Traditional Rifles


June 13, 2008, 07:48 PM
I have been looking around at different styles of black powder and like the Hawken, and those types of flint lock or cap rifles. What brands would you trust to make a nice BP rifle? I know T/C makes a hawken and Tradition's makes one aswell? What other brands are there that I should be looking at?

Any other rifles besides the hawken that I should look at? Please no inline rifles, I want a traditional rifle.

Thanks in advance....

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June 13, 2008, 08:05 PM
Lyman (Investarm in Italy) and Pedersoli have decent reputations.

Impact guns is posting some good-looking prices:

There are others, and no doubt you'll get some good pointers here.

June 13, 2008, 08:09 PM
I'm pretty new to BP but I've noticed Pedersoli has stronger parts and seems to be better put together. The very best would likely be a custom shop, though. There are some AMAZINGLY good custom smoke pole makers here and in Canada, running in price from a high end factory job to as much as a small house.

June 13, 2008, 08:14 PM
Thats the problem. The prices go way way up. Most of the kits some of the guys have build here look very good though. im thinking of going that way myself.

June 13, 2008, 09:04 PM
IMO, I would steer clear of the Traditions. My son has one and its been a might too troublesome for us. I shoot a Pedersoli Kentucky flinter that I love. Lyman also makes a good rifle, though I'm not sure that they make a Hawken. Try these sights, they have a lot of variety.

Dixie Gun Works:

The Possible Shop

Thunder Ridge

There are also a few really good forums that deal exclusively with traditional black powder that I can give you on a PM. I'm not sure of the rules for posting other forums. Good luck

June 13, 2008, 11:15 PM
I would buy a cheap Cabelas hawken, Made by the same people that make the Lymans, just a few hundred less. I have one in a 50 and a custom flinter in 45. To answer the op's question a traditional hawken will be a caplock.

4v50 Gary
June 13, 2008, 11:24 PM
If you're just starting, try a Lyman Great Plains rifle kit. Now, if you want a longrifle, there are many great kits out there but I'm biased toward Marsh Jim (Jim Chambers of Siler Locks). While it's not relevant, the sweet feminine voice you'll hear on the phone is Marsh Jim's daughter, Barbie.

June 14, 2008, 12:18 AM
I have a T/C Hawken I built from a kit over 25 years ago. I stripped the barrel and browned it. Couldn't stand the blue barrel.:)

That said, it IS a modern muzzleloader. It pre-dated the in-lines, but it has modern iron sights, dimensions that are not traditional, etc. Nothing wrong with that, and it's good quality without a doubt, but if you want some semblance of authenticity for the experience of it, the Lyman Great Plains is more like it. Cabela's sells some Pedersoli long rifles, lacking in adornment but not quality, for reasonable prices, too.

June 14, 2008, 02:23 AM
I wouldn't be too critical about Traditions percussion rifles. They are made by Ardesa, a very reputable long time Spanish maker. They make some very pricey items for sale in Europe that just aren't imported into the U.S. on a massive scale.
Even their economy models are reliable, accurate and dependable guns that utilize a drum with a clean out screw rather than a patent breech. Each design has its advantages and disadvantages. Some of their models have been touted for having excellent accuracy. Maybe their flintlocks aren't considered to be the best, but they do usually function and at an affordable price.
Many decades of satisfied customers will attest about how well their Traditions guns shoot, even in competition. The fact that they have outlasted CVA in the sidelock gun business should make that evident.
They have the new Mountain & Frontier rifles in addition to their Kentucky and Pennsylvania rifles.
As good as Lymans do shoot, their rifles are designed so that they can't be capped on half-cock because the hammer's just too low. That means that the hammer has to be manually de-cocked into the half-cock notch after it's capped. That's a sore spot in their design, probably because they tried to make an almost exact copy of the TC lock without having to actually design it from scratch themselves. :neener:

June 14, 2008, 03:10 AM
Cruising gunbroker is one way to find quality for a good price. Sometimes someone will put up their own iron for sale. I've got a bead on one myself over there now.

