Hawken Rifles, What's All The Hoopla?!

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smoothshooter

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I've never owned or even fired one for that matter, but have noticed them around a lot and are extremely well-known in the black powder community, more so than any other model I've ever notice before.

What is it that makes it such a standard?
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There is not a lot of difference between Hawken-styled rifles and other half-stocked rifles that were coming into vogue back east, except that the half stocked plains rifle generally ( but not always ) had a bore of .50 or over.
Some of the rifles made expressly for plains use had more wood in the wrist area, presumably to make them a little less prone to breakage if dropped from a running horse or rolled over on by a horse or mule.
From what I have seen in museums, and surviving specimens elsewhere where at least some documentation exists, the average explorer/trapper/camp worker, hunter used a non-Hawken rifle or smoothbore just like most of his brethren used back east. Double barreled shotguns were apparently more prevalent than is commonly thought.
People who know more about this than I do day the official Hawken Plains Rifle did not start hitting the market in small numbers until near the end of the fur trade era.
 

burlesontom

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From what I have seen in museums, and surviving specimens elsewhere where at least some documentation exists, the average explorer/trapper/camp worker, hunter used a non-Hawken rifle or smoothbore just like most of his brethren used back east. Double barreled shotguns were apparently more prevalent than is commonly thought.
I would guess a lot of those eastern boys that went west to the plains and mountains did so because they needed a job. And they had probably heard the stories of the money that could be made by going out west. Most likely they were poor. They probably didn't have the money for a new rifle so took what they already owned. There was a good chance that was a left over rifle from the earlier wars. Maybe they had them shortened to make them easier to use from horse back. Or maybe not. If they had a left over musket from a military sale they could have done worse. Those were heavier, stronger built guns made to endure use by recruits who didn't worry as much about a gun that belonged to someone else.

Some used the rifles they were given to use and were charged for by the fur companies they worked for. Then after the fur trade they kept those rifles and used them on the trails and scouting trips they went on. Its a good assumption that a lot of the rifles supplied were the same trade rifles given to the indians.

If they lived in that time period they didn't realize one time period had ended and another one had began. There was no need for a new gun unless the old one was past the point of repair. And from some of the patched up, rebuilt rifles I have seen they got every bit of use out of them they could get.
 

smoothshooter

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I would guess a lot of those eastern boys that went west to the plains and mountains did so because they needed a job. And they had probably heard the stories of the money that could be made by going out west. Most likely they were poor. They probably didn't have the money for a new rifle so took what they already owned. There was a good chance that was a left over rifle from the earlier wars. Maybe they had them shortened to make them easier to use from horse back. Or maybe not. If they had a left over musket from a military sale they could have done worse. Those were heavier, stronger built guns made to endure use by recruits who didn't worry as much about a gun that belonged to someone else.

Some used the rifles they were given to use and were charged for by the fur companies they worked for. Then after the fur trade they kept those rifles and used them on the trails and scouting trips they went on. Its a good assumption that a lot of the rifles supplied were the same trade rifles given to the indians.

If they lived in that time period they didn't realize one time period had ended and another one had began. There was no need for a new gun unless the old one was past the point of repair. And from some of the patched up, rebuilt rifles I have seen they got every bit of use out of them they could get.

Agree 100%
I did not put that in my previous post because it was running long already.
 
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So called Trade guns were made for the Firearms trade for sale to or trade with both the Indians and the Trappers /hunters.
If you can find a copy of "Guns of the Western Indian War " By Steven Dorsey . He lists the muzzle loading octagonal barreled rifles with percussion locks either captured from or surrendered by the Plains Indians . There are 94 x Leman rifles , 10 x J P Lower , 6 x S Hawken , 6 x J Henry ,4x Henry Folson, 1x J & W Watson ,1 x Swietzer , 3x J Golcher , 14 x Springfield , and 23 other various makes .
The Indians would have obtained their rifles by trade , gift or capture . One can see from those figures that Leman rifles were more common than the Hawken by a considerable amount .
The Hawken was about twice the price of the Leman and was more of a custom made bespoke rifle than the others .
I have not been able to find a reference to, or photo of , an origional half stock Leman that wasn't converted from full stock at some time in its life , any one help on that ?
 
