1832 Original Hawken light mountain rifle. Opinions welcome please!

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58viktor

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S. Hawken 1832 Hawken light mountain rifle. Weight at 8.5 pounds: No cheek stock, no rib and small cal. due to early Trapper’s did not want heavy guns. Enough for beaver fur… lighter weight ammunition... This rifle has a small bore barrel at .385 with straight rifling. Straight rifling being first born. This rifle with No cheek stock, no rib and lightweight @ 8 ½ pounds says cheaper rifle! Smaller, plainer editions of larger Hawken Mountain Rifle known as Light Mountain Rifles normally had cheek stocks. A cheek stocked rifle would have never been considered a cheap rifle. Hawken shows only one cheap rifle made in 1832. The next one was made in 1840 and both being documented as “Cheap” in the Hawken redjustry. Barrel tells me so. Hand welded Hawken barrels circa 1829, Factory made barrels were common late 30’s. This barrel varies around 1 inch throughout the length of its 39 11/16 inch barrel. Not factory made. Front barrel sight: Silver on copper base that was a tradition brought from Hawken eastern training. Mountain men were known to complain about this eastern short sight and they would add a sliver of silver coin to make it higher. 27 inches between sights is a known Hawken measurement such as ours determining the original barrel. Hawken was predominant and possibly the earliest percussion rifle used by the mountain man. Barrel, stock and breech corrosion from percussion caps: Early Hawken rifles had this corrosion problem being a fault of Hawken, later fixed and fixed again till he got it right. This rifle is a perfect example of this corrosion. Two pins: Close examination of early Hawken rifles will reveal that the lower thimble was held in place with two pins passing through the stock. This barrel has two holes for these pins. Crescent butt-plate and heal toe as two pieces are held together with a rivet and brass and fluxed. Very early construction.. This rifle has this fluxing inside butt-plate with the rivet revealed. Heel of butt plate touches the ground first when the barrel is held vertical to ground. The toe is off ground from ¼ inch to ¾ inches known Hawken. This rifle does this. Forend tip of S. Hawken squirrel rifle in Lenard collection. Note cast rear sight, and lack of rib for ramrod. Pewter poured cap. Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Page 63 Plate No. 95. This rife lock has been repaired by a gunsmith. Note the escutcheon parts used to hold lock to stock. The lock bolt broke into the lock. This rifle's lock bolt is not recessed, dating this rifle to early status. Original lock plate with flat original snail. I am happy for this repair as to keep the rifle original. Due to not having a cheek stock, it was figured to be a cheap gun and don’t put a new lock on it? Just rig it!
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58viktor

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All information came from both John D. Baird books and The Hawken rifle Its place in history by Charles E. Hanson
This is what I have concluded on our rifle:

S. Hawken 1832 Hawken light mountain rifle. (Squirrel rifle)

Weight at 8.5 pounds: No rib. Early Trapper’s did not want heavy guns…

Small bore barrel at .385 with straight rifling: Enough for beaver fur… lighter weight ammunition…

Handmade barrel: Hand welded barrels 1829, Factory made barrels were common late 30’s. Our barrel varies around 1 inch throughout the 39 11/16 inch length barrel. Not machine made.

Front barrel sight: Silver on copper base that was a tradition brought from his eastern training. Mountain men were known to complain about this eastern short sight and they would add a sliver of silver coin to make it higher. 27 inches between sights is a known measurement such as ours determining the original barrel.

No cheek stock: Smaller, plainer editions of larger Hawken “Mountain Rifle” page 22 figure 6. The hawken rifle: Its place in history: shows only “one” cheap rifle made in 1832. The next one was made in 1840. Due to our handmade barrel it would make it this rifle.

Barrel and breech damage from percussion caps: Page 18 Hawken rifles The Mountain Man’s Choice: States Hawken rifles had this problem being a fault of Hawken, later fixed… Page 69 The Hawken Rifle: its place in history: It was predominant and possibly the earliest percussion rifle used by the mountain man. Our’s has this damage.

Crescent and heal as two pieces are held together with a rivet and brass and fluxed. Very early construction.. Page 92 Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Our’s has this fluxing.

