Author Topic: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?  (Read 15805 times)

Buckscoshooter

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Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« on: January 09, 2011, 04:37:02 AM »
Just like to collect some thoughts. It seems that I do not understand the value of a Original Muzzle Loader Rifle built in the early 1800's. Reason standing is I have been shooting and hunting with this gun for some time now. Aside from the lock being changed out over the years (I think,although I have not changed it) the gun is other wise as the builder crafted it. (Christain Siple) Yes, it has ware from me using her but she is nun worse for the ware. I can't tell you all how much I love this gun. However,at one time I did consider getting a custom modern repro done so I could take her out of the field. I just can't bring myself to not shoot this gun. Is this MADNESS on my part or just realizing you can't take it with you so just injoy the heck out of it. I don't see anything changeing but would WELCOME and ENJOY your comments as other MUZZY BUFFS. I realize some collectors would llike to hang this type of gun over their mantle as I have been told for a considerable price. Means nothing to me,at the end of the day walking thru the woods with my MUZZY is like having a beer with a old friend....It just feels GOOD.

Whitedog

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2011, 04:54:01 AM »
I too like to carry and shoot my old original longrifle. It was made by Henry Leman and was possibly one of his very first rifles that he made when he was just a pup. It's historical importance is great. However, when I was given it by the trapper who found it in an outbuilding years before, it was what most people would call in relic condition. I gently cleaned the parts of crud, mended and oiled the stock and brought it back to life when I loaded and fired it with a patched ball. I get great satisfaction in handling the old longrifle with it's 47" barrel and shoot it still from time to time With a REDUCED Load. From time to time, I mean once every two or three years. Still, I wish I could afford a well made contemporary rifle of plain construction that I could shoot and hunt with all the time. I've often thought about trading my original rifle to someone who liked it enough to keep it in their collection for a modern longrifle made with classic features. I've no kids who are interested in it. It'd be a shame to have one of them take it down to a local 50 table gun show or gun store and sold off for $200.00. But, I ain't on my way out the door yet and that possible scenario is still far down the road. Maybe a grand child will come along with a deep interest in longrifles...yea, right...but you can never tell.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2011, 05:23:01 PM by Whitedog »

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2011, 05:45:14 AM »
Here's my opinion for what it's worth.

I personally would not shoot a 200 year old gun for several reasons.  First of all, with the number of modern made, high quality contemporary rifles that are around today, there is simply no reason to take a chance on destroying a valuable piece of history.  Sure, you could probably find a 100 year old man who would be willing to try a 100 yard dash, and yes, he might make it to the finish line, but then again he might not.  Why chance it.

The other reason for not shooting it is strictly monetary.  If you have a poorly made half stock that only has the value of a few hundred dollars, if it blows up you'll just be out an old gun (and maybe some fingers or worse), but if you have a high quality relief carved golden age rifle that's worth enough money to put your kid through college with, why would you take the chance on damaging it and lowering it's value?

With all of that said, it's your gun and you can do what ever you want with it, and that includes using it for firewood.  But I think we are all just temporary caretakers of these important pieces of history and we should be the best caretakers we can be while we own them.  Just my two cents.

Frank

Online Dave B

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2011, 05:51:29 AM »
I have several originals that I have shot but their bores are so rough its a painful process in loading them. They are not collectors pieces and I have entertained the freshening of them to bring them back into service. Some would say that the continued use will shorten their life expectancy and conceivably do damage to the piece in the long run. As careful as I am I still manage to take a tumble or two while I am out with my rifle. Fortunately the one I take hunting is one I built and its still in one piece so far. I guess if its a real valuable gun you may want to keep it over the fire place and get a hunt double for that more risky stuff.  I know of one original that was being shot by some ones ancestors and it bulged the barrel right in the middle. He couldn't tell me the conditions of what happened back in the 30's when it happened but one would think that a 36 cal  one inch octagon barrel would be pretty stout.

