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Author Topic: Full Stock Hawken Kit  (Read 7098 times)
digger
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« on: May 22, 2010, 05:38:31 PM »

I am interested in building a flinter in .58 that would have been in the west in the 1820's or 30's. I really like the full stock hawken looks. TOW has a rwally nice looking kit, but I am hearing mixed reviews from friends. Can I get some suggestions from all of you to help me with a kit? It will be my first build, so most of the inletting, dovetails, etc. should be done but I have a few really good gunbuilders nearby for help. I have a really nice Leman in .50 already, just looking for something earlier and in a bigger caliber. Maybe 38"-40" barrel as well.
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skillman
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« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2010, 07:04:37 PM »

  In my opinion you can build a fine gun from their parts. I would use a stock thay didn't have the lock inletted. This way you can get the lock in the right place for the vent.

Skillman
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Steve Skillman
starrbow
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« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 08:36:03 PM »

I built a fullstock Hawken flinter in the early 1990's 58cal, 1"barrel 36" long. it balences nicely, and it isn't too muzzle heavy it weights right at 9.5Lbs, even though it carries and handles like a lighter weight rifle. A longer barrel may throw the balance off and be more muzzle heavy. I also have a Lancaster 58cal, 1" barrel that is 42" long and is darn muzzle heavy, I've had a notion to cut it down some.

Track of the wolfs fullstock Hawken stock is very nice, one of my pet peevs with hawken builds is the buttstock height, it needs to be at least 5" IMHO too many builders use to short of buttstock height or cut down the buttstock height to short and then it starts to look to much like a Leman.

Don Stith http://www.donstith.com/j_s_full_stock.html
also makes a great Hawken kits.
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Bill of the 45th
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 08:49:00 PM »

You should do a little more research, as to the time period, for 1820 to 1830, a Leman or Derringer would be more appropriate gun or even a trade gun.  You need to visit "The Museum of the Fur Trade" on line.  Most Hawken's are more 1830, and later, and are more tied to the Westward movement, and the supplying of the railroads with buffalo meat for the workers, not the fur trade.  As has been said Don Stith is the authority, and most correct supplier of these guns.

Bill
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« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 11:28:16 PM »

Hey Digger ... What starrbow said ... Don Stith .. hands down great materials. Just my 2 cents worth. Good luck with your build .. Bill
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D. Taylor Sapergia
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« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2010, 11:36:34 PM »

Another option is the JJ Henry trade rifles.  They are robust and reliable, and I believe authentic for the fur trade era.
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Chuck Burrows
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 12:41:40 AM »

Quote
You should do a little more research, as to the time period, for 1820 to 1830, a Leman or Derringer would be more appropriate gun or even a trade gun.
Actually Leman's first year in business was 1834 and his first western sales to suppliers was in 1841.

For the early part of the 1820-30 period either the later Lancaster style trade rifles as made by Dickert, Gumph, etc. (see Hanson's "The Hawken Rifle, it's place in history" for others suppliers) or the English style trade rifles were the most widely purchased by the western fur companies. Henry started selling to the western trade in 1826 and by 1830 he was the largest supplier of both Lancaster and English styles.
As noted Deringer was another supplier during the 1820-30 period especially to the western Indian trade.

The very earliest Jake Hawken's would have appeared circa 1818-1819, the earliest Sam Hawken's in 1822, and 1825 was the first year Sam & Jake Hawken combined forces. Their earliest rilfes from this period would have been still more of the eastern Maryland style they both learned, and only somewhat later - circa late 1820's, did the well known mountain rifle style begin to develop - what most consider the classic Hawken, either full or halfstock is at earliest a very late 1830's or early 1840's.

The TOTW Hawken kit is OK but is really a late 1830's-early 1840's style and even then is more of a generic mountain style rather than a copy. If you reaaly want to do it right do the research and for the best of the best kit currently available Don Stith is the man to talk with - not only will you get the correct parts set (for instance the flat to the wrist style trigger guard is considered by the most knowledgable students to be an 1840 style, not an early style), but he can also be very helpful in getting things right.

Quote
Track of the wolfs fullstock Hawken stock is very nice, one of my pet peevs with hawken builds is the buttstock height, it needs to be at least 5" IMHO too many builders use to short of buttstock height
FYI - of the known existing Hawken mountain rifles the average buttplate height is 4 1/2"-4 5/8".

