Barrel Length

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Treestalker

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Something I should say for edification



Setting one off in side your vehicles is not a good idea. :nono:
-I agree firing a flintlock inside your vehicle is a bad idea. You might spill your beer, set the upholstery on fire, dismay any women present with the noise and smoke, cause the dog to bark and the children to scream and attract the attention of law enforcement officers who have better things to do than chase anachronistic firearms enthusiasts off the public roads, not to mention being ticketing for littering the countryside with poisonous lead balls and scraps of half burned cloth impregnated with suspicious viscous liquids, LOL!
 
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smo

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It sounds as if you’re speaking from a past experience! Lol
 

WadePatton

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42 is my minimum because that's what the originals carried, or close to it-in "my school". I have three 44's and 46" to build and my next bbl order may be for a 50" or more, but it will be smooth. I love the enhanced safety, report further from my ears, better sight radius, great walking staff, and further reach if you need to whack something/body with the buttstock. But also that original guns were ordered with "three and a half foot or longer" barrels, and that is what we see mostly in original long-rifles of my region.

Also if there was a problem and some bbl needs lopping off and reworking, you still have a good length of bbl, not a "sawed off" looking gun.

The only time it's ever an issue in heavy brush or deep timber is when the packin' stick has slipped forward and snags on stuff. So long as it (the stick) is flush with the muzzle, it's no bother at all -in the woods, where it counts. I no longer hunt from stands, but maybe some brush or timbers piled up for concealment-sized to situation.

My point is that bbl length should flow from the original school/type that your gun is modeled after, it is an important part of the architecture.
 
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zimmerstutzen

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I always preferred some thing around 38 to 42 inches long. I think it also has a bit to do with ability to focus the eye on the sights as well. I was never a good "snap shooter" so the ability to swing a short barrel around and aim instinctively meant little to me. Give the time to focus on sights and the target and I did right well. I haven't done enough shooting recently to know how mu eyes have lost ability to focus on the rear sight. Probably going to peep sights anyway. Next build, first in a while will be starting shortly. I want a light bench gun, perhaps also as a Scheutzen style offhand gun, palm rest etc. I only compete against myself anymore, so it doesn't much matter what is permissible in matches here.
 

Travler

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Well, I finished my Kibler So Mt rifle with a 46in barrel. Shot it one outing so far. Damn nice at a rest, but most of my shooting is off hand and it is a new kind of hard to keep that front site from moving around when it is way off in the distance now. It really is a light rile with a swamped .40 barrel.....I am going to need to practice. My previous rifle is a Lyman 54 cap gun and is a very different hold.
 

Scota@4570

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In addition to other observations, a longer barrel has more momentum. It will say where it is when you pull the trigger better than a shorter barrel. I am 5'10" and find my 46" barrel long rifle to be a bit awkward to load, the muzzle is at nose level. Cleaning it indoors is awkward because the rod hits the ceiling unless you hold the rifle at an angle. 42" is a really good length for me. Anything less than 34" seems too short, that depends on how heavy the barrel is. When I owned a TC, 28", I did not notice how short it was. A longer barrel, makes it less likely to point it at your face while loading. I think that is a factor worth consternation.
 
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There's more to a longrifle than just the barrel length. The shape, the hardware used, and the design of the stock all come into play. Longrifles were not nearly as stout as a musket or a Jaeger rifle. Transitional rifles "might have been that length. Jaeger rifles often had 30" to 32" barrels. A longrifle with that barrel would be much more slim and graceful in appearance than the stout Jaeger rifles. Historically, I don't know for a fact that there are any longrifles with length barrel. Perhaps one of the gun builders here can give us some more info.

I can say that 38" is absolutely considered a longrifle. Some of the earliest longrifles came with shorter barrels. Isaac Haines built a number of 38: barrelled longrifles in 1770 in Lancaster, PA. Bear in mind that a lot of the Moravian gunsmiths who were building longrifles in America had been building Jaeger rifles in Germany and also in the US when they first arrived. The stouter Jaeger rifles were shorter and typically .62 caliber or even more. It took a while for those gunsmiths who had make Jaeger rifles to develop the American Longrifle.