I think Fullstock hit the nail on the head. We are only the temporary caretakers of these. If the piece is only worth a couple bucks your not out much but when will that metal break loose and hurt someone. I say its not worth it.
Dave Blaisdell

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 06:40:41 AM »
Here is an excellent example of what can happen to an old rifle if you shoot it.  This was a fine George Schroyer that was destroyed by someone who wanted to shoot it many years ago.  The family that owned the pieces said that the grandfather lost several fingers in the process.  The lock, sideplate and chunk of barrel were never found.

Frank





« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 06:54:15 AM by Fullstock »

Buckscoshooter

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2011, 06:59:51 AM »
I am trying to insert pics but don't know how on this board. Call me a computer knucklehead.......Any Help?

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2011, 07:04:41 AM »
The tutorial section here explains how to do it.

Buckscoshooter

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2011, 10:18:19 AM »
Thanks a bunch...

Offline lexington1

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2011, 08:14:29 PM »
Wow Frank, that Shroyer almost brings a tear to my eye! What a grand rifle that must have been.


Dave K

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2011, 09:36:25 PM »
Unfortunately, we don't know what that George Schroyer was loaded with. If it was smokeless or BP. Of course if it wasn't attempted to be shot, then it wouldn't have broke either. I do inspect my guns when I purchase them and I do shoot mine. If they are unsafe to be shot and can't be made safe to shoot, I will cash them in. If I have a gun that is too fine or too historically valuable to shoot, I cash them in. Money will allow me to duplicate it or make life a little finer. Not only are we the caretakers of these old guns for a little while, we are also caretakers of our own bodies for a little while as well, enjoy it it don't last forever. ;)

Offline Longknife

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2011, 09:41:00 PM »
Concerning the Shroyer...YOU CAN"T FIX STUPID!!!!!! I am sure from the condition of the barrel that it was loaded with smokless!!!! That would also blow up any contemporary piece so there is NO comparison here...

As far as the bulged barrel posted by Dave B, we all know that this is caused by an obstruction at the point of the bulge, (stupid again)this will also happen to contemporaries, no comparison here...

You shouldn't shoot ANY gun without inspecting it and determining that it is safe, then load it PROPERLY.....

I have a few original pieces I shoot from time to time, they are NOT my everday gun. These barrels haver been unbreeched, inspected and cetrified (by ME) as safe to shoot. I am sure they are safer than the DOM tubing barrels that are currently on the market.

Now all that being said I have NOT nor would I ever shoot a Beck, Shroyer or any other piece that could be worth big bucks....


Ed Hamberg

Arnie Dowd

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2011, 10:04:04 PM »
I am more collector/caretaker than shooter although I began shooting BP in the early 1960's when about all there was to shoot were old originals and I did use three I can remember - one in particular ! which resulted in me never shooting another original again regardless of value.  The gun in question was a nice old, very plain, percussion fullstock in VG +  condition with a nice bore and I shot it many times over a few year period but the last time was once to many !!  The drum and nipple blew out and a piece went through the rim of my hat !! - it could have been my head if 2&1/2" closer by accident.  It resulted in a partially detached retina on the corner of my right eye as well as some hearing damage to say nothing of the fact it scared the $#*! out of me.  Simply put we do NOT know how many shots are left in any of these old guns before something goes wrong.
Just my experience and a word to the wise but do as you wish.   Arnie

Offline WElliott

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 01:06:07 AM »
Wise words, as always, Arnie.  I have shot many original rifles in the last 50 years of shooting black power, but those were originals from the 20th century or later.   :)
Those from the 18th and 19th century for which I have been a caretaker, are handled very carefully and respectfully.  In my humble opinion, they have earned the rest.
Wayne Elliott

Offline bama

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 01:53:37 AM »
I can understand the lure to shoot an original if it appears to be good condition. I have shot some original shotguns but not rifles. There is a special feeling you get when you touch off one from yesteryear. With that said I to have come to the conclusion that our heritage is more important than my gradification. :(

That don't mean that I don't think about it from time to time. That is one of the reasons I got into building to start with because I love to shoot BP so much and most of the originals that I came accross were not shootable.

