Lyman great plains rifle kit


Howard Beals
September 30, 2006, 02:49 PM
I have just picked up a 25 year old Lyman Great Plains Rifle kit that was originally bought in Germany 20 some years ago. It is rusted and is going to take alot of work but from what I can see all the parts are there. I intend to use the rifle for deer hunting but am worried about what loads, caps etc I should use as well as any tips on assembly.

The barrel says 50 cal, Italy, Lyman, great plains rifle, black powder only made in Italy.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



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September 30, 2006, 05:43 PM
I've built a couple GPR's and they're good shooting guns. As for assembly, the newer ones need a little work on the buttplate and toeplate to get them aligned to the wood properly, but that's not hard. They're usually pretty well fitted everywhere else.

If you have rust in the bore, you might try using 0000 steel wool wrapped around a jag or nylon brush, and penetrating oil. This gets the rust out and helps polish any sharp edges.

As for loads, a lot of folks seem interested only in maximum charges. Black powder guns rarely shoot accurately at max charge. It's not really needed for hunting anyway. Even a reduced charge and round ball will take deer amazingly well. You need to tinker to find the right powder weight and patch thickness for your gun. You might start with 60 grains fffg, .490 ball and .015 patches and work your way up 5 grains at a time. 70-80 grains will probably be about the maximum accurate load. I believe 110-120 grains is the max recommended load, but at that level, you'll mostly be blowing a lot of unburned powder out of the barrel and getting large groups. You can use FFG powder also. It will give a little less velocity, but your gun might like it better. It's pretty much trial and error in the beginning until you find what the gun likes.

If you can get Swiss powder, give the FFG a try. It's very powerful stuff and shoots cleaner. Usually a bit more accurate too.

If you need any help with your build, let me know and I'll try to help as much as I can. Good luck and enjoy!

Howard Beals
October 1, 2006, 08:51 AM
Im curious as to what I can expect as a safe shooting range. I am an ethical hunter and just because I might be able to hit a target at a certain distance, im wondering about knockdown power?

As I said in the first post I am brand new to this and I don't want to screw anything up. Is the breach plug removable for cleaning? If so would it be a normal thread or opposite.

Thanks again for your help


October 3, 2006, 10:34 PM
I'd built some other kit guns and this was the first in a long while. I posted a progress report as I built it at my site.

October 4, 2006, 11:57 AM
I built one from a kit about the era your's comes form. the only variety available then was the 1/66 round ball twist. I drawfilled all the literature off the top three barrel flats, browned the barrel to match the lock plate which was brown at that time. It has shown good accuracy with pyrodex rs and goex fffg. as I recall, 80 grains will send .490 balls out in the 1800 fps range and I never did try to find a max charge. 60 grains seems about minimum as a fifty grain charge will let the ball swage into the unrifled chamber area. sixty is good for abut 1400 fps.

A friend shot a doe with a lyman exactly like mine but factory finished. Put a ball all the way through at fifty yards and killed the deer.

The rifle/component parts are very high quality and the only issue I have with mine is the extremely flimsy adjustable rear sight. I finally had to fix it in one position with epoxy and plan to replace it with a traditional fixed sight that I bought direct from Lyman Products on line.

Here it is as it appeared in my Guns Magazine Series " Guns of the Late Unpleasantness.":

October 6, 2006, 10:02 AM
Cool picture. Makes me want to go shoot and hunt. The Lyman,to me, is about the most accurate factory made copy of a Hawken Rifle compared to originals. Pedersoli has a "Hawken" now though that looks good. One Hawken or Plains Rifle I've always liked that was kinda authentic looking,like the Lyman, was the Johnathon Browning Bighorn rifle. The one with the bolster decorated with ram horns cast in. Anyway, the Lyman is a good rifle if not a little rough in the lockwork and trigger. L&R Locks works sells high quality,fast interchanable locks and triggers that go right in the Lyman wood. One thing that helps the Lyman rifle be even more of a tack driver is the use of a little glass bedding of the barrel so it can't twist or move when firing. Glass bedding under and behind the "tang&hook for the hooked breech makes a solid construction and more accurate. The whole barrel channel can be glass bedded or....a couple of inches of glass bed at the breech area,in the center of the barrel and at the forward most part of the forearm. The inletting can be a little loose or tight and loose in different areas and the glass bedding is well worth the effort in accuracy potential. A person holds onto the wood and the wood holds on to the barrel and the barrel is more accurate when the inletting or fit of it is tight in the wood. Know what I mean? It's good to have the barrel wedges tight holding the barrel to the wood tight.I think the "Hunter" with the fast twist shallow grooved barrel Lyman Great Plains rifle is interesting. One thing to watch for is making sure the locks works don't rub the wood behind the lock. One thing to do to better facilitate loading the conicals in the "Hunter" is to relieve the rifling lands down to but no deeper than the groove diameter at the muzzle end for an inch or a little more. That makes for a support where the bullet enters the barrel easily for loading and is also supported so as to load straight and true. If a conical doesn't load straight it doesn't shoot straight. Of course the round ball doesn't have issues like that. Lyman Rifles are good guns fer the money fer sure.

October 6, 2006, 12:37 PM
I usually use glass bedding for extra strength and wood sealing.

