View Full Version : strange looking rifle

November 20, 2002, 10:58 PM
I saw a really strange looking muzzle loader today. I believe it was a Hopkins and Allen. The hammer was underneath and was activated in part by the trigger guard. The trigger mechanism looked really fragile. What period is this thing from. Is it rare I've never seen anything like this before. what would it be worth

Dave McC
November 21, 2002, 04:16 AM
It's an old design,ca 1850, revived around the 60s when BP shooting received an impetus from the Civil War Centennial.

Not rare, and not that old.H&A were mostly known for their inexpensive cartridge revolvers.

The trigger guard was the hammer spring, and the upside down lock worked OK. Caps had to be crimped a bit to stay on the nipple, tho.

These were popular at ML beef shoots in their day.Lots were minor caliber, I believe the 36 caliber was most popular in their buggy rifle model.


Jimmy Mac
November 21, 2002, 08:14 PM
I knew a guy that had one in .58 cal. and he could shoot it too.

He beat us more than once. That really POed the guys shooting $1,500 custom guns.

He bought his H&A for $50 used at a yard sale.

Alex Johnson
November 21, 2002, 09:37 PM
The underhammer mechanisim you describe was one of the simplest firing mechanisims ever devised, there were few things that could go wrong with them. Properly designed and built with good materials, they are not fragile, and in many respects are less prone to breakage than other mechanisms. Target shooters and snipers during the civil war period liked them because they offered an unobstructed view of the top flat of the barrel (often they were mounted with telescopic sights) and they had super fast ignition due to the fact that they were a true inline.

November 22, 2002, 12:57 AM
--It's an old design,ca 1850, revived around the 60s when BP shooting received an impetus from the Civil War Centennial.--
How can you tell an original from a repro. the price was $350 I think. this shop seems to have a reputatuon for being high priced. But if you know what your working with you can get the price down.

4V50 Gary
November 22, 2002, 09:05 PM
Alex - you mentioned that snipers liked them. Can you give me examples (cite books, museums displays, whatever) please? Never heard it before and I'd just like to learn some more. Thanks.

Dave McC
November 23, 2002, 06:38 AM
Bo, never saw an original. The repros were sold by H&R or Numrich, if memory serves. Sorry, can't help further.

Alex Johnson
November 23, 2002, 10:02 AM
I don't have the book here with me right now, but I believe the author Ned Roberts who wrote the Muzzleloading Cap Lock Rifle (a definitive work on this area of muzzleloading) talked about a deliberate shot taken during the civil war where a confederate officer (perhaps a general) was killed at a distance exceeding one mile. Also there is a book on Hiram Berdans sharp shooting regiment detailing that many of these men were using there own rifles before the percussion sharps became available for issue. These rifles were quite often target rifles that were pressed into service and many target rifles in the 1850's were of the underhammer principle.

One book that I do have with me at the moment is a collection of stories by Lucian Cary who used to write short stories for the Saturday Evening Post. Most of Cary's stories centered around a character named J.M. Pyne who was a loosely disguised Harry Pope, the late great barrelmaker, who was a good friend of Cary's. In any event one of the best stories in this book is called the "Madman of Gaylords Corner", this details the use of a large bench underhammer rifle and a mad sniper who uses it to make a 1000 yard shot to avenge the death of his son. The name of the book is "The J.M. Pyne Stories & Other Selected Writings by Lucian Cary. I bought my copy through Dixie Gun Works, you can probably order a copy from there or from Barnes & Noble. It was compiled, published, and edited by.

Guy Lautard
2570 Rosebery Avenue
West Vancouver, B.C.
Canada V7V 2Z9

Hope this helps

Alex Johnson
November 23, 2002, 10:06 AM
I forgot to mention, if your interested the book Gunsmithing Tips & Projects available from Brownells and Dixie details the manufacture of a Billinghurst style underhammer action. Even if you do not want to build one this is an excellent way to see how these things go together and gives a good understanding of the principles behind them.

4V50 Gary
November 23, 2002, 02:06 PM
Thanks Alex.

November 23, 2002, 11:59 PM
Damndest thing i ever saw. Ibelieve it was.45. it had a tang mounted rear site and a globe(?) front so the sniper use would fit. Any ideas on the value