Quote
Most Hawken's are more 1830, and later, and are more tied to the Westward movement, and the supplying of the railroads with buffalo meat for the workers, not the fur trade.
Well yes and no - the late halfstocks as built by Jake and Sam are of that era, but with new info since Hansons book (1983) we now know that in fact mountaineers such as Etienne Provost were carrying Hawken rifles as early as 1828-29, Kenneth MCKenzie, factor of Ft Union ordered two Hawkens in 1829 (along with a chainmail shirt), and trade lists of 1832, 1834, 1836, and 1837 all have Hawken rifles included and either in 1836 or 37 they out numbered those from other sources.
 
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Herb
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« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2010, 12:50:50 AM »

This is my last flint Hawken from TOW parts, which I got from another builder.  I need to reshape the lock panel closer to the lock.  1x36" barrel, hooked breech, 13 5/8" LOP, butt plate is 4.3" long.

My first fullstock flint Hawken, .58 caliber, flint beavertail tang, 14.5" LOP for a tall guy, butt plate 4.55" tall, 9 3/4 pounds.

Here the tall guy is working on hunting loads.

Same rifle of mine on left, Neill Fields Hawken on right, 14" LOP, 4.6" tall butt plate, .54, 9 3/4 pounds.

I like fullstock flint Hawkens, especially .58 calibers.  Go for it.
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Herb
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« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2010, 01:03:30 AM »

I agree with Starbow on the buttstock.  When you cut them to a reasonable length of pull, say 13.5",  they look like a damned canoe paddle.  Not enough depth to the stock.  Which is probably why people make them with a 14" LOP.  TOW has a caplock by Bergman for sale now with a 15 3/8" LOP!  Two more suggestions- do not use the hooked flint tang they list in the set of parts (Plug-LRF-16-3).  Its a lot of trouble for no good purpose.  Instead use the Hawken flint "beavertail tang" plug, Plug-BT-16-3, which screws into the end of the barrel and bolts to the stock.  If you just have to take the barrel out for cleaning (you don't do this with other FL barrels), use the Hawken 1" Flint breech and tang, with no extended "false breech" addition, Plug-FHG-16-3.  I used the false breech on my last one and had much trouble with ignition.  If you drill that powder cavity out to a larger diameter that may cure the problem, but the set up is still 1" longer and a couple of ounces heavier for no good reason.
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Herb
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« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2010, 01:14:45 AM »

Second suggestion- do not use the optional Hawken adjustable rear sight kit (RS#-HA).  It can only be zeroed for one loading combination at one range, or 1 or 2 more with a lot of trouble, is kind of shaky and not worth the trouble.  I really like the Manton & Ashmore lock (#Lock-LR-900).  If you avoid that false breech, call Track about the inletting before you order.  They do make a nice set of parts, I base that on having built 40 some ML rifles, I kind of lose track...

So if you want a flint Hawken, get one.  They are difficult to build, but the inletted stocks are good.  Probably half a dozen businesses supply them and they are not complicated.  As far as period correct, even Hawken authority Don Stith supplies one.  I like them, especially the .58s.  The 36" barrel is easy to handle, 9 3/4 pounds, but longer barrels are heavy, as Starbow said.
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Herb
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« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2010, 07:54:20 AM »

just call Dick at Pecatonica long rifle supply..
if your going to buy the TOW stock...
you can get a lot better piece of wood and cheaper too
thats where TOW gets their wood anyways,
ask Dick for a second,,they often have very good pieces
with very minor flaws..plus they are almost always in stock... Grin Grin
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Sean
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« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2010, 09:05:34 AM »

I agree with what Chuck said above.  If you really want and 1820-30's western fur trade rifle, do your research first.  Lots of folks get something they think is right and then find out later that it really isn't representative of the period or place.  

If you decide to go the PA trade rifle route, here are a few names of original builders to research who were active during the period pretty much in order of commonness during the period:

Henry (note: disregard the pictures of the iron-mounted gun as it is not really a Henry rifle)
Deringer
Tryon
Gumpf
Dickert Gill
Fordney
Gonter
Dickert

On the TOW Hawken kit, they are a reasonable choice, however the flat to the wrist guard dates to the 1840's and the buttplates on all of their Hawken kits are not correct.  The best choice out there is really Don Stith's parts set and it will do late 1830's very well.  An early Hawken beyond that is really a tough thing to do because a) there are few surviving examples and b) hardware may have to be made from scratch.