June 14, 2008, 05:17 AM
I like Traditions quality overall, I just think that maybe we got one made on a Friday or Monday. We are working with the company to get things straightened out. They are very customer friendly. I should have checked myself about them in the previous post.

June 14, 2008, 07:31 AM
Pedersoli has stronger parts and seems to be better put together
For significantly more money.
Lyman also makes a good rifle, though I'm not sure that they make a Hawken.
The Great Plains Rifle is a Hawken design. Lyman chose not to apply the name because, although it's closer to a real Hawken than others who do use the name (T/C, for instance) it's not an exact replica.
I would buy a cheap Cabelas hawken, Made by the same people that make the Lymans, just a few hundred less.
Cabela's basic Hawken is $340; the Lyman Great Plains complete finished rifle is $410 at Midsouth Shooter's Supply. Not quite 'a few hundred less'.
because they tried to make an almost exact copy of the TC lock without having to actually design it from scratch themselves.
Weren't the T/C Hawken and Lyman Great Plains designed by the same person?

June 14, 2008, 10:23 AM
Hey RoaringBull, that would be great if you could pm me those forums.

I really like the Traditions Kentucky rifle....I wish somplace around here would sell them so I could handle one....

The closest gun store dosent sell any muzzleloaders, and the next closest store that sells muzzleloaders is GanderMtn but is is 1 hour away.:uhoh:

June 14, 2008, 03:57 PM
PM Sent.

June 14, 2008, 04:49 PM
For significantly more money.

Not if you cruise the used market.

June 17, 2008, 01:51 AM
I have the Lyman Great Plains Rifle in 54 caliber. I really like it and have harvested both mule deer and 2 elk with it. It is a little heavy at around 10lbs, the only problem I have with it.

June 17, 2008, 08:02 AM
I have a Traditions 54ca Hawken Woodsman and I love it! Excellent price!

June 17, 2008, 10:09 AM
FWIW, I picked up my first BP rifle week before last at a Bass Pro Shop of all places!

It's a Traditions Kentucky Rifle kit, .50 cal. percussion, for only $199. The pieces look pretty well made, the wood is good, nicely straight grained and the brass is actually pretty nicely polished to start with.

The box was on the bottom shelf and all dusty and the price tag was old but still valid. Lord knows how long it had been sitting around there. All the display guns were modern in-lines and like you, I wanted a traditional looking side lock. I had to spot the box myself and find a salesperson to pull it out for me.

It turned out they had four or five different tradional looking gun kits there on the bottom shelf and none of the gun department staff knew they were down there. Too busy selling Glocks I guess?

I'm sure I'll have to do some serious fitting and finishing work, but at that price, I couldn't pass it up as a rainy day project.

The Traditions instructions leave a whole lot to be desired, in terms of detail and no illustrations. So if you choose a kit you better have some woodworking experience and a touch for the mechanical. But there are plenty of online and published guides to assembling a muzzleloader from a kit or even from scratch building.

I'm thinking of a nice darker walnut stain and oil for the stock and the Birchwood-Casey cold blue kit for the barrel. That ought to set off the polished brass pretty nicely.

June 17, 2008, 11:26 AM
I would try I haven't bought anything because I have too many guns right now but they are on the list for a nice reproduction muzzle loader. The guy running it really sounds knowledgeable and decent.

June 17, 2008, 12:50 PM
Here is another great site for anyone looking for traditional arms at pretty good prices.

June 19, 2008, 12:41 AM
So how much do these guns recoil? I have never shot a BP rifle before but I have heard that it is more of a push than a sharp I right? What is the recoil differance between a traditional rifle and an in-line rifle?

O and thanks for all of the answers and links!

June 19, 2008, 06:09 AM
recoil depends on the amountof powder you use as well as the type of projectile. The recoil is more of a push than a kick. I don't know the difference in the recoil from a traditional and an in-line because I have never used an in-line. I like my locks to hang off the side!!

