Skip to comments..58 Caliber Flintlock
Posted on 03/14/2019 4:44:43 AM PDT by w1n1
It wasn't the game that the author expected to take with it, but his big .58-caliber flintlock still performed well in the woods.
Let me begin this tale by reviewing some background and a few technicalities. The rifle that is the real centerpiece of this story is a .58-caliber flintlock, in the fullstock Hawken style. That was the last rifle made for me by the late Dave Dolliver. It was my second .58-caliber rifle, but compared to some of the other muzzleloading calibers, I had very little experience with the .58s. Getting more experience with the .58s was something I did set out to do and when that experience came, it came in good measures. The design for this rifle came from two original Hawkens, which are both featured in John Bairds book, Hawken Rifles: The Mountain Man's Choice. From the lock to the muzzle, it copies an original full stock Hawken that has a 39-inch barrel. From the lock to the butt plate, my new rifle follows the lines of the Modena Hawken and the Modena-style patch box is included. There is one difference, however.
While both of these originals are percussion rifles, my gun is a flintlock. No original Hawken mountain rifles have been found with flintlock ignition, but I do believe some were made.
This rifle was finished in late summer, now more than a few years ago. Then it was taken to the range to be sighted-in and that took just a few shots. Id fire a group of three shots, then file down the front sight to bring up the point of impact. That was repeated five times and with just 15 shots fired, the rifle was hitting very close to center at 25 yards. Then it was tried at 50 yards with the powder charge raised from 60 grains (which was used at 25 yards) to 80 grains. The target at 50 yards was very good too.
THE NEXT WEEK was spent camped with Les Miller high in central Washington states Cowiche, on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains, looking for deer and elk, during the early season. There was plenty of meat taken by other camps but that kind of luck just didnt shine on me. However, I did make one rather good and lucky shot.
That took place on Thursday, our fifth day of hunting. It looked like wed have a dry day, unlike previous ones with rain and snow. In the morning I grabbed the .58-caliber Hawken and headed out to a favorite ridge where I could sit and just watch the hillside below.
Les was going into the canyon with hopes of making something move for me. I picked a good sitting spot, but the wind shifted so I moved. At my new spot I caught a glimpse of what looked like a dark, round critter running downhill, away from me. Read the rest of 58 caliber muzzleloader.
I’m glad he enjoyed his remade antique.
When did percussion caps become reliable enough to replace flintlocks for private rifles and pistols? When did the military armeries begin issuing them?
Rough guess, I’d say around the late-1840s. The US Army fielded the 1841 percussion “Mississippi Rifle” as it’s first cap/ball rifle.
By the time of the Civil War in the 1860s, all armies over the world were using percussion locks or variations thereof. Which to me would seem that it had been perfected as a viable system over the course of the years in between 40s and 60s.
I have a Thompson Center 58 cal that is roughly the Hawken style which is percussion. My heaviest load is a 600+ grain bullet patterned after a Civil War bullet. This thing kicks quite hard with 120 grains of 2F.
It’s also reasonably accurate at 100 yards with a patched round ball. True black powder percussion or flint ignition muzzle loading weapons are fun to play with.
I totally despise this modern crap made for hunting.
I recalled the “personal” percussion caps CS Forester’s Napoleonic Wars Royal Navy (fictional) hero Hornblower’s percussion cap pistols as a private purchased, matched set - but Forester deliberately wrote about them as “new” and “very expensive” . But very reliable.
As for reproduction flintlocks, I'd recommend a former client of mine, Matt Avent, of Tennessee Valley Arms in Natchez, who makes an exquisite Tennessee and Kentucky flintlock. He made a left handed version for me that is a work of art in 54 caliber.
No doubt. There were thousands of them still available and in use. But the percussion lock was the already the standard issue.... And soon to be replaced by all-in-one metallic cartridges... like the Henry, Spencer, etc. used.
I’ve got two Hawken rifles, one perc in .54, one flintlock in .50. Love shooting black powder. Such a nice BOOM and wonderful cloud of smoke.
TC Hawken .54cal smokepole shoots a 540grn maxi-ball with 110 gns of Pyrodex and they all stay on a paper plate at 100yards. Devastating firearm thats pure pleasure to shoot. One shot kill on everything.
Rifle, or musket?
If its all Nappy time, thats a bit bogus. They only just started developing then and still would not be prevalent for a few decades.
I don’t recall reading percussion locks being around during the wars with Bonaparte; Although Wiki says it was developed “around 1820”, they wouldn’t have been around in any kind of large numbers until well into the 1830s. I know the “Mountain Men” through the 1840s loved them.
Bonaparte’s war was from the 1804 through about 1815. He died in 1821. So Forester could have been just using artistic license.
Here’s something interesting - Lewis and Clark had AIR RIFLES with them on their expedition, 1804 through 1806. Girandoni air rifles accompanied them, and they were by all accounts damned fine weapons.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.