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Old July 23, 2014, 08:54 PM   #1
Cooldill
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Hawken rifle?

Hello all!

Well it's come time for my to get my first muzzle loading rifle. I've been looking at my options, at first I was going to get a Pedersoli Springfield 1861 rifled musket. However, after seeing the price of .58 Minie balls and round balls, I started to frown a little bit on the inside. Couple that with the lack of availability of musket caps in my region, and the frowns continued.

However, after a good deal of research, I came to learn about the Hawken rifle and how it was used by early settlers out west. So I start my quest to find a Hawken style rifle that might suit me, and I come across this:

http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Catego...LYMAN-GPR-54-P

It is just what I'm wanting. I plan to use this gun for simple target practice and plinking fun, and maybe deer hunting. I like the fact that it takes .54 round balls, as I've found these are much cheaper to buy than .58 Minie balls (which is what I'd want to shoot in the 1861 Springfield). Also, it takes percussion caps instead of musket caps which is a good thing as well.

I have some quesitons though, as this is my first muzzleloading rifle.

1: The double set triggers- do you have to pull both triggers to fire the gun, or can you just pull the front trigger and have a longer trigger pull?

2: Is this a good choice for a beginning muzzleloader target/plinking shooter who is interested in traditional style guns, NOT modern inline guns?

3: How much powder can this rifle take? What velocities and energy levels can I expect with a max loaded round ball? Is this gun powerful enough to hunt deer?

4: As far as history goes, were Hawken rifles used as defensive/combat weapons, such as for fighting indians, or are these purely hunting rifles?

These are all the quesitons I can think of at this time, but if I can think of any more I'll put them here. Thank you so much for helping me on my quest to becoming a muzzleloading shooter!
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Old July 23, 2014, 09:24 PM   #2
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1. You can pull just the front trigger and drop the hammer, it will be heavier and longer though. When using the set trigger, you get an excellent pull though.

2. This is a perfect muzzleloader to start with, easy to strip and clean and very strong.

3. I haven't tried to push the limits with mine, but it takes deer and shoots very accurate with 100g of BP using a maxi-ball. what more could you want?

4. I cant really help you with this much but I would assume, when under attack, they used what ever they had close.
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Old July 23, 2014, 09:24 PM   #3
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Even at .45 caliber, there's plenty of energy in round ball to kill a deer, as long as you keep your shots inside a reasonable distance. A .54 anchors elk without much trouble. I use my Thompson-Center Hawken (which doesn't really resemble a Hawken, but that's another bullet point altogether.....) for target shooting, plinking, and all game from bunnies to elk. A trapper carrying one in the Rockies during the Fur Trade era would have employed his Hawken for the same tasks, as well as fighting. I got mine in 1980, and I still use it frequently. It was good choice for me as a beginner, and remains a trusted tool.

Though I have loaded some really dumb charges of powder in mine, you'll probably find that around 100 grains or so will be where you are creating noise, smoke, and recoil you don't need. My hunting load is a .018 ticking patch, a .535 ball and 105 gr. of FFg black powder.

Double-set triggers found on most commercial muzzleloaders are the double-phase variety; this means that when the rear trigger is pulled firmly, it ''sets'' the front trigger for a very light, crisp pull. You can also choose to bypass the rear trigger, and fire the rifle with the front trigger alone, though of course the pull will be longer and heavier.
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Old July 23, 2014, 10:19 PM   #4
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I also have a TC hawken. Mine is in .45 and shoots very well. With balls I stop at 85gr (volumetric measure) of 777 and with sabots I stop at 100gr. It's a deer getter for sure. My CVA hawken replica...not so much the shooter. It's a .50 and I tend to ignore it because everybody and their brother use a .50. I like being different. The set triggers are awesome. I wish I had a cartridge gun with a set trigger setup. That trigger gets credit for accuracy as much as the barrel does.
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Old July 23, 2014, 10:28 PM   #5
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The one you've link has a 1 in 60 twist, a very slow twist rate and better suited for a patched round ball.