Finally, based on a lot of personal research on these guns, I do not believe a flint gun is unreasonable, but I do think they were scarce as hen's teeth.  The brother's seem to have gotten on to the caplock bandwagon very early and flint examples of J&S Hawkens are pretty much unknown.  The only pre-1840s flintlock that I can think of is the Maryland-looking Sam Hawken fullstock from Reisner's collection.  It is a brass-mounted longrifle that predates his work with Jake.  It is pictured in Hanson's book.  That rifle and the  'Peterson' rifle and the 'Atchison' rifle are the primary early Hawken pieces existing.
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digger
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« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2010, 09:12:04 AM »

GREAT INFO! Keep it coming fellas.
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Wyoming Mike
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« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2010, 09:50:37 AM »

I built one about four years ago.  I bought the barrel and the lock about 25 years ago and packed them around through a lot of moves.  When I retired I started looking around for the rest of the parts.  I got a good deal on a second pre-inlet stock from TOW so I got the rest of the parts from them.  I don't really like preinletted stocks but the price was right.  It is essentially what TOW offers for their kit.

It has a 36" x  1" x .58 GM barrel and an older Large English L&R.  It is a heavy rifle but hangs nice.  The only gripe I have with it is that the preinletted stock had the butt plate set at 13 5/8".  I prefer a 15" pull but can live with the shorter distance.  The rifle shoots great.  I generally win or place second in the big bore matches I get in and it won a turkey at a shoot last year.

If you are going with a longer barrel I would recommend a tapered barrel to keep balance with the longer barrel. 

I am also a big fan of the trade rifles others have mentioned.   A friend of mine just built a Tryon to spec for another fellow.  It was a .54 swamped barrel like the original and shot great.  You might want to look at those for a rifle that was carried by more people in the fur trade era.
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J. Dancy
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2010, 10:13:29 AM »

As to the Hawken rifles, were the larger bores such as a 58 common for their early guns? Seems I had read that around 50 was normal in the early Hawkens and bores got bigger in the later ones.
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J.D.
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« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2010, 01:36:48 PM »

Many Hawken barrels were tapered or lightly swamped. IMHO, a 38 " tapered 1"  to 13/16 or 3/4 in a  .58 barrel would hold real nice. 
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Dphariss
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« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2010, 12:11:06 AM »

There is a tremendous amount of supposition and some outright misinformation involved in early St Louis Hawken rifles.
This might rank as the same but somethings need to be considered before jumping to the conclusion that there were no Hawken rifles involved in the 1820s fur trade.

Such as:
1. Jake was a skilled gunmaker and partnered with another gunsmith shortly after his arrival is St Louis. So the argument that he did not set up shop right away does not wash. He apparently went right to work in the trade.

2. Sam was  a skilled gunmaker who had a business in Ohio when he moved to St Louis. By this time Jakes partner had died.
I would submit that maybe business was slow in Xenia and Jake wrote or visited and said St Louis is BOOMING. Otherwise why would Sam move? So he could dig ditches in St Louis? Doubtful. They were doing gun work, not street cleaning. Thinking 2 men of Jake and Sam's experience could find not gun work to do at the very hub of western expansion at the time is simply silly.

3. Both these events took place before the percussion system was all that popular, a decade before perhaps, since it was something less that reliable initially and once this gets around its not going to be popular with people going into what was extremely dangerous territory until well proven.

4. The fur companies ordered  flint guns to the exclusion of all else, or very nearly so, till the end of the beaver trade. So the flintlock did not simply vanish with the development of the percussion cap.

5. Again. Until well developed  apparently nobody was really enthused with the percussion system. In the first place finding caps in inventory in the fur company lists is difficult till near the end of the Rendezvous era. So how did some free trapper who did not return to St Louis get caps? Travel to Ft Hall perhaps?
Did they somehow not get written down? If so what else was available at rendezvous, for example, that didn’t get on the list?

George points out in "English Guns and Rifles" that while the English fowling piece switched to percussion virtually overnight the rifles lagged and the flint ignition rifle hung on longer. It is possible the early percussion caps were not consistent enough to give good accuracy (?).

So there HAD to be flint rifles made by the Hawkens in St Louis probably into the mid 1830s at least, there is a late FS Hawken rifle in the Smithsonian that was originally flint. A good flint gun is very reliable if properly cared for, the percussion has little advantage here. The idea that the early production in St Louis was anything *but* flint is simply unreasonable. They likely made more flints than percussions for some period of time. But we will never know when flints became less common than percussion.

