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Rifle Kit Suggestions

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by mdauben, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    I've been giving some thought recently to getting myself another BP rifle. I had a kit-built Hawken style percussion rifle years ago, that I had to sell in order to buy books for college once semester and I've always wanted to replace it. Other than a bit of minor sanding around the butt plate and "finishing" the stock and barrel, the gun was pretty much a bolt together effort.

    Right now, I'm considering three very different types of guns:

    • .36 caliber Kentucky/Pennsylvania style flint lock - target and small game
    • .54 caliber Hawken/Plains style percussion - target and possibly deer
    • 20ga Northwest Trade Gun style flint lock - target, small game and possibly deer
    I was looking at the kits sold by Track of the Wolf, Inc. but after viewing fellow forum member duelist1954's facinating video blogs on his experiences buidling one of their flintlocks, I'm convinced that their kits require much more time, skill and equipment than I am willing/able to provide. I was also considering a Great Plains Rifle kit from Lyman Products although I'm not sure about the level of effort their kits require?

    So, has anyone put together one of the Lyman kits? Any suggestions for other kit makers I should consider? While sanding and staining are within my capabilities, I really don't have the skills or facilities for extensive fitting or machining of parts. Should I just give up and buy a ready-made gun? :uhoh:

    Thanks! :cool:
  2. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Well-Known Member

    Check the kits from Dixie Gun Works. I recently finished a Pedersoli Hawken flint rifle kit in .50caliber that is an absolute blast to shoot. The Pedersoli kits require a lot of wood work on the stock (I used a block plane, multiple files, and lots of sand paper in various grades), a lot of filing, sanding, and polishing of the brass, but little work for the lock and barrel. I use Homer Formby's Tung Oil to finish the wood and apply a coat of wax over that a week or so after applying the finish and it gives a beautiful and durable finsh. I recommend them highly to anyone who would like to try a kit gun but do not wish to get into serious cutting and shaping.
  3. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    After looking over their website, I really like their Rocky Mountain Hawken, but they don't seem to offer that one as a kit (don't see it listed as one on either the Dixie Gun Works or Pedersoli websites). The $1100 price tag for the finished gun is a bit more than I was hoping to pay, but if its substantially better than the Lyman Hawken, I might consider it. :scrutiny:

    I love the looks of the Pedersoli Frontier Flintlock rifle. Just the sort of simplicity and elegence I'm looking for in a long rifle. The only minor complaint I see is that it comes with a "compromise" 1:48 twist barrel. I'd rather have a slower twist optimized for round balls. This one is offered in a kit according to the Pedersoli but they don't seem to have the kits listed on the Dixie website. :eek:

    They also have an Indian Trade Musket which is close to the Nortwest Trade Gun I'm looking for. The main problem is that they only offer it with a 36 inch barrel, and I like the lines of the 41-42 inch Trade Guns better. Its also not listed as either finished gun or kit on the Dixie website. :(

    Thanks for the suggestion!
  4. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    I have built a Lyman GPR kit and found it to be a simple task for the most part. Sanding, finishing, very little extra wood work required. I did have to do some work on the tang/breech block area wood as the tang bolt hole was not well aligned with the metal hole, and I replaced the escutcheon screws with slightly larger and longer ones. Excellent kits. My one word of advice is TAKE YOUR TIME. Well, ok, that's 3 words, but worth repeating: TAKE YOUR TIME. You won't be sorry.
  5. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    Sounds like something I could handle. The pic of you gun looks sweet, too! ;)
  6. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Well-Known Member

    This is the Hawken kit I bought: http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product_info.php?cPath=22_162_193&products_id=3456

    It is a very accurate rifle. One thing I have noticed about shooting this and my Lyman Plains Rifle which also has a set trigger is that my marksmanship on my centerfire rifles has improved. I believe it is due to the lightness of the set triggers on the black powder rifles forcing me to improve my techniques.
  7. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Well-Known Member

    It's not the light trigger pull so much as learning to compensate for the slower lock time of a flinter contributing to the improvement of your centerfire shooting. To shoot a flintlock well requires you to master follow-through, which translates into better shooting with percussion or modern arms. You'll see the same effect if you do a lot of practice with an air rifle.
  8. EljaySL

    EljaySL Well-Known Member

    I did one of the Lyman Great Plains Pistol kits recently and it was pretty straightforward, good instructions, and having watched the duelist videos helped. Very time consuming even with the pistol, though, and obviously there's just that much more material to deal with on the rifle.

