American Jaeger w/Early Virginia furniture

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Treestalker

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Hello, I have accumulated parts including a swamped Jaeger barrel, a set of iron furniture for a Virginia rifle, and a plank of decent walnut. Would this make a believable American Jaeger? I would like to build a shorter handier rifle. The barrel is 31" and the used furniture is browned with a wide butt plate, which led to this delusion, fueled by my medications not working right sometimes, LOL. This would be at the limit of my ability, having never inlet a swamped barrel (maybe purchase an inletted blank?) I'd love to hear your thoughts on this Franken-Jaeger, all opinions accepted without upbraidment or repercussion, LOL. I do intend to build it in flint, advice on lock type appreciated. Thanks, George.
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dave_person

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Hi,
I am not sure if there is such a thing as an American "Jaeger". There is one short barreled rifle in RCA volume 1 (#15) that may be a colonial American product. The wood was tested by the US Forest Service wood products lab and identified as American black walnut. However, if you contact the lab they will tell you that they do not identify wood beyond genus with confidence from small sample splinters. I think the stock wood and origin of the gun is still open to question. So getting back to your idea. It sounds like a nice project and you could also make a nice German jaeger as well. As far as what constitutes an American jaeger? Who knows. Maybe some day one will turn up that is unambiguously American.
dave
 

rich pierce

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There are about 4 original flintlock rifles strongly implicated in being stocked here with barrels about 36” long. Most are not well known. One is called the “Tulip rifle” stocked in maple with a round cheekpiece and distinctive carving. Another is the “J Fenimore Cooper” rifle so called because the buttplate was later engraved in block letters with that name. Then the “twin” of #19 in Rifles of Colonial America is even shorter with about a 32” barrel. Another candidate is an unpublished cherry stocked rifle dug up at Saratoga. It has about a 36” barrel. Then there is #119 (going from memory) in Rifles of Colonial America volume 2. When creating a short-barreled “American jaeger” that is historically plausible one has to think “why?” When, where, and why would a short barreled rifle be made from scratch in the colonies? Were longer barreled rifles being made here at the same time? If so, who was the customer and why did they not prefer an import at likely lower cost? So to me the most likely scenario for an American “jaeger” is a restock of a rifle made in Europe and broken of worn out here.
 

ghostdncr

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Just a few random thoughts on the project...

Have you inlet a straight octagon barrel before? If so, I'd like to suggest you can inlet a swamped barrel as well. It will certainly take longer to do a good job of things but at its fundamental core, you are simply removing slivers of wood that are in the way of the barrel. You'll feel quite a sense of accomplishment when you finally get it finished!

As to locks, I would probably go with a Jim Chambers L5 or L20 flintlock. I think the round-faced L20 would be appropriate for an earlier gun and the flat-faced L5 being more at home on a mid-18th century example. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

One of the must haves for such a rifle if I were building it would be the stalking trigger, or at least that's what I've come to refer to them as. The rear trigger fashioned to be set with the rifle at waist level, like this:

TOTW Jaeger.jpg

I've seen many originals with more conventional triggers but for me, that particular trigger and the underside profile of the wrist pretty much define the classic Jaeger. There's a lot more to it of course, but those two features make the style easily identifiable from quite some distance.
 

billraby

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Inletting a swamped barrel is no harder than a straight one. Look up Bill Raby on You Tube. I did a video series on building a Tennessee rifle that shows step by step how to inlet a swamped barrel using only chisels. Also a series on building a Lancaster rifle that shows inletting a swamped barrel. I roughed it out with a milling machine on that one, but the idea is the same. You will see just how easy it actually is. Nothing hard about it at all. Just takes a bit of time.
 

Stophel

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"Would this make a believable American Jaeger?"

In a word, no.

You can, of course, make whatever you want, but you did ask if it would be "believable", which I can only take to mean historically accurate.

