Author Topic: Hillegas, J. 20200406  (Read 76 times)

Offline Mark Elliott

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Hillegas, J. 20200406
« on: October 04, 2020, 10:21:59 PM »
This is a swivel breech rifle made by J. Hillegas in Pottsville, PA, probably in the early 1840s. This rifle is unique in several ways. It is a rifle by a fairly well known maker, but few examples of his work are around. This gun in terms of ornamentation is representative of his best pieces having a very fancy patchbox, and 20 silver inlays.

It is a bit unusual in that it is full stocked, (full paneled forearm) when most percussion swivel breech rifles were not.

The barrels have heat treated patent breeches with the nipple going directly into the firing chamber rather than the usual drum and nipple method.

Barrels are 34 inches in length and are about .48 caliber with one being straight rifled and the other has spiral rifling.

The inlays are blind with no engraving on them. The patch box, on the other hand has fairly extensive engraving, done somewhat lightly.

The release lever is depressed on the back end to unlock and allow rotation of the barrels. This must have been the new and improved version for a barrel release as most percussion era swivel guns seem to have it. Curiously, the head of the lever has been humorously engraved with eyes and a mouth resembling a comical serpent.

It is believed that there is no restoration of the gun. It has something of a history. It is shown on the cover of a 1970s American Rifleman Magazine depicting an award winning exhibit by a TN collectors association. It made its way from TN out to New Mexico, to become part of a collection in Santa Fe.  It is now in a CA collection.  This rifle was awarded an NRA Silver Medal at the NRA national meeting at Anaheim, CA in the early 1990s.