View Full Version : Recomendation please

October 12, 2010, 08:24 AM
I know this may be a strange request but here it goes. I would like to get a blackpowder rifle but I know very little about blackpowder. I have always had a little interest in them, but after last years trip to Williamsburg I think it's time to pick one up.

Here is what I am basically looking for:
- I think I would like a flintlock for no other reason than I find them

- It will be 80% wall hanger, 20% shooter (unless I just fall in love with BP) so I would like the "old look" - wood w/ brass, silver etc inlay.

- Nothing terribly expensive since I am not real sure how much its going to get used versus just hanging on the wall.

I've seen a few used thompson hawkin etc rifles come up in the for sale section that sorta look like what I would want, but I don't know enough about them to know if they are worth while. I am open to suggestions.

trigger happy
October 12, 2010, 08:28 AM
browse around Dixie Gun Works website and then get back to us :)

Doc Hoy
October 12, 2010, 10:06 AM
Trigger Happy + 1

DGW has a wide selection.


How far did you have to drive to get to Williamsburg? I live in Chesapeake. Is it possible we are neighbors?

Also when you got there did you check out the gun smith? Last time I was there which was about 15 years ago, there was a six year waiting list for a flintlock rifle and they were asking about $5,000 to $10,000 each. People were actually making payment on the rifle to get a spot n the list, then waiting a while and selling the rifle before it was even made. They were actually selling not the rifle but their place in line for the rifle.

October 12, 2010, 10:42 AM
I will check out the Dixie site, thanks!

I had to drive about 7 hours to get there from Anderson SC, but the trip was well worth it. I would not mind living in that area one day. I stopped by the gunsmith, it was amazing and yes 10k for a rifle and a several year wait. I actually have the privilege of working with Dr. Fred Stutzenberger (http://www.blackpowder411.com/builder/347/), who some of you may know, and I am amazed at his work but I am ashamed to ask a man who cranks out that degree of craftsmanship to recommend a couple hundred dollar rifle to me. I bring up his name because I mentioned in the gunsmith at Williamsburg that I was from sc and the gunsmith asked if I knew Fred, apparently he came up and worked with them for a while in order to publish an article on their rifle building process.

I will dig around and have some questions later - Thanks

October 13, 2010, 04:16 AM
The Traditions Frontier Flintlock Rifle is on sale in their Bargain Bin for $289:


October 13, 2010, 04:50 AM
Are you thinking of a ready-to-shoot rifle, or might a kit rifle interest you?

October 13, 2010, 07:01 AM
I am thinking of a ready to shoot rifle, but a kit sounds like a fun project down the road a bit. Thanks for the traditions link, I am looking at it now. I like the looks of Kentucky/Tennessee rifles.

As far as pistols go, for future reference, are brass frames out of the question for an occasional shooter - or am I opening up a can of worms better left sealed?

October 13, 2010, 09:25 AM
A word of warning on the flintlock. Many of the manufacturers skimp on lock quality. You may have to buy an "after market" lock to geet it to shoot reliably.

That is the voice of experience.

Doc Hoy
October 13, 2010, 09:40 AM
Brass frames are fine but use a lighter load. You may want to get hold of a press for loading your revolvers.

October 13, 2010, 06:53 PM
Take a look at the Lyman Great Plains. It's as close as you can get to a real Hawken in a decently priced production gun.

October 13, 2010, 10:58 PM
Being in the business, I think I'm qualified to offer some input. You can go "cheap" or "good" but you're not going to find "cheap" & "good" in a traditional gun. Cheap & good comes with something like a Lyman Deerstalker after the lock & trigger are properly tuned and the bore burnished. Yes, I have one, took it in on trade and actually whacked a WT with it because I didn't have time to build another rifle for myself to use before the season rolled around. These things are functional but not "traditional". (BTW, I still have that Deerstalker, .50 RH flint, if anyone is interested.)

Avoid Traditions and CVA sidelocks, cheap is what it is and you'll be very disappointed in the lack of functionability in the locks. I started loading from the muzzle many moons ago with a $49.99 CVA Kentucky kit, got it on-sale, normal price back then was $59.99 Although it was an accurate gun, it took months of figuring out how it was supposed to work and then re-building the lock to get it somewhat functional. Anyone in their right mind would have tossed the whole thing to the cull pile! No offense intended to NOZ but by the time you buy a piece of crap gun, buy aftermarket parts, put the time and money into tuning the aftermarket parts, repairing the factory work and everything else needed to get a gun that's still not worth anything yet having a boatload of time and money sunk into something that's still going to be so-so, you're far better off investing in a semi-custom gun.