June 19, 2008, 07:18 AM
The ability to control the amount of recoil is what's really great about shooting muzzle loaders. You can load as much or as little powder as you feel comfortable with.
My oldest son started muzzle loading when he was about 10 or so with a .50 caliber carbine. We loaded up about 30 grains of Pistol (fffg) powder for shooting at 25 yards which proved to be the perfect amount of recoil for a youngster. Then we would load about 40 grains of powder for 50 yard shooting. It was accurate and just enough recoil for him to feel the power without any negatives at all.
I tend to shoot 50 grains of powder at 50 yards out of a light 6 lb. rifle, which are target loads with very moderate recoil.
If I want to shoot farther, I can load up appropriately for that distance and still not wince in pain whatsoever, and I consider myself recoil shy.
High velocity hunting loads with heavier bullets will produce more recoil, and depending on the style of the buttplate or if shooting off of a bench, it can be felt. The amount of felt recoil depends on the bullet weight, powder charge, amount of shoulder padding worn as clothing or the buttplate style, weight of the gun and the toughness of the individual's shoulder.
Some stout loads will be felt out of a lighter carbine but they generally won't hurt much if at all.
I've found that shooting with 777 powder does produce not only higher velocity but a noticiably sharper kick as well. That's why I use it more in the smaller calibers rather than in a deer hunting load. It could be hurtful, but not if a jacket was being worn during the northern winter deer hunting season. But it could affect the amount of muzzle rise and therefore off hand shooting accuracy.
The same goes with shooting bullets that weigh over ~250 grains with 90 or 100 grains of powder out of a .50 caliber carbine, for me anyway. At some point the heavier bullets start to produce more felt recoil than is desired, and that's determined by each individual shooter.
I don't like shooting 300 grain bullets but others can shoot 400+ grain bullets without any felt recoil complaints. So, every person has a different threshold regarding the amount of felt recoil that they desire.
More recoil is sometimes enjoyable for a few shots, but for some, too much recoil for too many shots becomes not pleasurable.
Round balls generally don't produce too much felt recoil on the shoulder except sometimes with 100 grains as mentioned above. But it certainly wouldn't bruise or hurt very much, although it could be "felt".
Nonetheless, many people do like to shoot maximum round ball loads anyway just because it is more tolerable than with the high power centerfire guns. :)

June 19, 2008, 10:05 AM
Thanks guys, I have always wondered what the smallest load you can shoot in a muzzleloader without getting the round stuck in the barrel. Also what kind of powder do you guys shoot in your guns? Is it differant for an in-line?

June 19, 2008, 10:12 AM
I don't know how you down load them. My side hammers have fixed sights that work pretty much with one and only one load. there is not much range of adjustment.

Unless you are talking about an in-line with a scope?

The 50 and 54 caliber RBs work with about 70 grains of powder very close to point of aim. If I lower the amount the ball strikes lower.