The question of course is what did the rifles look like.
Initially they were surely Kentuckys.
But the scroll guard appeared on rifles  in England in the late 18th century and the rifles likely appeared in St Louis in the 1820s if not before perhaps even in percussion by the late 1820s. The Petersen rifle would date to early in the J&S partnership, it might be a 1820s percussion Plains Rifle.
George has a photo of a 6  bore rifle that from the lock forward is a ringer for a J&S or S Hawken 1/2 stock though a little large. The book is buried someplace or I would cite the page. IIRC there is a FS stock rifle English with a wooden patch box with a scroll guard on the same plate.
If someone wants to see a good example of a Hawken prototype rifle see the flintlock Tatham Indian rifles in Bailey's "British Military Flintlock  Rifles". Add a Americanized buttstock and a different forend cap (this rifle is somewhat atypical in this regard) and you have a 1/2 stock Hawken Plains rifle. This rifle style dates to at least the  1810s or 18teens in England and probably earlier, the Tatham's date to 1814-15. The lower grade Tatham’s were FS. So there is no reason to assume the 1/2 stock "Plains Rifle" was percussion like the Modena rifle or  the Petersen rifle. They could EASILY have been making Americanized English rifles (i.e. full blown Plains rifles) in flint and percussion by mid-late 1820s. The evolution from the American Kentucky to the 1/2 stock "Plains Rifle" could have taken place over the course of a week, or a day. Not 10-15 years.
The Hawkens took what they saw as a very efficient design, they added pretty early a long tang and a long trigger bar (horses are notoriously hard on guns) and a crescent buttplate. Take an 1800-1820s English rifle add a crescent butt stock. Poof! Hawken Plains Rifle. Some Hawken Plains rifles have single triggers.

A few more things. The Fur Companies did not buy high end guns. But INDIVIDUALS DID. See Ashleys large bore rifle was a .68-69 caliber, apparently a Hawken.  Why would someone of Ashley's position buy a Hawken rifle? Probably because they were very GOOD quality . He could afford anything he wanted. He bought a HAWKEN. SO they were not some unknown entity.
Why would he want a large bore rifle? Because you could kill anyone within 200+ yards of a keel boat with it (remember the "problem" with the Arikaras in 1823?
The fully evolved Hawken, circa the early 1830s(?) was the best rifle for use on plains. It was far stronger than Henry and Leman offerings or the English rifles it sprang from. But  it was too expensive for the fur companies for sell large scale and the production was less than Henry could crank out for obvious reasons.
It is ENTIRELY possible that there are percussion Hawken rifles, full blown “Rocky Mountain” rifles full or 1/2 stocked that were originally flintlock. Rebarrel or shorten at the breech enough to install a patent breech, replace the well worn flintlock with a new percussion lock and there is a percussion Hawken. No front lock screw? So what? Not all flintlocks have 2 and in a rifle made with a large loading rod 7/16” to ½” they are a real PITA. So why put one in?
Yeah lots of supposition. But its not as ridiculous as assuming a gunsmith of Jake's ability was digging ditches in St Louis for a few years "since we have no proof he was doing gun work" (aside from being partnered with another gunsmith before Sam's arrival).
There is a lot of propaganda involved Jake and Sam's activities in St Louis early on. Like ALL gunsmiths they likely did a LOT of repair and odd work. But they were still experienced and skilled gun makers on arrival.
Flint guns were the norm in the west probably till near 1840. This indicates that they HAD to make some flint guns. We KNOW they could still get FL parts into the 1840s/50s from a surviving rifle. Yet there are people who have fabricated/changed information information to “prove” that Jake and Sam never  made flintlocks.
So I can’t see why someone could not have a flintlock Hawken rifle similar to the Petersen rifle or the second FS rifle in Baird’s “Hawken Rifles” circa late 1820s.
There is, or seems to be, a faction who take great delight in trying to prove the Hawken’s never made guns for the early fur trade. But they were there, they were gunsmiths, Ashley apparently had one. So they had to have SOME reputation by that time. Were they as common as the JJ Henry, no, its not possible, its like comparing todays custom guns with a TC. But compared to the Hawken the Henry was a throw away. It was meant to be a low cost trade item that was still a sound gun.
The trappers who did not drink all their profits up actually made pretty good money.  They were the oil field workers of their time. A good rifle was a bragging point.
George Drouillard , L&Cs “Drewyer”, even owned a servant valued at $400 when he was killed, so he apparently was not poor.
IMO thinking a trapper could not manage to own a $30-$50 rifle is silly. Besides a rifle was an essential item. It was not an option or something to be lightly considered.

Just because nobody wrote about them by name is no proof they were not there. How many mentions of JJ Henry rifles, by name, do we see in old journals?

Dan



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Dphariss
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« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2010, 12:17:31 AM »

As to the Hawken rifles, were the larger bores such as a 58 common for their early guns? Seems I had read that around 50 was normal in the early Hawkens and bores got bigger in the later ones.

The 58 is not even common for the later guns.
We really don't know but the 50 is about as small as is useful in the west. The 58 makes about 8-9 balls fewer to the pound than the 54 and does very little different in actual use.
5 pounds of lead makes about 40 rounds less 24 to the pound balls than a 32 to the pound would.

