Author Topic: Crescent buttplate traditions  (Read 1901 times)

Offline spgordon

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2022, 02:33:33 PM »
Has anybody checked? That was my question. And what I’m finding is that nobody has seen this addressed, the way barrels are endlessly discussed.

I'm not sure how somebody would "check"? If eighteenth-century references to changes in buttplate design survive/exist, where would they be?--perhaps in ledgers (entries describing parts ordered), perhaps in a letter from a customer to a gunsmith (*very* rare), perhaps as an offhand comment in a letter otherwise unrelated to gunmaking ("I just purchased a rifle with a cool crescent buttplate": nearly impossible to find). As we've seen in other threads recently, contemporary remarks about stock shape/design are rare as hen's teeth. This may be because so little written material has survived from the period, especially from the trade that we are studying--or it may be because the topic wasn't really discussed.

As with so many matters, we're left (as Rich said) to hypothesize, reason, and infer. This doesn't mean that some answers aren't more reasonable and persuasive than others. But I wouldn't hold out for contemporary written evidence. Probably too much to expect.
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
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And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline WESTbury

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2022, 03:16:57 PM »
From 1795 until 1855 all U.S. Military muskets and rifles had flat buttplates including the Model 1841 Rifle. The Model 1855 Rifle Musket and Rifle introduced the curved buttplate. The Trapdoor series of rifles used recycled M1855 buttplates. With the Model 1892 Krag Rifle, the Ordnance Department returned to the flat buttplate. The Models 1903, M1936 Garand, Model M14, and M16 Rifles all had flat buttplates.

Nobody was, and still is, more interested in shooting accuracy than the U.S. Military. If curved buttplates contributed to accuracy, they would have stuck with them.
"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."
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Offline alacran

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2022, 03:43:59 PM »
I spent some time this morning looking at Grinsdale's Fowler book. The majority of Hudson Bay Fowlers have crescent BPs. Looked at British Fowlers and some Also have crescent BPs. Some of those guns are early guns. The Hudson Bay Fowler are very lo,ng, and rather large bore.

I wasn’t thinking about gently curved buttplates but more the deeply curved ones as seen on Hawken, SMR, and other late rifles.
If you look at the Hudson Valley Fowlers, some have rather deep crescents. We think as fowlers to be shot at flying ducks. However back in the 18th and 19thcentury,
ducks were shot at night when they were close together at rest on the water. The term getting your ducks in a row comes from that practice. The few punt gun shooters left in the UK still practice that method of killing ducks.
Shooting at flying birds with a 50 inch barreled flintlock fowler, will lead to starvation.
A man's rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.  Frederick Douglass

Offline WadePatton

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2022, 05:21:14 PM »
From 1795 ...

Nobody was, and still is, more interested in shooting accuracy than the U.S. Military. If curved buttplates contributed to accuracy, they would have stuck with them.

The modern military has different weapons for snipers than infantry, but I don't know how far that goes back. That very fact, though, leads me to think that accuracy is not the primary goal of the bulk of their rifles for quite some time now. It is the primary factor for sniping no doubt. Of course the butt shape isn't different.

As to the users in period, it's my notion that they were most concerned about caliber and type of arm,  smooth v. rifled, than any myriad of styling choices because the various regions didn't intermix so much as we do now. I don't think a man wanting a second gun in South Carolina was going to have the option of getting a NY or Ohio variation at his local source. But I haven't put any study into into such. Perhaps the rich guys traveled all around and made big collections, but not the common fellow who certainly did not have a small armory of long guns as most shooters do today. 

The craziest looking weapons I've seen have always been for accuracy or speed in some artificially constructed course of fire, like a chunk gun-specific to that purpose and a compromise when pushed into any other use.

