Author Topic: flintlock hawkens  (Read 18475 times)

Offline Dphariss

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #25 on: July 31, 2011, 02:18:58 AM »
Thank you Jay Close.
This is the first time I have read anything really informative about this rifle.
From the rumors I have read it was a flintlock.
The lock shape makes me wonder if its a contemporary of the "Petersen Hawken" shown in Baird's book.
Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

ajrd

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2011, 07:48:18 PM »
I 'm reading all your reply with great attention ... to build my own idea of the thing

Offline rich pierce

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2011, 08:11:37 PM »
Flintlock Hawkens are fun to build and excite the imagination. Yes there were probably flintlock J&S Hawkens plains rifles that went west, maybe even thirty or even fifty of them, as opposed to hundreds of Wheelers, etc.  But these do not seem to excite folks as much as Hawkens, which seem to excite an almost religious fervor.
St. Louis, Missouri

Offline Dphariss

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #28 on: August 06, 2011, 06:01:22 AM »
Flintlock Hawkens are fun to build and excite the imagination. Yes there were probably flintlock J&S Hawkens plains rifles that went west, maybe even thirty or even fifty of them, as opposed to hundreds of Wheelers, etc.  But these do not seem to excite folks as much as Hawkens, which seem to excite an almost religious fervor.

Its a better rifle.
Of all the "American" hunting rifles it has the fewest flaws. They were well made and did not have much in the way of short cuts due to cost concerns.
Percussion or flint.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Roger B

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #29 on: August 06, 2011, 05:37:34 PM »
I have to agree with Dan on that last point.  The Hawken mountain rifles were purpose built guns that were sturdy & made for professional use, though there were a number of prestige class rifles that were made for wealthy men who never saw the Rockies.  Leman, Henry, Tryon, Deringer, & a host of others could make a rifle as good or better than a Hawken product, but they concentrated on large contracts where "good" to "adequate" products could earn them a profit. They were essentially general purpose Pennsylvaina rifles made to contractor specs. Even at that, the Hawken didn't have the craftsmanship that the better class of British guns had & was expected of them.  If I wanted a flint rifle of the fur trade period, a Henry English pattern or New English would get the nod. I still love Hawkens & have found the one I'm building to be a real challenge to get "right". 
Roger B.
Never underestimate the sheer destructive power of a minimally skilled, but highly motivated man with tools.

Offline George

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #30 on: August 07, 2011, 03:08:52 AM »
This reply is for Dan
Dan it seems like I remember Don King talking about a F/L full stock that was in Eastern Kansas in the 50's or 60's and he examined it and in fact used the measurements to build his first Hawkens.I may have this screwed up as it's been so long ago,but ask Don

George
George

Offline Dphariss

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2011, 06:13:55 AM »
This reply is for Dan
Dan it seems like I remember Don King talking about a F/L full stock that was in Eastern Kansas in the 50's or 60's and he examined it and in fact used the measurements to build his first Hawkens.I may have this screwed up as it's been so long ago,but ask Don

George

Don used an original as a pattern.  His rifles are similar to the earliest F/S rifle in Baird's book.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Dphariss

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2011, 07:06:16 AM »






I don't know how many of these Don made. But he did a lot of them from the late 60s on.
Most had 54 caliber Douglas barrels 1" X 38". The short barreled rifle is a 54  1 1/8" x 32.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman

Offline Chuck Burrows

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2011, 09:45:18 AM »
Quote
The gun that Provost ordered from them in 1829 was a caplock.

Sean - I just looked through the article on the Provost Hawkens and no where does it say they were caplocks?  Do you have other info regarding his rifles......

If one is wanting to build a real early Hawken mountain rifle I would recommend using the Peterson rifle as a basis - while it is currently a half-stock it may have been originally a fullstock - the barrel has been cut down. It also has certain aspects that are not on the later Hawkens:
1) shorter tang than the later ones

2)  Short trigger bar like a typical "Kentucky"

3) The check piece is more like the M1817 Common rifle that Jake worked on while at Harper's Ferry - in between the eastern style and the beaver tail

4) The trigger guard while a scroll style is not the typical screw to the trigger bar style as later used.