Two pins: Close examination of early rifles will reveal that the lower thimble was held in place with two pins passing through the stock. Page 78 Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Our barrel has two holes for these pins.

Late triggers seam to not have the adjustment hair trigger. Our’s has the adjustment screw.

Heel of butt plate touches ground first when barrel is held vertical to ground. The toe is off ground from ¼ inch to ¾ inch.

Forend tip of S. Hawken squirrel rifle in Lenard collection. Note cast rear sight, and lack of rib for ramrod. Page 63 Plate No. 95 Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Same to our’s.

Thanks for you interest and let me know what you think, Victor
 

S.Kenton

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I’ve never seen a Hawken rifle without the snail drum. I’ve seen many originals, and one can google a plethora of examples on the web. I know some examples that doesn’t fit what people have in mind as the “traditional” Hawken, but they still have the snail drum. I honestly can’t think your example is any type of Hawken at all. Just a disclaimer, I’m not an expert,maybe some one else will chime in.
 
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Grenadier1758

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Jake and Sam Hawken went into partnership in St. Louis about 1825 until Jake died in 1849. Rifles built during the time of their partnership would have been marked J&S Hawken, St. Louis. They did build light rifles for the local trade, but they were all marked with a Hawken stamp. The S. Hawken stamp wasn't used until 1849. I'm not sure they ever marketed a rifle with straight grooves. There are a few early rifles that have the drum and nipple rather than a snail. These are stamped J&S Hawken.

There were a number of gunsmiths in the St. Louis area that made rifles with a great degree of similarity. I have my doubts that, @58viktor, you have a Hawken rifle.
 

William Lincoln

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No question that it is what we would today call a Hawken. The original secrets are lost
in time. Definitely a conversation piece and a wall hanger in a nice homeplace.
 

rich pierce

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There is about a 5% or less chance that this gun was made by J&S Hawken. S. Hawken was not making halfstock guns in the period you mention. You are taking generic characteristics and assigning an identity. Without a signature it is not made by the Hawken shop in St. Louis.
Example of how your reasoning leads to a wrong conclusion.
I have a vintage car and I declare it is a ‘57 Chevy.
1) it has no Chevy logos or serial numbers. It doesn’t have a Chevy engine or transmission.
2) It does have tail fins and the 57 Chevy has tail fins
3) It has a chrome bumper and the 57 Chevy had a chrome bumper
4) It has a V8 engine and many 57 Chevvies had V8 engines
5) it has a 12 volt battery and so did the 57 Chevy
6) It has a big trunk. The trunks on 57 Chevvies were huge.
7) It has a big hump in the floorboard in the rear seat. 57 Chevvies had that.
Too bad my vintage car is a Ford.
 

Spence10

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The rifling machine from the original Hawken Shop in St. Louis ended up in the possession of the Missouri Historic Society. It was studied and reported on in Bulletin #7 (Spring 1963) from the American Society of Arms Collectors, "ST. LOUIS GUNS, THE MECHANICS OF MANUFACTURE AND POINTS OF IDENTIFICATION", by Dr. Byrne and Clarence B. Fall

"We found this rig complete and in fine condition although it shows much use. It is typical in design except much more metal was used.
It is approximately 10 feet long.
The threaded feed screw is metal with male threads, right twist. It can’t make a left-twist groove.
The indexer will permit a 7 land and groove cut.
The cutter mounted in the wood bore fitting plug has a slight curvature to produce rounded bottom grooves."
(The author notes – from slugging original barrels - “All observed Hawken long guns have 7 lands and grooves with the grooves having a noticeable rounded bottom or curvature. They are all right twist. Approximately one turn in 48.”)

Not straight.

Spence
 

SDSmlf

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All information came from both John D. Baird books and The Hawken rifle Its place in history by Charles E. Hanson

This is what I have concluded on our rifle:

S. Hawken 1832 Hawken light mountain rifle. (Squirrel rifle)

Weight at 8.5 pounds: No rib. Early Trapper’s did not want heavy guns…

Small bore barrel at .385 with straight rifling: Enough for beaver fur… lighter weight ammunition…

Handmade barrel: Hand welded barrels 1829, Factory made barrels were common late 30’s. Our barrel varies around 1 inch throughout the 39 11/16 inch length barrel. Not machine made.

