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Old June 1, 2011, 11:19 PM   #1
SD Armory
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Old Black Powder Rifle??? Real or Replica??

I came across this rifle and I am told that it is 1775 era but it looks like if it is real it was converted to a percussion. I am by no means an expert or anything near an expert. I have searched Google and come up very little to clearly identify this rifle. I am thinking of picking it up as a present for my Dad...

What I do know:
35.25" Octagon Barrel
Single trigger
No visible/identifying markings

Anyone with additional information, comments or opinion of value...please PM or post.

Thank you in advance.
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Old June 1, 2011, 11:50 PM   #2
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The buttplate does indeed suggest an earlier rifle. Early buttplates were flatter like the military style buttplates. They became more curved and by the Federal Period (post-Constitution), they were very crescent shaped.

The lockplate is very round and isn't common for flintlocks of the Revolutionary War period. It is possible and Shumway has a photo of in Vol 1, pages 39 and 41 of Rifles of the Colonial Period.

The thing to remember that the maker of the buttplate or lock may not be the same person who assembled the parts into a gun. One must recall that recycling parts from broken guns was not unknown either.

The lack of relief carving or engraving suggests a working gun. Mind you, men with money did buy fancier guns that they carried to the field or into battle. Surviving examples brought home to England by British officers attest to their presence on the battlefield.

Can you share a close-up of the lockplate?
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Old June 1, 2011, 11:58 PM   #3
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Thank you for your input. I don't have the rifle in-hand so I can't take a better picture at the moment. Do you think there is a good chance this is a replica, or not?

The best match I can find so far on Google is this unmarked, cleaned up double barrel - http://www.aaawt.com/html/firearms/f627.html
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Old June 2, 2011, 12:05 AM   #4
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I doubt if any modern builder would go through the effort to forge a simple rifle. The best modern makers can produce a gun that even the European kings, princes, dukes and other nobles would be proud to own. Considering the modern steel of the barrel, it would even be superior!

However, it may not necessarily be a Revolutionary War era gun. Remember, parts were recycled as it saved time and money. So while the buttplate is an early one, the gun could be a later make (1820-40) made in the early Nineteenth Century.
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Old June 2, 2011, 03:47 AM   #5
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It was never a flintlock, the shape of the lock plate is wrong. Flint locks had a tapered tail. It's hard to tell if it's period or not. Every style of gun imaginable has been and is still being reproduced. Some by master craftsmen. Once some of these guns get some age on them it sometimes takes a professional to tell what's real and what isn't.(some are artificially aged) One thing is it has a drum breech and "most" modern built guns use a snail or patent breech. It has the proper squared cheek piece for a full stock. Half stocks had an egg shaped cheek piece. If it's original it was most likely made in the 1830-1850 period but similar rifles were still being made for trade into the 1870's.
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Old June 2, 2011, 08:07 AM   #6
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I concur with the previous posters.
Hard to pin down time or location when it was built. To me, it does not represent any particular 'school' of builder. But, as a working man's rifle it may be very representative of what many had.
As to whether you should purchase......I dunno....depends on intended use. First, does it fit your budget? Wall hanger? Or shooter? As a shooter I would pass and go for something more recently built. Curisosity? OK.
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Old June 2, 2011, 09:36 AM   #7
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Bump with new lock pic added. Thanks to all who have commented so far. Any idea of rough ballpark price (not as a shooter)?
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Old June 2, 2011, 10:26 AM   #8
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Without some provenance or evidence of the builder's identity, very little, perhaps $100 or even less.
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Old June 2, 2011, 10:35 AM   #9
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To me, the general shape of the stock (arching drop more than an angular drop) suggests origins in the south, maybe Arkansas.

Stock shapes and forms were often highly regional. I've seen ones like that before, but it's been a long time...
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Old June 2, 2011, 11:41 AM   #10
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Mike and Mykeal
Without knowing it's origin, I would hesitate to place any kind of value on it. $100.00 might be high and $10,000.00 might be low.
I once sat in (silently) on a discussion among some serious and knowledgable collectors of old ml guns. The issue was the lack of working, or 'poor man's' rifles in the hands of collectors and historians. Fine, presentation quality, rifles generally stayed in the families and were well cared for. But the barn gun was a tool and tossed when it's usefullness ended.
My gut says this one is closer to the $100.00 mark but that is far from an educated estimate.
That lock looks to me like it came from a military musket. If so, it could be somebodys build up post-CW for a barn gun.
As for it coming from Arkansas. Thanks for thinking of us. But, really, Arkansas, until the 1970s, was not known for having many (any?) gun builders. Not likely.
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Old June 2, 2011, 12:57 PM   #11
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Don't kid yourself Rifleman.

"Gunmakers," whether that was their primary vocation or not, were located in just about every state.

Sometimes they simply assembled mail order bought parts into a locally carved stock.

And, by Arkansas, I really should have said Ozarks -- Missouri and Arkansas.

Guns made had traits that were as distinctive as those found in a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, made long rifle.
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Old June 2, 2011, 03:26 PM   #12
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I'd have said maybe a Tennessee Poor Boy. The thing is tho any quality rifle should have at least the lock makers name on the lock and any rifle builder worth his salt would have put his name on it.
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Old June 2, 2011, 05:40 PM   #13
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Concur with Hawg Haggen that the gun was never a flintlock and therefore is not a Revolulionary War era weapon.

It has been suggested that it is a southern poor boy rifle. The brass sideplate and trigger guard are not in character with the iron mounted poor boy rifle. However, it is the buttplate that lacks the sharp crescent shape that suggests to me that it is not a southern gun. It's not that a Southern riflesmith could not have built it. It's just that it is unlikely to me given the taste and style of the period. A look at the tang will be revealing. Many Southern rifles had a longer and exaggerated tang that thought to give strength to the wrist. So, show us a close-up of the tang.

Please also show a close-up of the patchbox.
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Old June 2, 2011, 09:12 PM   #14
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Gary,

It was my understanding that the sharp crescent butt plate really was a regionless feature.

There are four Pennsylvania Long Rifles in my family, family guns, all from the early to mid 1800s, and all have crescent butt plates.

None, however, have the "swoop" stock, as I've always called it.
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Old June 2, 2011, 09:20 PM   #15
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Mike. It's my understanding that the sharp crescent plates came into vogue after the Revolution. Like you said, it was region-less and it became the fashion of the time. I guess people started shooting off the arm instead of the shoulder.
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Old June 3, 2011, 08:13 AM   #16
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HH, locks were imported, literally by the boatload, from England and elsewhere in Europe for a long time. Many locks are not identified. You may be right about "quality" parts being signed but low end stuff was just that 'stuff' to be sold by many merchants.
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Old June 3, 2011, 09:20 AM   #17
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Some of the conversions were very crude. I have a .60+ cal smoothbore with an 1836 Springfield stamped lock plate that began life as a flintlock.
The frizzen and pan were broken off of the lock, the barrel was rotated until the touch hole was essentially "up" and a musket nipple threaded in.
The hammer was from something else, broken and welded so that it hit the nipple kinda, maybe, most of the time.
This was my first gun and I loaded it with "some" powder, a plastic envelope of copper plated BBs and a musket cap.
Generally the first hammer strike got the cap aligned, the second seated it and the third actually fired.
Many cottontails and jack rabbits fell to this mighty weapon.
I once shot a "chicken hawk" at about 50 yards with a handful of lead scraps from a casting session and a glass marble all held in place with toilet paper.
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Old June 3, 2011, 03:17 PM   #18
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Yeah I know. That's why I said quality locks.
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