FWIW - The percussion cap was first patented in 1823 albeit first developed circa 1815
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 09:47:56 AM by Chuck Burrows »
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Offline Old Ford2

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2011, 03:32:12 PM »
Hello Chuck,
In reference to your quote about a 1829 cap lock hawkens.
I always thought that the practical production of the percussion cap did not happen until about 1836.
That being the case the Provost would have difficulty in procurring cap lock guns.
I do not challenge anyone on this, but mostly for my own education.
Am I correct in regards to the 1836 date and the percussion cap as we know it.
The full length stocked Hawken rifle is a graceful design in it's self, and the flintlock seems to add grace to it.
Best regards
Old Ford
Never surrender, always take a few with you.
Let the Lord pick the good from the bad!

Offline alyce-james

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2011, 05:58:27 PM »
Old Ford; Your statement about more common use, percussion cap, in the 1836 time frame, is correct. The researchers in the ALR will surly prove this out in time. At this time the passing of time, years, have slowed my ability to locate my past references on this subject. When we moved to Texas the mover saw fit to leave behind some items that I'll never see again. Books and more. Enjoyed the latest pictures of Hawken rifles. Very interesting topic on this part of history. Thanks, AJ
Turkeyfooter

Offline oakridge

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #36 on: August 08, 2011, 09:04:31 AM »
Old Ford2,
We had a discussion on this forum a while back about the earliest general use of the percussion system. I posted the following:

"Apparently the change over from flint to percussion was a slow transition, especially in the area of the South where I live. The first mention I find of conversions is in a newspaper in 1829. The gunsmith advertises "making new guns or repairing old. Alter plain to percussion plan, or make new locks on any planned ordered". Another gunsmith advertised in 1839 "flint guns altered to percussion, from 5 to 8 dollars". And, surprisingly, an ad in 1848 stated "guns restocked, altered to percussion , and other repairs executed".  These ads span almost twenty years. Maybe the local folks were just slow to accept the percussion system, or too poor to buy a new gun."

It's obvious from the ad that small town gunsmiths were altering flint guns to percussion in 1829. I would assume from this that percussion caps were generally available then.

Offline Chuck Burrows

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #37 on: August 08, 2011, 09:45:15 AM »
re percussion guns: caps were being used in fair amounts well before 1836 - here are some period citations for the late 1820s-the 1830s
1) In 1827 the "American Shooter's Manual" noted that eastern sportsman were almost exclusively using shotguns fitted with percussion locks.

2) General Ashley 1829, "I have used the percussion locks locks but little, but believe them admirably well constructed for general use, but more particularly for the prairies, where the severe winds and rains prevail at certain season of the year."

3) In Sept 1831 and again in December 1833, the US government ordered for the Western Indian trade, some 2150 guns from Deringer. One shipment included," 217 percussion and 93 flintlock rifles complete, at $12.50 each: 217,000 percussion caps at 80 cents per thousand; [and] 310 woolen covers at 37 1/2 cts......"

4) In 1834 shortly after founding Fort Hall in Idaho - N. Wyeth and his party - "percussioned three rifles, our powder being so badly damaged as to render flintlocks useless."
Here's Nat Wyeth's journals/correspondence - http://roxen.xmission.com/~drudy/mtman/html/nwythint.html

5) August 1837, Osborne Russell's hunting companion, "shot a Grizzly Bear and bursted the percussion tube of his rifle which obliged us to return to our comrades...and make another tube." Journal of a Trapper http://roxen.xmission.com/~drudy/mtman/html/ruslintr.html

6) Famed Mountain Man, Jed Smith was killed by the Comanches along the Santa Fe Trail in 1831 - the pistols reputedly taken from him which were reportedly built by Creamer,  had been converted from flint to percussion.

7) H. H. Sibley after a hunting mishap, 1839, "........Now my opinion...is that, any man calling himself a sportsman who will not use a percussion, when he can procure one, in lieu of a flint-lock gun, should be furnished with a strait jacket at the public expense."

8) The US Armies Hall breechloaders were first fitted with percussion locks in 1831 (surprisingly early considering that the miltary of the time was notoriously slow about modernizing).

9) It didn't take long for the percussion system to move west, early in 1832, John Martin of Little Rock, Ark. advertised, " Guns and Pistols with common locks, fitted with percussion locks, at the shortest notice." - In other words he was advertising that he could convert ones "common lock", i.e. flintlock, to percussion at short notice, indicating that there was a plentiful supply of not only parts, but caps as well.

10) American Fur Company brigade leader Lucien Fontenelle bought his Hawken in 1832 and it was definitely a percussion since he also bought caps at the same time.