The Lyman GPR is a great rifle, always has been. They are very forgiving and built tough for someone who has never had a black powder rifle before. Plus, its a great lookin rifle!!!!! On one hunting show I was watching, they hunted WT deer, mule deer, elk, and even bison with a 54 caliber GPR.


And yes, historically they were used for everything to kill and defend out in the old west.

Last edited by Crawdad1; July 24, 2014 at 07:59 AM.
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Old July 23, 2014, 10:34 PM   #6
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Go with a lyman great plains rifle in .54cal all the ones I had were excellent shooters. I built all of mine from kits.


Another,


And another LOL


This one though was my most favorite i built from the lyman kit




The 54cal muzzle loader with simple patched round ball and anywhere from 80 to 110gr 2f black powder will easily kill deer,bear and elk.

To answer #4 question, they were used for both, hunting and protection.

Read/look through here. Plenty of videos as well.
http://patchnball.blogspot.com/
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Old July 23, 2014, 10:46 PM   #7
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See Cooldill, they are beautiful rifles. Both in function and form.
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Old July 23, 2014, 10:57 PM   #8
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Very nice builds frontier!
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Old July 23, 2014, 11:53 PM   #9
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Alright you guys, I'm pretty much shaking with anticipation for a Hawken!

After further research, I'm pretty much set on the Lyman brand in .54 caliber, percussion model.

However, I'm kind of stuck between two different rifles they offer. One is the GPR I mentioned in my OP, and the other is the shorter "trade rifle" Lyman sells that has a 28" bbl and a single trigger. It is cheaper than the GPR. Here is a link:

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/106...28-barrel-blue

What type of gun, if any, is this rifle modeled after? I know the GPR is modelled on the Hawken rifles, but is this "trade rifle" a fairly close representation of an actual historical analog?

Oh, and I guess I didn't clarify but I do in fact want to shoot round balls mostly in the Hawken, I only wanted to shoot Minie balls in the 1861 rifle musket because well... it's only the right thing to do! But, with .54 round balls and a full charge of powder, how far can the Hawken still cleanly take a deer?

Thanks again, sorry for so many questions! I'm such a newbie!
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Old July 24, 2014, 12:22 AM   #10
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125 yds is well within reason if you can place it where it needs to be. It can do more, but takes a very good shooter, which brings up ethics I often see. Check it out on a ballistics calculator and you'll see.
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Old July 24, 2014, 12:35 AM   #11
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Frontier,
Some beautiful pictures there! I think I know what my next purchase may be!
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Old July 24, 2014, 01:15 AM   #12
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they dont show up often but when you find them used here they are cheap, in the 100 to 150 dollar range for the TC hawken.
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Old July 24, 2014, 07:20 AM   #13
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OK well first, the TC "Hawken" and the Lyman "trade gun" and the "Great Plains Rifle" are all made in the plains rifle style... they are not really patterned after any historic rifle.

Now IF you are going to 100 yards and beyond that a bit... you want the longer barrel model. The longer barrel gives you more distance between front and rear sight, AND you may want to order a thinner front sight blade from Track of The Wolf and replace the factory front sight. This will give you more precision at longer ranges. After you've shot it a bit, you may also want to consider a tang mounted, peep sight...

70 grains of powder and higher will allow you to reach out and take deer at 100 yards, and a bit farther. My farthest shot with that load and a 38" barrelled long rifle was 110 yards, and the .530 ball went through a very large doe that was hit broadside.

80-90 grains should be enough for you to drop an elk hit broadside at 100 yards. Frankly, I think more than that in a plains style rifle, and you are simply adding smoke and fire to the atmosphere. Some folks up the powder beyond 90 grains when (imho) if they are worried about penetration and performance should try switching to round ball made from an alloy like wheel weights... harder alloy deforms less and tends to go deeper, but you have to adjust your patch and sometimes the size of the ball when using an alloy vs. all lead.

Don't worry too much about deformation..., a .530 hole is just fine (heck a .490 hole is fine for elk, a .440 hole is just fine for deer) but what you want is either to take out both lungs, and come out the other side (two holes = better) or to go through a shoulder with a shot that's 45 degrees or so off the front of the animal, destroy the shoulder and also smack the spine.

