So, You Want to Build Longrifles

So, you want to build longrifles. The most important thing you can do before you waste your time and money is STUDY. The following books and videos are highly recommended to form the foundation of your longrifle library:

  • Rifles of Colonial America, Vols l & ll by George Shumway
  • Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age by Joe Kindig Jr.
  • The Gunsmith of Grenville County (Building the American Longrifle) by Peter A. Alexander
  • The Art of Building the Pennsylvania Longrifle by Chuck Dixon

I also recommend the following videos:

  • Building a Kentucky Rifle by Hershel House
  • Traditional Gunstocking by Mark Silver
  • Relief Carving a Kentucky Rifle Circa 1775 by Wallace Gusler
  • Engraving a Kentucky Rifle Circa 1775 by Wallace Gusler

You should be able to get all of these from Scurlock Publishing

As you read and view the above, you should know that most builders have someone else (like Mark Weader at Jack’s Mountain Stock Company – (717) 543-5370) inlet their barrel, cut the ramrod groove, and drill the ramrod hole. Many folks use parts kits. Jim & Barbie Chambers offer the best kits and the best locks . I stock my guns from a blank and do all the work myself much like in Mark Silver’s video. However, almost nobody does this as it takes a lot of time and is not cost effective. As I consider myself an artist and have no interest in being a manufacturer, I don’t care too much how long it takes.  It just has to be right.

You should also join the forum at American Longrifles. This is where you get all the information that is not in the books and there is a lot.

Lastly, but by no means least, you need to handle and study original longrifles. That is the only way you are really going to know what the rifles look and feel like. You just can’t see everything in a photo. The CLA (and KRA if you are a member) shows are a good place to see both original and contemporary longrifles.

There are also classes of which you should be aware. There are week long classes in stocking, carving and engraving at the ArmsMakers Workshop every October at Conner Prairie near Indianapolis. The NMLRA sponsors 3, 6, & 9 day classes as part of their Gunsmithing Seminar at Western Kentucky University every June. The Gunsmithing Seminar classes are intense, and for people who already have good skills and a lot of stamina. With the 9 day classes, you spend at least 90 hours in class. You do an entire semesters work in two weeks. The Conner Prairie classes are more for beginners and are more laid back. Links to both these sets of classes may be found to the right under “Seminars/Workshops.”

Being a traditional gunmaker (actually any art, craft or trade) involves a lifetime of learning to master it. However, with lots of study and help, people do build excellent first guns; but you will need help. If you try to do it on your own, you will probably not be happy with your first attempt.

Mark E. Elliott




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Simon Lauck Buck & Ball Gun

Simon Lauck Fowler - Full Right

 

Shown here is a an original signed Simon Lauck fowler.   The distinctive signature S_____ Lauck is shown in the last photo. I had originally believed that this gun was mostly a restoration.   However,  after a careful and detailed examination of the disassembled gun under expert guidance, I have come to believe that this gun is mostly original and a good example of a product of the Simon Lauck shop.

At some some point this gun was shortened and apparently converted to percussion.  Everything from the front thimble forward is a obvious restoration.  The stock from the front thimble back appears to be original and unaltered except for the repair of a crack through the lock mortise.  The lock appears to have been reconverted to flint, but I believe the lock plate is original to the gun because the lock screws fit the plate and the stock without any obvious modification.   I believe that the gap along the bottom of the lock plate is due to the repair through that area.   Some of the guard may be a replacement but it is hard to tell.

One important marking to mention is a very bold “LS” stamp on the bottom of the barrel at the breech.  I have been told that a barrel with this marking was also observed on a gun from the Haymaker shop.  It would seem that there was a barrel maker by the name of “LS” supplying the gun makers in Winchester around 1800. Some more research into this would certainly be in order.

  • Overall Length:  62″
  • Barrel Length:  46 13/16″

Simon Lauck Fowler - Full LeftSimon Lauck Fowler - TopSimon Lauck Fowler - BottomSimon Lauck Fowler - Half RightSimon Lauck Fowler - Half LeftSimon Lauck Fowler - Half Top

Simon Lauck Fowler - Half Bottom

Simon Lauck Fowler - Tang - a spear shaped tang with a silver thumb piece on the top of the wrist.Simon Lauck Fowler - Lock

Simon Lauck Fowler - Side Plate

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Wm. Britton Rifle

Wm. Britton - Half Right showing fancy pierced brass patchbox.Shown here is an original rifle attributed to William Britton of Hampshire County, West Virginia.   It is published on page 64 of Gunsmiths of West Virginia by Lambert and Whisker.    This rifle has been re-converted from percussion to flint.   The Maslin lock shown is not original to the gun and is poorly fitted in the lock mortise.  The forearm has been replaced forward of the rear thimble.   Otherwise, everything else appears to be original.  The best features of the rifle are the incised carving in the wrist and buttstock and the engraving of the side plate, toe plate and patchbox.

  • Overall Length:  61″
  • Barrel Length:  46″
  • Caliber: 50

Wm. Britton - Half LeftWm. Britton - Half TopWm. Britton - Half BottomWm. Britton - Lock - a Maslin lock that is obviously a replacement - it doesn't fit the lock mortice.Wm. Britton - Side PlateWm. Britton - Tang - spear shaped with simple incised carving around it.Wm. Britton - Trigger GuardWm. Britton - Toe - showing a rectangular patchbox release button in the toe plate.Wm. Britton - Patchbox - a fancy, four-piece, pierced brass box with a stylized adelweiss flower in the finial and extensive engraving.Wm. Britton - Cheek - showing simple incised carving typical of the Winchester, VA area.

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Iron Mounted Eastern Tennessee Rifle

East TN Rifle - Full Right


This is an original, fully iron mounted rifle most likely made somewhere on the border of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee probably between 1820 and 1830..   The lines of the breech stock look Virginia while the mounts are typical East Tennessee.   The stock is a plain piece of Black Walnut in pretty good shape with the exception of saddle wear through to the ramrod hole.  They barrel has been shortened at the breech at least once about three inches.   All the parts appear to be original, and the lock and triggers still work exceptionally well.  The lock is a cheap hardware store variety with no fly or half cock notch.  There is stamped decoration (circles) around the muzzle and the rear buckhorn sight.   The barrel is particularly heavy and coned.  The coning makes it difficult to guage the caliber, but I estimate it at about 38 caliber.   Particularly when you consider that two or three inches were cut off this barrel lightening it some, it is pretty clear that this gun was not shot offhand.  This gun had to be shot from some sort of rest.   This rifle shows lots of honest wear and in-service repairs. I see no evidence of modern repairs or restoration.

  • Overall Length:  60″
  • Barrel Length:  42″
  • Caliber: 38

East TN Rifle - Full LeftEast TN Rifle - Full TopEast TN Rifle - Full BottomEast TN Rifle - Half Right - shows East Tennessee iron mounts and a small greese hole at the back of the butt stock.East TN Rifle - Half LeftEast TN Rifle - Half TopEast TN Rifle - Half Bottom - shows saddle wear through to the ramrod.East TN Rifle - Lock - shows a late, hardware store type, flintlock.East TN Rifle - Side Plate - show short iron plate that is not much more than a simple strip of iron.East TN Rifle - Tang - shows a short spear shaped tang.East TN Rifle - Trigger Guard  - shows a typical, squarish, iron, East Tenneessee style guard.

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