Flat butts are just not as aesthetically pleasing to my eye and I wonder if that was not a great part of the longevity of curvy butts.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2022, 05:29:03 PM by WadePatton »
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Offline WESTbury

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2022, 07:04:05 PM »

The modern military has different weapons for snipers than infantry, but I don't know how far that goes back. That very fact, though, leads me to think that accuracy is not the primary goal of the bulk of their rifles for quite some time now. It is the primary factor for sniping no doubt. Of course the butt shape isn't different.


Tell that to the happy fellow in the photo below. ;D

Do not know about you Wade or others on this forum but, I spent the better part of August and September 1968 on the various ranges at Ft Jackson learning to be quick and accurate and that was just BCT. Also on Qualification Day everyone was "threatened" with being sent to a "Re-cycle Company" if you did not get a mininum score. That could have been all "bluff" and B.S. as was quite a bit of the tactics by the DI's was just that. :o


"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."
President Lyndon B. Johnson October 21, 1964

Offline spgordon

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2022, 07:38:21 PM »
As to the users in period, it's my notion that they were most concerned about caliber and type of arm,  smooth v. rifled, than any myriad of styling choices because the various regions didn't intermix so much as we do now. I don't think a man wanting a second gun in South Carolina was going to have the option of getting a NY or Ohio variation at his local source. But I haven't put any study into into such. Perhaps the rich guys traveled all around and made big collections, but not the common fellow who certainly did not have a small armory of long guns as most shooters do today. 

It would be great to discover anybody in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century in America who treated guns as something to "collect." I've never come across anybody. Has anybody? I wonder when we could identify a "gun collector" in America.
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline blienemann

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2022, 08:23:08 PM »
Those who enjoy collecting have been around for many years. Here's an even older example. Sound familiar to anyone? Bob


Offline spgordon

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2022, 08:27:36 PM »
Those who enjoy collecting have been around for many years. Here's an even older example. Sound familiar to anyone? Bob

Understood. That's why I asked about American collectors. Anybody know of any Americans, as I asked, collecting guns in the eighteenth or early/mid nineteenth centuries?

Plenty of estate inventories from wealthy Americans. I've seen lots with collections of books, each enumerated. Any collections of guns?
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline spgordon

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #33 on: January 17, 2022, 08:45:46 PM »
Lest anybody think that, "well, they were collecting in Europe so of course they were collecting in America ..."

Here's John Singleton Copley, in Boston in 1767, complaining that most people in early America did not consider painting a "fine art."

A taste of painting is too much Wanting to afford any kind of helps; and was it not for preserving the resembla[n]ce of particular persons, painting would not be known in the plac[e]. The people generally regard it no more than any other useful trade, as they sometimes term it, like that of a Carpenter tailor or shoemaker, not as one of the most noble Arts in the World.

His whole point is that, much to his disgust, early Americans did not like Europeans consider painting "one of the most noble Arts in the World." So, sure, elite Europeans in the eighteenth century collected fine arms. Not news. Did early Americans? 
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline RAT

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2022, 02:05:12 AM »
It depends on how many guns qualify as a "collection"... and why they collected them.

Edward Fitzgerald Beale was a naval officer in the California theater during the Mexican American war. Later, he was tasked with carrying dispatches between California and the east. He served in several government posts, including Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California. This put him in contact with a number of historical characters. One was Andrew Sublette, younger brother of William and Milton Sublette. After Andrew's death (by grizzly bear), Beale acquired Andrew's rifle. He apparently "collected" arms based on provenance. I think there are other examples of gun collections in early America based on some famous person or other having once owned said gun.

Buffalo Bill Cody was a prolific collector of firearms.

Going back to the original topic...
I think some are WAY over thinking this.

1. No... The military was not ALWAYS concerned with accuracy. We need to stop looking at this through our late 20th century/early 21st century lens.

2. No... Scientific principles of physics may not have had anything to do with butt plate shape. That includes accounting for barrel length and weight.

3. No... Shooting position probably had no effect in causing a design change to the butt plate. They didn't have school courses where ex Navy SEALS taught this, or that, new wiz-bang shooting position. Again, that's a late 20th century construct.

