My Handmade Muzzle Loader


November 9, 2012, 07:00 PM
This is a handmade muzzle loader an older local gentleman gave to me. He made it back in the 1950s, the only thing he did not actually make is the percussion lock - he bought it in the rough and finished it. He drilled and rifled the barrel, made the brass patch box and a few other brass inset decorations. He designed a jig to cut the grooves for the rifling: 200 passes to cut each groove, there are six in this barrel. He started making these in the late 40s as a teen. Back then there were very limited parts sources and no kits. He had to make his own or try to find originals. It is .50 Cal, 1:66 twist and uses 60-70 grains of powder.

If you enjoyed reading about "My Handmade Muzzle Loader" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 9, 2012, 07:02 PM
WOW! That is outstanding! That's a rifle anyone would be proud to own, better hold onto it. :)

November 9, 2012, 07:03 PM
That is beautiful! Great gift!

November 9, 2012, 07:05 PM
Thanks. This will never be sold in my lifetime. It is a great honor to be given this rifle, the maker has made about 20-25 in his life and has only given about 4 of them away. He has never sold one.

November 9, 2012, 07:05 PM
You sir had better start quacking, cuz you are one lucky duck! That is a beautiful piece, keep good care of it and I'm sure it will be with you for a good long while :)

November 9, 2012, 07:21 PM
thats beautiful, building something for the pure joy it brings to oneself or gifted to others is a very special thing.
thanks for sharing the picts and the story

4v50 Gary
November 10, 2012, 09:05 AM
Wow! He rifled the barrel himself? That's impressive.

November 10, 2012, 12:27 PM
Very nice rifle,and one can tell that alot of thought went into making it. How awesome is that ! I would love to see the rifling process and tooling to make the barrels.If I only had a way to rifle barrels ! I really appreciate things that are home made.I made a bp pistol from scratch and to make it totally from scratch is a challenge.I know it was for me ! I will post a picture of it soon.But that rifle is so nice.I like how he raised the wood around the lock area and the enhancements around the stock,around the grip and butt areas and I can just say that it is truely a personal work effort put into it. My next will be a cap lock rifle,only this time I'm going to buy the lock and trigger ! Thanks for sharing it with us :D

Sam Cade
November 10, 2012, 12:38 PM
So..... how does it shoot?

November 10, 2012, 03:56 PM
The rifle shoots fine, the shooter is out of practice. But, if I omit two flyers, the 10 shot group was 5" at 100 yards. With the flyers - 8".

The gentleman who gave it to me hunted with it several times and shot a few deer with it. I hope to hunt with it too, but this year I want to hunt with my Shiloh Sharps (I will only get to go once and the Shiloh won out this year).

November 10, 2012, 06:11 PM
I keep going back to this thread to look at the rifle, that's a gorgeous smoke pole! Still can't get over the fact the guy actually bored and rifled the barrel himself. That's just so darn cool! And you really don't see that kind of thing too often these days either.

loose noose
November 10, 2012, 09:00 PM
58limited, that rifle is definately a keeper, I know of only one guy that has built some modern rifles from scratch and did his own rifling, in fact he is a master gunsmith and lives in Kingman, Arizona. I've seen his work and it simply amazes me.;)

DoubleDeuce 1
November 11, 2012, 01:37 AM
That is exceptionally cool! Keeper!!!:cool:

November 11, 2012, 09:20 AM

November 12, 2012, 02:50 PM
Any idea the makers name? I have one that was built in west tx in 73

November 12, 2012, 07:42 PM
I know the maker personally. We share the same interests (classic cars and guns) and he is a client at my clinic. He has lived in SE Texas all his life. I'm not going to post his name unless he gives me permission.

November 12, 2012, 08:00 PM
Very nice. Great furniture.

November 12, 2012, 08:28 PM
Ok my rifle says J FISHER

November 13, 2012, 05:00 AM
The name on mine is different. Have you posted pictures of yours? I'd like to see it.

Very nice. Great furniture.

Thanks. That is known as 'The World's Most Comfortable Couch' among my friends and family. I can't lay on it and read without falling asleep.

November 13, 2012, 05:16 AM
would be great if that gentleman would allow for some of his
methods and findings to be documented, ... before ....

