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18th Century smooth rifles

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Evidence please?

We've been seeking evidence of this being any kind of common for a long time.
Have you been holding out on us?Lol

We have period advertising offering "smoothrifle guns," I don't recall seeing documentation of rifled guns being deliberately bored smooth, however we do read of rifles guns having their rifling "refeshed."
After the Civil War, a lot of Springfields and Enfields were reamed smooth and had the stocks cut back and were used as shotguns.
 
One of the things that surprised me most about Kindig's book was how many Kentucky rifles featured are reported to lack any rifling. One trend I've noticed in the books I own of documented rifles is that the majority of rifles attributed to southern states tend to possess rifling, while there is a much greater chance for a northern rifle to be a smoothbore. I don't think there is a single smoothbore in Bivin's book covering NC rifles, nor are there any in Pierce's book documenting southern Appalachia rifles. That said, what I have seen is only a small sliver of existing originals and perhaps with a broader depth of knowledge this supposed trend I've noticed is only due to my lack of experience with the subject.
I agree, but keep in mind that many of the Southern Mountain Rifles in Pierce’s book are from a generation or 2 later than the guns in Kindig’s Golden Age book and Shumway’s Rifles of Colonial America books. So, time and geography are in play.
 
Evidence please?

We've been seeking evidence of this being any kind of common for a long time.
Have you been holding out on us?Lol

We have period advertising offering "smoothrifle guns," I don't recall seeing documentation of rifled guns being deliberately bored smooth, however we do read of rifles guns having their rifling "refeshed."

I think this topic is like the various discussions about whether people ever loaded smoothbores with patched balls. Some say that since there is no documentation of it, it never happened. Which is pretty naïve, I think.
It is not unreasonable to assume that perhaps 95% of everything ever written on paper prior to 1850 ( in North America, at least )has been destroyed by accident, on purpose, or neglect. So we are talking about a very, very narrow sampling of the totality of written communications.
Add to that the fact that people who used or worked on guns were not prone to mention or document details about guns, and many were not literate enough to write anything about them anyway.
There was probably much more written horses, farming, and beekeeping practices than ever was about guns. Barrel work details, especially reboring long gun rifle barrels out to smooth, would not have been worth mentioning in writing, with the possible exception of gunsmith ledger books ( almost all of which have been lost to time ).
Boring out a pitted rifle barrel to smooth was often considered blacksmith work.
How many blacksmith account books from the 1700’s are known to survive?
 
I think this topic is like the various discussions about whether people ever loaded smoothbores with patched balls. Some say that since there is no documentation of it, it never happened. Which is pretty naïve, I think.
It is not unreasonable to assume that perhaps 95% of everything ever written on paper prior to 1850 ( in North America, at least )has been destroyed by accident, on purpose, or neglect. So we are talking about a very, very narrow sampling of the totality of written communications.
Add to that the fact that people who used or worked on guns were not prone to mention or document details about guns, and many were not literate enough to write anything about them anyway.
There was probably much more written horses, farming, and beekeeping practices than ever was about guns. Barrel work details, especially reboring long gun rifle barrels out to smooth, would not have been worth mentioning in writing, with the possible exception of gunsmith ledger books ( almost all of which have been lost to time ).
Boring out a pitted rifle barrel to smooth was often considered blacksmith work.
How many blacksmith account books from the 1700’s are known to survive?
But we have evidence of them refreshing rifling in the 1700s. So would it not be "naive" to think we wouldn't have it of them being bored smooth. Just like we have commentaries from a later period of smoothbore trade guns being loaded with patches as though it was a unique thing,,,, and also in a specific place.



Lots of things happened in the 1920s that didn't happen in the 1820s, lots of things happened in the 1820s that didn't happen in the 1790s much less than 1770s or 1750s. Just because rifled bores got bored smooth post 1800 or post Civil War doesn't mean the same was done commonly or on a regular basis 40 or 50 years earlier.
 
But we have evidence of them refreshing rifling in the 1700s. So would it not be "naive" to think we wouldn't have it of them being bored smooth. Just like we have commentaries from a later period of smoothbore trade guns being loaded with patches as though it was a unique thing,,,, and also in a specific place.



Lots of things happened in the 1920s that didn't happen in the 1820s, lots of things happened in the 1820s that didn't happen in the 1790s much less than 1770s or 1750s. Just because rifled bores got bored smooth post 1800 or post Civil War doesn't mean the same was done commonly or on a regular basis 40 or 50 years earlier.

Boring a barrel out smooth does not require as much skill and can be done quickly with no fanfare. Since everyone knew any gunsmith ( and most blacksmiths ) could do it, why advertise it?

It would be like a hardware store advertising that nails could be bought there. Why would that be news to anybody?
New guns would have been made without rifling to save money, and in an age where poor eyesight was generally not very correctable, why pay for rifling in a gun if you could not see well enough to take full advantage of it?
I’m guessing here, but omitting the rifling operation may have saved 25 to 30 percent on the cost of a new gun.

We know people in those days tied their shoes, but someone would be hard pressed to find a written description on how to do it, or that it was ever done at all.
 
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I agree, but keep in mind that many of the Southern Mountain Rifles in Pierce’s book are from a generation or 2 later than the guns in Kindig’s Golden Age book and Shumway’s Rifles of Colonial America books. So, time and geography are in play.
That is a very good point, but if you look only at RCA II (I wish I could include RCA I in this comparison, but I'm still waiting for a reprint of that volume) the majority of the rifles featured before the "Rifles of Unknown Origin" are about 50/50 rifled/smooth bore, while the southern rifles after the unknowns are predominantly rifled. Like I said previously I am still lacking much experience regarding the topic of American longrifles, but I am trying to learn why this discrepancy seems to exist and would love to hear the thoughts of those who have been studying these guns for far longer than I. Were smoothbored rifles a predominantly northern phenomenon? I'm mostly asking because I am looking to build a 20 gauge smooth rifle with an octagon-to-round barrel and am leaning towards a Pennsylvania school's style since it seems making one following any southern style would be out of place.
 
Many barrels were sent over here from both Germany and England...These barrels were shipped smooth and the gunsmith rifled them over here, that way the barrel could have been made for a rifle or a fowler....The Moravians kept very good records of their supplies and the inventory of Christians Springs showed these barrels in stock...
 
Brushyspoons, it does appear that smooth rifles were common not generally in the north but in a specific region of Pennsylvania. Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh, into Berks. Smooth rifles seem rarer in Lancaster, York, and western Pennsylvania.

Most of the rifles Shumway attributed to the South are just his best guesses as to origin. If something didn’t fit into the meticulously documented long guns made in Pennsylvania and Maryland, they must be from somewhere else, probably the South. Reasonable educated guesses, but not firm attribution in my view.

However, it does seem to me that there are few smooth rifles that can be firmly established as being made in the South.
 
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