|Longrifle Construction Advice
Recently we had a member ask for
help building his first flintlock this was one of the replies to his
questions. Its great advice and we all could benefit by reading it:
Gentlemen, I usually stay away from
answering inquiries such as this but can't help putting a little
insight into the same situation I faced 50 years ago.
Advice provided to me then was "slow
down". And the most important part of that dialog was "study everything
you can get your hands on regarding the various schools available for
review". The advice came from 'Old Joe' himself when he realized I had
no idea what I was interested in.
I studied and I studied and I studied
some more. Eventually picked a school of original gunsmiths I thought
provided me with what I thought an American Longrifle should look like.
My opinion only of course.
We didn't have kits in those days so
my first project gun was a ground up 'obamanation' but the damn thing
was dead on using a Douglas 45 cal straight barrel and a Russ Hamm
flintlock pattern Germanic lock. Only had book pictures to go by
After the build was complete a
collector happened upon a BAR practice 'speed loading' event while my
friend and I were doing our best to get 11 shots off in a 4 minute
period. Four minutes wasn't the problem; accuracy was !!
Anyway, this gentleman walked up to
my friend and myself and asked to see our guns. He looked at mine and
then at my friends. He took a moment to construct what he wanted to
say. Eventually he said in a rather bold statement "you boys have never
seen an original Kentucky rifle have you?" And of course we hadn't.
He invited us to his house to review
7 originals. It was an emotional event to say the least. Both my friend
and I had missed the mark by a mile. My only saving grace was that my
friend had missed it by more than me!!
What's the point? I guess today it
would be called 'networking' and/or 'social development' with a
collector who is willing to share a hands on experience with a new
contemporary builder. But I caution you, tire kickers seldom get a
second look and a season collector can identify a tire kicker within 30
seconds. It is the student that always wins the second and third
interview. It is also the student who has done his or her homework on
the various schools of interest that light their fire.
Beyond the various schools there is a
lot to learn. How did the flintlock develop in the early years of our
great country? When did the percussion lock take over in popularity?
What were the draw backs of either ignition system that led to the
cartridge gun? How important was the Longrifle in the Rev War? Did it
play a role in the 1812 conflict? And so and so on. It will take
a number of years to get it right.
Your advantage: There are,
today, a blue zillion books on the market that can start the journey to
a lifelong passion. Buy as many as you can afford. Read them twice and
make notes. Formulate a plan. And save your money for the best
components you can afford. If you need to start with a kit, go ahead
but eventually if you are a true student you will attempt a ground up
build. The 'ground up' or 'scratch build' will open doors you never
thought possible. But it will take a while. So, slow down and read
everything you can get your hands on. Funny how 50 year old advice
applies to today.”
This page was last updated on 06/03/2013
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