Get a good contemporary rifle and after a few good years of use it will be your favorite field gun.
Jim Parker

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Offline Dphariss

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2011, 03:17:05 AM »
I am more collector/caretaker than shooter although I began shooting BP in the early 1960's when about all there was to shoot were old originals and I did use three I can remember - one in particular ! which resulted in me never shooting another original again regardless of value.  The gun in question was a nice old, very plain, percussion fullstock in VG +  condition with a nice bore and I shot it many times over a few year period but the last time was once to many !!  The drum and nipple blew out and a piece went through the rim of my hat !! - it could have been my head if 2&1/2" closer by accident.  It resulted in a partially detached retina on the corner of my right eye as well as some hearing damage to say nothing of the fact it scared the $#*! out of me.  Simply put we do NOT know how many shots are left in any of these old guns before something goes wrong.
Just my experience and a word to the wise but do as you wish.   Arnie

With a drum and nipple one does not even know how many shot a left in a new one.
I won't stand on the lock side of one of these while its being fired.

The burst barrel seems to have had some serious flaws in the iron/welds.
It appears to have been rebreeched with fairly modern looking threads at some time, perhaps when it was bored smooth (?).

I have a serious distrust of guns of the late 19th century let alone something from the 18th or early 19th.
Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline jdm

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2011, 04:12:53 AM »
     

        BRAVO!! Wayne ELLIOTT     !!

Wise words, as always, Arnie.  I have shot many original rifles in the last 50 years of shooting black power, but those were originals from the 20th century or later.   :)
Those from the 18th and 19th century for which I have been a caretaker, are handled very carefully and respectfully.  In my humble opinion, they have earned the rest.
JIM

Offline Blacksmoke

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2011, 07:07:31 AM »
The pictures posted by Frank suggest that "smokeless" powder was culprit.  Also the description of what happened to the parts that were never found suggest the same.  :(   Blackpowder is somewhat more forgiving than nitro in that the pressures are not nearly so great.  However when it comes to shooting an old original it should never be done prior to a proper inspection by a qualified gunmaker/gunsmith who is experienced in the realm of historic firearms.  I use two original muzzle loaders to hunt with every year - one was made in 1808, London England,  whilst the other was made circa: 1858, Dubuque Iowa.   However, in the process of restoration,  I have disassembled each of them and inspected their breeches - each are sound.  I also use "light' loads of blackpowder and treat them with the utmost care while in the field.  Each have taken big game in recent yrs.  ;D      Hugh Toenjes
« Last Edit: January 14, 2011, 06:58:42 AM by Blacksmoke »
H.T.

JBlk

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2011, 04:09:56 PM »
I have always hated it when big brother tells me not to do something because its for my own good.Over the years I have used many shotguns and rifles that were considered junk by most, but before doing so I performed my own proofing.Usually my proofing requires several loads that are three times the load that I would ever use in the field and a close visual examination after each proof shot.Of course the weapon was triggered by a long string from a safe location, and the most I ever managed to do was crack the stock.I haven't pursued this course of action because I have a suicidal tendency but rather to enjoy using something that was made by a real craftsman.To experience the clean clear engagement of the sear when cocking your old hammer gun that was made a hundred  years before your date of birth or to watch the bird fold up over your double barrels in a puff of feathers is something that few hunters get to experience today.How can you compare harvesting a deer with your modern rifle with the same deer taken with the flintlock and a patched round ball.Guns are like any tool in that they wear out with use, but with the proper care they will last your lifetime.I am rapidly approaching the age that my hunting days are numbered but I will always have the memories of those guns made by the craftsmen who added something special to their creations.

Buckscoshooter

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2011, 05:03:35 PM »
Well said Mr. Black.

Offline nord

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2011, 05:18:56 PM »
Your gun. Your call.