Twisted_1in66 :thumb:
Dan
Thank you sir, I’m currently looking into buying my first muzzleloader , my dad has a Hawkins and a pa long rifle, when I wrote the post I wasn’t able to measure his two to compare to the one I might purchase
 

Art Caputo

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My two Virginia Rifles in 50 cal are 38”and 42”. What’s more important to me is the weight and point of balance. The total weight of each is 7.7# with the same point of balance. The 4” difference in length is moot, and no more unwieldy then my 68” longbow.....That’s primitive hunting.
 

WadePatton

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Thank you sir, I’m currently looking into buying my first muzzleloader ...
You should attend at least one gathering of traditional black powder enthusiasts, whether it is a club meeting, woodswalk (trail shoot), show, or something else and really handle some guns and maybe decide what sort of look you like the most. There are great guns at every length, and many price points, but finding what feels good/works well for you won't come from looking at pictures or listening to us flap our traps. We all have different ideas and came to them by different avenues. I like 'em long and swamped-in the Tennessee tradition.
 

Dphar1950

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First off buying a used TC or something else of that ilk is often a mistake since they are often owned by people who shoot pyrodex or don't know how to clean properly. So unless you have a bore scope I would not recommend this. Next. The longer barrels have longer sight radius and a slower wobble.
 

Grenadier1758

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A well maintained and cared for T/C Hawken will perform quite fine. But as Dphar 1950 has pointed out, one that has been used with Pyrodex and not cared for as Jruby38 has needs a real check out of the barrel and performance may not be great.
 

Kansas Jake

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Grenadier, your observation about not caring for a BP firearm is pretty true regardless of brand. I don't believe using Pyrodex in and of itself will harm the firearm if it is cleaned in a timely manner and appropriately. Maybe the TC caution is apropos because so many were sold and are still around.
 

Dphar1950

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The problem is the POWDER PEOPLE MAY HAVE USED and how it may have been cared for.This applies to ANY USED ML. GEEZ people READ THE POSTS. I never said they were less accurate. But USED BP guns MUST be CAREFULLY examined. Don't matter WHO made them. AND a longer sight radius helps and a longer barrel DOES have slower wobble.
 

Dphar1950

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Grenadier, your observation about not caring for a BP firearm is pretty true regardless of brand. I don't believe using Pyrodex in and of itself will harm the firearm if it is cleaned in a timely manner and appropriately. Maybe the TC caution is apropos because so many were sold and are still around.
I used to work for a manufacturer of BPCRs and before that for a distributor doing just custom stock work. I was the custom shop and the "tech guy" for the manufacturer. I have never seen a firearm used with pdex to any extent that I could not name the propellant by looking at the bore. If the barrel was hot tank blued, for example, the blue will be gone from the bore. Then looking with a 10 power or stronger magnifier you will see the micro pit. Further use will make the pits bigger. AND its not necessary to find red RUST, the active ingredient, basically table salt, can eat steel at the molecular level and not show rust. And it's all cumulative. IE shooting and driving home with fouling in the bore will start the process. AND once the cleaning is started ALL traces of fouling has to be WASHED (not just wiped) away. Unlike BP fouling the salt will rust under an oil film. A friend of mine, another gun maker, made a rifle for a client. The guy used one pound of Pdex in the rifle. He was also very competent cleaner was anal about cleaning. He brought it back because it was VENTING GAS between the patent breech and the rear face of the barrel. My friend pulled the breech and found the bore pitted. AND the fouling had found a favorable spot and ATE A VENT in the threaded portion of the breech. Something another friend had foretold shortly after the stuff hit the market. In addition to what I have witnessed another friend used to work in a gunshop in S. California at the time the stuff hit the market. This was when the gun press was telling people it was NON-CORROSIVE. This caused numerous "problems". Back about 1980 I was working in another custom shop and got into a discussion on this with another gunsmith. So I tool a 2" wide by 10-12" bar of steel and cleaned the surface with the 400 grit buffer. I then put a piece of paper over one end and flashed a small amount of BP on the end of the bar. I then covered the BP fouled end and flashed the same volume of Pdex on the other end. We then put it up on a shelf in the shop and forgot about it for 3 weeks or more. This is in Montana where the humidity is low. When I remembered the thing I got it down and looked at it. The BP end had a black stain on the steel the fouling wiped right off. The other end had erupted rust that would abrade your hand. BTW at less than 30% humidity BP fouling is basically inert. Table salt never is.
I have had people tell me their gun was not pitted. Even though the gun, a Ruger Old Army, had been reblued and was DEEPLY pitted at the cylinder face and elsewhere. I expect the fouling had removed enough blue he had it redone right over the pits. But he could not see them until I pointed them out. Yeah. And the only "appropriate manner" is hot water and lots of it and hope there is no fouling trap in the breech, and many factory and even custom ML barrels have significant fouling traps. Like the one pictured here by a well know ML barrel maker that breeches all the barrels unless specifically told not to. The rebate on the plug actually went into the BORE. Creating a fouling trap that it was impossible to completely clean ad you can see here. Had it been used with any of the corrosive "replica" powders the breech might not have come out. Things such as this are why I advocate not buying used MLs especially percussion guns unless VERY carefully examined. I have a Flintlock built in 1975 by a friend and mentor that has been allowed to rust for about 12" up from the breech to the point I am going to have to fresh the bore probably at least 1 and maybe 2 calibers bigger. I could have sent it back but did not since I wanted the rifle for personal reasons. Pretty sure it was BP since the balance of the bore is good. He simply did not get all the fouling of of the bore and probably left it damp to boot. IMGP1013.jpg IMGP1022.jpg
 

