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Thread: flinter questions

  1. #1
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    flinter questions

    The kids and I have come to an agreement: they will cooperate better with homeschooling if I give in a little. So, we're going to do something a little different in the coming year...

    They love the whole mountain man era thing, so I am going to put a hands on element to it. They get to learn to brain-tan, make period clothes, learn about the economics of the fur trade and so forth. Part of the plan is to let them watch me learn more about and then make a flintlock rifle.

    Some beginner information is needed here:

    1) Does anyone know of an economical flintlock kit that has the stock partially inletted already? I can get everything I need for a fabulous rifle from Track of the Wolf or Dixie Gunworks, but it'd take me a year to save up for the parts. I'd rather have to wait a year than buy junk, though.

    2) What book or books would one recommend for learning about/to shoot/to make a flintlock? I already have hand tool woodworking experience, but have never made gun furniture before.

    3) What size ball does one buy/cast for a caliber .54 rifle? I'm guessing it's a .535 to leave room for the patch. Is this correct?

    4) What rifle twist should I get? I am something of an historical purist and plan (!!!) only to use round ball or ball-ets (assuming I can even find them) normally, though I might use a Miníe "ball" or two if someone has a few to spare. I am thinking that 1 in 60 is about right.

    5) Finally, I think I have read before that the more you "foul" a traditional muzzle loader, the more accurate it gets that session. That doesn't seem right to me, but am wondering if anyone has experience with this?

    Thanks in advance for a tall order!
    Southlander
    "I do believe that in all of Washington, D.C. that John Wilkes Booth is my favorite actor." -- Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of State Seward the first week of April, 1865.

  2. #2
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    Yeah,,,,never ever heard the fouling one in all my years. The more it fouls the harder time you'll have beating the next round down the bore.

    I shoot a ball 10,000ths under bore size so I can use a 10,000th patch.

    If you do a search on the browser for like "Kentucky rifle kit" you'll find them listed here & there. I just sold one 3 days ago I bought in 1974 and never put together for $195 and that was giving it away.

    You can search the same way for molds.
    Pat "PJ" Kelly
    7th Regt. Virginny Vol. Inf.
    N-SSA #5795V

    WWW.N-SSA.ORG

  3. #3
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    The Lyman Great Plains rifle kits aren't bad, by all accounts. The assembled rifles come in flint or percussion, fast twist (Hunter) and ball twist, but the kits seem to only come with the slow twist barrel. They're halfstock with a double lever set trigger and a plain walnut stock. Nothing pretty, but they work.

    Some use a ball about .010" under the stated bore size, and some use a ball of .005" under. It depends on the barrel and the patches used, and upon the fit you want or the fit that works best. I say try some that are 10 under and some that are 5 under, and some different patch material and see what works. I use a .495" ball and a .010" patch, which gives a very tight fit, but it seems to work well in my 50 cal.

    Be sure to read the sticky, "Black Powder Essentials" at the top of the black powder section. Lots of good stuff there.

    A 60" twist or thereabouts is great for round ball, and will work with some of the Minie balls, so they say, because of the forward weight distribution due to the hollow base. Best to start with round ball, and experiment from there.

    Some would tell you to start with a percussion rifle, because they're simpler to operate. I say go with flint if that's what interests you most.

    Fouling will make each subsequent shot harder to load. With the tight fit I use for patched ball, it's necessary to swab between shots. My 50 barrel has a 48" twist, so I'm experimenting with Lee REAL bullets, which still loaded easily after several shots, and of course don't use a patch.

    Some of this comes down to convenience verses authenticity.

    And yeah; start with a kit that has the stock inletted for all the parts. You only want to have to do the last 5 or 10 percent, to get a decent fit, rather than go in cold trying to locate everything and do all the inletting. If you decide you want to get more adventurous and start with a blank stock, you can do that later.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the rifle and ball info.

    Does Lyman's kit have any level of authenticity? I am looking for a pre-precussion cap feel and look. I am interested mainly in the period of far west fur trade prior to the percussion cap -- say circa, 1790-1810.
    Southlander
    "I do believe that in all of Washington, D.C. that John Wilkes Booth is my favorite actor." -- Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of State Seward the first week of April, 1865.

  5. #5
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    I put a Lyman Great plains flint lock kit together a couple of years ago. Assembly was straight forward with mosy finishing required. It is a bunch of fun to shoot and I have been able to get pretty decent accuracy out of it. As far as it being period correct, it is about as close as you are going to get with out getting expensive. From what I have learned it is considered "acceptable" at mountain man gatherings.
    Some people are like slinkies. Not really good for anything but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  6. #6
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    LOTS more information available at http://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/

  7. #7
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    I've built a Pedersoli kit and can recommend any of them highly. All the difficult inletting is done, your job is finishing the stock contours and furniture. The brass is rough and pretty much as cast so you get to file and polish to your hearts content to make things as pretty as you want.

    You pay a bit more for the Pedersolis' but I think they are worth it. The Brown Bess they make is gorgeous.

  8. #8
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    I put a kit together from TVM.
    http://www.avsia.com/tvm/index.html
    Matt and Toni are good people to work with.
    I put together this Tennessee Poor Boy in 54 cal.
    Takes a .530 round ball, barrel twist is 1/70, 42" green mountain barrel.
    Siler lock, plain maple stock, 90% enletting already done, all metal work already done.
    Got a matching pistol to go with it.




