The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The North Corral > Black Powder and Cowboy Action Shooting

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 17, 2012, 11:15 AM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: August 15, 2012
Posts: 14
Question: Swamped vs. Straight Rifle Barrel?

I'm ordering parts to build a Lehigh Valley-style flintlock long rifle. I'm thinking over whether to use a straight vs. swamped octagonal barrel.

The caliber will be .40, length 42". If I go with a straight barrel, it'll be 13/16" across the flats. If swamped, then either an "A" or "B" profile.

The swamped barrel would be more historically correct for this rifle style, but that's not a major issue. More interested in building a good-shooting rifle.

My understanding is that the swamped barrel will add weight, but provide better balance and stability when shooting off-hand.

The rifle will be used for target shooting.

What do you guys think? Any experience one way or the other?
MogrenE is offline  
Old September 17, 2012, 11:50 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 15, 2005
Location: Central Connecticut
Posts: 3,026
No experience whatsoever. But the swamped barrel could complicate carving the barrel channel for it. And while the swamped barrel may add weight over a 3/4" .40 barrel, I thought that swamped barrels were primarily intended to lessen the weight verses building with the larger caliber & diameter straight barrels.
I did hear that a shorter GM .40 barrel balanced much better in a half stock than their longer .40 barrel which was more front heavy. But that was probably a larger diameter barrel like a 1". That could have been 32" verses a 36" inch or similar length, and the 32" exhibited pinpoint accuracy at 100 yards. My point is that the extra weight can have an effect on holding comfort. But the barrel style shouldn't affect accuracy if the channel is carved right.

Last edited by arcticap; September 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM.
arcticap is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 08:09 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: November 19, 2009
Posts: 3,114
I've always used straight barrels on the rifles I've built . . . but, mainly due to the cost of a straight barrel versus a swamped one.

First . . . I got in to using .36 for squirrels (why - don't really know) but I will say that I think the .40 is a nice caliber and pretty ideal for small game as well as general shooting. I've used the 13/16 in .40 and it makes a nice balanced rifle - nothing wrong with it.

That being said, I have handled a number of rifles down at Friendship with swamped barrels and WOW! Most were larger caliber - 50/54/58 and of course larger than 13/16. The swamped barrel just feels better - balance wise. This goes for all of them that I've handled from shorter barrels to longer barrels.

As far as inletting them - if you are buying a pre-inlet stock, I think that you can get them done for a swamped barrel depending upon the source you are using. If not - if you have the ability to use a "blank" and do the inletting, if you take your time you should be able to do a swamped barrel. Just remember to use the widest measurement of the barrel to determine the location of the ramrod channel and for boring the ramrod hole.

It sounds like a great project you're going to do. I got to know Myron Carlson at Friendship years ago - he specialized in iron furniture for Bean rifles, etc. and had also made a number of miniatures. Unfortunately, he is now gone but I remember his Beans and I picked up a 3/4" X 42" - .36 caliber to make one - hopefully later this winter. I picked up two stock blanks from a guy from Kentucky that are "persimmon" - harder than heck but will be nice when finished and very appropriate for a plain Bean. I was hoping to get the 3/4" barrel in .40 but had to settle on the .36. Another reason that I like the .40 is that you have the option of using a larger ramrod (3/8") over the 5/16" for the .36. I've broken several of the 5/16 ramrods but never have had a problem with the 3/8".
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
bedbugbilly is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 08:10 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
Swamping a barrel removes steel. No way that can increase weight.
Swamping improves hold and balance and even the graceful lines of a long rifle.
But, with no experience, cutting your barrel channel for a swam could be very challenging. You should join the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and buy some of the books on the subject advertised in their magazine, Muzzle Blasts.
You have a big project ahead of you.
Remember, it is very easy to turn $1,000.00 worth of parts into a $200.00 rifle.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 08:30 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: June 14, 2004
Location: NY State
Posts: 6,525
A swamped barrel is used to make a more graceful looking barrel.

But it becomes more difficult to make and more difficult inlet.

It's as simple as that despite other claims !
And Watson , bring your revolver !
mete is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 04:34 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 7,305
Rifleman1776 + 1

Swamping a barrel removes steel. No way that can increase weight.
Swamping improves hold and balance and even the graceful lines of a long rifle.
That has been my observation, although I have only shot two. They really feel and shoot pretty nice. ...

Be Safe !!!
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
Pahoo is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 05:25 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: March 14, 2011
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 564
A similar question came up in another forum. My answer may help you out. This fellow had a .40 caliber built with a swamped barrel, but he didn't stipulate the profile of the swamped barrel. As a result his .40 caliber rifle weighs over 10 pounds.

Picking the right profile based on your caliber makes a big difference in swamped barrels. Here is what I wrote:

My .40 cal weighs 8.5 pounds. It has a straight 13/16ths x 42" Green Mountain barrel.
in comparison my .45 with a straight 13/16ths barrel weighs 7 pounds even.

I don't know what profile your swamped barrel is. If I was doing a .40 I'd use an "A", or if I had to, I'd use a "B" profile.

I have a "C" profile swamped barrel on my .54 because "C" is the lightest profile I could get for .54. It is a 42 inch barrel and that gun weighs just a hair under 9 pounds.

My .50 uses a straight 7/8th x 42" barrel and that gun weighs 8 pounds.

If I ever build another .40 it will have an "A" profile swamped barrel to reduce the weight.

If yours is over 10 pounds with a .40 caliber bore, it probably has a "C" profile. Put a pair of calipers on the muzzle. If it measures 0.88 or so inches it is a "C", which is a wicked heavy piece of steel for such a small bore.

When TVM built my .54 Virginian, I stipulated that they use the lightest swamped .54 barrel available.
duelist1954 is offline  
Old September 18, 2012, 08:57 PM   #8
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 20,069
Swamped barrels are lighter but require more skill to inlet (than a straight barrel).

Straight barrels are heavier but easier to inlet (than a swamped barrel).

I was told by one builder than straight barrels are more accurate. Dunno as I've never seen a side by side test.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
4V50 Gary is offline  
Old September 19, 2012, 09:05 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: April 25, 2010
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,309
I was told by one builder than straight barrels are more accurate. Dunno as I've never seen a side by side test.
Bull butter.
Rifleman1776 is offline  
Old October 9, 2012, 03:00 PM   #10
Junior Member
Join Date: August 15, 2012
Posts: 14
Thanks, everyone.

I've decided to go with the straight barrel. Ordered all parts through Muzzleloader Builders Supply in Idaho. They offer a terrific selection on parts, gun styles, tools, and accessories. Ryan is great to work with. He provided insightful information on the gun I wanted to build along with recommendations on furniture and parts.

He will inlet a swamped barrel at an additional cost if anyone is interested.

They have a user-friendly online catalog, also available in printed form. Check them out at Muzzleloader Builders Supply

Looking forward to getting started on this project...
MogrenE is offline  
Old October 10, 2012, 06:19 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 14,753
Pecatonica River is another good place for historically accurate high quality parts.
Hawg is offline  
Old October 27, 2012, 05:37 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: July 1, 2009
Posts: 216
I have one rifle with a swamped Getz barrel and another with a straight barrel. Other than the chore of inletting the barrel, the biggest difference I can comment on is weight and balance. On both accounts, the swamped barrel wins.
NRA Benefactor member; NRA rifle and home firearm safety instructor; NMLRA member; NMLRA instructor for rifle, pistol and shotgun

A government that takes from Peter to pay Paul can always count on Paul's vote!
flintlock.50 is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:02 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.08513 seconds with 10 queries