Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by Old Timer 48, Oct 28, 2019.
What barrel lengths are you using and why?
As long as I can get......but mostly 44" because that is about the max without going custom.
42, because that was the longest I could get at the time.
At about 38 a gun starts to look short to me, and 35 was as much of a carbine I ever made, except for a ‘canoe gun’ I once made mostly for laughs.
I live in the ozarks ( old Indian word meaning uphill and thick brush) and never found a long barrel a handicap.
My half-stock flinters wear 32 or 34” barrels and my longrifles wear 38”, 42” or 44” barrels. For ease of handling, the caliber & swamped barrel profile make a huge difference! FWIW I have a Don Bruton ‘C’-weight 54-cal in 38” that has UNREAL handiness and pointability!
Depends on the gun and profile of the barrel. For earlier rifles I like a 38" c weight in .54 cal or d weight in .58. Later guns (4th quarter of the 18th century) I like a 44" b weight in .45 or .50 or c weight in .54.
Fowling pieces, I tend to like 46"to 48" barrels that are tapered correctly. So many of them have a barrel thickness that make them muzzle heavy.
I've had barrels from 25" to 42". All my flintlocks now have 38" barrels except for one that carries a 36" tube. The 36" flintlock was my go-to deer rifle for years. I like longer barrels and have never had a problem in the bush with them.
I like 33" the best.
Shot a 54 cal Douglas, 1" X 44" in my early years, cuz I love long barrels. I got the Davy Crockett bug in grade school and of course that was a long rifle. As I got older it was too front heavy so I made a 1" X 32". Don't like it near as well, but I can shoot it. Last year I put together my first swamp and now shoot a 38".
I prefer longer barrels like 42" or 44". They balance better for me and having that front sight a mite farther out helps older eyes.
Of course the size and contour of the barrel make a lot of difference. I'd take a long, well balanced rifle over a short, ill handling one. And visa-versa.
My Bess carbine is a tiny bit butt-heavy, that barrel has a very sharp taper. I think it's 31-32", would be better at 35".
My Jeager is the best handling, best balanced rifle ever, I wouldn't add or take an inch off in either direction. I think it's 31".
But other than the weight, my 1861 with 40" barrel points, swings, and handles fine, and seems to have a neutral balance. It's barrel tapers quite rapidly also.
I've never handled a ML with a barrel under 30" that I liked. (yeah, have one, but don't use it) Sure, there is the initial "wow, this is light" factor, but beyond that it's like, "wow, the front sight dances all over the place".
My interest falls off with styles after around 1790 & is also off with barrels less than 40". I think that straight barrels are way too heavy & unattractive in longer length so swamped is a must. I will freely admit that shorter barrels will still shoot just fine.
The big question is what do you want?
Central European rifles tended to be short. So some American rifles. shorter barreled flintlock riffles were seen in nineteenth century.
Long was seen too. What style gun you have counts too.
Flintlock rifles that were overgrown pistols were seen and long Toms too.
I have the makings of a Lehigh county flintlock, the barrel is a 44 inch straight Douglass in 45 caliber. I've had had this since 1972. I guess that puts me in contention for the procastinator in chief. When and if I get it finished before I pass away it will be put up for sale. I can no longer handle long heavy barreled guns. Thank you arthritis of the spine. I am looking into fixing my Pedersoli Kentucky with it's 35 inch barrel that is light as a feather.
Speaking merely to personal preference now; anything much shorter than 40" seems like it's a carbine, and should be in a half-stock (apart from scaled youth or ladies' guns). Anything longer than about 52" similarly looks a little odd.
I shoot a 48" .38 cal with 20 gr. loads most of the time (paper only). The longer they are the quieter they are too. I (almost) don't need hearing protection with that combo.
(A suppressor can mounted out on the end would look exceedingly silly, but an external suppressor like a big 3' long cone made of egg-carton foam to shoot through works wonders in keeping the noise down for the neighbors.)
I hunt with them and long is not a problem. Or weight. My hunting is all ambush at pinch points in the woods. I can prop it on my knee where I sit in most spots.
I'll bring shooting sticks into the woods as I get older rather than cut down in size.
I have three; a 44 inch swamped barrel .54 cal. Lancaster styled rifle, a 41" 20 ga English style trade gun, and I'm working on a 44" 20 ga. FDC. I don't have too much experience with fire arms with barrels shorter than 41".
I'll add that I have three rifles not mentioned in my previous post. One is a halfstock .45 X 25" X 15/16". It was built as a youth's rifle by a builder who now has retired. It fits me so well I use it for postal matches but have never hunted with it. The second one is an H&A Heritage model underhammer .45 X 33" x 15/16". It's been out of commission for some time and is a wall hanger for the time being. But this 55 year old rifle has taken deer, bobcat and squirrel and has great sentimental value. Last but not least is my US M1841 Mississippi rifle. This fine rifle was a custom order and is beautifully finished and put together. The barrel is 32" X .54. Accuracy is phenomenal and it has taken deer in the past.
I like barrels that shoot straight.
I like them swamped too.
I had a 24" New Englander that I gave to my son. .54 and shot great. Very handy in brush.
Trudy has a 38" swamped Colerain barrel in .54. I wanted a simple rifle that a hunter might have found at the local trading post like George Morgan's store in Kaskaskia, before the AWI. She came in .54 with a swamped barrel, and historically the shortest I thought that would qualify as a "long rifle". ALL of my flintlock deer have been harvested with her. The 4" shorter sight-plane than on my 42" barreled rifles doesn't seem to matter.
Patience is a .40 with a 42" straight barrel. It was what came with the rifle. It does give me a nice long sight-plane to use when going for squirrels and such.
My .50 TN rifle that I own is 41.25" and straight in .50. It came with the rifle. It also has a nice long sight-plane, but it's pretty nose heavy. So is Patience, but Patience is a much smaller width barrel so the nose heavy aspect is not felt as much.
I have a Hudson Valley Fowler made by Ken Gahagan. It is 12 gauge with a 56 inch barrel. Deadly on squirrels and I got a six point with it too. Why 56 inch? In the Grinslade book on American fowlers that barrel length was very typical. I wanted a gun that is taller than me. It is not as much of an issue getting it through the woods as one might think. And its a great conversation piece when I meet other hunters in the woods.
That's one long drink of water. When I meet other hunters in the woods, which is not often, they are always packing plastic fantastic space age fake muzzle loading rifles, and it's funny, they won't even look at my rifle or musket. Kind of avert their eyes. ?? Sad but true. In the last ten years, have only seen one other hunter with a traditional rifle. One of the game wardens calls me "the guy with the antique rifle". I'm thinking he doesn't see many traditional rifles either.
If I ever ran into some dude with a 56 inch musket, I think I would die on the spot of a heart attack.
Separate names with a comma.