View Full Version : Black powder pistol kits

September 28, 2010, 12:24 PM
I'm thinking about putting together an activity for some older boy scouts (Venturers) where we would assemble some black powder pistol kits. Being an NRA certified Muzzleloading Pistol instructor, I can teach them the required BSA/NRA course and then take them shooting after they assembled the kits. However, I've not assembled any such kits before so I want to know what I'd be getting myself into. I'm not too worried about how finish the wood (although I am open to any suggestions) but I am wondering about the best way to finish the metal? I could be talking about anywhere from 10 to 50+ kits. My first thoughts are to take the barrel and lock parts to a gunsmith and have him blue them for me. Is there a better way? Those of you who have assembled such kits, what are your suggestions? How is the quality of the kits from Traditions Firearms?


September 28, 2010, 12:40 PM
Have them polish the barrel, but just leave it in the white. If you plan to have someone else blue it, the scouts aren't learning that part anyway. Spend a bit more time on the wood and "fitting" the barrel, tang, lock, and ornaments (hey, if they can put so much muscle into those wooden derby cars the gun furniture should be a piece of cake). This way they learn some more attention to detail. You could do the blueing as well with a cold blue from any sporting good store. Just my $.02

Traditions are fine for what you plan to do.

September 28, 2010, 12:46 PM
Darwin - what an undertaking! I applaud you wholeheartedly! I'm a former shop teacher and always wanted to do something like this but couldn't due to liability, etc. I'm in hopes that even if it doesn't work out for a large group, you could at least get a few interested. It would be something that they will always remember and treasure.

If you are going to have them use "kits" - they'll have to do the woodwork to final fit the parts (if needed) as well as sand, etc. and apply finish to the stocks. Looking the entire process over, I am guessing that you want them to get an intro to ML, doing a project and having the satisfaction of having something when they are done, etc. Speaking from experience (for shop classes), you will have some who are "perfectionists" and some who will not be. You've worked with kids so you'll know what I mean when I say that the most important thing that they get out of it is "confidence" in themselves. I'm sure that they would find a project like this interesting and it opens up a whole list of topics that you can expand on from history to safe shooting to combining it with primitive camping, etc. At any rate, I think that I would have them finish the barrel, lock, etc. themselves. While maybe not 100% historically correct, cold blue is easy to do as is the use of Plum Brown. It would give the opportunity to teach lessons on metal work - polishing, preparation for finish, etc. and in the long run, wouldn't require much more than emery cloth (for a kit gun) to polish the metal up. I don't know what your time limits are for the project so I imagine that would have a lot to do with whether they have time to do the metal finishing or not. I'd also suggest that you approach the local lumberyards, etc. for maybe a contribution of sandpaper, stains, varnish, etc. as well as gun shops or suppliers who might be willing to donate cold blue, plum brown, etc. I know it is tough with the economy, but most places have a soft spot in their hearts for scouts, etc. Hopefully you can get some parents involved as it would be a nice way to give some "bonding" time along with the project. Just my 2 cents worth - I hope it works out for you and the kids as it sounds like a terrific idea. Good luck! Sincerely, Bedbug :)

September 28, 2010, 12:50 PM
I have put a few kits together and am currently working on a new one. Not sure which model you are looking at. These can be a challenge to a novis but Y'all could work thru this. Some spot cold bluing can work. Another choice would be to find a shop that does black oxide finish. You also have the choice of leaving it white. I think that a good choice might be browning or plum and this process give very good results.

On assembly, I first fully assemble the piece complete to work out those problem areas. Then I disassemble finish and reassemble. I take it slow on each stage of the process. On long guns, I really take my time. If it has a large amount of brass, it takes longer to work that metal. Don't know if you are selecting a kit with a removeable wedge pin and they are easier to work with. I think that this wod be a fantastic project fo scouts as you will see them working together and helping each other. .... ;)

Be Safe !!!

September 28, 2010, 04:12 PM
Might be worth picking up a copy of Fadala & Storey's Black Powder Hobby Gunsmithing. They have a couple of sections on putting together the kits, with nice tips.

Here's the book I'm talking about:

It's out of print but easy to find for $5 or less on Abebooks or Alibris. Best of luck with the . . . venture! :cool:

September 28, 2010, 04:38 PM
Might be worth picking up a copy of Fadala & Storey's Black Powder Hobby Gunsmithing.
Great point and although I don't have this one, I have quite a few of his books and they are good. Most instructions that come with the kits, do not cover the details on fitting and finishing. Not my post but thanks for the lead .... :)

Be Safe !!!