You can get a good quality but plain semi-custom in the $1400-1800 range - if you're going to get it dolled-up, make for dang sure the gun has a theme and stays within the limits of the theme - there's nothing worse than a gun that has good craftsmanship but a total lack of artistic common sense. One can make a gun a canvas and it'll look great provided the theme is maintained throughout. When there is no theme or no artistic flow, it doesn't matter how good the individual piece of work are, if they don't stick with the theme or lack artistic flow, it becomes nothing more than common street art.



October 13, 2010, 11:52 PM
What may have been true some time ago isn't necessarily true today for every Traditions flintlock rifle.
For instance, the Traditions PA Pellet flintlock rifle has a vastly improved lock with a removable breechplug at a lower cost than most every Lyman flintlock rifle.


And even the less expensive Lyman flintlocks often cost $350 or more.
Below is a 16 second video of a Traditions Pennsylvania flintlock being fired with nearly instantaneous ignition. And some Traditions guns have been known to out shoot much more expensive semi-custom guns.


October 14, 2010, 08:39 AM
Some time ago I started saving comments/reviews I found posted on the web. I've accumulated quite a collection of stuff but here's just a sampling of the more recent comments on Traditions guns:

After seeking advice on this forum, I ordered a Traditions flintlock PA long rifle from Sportsmans Guide. I’d like to thank everyone who recommended Traditions for setting me up with this p.o.s.! It cost me near $700 with the shipping and when I opened the box there before me was the worst looking piece of crap I’d ever seen. First thing that got my attention was the ugly wood, ugly finish and even uglier inletting. I figured since I already spent the money, I may as well give it a fair shake so I drove the 23 miles to the range, loaded it up and “snap”. No, not a mis-fire, the snap was the trigger breaking. Pulled the load, 23 mile drive back home, phone call to Traditions, very nice people who said they’d send a trigger out right away. The end of week four, the trigger finally arrived, checked it out, functioned okay so I do the 23 mile drive again.

This time it went bang several times but with a long delay. Just happened there was another fellow who offered to help, he explained a little about the touch hole being too low in the pan and using less pan powder. After several trials with just FFFF primer in the pan, sometimes it went off, sometimes it didn’t. I tried several different flints, still the same inconsistency of ignition, using more primer in the pan reduced the inconsistency but caused the long delay. Since the delay wasn’t really an issue shooting from the bench, I started load building. Best group of that day and every other day was 3” at 50 yards – so much for the .50caliber being good for a 100 yards because this gun sure isn’t accurate enough beyond 60 yards. Before anyone claims I don’t know what I’m doing, this is after months of load building with the help of several seasoned flintlock shooters. So my thanks to everyone for getting me to tie-up over a grand into this total p.o.s. because now I see that for another $300 I could have bought a good hand-made gun.

Traditions PA Pellet Rifle
The sights are poor quality-a plastic front sight is not a good idea since they are constantly breaking. When the sights aren’t broken it shoots 3-4" groups at 50 yds- 2-50 gr pellets and a 250 gr TC shockwave. Gun is fairly easy to clean and fires most of the time, not bad once I got used to the delay.

I have a Traditions PA pellet flintlock and the plastic sights are worthless. This is first time I got the first three days of deer season off work in years only to spend the opening day driving around trying to find a gun store that was open so I could get new sights put on my new rifle because the plastic ones were broken. By the time I found a store, had them install the sights and got back to camp it was dark so I had to wait until the next day to sight the rifle in again loosing more hunting time! Day three I finally get to hunt, see nothing all day until just before quitting time when a nice buck walks right in to me. I take careful aim, slowly squeeze the trigger and “SNAP”. Deer runs off while I try to figure out what now ….. something inside the lock broke. My advice, don’t buy a Traditions!