There are VERY FEW gunsmiths today who seem to have any kind of handle on German rifles. How they look, how they feel, how they handle. To be brutally honest, most all attempts at "Jaegers" I see are WAY off. It really requires lots of study and handling of original rifles to even begin to come close (which holds for any style of gun). I don't say this to discourage you, but to ENcourage you to study and research and practice. ;)
 

Artificer

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Hello, I have accumulated parts including a swamped Jaeger barrel, a set of iron furniture for a Virginia rifle, and a plank of decent walnut. Would this make a believable American Jaeger? I would like to build a shorter handier rifle. The barrel is 31" and the used furniture is browned with a wide butt plate, which led to this delusion, fueled by my medications not working right sometimes, LOL. This would be at the limit of my ability, having never inlet a swamped barrel (maybe purchase an inletted blank?) I'd love to hear your thoughts on this Franken-Jaeger, all opinions accepted without upbraidment or repercussion, LOL. I do intend to build it in flint, advice on lock type appreciated. Thanks, George.
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Hi George,

Not a "Jaeger," but a short barrel rifle we CAN document in Virginia was an "English Sporting Rifle," by William Turvey.

"Col. Phil also enjoyed hunting. The inventory of his possessions included "1 Rifle new made by Turvey" and "1 new Turvey," as well as a fowling piece and a gun.57 The rifle and unspecified firearm were probably made by gunsmith William Turvey (II) of London. Most Virginia planters purchased locally-made rifles, but Col. Phil had sent to London to acquire one of the best rifles available at the time. Much more accurate than those made in the colonies, this rifle was used for recreational game hunting and target matches. Turvey rifles were elegant, artistic pieces, and an obvious status symbol in the colonies.58"
https://www.geni.com/people/Philip-Ludwell-Lee-of-Stratford-Hall/6000000001180342386

These rifles could go from rather plain, as in the ones English Game Keepers were supplied with to use on English Estates and then all the way up to rather astonishing quality - depending on how wealthy the owner was and how much he was willing to pay.

Jim Chambers has a 31" BARREL on his kit rifle, "English Gentleman's Sporting Rifle, circa 1740-1750," that is a copy of such a Turvey Rifle, shown in the following link when you scroll down the page. BTW, if you click on the image, it shows a higher grade, silver mounted piece and better close ups of the stock furniture, though you would not need to make it that fancy:
http://www.flintlocks.com/rifles05.htm

Gus

Edited to add: I've had the pleasure of handling two rifles made from that kit and they are just plain Dandy for feel, shouldering and pointing.
 
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Treestalker

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Thank you everybody! I'm starting to see the possibilities of the Virginia-English-Jaeger amalgamation that I can weave an anachronism out of. We'll see what parts I can come up with, and in the meantime I'll study and learn. Thanks for the pictures, they really fire up the imagination!
 

PineyCreek

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I'm anxious to see what you come up with. Just don't call it a Frankenyeager. It deserves better than that. Piney
 

Robby

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For the type of hunting done in the old world a short barrel was practical, for the new world a longer barrel is more practical. You can marry the two styles, but in the end, it will be what you synthesize and imagine.
Robby
 

Treestalker

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Piney, don't mean to offend anybody, but when you see what I might build, it may seem an insult to craftsmanship, LOL!
 

rich pierce

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Boar hunting in Europe was an upper class activity involving drivers and shooters. Think shots at fast moving game at short range. What’s needed is a fast handling 40 yard rifle with big stopping power. That sort of hunting just didn’t happen here, so far as I know.
 

AlanG

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Boar hunting in Europe was an upper class activity involving drivers and shooters. Think shots at fast moving game at short range. What’s needed is a fast handling 40 yard rifle with big stopping power. That sort of hunting just didn’t happen here, so far as I know.
I guess I was wondering why the "longer barrel is more practical" in early America? Certainly driven hunts were done here, and absolutely were done by Indians/NA, though obviously not the High Society Aristocracy ones. Every driven shoot I've been involved in, whether birds or deer the shooters were stationary- no?

Maybe it's been discovered otherwise, but in the Gunsmith of Greenville County there is a section on just how important the Indian Trade was, and that the Indians demanded/paid more for longer barreled guns, and at some point when they (eventually) started selling them rifles they had similar desires. He also points out that long barreled rifles certainly were made in the various Germanic gunmaking regions.

Obviously I'm doing a little devils advocacy here, but I do question that we are just repeating these things
 

Stophel

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A LOT of hunting was done with dogs (there and here). I believe that the German hunter often needed an accurate rifle (so he didn't accidentally shoot his own dog!), but didn't necessarily need to make any really long distance shots. Accurate and fast handling were the priority.