October 7, 2006, 03:29 PM
the thing about the available interchangeable locks and triggers is interesting. I'm not purist enough to run out and buy them but a lot of people are. My action is very smooth and the rifle is a great off hand shooter. We did some fiddling with our GP rifles this morning. Mine has been sighted in for your basic 80 grain ffg and .490 ball forever. Used .015 pillow ticking precut patches today. At 75 yards, a gallon paint can looks real small just hanging there. I smacked it twice in a row and then pulled the third shot. At fify yards such a thing is just about impossible to miss.

We shot two Lyman gprs from kits with variety of charges behind the above ball /patch combination. Generally one shot each so this is not a very scientific load table. I was a bit surprised at the low velocities with the larger loads. velocities with the 60 grain charges are about what I remember.

60 goex ffg 1380 fps
60 Pyrodex rs 1493
60 Goex obsolete ClearShot 977
60 American Pioneer 1566

80 goex ffg 1576
80 goex 3fg 1583
80 pyrodex rs 1727

100 goex ffg 1713
100 pyrodex rs 1731 (!) ???
100 obsolete Clearshot 1197
100 American Pioneer 1566

120 grain goex ffg 1819 and 1849

Bates used one of his gprs to kill a doe a few years ago. used 90 grains goex at about 50 yards and the deer was drt.
Here are two Lyman gprs from kits. the gun on the left is a dixie kit pennsylvania made from a high skill level kit about 30 years ago. the lymans are virtually finished except for cosmetics and some fairly intensive stock finishing. they are recommended over the complete rifles because you can put a period authentic finish on the barrel after you drawfile off the disgusting literature on the upper flats of the barrel.

these are advertised as having a 32 inch barrel however, mine measures 33 " from the muzzle to the breach- just like the originals.

October 9, 2006, 05:56 PM
Hate to shoot from the bench because I'm not very good at it. So, the rifle will do better.

At 50 yards
80 Grains Goex ffg .015 pillow ticking patch treated with bore butter/ .490 ball:
Three shots = 1.75"

100 Grains goex fffg same point of impact. Three shots = 2.75"
very likely no real difference in accuracy

120 Grains goex ffg
Three shots=4"
one to two inches higher
80 Grains/vol. equivalent Pyrodex RS
Three shots = 1 " Same POI as the 80/100 grain goex loads

100 Grains /vol equivalent Pyrodex RS Three shots= 4 1/8"
slightly higher than the 80 grain equivalent. My 12 guage groups this well with foster slugs.

100 Grains/Vol equivalent Pyrodex RS same as above but with wonder wad over the powder
4 shots = 2.8-inch with best three in 1.4-inch
Lable is wrong. H777 is actually Pyrodex rs

Dave Markowitz
October 10, 2006, 02:36 PM
Mike, that GPR looks nice. What did you use for the stock and metal finishes?

October 10, 2006, 03:40 PM
the usual birchwood casey kit. I mixed cherry stain with the walnut stain for the color. I/ve actually been obsessively browning the barrel for the last quarter century using the plumb brown stuff. at first, it seemed fairly easy to scratch or rub off but seems to have grown more permenent over time. bates did basically the same with his and his stock work shows more skill. Not so much that you can see it in pictures though.

Dave Markowitz
October 10, 2006, 08:43 PM
So that's how you got the stock that color. I like it.

If you're constantly futzing with the browning, you might check out the Laurel Mountain Forge degreaser/browning solution. I used it on a Dixie Tennessee Mountain rifle and it came out great. My brother has a TVM Lancaster rifle which looks like it has the same finish. It's a cold browning solution and gives you a bit of a textured finish, really looks neat and old. After the piece is the color you want, stop the browning process with boiling water, dry, and then put on a coat or two of BLO.

I bought the LMF browning solution at Dixon's in PA but I believe you can order it from Track of the Wolf, as well.

October 10, 2006, 09:09 PM
Yeh. a couple of water based stains. Lately all I see around here is the walnut flavor. the cherry is probably still available and does add a bit of richness to it.

October 12, 2006, 08:42 PM
I used a combination of brown and red leather dyes mixed with alcohol to get virtually the same color MEC did.

October 12, 2006, 09:09 PM
yeh. it occured to me the other day that the tone was the same. SAAman by the way, did a much nicer job finish carving the wood than I did. You cant really see it in the pictures but, its obvious up close.

October 13, 2006, 04:22 PM
I've built a couple GPRs, one in .50 and one in .54. Fantastic guns, IMO, and the kits were very high quality and MUCH easier to finish than my CVA kits. The lock is a million times better on the GPR also, and ignition is very positive. Excellent guns, IMO. I heat-browned my barrel and all furniture. Looks awesome. Shiny, but a nice mahogony brown.

October 14, 2006, 03:13 PM
80 gr/vol equivalent of pyrodex RS. clocked 1765 today. a 100 grain equivalent will get 90 more fps but I have to use a wonder wad over the powder to keep the patch from being overpowered. 80 seems an optimum load.

the rifle is muzzle heavy and hangs steady. The hair trigger keeps me from messing up the trigger release. Its as shootable as any rifle I might pick up.

December 6, 2006, 09:31 AM
Thanks, guys! This info is EXACTLY what I was looking for!

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