Dan
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starrbow
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« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2010, 02:04:51 AM »

Anybody that thinks that there were no Hawkens built as Flintlocks has no common sense. I'm sure Jake came west because there was a greater need for his talents, lets face it, at that time in Xenia Ohio most firearms were used for hunting or shooting matches, it was very close to being civilized. I'm sure Sam and Jake saw about any and all types of firearms of that time, and could recognize whats good and bad about there design. I'm sure they kicked around the halfstock design VS the Fullstock many times, I'm sure there were many customers who brought in fullstock rifles with the forestocks splintered,broke and missing wood. I would also like to think there halfstock design was not only more bullet proof VS a fullstock, but also it may have been faster to produce, and slightly cheaper to produce as well, so it's a win, win.

I also would like to think that no firearm part was ever scraped, they most likely used any and everything they could, it saved time and money. Sometimes when you see a originals the hardware makes you wonder, but like any business the customers get what they want, and I can see it now when a cranky traper came in with his broken rifle needing a new one, he may want as much of the old gun parts used in the making of a new gun, after all that broken down old rifle may have saved his hide many a time, and it was a part of him as his own flesh and blood.

My take on Caplocks is very simple, change is hard and it takes time, flintlocks ruled for over 200years and it would almost take act of God for people to just accept that caps are better then flint. Flint was not hard to come by, water didn't kill flints, flints are a natural product and almost any Indian could make a working gunflint in no time.
I think we get hung up on whats a "Hawken" they were not massed produced, they were hand made one at a time with or without a customers input, they were made using any availably parts they had on hand or could find.
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Sean
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« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2010, 08:11:50 AM »

Supposition and speculation is fun and that is where these topics end up because there are so few examples to work from.  However, a few points that I hope are supposition based on sound information:

As for the work being slow in PA.  Sam's move from Zenia to STL corresponds with his wife's death, and that is the simplest supposition for a reason for his move.  The reading I've done has turned up very few other smiths in Zenia during that time, but it was a bit of a backwater burb at the time considering that the plug was starting to be pulled out of the bathtub and the country's population was about to drain out down the Ohio River.

Dan, your comments about Jake's skill as a gunmaker are all well and good, but unlike the rest of his family, they cannot be supported by signed guns.  Its also possible that Jake was a really good blacksmith and hated stocking guns.  Maybe hooked up with Lakenan for that reason.  As for Sam, he worked out of a different shop than Jake in STL for 3 years until about the time Lakenan died.  I know of at least one script signed S. Hawken gun that is reputed to have come from the STL area and that may predate his work with Jake.

On the subject of fur companies buying plain rifles and the flint issue,
A) There is a long history of fur companies picking up a few fancy guns for sale or trade.
B) There are a few records of fur trade companies selling a handful of Hawken rifles in the 1830's.  There are no records at this point for large orders.  Most of the records of Hawken purchases are for individuals buying a rifle for themselves and often through AFC accounts.
C) The brothers lived and worked at a nexus of cheap guns funneled at the West via STL from all over the world.  The AFC was purchasing PA trade rifles for $10-12.  The Hawkens were selling guns to them and their employees in the $20-30 range.  There are a handful of highly engraved J&S Hawkens existing in collections that were produced for STL businessmen, but the majority of the guns are very plain.  I would submit that the guns going West had to be different than the rest of the PA product to command that price.  The only way I can think of to explain that is that they were incorporating new technology like percussion locks, halfstocks, etc.  However unlike what the starbow says above, I am not suggesting that they never made a flintlock, only that they are almost unknown today and that they were likely uncommon then.

Sean
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B. Hey
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« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2010, 02:20:38 PM »

Great thread for those of us not educated on the subject. Thanks to all for sharing so freely .. Take care .. Bill
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rich pierce
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« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2010, 03:23:45 PM »

There was such heavy investment in Hawkens in the 1970's and 1980's by builders and re-enactors that they became viewed as the norm instead of a high end rifle owned by a smaller portion of western trappers and mountain men.  Builders backdate styles to create something reasonable and rational for a 1820's flint Hawken.  That's fine and dandy and fun!  But it is just reasonable speculation regarding what such a gun would look like, and we know that production in the early years would have been low based on the size of the properties and shops that Sam and Lackemann (spell) worked in together.  There are plenty of other options for fullstock, early fur trade flintlock rifles mentioned above that would be more commonly used in the 1820's and 1830's.  But what is a .69 "genuine Ashley model fullstock flintlock Hawken"?  What we know about it is that it was a flintlock, big bored, probably fullstocked, and made by a Hawken.  Maple?  Walnut?  Iron mounted?  Brass mounted?  Scroll guard or generic "Kentucky" style guard?  If a scroll guard, is it an imported English guard?  Or flat to wrist?  Hooked breech or plain breech?  Long tang or standard flint?  Both bolts go through to the double set triggers?  Tennessee cheekpiece?  Half oval?  Beavertail?  Pins or keys?  Escutcheons or not?  In other words, you could do whatever you want when making an early flintlock, fullstock Hawken and nobody can say you're right- or wrong.  Most will say, full stocked (plain wood, could be maple or walnut), iron mounted (brass would be blasphemy!), flat to wrist iron guard, copper brazed iron buttplate, Tennessee cheekpiece, long, unhooked breech, front bolt through to triggers, rear a screw, pins or keys with no escutsheon plates.  In other words, most choose to simply back-date the earliest known percussion Hawkens known.

