Author Topic: What percussion mod. is this?  (Read 858 times)

Offline Lucky R A

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What percussion mod. is this?
« on: October 08, 2020, 12:53:14 AM »
       I recently received a half stock percussion rifle for some restoration work.  The lock (marked P. Smith Buffalo) has a curious modification.  The hammer was drilled and threaded  to receive a pointed striker.  The drum where the nipple should be has a cavity that is smaller than a common #11 percussion cap.  Has anyone ever seen or have any idea what type of ignition system this is?    According to the family history this gun was used to harvest a very large buck in 1830.  The architecture appears to be several decades later.








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Offline alex e.

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2020, 12:57:26 AM »
My guess is Probably some adaptation for use of a pill primer. I saw an original Beck rifle that had the pointy end/ pull crusher in the flint jaws. Pan area was reworked to accommodate  the " pill"
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Offline smokinbuck

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2020, 01:45:28 AM »
I think Alex has got it right.
Mark

Offline Molly

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2020, 04:47:37 AM »
Yes, a pill lock.  But what seem odd is that I thought they were from a time period sort of between flint and cap.  This one looks like it was a caplock modified to be a pill lock.  Why do that?

Offline EC121

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2020, 05:51:51 AM »
Someone could have done it in more modern times to use caps from a cap pistol.  There were also some muskets that used tape primers. 

Offline Bill Paton

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2020, 08:19:39 AM »
   Pill locks were used quite late in New York. Author Edward Barber, in "The Crack Shot or Young Rifleman’s Complete Guide" published in 1868, wrote  “Seth Green, the best shot in New Your State, and an ardent sportsman, prefers a rifle made by Billinghurst, of Rochester, on Miller’s [sic] patent.” He goes on to describe the pill lock revolving rifle, and notes the priming pills in their recesses are covered by tallow to hold them in place. (Page 251-252)

Samuel Morrison, gunsmith in Milton, PA (Upper Susquehanna) got a patent in 1836 for a unique lock with (among other features) an interchangeable system for percussion caps and pills for ignition. So the cap won out, but pills had a long run of use.

Additionally, EC121’s suggestion makes sense, too. In the 1950’s we couldn’t find percussion caps where I lived and I used strike-anywhere kitchen matchhead tips and tape for percussion primers. Maybe removing the hammer insert again and measuring its thread diameter and pitch, and then comparing that with modern standards might help settle the issue.

Bill Paton
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 04:27:22 PM by Bill Paton »
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Offline Lucky R A

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2020, 01:14:26 PM »
      Thanks for the input.  I kind of suspected that this was some type of pill lock, but the obvious percussion cap hammer was the fly in the ointment.  The drum where pill rest is obviously machined for the purpose of holding a BB sized "pill."   
       The rifle with this lock was allegedly used to take a 172" B & C buck in 1830 here in northern Pennsylvania.  While we generally assign the wide spread use of percussion caps to about 1830.  I am sure that availability would have been sketchy.  Perhaps the availability of pills or the ability to make your own pills (see J C Kelly's discussion 5 Oct 2015 this forum) prompted this gun to be made so either caps or pills could be used for ignition.  The modification of the hammer could be easily removed and a different drum w/ nipple screwed in easily converted the gun to cap use.   Does this theory have merit?

Ron
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Offline JCKelly

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2020, 06:01:53 AM »
Raymond, Albion, NY pill lock pistol. He made rifles as well




Offline Bob Roller

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2020, 08:21:07 PM »
Pill lock for sure.One of the early forms of impact explosives used to fire a gun.
Bob Roller

Offline JCKelly

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2020, 01:18:37 AM »
Your gun is from Rochester, NY, right?
New York made pill lock guns more than, I believe, any other state.

Offline Lucky R A

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2020, 02:01:35 PM »
J.C.  The lock on the gun is marked P. Smith Buffalo, NY.  The family history is that the original owner sold his pelts that he trapped that year and went to Buffalo to purchase the gun, one of the best made.  My problem with it is the half stock architecture (plains style)  and pill/percussion lock all happening before 1830.  About what year were pill locks introduced?    An interesting aside is that the barrel of the gun was repurposed from an earlier gun, likely a flintlock.   
Ron
"The highest reward that God gives us for good work is the ability to do better work."  - Elbert Hubbard

Offline Frank Graves

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Re: What percussion mod. is this?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2020, 05:41:57 PM »
Patrick Smith of Buffalo, New York is one of the makers of pill lock rifles similar to the pill lock cylinder rifles of the designs of William Billinghurst and J & J Millar of nearby Rochester.  Smith and others in that area also produced single shot pill lock rifles, some with mule ear locks and also some under hammer guns.  They all started producing these pill locks in the mid 1830s and it seems entirely possible that an earlier barrel could have been used to make this rifle although the barrel and lug appear like others of similar rifles that I have seen.  Look underneath the barrel to see if it has the mark of Remington or other another barrel maker of the day.