11) Mtn Man Kit Carson was an early (circa 1839) advocate of Colt's percussion revolvers and longarms, as were the Texas Rangers (1837-38) and Josiah Gregg (1839) and his brother who were outfitted with Colt revolving pistols and rifles.

12) Warren Ferris 1830-35 mentions using a cap lock during his tenure in the mountains.
" Don't forget," cried my comrade, "that all my hopes of salvation are centred in your rifle-ball." The animal was feeding quietly, and I was enabled to approach within some sixty yards of him, when levelling, I pulled trigger, but the cap, being damp, burst without a discharge . The noise caught the quick ear of the buffalo, and caused him to look round; however, seeing nothing to excite his alarm, he soon resumed an employment more agreeable to his taste than needless vigilance.
Having put fresh powder into the tube, and supplied it with another cap I was again raising to take aim, and had brought my piece nearly half shoulderward, when it unceremoniously discharged itself, burying its ball in the lights of the buffalo the very spot I should have selected had it been optional with myself." (NOTE: since the cap went off with a loud noise I doubt it was the cap. but rather a plugged nipple or drum)

Availability of caps in the west:
Hansen's book "The Hawken Rifle It's Place in History" has several references to caps being available in St Louis at least by 1830, just 3 short years from the time they were considered de riguer in the "East" (as noted above in the 1827 the "American Shooter's Manual"ll).

By 1834-35 several vendors in the St. Louis area were advertising quantities of caps in the 100,000's and within another couple of years later they had them in the millions.
As to getting them out west, although it may seem on the face of things that such "luxuries" were hard to get many rendezvous trade lists don't necessarily uphold this view and at least one lists 500 caps.
Not only that, but by the late 1820's and early 30's there were several forts and trading posts in the west besides the rendezvous sytem (which completely died out by 1842). To name but a few:
Uncompaghre in western Colorado(1826)
Ft. Laramie in south central Wyoming(1834)
Ft. Union (1829) and it's satellites in various parts of Montana
Ft. Hall in southern Idaho (1834)
Bent's Fort and its satlellites in eastern Colorado (1834)
as well as the Santa Fe trade made things more easily available.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 09:49:17 AM by Chuck Burrows »
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Offline Old Ford2

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #38 on: August 08, 2011, 03:12:55 PM »
Thank you for the information, and research.
Best regards
Old Ford
Never surrender, always take a few with you.
Let the Lord pick the good from the bad!

Offline Dphariss

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Re: flintlock hawkens
« Reply #39 on: August 10, 2011, 05:29:23 AM »
I've always admired Hanson's restraint in the way he worded things in The Hawken Rifle: Its Place in History.  It was sort of his response to ten years of people asking questions and demanding answers about Hawkens, then arguing with him when they didn't get the answers they wanted. 

He was a historian, and not inclined towards speculation like some of what Baird engaged in.  I can recall a couple of times when it seemed to frustrate him when people got obnoxious about his refusal to agree with their speculations, like what an early J.&S. Hawken flintlock might have looked like.  Somewhere--in The Plains Rifle, I think--Hanson did state that in his personal opinion that there may have been more flintlock Hawken rifles made than is generally supposed, and that we don't see them due to poor survival rates. 

I'll go see if I can find that article on the Smithsonian Hawken.

Jim
 

His writing in the "Plains Rifle" is somewhat different than the later stuff.
Such as  your "...a great many more flintlock Hawkens were made that is generally supposed..." quote

Apparently both the Missouri Fur Company and the American Fur Company bought Hawkens and had guns repaired there. This was at a time when the fur companies were not buying percussion rifles.
I can only assume that John Baird's "Hawken Rifles.." which states much the same thing as is written in the "Plains Rifle" somehow irritated Hanson.
Perhaps it was the wave of interest in Hawkens it and the Muzzle Blasts articles generated.
But his Hawken chapter in the "Plains Rifle" does a pretty good job of hyping the Hawken too and has its share of errors.
John pushed them into the forefront when they really were not in the majority. But it did not obscure the Leman's and others completely its just that the Hawken was a better rifle and people that appreciate better grade guns would prefer one over a Leman or a Henry.
But still having a modern Rendezvous where almost everyone has a Hawken is not HC.

Dan
No, sir, I don't give 'em $#*!, I just tell the truth and they think it's $#*!. Harry S Truman