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Old October 30, 2012, 12:05 AM   #1
johnwilliamson062
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squirrel gun

A while back a buddy told me he was thinking about a flintlock squirrel gun, maybe in .32. I thought it was a pretty crazy idea, but have been warming up to it over time. 32 seems BIG for squirrels, but seems there aren't smaller muzzle loaders. Even my inline has a slow ignition at times. Hitting squirrels with a 22 seems mostly about timing. Might be a real challenge.
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Old October 30, 2012, 06:05 AM   #2
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A .32 muzzleloader will probably shoot either a .310 or a .315 patched round ball.

.310 roundball = 44.8 grains
.315 roundball = 47 grains

If it will shoot accurately with a 10 to 15 grain powder charge, you essentially have a muzzleloading .22.
A round ball slows down much more rapidly than a .22 bullet does so by the time the ball goes 50 yards, it's probably down to .22 velocity even with the hotter charges.

IMHO, the "squirrel rifle" calibers are some of the most fun muzzleloaders to shoot. I believe 00 buck works as roundballs for a .32 and is much cheaper than the roundballs marketed for muzzleloaders.
I shoot Hornady 000 buck in my .36 and it works quite well and costs about $26 for a five pound bag.
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:08 AM   #3
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At one time, I had one of the CVA "Squirrel Rifles" - a short little percussion rifle in .32. I found a used one that was a left handed rifle and had a scope on it (I had to start shooting left handed due to eye problems). It was a great little rifle and perfect for squirrels and smaller varmints. It was accurate and just plain fun to shoot. I haven't hunted squirrels in a number of years so i sold it to a fellow who was left handed and wanted it in the worst way so as least someone is getting some good use of it.

I still have a .36 H & A under hammer that would work as well if I was accurate enough to make head shots (which I'm not! lol). I used to shoot once a month with a fellow that had a H & A under hammer in .32. It was amusing as he carried his shooting supplies in a musket cap tin - caps, balls, patches and used a small flask for his powder. He could outshoot all of us with it. I still haven't ruled out the idea of having a .32 barrel made up for my H & A to interchange with the .36 barrel. In the long run, I think you'd enjoy a .32 for squirrels . . . not a whole lot different than a .22 but a whole lot more fun! Good luck!
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Old October 30, 2012, 10:55 PM   #4
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Think hard about that .32 caliber. I built a .32 flint longrifle with the idea of shooting at squirrels and rabbits, but there's a significant amount of metal left around that little bore that gets to be kind of a chore to lift, shoulder, and fire. If I were to do it again, I'd have gone no smaller than .40 and probably a bit bigger.
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Old October 30, 2012, 11:45 PM   #5
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I take it you are saying they use the same blanks for the barrel so the 32 is really heavy? Interesting dilemma. Has to be one maker with a scaled barrel.

Maybe my 7.62X25 carbine was a better idea...
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Old October 31, 2012, 06:05 AM   #6
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When I put a .36 Green Mountain drop in barrel on my TC Hawkin rifle, it did pick up a noticeable amount of weight. I partially offset that weight gain by leaving the underrib and ramrod ferrules off since I was mainly using that rifle as a target rifle anyway.
I had a TC Cherokee in .32 but the barrel measures 13/16 between the flats and is only 24 inches long. You could carry it all day.
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Old October 31, 2012, 06:50 AM   #7
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Since I can't resist the challenge of solving math problems, I figure that an undrilled octagonal barrel blank 13/16 across the flats that's 32 inches long should weigh about 4.87 pounds, figuring steel having a density of .278 pounds per cubic inch.
Drilling a .32 diameter hole through it should remove .715 pounds of steel.
Drilling a .36 diameter hole through it should remove .906 pounds of steel.
Drilling a .40 diameter hole through it should remove 1.12 pounds of steel.

That makes the .32 barrel weigh 4.155 lb
The .36 weighs 3.964 lb
The .40 weighs 3.75 lb.

Someone a little more ambitious than me can figure out how much metal cutting the rifling removes.
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Old October 31, 2012, 07:24 PM   #8
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I like the way you think !!