September 28, 2010, 04:49 PM
I did a Lyman Plains Muzzleloading Pistol Unassembled Kit 54 Caliber Percussion 9-3/4" Blue Barrel $237.99 a while back. Blueing the barrel was a non-issue. I got it right the first time and I have never blued anything before. I was in a hurry to get this shooting and probably didn't do as much sanding on the wood as I could have, but I like it. If in the future I decide I want to sand it some more I could.

It will take a total of about 24 hours to go from box to shooting, but several of those hours will be 1 hour at a time applying blue or some type of finish to the wood, then waiting 24 hours.

In the end I had a companion to my Cabelas 54 Hawken. For the kids I suggest NOT shooting full house loads out of either as full house load KICK. Stick with moderate loads of patched round ball.

All in all, it is a fun project, BUT if this is their first gun I would suggest looking at the long gun. It is more expensive, but they get more out of it. I believe they could earn a shooting badge with their own long gun. If they are inclined they could hunt with their own long gun...... I don't think it would take that much more time.

Darwin, where are you located? If you are local, I could let you play with mine, have some cold blue....

September 28, 2010, 04:55 PM
I think there is more effort in building a wooden derby car, than is needed to put one of these kits together.

All the instructions are in the box for putting it together.
I went to a local wood working shop for sand paper and linseed oil.
I bought my cold blue from midway. It has instructions on the bottle.
I seriously don't think you need any extra books.

September 29, 2010, 03:47 PM
Thanks for all the good remarks. I have more to think about than I realized so I'm glad I asked. There are a few things to work out. I hadn't considered the time it could take to complete akit which may be the biggest wrinkle. But I don't think I need to be there for the whole thing. I can get them started, make sure they know what they need to do, make sure they have what they need and set a date for them to be completed by so I can take them all shooting.

RWBlue01, I live near Salt Lake City.


September 29, 2010, 04:38 PM
I am on the other side of the country. :(

None of the work is really gun work. It doesn't require a gun person until you take it out to shoot it. So, if any other parent/guardian can make sure they don't sand too much or try sniffing the wood finish,....

Assuming older boys which can be trusted, they could probably do this project on their own.

The real issue IMHO is the cost and you have to have a place setup to let the parts sit and dry.

September 30, 2010, 02:14 PM
My brother and I bought a 3/4" bore cannon barrel from DGW many years ago and built a carriage as a scout project, I also later put together a 45 Kentucky pistol kit that took many rabbits. The pistol kit came with a cold blue packet that looked fine and was easy to do. This was in the 60's and we even carried the cannon on camping trips and fired it.

September 30, 2010, 04:13 PM
Without seeing the kits it is impossible to know how much work will be involved. I have sold and built kits. Some are drop in easy to make but these are fairly rare on the market. Most claim to be drop in but require opening the barrel channel, doing inletting to relive the lock plate opening, drilling for barrel retainer pins and much more.
I am surprised that as an ML instructor you are not familiar with the fact most traditional ml guns were browned, not blued. (blueing existed but was not common) Why all this talk about blueing? If you are going traditional, go traditional.
I hope your kits are easy to put together or assemble. Do consider browining. Check with advertisers in Muzzle Blasts the publication of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association for sources for materials. If you want I can recommend several.

September 30, 2010, 06:06 PM
Why all this talk about blueing?

It is easy. :D If it wasn't easy, I couldn't do it.

September 30, 2010, 08:26 PM
I am surprised that as an ML instructor you are not familiar with the fact most traditional ml guns were browned, not blued.
I'm not sure what being an ML instructor has to do with knowledge of historical gunsmithing techniques. I'm a ML instructor for Hunter Safety Education classes, and there's nothing in the curriculum about how the original guns were made; the courses concentrate on how to safely operate the guns. The details of the gun's manufacturing only come into play insofar as they factor in safe usage; how barrels were finished in the 18th century don't apply.

October 1, 2010, 12:25 PM
I'm not sure what being an ML instructor has to do with knowledge of historical gunsmithing techniques.

Very true and if you really want to get picky, most were not finished at all and got protected by normal usage and handling. I currentny have a Tower Replica that is just killing me not to blue. I'll probably go with Brown and that's not being true to the era. Look at your BrownBess and all that came before.

I too am a Hunter Safety Instructor and given the time frame, one third is primarily about safety. The rest is the Shot string and then Loading and shooting. We only slightly touch on historical items. The only reason I know that is becuse I use to be a Buckskinner and am still a student myself.

Excuse me for getting off the subject at hand .... :eek:

Be Safe !!!