Author Topic: Fowler or long rifle  (Read 5888 times)

Offline Bushfire

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 65
Fowler or long rifle
« on: July 08, 2021, 03:30:03 PM »
Hi all,

I'd like to get into flintlocks and am tossing up between a fowler or a long rifle for deer hunting. I like the idea of a fowler for small game and  birds but I also like the idea of being able to shoot a deer at 100 yards with a rifled gun.

Interested in opinions on the two, what you use and what your preference is. Also any makers of these type guns.

Offline bob in the woods

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4540
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2021, 03:42:02 PM »
You did specify that the firearm would be for deer hunting. If the majority of your shots in the past where within 50 yards, then the fowling gun would work .  Can you live with passing up shots at 100 yards ?    If not, then that answers your question.

Offline Jeff Murray

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 592
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2021, 06:10:40 PM »
BITW cut through most of the fog around your choice.  Another consideration is sights.  Would you put rifle sights on a fowler or just go with a traditional bead at the muzzle?  Your ability to place your shot accurately would be affected by this second choice.

Offline Hungry Horse

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5429
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2021, 06:36:26 PM »
 I think a lot would depend on where you hunt, and what the terrain is like. Western big game hunting is likely to be longer range open country hunts. Not where a smoothbore really shines. Forested woodlands, where short shots can be made from cover, or some sort of blind, are better for big game hunting with a smoothbore.
 I will say some of the most enjoyable muzzleloader hunts I’ve had were with my 30” barreled tradegun. But the most successful were upland hunting of pheasant, and quail.

  Hungry Horse

Offline rich pierce

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 18996
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2021, 06:37:29 PM »
It can be harder than one thinks to get a smoothbore to have good enough accuracy at 50-60 yards for deer. Some folks here are gifted and spent a lot of time working out accurate loads. Any old load will shoot into 2” at 50 yards with most rifles if the patches are intact.
Andover, Vermont

Offline P.W.Berkuta

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2170
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2021, 07:01:29 PM »
This is where two guns come into play ----- one a smoothbore and the other a rifle ;) ::) ;D
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it." - Chinese proverb

Offline Frank

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 968
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2021, 09:27:31 PM »
This is where two guns come into play ----- one a smoothbore and the other a rifle ;) ::) ;D

Swivel Breech. Smooth bore barrel and a rifled barrel.

Offline moleeyes36

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1437
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2021, 12:41:25 AM »
Hi all,

I'd like to get into flintlocks and am tossing up between a fowler or a long rifle for deer hunting. I like the idea of a fowler for small game and  birds but I also like the idea of being able to shoot a deer at 100 yards with a rifled gun.

Interested in opinions on the two, what you use and what your preference is. Also any makers of these type guns.


This is where two guns come into play ----- one a smoothbore and the other a rifle ;) ::) ;D


Based on your desire to use the gun for three very different purposes, deer hunting at 100 yards, small game hunting, and bird hunting, I don't think you'll be happy with only one gun.  Get a rifle suitable for deer hunting and a fowler for small game and bird hunting. 

As Hungry Horse said, a smoothbore for deer hunting in heavy cover is a good choice, but for 100 yard plus shots it will be incredibly challenging to say the least.  And of course a rifle for hunting flying birds is out of the question.  You aren't going to be able to do all you want with one gun.  Besides, one can't have too many guns.

Don Richards
Don Richards
NMLRA Field Rep, Instructor, Field Range Officer
NRA Chief Range Safety Officer

Offline bob in the woods

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4540
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2021, 01:16:20 AM »
Smoothbores for 100 yard deer hunting is IMO unethical. I shoot mine all the time and am very confident in my ability, and still would not shoot at a deer at that range.  BTW, I don't have much faith in many even estimating the range correctly .  I have heard from many about the 3 in grouping at 50 yards with a smoothbore, and yet have rarely seen evidence that the majority can achieve that. It takes time and work.  Most folks would be best to think in terms of archery when taking a round ball loaded smoothbore into the field.....but then that's just my opinion.

Offline walks with gun

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2021, 02:08:06 AM »
   One can take a heck of a lot of small game with a accurate .50 cal rifle.   Light loads 25-30 grains and make head shots.  I take grouse, ducks and a bunch of squirrel every year using only a rifle.   Rifles are less costly to shoot, less lead, less powder.  It's the big reason they were so popular on the frontier.

Offline Brokennock

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 658
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2021, 04:11:33 AM »
I currently have a 54 slow twist percussion, 50 cal fast twist percussion and 50 cal inline. I've lodtbinteredt in the inline and will sell it, my thinking toward a fowler was to have a point of difference from my sidelocks. A 50 cal rifled flint while better for deer would probably make one of my others redundant. Then again I'd I can't get better than 6 inch groups at 50 yards it won't be much use. Having said that, shooting rabbits, fixes and ducks would be neat.