I bought a 50cal Shenandoah flintlock by Traditions last spring. It is way overpriced for the lack of craftsmanship, one of the first things I noticed was the ramrod holders were very loose in the stock. It took a couple days but I got them glued in with epoxy. After days of shooting trying different loads, balls, patches, even wadding, this rifle will not shoot any tighter groups than 6 inches at 75 yards. Since I rarely shoot deer at more than 50 yards, this isn’t a particular problem for me but I would like to see much better accuracy and a lot less firing delay. IMHO, this rifle is worth no more than a couple hundred bucks at best, definitely nowhere near what I paid for it.

I have a Traditions Hawken flint lock, the trigger broke on the first firing. Returned it to Cabella’s and the gunsmith said he had to order the part but should have it done in a week, took nine days but I got it back with no charge. Back at the range I was initially impressed at how close to the bull the first shot placed but with a clean or fouled bore, there’s no accuracy records being broken with this gun, Best 3-shot group was 3-1/2” at 65y, average is about 4-3/4”. Back at Cabella’s, the gunsmith tells me 80gr 2F and a Hornady Great Plains bullet. Back at the range, first 10 shots with the GPB’s, none of them even came close to the target but I continued trying. With the last remaining GPB from the pack in the bore and still not a hole in the paper at 65y, I saw something flying off the side when I squeezed the trigger, there I found the frizzen laying on the end of the bench, snapped right off. Overall on a 1-10 scale I give Cabella’s gunsmith a 7 for being polite and trying to help. Traditions gets a 4 because they actually did replace the parts even though they should not have broken in the first place. The gun itself gets a 1 because by my own scale I can’t give it a zero.

Hello. My name is Stephen and I’m a frugal shopper. After getting the $2000 sticker shock from a custom gunmaker, I put my mouse to work on the web. After weeks of careful shopping, I found I could get a Traditions Pennsylvania flint lock rifle delivered to my door for just $693. After many months of screwing around trying to get it to fire reliably, I sent an email to the guy who gave me the $2000 price. He said he could replace the lock with an L&R for about $150. I waited almost four months to get my gun back after paying the guy $240 because of the extra work he said was needed to make the lock work in this rifle. The lock worked good, far less snaps without fire in the pan but there was still plenty of problems getting the main charge to go off. Another trip back to the gunmaker set me back another three months and $200 to have the flashhole bored out and the pan ground lower. Now, with $1133 sunk into the rifle, not counting all the flints, powder, balls and gasoline driving to and from the range and the gunmaker’s shop. I figure I have spent about $1400-1500 on this “less expensive rifle” that I’m still not happy with. So much for my being frugal!

October 14, 2010, 02:34 PM
Bass Pro has 10 user reviews for the Traditions Kentucky flintlock kit:


One user review for the Traditions Deer Hunter flintlock:


And two user reviews for the Traditions PA Pellet flintlock:


The YouTube video I posted is worth 1000 words and all of the many favorable Bass Pro user reviews speak for themselves. There will always be problems with some new guns no matter who makes them and how much they cost. There's no doubt that Lyman makes some very good flintlocks. But every model appeals to folks differently and every person has their own budget to consider when making their decision about which gun to purchase.
If someone is willing to pay for the difference in price, then I'll let them buy me the higher quality rifle any day of the week! :D

October 15, 2010, 07:24 AM
I sincerely appreciate all of your input. My eyes are peeled for a good deal on a kentucky/tennesee or other long rifle with full stock. Again, this is "functional decoration" as far as I am concerned and there is just something cool about that full stock long gun look.

The cap and ball revolvers have always interested me as well, now that I know that brass is ok I may end up with one of those as well.

To the person that said there is no such thing as cheap and good, i tend to agree. I think what I am looking for here is inexpensive and decent, fully knowing that I am not getting a custom built match rifle. Dr. Stuzenberger has offered me a great price to custom a rifle for me, if the BP bug bites me hard I will end up with one - but then I end up in the same boat that I am in now. I would love to display one of my Garands with some other WW2 memorabilia but I cant make myself leave a garand out of the safe. I think the same would hold true with a custom built rifle, although Dr. S tells me I am nuts - they are built to be admired not safe queens. I am not sure I could do it.

The search goes on :)

October 15, 2010, 09:47 AM
While I don't have any particular interest in having one, are wheellocks or matchlocks available? I've seen a matchlock being fired in Jamestown and in a way, they are just as interesting, if somewhat primative looking. I'm sure they hit just as hard as a percussion lock if the same power and ball were used.

