Know nothing about BP, have Kentucky Rifle craving


September 4, 2008, 12:57 AM
Hello all,

I am a pistol and rifle shooter of the smokeless type. Lately though I have had a craving for a kentucky long rifle as I really appreciate the history of it. I have also really enjoyed the show a BP rifle puts on the few times I have shot them.

I am wondering where I can find a decent quality rifle that is not hugely expensive. Looking for under $400. I don't know if that is at all possible but I am asking. I am also wondering what all I would need to go along with it. I don't need the authentic powder horn or whatnot, just what I need to shoot it.

So, can ya all help me out?


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September 4, 2008, 02:07 AM
Cabellas may have something in your price range. Dixie Gun Works is worth looking at too. In addition to the rifle you will need a powder flask but the regular GOEX can will be ok if you are shooting from a bench. If you use 3f powder you can get away with just that. If you shoot 2f you will also need some 4f for the priming pan. A short starter is very handy and you can make one if you want. Ball and patches. This is hard to figure out but once you do it will not change. I have a Green Mountain .45 cal barrel and use a .445 ball and .015 patch. You will probably have to try several combinations to get it right. The thicker the patch the better.
Get a powder measure that matches the load for your gun.
Extra flints are handy. A multitool can adjust your lock and knap the flint too.
A jag for your ramrod to clean the barrel and oil to put it away with.

September 4, 2008, 06:25 AM
I have a Kentucky flinter and LOVE shooting it. Mr. Wulf gave an excellent rundown of pieces there. However, the cleaning of the Kentucky is somewhat of a pain. The barrel pins, which hold the barrel to the stock, are sometimes difficult to get lined up perfectly and inserted, at least for me.

Check some of the auction sites and Track of the Wolf or Dixie Gun Works for longarms and accoutremonts.

One word of caution, though.....there is no known cure to the addiction into which you are about to proceed.....

September 4, 2008, 08:03 AM
Cabela's ( and Dixie Gun Works ( are two good places to start looking in your price range. The brand name that's most popular for inexpensive entry level guns is Traditions, but the house brand guns are competitive in both price and quality. You do get what you pay for, however, so there are some compromises required in this price range.

Once you've seen what they have and are familiar with the names you can certainly branch out to other sites looking for better prices, but don't expect big discounts - Cabela's and Dixie are already very competitive on price.

I do not recommend starting out with a flintlock; they're great fun but have their own idiosyncrasies. Most people will tell you to start with a percussion gun and learn black powder shooting first before taking on the flintlock mysteries. It's a great journey, and starting at the end can be frustrating to people new to the sport.

So, assuming you'll start with a percussion Kentucky rifle:

Powder flask
Powder measure
Shooting patches (lubed)
Cleaning patches (dry and with solvent)
Short starter
Range rod
Cleaning jag in proper caliber
Balls in proper caliber
Bag to carry it all in.

Read the Black Powder Essentials sticky thread at the top of this forum. Great advice in there on starting out.

September 4, 2008, 08:55 AM
Unfortunately, $400 does not buy much traditional muzzleloader these days, what with the week dollar and most models being European made.

Cabela's Hawken is a very well made, reasonably authentic looking, and in your price range, available in #11 cap or flint.

Once in a great while, Cabela's puts their Blue Ridge Rifle (actually a Pedersoli Frontier) on sale. has entry level traditional guns on consignment from time to time in that price range.

September 4, 2008, 09:48 AM
Another place you may want to have a look

September 4, 2008, 09:56 AM
Who makes all those cabelas models?

And why is a Percussion better than a flint for beginniers? I imagine it has improved lock time but what else is there?

I'm appreciating the help everyone. And believe me, I'm already a shooting addict. This is just a branch off of that.

Oh, and if I can tack on another question. What is a hawken rifle? From pictures they seem to be shorter guns. Is that correct?

September 4, 2008, 11:25 AM
Who makes all those cabelas models?

And why is a Percussion better than a flint for beginniers? I imagine it has improved lock time but what else is there?

I'm appreciating the help everyone. And believe me, I'm already a shooting addict. This is just a branch off of that.

Oh, and if I can tack on another question. What is a hawken rifle? From pictures they seem to be shorter guns. Is that correct?

Believe Traditions and CVA make the stuff Cabellas sells.

Percussion is easier to learn with, not necessarily better. Just getting accustomed to the concept of holding through the shot is what makes the difference twixt a capable rock lock shootist and one thats just flippin' lead down the range. Theres also the "care and feeding" aspects with rock locks to get accustomed to which take a tad more range time than with cap locks.

Beyond those 2 issues the 2 are the same and take the same amount of range time to get where one is a decent shootist with them.

