View Full Version : Looking to build a rifle, need advice on components/kits

December 14, 2002, 02:41 PM
Well I got to looking at the hawken kits that cabelas sells, and figured what the hell. I got hardly any use for one but it ought to be fun to build. So thats what went on the christmas list. Then it came up that the Log Cabin Shop in Lodi Ohio, is owned by relatives of my mom. So we're planning on going there sometime to check things out. Went there once before, its a pretty cool place. Don't know why I didn't think of it in the first place.

Anyhow, they don't list any straight up "kits" on their webpage. Says they sell all components. I'm figuring on definitely getting a pre inletted stock, beyond that I don't know. I want it to be percussion, is there any particular type of lock that I should keep an eye out for (brand, model style etc.)? Same question regarding any other hardware also.
I should say up front that I'd like to get it all for less than $200. Cheaper would be even better since I'm not going to be putting it to serious use. It has to be quality stuff thats gonig to put out a reasonably accurate and reliable rifle though.

I make knives. Folding (linerlock) and fixed. I also do a fair amount of woodworking and carving. So I'm not worried about it being too hard to put together. Other than not knowing anything beyond the very basics of how it works. I have some friends that black powder hunt, so I won't be shooting the thing till someone that knows what they're doing says it passes the safety check.

Also, what would be necessary to get started shooting. Powder measure, powder, patches and balls/bullets etc. ?

Thanks for any advice (run the other way while I still can? ;) )

4V50 Gary
December 14, 2002, 04:04 PM
You won't be able to buy the parts for less than $200. The only way you can is if you make a lot of your own parts like pipes (thimbles), sideplates, buttplates, trigger & trigger plates, sights, nosecap (if desired). Still going to have to buy a barrel and breechplug.

I bought the parts for my first rifle from the Log Cabin and took their class taught by John P. to learn how to assemble it.

Wallace Gustler gave me some advice once. Find something you like and do your best to duplicate it. That way you don't wind up with a hybrid like I and many other novices do. That's why some of the kits are the better route to take because all the parts are mated for that one particular gun you're building.

Let me know what they've got on the used book counter.

December 14, 2002, 05:26 PM
There's a huge difference between buying componets and a kit. With componets you'll end up with a much better rifle but it will cost in the neighborhood of $500 for the parts and probably about 100 hours of work. A kit such as a Lyman Great Plains can be bought for about $230 or so and will be much easier and you'll still have a nice rifle. I have put one kit together and have one rifle from parts about half way done and I started it a year ago. Just work on it when I feel like it. Doing a rifle from parts usually does not even include any sort of instruction unless you buy a book on rifle building. It can be a fun project and more than a bit frustrating when things don't go quite right. Fortunately I have the help of an experienced builder nearby so when I need some advice I call him. Good luck.

December 15, 2002, 12:32 AM
How can the hawken kit cost $179 if its that expensive to go the parts route? Sounded like everything was included with it. Is the quality bad?
I'm talking about a plain jane rifle that I can get out and shoot a few times a year without blowing my face off. It would be nice to hit a tin can from 50 or 100 yards but I don't need anything competition grade.

The way you guys talk this might be more of an investment than I want to make on something I'll hardly ever shoot. :( :confused:

Mike Weber
December 15, 2002, 01:42 AM
I'm in the process of building a rifle from parts myself. I'm building a Jaeger flintlock from the period of 1750. By the time I'm finished I will have close to $700.00 invested in the gun and a whole lot of work involved. This isn't a kit gun, I'm building the rifle from parts and carving the stock myself. For a kit gun that you can be proud to own, I don't think that you can go wrong with the Lyman Great Plains Rifle. Or if you prefer a long rifle The Tennessee Mountain Rifle from Dixie Gun Works. Both are very authentic reproductions of guns of the period, they aren't your bottom dollar specials but they are very high quality.

December 15, 2002, 09:45 AM
Many of the kits are pretty shabby stuff.

Right now the poor man's custom rifle in complete or kit form is the
Lyman Plains rifle.

You won't find a better all around starter rifle than that one..

Closest thing to a custom gun on the market.

As good a bargain for the money as you will find.

4V50 Gary
December 15, 2002, 10:07 AM
My first kit was a Spanish made one imported by Markwell arms. Cost was $45 (on the discount table). It shoots fine and I'm going to put more $ into it by soldering a rib beneath the barrel and pouring a pewter nosecap.

A $179 kit is fine for starters and heck, they shoot. My cheapie is still fun to shoot and I don't look down my nose at it because of it. Besides, it's better to make mistakes (in craftsmanship) on the cheaper stuff than good stuff. If your taste refines, then you may look into the parts route. If you got the parts route, then you have to do research to figure out what fits with what gun so you don't wind up with some sort of hybrid.

December 15, 2002, 06:32 PM
Thanks guys
I guess I'll go take a look at what they have, and try to find a kit. The only kit on their webpage is for the lyman and thats $287, which is probably more than I want to spend to just get the parts and not even have the stuff to shoot it when its finished. I'll see what there is though.
I could probably end up with about the same type of project buying a used rifle (not black powder, .22, milsurp etc) and rebuilding /refinishing it. Might get more use out of that.
I'll stick with the black powder gun for now though. It would be cool to just hang on the wall or over the mantle when I'm not using it.

Also, seems like the main choices in kits are between .50 and .54. Which would be cheaper to shoot? Seems like there are more choices in bullets and they come in bigger quantities for the .50.

December 15, 2002, 07:15 PM
There's not much different in cost between .50 or .54. You'd probably use a little more powder with the .54 but not enough to make much of a difference. The lead round balls will cost the same. The .54 will be a shade lighter rifle.
Check out Midsouth or Natchez Shooters for what seem to be the best prices on Lymans. Don't give up on this project yet.

Mike Irwin
December 20, 2002, 04:05 PM
Thompson Center kits were (do they still offer the kits?) VERY nice.

I built a flint-lock Renegade a few years... er decades, now... ago. LOTS of fun.

December 21, 2002, 10:39 AM
Just ordered a CVA kit for $107 from Walmart. Price was right and this is my first venture into Black Powder. Any thoughts on this product line.

Mike Weber
December 23, 2002, 12:44 AM
One of my first muzzleloaders was a CVA Mountain Rifle. This was back in the seventies. I had no complaints with the Quality of the rifle. I don't have much experience with the newer CVA rifles though.

December 23, 2002, 05:46 PM
Hey thanks for all the advice.
I went up to the log cabin shop today and went ahead and got the lyman. .54 caplock. Can't wait to get started on it. Its currently being held against its will underneath the christmas tree though ;), oh well I have a couple knives I gotta get finished off first anyhow.
They had a finished one their that I looked over pretty close and liked pretty well. I think the hawkens look a littler sharper with the brass trim and all, but we'll see what I can turn out with this. I really like the shape of the stock with the raised cheek peice.
I'm going to brown the barrel, and still have to decide on a finish for the stock. I know I'll use watcos danish oil cause I have about a quart of it left from knife handles. Have to decide what color stain (if any) to use first though.

It came with a slow twist barrel, theres a fast twist available so you can swap back and forth. Patch and ball should be plenty good for just plinking and messing around with. Might try to shoot afew ground hogs, but I got a feeling that out to 100 yards or so they won't know the difference between a whiz bang hollow point and a big hunk of lead. :D