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Anybody hunt with a Northwest Trade Gun?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by DutchmanDick, Mar 24, 2009.

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  1. DutchmanDick

    DutchmanDick Member

    Sep 3, 2006
    Well, I'm buying a kit gun for the first time in many, many years. It's a Northwest Trade Gun from Sitting Fox Custom Muzzleloaders, 20 gauge, with a 36" barrel (and flintlock, of course). This gun will be several firsts for me: first flintlock kit I've built, first muzzle-loading smooth bore I've built, and largest caliber muzzle loader I will own (the second largest is my Nepalese P1853 Enfield from IMA). I'd like to use the gun for black powder season. Has anybody else in this group used a similar gun for hunting, and were you satisfied with the results? I know being a smooth bore I don't want to shoot more than 50-75 yards. I'll be using a .600 patched ball and (most likely) 60 grains KIK FFg black powder, BTW.
  2. arcticap

    arcticap Member

    Mar 20, 2005
    Central Connecticut
    Good for you! :)
    Smoothbores are a ton of fun to shoot and are very versatile.
    The type of sight your gun will have on it will probably present the most challenging aspect of shooting and getting accustomed to your new rig once it's built.
    Some of the folks over on the muzzle loading forum do shoot and hunt with the larger smoothbores and as you can already imagine it's going to deliver a wallop to the game animal!
    The MLF has sub-forums dedicated to shooting smoothbores, flintlocks, gun building and traditional hunting.
    But some of their forums do require pre-registration just to view them. So follow my personal referral link for free registration if you're not already a member there. You'll be glad that you did.


    And please keep us informed on the progress of building your Sitting Fox kit.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  3. Macmac

    Macmac Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    New Hampshire
    yup, I have one I bought as a kit in 86 from Curly Gustomski, who has passed to the happy hunting grounds... It came with a full scale plan, which I still have somewhere.

    It wasn't a finished in the white kit ready to stain and mount either, and it took me 9 months of tinkering to carve and assemble.

    I carved acorns and oak leaves in different places, but this is the only piture I ever took of it so far.

    I mix and match loadings in real FFg Goex powder to suit the tasks. For hinting deer with one .600 ball it eats 80 grains of FFg. For bench swept shot it eats mixed sizes of shot from a real antique Irish Snake charger I made a new leather tube for, which can varry shot loading amounts, and usually 60 grains of powder does that well enough to put birds in the oven.

    Once I took a deer and somehow lost my knife, which that day was just my patch knife, so i skinned and gutted the deer with the flint. That worked as well as any knife anyway, so I was put out much.

    Sometimes I use it for starting fire, and if it is loaded I stuff what's left of a feather in the vent, and use no powder at all, just a pinch of char cloth or touch wood if I happen to have any in my possibles.

    It rains all the time in NH unless it is snowing, and so far this gun just works..

    The English stock makes it something of a mule butt kicking SOB, but you can get used to it. The worst of that comes when you forgot you loaded it and go and load it again.. :scrutiny:

    I did saw and file cut a rear dovetail for a rear sight, and so at events can't use any rear site, which caused me to make a spacer to fill the void when no rear sight is mounted of sterling silver.

    Also I tossed out the steel ft site as ugly and made a sterling acron and added a blade to that which is soldered on.

    The hardest part of the hit is soldering the "T" tabs on and inletting, then drilling for the pins. Take your good time there to make sure you will drill thru the stock and the tabs the first time.

    I did, but have repaird guns like these for others who missed. That taught me how to braze on a soldered joint and not melt the solder, but it is a little tricky to heat sink off the heat and still get brass to flow.

    Once the pin holes are drilled in the tabs, matching the wood it is a good idea to oval or elongate these holes fore and aft, which will prevent bending the pins and damaging the stock in recoil.

    Another tip is to make a brown paper bag gasket at the breech end. This is easy to do. You trim down a papaer bag so it is longer than the lock mortice, and lay it in the breech channel of the stock, leaving the paper wider than you need..

