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Making a British Officer's Pistol

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fjrdoc

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Thanks for taking the time to write and photograph the process. I'm subscribed!
 

dave_person

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Hi,
Moving forward pretty fast. Before I start, I want to say how delightful making this pistol is. I needed a break from long guns and this fits the bill nicely. Bill Kennedy designed this and several other pistol kits that are probably the best you could ever buy and as historically accurate as anyone could produce without resorting totally to customized parts. He knew his business. There are a few minor details that I will make even more historically correct but I don't have to do much. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy building pistols, particularly real British duelers. I have most parts for 2 pairs of duelers but I need to find or recreate the right locks. There are none commercially made that even come close. I have the mahogany and oak lumber, hardware, and woolen baize fabric for proper cases. I also have parts for a late 17th century English pistol, and 18th century turn off pistol, and an all metal stocked Scottish pistol. I think after I am done with my current queue of work for other folks, I am going to take a sabbatical and get some of those pistols built. I guess I need to get a move on.

It was time to solder on the barrel lugs, inlet them, and drill for the barrel pins. On this pistol the barrel is pinned. If you examine British pistols or guns from this period, you will notice that those with barrel keys almost always have hook breeches and those with pins do not. Lugs came with the kit and they were very easy to solder in place. One goes about 1.25" back from the muzzle and the other 3.5" from the breech. I use sturdy 3/32" pins for barrels. Next up were the ramrod pipes and here I found a problem. The cast pipes were very nice but the tube walls were so thin that I could deform the pipe just by pressing them into to the mortices. I decided that was too fragile so I used 0.04" sheet brass to make a front pipe with raised collar ends. Then I cut off the tang on the rear pipe, made a new tube with a short extension and soldered on the cast tang. I do this all the time for cast English fowler rear pipes. Cutting the mortices was easy and the pipes came out really nicely.

These photos show how I make them but are from a different thread:






Time for the trigger guard. Here was another issue. The nice cast guard only has a forward lug for a cross pin. I suspect the intent was to use a screw through the guard for the rear extension. The problem is that you rarely find good quality civilian pistols that use a screw. It is common on ordnance issued military pistols but not on civilian or private purchase guns. There is usually a lug and cross pin or on really high-end pistols, the lug if filed into a hook that catches a screw head imbedded in the trigger guard mortice. That way no pin shows. I opted for a lug and pin so I made a lug and threaded the bottom.

Then I drilled and tapped the trigger guard, screwed in the lug and soldered it in place. I had countersunk the outside of the hole so could peen the excess threaded post into the countersink. Once the excess is filed away, the hole mostly disappears.



I inlet the front of the guard first. Then I work to the rear, gradually inletting the rear extension until I get to the end. Once in, I drilled the pin holes and inserted the pins. I use 5/64" pins.




Finally, I installed the end cap. I put the cap in place, then used a tiny drill to make an exploratory hole from the trigger guard mortice. It is an awkward job because the stock limits the angle I can drill. My drill hit the tab on the end cap to one side but the height was right. So I drilled for a wood screw but angled the hole a little to the other side. It came out great.

Next, I took a wood screw and screwed it in place to thread the wood, then I filed the tip of the screw so it would go through the tab on the end cap.

I counter sunk the hole, installed the end cap, and threaded the screw back in and it pulled the cap up nice and tight.



More to come.

dave
 

Brokennock

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Thank you for sharing all this.

While great to see and learn, it is making me even more disgusted with the construction issues I am finding on my flintlock pistol.
 

old ugly

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this is an awsum thread! thanks Dave.
I have a question re the pin through the lug at the front of the trigger guard, is it hidden behind the left side plate, or is it visible for removable without taking off the side plate? it looks like removing the side plate maybe tricky without marking wood or the plate.

thanks tom
ou
 

dave_person

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Hi OU,
That is a great question and something that has gotten me in trouble on other guns. Fortunately, the side plate removes easily but it is not required. If you look at the bottom of the plate directly under the rear lock bolt, you will see the hole for the guard cross pin. Sometimes the trigger pin also gets hidden.

dave
 

dave_person

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Hi,

I inlet the wrist plate and fitted the screw through the wrist that anchors it. The screw is hidden under the trigger plate and guard. I took a lot of wood off the stock and shaped the lock panels. I also mounted and adjusted the trigger. I have to carve the lock panel moldings and around the barrel tang and final shape the stock. Then stain it, finish the wood, tune and polish the lock and hardware, and make the ramrod. However, I have to put it aside for a while and move on with other work. More to come.
dave