On the other hand, the other options will be more work to bring together than ordering a ready to go "genuine fullstock, flintlock Hawken" kit.
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Dphariss
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« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2010, 05:18:20 PM »

Supposition and speculation is fun and that is where these topics end up because there are so few examples to work from.  However, a few points that I hope are supposition based on sound information:

As for the work being slow in PA.  Sam's move from Zenia to STL corresponds with his wife's death, and that is the simplest supposition for a reason for his move.  The reading I've done has turned up very few other smiths in Zenia during that time, but it was a bit of a backwater burb at the time considering that the plug was starting to be pulled out of the bathtub and the country's population was about to drain out down the Ohio River.

Wife's died pretty regularly, as did husbands for that matter. While this was a possible and valid reason for his moving, I suspect that it was economics.

Dan, your comments about Jake's skill as a gunmaker are all well and good, but unlike the rest of his family, they cannot be supported by signed guns.  Its also possible that Jake was a really good blacksmith and hated stocking guns.  Maybe hooked up with Lakenan for that reason.  As for Sam, he worked out of a different shop than Jake in STL for 3 years until about the time Lakenan died.  I know of at least one script signed S. Hawken gun that is reputed to have come from the STL area and that may predate his work with Jake.

This may be the silliest thing I have seen concerning the Hawken rifle. Shades of C. Hanson.
It is generally easy to tell a J (&S) Hawken  rifle from a S Hawken, even from across the room.  J&S rifles virtually always have better lines than the post Jake rifles. We are talking mountain rifles here just so you know.
The best looking Hawken rifles in the Cody Museum (or elsewhere) are the J&S guns. Since the guns changed with Jakes passing I would assume Jake was the senior partner and the rifles were made to his pattern for the most part at least and they are stylistically superior to the later guns. In silhouette with the TGs removed they hardly look like they came from the same shop. The S guns are more angular and have more wood on them, still good, but not J&S guns. The J&S guns display more of their Kentucky roots. This said there ARE J&S guns with Sam looking stocks, indicating both bothers stocked guns.  Read JD Baird's book and he can explain it.
It is apparent that some people can't see this. As the closest thing I have to a master likes to say when discussing rifles with poor lines: "They have eyes don't they?".
I guess we could suppose that neither brother was a gunstocker and hired it done and the guy that was doing the J&S guns died at about the time Jake did and Sam hired someone else.
Heck maybe they had them contracted from JJ Henry and the only tools they had was a vise, a barrel stamp and a hammer. Roll Eyes

In reading Hanson's "Hawken Rifle's Their Place in History" I often wonder if Hanson was working on a different book and JD beat him to press. Its tone is far different than "The Plains Rifle", seemingly angry or perhaps vindictive.  This is supposition of course.

On the subject of fur companies buying plain rifles and the flint issue,
A) There is a long history of fur companies picking up a few fancy guns for sale or trade.

I screwed up and spoke in an absolute. There were always some fancy guns. This is the reason the 3 grades of  Tatham guns were made. They were intended as presentation guns. But in the context of the JJ Henry rifles for the fur trade fancy is not the norm.


B) There are a few records of fur trade companies selling a handful of Hawken rifles in the 1830's.  There are no records at this point for large orders.  Most of the records of Hawken purchases are for individuals buying a rifle for themselves and often through AFC accounts.

There were a few that went to the one of the later rendezvous but there were no percussion caps in the inventory that I could find.


C) The brothers lived and worked at a nexus of cheap guns funneled at the West via STL from all over the world.  The AFC was purchasing PA trade rifles for $10-12.  The Hawkens were selling guns to them and their employees in the $20-30 range.  There are a handful of highly engraved J&S Hawkens existing in collections that were produced for STL businessmen, but the majority of the guns are very plain.  I would submit that the guns going West had to be different than the rest of the PA product to command that price.  The only way I can think of to explain that is that they were incorporating new technology like percussion locks, halfstocks, etc.  However unlike what the starbow says above, I am not suggesting that they never made a flintlock, only that they are almost unknown today and that they were likely uncommon then.