Front barrel sight: Silver on copper base that was a tradition brought from his eastern training. Mountain men were known to complain about this eastern short sight and they would add a sliver of silver coin to make it higher. 27 inches between sights is a known measurement such as ours determining the original barrel.

No cheek stock: Smaller, plainer editions of larger Hawken “Mountain Rifle” page 22 figure 6. The hawken rifle: Its place in history: shows only “one” cheap rifle made in 1832. The next one was made in 1840. Due to our handmade barrel it would make it this rifle.

Barrel and breech damage from percussion caps: Page 18 Hawken rifles The Mountain Man’s Choice: States Hawken rifles had this problem being a fault of Hawken, later fixed… Page 69 The Hawken Rifle: its place in history: It was predominant and possibly the earliest percussion rifle used by the mountain man. Our’s has this damage.

Crescent and heal as two pieces are held together with a rivet and brass and fluxed. Very early construction.. Page 92 Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Our’s has this fluxing.

Two pins: Close examination of early rifles will reveal that the lower thimble was held in place with two pins passing through the stock. Page 78 Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Our barrel has two holes for these pins.

Late triggers seam to not have the adjustment hair trigger. Our’s has the adjustment screw.

Heel of butt plate touches ground first when barrel is held vertical to ground. The toe is off ground from ¼ inch to ¾ inch.

Forend tip of S. Hawken squirrel rifle in Lenard collection. Note cast rear sight, and lack of rib for ramrod. Page 63 Plate No. 95 Hawken rifles the mountain man’s choice. Same to our’s.

Thanks for you interest and let me know what you think, Victor
Interesting gun. How about a closeup photograph of the Hawken signature or stamp on the barrel flats?
 
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Everything about the gun shouts OHIO! To me. Of course Ohio style rifles were made in the St Louis area in the Hawken days. So there is a very slight chance it may be Hawken made. All the traits listed were not exclusive to the Hawkens, but used by many. I wouldn't pay a premium price for it on the way outside chance it might be a Hawken. If interested I'd pay an Ohio price for it, not more than $700 on my budget and probably less.
 

William Lincoln

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Well all are in agreement. It is an old antique muzzleloading rifle that resembles some
Hawken aspects. Without the Makers Mark it is just speculation. Did the gun come with
a story that solves the mystery? It might pre-date Hawkens. Who knows? The Owl or the
recovering Beaver that got shot? Thanks 58viktor for bringing us your unique find.
 

58viktor

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Jake and Sam Hawken went into partnership in St. Louis about 1825 until Jake died in 1849. Rifles built during the time of their partnership would have been marked J&S Hawken, St. Louis. They did build light rifles for the local trade, but they were all marked with a Hawken stamp. The S. Hawken stamp wasn't used until 1849. I'm not sure they ever marketed a rifle with straight grooves. There are a few early rifles that have the drum and nipple rather than a snail. These are stamped J&S Hawken.

There were a number of gunsmiths in the St. Louis area that made rifles with a great degree of similarity. I have my doubts that, @58viktor, you have a Hawken rifle.
Grenadier1758- Thank you for your knowledge and interest. 58viktor
 

1911tex

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There is an outside chance that it may be a very, very early trial and error test cap Hawken when flint was evolving into percussion. I know of no manufacturer of any product that did not experiment/test and evaluate initially before finalizing a product and stamping their name on it, then making user improvements as time marched on. This may in fact be one of those? No one can prove otherwise with the evidence shown.
 

58viktor

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Generic half stock, made by the thousands. Probably Ohio or Pennsylvania.
Jake Hawken was known to have built a few rifles in Ohio before joining Sam in St. Louis. With all due respect - if thousands of the Generic Half stocks were made where are they all? I have a book on Ohio Gunsmiths and not one looks like this rifle... nor does it have Jake Hawken listed with his short stay.
 
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