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building a muzzleloader from scratch-what to use for the barrel?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by FW, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. FW

    FW Well-Known Member

    In the past few years I've built a couple muzzle loading rifles from kits and was pleased with what I ended up with. Now I've got an interest in building another one.

    The kits aren't cheap and I'm interested a slightly different project anyway. I'm wondering how practical it might be to build something from scratch. I would like to not have to purchase a barrel. I thought maybe a smoothbore or a shot gun would be possible using pipe or steel tubing, but am concerned about selecting the right material to be safe.

    I am confident everything else can be fabricated with a little persistence. Has anyone reading this attempted such a project? Any suggestions on what to use for barrel material? Where might I find some resources building something like this?
  2. JPM63US

    JPM63US Well-Known Member

    I think you will find a barrel is not too expensive . ..

    I have heard of folks using DOM (Drawn Over Mandrel) tubing for a smooth bore. Should work, but do you really want to risk it?

    Poke around at local gun shops or shows. Find an old cartridge shotgun barrel in the bore you want and proceed with that project. It will probably be cheaper and safer that buying high quality DOM tubing. I know at least one person personally who built a nice youth size 20 gage smooth bore using a shotgun barrel he got from alocal shop for $5. Someone had messed-up the mounting - he just cut it off, threaded for a breech plug and went foward.

  3. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Barrels are cheap. Your life & eyesight aren't. Better to buy one used or new.

    Suggest you take blacksmithing classes at Conner Prarie or any other number of institutions. They can teach you how to "roll your own" and make a decent one. Gunsmith Brad Innis hand forges his barrels (locks, cherrys, molds) too but I don't have his addy right now.
  4. kentucky bucky

    kentucky bucky Well-Known Member

    If you are going to save $, don't mess with the barrel of all things. A cheap lock, stock, butt plate, etc. won't mangle you for life. If you have to ask this question, you may need to do more research before you attempt it.
  5. Tommy Gunn

    Tommy Gunn Well-Known Member

    Dixie Gun Works has books for sale on gunsmithing. You can also buy gunsmithing tools, gun parts, and materials.

  6. zahc

    zahc Well-Known Member

    One of the most interesting articles I ever read was in Muzzleloader magazine, on building a barrel. I had no idea they rolled them up and welded them together. Those blacksmiths really knew what they were doing. Just think what a gun would have cost back then!

    Oh yeah, just buy a barrel, please.
  7. MeekandMild

    MeekandMild Well-Known Member

    I seem to remember an article many years ago in one of the Foxfire series which discussed how to hand cut rifling in a muzzle loader barrel.
  8. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    There's a couple of instructional books on how to build and operate your own rifling machine. The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association has Norman Brockway (dec.)'s rifling machine which is built on a sine bar. They hauled it out last year and let us (as in anyone who came by the museum) do a couple of pulls on a barrel blank. It took about 8 hours and by the end of the day, it was raffled off.

    The trick is to make a good barrel blank and that's where one must master welding to make a barrel. Even after the barrel is made, it must be straightened and then reamed. If it's octagon (or octagon swamp), you have to grind it and grind it evenly. Straightness is checked again before it is rifled.

    Want a complete apprentice program that teaches you everything from start to finish and get paid $? Colonial Williamsburg pays their apprentices about $13-14 an hour to learn it. I'd do it if I was retired. The catch is you must dress up in period clothing and happily answer the questions of the public (you're there as a re-enactor). Only about 3 people have ever reached the master gunsmith level there. Master gunsmiths of Williamsburg can make everything from scratch. Wallace Gusler and Gary Brumfield are two of them and I've never met the 3rd. They were hiring about 3 years ago. I wonder who the lucky "lad" who got the position is?

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