Flintlock rifle kits...


Uncle Billy
March 4, 2010, 07:52 AM
I'm not sure if this ought to be posted here or in the "Gunsmithing" section, so if it's out of place here, I'm sure the mods will move it.

My next project is to build a quality flintlock "Kentucky" rifle from a kit. I've done a couple BP kits before, CVA and Dixie Gun Works (I was given that one about 2/3 done but it was so botched I couldn't make anything of it, try as I might). I'd like to go upscale a bit, with nicer wood and a better shape, which puts me in a serious amount of money and so sets me on a research project to determine the merits and demerits of different kit makers.

I would like opinions on the kits that are available. I asked this question on a different forum last year and I thought I'd ask here as well.

Two of the names that came up are Jim Chambers, and Track of the Wolf. There are apparently others but I don't know who they are.

Can anyone comment on these two, and/or provide the names of others? I'm not good enough to start with a walnut plank and metal parts, I need there to be some inletting of the major bits, at least the barrel and lock. My shop isn't equipped to do much metal fabrication, but I can drill, tap and cut metal pretty accurately if that's necessary.

It looks like this is going to cost me at least $500 and up to as much as $1000 for the kit, which is why I'm looking for some advice. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

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March 4, 2010, 09:18 AM
The kits like the Lyman are not near as difficult to finish as one of the Track of the wolf kits ..TVM supplys alot of their nicer kits , and are very difficult .
I have heard Track will do some of the work on the kit before they send it if you call and talk to them about ....like cutting dovetails ..barrel channel and ramrod channel they may even pin the barrel .

March 4, 2010, 10:42 AM
Check through the Track web site. They have a tremendous range of kits, with variations available in each...barrel length/configuration/caliber, etc.

March 4, 2010, 11:53 AM
Pecatonica River Long Rifle Supply are stock specialists and offer many kits with the option of full inletting services, but only for the quality components that they offer with them. Their prices are also very reasonable.

They offer 2 Kentucky kits. One is the Pre-Revolutionary Kentucky and the other is the Transitional Kentucky which has a swamped barrel as another option. They state that the stock is 98% inletted.

Contact them to be certain that they'll provide all of the inletting services that you'll need to complete the kit.

Their kits are located in the right hand column on the following page:


Transitional Kentucky kit:


Pre-Revolutionary Kentucky kit:


Good luck with your build. :)

March 4, 2010, 03:52 PM
Log Cabin Shop is another purveyor of parts and kits.

March 4, 2010, 06:11 PM
there are literally dozens of suppliers of rifle kits. Some range from a plank and bag of metal parts to assembled ready to fire guns that merely need to be stained and finished.

Don't skimp. A good piece of wood, precarved for swamped barrel and lock can be $250. A really good barrel will be another $200. A first rate lock is another $125. Good double set triggers another $60. Then we get into iron, brass, german silver, or even precious metal furniture, inlays, scroll work, incised carving, engraving etc. A plain jane So MTN rifle of good parts can run $600 in parts.

Some custom gun makers sell assembled kits. That is the inletting is done, the gun will fire, but the metal and wood haven't recieved the fnal finishing, staining, polishing, engraving etc. Google: Cabin Creek Muzzleoaders in Hellam PA. I think he sells such kits. Many others do too.

Decide if there is a particular style you want to mimic. If you are going to all the trouble, for pete;'s sake don't put Bedford style furniture on a Lehigh County stock. Or an English style lock on an early Kutztown school long rifle.

It really doesn't cost any extra to keep the styling proper. And the gun will look more like a classic than if you mix styles.

For a list of some of the custom makers who will also sell kits or assembled guns check the Contemporary Longrifle Society's web site. There must be two dozen such makers in PA alone.

March 4, 2010, 06:37 PM
Given your parameters I'll second arcticap's suggestion of Pecatonica River in Illinois. Excellent reputation for quality and service; they provide stocks to many of the custom makers, and can provide kits with various levels of work already done. Give them a call and talk about what they have and what they do.

Sitting Fox (http://www.sittingfoxmuzzleloaders.com/intro.html) in Michigan is another with a good reputation for quality and service. His kits tend toward the more complete like Lyman, CVA, etc., but he is always customer oriented so a less complete kit may well be made available.

Tennessee Valley Muzzleloading (http://www.avsia.com/tvm/) has an excellent reputation; they tend to the other end of the spectrum from Sitting Fox, but they'll do anything you want, including completely finishing the gun! Great folks.

Tennessee Valley Manufacturing (http://www.tennesseevalleymanufacturing.com/) is in the same town and has a very similar name but they're separate companies (they do get along well, however). Smaller selection but well thought of, highly recommended by many.

Jim Chambers (http://www.flintlocks.com/) is top of the line in terms of authenticity, quality, almost anything you can think of. Also sells top of the line components. His kits are not for the novice, however. I do not believe he does partial finishing, but he will recommend a custom builder to do the partial work for you. When you're done you will have one of the finest bp guns available (and you'll have paid for it).

Log Cabin Shop - great place, really nice folks, highly skilled craftsmen (they teach long rifle building), they sell everything from parts to finished guns.

Need any more?

Loyalist Dave
March 4, 2010, 08:35 PM
They are right, you need to establish what you mean as a "kit". To me, it means that the barrel inlet is started as is the lock mortise and the trigger mortise, and all I have to do is finish fitting the lock and the barrel, etc. As was mentioned to some folks a "kit" is a barrel billet, a chunk of steel, some brass, and a hunk of wood. Other folks expect the gun to be assembled "in the white" like the old Thompson Center Hawken kits were, and all you did was sand, stain, and finish the wood, and finish the metal parts.