June 19, 2008, 10:29 AM
There's the Investarms "Hunter" with the recoil pad that's a good buy. Same barrel(a little shorter) and lock as a Lyman since the Traditional Hawkens and the Hunter Cabelas sells are made by the same company as makes the Lyman Great Plains rifle. Before Cabelas robbed the market of the Traditional Hawken,as they call it, and began to import them without the chrome lined(very rust resistant) bores all the Investarms rifles(Hawkens,Great Plains, Hunter) had chrome lined bores to resist the corrosion of blackpowder. Even the Great Pains had the chrome lined bore. It said right on the box "CHROME LINED BORE". Pedersoli puts the chrome lined bore in some of their rifles. Pedersoli makes the best factory made muzzleloaders in the world when it comes to Traditional Rifles. The new Hawken Pedersoli has out is a real nice gun I think and with the Pedersoli quality it's not as expensive as a Pard may think. Anywhoooo......what I was going to get at is that the Investarms Hunter still comes with the "Chrome lined Bore". Also if a guy wants a rifle that isn't going into the woods for deer then a smaller caliber would be less recoil. The smaller the ball the less recoil. The 45 cal. can take deer at closer ranges and be a nice target rifle too with less recoil than parger bored rifles. Theirs the Traditions Crocket Rifle in 32 cal. that's been touted as very accurate and would be recoil free. If a rifle isn't for deer a Squirrel rifle like the Crocket is a good buy and......a can of powder goes a long way and lead to make the little balls makes it very cheap to fire a lot. Anywhooooo.......before Cabelas got all the "Traditional Hawkens" wrapped up it was easier to get from the importers and I sold a million of them in my little shop. I'd sell them $10 over my cost and shipping and the Amish and the middle class people wanting to deer hunt with a good rifle snapped all I had right up all the time. Never had a defective gun and never had a complaint about accuracy. They shoot real well. Even with conicals but the best with balls. rifle that should get more attention is the TRYON RIFLE made by Pedersoli. Chrome lined bore. Casehardened furniture. Walnut wood. Won International 100 meter Competitions more than once right out of the box. I bet the Pedersoli Hawken that's new,, would do the same. Of course I have an old Investarms Hawken(Cabelas calls it the Traditional Hawken) that can keep up with my Pederesoli Tryon ,I'd say. Those long barreled "Blue Ridge" or as some label them, the "Frontier Rifle" are made by Pedersoli and are dang good guns. People don't realize or know that the Hatfield Rifle is nothing more than the same gun with fancier wood. Anywhoooo......the Traditions rifles are good but the barrels have to be cleaned extra well since the barrels seem to rust easy but like the CVA Hawkens they are tack drivers. Deer Creek Products sells some really nice CVA Hawkens but.....even more interesting are the pre-assembled kits they make. They are put together really well and all that's needed is the wood finished(no shaping with the rasp and all just a little sanding,stain and oil) and the metal browned. You would have yer eyeballs pop out when you opened the box if you bought one of the Deer Creek pre-assembled rifles. They are the best KIT on the market in my opinion. You can finish one up and have it look like a custom rifle that costs hundreds and hundreds more. DEER CREEK Phone 1-765-525-6181. They don't have a web page. The kits they sell are real sleepers and one of the best values out there. Cool too!:) I've sold them in the past and never got anything but praise from customers. They have real good wood to metal fit that is really surprising for the money they want for them. The guy at Deer Creek assembles all of the parts to the wood for a customer and the gun can be shot right out of the box if a guy doesn't want to wait to do the finish work. The other kits on the market that need the parts fit to the wood are a nightmare waiting to ruin you. The companies take the defected machine carved wood stocks and throw them in a box and call it a kit. They hardly ever can be fitted right without excess ingenius mechanical aptitude. I mean if the lock inlet is in the wrong position so the hammer can't hit the nipple with a cap on it what can a person do? Move the lock or barrel and leave big gaps in the inletting to fill in and make it look funky? Wood can be taken off but can't be grown back on when it's gone from the wrong place. :banghead: The Lyman and Hawken kits from Investarms are an exception to that. They ain't junked. :D They can be a little loose in the barrel channals but......when they are glass bedded with Accra-glas Gel they are accurate enough to go right to competition and even win. I've done that for people. Glass bed the barrels and tangs of the Investarms Lyman and Hawken rifles. That isn't actually needed but it don't hurt and makes the guns real tack drivers. Even a rifle with a perfectly inletted barrel channal can benifit from a thin layer of glass bed(wouldn't be able to be differentiated from a coat of varnish it would be so thin). The glass is pushed into the pores of the wood and keeps oil and grease out that may be on the barrels and tags to stop rust. Anywhooooo.......a good fit to the barrel in the channal is a must for accuracy because you hold the wood the barrel is in and if the barrel can twist or move in the woods channal from the centifigal forces the ball puts on the barrel the consistancy of the accuracy falls off. What is cool is that the TC breech plug sold by "Track of the Wolf" lets a guy fit a Green Mountain barrel to a Lyman or Investarms or TC hawkens. There are fast twist conversion barrels breeched and ready to go that Green Mountain makes for TC Hawkens and they fit on the Traditional Hawken Cabelas sells. That gives conical bullet accuracy capability to the rifles. The Lyman Great Plains "Hunter" has the fast twist shallow grooved barrel for conical bullets. Anywhoo..check out "Deer Creek" and have them send a catalog with the colored pics of finished rifles made from the pre-assembled kits they sell.