    Once you are ready to install the barrel again, wet the stick and the paper with boiled linseed oil and press the stock in. Install the tang screw, and the barrel pins and with a razor blade cut away any paper left hanging out.

    The very last step in making the gun is drilling the touch hole. Make sure to mark the ram rod with the gun empty and compare that marking to the pan, to make sure the breech block is back far enough.

    Then make sure your drill bites in higher than the bottom of the pan, so the hole is up a fair ways.. better than 1/8th up from the taper in the pan. Higher if the frizzen will allow it. This helps keep the priming from laying along side the vent, which if this occurs slows the firing a lot.

    My Nor' West gun will go off if held upside down, before the prime can fall away.

    Other notes are to drill for the butt plate nails before you go and drive them.

    One tool you will want and is easy to make is a 1 inch wide flat file, a common bastard file, but you won't be filing with it so it can be old and rusty, clogged up and nearly useless. First gring the working end to a rounder shape, then heat that tip red hot and bend it to almost 90 degrees... You will have ruined the temper, but for the job it does it won't need to be tempered again. Then grind the rounded end on a step bevel of at least 60 degrees, and you just made a stock scraper which is used to woden and deepen the barrel channel in the stock.

    A candle helps to blacken the barrel and show where the stock has any high spots, which you use that same tool to scrape off wood.

    If the hit has walnut it is a medium hard wood, and the straight grain is easy to mess up in the dragon side 1/2 way inletting you will do, so again take the time to cut deep and sliver way easy.

    You can expect the forward lock screw to mess up the fitting of the ram rod. Since you can't see and measuring inside the area is all but impossible i use a bit of candle wax, stuck to the ram rod and smoked in a candle to 'gauge' the area the screw is, where I can't see, and file a 'U' notch in the screw.

    Some people file that U notch all the way around the screw, but I don't like the idea much. That makes it very easy to break off that screw.

    The ram rod must be pulled out of the stock anyway before the lock screw can be removed.

    If for any reason the ram rod hole isn't drilled already take great pains to get what ever you add to a electricaians bit to be all dead straight. Any wobble at all will drill off center and there is no telling where that will be!
  4. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

    Jul 26, 2004
    I built mine over twenty years ago using a 24 guage Gostomski barrel and small parts, a Ketland lock, and a maple blank.
    It started out as a 36" barrel and I have since cut it back to 30" for better handling and swing but alas, it did not improve my ability to hit birds to any great degree.

    I have killed two deer and many squirrels and rabbits.
    Not so good for shooting flying but I did manage to take down one low flying quail with this gun.

    24 guage equals .58 caliber and this gun does well with a .562 round ball with 75 grains of FFG.
    I use an overpowder wad and old blue jean material for patching.
    I won't shoot past about 70 yards but up to that range the ball will stay on a paper plate target.

    60 grains of FFG, two overpowder wads, an ounce of #5 shot and a card wad to hold everything in place works well for upland game and trying to shoot things that are flying through the air.
    Even cut down, the barrel still well peppers the paper plate targets to 40 yards so my missing at flying things isn't the guns fault.
    Curly knew how to make a barrel.

    The lock went south on this gun a couple years back and I am planning to replace it with a more correct rounded plate trade gun lock but I just havent got around to it yet.
  5. DutchmanDick

    DutchmanDick Member

    Sep 3, 2006
    Thanks, all! Since I live in an apartment and have limited "workshop" facilities available, I opted to have the maple stock pre-inletted for the barrel and lock. The seller is also soldering on the barrel tennons and a "turtle" front sight, installing the breechplug, and drilling and tapping the lock (which is the period-correct rounded type, BTW). All I should have to do is minor inletting of the barrel tang and finishing and assembly (I could have opted for an already assembled "in the white" gun, but I wanted to do at least some of the work myself, and it would have been about $100 more anyway). I'm really looking forward to this project! :D
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