 

dave_person

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Hi,

Back to it. I got the final shaping done and carved the lock panels and around the barrel tang. I chose to carve the same shell design I used on my officer's fusil. It is difficult to find black walnut dense enough to easily carve small details. This stock was marginal but I managed pretty well with super sharp tools. The whole time I was wishing for English walnut. I scraped and sanded with 220 and it was ready for the first coat of stain. I use pure yellow aniline dye dissolved in water. That gets rid of the cold purple brown of black walnut and makes it look much more like English walnut. The first coat also shows up rough spots and scratches so I end up mostly scraping and sanding it off. It also serves as my final stock whiskering. After final fitting and filing of all the parts, and cleaning up any rough spots, I will paint on another coat of yellow. Then I may or may not stain the stock with alkanet root infused in mineral spirits. After the yellow, I will paint part of the stock with mineral spirits, which will give me an idea of the color when finish is applied. The color results from that will determine if I use alkanet root or any other stain. More to come.



dave



 

dave_person

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Hi,
Thanks for looking folks. I thought some of you might want to see how I install a morticed front sight, which was a common way these sights were installed. Many horse pistols did not have any sights but many did and I wanted one. These were typically installed without any solder. The sight of gold, silver, brass, paktong, etc, was made with a tiny dove tail along the bottom edge. I cut a line with a jewelers saw and then file a dove tail on that line with a tiny triangular needle file.

Then I engrave the outline of the mortice on the barrel. I find the center by placing the barrel upside down on a flat surface and keep it square to the surface. Then I slide a flat needle file under the barrel where the sight will go, and draw it out. It marks the center line perfectly. I outline the mortice with a square graver and then cut parallel lines within it to remover waste material.

Then I cut a smooth bottomed mortice with a 1/8" wide flat die sinker's chisel. When the mortice is at the right depth, I undercut the sides with a tiny flat on which the bottom flares out a little wider than the top. By cutting along the edges with that flat, it uncuts them.

Next, I place the sight in the mortice and tap it hard with a small ball peen hammer. That usually locks it in place so I can take a punch and peen the barrel around the sight. That peens metal into the dovetail on the sight and permanently locks it in place.

Finally, I clean up the barrel and sight and now have a neat and historically correct front sight.


dave
 

JohnnieT

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This has been a fun read! You have quite a lot of talent and this pistol is beautiful so far. Can’t wait to see the finished product!
 

Artificer

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Hi Dave,

Sorry I'm late to the party on this one. Yet another of your projects that trips me trigger on SO many levels..........!! Grin.

This pistol would be a superb companion piece to an Officer's Fusil and very important to me personally, be of the same caliber to use the same ball in both pieces.

From my very first BP rifle in 1972, I always thought having a pistol in the same caliber would have been very desirous on the frontier and for militia duty. I bought a TC Patriot Pistol to match the caliber of my rifle, but the shape of the butt and other things made it too ungainly for me. Fortunately, others did not feel the same way, so I was able to trade it off reasonably.

My next venture into a long gun/pistol of the same caliber was after we made up some "faux" M1812 muskets out of Charleville kits and I purchased the Navy Arms "Charleville" Pistol in the same caliber. I don't know about the girth of the grip on original models, but I have pretty large hands and could barely grip due to the girth. Even with a horribly heavy trigger pull (I didn't know how to work the trigger pull at the time) and that huge girth of the grip and no front sight, it was surprisingly accurate at 25 yards, but it was just too difficult to shoot, so I lost interest.

However by the early 1980's, I was able to handle original flintlock Georgian pistols with the flared grip as on your pistol. Oh, my goodness how wonderful most of them feel in the hand!!!! Of course I'm referring to those of the P1756 and later pistols where the grip is "straighter down" than those of the first half of the 18th century. The Civilian Georgian pistols of the mid to late 18th century, even more so. So I bet your pistol will feel GREAT in the hand.

I was enthralled with your text and pictures how the butt plate was inletted and especially how the buttplate is held on. I had no idea it was that involved. I was also a bit amazed by your explanation and pics of how you added the front sight. I thought the originals were brazed in place, so that was quite informative!

I planned on bringing up the P1738 with the banana shaped lock, but I'm a bit too tired right now, so will bring that up later.

Thank you so much for the most informative pics and text in this thread. I am enjoying it immensely.

Gus
 
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