Where I live is a real mix, some shots are 20 yards some are 200.

With some work and time in your part doing proper load development, 2 to 4 inch groups at 50 yards is very doable with a good smoothbore. A rear sight will help greatly in this regard. A very small rear sight, in my case mounted well to the rear where my vision makes it slightly blurry (my focus is on the front sight anyway) added to a fowler can be great for roundball shooting and easily ignored for bird hunting. Also helps with shooting shot for things like turkey and squirrels where one is shooting more like a rifle but using shot as the projectile/s.

Seeing as you already have a gun or two for longer range deer hunting, give the smoothie a try.

Offline ScottNE

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 186
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2021, 06:22:18 PM »
Hi all,

I'd like to get into flintlocks and am tossing up between a fowler or a long rifle for deer hunting. I like the idea of a fowler for small game and  birds but I also like the idea of being able to shoot a deer at 100 yards with a rifled gun.

Interested in opinions on the two, what you use and what your preference is. Also any makers of these type guns.


I prefer the “idea” of a fowler, in that the vast majority of people in the 18th American colonies would have used them, or some type of smoothbore, over a rifle. But, I own 2 rifles and no fowlers, as the practical accuracy of a rifle is just too interesting compared to a fowler. I plink at 100 yards so that decided it for me. There are members here that wring incredible accuracy out of smoothbores, but I don’t have the patience for the type of load development that entails.

I do have 1 smoothbore, an original Brown Bess, but the barrel has a goose egg on it and the stock has a repair just behind the breech so I wouldn’t dare touch it off!

Offline Hungry Horse

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5429
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2021, 06:37:36 PM »
 I will add that general upland bird hunting, and waterfowling, get best results with different fowling pieces. Smaller smoothbores do very well on upland game, and unless you have your big bore Fowler choked will generally shoot a tighter pattern than a big bore. I’ve seen remarkable pheasant, and quail, harvests taken with smoothbores as small as 28 gauge. Even turkeys can be cleanly taken with smaller smoothbores, since its primarily a head shot game. I have not found this to be the case with waterfowl. Waterfowl are just plain tough to kill cleanly, and the smaller gauge smoothbores with their long shot strings have a hard time getting the job done.

  Hungry Horse

Offline MuskratMike

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2202
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2021, 09:23:57 PM »
As for me the vote goes to a long rifle. Unless you are going to spend the required time developing your load and sights 100 yards for the rifle is at the outer edge of reasonable. For the smoothbore the same applies and 40 yards is probably more realistic. Consider a .54 or .58 caliber if you are serious about knocking down deer size game with a rifle. I absolutely love my .40 caliber Jim Kibler built rifle and it is by far my most accurate of all my flintlocks but I hunt mule deer, Elk, and bear with my .54. If you are going to build a kit I would look to Kibler and Jim Chambers. There are way too many fine builders here on ALR to mention so if a completed rifle is what you are looking to. First determine what style, size, wood type and caliber then ask around here. To complicate the matter if you are a white tail deer hunter and only shoot close range think about a .58 caliber (28 gauge I believe) the style and architecture of a rifle with a rifle barrel and front and rear sights just no rifling in the barrel. Very historically correct but not for everyone, but can shoot patched ball, shot or if the zombies come buck and ball.
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline alacran

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2146
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2021, 03:09:21 PM »
Your last post helps a lot bushfire. Most of us that live in the states are quite ignorant of your continent, my self included.
 I will ask you if the type of hunting you do is spot and stalk with mostly open country or are you  still hunting in thick timber?
If its spot and stalk a rifle is preferable over a fowler. If it is hunting in thick timber a smoothbore would be acceptable, specially if your shots are going to be in the less than fifty yard range.
Since you mentioned that the Stags you hunt are the size of a cow elk, I would suggest .54 caliber or larger. Yes they can be killed with smaller bores, but a 220 kilogram animals ability to take punishment has to be taken in consideration.
If you are hunting in open country like rolling hills with pockets of cover, like where i hunt, a range finder is a must. It will keep you from taking silly shots.
 I have taken 7 elk with patched round ball, the last three taken with a .54 flintlock , three with a caplock .54 and 1 with a cap .58. The ranges between 18 and 90 meters. The rifle will always perform at the shorter ranges without doubt and will handle the longer ranges without hesitation.
A man's rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.  Frederick Douglass

Offline MuskratMike

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2202
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2021, 06:39:12 PM »
I agree with Alacran. Forget the fowler and go with a .54 or .58 caliber. They will do the job each and every time if you do your part. The suggestion of using a rangefinder is a very good suggestion. Many people now days just can not guess distances. I think it comes from using scopes on everything and not open or peep sights but that's just my 2 cents or in your case shillings?
Great post and let us know how it works out along with pictures of your stag.
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline WadePatton

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5280
  • Tennessee
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2021, 06:55:09 PM »
Since you have two cappers, I'd go smoothie.  If you cannot get it to shoot accurately enough for your deer hunting needs, then use either of your caplock rifles until you get better.  Only you can discover how far you can accurately lob balls with a smoothie, and since you have "backup" why not try one?  You certainly aren't going to be waterfowling or upland birding with your rifles.