4. Yes... We need to simply accept that... for whatever reason... the crescent butt plate became popular in America. Having a reason, or not having a reason, really doesn't matter all that much. Why did cars in the 50's have fins?



Bob

Offline WESTbury

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2022, 02:27:10 AM »
1. No... The military was not ALWAYS concerned with accuracy. We need to stop looking at this through our late 20th century/early 21st century lens.

True. With the smooth bore muskets and the rifle muskets, massed fire was the principle.
With the M'73 Trapdoors marksmanship was introduced. All you have to do is take a close look at the M884 rear sight. The Creedmoor shooting competitions per the Creedmoor Directive-1879 were initiated during the Trapdoor period.
Accuracy as very much an interest of the Ordnance Dept. as detailed by Al Frasca in Chapter 16 of his Volume II The 45-70 Springfield.

All of this is very far afield from Longrifles however and not germane to the issue in question with this thread as related to longrifles.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2022, 02:35:15 AM by WESTbury »
"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."
President Lyndon B. Johnson October 21, 1964

Offline spgordon

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2022, 02:41:54 AM »
It depends on how many guns qualify as a "collection"... and why they collected them.

Edward Fitzgerald Beale was a naval officer in the California theater during the Mexican American war. Later, he was tasked with carrying dispatches between California and the east. He served in several government posts, including Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California. This put him in contact with a number of historical characters. One was Andrew Sublette, younger brother of William and Milton Sublette. After Andrew's death (by grizzly bear), Beale acquired Andrew's rifle. He apparently "collected" arms based on provenance. I think there are other examples of gun collections in early America based on some famous person or other having once owned said gun.

Buffalo Bill Cody was a prolific collector of firearms.

Thanks for this. These collectors are interesting--and it is interesting to think about collections based on who owned the arm (rather than, say, types of arms). It wouldn't surprise me if people, early on, preserved Washington's rifle or rifles of lesser-known-but-important figures.

The Buffalo Bill example makes a lot of sense: that is, people started collecting longrifles as longrifles once nostalgia developed for the time when longrifles flourished (the early frontier).

These folks (Beale, certainly Buffalo Bill--born 1846) are collecting mid-nineteenth century, I'd guess, at the earliest?
Check out The Lost Village of Christian's Spring:
https://christiansbrunn.web.lehigh.edu/
And The Letters of Mary Penry: A Single Moravian Woman in Early America
http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-08108-3.html

Offline JHeath

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2022, 12:32:28 AM »
1. Look at the Erhard Wolf book on Jaeger rifles. A few of the later rifles show more pronounced heals. Yes... they're still pretty flat... but it shows a beginning of the evolution to curved butt plates. These correspond to similar styles used in America at the same time (roughly 1770's).

2. The American rifle tradition evolved with German immigrants.

3. Because American gunsmiths were less restrained by more formal styles, I believe they were more free to change and evolve... for better or for worse... and there doesn't need to be a logical, or scientific, or engineering, reason for it.

4. "Calibers got smaller because all the big game was gone". I don't believe that myth. I think it was partly due to economics. Small gun... less powder and lead to buy... less expensive. What I've read leads me to believe the smaller calibers were starting to be used it poorer areas first and moved out from there.

5. You're speaking too much in absolutes... "clearly"... not really... "you have to agree"... no I don't.

6. "More art than science"... you're looking too hard at cause and effect. Not everything is done for logical reasons. It reminds me of a line from a TV show... "it doesn't always have to make sense... like plus size bikinis". Barrel length and weight may have nothing to do with the shape of the butt plate.

7. I've read far more period journal references to shooting from a rest than I have about standing square or angled in relation to the target.

8. Some competitive shooting matches may have established positions that you were expected to use. I believe these evolved from formal matches in Germany. Back county matches probably didn't. They could shoot however they wanted.

