In the mood for something old fashioned


February 15, 2003, 12:15 AM
I've been in the mood, off and on, for something traditional. I'm fairly skilled with modern weapons; the M16 and M249 SAW. I'm also familliar and have shot Kalashnikovs (can take 'em apart blindefolded), and of course the FAL. I have working knowledge of M14s and HKs roller-locked weapons, and have put four mags through a UMP45 even.

Still, my desire for riflecraft goes beyond that, and I want to learn the art of the blackpowder, muzzleloading rifle.

So what should I get? I'm thinking probably one of the replica rifles you see in Cabela's catalogs, or perhaps a Hawken Traditions, though those have fiber optic sights.


For a beginner, what should I get? Flintlock or precussion?

Can anybody recommend a good, traditional rifle? Big bore, biggger the better. .50 caliber and up.

How do the Traditions rifles shoot?

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Gerald McDonald
February 15, 2003, 11:00 AM
I lean towards the traditional, I would go for percussion for starters, but had a buddy start with a flint lock and he had no problems. I would start with a 50 as that is easiest to find accouterments in, but it might be as easy for a 54, others here will probably know better on that.

I lean towards mountain or plains rifles. If you think your going to keep it you might look at some of the Austin & Halleck mountain rifles. They are a beaut to look at, but I dont know how they shoot. The Thompson Hawken is every where and are very good but I prefer browned steel to blued steel, and iron or german silver to brass furniture (for a mountain gun) Brass looks good on a Kaintuck. Lymans are every where and are a very servicable rifle. I used to have a Traditions that shot pretty good had a fast twist 1-48, and was accurate. If you plan on hunting with it the 1-48 twist gives a lot more options that the 1-66 twist of a round ball gun.

I would say to hit the gun shows and do a little lookin, I bought a Jonathon Browning mountain rifle in 50 for $150.00 that some one had used a fiberglass ram rod on and worn out the crown,
recrowned it and it shoots like a champ. There are quite a few options out there and a quality gun can be rebarreled to what ever twist and bore you desire. The owner of the little BP shop I
haunt told me from his research most of the guns carried west in the 1800s were Pennsylvania, Kentucky or Tennesee rifles cut down and bored out to a larger caliber, the plains guns were born out of seeing all of the cut down big bores.


February 16, 2003, 09:00 PM
I started with a 50 cal hawken 15 years ago and now still have it but have been more recently into flintlocks. I'd say you need to get something....Always need more guns... Get to looking at some shops at used stuff or hey spend the money and get something new. It's fun to shoot and is a change from the same old....

February 21, 2003, 02:05 PM
Just be prepared. 110 grains of pyrodex + 425 maxiball + fancy curved brass buttplate = One seriously sore shoulder if you don't hold it right.

I started off with a TC/Hawken, dull brass, browned barrel and it shoots fine, once you figure out what the heck you are doing. Truthfully, if I had to do it again I'd get a TC "Patriot" in 54 (it had sling swivels, better sights and rubber recoil pad and an attractive pistolgrip stock) or a Pedersoli Enfield Musketoon in .58, It's light, packs a whallop (but the sights are rather crude) and its handy. If you get to CARRYING an 11 pound 4 foot long chunk of steel and wood you'll realize you'll need a sling, and practice doing curls.

February 21, 2003, 09:05 PM
What's currently forcing me to save my nickles and dimes:

The printed catalog (it came in the mail today) has it in .45-70.


February 26, 2003, 03:36 AM
A good beginner's rifle is the Hawken rifle from Thompsen/Center ( (

I recommend percussion ignition for the beginner. Easier to learn how, flintlocks take a bit more time to master.

For hunting Elk, I recommend the .54 caliber when using patched roundbal loads.

February 27, 2003, 08:02 PM
Fifty-four caliber. Cooool....

February 27, 2003, 09:26 PM
Sounds like you've handled quite a few guns, so maybe it won't surprise you.....but when I got my lyman, I had to just sit and look at the barrel for awhile. .54 has a BIG hole in the end :D

March 8, 2003, 11:20 AM
I have a lyman great plains rifle .50. it is accurate and looks vintage. Lock is powered by coil springs so it is not problematic in that department.

May 7, 2003, 01:28 AM
Has anyone heard any information about Austin & Halleck? Heard they were bought out by somebody perhaps half a year ago; have they resumed production?

They're select grade flintlock sure looks like it belongs in my safe...