    Oh, and I think Dave's right on the followthrough but there's a secondary issue which is that people really tend to aim and generally focus when shooting black powder because each shot really counts.
  9. BlackNet

    BlackNet Well-Known Member

    Lyman is a good kit and not a bad starter.

    I would urge you to move up from .36 to .45. Reason is smaller the caliber (diameter) the more fouling will jam it up and the less shots you can shoot before having to clean it.

    20 gauge is very good to shoot and all but I would urge 12 gauge if possible.

    If you are in a hurry to get out and punch holes then get the finished product, they tend not to be that much more $. If your goal is to learn more about that rifle first then get the kit, pedersoli kits are fantastic as is the great plains. I would stay away from some of the more advanced kits when starting off.
  10. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the input on the Lyman kits. Just the sort of first hand info I was looking for.

    Good point. The thing is I'm looking at the .36 cal for a "squirrel" gun, and .45 seems a bit overkill for that?

    The thing is, I want a Trade Gun, not a Shot Gun and I don't think anyone makes a Trade Gun in 12 gauge. For all of these choices, The the history and romance of these particular types of muzzle loaders is more important to me than pure efficiency as hunting weapons. The old Trade Guns were multi-purpose guns intended for both shot and round ball. Also, I thought to use the gun with shot mainly for squirrels or rabbit. I find 20 gauge plenty good for them with modern cartridge shotguns so I figured the same would go with a muzzle loader? Plus, if I do use it for deer .62 cal round balls should be plenty at reasonable smooth bore range.

    Good point. I guess I really need to decide if I'm just looking at kits to save a few bucks, or if I really want the challenge of building my own gun?

    Thanks again for the feedback. :)

    Sent from my KFJWI using Tapatalk HD
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  11. boommer

    boommer Well-Known Member

    The Lyman kits are are a piece of cake, but I see your sitting on the fence so !! .just go buy one. NO kit just snaps together.
  12. Nunki

    Nunki Member

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
  13. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Well-Known Member

    The Lyman and Cabelas kits are both made by Investarms. They are easy to build, well made kits. A .45 caliber Hawken from Cabelas is my favorite BP rifle. I don't think its too big for squirrel. You should be taking head shots anyway. Most of the squirrels I have killed were head shots.

    When I bought my Cabelas hawkens the kits cost $129.00. Its been a long time ago. Now the kits cost way more than the finished rifles used to cost. You could always buy a finished Cabelas hawken on Gunbroker and strip it down and refinish the stock and brown the metal. I have done that a couple of times. I bet you can find a finished gun for less than the kit cost.

    And don't worry about the 1/48 twist. They shoot fine. If you go from a round ball to a heavier conical you will have to adjust for the additional bullet drop.
  14. mdauben

    mdauben Well-Known Member

    That's the way I'm leaning now. Just waiting for that refund check from the IRS! I realize, too, that any kit is going to require some work, some filing and sanding don't bother me. I just don't want to order something that's going to take a machine shop to put together!

    This is true, so maybe I should rethink going with the .36 cal rifle and go .45 cal to avoid the fouling hassles if/when I get the full stock Kentucky/Pennsylvania style rifle?

    Eh, but why compromise when I know I don't want a gun that shoots conical bullets, and the Lyman with is 60", round ball friendly twist rate is easily available? Plus I prefer the look of the more historical iron furniture on the Lyman GPR as opposed to the brass furniture on the Cabela's Hawken.

    Thanks for the suggestions, though! I really appreciate them. :)
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  15. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Well-Known Member

    Mike if you don't want to shoot conicals and prefer a 1/60 twist thats fine. By the way my Lyman shoots conicals pretty darn good with a 1/60 twist. And IIRC the 58 caliber civil war muskets all had a 1/60 twist and did pretty darn good at slinging those long bullets with excellent accuracy. Anyway the Lyman GP Rifle is a fine gun.

    Internet rumors that tell you a 1/48 is just not good for anything is wrong. Its like the rumor that you can't use petroleum products with your BP rifle. I have been using patches lubed with water soluable oil for over 20 years with no problems and no rust. I also use the same WS oil to clean my guns. BP fowling just wipes off and the water evaporates and leaves a thin film of oil in the bore and on the outside of the metal parts. But some people will tell you this won't work even though they have never tried it.

    I beleive Dixie sells the same thing labeled "Moose Milk".

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