Blunderbuss has its roots in White's recordings with several artists under his label, Third Man Records, including Tom Jones. White was in contact with Wu-Tang Clan member RZA and, when RZA couldn't attend the session at the last moment, to make good use of the musicians that turned up at his studio, White decided to get them to play his own material ultimately recording several tracks that he had written in the last six months of 2011. The tracks would later develop into songs that appear on the album. The album was produced by Grammy-winning sound engineer Vance Powell, who had also worked with such names as The Whigs, Kings of Leon, and Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. The entire album was recorded to 8-track analogue tape. According to White, he used “100 different production styles on the record." He explained:
It "came from the freedom of having my own studio and having people in Nashville who could come at short notice. What was great too with all these hired guns in the room was that I could write on-the-fly. I could ask people to play something, and I would go somewhere else and work on another part. I was directing people in the room. I had never done that before. When you are in a band, you don't really tell other people what to play.
In regards to finally issuing a solo album, White said, "I've put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas." To promote Blunderbuss, White performed "Love Interruption" and "Sixteen Saltines" on the March 3, 2012 episode of Saturday Night Live, with two different backing bands, one all-female and the other all-male. The studio version of "Sixteen Saltines" was subsequently released via White's YouTube channel on March 13. Promotional copies of the album, distributed to reviewers and radio stations, were sent as vinyl records to prevent leaks. The album leaked on April 15, nine days ahead of its official release. On April 16, Third Man Records streamed the album in its entirety on iTunes for free listening, 8 days before its release.
"Love Interruption" was the first single from the album, released January 30, 2012. On February 8, 2012, "Machine Gun Silhouette", the B-side to "Love Interruption", appeared on SoundCloud, but it was quickly removed. The single peaked at #13 and #27 on the Billboard US Alternative Songs and US Rock Songs charts, respectively.
"Sixteen Saltines" was the second single, released on March 13, 2012. It reached #129 in the UK Singles Chart and #12 in the top Alternative Songs.
"Freedom at 21", a track originally released via helium balloon as a part of a stunt for Record Store Day, was leaked onto the internet on April 14, 2012.
Blunderbuss met with widespread praise from critics and fans, receiving a score of 83 (or "universal acclaim") on the aggregator site Metacritic. Many reviewers commented on the theme of heartbreak that seems to dominate the lyrics. The Washington Post called the album "restless, cranky and great, although weirdly inconsequential: less a statement of artistic purpose than a stellar collection of songs."The Sunday Times remarked that "if his lyrics seem oppressively focused on one subject, his music heads happily all over the place, echoing all the previous aspects of his career and wandering into new areas."Billboard said that "Blunderbuss is familiar enough to please the faithful, adventurous enough to forge a new path forward and satisfying enough to make fans realize anew just how much White has been missed," and USA Today said that "more than just being his first solo album, Blunderbuss is Jack White's divorce album," adding, "Blunderbuss aims wide and often hits home." The album was number three on Rolling Stone's list of the best albums of the year, saying "the album bursts with mutated Memphis soul ("Love Interruption"), crunk-Kiss swagger ("Sixteen Saltines") and looped-out hippiejazz folk ("Take Me With You When You Go")." In one conservative review, The Toronto Star called the album "the most conventional record White has made outside of the Raconteurs and...falls just a hair shy of the lofty expectations one might hold for a Jack White solo album.
Commenting beyond its merits musically, the album drew mixed commentary on what it revealed about White's views towards women. In one review from Jessica Misnener with The Atlantic, she remarked, "White's dismissal of a 21st-century woman in Blunderbuss' 'Freedom at 21' makes perfect sense. A modern-day woman, with her sexual freedom and iPhone, represents power and choice, things that White embraces in his own life. But she's come by this in a way that's not on his terms, so she's a villain." Allison Stewerrt with The Washington Post concurred, saying, "Hangers-on may be frequent targets, but women don't come off well, either: They're creatures of eternal falseness, apparently, who wear too much makeup and want to kill White's mother and send her to hell." But in another album review, Rob Sheffield with Rolling Stone said, in reference to White's all-female band, that his "favorite trick is turning women into rock goddesses: Meg White, Alison Mosshart, Alicia Keys, even Loretta Lynn. White knows how to make women feel like stars." Echoing this sentiment, Laura Barton with The Guardian remarked, "It's undeniable that White's music is fired by the difference between male and female...But nowhere does he assert that the masculine is superior to the feminine, rather that there are differences to be celebrated." In a interview with The Guardian that brought up the accusations of misogyny, White said, "I don't know where the hell people got that from me because I've done so much work in my life to promote female musicians and artists...I respect and I'm inspired by them so much."
Blunderbuss also performed well commercially. On March 5, 2013, the album achieved gold status, having sold over 500,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.