Quote:
If I were to do it again, I'd have gone no smaller than .40 and probably a bit bigger.
Good point as for a few years, I hunted squirrels with a .50, in prep for the deer season. Then I finally got a .32 and did not really like working with it. Finally settled on a .36 and the real fun began. It's a Seneca, light great loading and shooting. I now prefer hunting squirrels with an M/L. ....

Quote:
When I put a .36 Green Mountain drop in barrel on my TC Hawkin rifle,
Well, I had a .32 in my TC Hawken and talk about a B-Buster ....
That one didn't last too long and sold it for $80.00.

Be Safe !!!
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Old October 31, 2012, 11:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Finally settled on a .36 and the real fun began. It's a Seneca, light great loading and shooting. I now prefer hunting squirrels with an M/L. ....
Yes...and thanks to my good friend Pahoo, I'm having so much fun squirrel hunting with my .36 Seneca, it's getting into my deer bow hunting time.

Course, there have been a couple foxes and several coons fall to the .36 as well.
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Old November 3, 2012, 09:56 PM   #10
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If you have a 36 caliber TC rifle try using some hollow base 38wadcutter bullets with a reduced charge. The TC guns have a 1/30 twist and will stabilize the WC bullets. They work like a miniture Minnie ball with their hollow base. I have also shot them from a 36 caliber traditions with a 1/48 twist and they shot well enough to kill turtles in my buddies stock tank out to 40 yards or so. Thats why I prefer the 36 over the 32 bore guns.
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Old November 3, 2012, 11:31 PM   #11
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Good tip ratshooter. Thanks!
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Old November 4, 2012, 11:58 AM   #12
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shortwave+1

Quote:
Good tip ratshooter. Thanks!!
I'll say and will also relay this info to other M/L folks ...

Be Safe !!!
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Old November 4, 2012, 12:21 PM   #13
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If you go semi-custom or custom, weight isn't an issue using a smaller profile swamped barrel. You can have a light weight, well balanced, small bore muzzleloader.
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Old November 4, 2012, 07:07 PM   #14
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Yeah, but what is the price of that? I am considering trying to build the rifle.

I looked around and I don't even seem to have found any decent parts suppliers.
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Old November 4, 2012, 09:30 PM   #15
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MMP makes a .36 caliber sabot that fits .311 - .314 bullets. MMP recommends that they be used with a 60 -90 grain bullet, compared to a .350 round ball which weighs 65 grains.

http://mmpsabots.com/

There's also .36 Maxiballs which TC made the molds for. A seller on Auction Arms named blkpwdrsls seems to list them for sale there all of the time.

http://www.gunauction.com/buy/102469...-free-shipping

Some good accuracy results for the .36 Maxiball are mentioned in this thread:

http://castboolits.gunloads.com/arch...p/t-85632.html

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Old November 5, 2012, 04:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Yeah, but what is the price of that? I am considering trying to build the rifle.

I looked around and I don't even seem to have found any decent parts suppliers.
Well, none of them are what I would consider cheap, but there are kit options from $500 and up:

Sitting Fox has a Tennessee Poor Boy squirrel gun kit, although it doesn't have a swamped barrel, you can get it with 3/4" flats that should be quite light. They may be able to add a swamped barrel at additional cost. http://www.sittingfoxmuzzleloaders.c...el%20Rifle.htm

Track of the Wolf has a couple lightweight kits in .40 caliber: http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Catego...T-JP-GAB-FLINT, http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Catego.../KIT-IHB-FLINT

Dunlap Woodcraft has an Isaac Haines kit available in the smaller calibers: http://www.dunlapwoodcrafts.com/Comp...ainesRifle.php

TVM Iron mounted PA rifle available with swamped barrel: http://www.avsia.com/tvm/pennsylvania_iron.htm
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Old November 6, 2012, 10:03 AM   #17
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Different slant....You know I always ask the weirdest questions

Here is another one for you historians.

I wonder when the term "squirrel gun" or "squirrel rifle: was first used. Lets say it was somewhere in Pennsylvania in 1806. (I am well aware that is probably not right, but for the sake of this argument, precision is not so important)

In describing the person who first uttered the phrase, is it likely that he or she had more than one rifle, only one of which was used for squirrels, the others used for deer or bear?

This has to do with the family economics of the time. How many families could afford more than one rifle? I do understand that in many cases, it was not a matter of "afford" because just as today, many weapons were inherited and I suppose in most cases, that included the mold for the bullets.