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Old July 24, 2014, 08:48 AM   #14
Dmitri Popov
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Firstly, don't let the Sprinfields Minie ball scare you away from it. Truthfully if you are thinking about it OR the GPR in .54, you also need to consider casting your own. After initial investment in equipment (can be as low as ~$60) you'll be able to produce ammo for practically nothing. A Springfield, Zouave, Mississippi, etc. would all be good, very authentic (N-SSA approved) options that are more than accurate enough for deer, seeing as competitors from around the country use these at Skirmishes, and can do well.

Set trigger is the way to go for accuracy. Pull the rear trigger til it clicks, then pull the front til it booms! The front trigger pull should be VERY light in comparison to the rear, and will greatly aif in accuracy.

All that being said, the GPR should be an accurate, fun rifle.
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Old July 24, 2014, 10:17 AM   #15
Cooldill
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Well I've been having second thoughts about the Springfiel 1861. The rifle is simply too long and musket caps have been impossible for me to find. No bueno.

So the GPR is not based on any historic design? That kind of a bummer! I thought it was modeled after the Hawken rifle but with modern upgrades?
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Old July 24, 2014, 11:45 AM   #16
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gpr

The Lyman rifle - the GPR - is, arguably, the best buy in MLing.
If percussion caps are difficult to locate (or if they become so) may I suggest considering a flintlock.
Easy to use.....buy one powder (FFFg) for use as the main charge and the priming charge.
Buy a bunch of quality flints and you are good to go. Flintlocks may have a slightly different learning curve than cap locks but that difference is marginal.
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Old July 24, 2014, 12:03 PM   #17
Cooldill
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Sounds good,

Hey everyone, do they make a Lyman great plains rifle in .54 that has the proper twist rate for shooting BOTH round balls and conicals? I know the link in my OP has the rifle set up with a 1:60 twist which is for round balls. I'll be shooting mostly round balls but want to also use conicals for longer range and possible hunting.

Thanks again!
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Old July 24, 2014, 12:24 PM   #18
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They work well as decoration too

These need to excercize.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg image.jpg (54.7 KB, 16 views)
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Old July 24, 2014, 12:54 PM   #19
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A shooting buddy of mine has exactly the Lyman percussion cap .54 that you are considering. He's also hunted with it.

Up until recently when he opted to try shooting honest to gosh black powder he had used it with 80gns of Pyrodex RS loose powder behind a patched .530 ball. It was silly accurate with the Pyrodex. But he's going to need to double check on paper before he uses it with the 2fg black powder since it's a little off now. The Pyrodex load is also the load he said he used to take down deer on a regular basis.

You CAN shoot it with only the front trigger. But instead of being longer it's actually heavier. A LOT heavier. So it's worth taking the time to set the rear trigger and get the lighter and more accurate front release.

As for round ball vs minie and size availability issues the answer is simple. Get a mold, a cheap Lee lead pot and start casting your own. With what they want for round ball these days anyway it's not really an option. It's silly how much they are asking for a box of 100 up this way. I can buy LOADED 9mm for a third to half less! ! ! !
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Old July 24, 2014, 03:19 PM   #20
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Yes, I agree!

I've been thinking about ordering the pure lead from Buffalo Arms and getting the flat rate 60 lbs USPS shipping. I figured that I can cast .58 Minie balls for 16 cents a piece this way, instead of paying about 60 cents a piece for store bought Minie balls.

The only issue... I live in a tiny studio apartment in the city and have absolutely nowhere to cast lead. I am getting ready to move in September though, and am wanting to find a place with a back porch or back yard. Then I probably will take up casting!

As for now though, an 1861 Springfield would be too darn long. I cannot find a case that will fit the gun that's not under $300 dollars. Also... the issue finding musket caps... ANY musket caps!

I like the Hawken because it's shorter, and takes percussion caps and is also historic. I know the GPR isn't 100% historically accurate, but isn't it pretty close to the Hawken as far as looks?
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Old July 24, 2014, 04:29 PM   #21
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you dont need a minie ball to kill deer. The 54cal will do everything from deer to elk to bison. You need to pay more attention to load development and your own shooting stills.