June 19, 2008, 11:39 AM
If a gun is sighted in for 50 yards, then it will usually shoot just about any load into a paper plate at 50 yards. Maybe it will even hit one between 25 to 70 yards or more at point of aim. It's just that the size of the group might change with a different powder load, or there may be flyers since round balls aren't exactly pinpoint accurate with every shot and barrel twist, especially when only plinking without swabbing between shots.
Then Kentucky windage is used at 100 yards unless the gun is sighted in for 100 yards. A low velocity 60 grain load can reach out to 100 yards but might require some hold over to compensate for bullet drop. This can be affected by the length of the barrel and the powder charge too.
A gun that has adjustable sights is a lot easier to sight in for shooting different loads at various distances. Especially if switching between bullet styles.
However I have one sidelock that shoots a 240 grain saboted bullet (loaded with 90 grains of Pyodex P) and a patched round ball (loaded with 50 grains of Pyrodex RS) to the same point of aim at 50 yards. That means that I don't need to adjust the sights everytime I switch loads, even though they're adjustable.

June 20, 2008, 11:23 AM
Here is one question that I can not get out of my head, how do the in-line muzzleloader guys load the powder into the barrel without it falling out of the breech plug? There is a hole in the breech plug right? SO do you keep a primer in there from the last shot until you are ready to shoot the next shot? If this is the case, how do they load the first shot?

June 20, 2008, 07:27 PM
Nobody? Do you not understand my question?:o

June 20, 2008, 09:52 PM
Yes, there's a hole in the breach plug. It's a small hole, and a small amount of powder can enter the hole just as a small amount of powder can enter the channel to the touch hole in a flintlock or the flash channel in a sidelock. However, the hole is small enough that 2f, and even 3f, granules will not flow freely through the hole.
June 28, 2008, 07:07 PM
anthony, i started with a tc hawken and loaded as little as 12 grs fff for my nieces and nephews to shoot.

June 29, 2008, 11:07 AM
Hey Anthony:

My advise would be to pick up a side lock for $100 - 150, experiment with loads in that gun (CVA Mountain Stalker, or Traditions Bob Cat in .50 Cal)...

Get a feel for it, then if you like it; go real traditional (Caliber Variations, Loooong Guns - Kentucky and or etc.) and or Non-Traditional...

Yes, I have owned break open in lines (TC's, CVA's, Traditions etc.); but have come back to my first love (My first was a CVA Mountain Stalker) - I now hunt with a 80's version TC New Englander .50 Caliber, Blue 26" Bbl and Black Synthetic Stocks...

Have fun!


June 29, 2008, 09:09 PM
Here is a Hawkins I'm working on. They probally didn't decorate a Hawkins like this, maybe they did, I don't know. I want to build a longrifle, so I thought I would practice on a stock for my TC Hawkins.

June 29, 2008, 09:36 PM
Very nice! What are you using to do that? I'm looking for better wood tools.

AFAIK, the mountain men, plainsmen and other users of Hawken style rifles generally did not decorate them. They were working rifles in a fast-paced, high-stakes and tightly competitive fur trade. One I know of directly is Joe Meek's early cap rifle. The "engraving" on it is crude and done with a knife for the most part.

But that doesn't mean Hawkens don't look good with some work on them. And it doesn't mean this was never done. During the height of the classic fur trade period in the Rockies they were simply too far away from civilization and had no time to wait for engravings. Plus their iron would get beat up and busted. This is in contrast to the rifles from back east that were family heirlooms with the amazingly rich woodwork.

June 29, 2008, 09:44 PM
Another option might be an authentic rifle....I bought a Danish rolling block in 8mm Krag, receiver dated 1876, and am having the barrel rebored to probably .38-56....BP cartridge, but still outlay on gun and rebore is about what most Italian muskets go for.....otherwise, I recommend a .58 cal musket using percussion ignition and minies, with slow twist...easy to load all afternoon, easy to clean, will kill anything in the lower 48 with no problem....

June 29, 2008, 09:45 PM
I'm useing Pfiel chisels and gouges for the carving. I had to make some wire inletting tools out of small screw drivers to do the wire inlay. I could not find wire inlay tools for sale, so I had to make them. I still have a couple of more carvings to go, then finish it up.

July 3, 2008, 11:51 PM
LOVE the leaf around the tang. Very nice touch.

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