The name Hawken has become generic for a large caliber 1/2 stock ML with a barrel thats between 30" and 36" long. Thats the "traditionalists" definition, the gun makers view any short 1/2 stock ML rifle as a Hawken.

Fact is that there were a more than few folks making plains rifles but J & S Hawken made a rifle was the primo example that everybody wanted but couldn't really afford.

Kentucky long rifles have the same kind of history with a zillion builders and a few standing out. Barrel length is can be a tad longer (42") but not necessarily as 36" is also common. More than anything the shape with drop from the barrel to the butt plate and the full stock is what makes those appealing aesthetically (IMO).

For a bit of fun get a copy of the movie Jeremiah Johnson and a copy of The last of the Mohicans. They are a reasonable comparison of the 2 styles and an opportunity to dream about living "back in the day"... ;)


September 4, 2008, 11:55 AM
Cabelas Hawkens are made by Investarms of Italy, same company making Lyman.

Other Cabelas are Pedersoli.

CVA and Traditions are made in Spain.

September 4, 2008, 12:00 PM

September 4, 2008, 12:02 PM
The Cabelas Hawkens are made by InvestArms ..Itilian maker .....They are close coppies of the Thompson Hawkens ...I`ve interchanged the parts on them ...The Thompson parts are built better ...But for the price the Cabelas InvestArms guns are a good deal , and good shooters ,,and can be had for under 400 bucks ..good starting rifles ..better rifles can come latter .

September 4, 2008, 12:04 PM
the one and important things these guys forgot to mention. Please at the top of the black powder main page is a thread titled black powder essentials. Please take a moment to go through these pages it will give you a lot of information about black powder.

September 4, 2008, 01:05 PM
i think i got mine from track of the it is a nice kit package that you sand and finish the wood, blue the barrel put the sights in file the brass to size... stuff like that. it was a fun kit, flintlock 33.5 barrel, 1:66 twist, 49.5 overall length, there is no patch box though, should be easy enough to inset one if you wanted. 235 is what i paid, i think, i don't remember but it was like 255-260 with shipping and everything.

September 4, 2008, 01:50 PM
Hmm, that kit type deal is interesting to me. I enjoy refinishing rifle stocks so the kit sounds neat. What other skills than wood finishing are needed. And what is the cost of having the metal bits blued? Basically wwhat I'm asking is does the kit come out cheaper overall than the ready made rifle?

PS, I appreciate all the help everybody is providing. I have many questions becaus I don't know anybody who does blackpowder except in a deer hunting capacity with an inline.

September 4, 2008, 03:48 PM
to go and Track of the Wolf is one of the best. I do not recall seeing any of their kits for under around 500 though. Even at that they are great. Between flint and percussion I would get what you want especially if you are building it. You will be putting in a lot of effort and time and you might as well end up with what you wanted all along. It's not much more complicated than percussion.

September 4, 2008, 03:51 PM
i actually used a chemical bluing agent. like 4$ for a bottle that would blue at least 20 or more barrels. just apply, wipe off after a few seconds, and repeat as many times as you want to get the light, or the deep blue lasts very well. make sure there is no oil on the barrel, or wood finish, or anything that can prevent the chemical from coming in contact with the metal. it is really neat stuff and easy to find as long as you go to a good gun shop. basically just finishing the wood and filing down the brass to fit. the brass takes a while to get perfect though. it is a fun project. if i can find a similar kit in .32 and a caplock(only cause i have the most difficult time buying authentic bp) i would get that for squirrels and rabbits. but you would only save about 100$ for the kit over a finished rifle.... i dont know for sure where i got it cause i jus checked track of the wolf and it was not there. ill let you know a price if i find it though

September 4, 2008, 04:44 PM
A flint kit sounds like it's right for me. I love that kind of work. I saw that Pedersoli has Kentucky rifle kits. Well I dunno when I can get started but I will surely be back here. I welcome any helpful info! I still have yet to decide what caliber too!

September 4, 2008, 07:43 PM
scrat - read the bottom of post #4.

September 4, 2008, 08:04 PM
Beware, getting a rifle is the first step down a very slippery slope. You will then need the proper accouterments and that can lead to all kinds of variations and side trips.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

A Hawken rifle is a half stock, large caliber rifle with a heavy barrel capable of firing large charges of powder needed to kill the larger animals in the western territories. It was produced by Jake and Sam Hawken of St. Louis in the 1830's and 40's. They were considered the cadillac of plains rifles in their time.