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I would guess a lot of those eastern boys that went west to the plains and mountains did so because they needed a job. And they had probably heard the stories of the money that could be made by going out west. Most likely they were poor. They probably didn't have the money for a new rifle so took what they already owned. There was a good chance that was a left over rifle from the earlier wars. Maybe they had them shortened to make them easier to use from horse back. Or maybe not. If they had a left over musket from a military sale they could have done worse. Those were heavier, stronger built guns made to endure use by recruits who didn't worry as much about a gun that belonged to someone else.

Some used the rifles they were given to use and were charged for by the fur companies they worked for. Then after the fur trade they kept those rifles and used them on the trails and scouting trips they went on. Its a good assumption that a lot of the rifles supplied were the same trade rifles given to the indians.

If they lived in that time period they didn't realize one time period had ended and another one had began. There was no need for a new gun unless the old one was past the point of repair. And from some of the patched up, rebuilt rifles I have seen they got every bit of use out of them they could get.

I read some years ago that Manual Lisa (dominant throughout the Fur trade) routinely carried and use a Brown Bess Flintlock Musket in .75 cal.
 
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I have 'a few' Hawken style rifles. Among my favorites are Santa Fe Hawken, Log Cabin Hawken [both made by Uberti and identical except for markings], and the Jonathan Browning Mountain rifle. I also like my Austen Halleck [heavy] and the Lyman Great Plains [I built from a kit] and the two CVA Mountain rifles [One of which I also built]. I think the Hawken is appreciated for its sturdy, simple build and its reliability. In larger calibers, it will bring down any North American animal with a well-placed shot. I do love Hawken style rifles! I have a few other styles [some modern and some earlier] ... but Hawkens are in my blood. Polecat 🦨 :rolleyes: :horseback:
 

Mustang65

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I read some years ago that Manual Lisa (dominant throughout the Fur trade) routinely carried and use a Brown Bess Flintlock Musket in .75 cal.
I agree....they didn't know when one time period ended and another began. Same goes for clothing. They wore what they had or could make from one time period to the next. That why, when someone gets all upitty about PC/HC they wore what they had even if in the 1800's the style was from the 1700's!! Kind of like today, with these guys wearing the tight skinny pants. Guess what, that's from the '60's!
 
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I've never owned or even fired one for that matter, but have noticed them around a lot and are extremely well-known in the black powder community, more so than any other model I've ever notice before.

What is it that makes it such a standard?
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View attachment 160715
They're the ultimate in percussion muzzle-loading development, kinda, and are handsome and manly! They also evoke a period of time when men were opening the frontier, like it or not! :) Plus they are powerful like all get-out!
 
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Don't care a thing about Hawkens, but I want that old anvil in the picture........
I have an old unmarked anvil weighting 274 lbs.; trying to figure how to get up on a new poplar stump for display. (I don't do 'smithing, to my sorrow!) Got to find two really strong guys or slide it up a ramp or something.
 
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Should have the experience from several Traditions kits under the belt by the time Jim Kibler releases his Hawken kit. That is my grail gun.

However, I can only imagine the backlog on that.
:dunno:
OMG; if Kibler offers a Hawken, all "heck" will break loose! The demand will be equal to 20 cent cheeseburgers. Why is there no "cent" symbol on the modern keyboards?
 
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I agree....they didn't know when one time period ended and another began. Same goes for clothing. They wore what they had or could make from one time period to the next. That why, when someone gets all upitty about PC/HC they wore what they had even if in the 1800's the style was from the 1700's!! Kind of like today, with these guys wearing the tight skinny pants. Guess what, that's from the '60's!
 
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Should have the experience from several Traditions kits under the belt by the time Jim Kibler releases his Hawken kit. That is my grail gun.

However, I can only imagine the backlog on that.
:dunno:
Nice! Your enthusiasm for a Hawken is wearing on me. I hate to go to Jim’s sight because I know what will happen. Is the Kimbler Hawken rifle in work or rumor?
 
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