Buying a custom or semi custom flintlock rifle

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rich pierce

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From different places and for different reasons people decide to get a semi custom or custom flintlock. Let’s not argue definitions but for me a custom flintlock is made to order not from a list of options but from a discussion starting with a blank slate or an original rifle or a group of original rifles. You may have different views so let’s say “non-factory rifle yet to be built”.

What I recommend to such customers:

1) People should probably not get a custom flintlock unless they are already experienced flintlock shooters or know experienced flintlock shooters they can go to the range with, unless they want a wall hanger.

2) One should know how a flintlock gun works, how to disassemble, clean, lube, and re-assemble all the way down to stripping the lock.

3) one should be very familiar with the ins and outs of getting good flintlock ignition.

4) A customer should have seen the builders work in their hands. And they should know what they like and want versus looking for “is this good or bad?” on a forum.

5) whenever possible it’s best to buy a built gun. Many custom makers have built guns. Maybe slightly used and the previous customer died or wanted another one now that is different.

6) if you are going to wait for a gun to be built add 50% to the predicted wait time. Sorry, the world is what it is despite what we demand is “only right”. Deal with reality.

7) expect to pay up front for parts and to be notified when they are all ready. Some outfits that provide semi-custom guns may not require this.

8) understand your builder goes to shows, has a family, and is not in call 24/7 for all customers. But insist that you’ll be informed when your build is started and when it is expected to be done.

9) Specify EXACTLY which parts you MUST have and understand they may not be available. If you want a .45 Colerain swamped A profile barrel with round grooves 42” long and a Rice 44” swamped barrel in B weight with square grooves will not do, insist the builder verify he’s using your choice of barrel. Same for a Chambers Late Ketland lock. Understand he might not get one for 8 months. If another lock will not do, wait or find one and send it to the builder. He or she cannot create supplies made by others.

10. You should receive just what you paid for. A good example of that builder’s work that is reliable and functions really well in expert hands.

As you can tell I do not believe anyone is always right, including customers. Some customers are great and some are amazingly difficult. Ask any home improvement contractor.
 

rafterob

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Rich, very good advice for those considering the options for flintlocks. A $5,000 flintlock may still suffer from some of the demons a $200 flintlock possesses. So folks should not go into the process uneducated.
 

hanshi

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Excellent posts. I have a rifle built by a gunsmith with a fine reputation and who I consider a friend. I know quite a few shooters with guns he has built. He no longer builds guns and that's a terrible shame. The main reason he decided to stop - I hope it's only temporary, but... - was so many customers being AHs. A build would be 90% finished and the yahoo would call up with a major change. That would drive ME bonkers!
 

Rat

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I would disagree with #1. Learning to shoot a flintlock with a good quality rifle would be better than starting with many of the factory flintlock rifles that have so many functioning problems, poorly designed locks, touch hole in the wrong place, soft frizzens, main and frizzen springs not in balance with each other, etc.

I started on a Pedersoli Bess, and lucky for me it's a pretty decent, good functioning musket. I'm glad I didn't have to go through the frustration of learning on an ill/poorly-functioning gun. I've seen that on this forum, persons struggling to get a poorly made flinter to work. I still think it's (my Bess) a good functioning musket. But then Bird Dog Six built me a Jeager, and WOW what a difference, from a factory gun. A custom gun is certainly worth every penny, and I would say easier to learn on.
 

EC121

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I agree with Rich. If a person has help, it will go a long way toward having a good experience. For a first rifle I would save my money and shop around to get a decent one to shoot. Waiting an unknown(no matter what the builder says it is unknown) amount of time for a custom build would be better as a second rifle. Nowadays I have quit ordering and started shopping. I'm too old to wait for a builder and get better prices anyway. Better to go to a show and get one in your hands to give it a good look and feel. Most decent guns haven't been shot enough to hurt them. The recent CLA show in Lexington had a two rooms full of choices from $1200 to $20,000 to pick from.
As an example, a friend was told at the show that his rifle might be ready some time in the spring. This after being told July and then November.
 

Rat

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Well, that's a whole other story, when the guy who is building you a rifle is a slacker, maybe not that great of a maker, not real honorable or something like that. Certainly didn't have to go through any of that with my Jeager, Bird Dog Six being one of the best, and a honest and honorable man.

For sure, buying a used custom rifle is a good thing, and probably most haven't been shot "much". Heck, I don't shoot mine much, but hunt with it very much.
 

Preacher Dave

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Good advice. The best makers have a backlog and that is what takes so long. Once the good makers start on a custom build they usually don't take that long to complete the project. But the wait to work your way to the top of the list can be measured sometimes in years!
 

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