Sean

Did it not occur to you that rather than the cheap, sometimes even unhardened locks found on the low end eastern guns that perhaps the fur companies were specing something a little more durable? So the price was higher. They tended to specify "best quality locks".
Assuming they were ordering percussion guns (the lock of which are FAR easier to make) then begs the question where were the percussion caps.
I would also point out the obvious fact that the percussion lock has about 6 fewer parts than a flintlock and a far, far simpler plate. I can make a percussion plate in about 20-30 minutes from bar stock. Flint plates are tougher. So thinking they were charging more for percussion guns may or may not be valid.  The ½ stock may well have been more expensive, I would guess yes.
So far as plain rifles. This falls into line with the decorative tastes of the time. The golden age type guns came to be looked down on in some circles as being excessively gaudy. The "plain" Hawken rifle is little different that the austere firearms that came into fashion in the late 18th century in England. I would cite, among others, the late dueling pistol circa 1780-1810. Some of the best makers were making cased sets of pistols that were just as plain and minimalist as the Hawken rifles that lack even key escutcheons. This carried over into everything from tables to picture frames.
Where as in the early/mid and in American even late 18th century wood was normally carved by 1800 this was out of fashion and it simply took the USA a little time to catch up. Even a Brown Bess musket had some carving. The "plain" rifles of the 18th century in America still generally had SOME wood carving, low quality bridleless locks, but well relief caved. The Indian trade rifles imported by the English circa 1780 had relief carving. A rifle was simply not complete without it or so it would seem. So while I am SURE economics were part of the reason the Hawken was made plain, the FASHION of the time must be factored in as well and may have been a major reason. The fashion was to avoid the "old fashioned" gaudyness which was considered vulgar or at least prideful or pretentious. Look at top grade furniture of 1760 vs 1830.

I find it difficult to believe that Jake Hawken or even Sam, since we have one in the Smithsonian, would not make a flint gun on request at any time in his career. While it is entirely possible and in fact likely that most Hawkens were percussion by 1830, remember it has been said the Melchoir Fordney never made a percussion rifle, but the flintlock was still in wide spread use in the 1840s both east and west. The flintlock never fully fell from use in America. So saying every rifle Hawken made in 1830 was percussion would be a illogical.
It is also very likely they were converted in one way or another or were recycled perhaps by the Hawken shop themselves in some cases. If someone came in with a worn, maybe broken flint rifle and traded it for a new percussion, probably depending on the time frame, that he could walk out the door with. The barrel and other parts would be refurbished and put in new wood surely as a percussion rifle. Later according to some they got used for crow bars, gate/door stops/fence tighteners as time progressed. This was then inflicted on the heavy Sharps and Remingtons etc later on with the coming of smokeless powder. Yeah, fence tighteners at least one in this county I know of. Its been rescued years back. Then we have the WW-1 and WW-2 scrap drives.
Production. It is very likely that production was always low. Sam stated they could not keep up during the big western migration of the 1840s. But I have never seen a Hawken marked rifle or a photo of one that was as bad as some stuff Leman cranked out. Some of this stuff was pure trash when made.
No matter the production the Hawken shop developed a reputation for durable, accurate rifles of much better quality than that cranked out by the eastern factories. The  Hawken "mountian rifle"  cost double or more and people STILL BOUGHT THEM, plain or fancy. There is always a market for better grade guns but a lot of folks can't tell one from another. A 40000 dollar double shotgun is no different to them than a Stevens 411, they lack the ability to see the finer points. This is rampant in the field of modern Kentucky rifles right now. But if someone were to say "the lines on this rifle look like it was sawed out for firewood" he would probably get banned from this site.
A maker who used to post here stated it was easier for him to sell a 5 digit value flintlock than one costing 2000-3000. Some people can tell the difference. Then as now.

With the coming of the more effective breech loader the ML guns became "surplus" and were traded, set aside to rot, whatever, in the late 1860s early 1870s. Prior to the coming of the 50-70/44-77 class cartridges the typical cartridge gun was pretty poor for hunting compared to the Hawken. Going out to hunt deer with a BP or BP duplication 38-40/44-40 will confirm this.  But a pop-gun Henry (for example) was great for keeping bad guys at bay or was good for shooting up the US Army if that was the mission. Read some of the stuff on Custer, especially Reno's retreat from the valley.

