Kibler Hawken?

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rich pierce

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Whatever he chooses to do with a Hawken, I hope he sticks to an original enough that no one would automatically know that Kibler designed it.
 

Notchy Bob

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Me too. If someone wants a Hawken they'll have to deal with weight. No getting around that if they want a replica.

One of the perks of the weight is a soft recoil. :)
I was thinking the same thing, wondering if Mr. Kibler's Hawken will be a true reproduction of an original, or a "Hawken re-imagined."

I was looking through some back issues of Muzzle Blasts earlier today. these were from some time in the early eighties, but I forget the year. There was a serialized three-part article about James Clyman, the mountain man. The author located Clyman's descendants in California, and found the old hunter's J&S Hawken fullstock was still in their possession! Clyman lived to be 90 or 92 (reports vary), but he was carrying this rifle with him on hunting trips in the mountains until well into his eighties. The author took (and published) some photos, and wrote a description of the rifle. He noted that it weighed 13 pounds!

We modern folk have gotten awfully soft...

Notchy Bob
 

MtnMan

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Yeah, they were tougher back then. I think of them when I start to feel pain or get tired and tell myself to man up and keep going. It works.

In his 80's with a 13 lb gun. I'm impressed. At 78 maybe I can do the same with my lightweight 10 lb gun. ;)
 

Notchy Bob

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I wasn’t thinking about weight alone. I like copying originals without improving them.
Well said, Rich. I understand, and agree.

One aspect of Hawken reproduction that has gotten short shrift is the barrel. Not just the diameter and configuration on the outside, but the bore. I understand these typically had seven grooves with rounded bottoms, one turn in 48", a small amount of choke, and then some relief at the muzzle. Barrelmakers seem to shy away from these specifications nowadays. I believe the originals were also made of "dead" wrought iron, but I doubt we'll see this again.

In reading the period literature, the main point most of the old-timers made about their Hawkens was their shootability, that they "...always shot centre." These must have been very accurate rifles, tolerant of a range of powder charges. In The Prairie Traveler, Captain Marcy described how the old plainsmen clung to their Hawken rifles, even as the technology was moving into the breechloading era:

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There were plenty of fine gunmakers competing with the Hawken brothers, yet Hawken rifles acquired a certain mystique pretty early. There must have been some reason for that. I agree with @rich pierce in that I would like to see originals copied, inside and out, but not "improved."

Notchy Bob
 

rich pierce

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The challenge with replicating the rifling found on most Hawken rifles is that everyone is used to slower twists for round ball in calibers 50 and up, and almost all shooters prefer narrow lands and wide grooves which are easy to load. No barrelmakers I know of offer barrels with some coning at the muzzle of the type that was common in the percussion era.
The profile, length, and weight of Hawken rifle barrels varied a lot. I have no idea what Jim Kibler has planned - halfstock, fullstock, J&S, or later S Hawken, what breech or barrel style, and so on. I’m sure we all have our preferences. I’d favor a fur trade era J&S Hawken if I was in the market for a kit gun. I would not hold my breath though. The SMR and Colonial models are hard to keep in stock and a fowler is supposed to be in the works. Meanwhile Don Stith has excellent kits requiring more work and expertise than Jim Kibler’s CNC’d kits. He’s been collecting and studying Hawken rifles for 40 or 50 years now. It’s what he does and knows. His Dimick kit is really something as well.
 

Notchy Bob

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How about the barrels from the Hawken Shop. Are they any better?
The Hawken Shop website does not identify the barrel maker, but it does indicate that they use a 1:48 twist. It appears they only offer these barrels in .54 caliber, 1-1/8" tapering to 1", with a choice of 34" or 36" length.

I don't have any first-hand experience with Hawken Shop products, although I have heard that their kits and components are highly regarded.

Notchy Bob
 

R.J.Bruce

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If he builds it true to the real Hawken be prepared for a heavy gun. Mine weighs 10 lbs and only has a 32" barrel.
Back in the mid70's, when I was in the military, one of my colleagues let me handle his original .52 caliber, percussion halfstock J&S Hawken rifle. The FIRST impression was how heavy it was, close to 12 pounds, with a 36" barrel.

Later research let me realize that these were HORSEBACK rifles, carried mostly on back of a horse, designed to give a mountain man a long-range ballistic advantage over his Indian adversaries.

They were HEAVY for a reason. Dampening recoil for long shots was one reason. Massive parts meant less chance of breaking in the wilderness.

Most modern shooters simply are not fit enough to walk very far with a 10.5-12 pound, historically accurate, percussion halfstock Hawken rifle.

When I was a kid, 16, I purchased the set of 6 Roubidoux drawings/blueprints. I wanted an authentic Hawken rifle in the worst way.

That never worked out, now I am 66, with fairly decent osteoarthritis in both shoulders, and I think my days of toting a 12 pound, .58 caliber Hawken are over.

That doesn't mean I still don't want one. I do. I think a Hawken is one off, custom shop, pre-industrial elegance stripped down to its early 19th Century least common denominator.
 

MtnMan

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Yes, I wouldn't even consider a barrel longer than the 32" I have. It's heavy enough. I've read the original Hawken went down to a 30" barrel for some buyers.
 

R.J.Bruce

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Another thing a lot of buyers don't realize is that most Hawken rifles were not browned.

The barrel/breech plug was old fashioned hot blued, which with time turns brown. The butt plate, tang, toe plate, trigger guard, and I forget what else was bone charcoal color case hardened. The stocks, if maple, were stained dark, and then coated in a darkened varnish.

Very plain looking. No fancy curly maple. Straight grain walnut and maple, finished dark.

I have seen one of the Green River Rifle Works Collectors Association Hawkens done completely the way Sam & Jake would have done in their shop. It's an expensive rifle to do right.
 
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The Hawken Shop® offers an historically correct half stock kit generated from original parts and tooling. Not as easy to build as a computer generated kit, but it is the real deal. Delivery is about 4 weeks.
 
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Notchy Bob

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The Hawken Shop® offers an historically correct half stock kit generated from original parts and tooling. Not as easy to build as a computer generated kit, but it is the real deal. Delivery is about 4 weeks.
Wow! It's great to hear directly from The Hawken Shop!

I would like to know who makes your barrels, and any details you might provide with regard to the rifling, e.g. number and depth of grooves, confirm the rate of twist, and any other details you might think pertinent.

Much obliged,

Notchy Bob
 
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Wow! It's great to hear directly from The Hawken Shop!

I would like to know who makes your barrels, and any details you might provide with regard to the rifling, e.g. number and depth of grooves, confirm the rate of twist, and any other details you might think pertinent.

Much obliged,

Notchy Bob
7 grooves, .012-.014 deep with 1X48 twist. Made to our order by Rice Barrel Co. All other components are made in house, locks, trigger group, etc. Eastern maple stocks. Our web site has all the details. Thanks
 

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