“Best” Fowler barrel length? HC/PC and performance?

Discussion in 'Historically Accurate Equipment' started by Jfoster, May 8, 2019.

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  1. May 29, 2019 #21

    old ugly

    old ugly

    old ugly

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    I shot my 42" at clays coming out of a skeet house and it was slow to swing and lead the clay. so I would say 36 would be a better gun for that activity or fast moving live critters. but I found 42" to shoot nice with roundball.
    ou
    tom
     
  2. Jun 1, 2019 #22

    Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron

    Grandpa Ron

    45 Cal.

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    If you want an historically correct trade gun 42" is a good number. But what if you want a shorter barrel?

    If you want a shorter barrel you do that was done back then. You saw off the barrel, reset or leave off the first ramrod guide, cut your ramrod and perhaps reset the front barrel lug and pin. That is what was done historically. You have what they had, a 42 inch gun stock with a shorter barrel.

    It is true there are references to barrels being intentionally shortened for this or that group and even a mention of the HBC ordering shorter barrels. However the fact remains, that the vast majority of the 18th century trade guns came with longer barrels.
     
  3. Jun 14, 2019 #23

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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  4. Jun 15, 2019 #24

    dave_person

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    dave_person

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  5. Jun 15, 2019 #25

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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  6. Jun 15, 2019 #26

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    Yes, with the following changes. Barrel lengths stay the same sometimes shortened a little to 38" or so. The locks would all be flat-faced English locks and many would have roller frizzens and the other bells and whistles. Most of the hardware is the same but the trigger guard usually had the acorn finial. The stock shape stays the same mostly, however, some makers lower the comb such that it almost blends into the wrist at its end. Half stocked guns with metal ribs become more popular. Checkering is introduced, starting with the large coarse pattern but quickly evolving into the more modern style of fine checkering. The prominent hump and sighting groove on the standing breech begins to disappear and patent or chambered breeches start to become popular. None of the barrels are choked. Some makers tried straight rifling in the barrels that required a shot size that actually fit into the grooves. These guns shot tight patterns for quite far ranges. However, the common waterfowling gun of the time used for ducks and geese at longer ranges was very big bore (>10 gauge), with a very long barrel up to 72". They were usually used to shoot the birds on the water. The classic fowlers with light barrels were designed mainly for upland bird hunting. The tutorial on fowlers that you linked to has several parts. If you go to the home page, then the "tutorial" section, and then "Miscellaneous Tutorials" you will see all the parts and another tutorial on building an 18th century English fowler.

    dave
     
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  7. Jun 15, 2019 #27

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    36 Cal.

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    So it appears from my understanding a 44” fowler stocked in maple would more than likely have been incorrect for the Virginia region of 1780?
     
  8. Jun 15, 2019 #28

    Capt. Jas.

    Capt. Jas.

    Capt. Jas.

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    Nothing wrong with a 44" barrel for that period. If you are wanting it to represent an English import which was a common thing, the maple is the issue. What one must also take into consideration is that English pieces made for export were not the latest and greatest versions that were popular with the gentry in England at the time. There were fowling pieces made in Birmingham that were exported to America into the early 1800s that used hardware that was fashionable in England during the 1750s. Trade(trading) guns from the 19th century utilized features that were popular with the higher end pieces in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Many want to credit that 100% to the desires of the Indians but after delving into the English gun trade history it is evident to me that it was a conscious effort to distinguish between the latest and greatest and the lesser. It's a class carryover thing IMO that can still be seen in offerings of "standard" and "best".
    That is not to say that more up to date guns were not used here by some. Store records in America reveal levels of quality in arms available off the peg and the landed gentry made orders to England specifying certain gunmakers and specific requirements of their bespoke guns.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
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  9. Jun 15, 2019 #29

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    James' comments are bang on. Your 44" barrel is fine but the maple stock would be unusual unless it was American made. Curly maple was very popular as a stock wood for fowlers in NY, NE, and Pennsylvania. In addition, there are a few examples of English fowlers stocked in maple but it was very uncommon. There was a short-lived fad during the last decade of the 17th century and first of the 18th to stock guns in burl maple. However, the burl wood often cracked and many of those guns were restocked in English or European walnut.

    dave
     
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  10. Jun 15, 2019 #30

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    Interesting. I guess i had always assumed in my mind my fowler would have been made in America ad opposed to imported. Especially post AWI.
     