Also, when you are committed to a "short-range" gun you will have extra incentive to discover areas or situations where you can forego 70+ yard shots for your deer hunting without missing too many opportunities. You might become a better stalker/hunter and get closer too.

It might take years to develop your best combinations, and you might be able to pick up a flint-sparked rifle in the meanwhile. Enjoy the quest. ;)
Hold to the Wind

Offline clearwaterz

  • Starting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2022, 11:10:57 PM »
Why would you use another shotgun for a deer? I think the old shotgun you use to shoot birds is enough for 100 yards, man. Of course, it all depends on the type of gun you use. But I'd try going after deer with an old gun, too. Although, of course, a rifle is more comfortable. Read the specifics of shooting during Deer Hunting. There's a website I use as my biggest source of information for deer hunters. The site is constantly updated, so there is always something to learn. It's especially good for beginners like you. If I were you, I'd read many helpful tips because otherwise, you won't see a deer in your freezer soon.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2022, 06:00:05 AM by clearwaterz »

Offline Dphariss

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9779
  • Kill a Commie for your Mommy
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #18 on: October 22, 2022, 03:26:25 AM »
I gave up trying to hunt with a smoothbore decades ago. But I live in Montana. They use more powder and lead and get less done. This was true historically as well.  AND if you are new to flintlocks you might want to get a rifle. Its less discouraging if you shoot for accuracy.  Below is a three shot group from a 54 caliber rifle I shot after I a freshed the barrel to remove the pits. I have a 50 yard group I shot in load development  with a Kibler Colonial that is  under 1” center to center and 4 are in a ragged hole.  Both shot from a bench.
And I think of accounts from the past. Of people getting off flatboats down the Ohio and being laughed at for having a fowling piece. I think of the man who was working for a lawyer in the East who had business in Kentucky and he accompanied him. When they were attacked by natives using a decoy, when the shooting started he wrote that he and his employer had “nothing better than light fowling pieces”. He was captured and was about to go to the stake when a trader ransomed him and took him to Detroit and he made his way back home from there. Lot of people like to romanticize the smoothbore. But the Natives, the Shawnees for one, in the East used significant numbers of rifles from the 1740s onward and I believe that this and the greater economy of the rifle was the reason they were basically the standard in the frontier regions. Its impossible to counter a rifle armed foe with a fowling piece if he fights on HIS terms.
And finally is hunting there is the ethics thing. It is unethical to hunt animals with an inaccurate firearm.  Now if you hunt from and tree stand and shots are 25-30 yards perhaps its OK. But then I have killed deer at this distance with a rifled pistol so why would I bother with a smoothbore long arm?




He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

Birddog6

  • Guest
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2022, 02:56:48 PM »
Well....... had a whole page of info typed & hit the wrong button & lost it.  ::)

Were it me, I would go with the Rifle hands down.  More accurate by far at anything past 50 yards. BUT,
I have seen smoothies shoot some remarkable groups at 50 yards.  I had not built a smoothie for years simply because of the inaccuracy talk.  After building building for years, decided I had to build at least 1 & did for myself. Don't remember the Ser# but I know it is past 100 as it was 2016 I think & I was going to take it
to Friendship to shoot & Life got in the way & I never made it. (I think I actually built it in 2014 & never got a chance to shoot work loads for 2 yrs)

Anyway, you can see this is the 30 yard target is under 1" group of Three. 50 yard was about 1.5" or 1.75" but I know it was under 2".  I have killed 6 deer with this smooth rifle with 51 yards being the longest shot.  It did what I needed & I have never shot it at any further distance.

As with any of my target shooting for groups, I always shoot off sand bags & always shoot groups of 3. Document EVERYTHING on the target & change load Slightly & then shoot New target. Then I compare targets. This one just was on the bullseye because it ended up being my hunting load.  Normally I keep sights OFF the bullseye while working loads.



Now, for me,  This is a good STARTING load if I were working loads for a Rifled Barrel.  Because I know a rifled barrel will do this at 50 yards. So I would go out to 50 yards & start working loads, grease, liquid lube, balls & etc to work up a better load.  It may take me Weeks & hundreds of shots. Hundreds of targets, just to find that One Best Load.  Most guys always blame the rifle or the barrel.  I don't believe it. Most barrels made today will Outshoot the marksman by far, they just have not found the barrels optimum performance.