The coming of the big Sharps and Remingtons killed the ML in the west. They had to power to hunt with and a person could then have a "Henry carbine" for close range problems with people and many DID have both.
But I digress.
There are a number of things that must be considered when one wants to believe, as some seem to, that the percussion swept the flintlock away when it was invented. The first thing to consider it that it did not happen that way at all.
Even today the percussion system will display accuracy problems. Some point out that today the "magnum" percussion caps cause them accuracy problems with black powder. Thus variations in the early caps could well have made  rifles less accurate. Then we have the abysmal drum and nipple system often used in American guns I would wager that all else being equal a good patent breech will out shoot the D&N.
Remember that in the East at least most rifle matches were shot PRONE over a chunk at the time the percussion system was developed so the Percussions primary advantage, lock time, was not all that important. And there were lots of rifle matches. It was a major, perhaps the only, source of recreation in many areas. They shot at small targets for valuable prizes.
In the west if the cap supply was lost or they got damp it was "bad" unless they could be replaced. This was a valid concern voiced by people of the time, or so I have read. I don't know if the caps could be effectively dried once wet or damp enough to fail to detonate.
Neither system was without fault.
We have an account of a small party going to a post to get their rifles "percussed" because their powder had gotten wet and was so damaged it would not work with a flint gun. (I look upon this as BS but its written down at the time so must be at least considered). The only answer I can see is that it was poor quality powder and would not dry to the point of being easy to ignite by a flintlock. But still questions persist. I.E. I don't have enough info to suit me.

If we look at Kindigs book we see that repair work and odds and ends were a major part of the gunsmith trade and they worked on things other than firearms. This does not make the gunmaker a blacksmith.
St Louis was THE frontier starting point from about 1800 till the 1840s-50s and the hub of the western fur trade for well over 100 years.
So I expect  J&S both had gun work to do, be it making guns, freshing rifles, repairs etc etc. Perhaps Sam did the repair work and Jake stocked guns. See Kindigs information on Reedy. Reedy did a wide variety of things that brought in money or barter. But he was not a clock maker or a blacksmith, he was a gunsmith. Just like Jake and Sam Hawken.
Finally, again, how a flint Hawken would look...
I submit the two fullstocks in Baird's first book would be good prototypes since the flint rifle in the Smithsonian is just a FS rifle of its era and is indentical to the percussion FS of the time.  "Firearms of the American West 1803-1865" pg 52 and 224. While there anyone interested can look at the various Sam and J&S rifles. There are a couple of J&S rifles that pretty well make my point, as does the JJ Henry on pg43. Then there is the scroll guard rifle in the Lewis portrait (1806) on pg7 which seems to indicate that the artist had seen scroll guard rifles by 1806. So, again, it was not a Hawken invention and could date VERY early in their production. Flat to the tang or high is not a dating feature IMO but could be. The English guns were much like the late Hawkens even in the 18teens or before.
To anyone saying that its wrong to have a FL Hawken Mtn rifle since there are no surviving flint Hawkens I would have to point to the Smithsonian rifle which, Col Goodwin's guesswork to the contrary not withstanding, was originally flint. I have seen photos of it disassembled and its simply beyond question. Flint hooked breech and waterproof flintlock plate with the fence still attached. Drum installed in place of the vent. So even "late" they still have access to flintlock hardware or have it on hand. Think people!
So we have a flint Hawken, debating the years they might have been used is silly. Its simply not logical to think they made no flint rifles in the 1830s. Just about everyone else did why not the Hawkens?. I understand there was a flint Hawken written up in MB some years ago IIRC it was owned by Clyman(?) but someone who has seen the article would need to comment.

Dan
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"American Girls and American Guys
Will always stand up and salute  Will always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying   There's a lot of men dead   So we can sleep in peace at night   When we lay down our head"
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Sean
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« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2010, 11:20:15 PM »

Dan,

Just a thought...  Calling someone "silly" pretty much stops them from reading the rest of your novel.  Give you a 'devil's advocate' position meant to provoke questions and you tend to respond sort of like a Southern Baptist preacher on 3 pots of coffee.

Sean
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Dphariss
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« Reply #24 on: May 25, 2010, 10:51:31 AM »

Dan,

Just a thought...  Calling someone "silly" pretty much stops them from reading the rest of your novel.  Give you a 'devil's advocate' position meant to provoke questions and you tend to respond sort of like a Southern Baptist preacher on 3 pots of coffee.

Sean

Then don't post silly stuff.
An editor told me one not to write anything I was not ready to defend.
I posted why I think you were wrong in this assumption.
You have a chance to show me Jake Hawken hated stocking guns and was just a blacksmith and you backwater.

Dan
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"American Girls and American Guys
Will always stand up and salute  Will always recognize
When we see Old Glory Flying   There's a lot of men dead   So we can sleep in peace at night   When we lay down our head"
Toby Keith "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue"
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