  9. #9
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    TomG,
    Thanks so much for the pics! Those are beautiful. The Poor Boy or the Southern Mountain rifle was pretty much had in mind and .54 is what I want.

    Is that pistol also .54, or is it .50? I have heard of the former, but never seen them.

    I am also wanting to know (eventually) what kind of early rifles would have been carried in the early Northwest fur trade. By Northwest, I mean the Pacific and Inland Northwest, not the upper Midwest. I am thinking pre-Manuel Lisa here.
    Southlander
    "I do believe that in all of Washington, D.C. that John Wilkes Booth is my favorite actor." -- Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of State Seward the first week of April, 1865.

  10. #10
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    Yes the pistol is also 54 cal.
    From past reading, The types of rifles used could vary.
    Remember most of the mountain men and fur traders were from the east.
    So they took with them whatever they had.
    If they were ex military it might be a 1807 harpers ferry 49 cal. flintlock rifle, like what the Lewis and Clark expedition carried.
    Or a southern mountain/poorboy rifle like you just mentioned.
    There were also some northwest trade guns used.
    The north west trade guns were basic no frills smoothbore guns, usually in 62 cal./ 20 gauge, that were mass produced in England and used for trade with native americans.
    Fur traders and mountain used them aslo.
    Most could barely afford one firearm so they went with the smoothbore.
    60 cal. round ball for big game, or load it with shot, nails, what ever you can find for fowl.
    The Hawken rifles were very expensive and most men couldnt afford them.
    This guy makes the best trade gun on the market, right down to the barrel stamps.
    http://www.northstarwest.com/northwest_gun.aspx

  11. #11
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    Pat McCoy,
    thanks for the link to The Muzzle Loading Forum. That is an awesome site. I learned several things last night and got a few laughs as well. Some of the pics posted in the trekking forum we wonderful in explaining to the wife and kids what I was talking about when I said, for example, "capote." I didn't know that Hawkens Rifles were the Cadillac of the day's rifles until I read one thread there. I thought (like most, I suspect) that everyone had a Hawken. I thought it interesting that most of the Rocky Mountain fur traders had rifles so they could keep grizzlies and Indians at range and that most of them were full stock, not a plains rifle like we always hear about.

    I could go on and on, but I think I will sign up my two older children there, too, so they can learn a few things and ask questions of their own.

    Again, thanks.

    And TomG,
    Thanks for your feedback. I learn a little more every time I come here and guys like you are so helpful. Thanks for that. BTW, you answered my next question about suggestions about narrowing down the choices for a period correct flinter.
    Southlander
    "I do believe that in all of Washington, D.C. that John Wilkes Booth is my favorite actor." -- Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of State Seward the first week of April, 1865.

  12. #12
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    Southlander your very welcome.
    Her is another great site.
    http://www.thefurtrapper.com/fur_trappers.htm
    IMHO if your going to purchase a firearm, purchase a good quality one.
    If you dont have the money on hand, then save up for it.
    A good quality firearm will increase in value.
    This rifle or smoothbore will be past down to your children, and then their children, it will be in your family for generations.
    Take your time and do it right.

  13. #13
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    It's looking like I am going to settle on a particular one I like from Track of the Wolf and then purchase a piece at a time as money comes along. I am going to go with a rifle rather than a smooth bore, however. I got a bum knee and can't be sure of stalking close enough to the game I plan to hunt with it to use a smooth bore.

    You're absolutely right about quality, though. As a former armed guard, I took out a 401(k) loan for a SiG-Sauer rather than waste a few bucks on a Hi-Point I may or may not be able to shoot decently with when it came time to get a duty weapon. When I went to get a .22 lever action, I bought an Henry rather than some "Western Auto" brand (remember those?).

    This is what I have settled on thus far: flintlock, .54 caliber, full stock, iron furniture. Poor Boy, something like my ancestors might have used. Question: would most rifles in this period have had a patch box or not? I'm leaning toward not, but have not entirely decided yet.
    Southlander
    "I do believe that in all of Washington, D.C. that John Wilkes Booth is my favorite actor." -- Abraham Lincoln to Secretary of State Seward the first week of April, 1865.

  14. #14
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    There were patchboxes at that time.
    Some mountain men and trappers carried the Pennsylvania style rifles at that time that had patchboxes.
    It depends on what they already had back east and brought with them.
    Or if they had the money to purchase a rifle with a patchbox.
    There are examples of poorboy rifles with patchboxes.
    I dont know how common they were.
    Smoothbores are accurate out to about 80 yards with patched round ball.
    40 yards with shot.
    Ive put together a couple kits from track of the wolf.
    They get their stocks from pecatonica river long rifle supply.
    http://www.longrifles-pr.com/

  15. #15
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    I wouldn't spend too much money the first time. For semi-historical accuracy, go with a Lyman Great Plains kit with a round ball twist. Modify it by adding an iron patchbox to it.

    As for books, The Art of Building the Pennsylvania Longrifle by Dixon and Ehrig is great (and affordable). It is spiral bound so it lays flat on your workbench.

    As for videos, I like some of those early Mark Baker videos. He shows you how to brain tan a hide from scratch including tomahawking a deer's head open (it's already dead of course), mashing its brains in a bucket of water (don't use tap water as it may have chemicals) and then immersing the hide into it to allow the brains to tan it. Then he squeezes it out and pins it up. This is followed by a lengthy scraping process. It's a lot of work (and even more if you did like the Indians and chewed it. The enzymes will soften the leather even more).
    TFL Aluminium. Molon Labe!

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