9. There are period paintings of shooting matches. A good one is "Shooting for the Beef" by George Caleb Bingham (ca. 1850). It shows a back country shooting match.

10. Crescent buttplates may be bad for some shooting positions... but some shooting positions are just plain bad in themselves. Remember all those drawings of match shooters from the 19th century in contorted positions? In hindsight they don't make much sense either... but they did it.

What does this tell you about the shape of a buttplate?


Sometimes we just have to accept what "is"... or in this case "was". There doesn't need to be an explanation. The same holds true for ourselves. Lets accept ourselves for who we are and accept the longrifle for what it is.

Most if not all of what you quoted didn’t come from me. For whatever reason, people who seem best-informed do not entirely accept any of the standard conjecture about lengthened barrels and smaller calibers. I have nothing to contribute to that discussion, except perhaps the observation that 250 years ago chronographs were exceeding scarce. If velocity were the reason for longer barrels, it might not matter if there was no practical advantage. Perhaps they believed there was an advantage. Bullet drop would have been a clue but they weren’t all Galileo. Neither are modern shooters when you look at the difference between their perception of power vs real difference.

Re military rifles, we have to consider they must be shot from all positions, and crescent plates are poor, almost impossible for that. Military rifles also have to work for every skill level. From what I see, many modern shooters try to mount crescents to the shoulder. If you had 10,000 recruits in 1812, you’d have the same problem or worse. So of course they were flat.

I don’t insist that historians explain the crescent plate in practical terms, or any other terms. I do believe, as a historian, there should exist at least some published discussion and research on the subject. From what I’m hearing, nobody has really looked into it. Sometimes research means “I couldn’t find enough direct evidence for a firm conclusion.” I wouldn’t expect to find much direct evidence. But lack of direct evidence is, in its own way, information. It means we have to adjust our expectations, and find different angles of inquiry. E.g. someone could hypothetically tabulate the percentage of surviving crescent vs flat buttplates over time, plot them geographically, and have a starting point. It’s not necessary to have a letter from Crockett saying “I hate those things, they hurt.”

I never, I think, asserted any conjecture as undeniable fact *except* that people were not shooting actual crescent plates from the shoulder pocket. I think it is undeniable that people were not shooting from the shoulder pocket with crescent plates that became extremely common, and very deep. I think that is a reasonable assumption. I think nobody can reasonably argue that crescent buttplates as they evolved to be deep were mounted to the shoulder pocket.

And I think the corollary, almost as reasonable assumption, is that they started shooting off the arm. And it follows that they presumably turned their bodies near 90deg to the target, because if you point a gun straight forward from your upper bicep, facing the target, your neck is not long enough to use the sights.

Which is all physical evidence that they *might* have started using rifles differently than when the plates were flat. I see people obsessing over “architecture”, cheekrests, carved motifs, minor differences in trigger guards, all kinds of wholly cosmetic features. At the same time the rifle became longer, the plate became so deeply concave, double set triggers became common. This is all telling us something and saying, “they just liked the way it looked” doesn’t cut it.

I’ve done my share of dense historical research and am not taking this up. But at this point in time I expected people would have recognized it as being significant enough to look for evidence.

Offline JHeath

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2022, 02:38:16 AM »
Wasco & Deschutes counties? Are you picking on Oregon?
"Muskrat" Mike
McMinnville, Oregon

Not at all. My hypothesis is that the longrifle was developed over decades in anticipation of a trip to hunt mulies in eastern Oregon, but they were never lucky enough to pull a tag.

Offline WadePatton

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2022, 02:45:36 AM »
Wasco & Deschutes counties? Are you picking on Oregon?
"Muskrat" Mike
McMinnville, Oregon

Not at all. My hypothesis is that the longrifle was developed over decades in anticipation of a trip to hunt mulies in eastern Oregon, but they were never lucky enough to pull a tag.

OH of that we must be sure!

