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.”

Regards, HIB

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This page was last updated on 06/03/2013 .

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