I currently use a Cabin Creek Pennsylvania Mountain Rifle in .54. Swamped barrel, single trigger, kills deer very well. A very plain rifle such as a contract hunter might have had, and I've never been happier with a rifle.


March 4, 2010, 08:47 PM
Chambers has a better rep than Track for quality, but both are good and certainly several steps above the factory kits. Track is nice because you can mix-and-match on their fantastic website. Unfortunately they are having a lot of supply problems now and many items are on backorder. There are a lot of great smaller shops out there, each tending to have its own emphasis. Some focus on smoothbore trade guns, others on big bore designs. Check out the traditional muzzleloading forum for more insight.

The process can be very challenging at times and nerve-wracking since so much of it is in your hands, but there's *NOTHING* as satisfying in shooting as capping off the first round from a firearm you yourself built.

Ditto the advice to SPEND on the wood. You can get good sparking locks easily now, as well as high quality steel barrels. In this respect we're much better off than folks in the 18th century. But to put it bluntly our wood selection stinks. So much of the great stuff has been chopped up or burned down. Stock woods a gunsmith in 1800 would have used to keep the shop warm is considered high grade now. Guys make a good living diving down to retrieve logs on the bottom of lakes because it's so difficult to get the stuff from forests anymore. Spend to get the highest grade you can, and buy the best and sharpest chisels. You won't regret it. I went with standard grade walnut for my first build and it was a greasy, chippy nightmare. Bits of it kept falling apart in my hands. I spent more money on a good quality CM stock and the experience was totally different. It was so much easier to get clean, sharp lines and even thin sections have held together.

Also don't be afraid to keep it simple. The carving and decoration is tricky and most of the early American long rifles were very plain and utilitarian anyway. I particularly like the "poor boy" style.

Loyalist Dave
March 4, 2010, 08:49 PM
UNLESS..., it's taking your first deer with the flintlock that you built..., OK maybe it's a toss-up. :D


March 4, 2010, 08:57 PM
I haven't had that pleasure yet, but I'm sure you're correct.

Uncle Billy
March 5, 2010, 08:09 AM
Thanks to all of you for your posts here. Your responses to my original request are just what I was looking for, and now I've got a lot more alternatives and ways to go than previously. I'm going to practice on some pieces of maple I have laying around my shop and from how that goes I'll decide how much to embellish the stock and whether to do it myself or not. Lots of decisions- I'd like the result to be "mine" as much as possible, but I need to have more confidence than I do that I can work the wood with enough skill to succeed.

Again, thanks to you all. I'll post some pix as the work goes along (unless I really botch it up, of course!).

March 5, 2010, 12:18 PM
I put together a CVA pistol, a TC hawken kit and then, bought a plain maple plank from a saw mill (making sure it had been dried for several years) It wasn't much to look at. I scrounged parts from a boofered CVA Kentucky rifle kit (with the 2 piece stock) and hacked out a real stock. I traced the old stock, cut it out with a band saw and then went to work with chisels rasps etc. I used the old stock as an example for thickness and place ment. I did use some different furniture than the original kit provided. And added a colonial style cheek rest. Then I finished it with acid, neutralized it, final sanding, several hand rubbed coats of linspeed. Turned into a good looking gun. Yeah I made mistakes, perhaps could have done better. I gave that flinter to my brother who still hunts with it after 30 years. And it still looks better than most production guns. It was a learning experience and gave me the confidence to tackle an expensive piece of wood.

Uncle Billy
March 5, 2010, 12:28 PM
I did a similar project on a Herter's (BSA action) .30-06. The original stock split in 2 pieces. I bought a roughly shaped block of pretty nice wood from Reinhart-Faegin (they were in business by themselves in those days) and made a fairly well-shaped stock using the busted one for a pattern, like zimmerstutzen ("Zimmy"?) did. I was pretty proud of how it came out, but I don't know how to carve, engrave or checker a stock which I'd like to learn to do, especially on a "Kentucky" rifle (except for the checkering)- some of the rifles you see here and there are really beautiful.

March 6, 2010, 01:23 AM
I can't think of any way to recommend Jim Chambers any higher and more enthusiastically. Authentic guns, the best in components, and truly very nearly finished for you. You aren't getting a "kit" - you'll have to do some gunstocking work - but you end up with a gun worth more than the sum of its parts if you are careful. I dont have one of his guns, but have his lock in one of mine and it is great.

Must be careful with the "production" guns - sometimes you can get a lemon with regards to sparker - you can be confident in the Chambers lock as its fast and a real fire starter.

March 8, 2010, 02:13 PM
Having built CVA,T/C and Lyman kits I can tell you that while nice rack grade guns a Jim Chambers "kit" is the Rolls Royce.If you are wondering where the extra money is its all about authentic architecture and high quality components.

I just recently built a Jim Chambers .58 Edward Marshall rifle and it is now the jewel of my front stuffer collection.The handling must be experienced to appreciate it.The Chambers/Siler locks are top notch.

I took the Conner Prairie Chambers kit building class,worth every penny!!Chambers kits require ALOT of inletting and fitting compared to kits from CVA,T/C,Lyman.Chamber kits are not drop in fit and require some knowledge of basic wood/metal working and 18th century gun building.

The class was 40 hours and I put another 40 into it to complete the rifle.These kits are for the gun builder who takes their time and is a labor of love,not a quick weekend project.

If you want some "primer" on what is involved in building these kits,I recommend buying the James Turpin DVD
"Building the Jim Chambers Long Gun Kits".

All in all,I will be buying more projects from Jim Chambers and the kits are worth every penny.



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