I also believe that offhand target shooting was probably the main purpose of many rifles, rather than hunting. The balance of the shorter barrel then becomes important (this, I think, is probably why so many German rifles have the dual-range flip up rear sights, and the "nadelstecher" needle set triggers, that ain't the best for hunting purposes).

Further, I believe that much German hunting was done with smoothbore and straight rifled guns. These, of course, were as long as anything else.

There are a fair number of 18th century German bench rest rifles. These will have fairly heavy, long (like 40" or so) barrels, a bench hook, and often a pull-out shoulder rest in the heel of the buttplate. So the benefits of the longer rifle barrel were known.

There also are some small caliber (like .30 and smaller!) German rifles with long barrels. These are known as "Vogel puersch/pirsch buechsen". Bird stalking rifles. For shooting birds, obviously, and probably other small game.
 

rich pierce

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I guess I was wondering why the "longer barrel is more practical" in early America? Certainly driven hunts were done here, and absolutely were done by Indians/NA, though obviously not the High Society Aristocracy ones. Every driven shoot I've been involved in, whether birds or deer the shooters were stationary- no?

Maybe it's been discovered otherwise, but in the Gunsmith of Greenville County there is a section on just how important the Indian Trade was, and that the Indians demanded/paid more for longer barreled guns, and at some point when they (eventually) started selling them rifles they had similar desires. He also points out that long barreled rifles certainly were made in the various Germanic gunmaking regions.

Obviously I'm doing a little devils advocacy here, but I do question that we are just repeating these things
It’s easy to recount what people have reasoned for years about the development or rise of the longrifle here. We all know the story. Smaller caliber, less powder was for savings. Longer barrel to burn poorer powder if needed. I admire Peter Alexander for a new theory but it suggests that the sale of rifles to Native Americans drove development of a new style that for some reason colonists wanted also. Seems parallel to thinking Colonial women could not get jewelry other than the type sold or traded to native Americans. All jewelry became trade jewelry. Beads and wampum for Colonial aristocracy.

I’m just pointing out we can’t really successsfully reason it out. We don’t know. And it wasn’t documented. “Making long-barreled rifles now because the Delaware prefer them. It’s all I’m going to make from now on.” Matthias Roesser, Lancaster, Penn’s Woods 1758. Just kidding! Until we find something like that, one guess is as good as another.

Plenty of folks on frontiers never had rifles at all. From New York to Maine and into Canada, and all of New France, smoothbores dominated. So to expect a particular “need” seems artificial, but obviously some cultures (German) were already rifle cultures and others not (English, French, Spanish).
 

AlanG

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These guys pretty well answered for me, Hah!
Robby
Not sure they did though. Haven't seen any persuasive reason for why a long barrel rifle is more "practical". It's doubtful the European hunters (wealthy aristocracy) even carried there own weapons, and a lot of hunting there not only consists of driven hunts, but also a lot of elevated blinds- don't see any reason (as opposed to style) for short barreled guns there.

Compared to here, where you carried your own gun over much further distances than any European/Germanic hunter would.
 

AlanG

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It’s easy to recount what people have reasoned for years about the development or rise of the longrifle here. We all know the story. Smaller caliber, less powder was for savings. Longer barrel to burn poorer powder if needed. I admire Peter Alexander for a new theory but it suggests that the sale of rifles to Native Americans drove development of a new style that for some reason colonists wanted also. Seems parallel to thinking Colonial women could not get jewelry other than the type sold or traded to native Americans. All jewelry became trade jewelry. Beads and wampum for Colonial aristocracy.
The small caliber/less powder thing seems to start in the Golden Age, from what I can tell/read guns up through (and slightly after) the Revolutionary War were larger calibers- .54 being the norm. With longer barrels too.

I don't think the Alexander theory is that new. And of course it wasn't a colonist looking at an Indian gun and said I want one too- though if I'm reading your post correctly I got you were being intentionally facetious there. Too much to get into here, one really has to read it, but the idea was once barrel mills became established and sales of rifles to the Indians became allowed slightly before the F & I war, these rifles started the trend away from imports, and those bulk orders were more important financially to those gunmakers than the individual sales.

I of course agree with you that we'll never know, and personally I think it was just as likely style was just as valid a reason for the longer barrels as any practicability. I'm not even sure the longer sight radius thing rings true with those nearly useless original sights.

Not saying i agree with Alexander just think he has a point and it's worth a read.
 
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