Question on reproduction firearms

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TomM1

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Hope this subject is acceptable here, and I dont run on too long.

Long term military collector with ancestors that fought in almost every war fought in, or by, the US. Largely run out of later cartridge military firearms used by my ancestors, and now thinking of getting into muzzle loaders. However - I like to shoot what I own. Few safe queens in my collection. Thus I'm thinking of repro builds. Want to take them into the field to take deer as well.

What I am thinking on.

Several ancestors on the Mayflower - one of which is John Alden. Would love a copy of his Wheelock, but doubt he brought it over on the ship. If the NRA makes a repro though it will be a must buy. Thinking a Matchlock is just too difficult for a first step too.

Several ancestors in King Phillips War - including my personal hero Benjamin Church. Guy makes Daniel Boone look like a wimp.

French and Indian War - quite a few here, but details on them are lacking. An early Brown Bess seems like an easy pick here, and very do-able.

American Revolution - Lots of people. Continental and Militia out of Mass, R.I. and Conn. Any of the early Brown Besses, French Model 1766, or Prussian Musket (one fought at Trenton) think would work. Dont see anything indicating rifles used.

Fur Trade out of Canada - My French blood came out of Canada and were in the Fur Trade there. The Faribault family that founded Faribault, MN. Several stories of little fights with Indians there. Guessing a nice Trade Musket? Time period - 1800 to 1840.

War of 1812. A few participants. Mostly on the British Side. One in the Militia that defeated an invading American force early on.

Then there is the Battle of Birch Coolee in 1862 which Alexander Faribault fought in. From what I've read he might have carried his personal weapon, but there were a lot of Model 1841 Mississipi Rifles there, there is an account of him using a bayonet to dig a pit, and most survivors were using 2-4 loaded weapons by the end.

American Civil War ancestors fought in the 2nd and 24th Iowa Infantry. 2nd used 1816/1842 Musket - some of which were rifled, Enfields, and Springfield 1861s. 24th used Enfields and Springfields.

Advice on what to get to be my first???? Want to shoot and hunt wqith it as well.

Thinking right now of an early Brown Bess or a M1841 Mississipi Rifle.

Anyone dealt with this company in Canada????
http://www.militaryheritage.com/muskets.htm

Pricing seems really low on their products. How hard is drilling the firing hole on these? Good quality steel? Where are there products made?

Sorry for wandering. Not sure where to start.

-Tom
 
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Blackfingers

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I have, check my posts in the same smoothbore threads under Baker Rifle. I got one and reworked the whole thing, sent the lock out for fixing, it was just atrocious, now smooth as silk. Drilling the vent isn't much of a job, measure carefully. Don't buy a musket from them without a removable breechplug, it comes in handy if it needs taking out during rework. Randy
 

Alden

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Welcome historic-ancestored friend.

Avoid grits and buy nothing from The General, Discriminating or not, as I am convinced that Military Heritage sells India-made seconds, rejects, that no-one else will have. Four out of five people in a recent poll here were least likely to buy a reproduction made in India to start with. Now, make it one that failed India's own low standards!!!

Start with the most modern, from at least average quality makers, and work your way back is my suggestion. Caplocks, flints, others...
 

Blackfingers

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Tom, all good advice, only I was on a strict budget, couldn't resist the price of $499 plus shipping. Other than the much needed attention to the lock which was under $100, the rest of my project cost me only my elbow grease and time. What came out of the effort looks great but to be honest, I think I got lucky in the beginning, wonder how many of these things show-up in much worse condition! If you're not at all handy with tools, take the advice and go elsewhere with your money. JMHO, Randy
P.S. During take down, I noticed the barrel was stamped as being made in 1979! Go figure.
 

Hermit

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I saw a middlesex village trading ships carbine with that India Dem. rep. 1979 stamped barrel.
Hermit
 

Loyalist Dave

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I think you will get better quality on a budget if you start with a Civil War era reproduction musket. A Mississippi or an Enfield made in Italy.

Sorry but the Italian "Bess" simply didn't see action in North America. It has features of the 1777 model, and NONE of those made it here during the AWI...though it shoots well. Having it would be akin to you're having an ancestor who participated in the surrender of Geronimo in 1886, and getting a Krag-Jorgensen rifle made in 1894...true the US Army did use that rifle, and did have it in some actions against Indians but not in 1886. The same is true of the Pedersoli Bess...yes the British carried it, but not in North America prior to 1783.