Loyalist Dave

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I can say that 38" is absolutely considered a longrifle.
That's pretty much my personal cutt-off point... between 37-38 inches for a long rifle. 36" or less, nah, not a longrifle. Mine are 38" and 42". The CVA and now Traditions rifles that had or have 33.5" barrels labeled a "longrifle"...nope. Doesn't matter if the stock runs to the muzzle, that barrel is too short.

LD
 

Joe B.

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My latest acquisition, a 44" 40 cal, 15/16" Bedford style, (with a little old age thrown in), is forcing me to learn the elbow in the rib cage and leaning way back style of hold. I intend to win a few matches with it.
All my other guns, I can still hold them the old fashioned way, supporting hand near the rear ram rod pipe.
 

Dphar1950

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Most original Flintlock rifles and many percussions were "4 foot" in the barrel. But this could be anything close to 4 ft. 40-44 is typical BUT there were shorter rifles even during the colonial period. But remember they were called long rifles for a reason and there are 1/2 stocked Hawken mountain rifles with barrels over 40 inches.
 

dgracia

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Longest barrel(S) I ever had was 36 inches, on a circa 1907 Meriden (one of the Sears brands of guns) 12 gauge side by side.
Being only 5 foot 8 at the time, it was a bit much for me to swing, and felt unbalanced to me. (I think I'm up to 5 foot 7 now). One barrel had a bulge roughly 10 inches from the muzzle, so I cut the barrels back to 22 inches, and had the local gun smith drill and tap the center rib for rifle sights.
(With 2.75 inch "magnum" slugs it put both barrels in same hole at 50 yards. Cross-fired an inch at 75 yards, and 2 inches at 100. It was "Close enough" for deer.)
For a ML, the longest was a CVA .45 caliber "Kentucky" rifle, at 33.5 inches. All my other ML shoulder guns have been 28 inches.
A shorter barrel may not be as "sexy" but they sure are a lot more maneuverable out in the woods.
Being as I are a short and deformed S.O.B., I don't think I'd want to go over 33 - 34 inches barrel length.
Maybe if my left arm was long enough to get my hand more than a inch or two past the trigger guard, and had full movement of the left wrist, I'd feel differently. ;)
I am also a short S.O.B and the easiest longrifle I have to mount, hold, and fire has a 44½" barrel. The other one I have has a 40¾" barrel. That shorter one is very nose heavy (straight barrel) while the much longer one is a swamped barrel, which tapers to the mid-point and then about 12 to 18" from the muzzle swells up smoothly again to the muzzle. The result is a much lighter barrel and one that the balance point moves much farther back than the straight barrel. These longer barrels actually work well in wooded area because you can easily rest them on a branch to help with the sighting. If you have to fire off-hand, that swamped barrel is night and day easier to use and the balance point is in your hand.

Twisted_1in66 :thumb:
Dan
 
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