Sir Galahad
May 8, 2003, 02:29 AM
Lyman Great Plains rifle in .54 percussion. Go to the library and find a book on firearms from 1820 to 1850 and you will find that the Lyman Great Plains is a dead ringer in looks for the Hawkens carried by Jim Bridger, Mariano Modena, and Kit Carson. Now, you could buy a REAL Hawken from The Hawken Shop which is now on the net, imagine that. But the Lyman Great Plains does not look any different. The difference is a Hawken Shop Hawken has a slightly thicker barrel and thicker wrist. That means it is heavier. I've handled a real ORIGINAL Hawken (as in made in the 1830s-1840s) and it weighed about 15 pounds. The Lyman Great PLains rifle is made almost exactly like a real Hawken except for the coil lock springs (and adjustable rear sight; it also comes with a primitive rear sight and that's what I put on mine.) If you look at a picture of Modena's or Bridger's Hawken then look at a picture of a Lyman Great Plains, you won't be able to tell the difference. The Lyman GreatPlains .54 will handle up to 120 grains of FFg Blackpowder. With a 220 grain patched lead ball over it, it will hit with authority and guys regularly take elk and black bear with this load. Sam Fadala dropped a buffalo with a .54, though he used two shots to do it. Now, for a muzzleloader, 120 grains of FFg is nothing to sneeze at. Most of your Civil War style .58s are rated for only 80 grains of FFg. A nice advantage of the Great Plains is the hooked breech which allows you to remove the barrel for cleaning. When you clean the rifle, you will see what a nice thing that is. Within range, a .54 will drop most any big game animal and that's with patched round ball. The Great PLains rifle comes with a 1-60" twist barrel for round ball.Or you can buy the Great Plains Hunter with a 1-32" twist for conicals. Or you can buy the Great Plains and get the Hunter barrel later. But for plinking and more traditional shooting, patched round ball is best. I don't shoot conicals myself, so I can't tell you anything about them except they're expensive. By the way, Midsouth Shooters Supply has the best prices on Lyman Great Plains on the market. For accessories look to Track of the Wolf and October Country and Log Cabin Shop.

Keep your eyes on the skyline, keep your powder dry, and watch your topknot...:D

4v50 Gary
May 8, 2003, 11:39 AM
If you go flint, there's no turning back. Woosh! Boom! Ain't nothing quite like it.

May 8, 2003, 01:55 PM
What's a good muzzleloader, good being the one that can handle the most powder, and gives the most velocity?

Sir Galahad
May 8, 2003, 10:50 PM
The Parker-Hale Volunteer Rifle (sold by Dixie Gun Works) can take a maximum of 130 grains by volume of FFg with a 490 grain .45 caliber projectile. This load has a MV of 1514fps. As I said, the .54 Great Plains rifle will take up to 120 grains of powder. With a 220 grain patched ball, it is moving fast. The Volunteer is a modern rendition of the Whitworth Target Rifle, a sniper rifle used by the Confederacy with great effect. Youcan get a modern replica of the Whitworth, but you nave to cast your own projectiles because it has a hexagon rifled bore. Not polygonal like a Glock. I mean a LITERAL hex-rifled bore. The projectiles are not round. They are long and hex-shaped. But the Whitworth takes a max charge of 90 grains of FFg for a 490 grain .45 caliber projectile. The Volunteer is somewhat ahead of that. But the Volunteer is pricey, too, and you'll need to cast for it, too.

May 12, 2003, 04:09 PM
I don't think that most blackpowder guys would define "good" as being able to handle a large charge. I certainly don't buy into the Magnum muzzleloader fad. A proper caliber for the game being hunted, conical or round ball, and a moderate powder charge will take game, and not beat you up in the process. You also won't be tempted by 150-200 yard shots. Can shots like that be made? Certainly. Should they be made? Not in my opinion, at least with a muzzleloader. My .54 cal. Lyman GPR is sighted in for 75 yards, and I would be hard pressed to take a shot at greater than 100 yards. If my hunting/woods skills aren't good enough for me to get within 100 yards, then that deer or elk doesn't need to be shot.

May 12, 2003, 08:08 PM
I shot a lot of black powder over clean snow. As the charge went up, more and more unburned granules were spewed out the muzzle of my .54 Mountain Rifle. Not only that but the groups opened up also.

