimal care, i.e. no rust and little polishing needed. These mortars are virtually indestructible. They are crafted from marine grade stainless steel, high tensile strength 3.25” propeller shafting. Weight is 8.6 lbs. Height is 5”, length is 5.75”, width is 3.5”. Base is 3.5” by 4”.

Machined bronze eprouvettes

B.N.A. machined bronze eprouvette

These are machined from round 3.25” bronze bar stock. The upgraded 2006 bronze mortar design very closely resembles the previous design with finishing lines being more crisp and sharp and the overall size being slightly larger. B.N.A. bronze mortars are now fully machined, no more casting is involved. Alloy 464 Naval Brass, also known as Tobin Bronze, is an excellent bar stock material for manufacturing B.N.A. bronze mortars due to its superior quality. It is also highly corrosion resistant. Firing capabilities, esthetic appeal, attractive appearance, larger size, and the price all remain the same and better for the heavier upgraded bronze mortar. Weight is 9.25 lbs. Height is 5”, length is 5.75”, width is 3.5”.

Cork mortars

B.N.A. Cork Mortar

Mortars that shoot cork! These are perhaps the most popular mortar that Beaufort Naval Armorers produces. They are small marine grade bronze mortars that fit in the palm of your hand. They use tiny pre-measured black powder charges to blast any standard wine cork across your yard! Each mortar is individually signed and numbered. These are artisan hand-made items and are highly collectible.

After 10 years of successful production the manufacture of new cork mortars is being spun down. As of late 2019 no further cork mortars are being crafted or sold.


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