Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Rifle, part 1

I've recently become interested in shooting black powder rifles. I ordered a flintlock rifle kit recently. The parts and stock are inspired by rifles common in Virginia around 1750. I ordered a 42" .45 caliber barrel and an extra curly maple stock. Think of it as "pimp my flintlock..."

Today the kit showed up, well packaged in a wood-reinforced cardboard box.

So, let's tear into the box and see what we have.

Here's the butt plate and trigger guard - they're cast brass and require filing and buffing. The trigger guard is 10" long.

Here's the lock and the trigger. The lock is a large Siler model, well known for reliability. For righties, the lock is mounted on the right side of the rifle. So you're seeing the bits here that will be inside the stock.
This style of trigger is called a "set trigger." Flintlock springs are designed to be very stiff so they act quickly to fire the rifle. This means it takes quite a pull to overcome them and release the lock mechanism. Here's the beauty of a set trigger: the rear trigger is pulled first. It does most of the work of firing the rifle. You pull the this trigger once you're pretty sure you're going to be shooting. The front trigger, having been relieved of most of the work, is now a hair trigger. It's easy to underestimate how delicate the front trigger can be. Most people fire their first shot pretty much accidentally. I know I did.

And now some bits, and another view of the lock.

The brass bits on top decorate the end of the barrel or retain the ram rod. To their right are the front and rear sights. The decoratively sawn brass bit is bolted to the left side of the rifle, opposite the lock. It's a glorified washer. The square piece of brass will be shaped a bit and screwed to the sharp end of the butt to prevent the stock from getting dinged up. The L-shaped doodad next to it is the breech plug. It screws into the barrel to close the end you don't normally see.

Here's a closer view of the right side of the lock.

Now here are some views of the stock. It's a block of wood. I have to remove and sculpt a lot of wood. I bet half the wood you see here will be gone when the rifle is completed. It's going to be... an adventure. Of course, that's why I bought a kit. Note the figure in the wood. When I get this done it should shimmer.

Here's the stock with the octagonal barrel in place. The barrel is .45 caliber and rifled for a lead ball. It's just under an inch thick and 42" long. I'll likely be wishing for a 36" barrel after a day of shooting...

Here's an end-on of the stock. The barrel will protrude from the end of the stock by about an inch. The stock is something like 56" long.

And from the side. The rifle is as long as my dining room table. Doesn't have to be, but that's the style.

I'm a member of a club for blackpowder enthusiasts. One of the members is an excellent gun maker. He'll be more than happy to give me a hand when I get stuck. It helps too that he has an early Virginia rifle - I can take measurements from it.

Stay tuned, this will be a long project.

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