The best possible musket copies are a "First model" Bess from either the Rifle Shoppe parts, or parts kit from Track of The Wolf. Getting them built for you will be rather "pricey".

I like repro muskets from Loyalist Arms, Middlesex Village Trading Company, and Veteran Arms. They are not perfect copies, but their hardware is closer to what was historically carried in North America. At least one of them offers a matchlock musket.

On the other hand for the F&I and AWI you could opt for an early version of a long rifle, and probably cover both wars. For the cost of what a Pedersoli Bess or Charleville, you could get a well made and very accurate rifle, both in looks and in hitting targets.

Now...the Italian 1795 Springfield is a good copy of that, and would cover the war of 1812. So it's not a lack of functionality with the Italian products, but simply their refusal to modify their Bess from what was produced 40 years ago with what we knew, compared to what we know today about British muskets.

LD
 

Alden

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Loyalist Dave said:
I like repro muskets from Loyalist Arms, Middlesex Village Trading Company, and Veteran Arms. They are not perfect copies, but their hardware is closer to what was historically carried in North America. At least one of them offers a matchlock musket...

LD

Those companies only sell, and similarly conceal, that they're Made-in-India reproductions (the least desired in a recent poll here by 4:1). Reputable distributors in the U.S. don't import India-made guns whose "hardware," etc., is most like what you'd find at Pier One Imports as home decor. It is important to understand all that as few want those relatively low quality, dubious, "arms" when there's any other, less questionable, option reasonably available.

Pedersoli is definitely the cream of the crop and the safest way to go, literally and figuratively, no questions asked, if you can, when you can. They are not cheap but they are not inexpensive either. Their Brown Bess is the state of the art for at least F&I and Rev. War reenacting -- almost everyone uses one, and don't forget the bayonet. Huzzah!

Check out their website -- there are probably a half a dozen they make you might be interested in including a Trade Musket, maybe one of the big ol' Hawkens, I'd make an excuse to get a 1777 Charleville myself though the '66 is more Rev. War correct, they make a discounted Pedersoli Cabela's-branded Frontier rifle (called the Blue Ridge I think, and have a unique Kentucky Rifle there too)...

They also do US Civil War so a nice Springfield and 1853 Enfield could be on your short list though other, decent quality, Italian firms (the most respected overall per that recent poll here) have made them and were most popular due to lower price.

Good luck and keep us informed!
 

nwtradegun

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stay with pedrsoli. they are top quality for the money and cover all eras from flint forward.
 

Grandpa Ron

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Muzzleloading gun by their very nature are cantankerous at times. If you are not familiar with them, nothing will turn you off to the sport quicker than a poorly made gun.

It is a completely different world than center fire.

Flintlocks in particular are fussy, which is the bane of cheap guns. If you want reliability you must pay for it. The cheap imported flintlocks in my collection are fine if you want to fire a salute or two. If you want fast and reliable ignition shot after shot. And, you would like to shoot more than a half a dozen times without problems, you need quality.

I would start with a period correct longrifle which matches the time and place of interest. My second gun would be a smoothbore trade gun.

There is a big difference between a “show and tell” piece and one that will give years of service.
 

Billnpatti

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That business does not say where their guns are made but from the prices, I am pretty sure that they are made in India. I would not spend any of my money on a gun that is made in India. Their guns look pretty good if you stand way back and squint your eyes just right but a closer inspection will show much poorer quality than the same gun made by a company like Pedersoli. Invariably, you will find that guns that come from India have crappy locks that require lot of work right out of the box and the quality of construction is a crap shoot. They are not made in a factory where quality is closely controlled but assembled in an assortment privately owned shops. Pedersoli, on the other hand, makes quality products at a reasonable price but you will not get one of their rifles for the prices shown by the General. You get what you pay for. If you just want a wall hanger, buy from someone like the General but if you plan to shoot it, buy a Pedersoli. Shop such places as Track of The Wolf, Dixie Gun Works, The Log Cabin Shop, etc. Of course, you can go even higher on the quality scale and have someone build a custom gun but then you are really talking about a serious investment. For some of the guns that you are looking for, you can find "kits" but most of these "kits" will require a good bit of skill, knowledge and tools to complete. One source for some of the more reasonably priced kits is Sitting Fox Muzzleloaders. The kits are good and consist of good quality parts but I have heard some negative comments concerning the quality of the work done by their craftsmen in assembling a kit into a finished rifle or a rifle left "in the white". I would not hesitate to buy a "kit" from them but I would think twice about having them do the assembly for me. So, if you lack the tools, skills, time, etc. to assemble a quality kit, buy Pedersoli and you won't be disappointed.