Mine sit in glorious retirement after having served an active lifetime. Still able to shoot? I expect so. I'm just not willing to risk their health or mine when I have a nice modern Thompson Center Hawken ready and willing to safely toss a .45 ball. :D
In Memory of Lt. Catherine Hauptman Miller 6/1/21 - 10/1/00 & Capt. Raymond A. Miller 12/26/13 - 5/15/03...  They served proudly.

Offline Fullstock longrifle

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2011, 05:30:11 PM »
James, your comment about "big brother" suggests that somebody here has the power to tell you what to do.  This (so far) has only been a pleasant discourse of differing points of view, as requested in the original post.   As was previously stated, it's your gun, so you do what you want to with it.  As for big brother, tax time is coming up real soon, I guess he won't give me that option.

Frank

Offline bob in the woods

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2011, 09:28:56 PM »
Interesting to think that  a few years ago, the International Long Range [ 1000 yard] matches for blackpowder were held in Ottawa. Almost all of the shooters from England shot originals. I'm not talking cartridge rifles, but muzzleloaders.  It seems that over there originals are the norm .

Offline Roger Fisher

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2011, 09:47:42 PM »
I am more collector/caretaker than shooter although I began shooting BP in the early 1960's when about all there was to shoot were old originals and I did use three I can remember - one in particular ! which resulted in me never shooting another original again regardless of value.  The gun in question was a nice old, very plain, percussion fullstock in VG +  condition with a nice bore and I shot it many times over a few year period but the last time was once to many !!  The drum and nipple blew out and a piece went through the rim of my hat !! - it could have been my head if 2&1/2" closer by accident.  It resulted in a partially detached retina on the corner of my right eye as well as some hearing damage to say nothing of the fact it scared the $#*! out of me.  Simply put we do NOT know how many shots are left in any of these old guns before something goes wrong.
Just my experience and a word to the wise but do as you wish.   Arnie

With a drum and nipple one does not even know how many shot a left in a new one.
I won't stand on the lock side of one of these while its being fired.

The burst barrel seems to have had some serious flaws in the iron/welds.
It appears to have been rebreeched with fairly modern looking threads at some time, perhaps when it was bored smooth (?).

I have a serious distrust of guns of the late 19th century let alone something from the 18th or early 19th.
Dan
I agree in general, although vents can and have blown out also.  Been there and luckily was missed when one came out and I was on the lock side on the firing line when it happened.   The shot sounded kinda sick and kinda made me feel a little sick also.  The rifle was a .54 CVA or Traditions with a mild load at 25 yards.  Barrel breech showed gas cutting of the threads. So it can and does happen, Ugh ::)

Offline lexington1

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2011, 09:59:55 PM »
I think a little common sense is in order. I personally know a gentleman who lost two finger tips from a mishap with a burst barrel on an original Manton shotgun. This is a person who has spent nearly a lifetime shooting muzzleloaders, so he knows his way around them.  The bores were a little rough but apparently the corrosion was more extensive than evident.

There are some originals that I wouldn't have any qualms about shooting, but they would have to be in great shape. In fact i do have an original Mississippi rifle that is in super shape and is a great shooter. All in all however I would be reluctant about firing off most antiques. Most early guns I've seen have had coarsely threaded breechplugs, usually with very rusted threads, and really soft metal in the barrels. The wood itself can appear stable, but actually be tinder box dry or worse have dry rot or other damage. Monetarily the thought of destroying a gun that is worth as much as your house isn't so pleasent either.


Offline JV Puleo

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Re: Good/Bad/or just indifferent - using a 200 year old gun?
« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2011, 10:22:50 PM »
I don't do a lot of shooting but what I have done has always been with originals... I don't own, or even care to own a new one but thats a reflection of my much greater interest in history than in shooting. Reproductions give me no sense of empathy with the past. That said, I've never shot most of my guns and I've always been careful about which ones I did shoot, not pushing them with extra heavy loads etc. I particularly like my 1817 Common Rifle (converted) and a Henry Pratt flint NE rifle. Were I a hunter I might consider a repro, if only because I'd worry about damaging something in the woods, so I admit to having a very skewed viewpoint.