 ;D
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Offline Daryl

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2022, 03:13:57 AM »
One thing bout the hooks, they are MUCH slower to the shoulder for an aimed shot.
Years ago, 1986'ish, we had a contest at rendezvous called "The duel". I have spoken of this on this site, before.
Simply put, an upright post had a cross piece with an 8" plate of steel at each end of the cross piece/rod. The plates faced
"The Duelers". Each dueler held his or her rifle under the shoulder muzzle pointed down, in both hands.  At the signal, whether
a whistle or command, each dueler would shoulder their gun and shoot at their disk. The first disk hit, would rotate the 'cross piece'
removing the other competitor's 'disk' from their line of sight.
At this day and age, most of the shooters were shooting hooked butt plates and most were Hawken-styled rifles.
My English-styled rifle was never beaten at this "game". It came immediately to the shoulder, straight up into the pocket and bam-
on steel every time, instantly the butt hit the shoulder the sights were already on the target.  This happened, no matter who shot it
as a few of the lads wanted to try this style of gun. It worked splendidly, every time. Unbeaten at this "game".

edited- correcting typos.


« Last Edit: January 23, 2022, 01:25:19 AM by Daryl »
Daryl

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Offline JHeath

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #41 on: January 23, 2022, 12:34:47 AM »
One thing bout the hooks, they are MUCH slower to the shoulder for an aimed shot.
Years ago, 1986'ish, we had a contest at rendezvous called "The duel". I have spoken of this on this site, before.
Simply put, an upright post had a cross piece with an 8" plate of steel at each end of the cross piece/rod. The plates faced
"The Duelers". Each dueler held his or her rifle under the shoulder muzzle pointed down, in both hands.  At the signal, whether
a whistle or command, each dueler would shoulder their gun and shoot at their disk. The first disk hit, would rotate the 'cross piece'
removing the other competitor's 'disk' form their line of sight.
At this day and age, most of the shooters were shooting hooked butt plates and most were Hawken-styled rifles.
My English-styled rifle was never beaten at this "game". It came immediately to the shoulder, straight up into the pocket and bam-
on steel every time, instantly the butt hit the shoulder the sights were already on the target.  This happened, no matter who shot it
as a few of the lads wanted to try this style of gun. It worked splendidly, every time. Unbeaten at this "game".




And THAT is precisely the story of buttplates on these rifles. One type is needed for snapshooting facing the target, and the other is part of a rifle design for deliberate fire from standing position with the body turned.

To some extent, that seems to distinguish English from American perceptions of what defines a fine rifle.

I often notice British shooters think a "fine rifle" should fit like a shotgun, snap straight up to a sight picture while facing a suddenly-appearing target. More American shooters think a good rifle should be "steady" and have a super light trigger. Completely different ideas of how rifles are used.  Daryl, you recently posted a photo of yourself (or your brother?) aiming an English sporting rifle. I noticed your left index finger was extended as though shotgunning. That, I think, is how those rifles are intended to be used. And it's an established cultural trend, it seems to mark the difference between a modern London unmentionable and American ideas of what makes a good rifle.

Double set triggers are another feature that screams the difference in styles. They are for deliberate shooting, and became far more common on American rifles. They are not for snap shooting. If you see an old rifle with DS triggers and a crescent plate, don't expect it to be British.

 I will go on a limb and say that double set triggers are never used on shotguns. I say that to give someone here the satisfaction of disproving everything I have said by showing an example of a shotgun with double set triggers. Bonus points if it is a SxS with four triggers.

One of these rifles is classically English, a Jos. Manton. The other is American. The difference isn't the engraving motifs or style of cheekpiece. The difference is that you can snapshoot from the shoulder pocket with the English rifle, and the American rifle is optimized for deliberate position-shooting, secure to the arm, cross-body, with a target-weight trigger. Otherwise you could hardly tell them apart.