  11. Jun 15, 2019 #31

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    The two kits im currently looking at are the colonial fowler and the virginia fowler from sitting fox forge. What is your take on them? Im somewhat limited to my kit selection as im left handed and intend to build a left handed kit.
     
  12. Jun 15, 2019 #32

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    To add clarity, my persona is that of a person born in Virginia in the tail end of AWI. In 1783 my father moved us to TN in search of opportunity. It is there that i grew up market hunting and eventually pushed further west into the ozarks. My father gifted me the fowler and it is my main do all hunting piece. In my mind it would have been something above a poor boy or barn gun, but more than likely not one of the finest pieces built given its task.
     
  13. Jun 15, 2019 #33

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    Id love to use a RE Davis round faced lock, but those only appear to be made for a right hand mount. So looks like it will be a l&r queen anne lock for me.
     
  14. Jun 15, 2019 #34

    Coot

    Coot

    Coot

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    With increases in both US territory and population, trade with England was actually greater after the AWI than before.
     
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  15. Jun 15, 2019 #35

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    While ive gathered that there isnt a true 100% copy of a british fowler in kit form out there, but im curious what the closest kit is out there? Kicker is left hand.
     
  16. Jun 15, 2019 #36

    Grenadier1758

    Grenadier1758

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  17. Jun 16, 2019 #37

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    Im assuming that means the sitting fox kits i mentioned arent quite HC/PC then.
     
  18. Jun 16, 2019 #38

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    You might be wise to buy Tom Grinslade's book on American fowlers. It will show you a large number, many from the time period you are interested in. In truth, a left hand gun at the time would be very rare but there were some made. You don't have to choose a round-faced lock. By the 1780s, round-faced locks were used mostly on military, livery, and cheap trade guns. Higher quality English guns almost always had flat locks. The Davis round-faced lock would represent the cheapest kind of trade lock or livery gun lock. The L&R Queene Anne lock is a lousy design for the following reasons, 1) the sear is too short placing the trigger bar too far forward relative to the lock. That makes getting a proper English profile difficult; 2) L&R's forged mainsprings are dead although they do work but they have none of the feel of a good original lock, 3) the stupid lug on the bottom of the frizzen does not in any way waterproof the pan and it compresses the priming powder at the vent hole. If you look at original locks, they have a notch, groove, or cavity under the pans if anything, which is designed to prevent compressing the priming powder and slowing ignition; 4) the action of the frizzen against the frizzen spring is abysmal and requires a great deal of grinding and polishing to make it work properly; 5) L&R locks have bizarre fly arrangements, which make it easy to lose the fly, place it in backwards, and with wear, get jammed between the bridle and tumbler. A better choice might be L&Rs Durs Egg lock. It has many of the typical L&R foibles but has better geometry. If I were building a left hand fowler from the 1780s, I would probably use a left hand Siler lock and reshape it a bit to look English like the one below.

    dave
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
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  19. Jun 16, 2019 #39

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

    Jfoster

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    Wow. Good to know. Thank you.
     
  20. Jun 16, 2019 #40

    Capt. Jas.

    Capt. Jas.

    Capt. Jas.

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    JFoster,
    If by British fowler you mean an English made fowling piece, check out Jim Chambers English Fowling piece. Getting that kit in English walnut will make a nice piece representing an English export piece that could have been had from a merchant in the colonies.
    Just to clarify... the Grinslade book has maybe only 3 or 4 pics of English guns but one section of NY made guns that he terms British Style guns.
     

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