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Old April 21, 2009, 11:46 AM   #1
mjones4784
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Tower flintlock pistol. A few noobie questions.

Hello all. I was curious if anyone would be able to give me any advice on a Tower flint lock pistol I picked up over the weekend. I really know nothing about these old school firearms. I got it fairly cheaply and I love both antiques and firearms.

Are there any signs to look for to tell if it's a replica? I've taken pictures of the only two markings that are on the gun.

Is there anything to look for to see if it should be display only, or fire able?

Any suggestions on how to clean the thing if it's a fire able replica? I've been told not to clean it at all if it's real.

Pictures can be seen here
http://s728.photobucket.com/albums/ww290/mjones4784/
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Old April 21, 2009, 12:10 PM   #2
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Assuming that it is not original or that trying to restore and shooting it would devalue it. Someone else would have to make that call. This is what I would do if it were mine:

Glad to see that you are an "Old School" kind of guy. If it were me, I'd work real hard at wanting to shoot it at least once. Check the bore for excessive pitting or metal flaking. What I can see from the pictures, doesn't scare me. Hopefully the barrel isn't Damascus. Again, if it were mine, I'd pull the lock and barrel and give it a good soaking in Kroil. Then work "lightly" with bronze brushes and 0000 or 000 steel wool. Then a final wash with mineral spirits. Just wipe the wood down with mineral spirits. I would then take it to a good gunsmith for his blessing. I said "Good" gunsmith as most of the ones I have seen, have little or no experience with these old guys.


Be Safe !!!!
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Old April 21, 2009, 02:31 PM   #3
mjones4784
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Thanks Pahoo Great advice.

It looks like I've stuck this in the wrong section as well. Sorry! Looks like it belongs in the relics section.
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Old April 21, 2009, 04:56 PM   #4
Hawg
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Looks like a defarbed repro. A real Tower would have British proofmarks. The lock plate doesn't have the right taper either. Dixie sold thousands of Tower repros in the 60's and 70's for 49.00.
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Old April 21, 2009, 05:37 PM   #5
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mjones4784,
Whenever you get past the Practicals, Get back to us on the Particulars, on a "Shot-String". I have a Buckskinner friend that owns one of these and always brings it along on our M/L/ classes. Have a great time !!! .....



Be Safe !!!
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Old April 21, 2009, 09:26 PM   #6
gmatov
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mjones,

I have no idea if it is real or a replica, however I am pretty sure that ALL BP replicas are marked "Black Powder Only". Old guns were not marked so for the obvious reason that there was only BP.

I would find a dealer in antique firearms for a true answer. Or the guys in the Relics forum might help.

Cheers,

George
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Old April 21, 2009, 10:30 PM   #7
Hawg
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Quote:
I am pretty sure that ALL BP replicas are marked "Black Powder Only"
Not if they're defarbed or made from a kit. New kits may be so marked but I know the old ones weren't.
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Old April 21, 2009, 10:52 PM   #8
4V50 Gary
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Without closer examination, some things bothered me about the gun that raises authenticity issues.

First, as mentioned before, the tail end of the lockplate doesn't look right. There's no engraved border around it. Granted, sea pattern pistols didn't necessarily have engraved borders. But the pistol has a swivel rod and that wasn't a feature found on sea pattern pistols.

Second, the pan isn't right either.

Third, there's no "GR" or other markings to indicate the reigning monarch.

I'm wondering if it is authentic, whether it's a rebuild from scratch parts? Presently, without more photos, (full length, both sides, top of barrel for markings, markings on brass hardware), I suspect it's a replica.
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Old April 21, 2009, 11:21 PM   #9
joelberg
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I was at my favorite gun shop the other day picking up caps and witnessed the owner evaluate a civil war era colt within 5 minutes of looking at it simply by checking the stampings on it. He called a 51 (if I remember correctly) at 1200 sale price, he'd buy it immediately for 800. Of course the place is called "Old Guns" so that might be a factor.
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Old April 22, 2009, 06:36 AM   #10
mjones4784
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4V50 Gary - The letters "GR" are under the crown stamp, they can be seen in the first picture I believe. Very hard to make out in the picture but its easy to read them in person.

I'll try to get some good high resolution shots with my digital camera tonight. The "Tower" and the crown "GR" stamp are the only two markings on the gun.
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Old April 23, 2009, 08:39 AM   #11
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Um, did originals actually say "Tower" on the lockplate? There are some turning marks in places that seem kinda modern as well. The Crown stamp seems sorta Khyber Pass funky as well. It looks like an older replica to me.
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Old April 23, 2009, 09:01 AM   #12
4V50 Gary
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By golly "GR" is under the plate. However, the pan looks wrong and appears to be a replacement. See the machine marks? It was hand work in the old days.
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Old April 23, 2009, 05:17 PM   #13
Hawg
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Quote:
Um, did originals actually say "Tower" on the lockplate?
Yes because that's where they were made.
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Old April 24, 2009, 06:44 PM   #14
Sken
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Thanks, Hawg-

Note to self: look before posting.

I see that there is an abundance of Tower pistols on the internet, now that I posted questioning the stamp. They have "Tower" stamped in various ways on the lockplate.

It seems the Tower pattern, to quote the pirate movie, was more what you'd call a guideline. Lots of variations and upgrades over the decades. Kinda like 1911's.