Perhaps the term was coined by the gunmaker who asked a potential customer what they needed and then broke the options down by the game they would be using the rifle for. Kind of like the LGS owner who asks the rifle buyer if he is looking for a varmit rifle.

Just some pointless mental gymnastics.....
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Old November 6, 2012, 12:55 PM   #18
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I used my google foo a bit last night and stumbled upn the track of the wolf site. I liked how they set-up their build options. Much friendlier than a lot of their competitors.

Thank you for the other links. I will continue investigating.

That is an interesting question and I thought about it in a round-a-bout way myself.

We can look back at catologs and see that in 1900 such and such gun cost $3 and be ever so jealous, but run it through an inflation calculator, which I believe to generally give us low modern numbers anyways, and it becomes clear guns used to be EXPENSIVE. People didn't own multiple guns with no utilitarian purpose like today.

My thoughts:
It seems as though most private hunting rifles were not .68+ caliber rifles like military guns. I say this because I do not see many listed in auctions for those large calibers. Maybe it seems that way b/c I am not so interested.
It also seems like it was somewhat common for families to have a smaller caliber gun for youth use based on anecdotes. My GUESS is squirrel gun may have been a term of derision for these youth guns.
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Old November 6, 2012, 02:49 PM   #19
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I think most of the "squirrel rifles" came along after the frontier had mostly disappeared. With no more bear, buffalo, elk, or hostiles around the need for a large bore weapon decreased. Using a smaller bore rifle stretched powder and lead supplies farther- more economical.
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Old November 6, 2012, 09:03 PM   #20
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I think that both powder and lead was very expensive back then and most of the hunting was small game in the eastern states. It don't take a .58 to kill a whitetail or a black bear. That's why the "Kentucky" rifle evolved into a smaller caliber and more graceful and slender gun than the German Jaegar rifles that the German gunsmiths that came here were used to building.

There were also a lot of smoothbores on the frontier, advantage, they could double as fowlers.

It wasn't until we started settling the West that the need for buffalo and elk rifles came about.
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Old November 6, 2012, 09:28 PM   #21
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The Tennessee Squirrel rifle was a very lightweight little rifle, much smaller than the "Kentucky Rifle", and was usually half stocked. Most had round barrels. They lacked a patch box, and usually had a depression in the stock for a tallow lube for the patch. A friend of mine, now dead, was a restaurant hunter around Water Valley, Mississippi, and he claimed he used a Harrington & Richardson .38 caliber muzzle loader. I quizzed him several times about .38 caliber (instead of .36) and he was adamant that it was .38 and a caplock. He was able to tell me the "balls to the pound" difference.

Bob Wright
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Old November 6, 2012, 09:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
B.L.E. wrote:
It wasn't until we started settling the West that the need for buffalo and elk rifles came about.
Buffalo weren't confined to the west, Davy Crocket took buffalo in Tennessee. These the woods bison.

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Old November 6, 2012, 09:36 PM   #23
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Never seen it don, but have heard much of "barking squirrels."

This is done by shooting the limb under the squirrel, the wood fragments stunning the squirrel. The stunned squirrel is dispatched by swinging him by the hind legs and cracking his head against the tree truck. This leaves the head intact and the brains undamaged.

Incidentally, my cousin went to an auction, this around 1960 or so, and a squirrel rifle came up. When nobody bid on it, he offered a quarter. He bought the rifle, a .44 caliber, for twenty-five cents! I gave him a piece of scrap brass to make the missing trigger guard.

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Old November 6, 2012, 10:40 PM   #24
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I di recall seeing an ad for 32 or 36 cal 'squirrel gun' in Fur-Fish-Game.

The co (I dont recall who) only made a few each year and the recommendation was to order early.

There was also an article about 'barking' your squirrel, that is to hit close to it and shock it to death.

Bob, just above mentions barking. I didnt see his article before I posted mine.
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Old November 7, 2012, 04:36 AM   #25
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Have me two rifles in the cal.32. Hatfield percussion and Cub Dixie flint.
To use only ball in patch.
contemporary made - ground:
percussion: 18,50gr. Swiss N2
flint: 21,60gr. Swiss N2
ball .315 + patch .007"-.008"

it was writing oneself of it here also:
http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=494142
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