What's interesting is that American sporting rifles were not always like this. They transitioned in the late 18th Century to accomodate a completely different style of shooting.









Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #42 on: January 23, 2022, 12:54:42 AM »
I wonder if there isn't some difference in comb line (cast and pitch ) between a Hawken and a fine English rifle too.  :-\

Offline Daryl

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #43 on: January 23, 2022, 01:31:06 AM »
I think most all of the Euro guns have less drop at the heel & pretty much had figured out stock shape that hunting rifles should have, in the 1700's.
Some times this increased drop at the heel & toe is exaggerated on later American styled rifles, like some SMRifles, which is where the hockey
stick moniker comes from, I am sure.
Daryl

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Offline RAT

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #44 on: January 23, 2022, 06:43:38 AM »
Here is a photo of a German wheel-lock rifle with a "cheek stock".


This one is fairly late (mid 17th century). This style of stock pre-dates the invention of the stock designed to be placed against the shoulder to steady the rifle during firing. The book "The Art of the Gunmaker" by J. F. Hayward states the cheek stock was in use by 1540, and was used until about 1660. He states the true shouldered butt stock was invented in either France or Spain around 1530-1550. German rifles eventually evolved to use the shouldered butt stock.

Notice 4 things about the rifle...
1. It has a full octagon barrel 2. It has double set triggers 3. It has a prominent cheek piece 4. It has a knob sticking out of the butt.

The knob is the head of a vent pick that screws into a hole in the butt for storage. This basically prevents it from being shouldered. These guns were shot by supporting the fore end with a forked rest... the butt was held away from the shoulder and was entirely supported by holding tight to the cheek. This is the reason for the (German) invention of the cheek rest. The Germans invented double set triggers for cross bows BEFORE the invention of firearms. They also invented the rifled barrel.

The octagon rifled barrel, double set triggers, and angular cheek piece continued to be used in the German tradition of rifle making from the beginning of firearms all the way into the 19th century. Germans brought the rifle making tradition to America and this is why American longrifles look the way they do.

Here is a painting by George Caleb Bingham ca. 1850


You can draw whatever conclusion you want from the shooting position shown. What I want to point out is the man next to the shooter. Look at the position of the rifle he's loading.

Here's a photo of the gunsmith John Caleb Vincent. Notice the position of the rifle he is loading.


I've long suspected that the crescent butt plate was developed to aid in loading. The protruding heel sticks in the ground. This is particularly helpful in loading tight ball/patch combinations.

JHeath... I can't recommend enough doing more research on the history and art of these guns. This includes studying regional styles and architecture. And please don't limit your research to just a limited time frame. I highly recommend "The Art of the Gunmaker" for a study of firearms from their very beginnings up through the 19th century. It was published in 2 volumes. The last time I looked (probably 5-10 years ago) it was available online as an E-book. So, it's out there and available. Please don't limit yourself to just what to think you might know. You really need to do the research.
Bob

Offline RAT

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2022, 06:48:53 AM »
JHeath... I sent you a private message with an offer to provide some additional information.
Bob

Offline alacran

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Re: Crescent buttplate traditions
« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2022, 05:39:40 PM »
I agree with a lot of what Daryl says about the English butt being easier to shoulder than a hooked butt like the Hawken. However, I have found over the years that most people that shoot Hawkens, have a too long trigger reach. A lot of them are not built correctly that is the front trigger will not fire the lock without first being set.  Also, most people don't shoot their Hawkens enough to be able to shoot them instinctually.
They only shoot their rifles at monthly matches where a deliberate stance is optimal.
Hunting with a rifle in a situation that involves "spot and stalk, or still hunting" by necessity will teach you to shoot a rifle in whatever position you are in.
I have killed animals where I was square on with my Hawken, mounted the rifle and shot it with the front trigger unset all done in one fluid motion.
I think familiarity with a particular rifle is as important, if not more so than the shape of the butt.
A man's rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.  Frederick Douglass