Author Topic: Ferguson rifle  (Read 636 times)

Offline sqrldog

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 885
Ferguson rifle
« on: June 25, 2020, 04:37:05 PM »
Thought I would share some pictures of a short barreled Ferguson I own made by Phil Beers. It was made in 80's and is about .61 cal. If I remember correctly. There has been interest in Ferguson's on the forum lately. Last I talked with Phil he lived in Minnesota. Been several years since we talked and I don't remember who made the barrel and breech assembly. They are touch marked SB. Anyway comments are welcome. I think it is patterned after a calvary carbine or one made for hunting. Tim








Offline WESTbury

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 478
  • Marble Mountain central I Corps May 1969
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2020, 05:37:20 PM »
Cutting that 10 lead screw on the OD would have been difficult at best in the 18th Century. The 10 lead ID thread would have been somewhat more difficult, you have to admire the skill level. Would love to see the equipment they used.
"We are not about to send American Boys 9 to 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian Boys ought to be doing for themselves."
Lyndon B. Johnson October 21, 1964

Online lexington1

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 325
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2020, 05:53:06 PM »
Very nice Ferguson! Thanks for sharing. I finally acquired all of the parts to build one and plan on doing this over the winter. I doubt mine will turn out this nice.

Online 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 187
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2020, 06:03:33 PM »
This seems like a good opportunity to show off the Ferguson I got recently.  This is one of a handful of copies of the actual "ordnance" Ferguson in the Morristown NHP collection made by the late Ernie Cowan.  The ordnance rifles had a tapered 11-thread plug and were .65 caliber - .65 cal. ball for accuracy and .61 for speed loading and combat usage once the barrel got fouled.  Apparently, half the ordnance rifles were made with bronze plugs, and half were made with steel.  This, obviously, is one of Ernie's bronze plug versions.   












Online 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 187
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2020, 06:07:47 PM »
Oh...and by the way - the goofy crown and crooked GR are taken directly from the Morristown Ferguson.  Maybe not pretty but accurate!

Offline sqrldog

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 885
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2020, 06:33:31 PM »
Really nice 120RIR. Ernie did great work. One thing I find interesting on this short Ferguson is the fact that the trigger guard catches on the trigger after the complete revolution necessary to open the breech preventing the breech screw from dropping out of the breech/barrel. Perhaps a modification for horseback or sporting use?




Online 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 187
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2020, 08:53:51 PM »
Yep...Ernie was a real master and did some great work.  On occasion his attributions and research may have resulted in some controversial and unsubstantiated leaps (re: RCA 19 "sister" rifle) but one thing he could never be faulted for was the historical accuracy and quality of his work.  I'm very fortunate to have three of his rifles - this Ferguson, his "sister" rifle, and the pre-production M. 1800 (1803) as used on the Lewis and Clark expedition.  The tapered plug on the ordnance rifle is an amazing piece of work.  It wobbles around until that last 1/4 +- turn and then it tightens up solid as a rock.  It's a great design variation on the plug rifle that only appears on the ordnance rifles but there's no surviving documentation as to who came up with the taper design and the eleven threads.  Probably Ferguson himself but also maybe someone at the Tower?  Pending new research and findings we'll probably never know.

Offline Telgan

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 470
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2020, 10:51:58 PM »
I always lamented not ordering one of Ernie's Fergusons

Online 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 187
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2020, 06:19:25 PM »
I was shocked when I got a call from his business/research partner Rick Keller a few months back saying there was one available.  Each of the three Cowan/Keller rifles I got came my way "after-market".  It was their M.1800/1803 that first inspired me to think about selling off my German WWI collection to get into long rifles and I requested to be put on the list for one of the planned 15 copies.  I then neglected to follow up and confirm that and lost out.  I then saw their RCA 19 "sister" rifle project, confirmed being on that list but then only five copies were made and went to earlier buyers shortly before Ernie passed.  I again got a call from Keller that one came up and I jumped on it.  Naturally, I paid what some might consider very high prices but considering I didn't get into this for investment purposes and all of them are by a long shot the finest and most accurate copies of those guns in existence, I have no regrets.  I have a much thinner wallet though!

Offline smart dog

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 4647
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2020, 03:19:47 PM »
Hi,
Nice rifle 120RIR!!  Ernie did nice work.  The stock on the original in Morristown has a lighter color and is not nearly as finely made.  The original also has a "U" shaped iron band nailed to the bottom of the stock in front of the screw plug which repaired a crack in the stock there. When you mentioned that half of the ordnance rifles had bronze and half steel plugs, are you referring to Ernie's copies or the original rifles?
I am not aware of any documentation indicating that half the original Fergusons were made with gun metal bronze plugs and half made with iron or steel. The only other Ferguson pattern 1776 ordnance rifle gun identified is in the Milwaukee Public Museum and has an iron or steel plug.   The ordnance-issued rifles were made by Barker & Whatley,  Grice, Galton, and Willits all of Birmingham.  No documentation to or from them indicates different plugs so that feature remains a mystery.  Contrary to Cowan's account of shooting his Ferguson stating the bronze plug was the key, I shoot mine frequently and the steel plug functions very well as long as the threads are lubricated before the day's shooting.  A variety of metals were used to make the plugs on civilian versions.  One by Durs Egg has a plug made from a hard alloy of silver!  Others are gun metal bronze, iron, or steel.  It seems no one back then was sold on the idea that any one metal was key.

The ordnance rifles were produced in a rush and in fact the makers were in the middle of filling orders for the British pattern 1776 muzzleloading rifle, stopped that production to make the Fergusons.  That is probably why the engraving on the locks is crude and the stocks roughly finished.  The lock on the TRS lock is much more finely engraved than the Morristown gun. 

dave 
"Flick Lives!"

Online 120RIR

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 187
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2020, 01:52:41 AM »
I simply haven't had a chance to shoot my Ernie Cowan Ferguson just yet but I sure have fondled it plenty!  For some reason I could never quite nail down, Ernie really preferred a very dark finish on his walnut stocks.  It's nice...and different, but I have to question the historical accuracy of it.  Sorry Ernie!

Concerning the bronze vs. iron/steel plugs, I mis-remembered his research.  He only speculated at the number of bronze vs. steel plugs produced since of the 100 ordnance rifles made, of course, only two are presently known to exist.  The Morristown example with the U-shaped repair on the stock has a bronze plug but the rifle in the museum in Milwaukee is of steel and both are tapered.  As for the shooting advantages, I would have to go back over his draft article (which his research/business partner is still revising as of today) but I believe he also only speculated that the bronze would be of some advantage.  Ernie's personal Ferguson has a steel plug and he and Rick extensively shot this plus a bronze-plug version so I'm guessing he had some inclination one way or another based on experience. 

That's an interesting observation on the finish of the Morristown rifle.  I can only imagine the armorers were rushed and perhaps just a bit cranky at having to re-tool midstream!

Online Panzerschwein

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 64
Re: Ferguson rifle
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2020, 08:48:12 PM »
The Fergies are ridiculously cool. Love the bronze plug variant. Seems like itd work nicely.