My go to gun is my 58cal CVA Hawken I put together. I've gone through it pretty good with polishing the lock internals, triggers, bedded the tang,trigger plate and rear section of the barrel for a perfect fit with no weak spots. Added new sights that work for my eye sight, trigger is under 2lbs. It has a 32" 1:66 twist barrel on it. Its almost 9lbs but worth every ounce!
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Old July 24, 2014, 04:46 PM   #22
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TC's Hawkens and Renegades are typically rifles with a 1:48" twist that makes a decent compromise for someone who wants to shoot balls and conicals. It may not give you raggedy-hole groups with either one once you move into the heavier hunting charges, but it will hit where you want it to. I've never had a deer, with its dying breath, tell me that I'd have killed it cleaner if only my round ball had come out of a barrel with a 1:66" pitch.....
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Old July 24, 2014, 05:19 PM   #23
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The J&S Hawken was just one of many very good "Plains rifles" that were built by many excellent builders. I guarantee you Colldill when most people see that GPR of yours they're going to say, "Nice Hawken rifle."

Get this book, its lists all of the great builders of the plains rifle that were used out west that were considered just as good as the J&S Hawken rifle.

Its;

"The Hawken Rifle, Its Place in History" by Charles E. Hanson Jr.
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Old July 24, 2014, 05:55 PM   #24
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Quote:
1: The double set triggers- do you have to pull both triggers to fire the gun, or can you just pull the front trigger and have a longer trigger pull?

2: Is this a good choice for a beginning muzzleloader target/plinking shooter who is interested in traditional style guns, NOT modern inline guns?

3: How much powder can this rifle take? What velocities and energy levels can I expect with a max loaded round ball? Is this gun powerful enough to hunt deer?

4: As far as history goes, were Hawken rifles used as defensive/combat weapons, such as for fighting indians, or are these purely hunting rifles?
1. As said above, generally pull the back trigger to "set" the front; which is usually adjustable, from a few ounces to a couple lbs. Unset my trigger is ~7-˝ lbs, set it's a couple of ounces.

2. I hope so, I started w/a TC Hawken and quickly went to a more traditional gun. 1-66 twist & .53 caliber, an exact copy of a J&S Hawken in a Santa Fe museum. I've never felt the need to replace it in the 40 years I've had it.

3. Never chrono'd either of my loads. But my pet loads are 50grs 2F under a .526 ball wrapped in a .010 spit patch for target work to 50 yards, and 100 grs of 2F w/a .520 ball & .018 lubed patch for hunting or greater than 100 yard targets.

4. Yes. Good 'nough for Grizzly bear, good enough for defensive work. In the days when your enemy, at best, had bow & arrows; nowadays, not so much!

Now to twists... IMO, decide what you want to shoot, those 1-48 or 1-56 twists are a compromise; at best I'll allow as they'll shoot mini's betteer'n a 1-66 and RBs better tha a 1-34... adequate ain't good enough in my book. My Hawken will consistently ring an 18" gong @ 500 yards witth the same load as I use for 100. Just point out which bush I need to aim at! I run out of rear sight LONG before my load runs outta steam!

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Old July 24, 2014, 06:22 PM   #25
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Cabela's Hawken is built by Investarms, great fit and finish and shoots well. Mine's a "hunter carbine", not real period look, but they sell the brass furniture, butt plate models to the purists. Buddy of mine bought one when I bought my hunter carbine, was 20 years ago. Mine's rifled 1:24, minie balls work and sabots. His is more versatile with a 1:48 twist and he could put 3 rounds of patched ball into 2" at 100 yards. I get about that with a 385 grain Hornady Great Plains bullet and 90 grains of Pyrodex RS.

I'm not sure Cabelas even offers the Investarms gun, anymore, though. I went there and couldn't find it. Found a traditional Hawken, though, built by Petrizoli for about 500. Had a flinter for 50 bucks more.

As for the cost of ball or minie ball....

http://www.midwayusa.com/find?userSe...ound+ball+mold
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