Here I have to add that the wood on all the M1 rifles and M1 carbines I've seen, not to mention M14s, was just amazing. Clear and dense and like few other military rifles. Some were a little beat up and the wood didn't match on some but really quite remarkable, considering.

October 16, 2010, 11:05 AM
Just a heads up, even though I am still looking for a rifle deal - I just bought HighValley's 1851 Pietta revolver. I am sure I will have some questions soon.

Doc Hoy
October 16, 2010, 11:13 AM
Good deal on that Colt.It is a very interesting piece. I had one a long time ago and felt that it shot fine. Mine was not a Pietta so yours will be of higher quality.

Congrats on the purchase

October 16, 2010, 11:18 AM
Thanks Doc, looks like you got yourself a good deal in that same thread :)

Looking over the manual it reads 9-13 grains powder with a .454 ball. The manual specifies black powder only, I am assuming FFFg pyrodex is ok as well correct?

It also does not specify anything about the caps, is there a particular size I am looking for?

Thank you

October 16, 2010, 11:28 AM
I am assuming FFFg pyrodex is ok as well correct?

Pyrodex FFFG will be labeled P. FFG will be labeled RS. Personally I see no difference and mostly use RS in my pistols. Caps will most likely be #10. Yeah, Doc you got a good deal on that Remington.:cool:

Doc Hoy
October 16, 2010, 11:41 AM
You may want to up the ante if you are going to use Pyrodex. I was shooting 17 and 20 grains of GOEX the other day and that might be a little hot. But 15 of pyrodex should be okay. Other folks...Is this correct?

Thanks, Hawg,

I am like a kid when I make a purchase like that. I am thinking it may need some work on the trigger or less likely the hammer.

On an 1863 I worked over I had the same problem and it actually wound up being a problem that was corrected with some work on the frame. The hammer was bottoming out on the frame before going back far enough to catch the full-cock detent.

I love these pistols.

October 16, 2010, 11:45 AM
Yeah with that brass frame I'd prolly hold off at 15. Doc I normally don't care much for short barreled pistols but if I had seen it first I doubt you would have gotten it.:D Kinda glad you did tho cuz I really don't need to be spending the money after going to the gun show a couple of weeks ago

October 18, 2010, 09:36 AM
I am striking out finding Pyrodex Pistol in my area, but I can find Hodgdon Triple 7 fffg. Is this ok in my new pistol? What do you guys think would be a safe min-max load of this powder in the brass frame .44 cal 1851 pietta? I see people listing loads of 20-30 grains, I think I am still thinking in terms of metallic reloading but a 10 grain variance is huge in my mind.

Doc Hoy
October 18, 2010, 10:54 AM
20 to 30 is a wide range.

But I think this range takes into consideration a lot of variables which may be of a personal nature. Some folks like heavy loads because of the emotional rush and so if they know they can get good performance anywhere between say 20 and 25, they will shoot 25 just for the fun of it.

I believe I am understanding correctly that 777 is about 15 percent hotter than GOEX and consequently you could back off the load using a mathematical calculation. Here again, your pistol may respond differently to the load and in the end you will be the sole determining factor of what you like.

I think I would start with 12 and move up in two or three grain increments. This will give you a couple of different loads which should perform in much the same way. Use the light load in that Brass 51 and it should "love you long time."

Others please verify the wisdom of my recommendation.

October 18, 2010, 12:08 PM
Thank you Doc, I don't want to go to light and get a squib (or what ever the BP equivalent is) but definitely want to stay light enough not to hurt the frame.


October 24, 2010, 09:59 AM
I too got the BP flintlock bug from a visit to Williamsburg.
Searched for a reasonable Tower musket.
Settled on a Thompson Center Hawken. It's percussion ca, practical and fun. Not too expensive to scratch the itch.
Washing/cleaning is a deterrent from shooting too often.

October 24, 2010, 10:07 AM
Washing/cleaning is a deterrent from shooting too often.

BP cleans up easier than smokeless, just a lil nastier.:D

Doc Hoy
October 24, 2010, 02:54 PM
Welcome to the congregation

October 24, 2010, 05:00 PM
Thanks Doc! :)