For a traditional front loader with a round ball the key is finding an accuracy load. That punkin ball will have enough knockdown power if launched by 70 or 80 grains of FFG but is worthless if it doesn't hit where you aim. Just finding something that will cut cloverleafs at 50 yds is the ticket, as TaxPhD said.

kentucky bucky
May 25, 2003, 11:29 PM
Run .... don't walk and get yourself a good quality flintlock Longrifle. A Pennsylvania or a Southern Mountain rifle. Do your home work and find a small company or individual that makes custom or semi-custom rifles. Check in blackpowder magazines or search the internet. You can find rifles from 500.00 to 5000.00 dollars, but a good lock, trigger, and barrel shoot as good as the high dollar guns. A fancy grain stock is nice , but it is not essential. When you shoot a flintlock you have to use alot of technique to be good. to do it well you have to have an iron follow through and flinching is even more exagerated because of the slow lock speed. If you shoot a flint rifle well, it will make everything else seem easy. Besides the challenge, the smells, sounds, and the history make my turkey gobble!!!

p.s. I think the best caliber for deer and larger game is .54 and the best all around caliber for small and medium game is .36 . Remember these are round balls...not much weight in larger calibers.(225gr. in .54)

May 27, 2003, 12:26 PM
Flintlock.... oooooooh. Does anyone make a flintlock with a synthetic stock? :D

I think I have settled on the Savage 10ML. Muzzleloader, 50 caliber, inline, uses shotgun primers, stainless, and synthetic.

May 27, 2003, 12:39 PM
If you shoot a flint rifle well, it will make everything else seem easy.

Ain't that the truth! You haven't lived until you fire a flintlock with a largish charge of FG in front of a hooked brass buttplate. :D

kentucky bucky
May 27, 2003, 08:09 PM
Yes there is a "modern" flintlock with a composite stock. I can't remember the company because I don't pay attention to ridiculous stuff like that. I even think it's stainless. These are solutions to non-existing problems!!!

also...... Even if you hold a pea shooter wrong you could hurt yourself!!! I run some hot loads through my 45-70 from time to time.......I know about bruising

May 29, 2003, 11:49 PM

You seem to be a guy who is very proficient with modern weapons. Having attained that, you are now searching for your firearms roots. "I want to learn the art of the blackpowder, muzzle-loading rifle" you said. If so, then I'd like to second Kentucky Bucky's recommendations.

First, go flintlock. That's where "the art of the blackpowder" is found.

No offence to my caplock brothers. But self contained caps, tend to lead to other modern conveniences, and before ya know it, you'll be giving in to the Dark Side, and playin' around with in-lines! The one exception would be, if you could set your feet firmly in the Civil War era, and learn to handle a regulation musket.

Next, pick a piece of history. Being from Michigan, you could go either East or West. Base your decision upon your childhood heros, books you've read, favorite movies, or maybe your family history. A long-rifle from our Nation's founding, a Lewis & Clark musket, a Mt. Man's Hawken. Then select a rifle that represents that piece of history. You'll then have a committment to "learn the art of the blackpowder".

Finally, a semi-custom rifle is not that expensive, and because you choose the parts & details, it becomes "your" rifle, no one elses. Just like the originals. You don't have to dress in buckskins or live in a teepee. But, each time you touch-off "ole Betsy", you'll feel connected, not just recoil.


May 30, 2003, 01:51 PM
BluRidgDav: Great reasons to go learn flinting. Thanks for a good read! :D

Sir Galahad
May 31, 2003, 01:37 AM
BlueRidgeDave, you'll have to color me hairsplittin', but all known (in other words, all surviving) examples of the famous half-stocked Hawken rifle as made by Jake and Sam Hawken (and also the copies made by Gemmer and Dimmick) are percussion caplocks. (Source: "The Plains Rifle" and "The Hawken Rifle" by Charles E. Hanson Jr.)

Traits of the Hawken rifle: Half-stocked, thick at wrist, of .50 or .54 caliber or larger, double-keyed, iron fittings, thick octagonal barrel 1" or thicker between flats, percussion lock.

kentucky bucky
May 31, 2003, 01:51 AM
You're exactly right, connected is what I feel . I am partial to the long guns because of my family history. My fathers side had several ties to long hunters in Southeastern Kentucky, so I guess it's in the blood. I don't have nuttin' against the later half stocks though!! same thrill!!!

How come you didn't thank me? What am I, chopped liver or something?:D

May 31, 2003, 09:40 AM
Thank you, Kaintucky Bucky! :D

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