Most never achieve that best load because they don't want to do the time, money, documentation  & patience to come up with that load. Everyone is in a hurry, so it seems.  But  Documentation is Most Critical as if you don't document it, you repeat things over & over & waste time & money.  And I Always work loads off a bench with sand bags & eliminate shooters error.

Sorry so long winded, but I say go with the Rifle.  Get the smoothie later for rabbits.  To me, the only thing to shoot Upland game with & waterfowl is a Double Barrel. I have killed hundreds of quail with a double 24 gauge. (Birddog6)  Even killed a pheasant with a Snickers bar one time & have witnesses, but that is a whole dif story for a dif time.  ;)

Go with a .54 or .58 rifle for deer & elk.  Go with a .40 for squirrel & coyote.  Go with a  54, 58, or .62 smoothie for birds.  And that is just one dumb ol mans opinion.


« Last Edit: October 22, 2022, 03:20:16 PM by D. Keith Lisle »

Offline Robby

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2612
  • NYSSR ―
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #20 on: October 22, 2022, 03:34:23 PM »
Before I started making muzzleloaders I bought a Centermark Fusil in 20 Ga. with the idea that I would be able to hunt with shot and ball, and I did very successfully. I consider myself a very disciplined hunter and always stay within the limits of myself and my equipment, always. I worked, or better said, had fun experimenting and working up loads for both shot and ball. The first year I got a nice buck and the following spring two turkeys. After that I was trying to figure out how to put a fishing reel on it for lake trout, HAH!
It can be done, you just have to have the right attitude.
Robby
molon labe
We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. A. Lincoln

Birddog6

  • Guest
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #21 on: October 23, 2022, 02:35:58 PM »
Hi all,

I'd like to get into flintlocks and am tossing up between a fowler or a long rifle for deer hunting. I like the idea of a fowler for small game and  birds but I also like the idea of being able to shoot a deer at 100 yards with a rifled gun.

Since it is your First flintlock, go with the rifle. Believe it or not, not everyone can shoot a flintlock well. Some get it in their head there is a big flash in the pan (I never see it) and they focus on the flash & flinch & jump & yank & anticipate & they never get over this so-called flash.  Some will admit it, some won't.  Most blame it on the rifle but allot of times it is the guy holding it.  But anyway,,,,,,,,

Because of this, IMHO, I think a rifle is Much easier to sell than a smoothbore. I get 1-2 inquiries a week from people wanting rifles.. I get maybe 2 inquiries a Year from people wanting smoothies or fowlers. It is like a 1% ratio.  Also I have seen others build some nice smoothies & they sit a long time waiting for a home.  Same builders sell the rifles right away. Generally the rifles sell for more $, but allot are fancier styles too.
But generally speaking, if it doesn't work out, you will turn the rifle over much quicker than a smoothie. 


« Last Edit: October 23, 2022, 02:39:36 PM by D. Keith Lisle »

Offline Dphariss

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9779
  • Kill a Commie for your Mommy
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2022, 04:05:01 PM »
When I hear of someone with a really accurate SB I remember Nicador Kendall rifling a barrel with course emery and going to a SB only  turkey match and he and his friend “won all the turkeys the man would put up”. This is in the “Warner-Lowe Papers”
At one time Kendall was partnered with Robbins and Lawrence. In the “Papers” he is described as the “smartest man I ever knew”. If you don’t know who any of these guys are you might want to look it up. Warner, pre-Civil War would cut a “W” in a target with his slug gun just by moving the sights. Its in Roberts book. Robbins and Lawrence essentially invented modern metal machining practices and applied them to firearms to make the first Sharps firearms.
It was explained that this scratch rifling technique, coarse emery on a lap, would shoot almost as well as a rifle for 100 shots or so. If I ever build a fowler and shoot it in a smooth bore match I may do this just for fun.
Anyway when I hear of a really good shooting smooth bore I kinda smile and wonder.
He who dares not offend cannot be honest. Thomas Paine

Offline Daryl

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 15163
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2022, 08:19:19 PM »
I remember you mentioning this "feat" on the forum, many years ago now Dan.  I would have tried it with my 20 bore, but
I'd rather not have the shot wads spin in the bore, damaging it's current & beautiful modified patterns.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline hanshi

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5314
  • My passion is longrifles!
    • martialartsusa.com
Re: Fowler or long rifle
« Reply #24 on: October 25, 2022, 07:43:10 PM »
My answer may be colored by the fact of my being a devoted rifleman.  Now I have a smoothbore and have killed deer with it.  I limit my shots to 50-60 yards with it and it groups just under 3" at 50 yards.  But I've always lived in the thickly forested East where a 50 yard shot is considered about max.  BOTOH I've killed deer cleanly at 100 yds plus with two of my rifles. 

My preference would be to get a rifle first - they are much more versatile than many imagine - then get the smoothbore later on.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.