September 4, 2008, 08:05 PM
There's also the Lyman Great Plains rifle, and it comes in kit form. One thing I find attractive about them is you can get more than one barrel/tang combo and swap them, so you have a ball twist in one and a fast conical twist in the other, using the same stock and lock. As a kit it's in your price range (assuming you don't have to buy 600 dollars worth of tools and supplies to complete it) and it's fairly authentic in design.

I've used several forms of "cold blue" and I've never been happy with them, FYI. That's my experience-- yours may vary. A browned finish was just as, or more, common in the day, IIRC. Brownell's is a good source for finishing supplies, among others. A lot of local gunsmiths offer hot blueing. Might be worth while to ask some about price and take a look at their work.

Track of the Wolf sells books on the kit building process. You can also find Lyman's instructions on-line in pdf form, so you can get an idea beforehand what's invloved.

September 4, 2008, 08:36 PM
Lyman GPR. The poor man's custom rifle.

Loyalist Dave
September 4, 2008, 09:32 PM
An acceptable longrifle, you're talkin' $600, an excellent longrifle, you're talking $900.


September 4, 2008, 10:10 PM
just found it. it came from the possible shop... was like 239... then again that was probably three years ago lol. well now the percussion version is $249, and the flint kit version $291(these kits are by traditions). prices went up a little i think:eek:. it is a fun kit but you might be able to find a kit with a patch box for around that price somewhere else. it is a ok deal considering the finished rifle costs $375. but you may be able to put a lot of time and good effort into it and produce a better looking rifle. btw it shoots excellent. best to use with rb to most efficiently utilize the 1:66 rifling. i shoot lee 360 grain minis too and they do fine. possible has a really nice armi sport Kentucky rifle at the bottom of the Kentucky rifle page.. $560 though.:what:

September 5, 2008, 01:01 AM
What I am looking at now is a full stock kentucky long rifle. One of the loooong barrel kits (I like long barrels, the two .22's I shoot regularly ar 25 and 27 inches) in I guess the 36+ inch range. The picture I have in my head is a nice long kentucky long rifle such as a minuteman might have had. And as I've read about it, I am convinced kit is the way to go. Even if I flub it and a factory build would have been nicer, a kit is what I made.

I do seem to be having trouble finding a kit with one of the long barrels. I can only find premade rifles with barrels that long.

September 5, 2008, 07:45 AM
Check out the southern mountain rifle kits at Track of the wolf.

SMR's are not fancy, they are plain basic rifles and would be a good starting point, if you want to build one.

September 5, 2008, 10:18 AM
if you really wanted to get into it you could just completely build your own stock to match one of these (, third barrel down is the one im talkin about, if you built it from the ground up like this you could pick out what wood you want, buy a lock for 80-100$ separate.... just i dont know bout the brass pieces, as far as where you could get them. im gettin a little carried away though i think, all i really wanted to point out was has really long rifle barrels, then i thought... well what about makin it fit the stock?.. then, oh! he could build his own!, then oh... what about brass and the tenon pins and the lock and the router work it would to take to finish off the stock.. not to mention the countless hours it would take to get the stock even down to size, not to mention a finished product! and if you have a 'craving' it might be gone by the time you get done with that rig lol. i did learn a neat trick for multiple wood grains in a stock if you build it yourselfe.. take about three or four 1/2-1" thick(depending on how many different grains you want), by 10" tall, and the length of your gun and barrel, put a lot of wood glue(enough to have a thin coat over the whole surface of the board) in between each board and take probably 10 "c" clamps to hold it all together till it dries.....clamp it hard enough to squeeze out excess glue also ensuring you will have no air pockets) then you can just cut this down to size and sand it to a nice finish... depending on what wood you use it can look pretty good.:D

September 5, 2008, 11:56 AM
The colonial long rifle looks promising (42" Barrel! AWESOME!).
They are list options such as 13/15ths and 7/8ths. Is that just he thickness of the barrel?//

September 5, 2008, 03:12 PM
The colonial long rifle looks promising (42" Barrel! AWESOME!).
They are list options such as 13/16ths and 7/8ths. Is that just he thickness of the barrel?//

Distance across the flats of the octagon. Bet iffen ya went back you might find that those are smaller caliber barrels as well like .30ish to .45 size.

One of the Hawkens I built from parts (not a kit) uses a GM .50 with a 1" across the flats 36" ML barrel. With the 1:72 twist it does a fine job with RB.

Iffen ya like the older color use a browning agent not blue. IIRC Laurel Mt makes a Plumb brown thats reasonable easy to put down to save a few $ on metal finish work. I chose to use the hot chlorox in water rusting approach on my home builts, I also used aquafortis on the curly maple both of which are interesting experiences in finish work.


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