Still not buying the machining marks, though.
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Old April 24, 2009, 06:49 PM   #15
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Real or not its still a great looking piece. Rather than shooting it, i honestly would clean it up and oil everything down and build a wood/glass presentation box to show it off on the wall. I'd hate to ruin such a neat looking pistol.
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Old April 24, 2009, 11:30 PM   #16
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If it is a replica, be wary of how you load it. I built one from a kit, many years ago, for a guy who was the boss of a shop I worked at for a few years.

Parts were soft. Frizzen would not make a spark from the flint. "I won't buy a gun that doesn't shoot." Took the lockwork parts to my main job and had them heat treated. Sparked real well.

HAD to go shoot it to prove it to him. "How'n the hell do you load this?" He says, "Flatten your palm, put a ball on it, pour powder till the ball is covered." Hokay, first shot with a string. I don't know what the barrel is made of. Goes off okay.

NOW, my turn. Load again. Same load. That sucker twisted itself out of my hand and that big assed screw on the hammer took a chunk out of my knuckle, wound up on the ground.

HIS turn to shoot, he CUPS his palm, covers the ball, and it goes "POP". He payed for it. 1/3 the charge he said it should take. I proofed the damned thing for him.

Innyhoo, have it checked to see if a real one, if not, enjoy it. I don't know how you enjoy something like that. Loaded, they kick like hell.

Cheers,

George
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Old April 25, 2009, 03:12 AM   #17
Hawg
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Take the barrel off and see what kind of proofs are under it.
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Old April 25, 2009, 09:59 AM   #18
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It's a nice looking old piece you have. A antiqued replica IMHO, but still very nice. I think I would make it a wall hanger.
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Old September 27, 2011, 02:56 PM   #19
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My buddy just bought one of these at a Garage Sale for 60 bucks and brought it to me to examine and point him in the right direction for ammo so he can go shoot it. This pistol seems to be ~69 Caliber at the muzzle, as measured with my calipers. Can that be so? 69? A brief search reveals nothing bigger than 58 cal.

I am no BP man. I've shot them and that's all. Someone else even loaded it for me. Does this thing load just like other ML arms? (powder, lubed patch with ball inside)

Kicks like H***? hmm. What about downloading just a little (not 2/3!)
Where to get balls for it and what size?
I am told but want to verify that I can use my Goex FFg powder for a propellant, but need FFFFg for the pan.
30 grains? 40 grains?

This gun has flint but will not spark. The striker is smooth. Am I missing a pc that clamps onto it to make it spark, or do I just go with some skateboard tape? What is the real way, and what will work for the meantime?

This pistol seems to be nickle plated. Were the repros nickled?
Markings are Tower GR with a crown. WHere does that mean this was made?
I have someone telling me that Colt made the parts for them. I doubt it but hate to open mouth and insert foot before knowing.
Help!
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Old September 27, 2011, 09:24 PM   #20
Hawg
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Original Tower flintlocks were .69 caliber smooth bore. The soft frizzens not sparking was a problem with the Japanese imports. To make it spark it will have to be hardened, skateboard tape will not help. A .680 ball with a .010 or .015 patch. 40 grains should be a good load. You can use 2F or 3F but the pan charge needs to be 4F and don't cover the touch hole with it. The Tower doesn't mean anything on a repro. Originals were made in the London Tower armory. No they weren't nickel plated and no Colt didn't make parts for them
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Old September 27, 2011, 10:48 PM   #21
arcticap
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Track of the Wolf sells a variety of round balls that will fit.

http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Catego...Size=25&Page=3

Smothbores are typically loaded with balls that are about .020 smaller than the bore size along with a thicker patch like .018 - .020. When the patch is wrapped around both sides of the ball it adds about .036 - .040 to it's diameter. This smaller diameter ball allows extra room for the thick patch to be compressed as the bore gets fouled with powder residue and becomes narrower.
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Old September 28, 2011, 08:09 AM   #22
Rifleman1776
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There were boatloads of cheap 'Tower' pistol not very well done replicas imported to the U.S. in the 1970-80s.
However, from your pics, yours could be an original. Hard to tell, needs expert examination.
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Old September 28, 2011, 10:59 AM   #23
Hawg
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Rifleman you answered a post two years old. Edward should have started a new one.
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Old September 29, 2011, 12:52 AM   #24
Edward429451
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Perhaps, but you guys had a good conversation going about the exact pistol. I appreciate the response. Should I score a few lines on the frizzen with a dremel before heat treating it or leave it as is (smooth)?
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Old September 29, 2011, 06:23 AM   #25
B.L.E.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hawg Haggen
Original Tower flintlocks were .69 caliber smooth bore. The soft frizzens not sparking was a problem with the Japanese imports. To make it spark it will have to be hardened, skateboard tape will not help. A .680 ball with a .010 or .015 patch. 40 grains should be a good load. You can use 2F or 3F but the pan charge needs to be 4F and don't cover the touch hole with it. The Tower doesn't mean anything on a repro. Originals were made in the London Tower armory. No they weren't nickel plated and no Colt didn't make parts for them
Actually, you don't HAVE to use 4F to prime the pan. I have primed flintlocks with 3F and I could barely tell the difference.
Historically, soldiers used the same powder used for the main charge to prime the pan. 2F for the main charge and the pan.

Of course, 4F is preferred if you happen to have some and you don't have any 5F handy.
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