So all of us can learn, how we could make such a thing of beauty
in case we suddenly have 10yrs of time on our hands and nothing else to do.

Outstanding piece.

November 13, 2012, 03:10 PM
I'll try in next few days, mine is a .45 cal
All handmade except the lock , it's a modified t.c. Caplock

November 14, 2012, 04:16 PM
I spent several hours with Ray, the gentleman who made my rifle, today around the noon hour. He wanted to see my Uberti Walker Colt (and told me to feel free to leave it with him). He showed me the rifling jig and he said he made it based on the ones used by gunmakers in the mid-1700s. He found pictures and descriptions in books and used that as a guide to build his. He said that you are really filing each groove, not "cutting" it. You work on all six grooves at the same time: Make a pass on one groove, rotate barrel, make a pass on the second groove, and so on until you've made a pass on all six. Then, you raise the file (cutter) and repeat the process. He corrected me and said that it often took 300 passes per groove. He also said it would take him a couple of weeks to rifle a barrel - spare time, time spent adjusting the height of the file, and then quitting due to the monotony and returning later all contributed to the time it takes to rifle the barrel. Ray has several original rifles in various conditions including a very nice Jeager from the 1740s and a very very nice German wheel lock from the 1620s. Both have rifled barrels - interesting rifling: the grooves are rounded, not squared off.

Here is a webpage describing old rifling jigs, there are photos too (his jig is like the ones in the B&W photos):

One difference in Ray's jig - instead of carving guide grooves into the wood cylinder, he made a raised spiral on the cylinder. He said that was easier for him to do with the tools that he had. Ray quit rifling his own barrels years ago when commercial ones became readily available. The commercial ones are period correct too: They are octagon and tapered but flare out at the end. They are also lighter than the ones Ray made. Ray also reused original barrels occasionally - most were shot out or rusty inside. He reamed them to a bigger caliber and rifled them. Many of his first guns also have reused original percussion locks or flintlocks scavenged from junk rifles.

He has a nice flintlock double barrel 12 ga. shotgun that I really like. The barrels and locks are commercially made but he made the stock and other parts. He has shot birds with it several times.

This was a fun few hours talking old muzzle loaders and seeing Ray's awesome collection. Ray is really talented and very knowledgeable about these guns.

November 14, 2012, 07:31 PM
Wow - Impressive. Such craftsmanship. You are a lucky man indeed !!

November 17, 2012, 12:02 PM
That is a awesome rifle. Very nice indeed

November 18, 2012, 09:07 PM
Ditto on getting Ray's story down on video or ink. If he made that in the 50's that puts him with the first generation of the great black powder revival. Back with Turner Kirkland and those fellows, most of whom have long since passed from us. They had to reinvent a lot of wheels, since the mainstream had figured black powder was as useless as a horse and buggy by that time. Heck if he's got a computer invite him here! If it weren't for folks like him the smoke poles would all be in museums now and the smell of sulfur a forgotten memory.

February 3, 2013, 11:57 PM
I visited my aunt and uncle's ranch and I shot the rifle this weekend. My uncle has a single lane 100 yard shooting range that he uses to sight in his deer rifles. I fired two shots with a patched .495 round ball and 70 grains of Swiss 1 1/2 Fg powder. The shots were high but touched each other. My third shot was with a 275 grain mini ball and 60 grains of Swiss 1 1/2 Fg. It is the shot in the X-ring. Too bad deer season is over...

February 4, 2013, 12:40 PM
It is a nice rifle, but the lock looks like a Siler which weren't around in the 50's.

February 4, 2013, 01:15 PM
I asked Ray about the lock - he said he replaced the lock sometime in the past. He originally built this as a flintlock.

I also mentioned to Ray that the round balls shot about 8" high. Turns out that he lines the front blade up with the bottom of the rear sight notch, I was lining it up flush with the top of the rear sight. Note to self: for round balls put front blade at bottom of rear notch, for mini balls put the blade flush with the top :)

4v50 Gary
February 4, 2013, 08:21 PM
What a rare bird. To have a hand rifled barrel. Wow!

If you enjoyed reading about "My Handmade Muzzle Loader" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!