Just my opinion and welcome to it. :hatsoff:

BTW, Alden is pretty knowledgeble but when it comes to grits, the boy is shatterpated. He absolutely hates grits, the poor soul. :idunno: When it comes to muzzleloading, he is worth listening to but you will just have to overlook his rants about grits. Please pray for him.
 

TomM1

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Thanks guys.

Unfortunately your responses pretty much match what I feared.

The Italian Mississipi rifle bugs me in that it is in .58 caliber, and not .54. Big part of the Battle of Birch Coulee is the fact that their resupply of ammo in the wagons was .58 and the men had to widdle down bullets with their knives so they could keep shooting. Must have been interesting when people were dead and dying next to you!

Had heard the Italian Brown Bess were wrong before, and that knocks it off my list.

Looks like a Enfield or M1861 Springfield to begin with, but will check the websites mentioned for other parts kits. I can certainly handle minor fitting and finishing. Also have a brother who is an armourer with a machine shop if things get rough.
 
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Welcome to the Forum. You have gotten good advice, and are following it. :thumbsup:

A lot of history in your family! And bless you for following up on it in your collecting.

My wife is descended from Thomas Fayerweather, who came over with William Bradford.
 

Alden

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Tom;
May I suggest you find out what's "wrong" with the Pedersoli Bess, and any other guns people tell you are incorrect like trade guns and Hawkens, before you make a decision? It's usually quite embarrassing what they have to say as well as inaccurate -- mostly internet-defined parroting. You will be looking for a sale on a Pedersoli Bess in three shakes of lamb's tail...

...which they do when they're appropriately eating grits.
 

AZbpBurner

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I recently got a musket from Middlesex & overall, it's sturdily made. It needed a little woodwork shaping at the muzzle, and I stripped the wood and restained it. The lock needs some work, but the frizzen is properly tempered and sparks like a 4th of July Sparkler. After 30 rounds, there's hardly any scratching on the frizzen face. Brass castings are solid and well fit to the wood, and the lock inletting is on par with Lyman, Pedersoli and most others I've seen.

If you want a gun that's nearly ready to shoot outta the box, look at the Pedersolis. If you don't mind doing a little more finishing to make it yours, the Indian Made products from Middlesex are what you want. Middlesex also has a lifetime guarantee on their locks and frizzens, as in simply return to them and they'll fix it.

The Ketland Officer's Fusil looks similar to the Trade Rifle pic that was posted around here on another thread.

And if you feel compelled to tell me all about how it's not an original design, best save it for someone who cares about your opinion, since I don't and have already heard it all before. It's a blast to shoot, easy to clean, and it's lightweight and easy to carry. Someday when I feel spendy, I'll get a custom built. Meanwhile, for the price, I can shoot it and put all the wear on it that I want and won't feel as if I'm taking my shiney new Caddie off-road.
 
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Welcome to the forum, Tom,

During the WBTS, some Southron Mississippi rifle copies were made in .58 caliber for Minie' Balls and some originals were re-bored and rifled for same. That is why the NSSA allows them to be shot in their competition in that caliber. I've seen copies of the original documentation the NSSA used, but it was back in the 80's.

As to the Pedersoli Brown Bess not being authentic, one of the main problems often cited is the flat side plate and that comes from Dr. De Witt Bailey's works. However in the book, The Brown Bess, by Erik Goldstein (A Curator at Colonial Williamsburg) and Stuart Mowbray - they argue that most original British (Tower) and Irish (Dublin Castle) marked P1769 SLP's still extant actually have the FLAT side plates and only the very earliest P1769's MAY have had rounded sideplates.

The next thing cited as being wrong about the Pedersoli Bess is the lockplate markings for P1769 SLP's. This actually has a lot more merit from original guns. As per 1764, the British changed from having Private Contractors' names and dates inscribed on the locks TO only having Tower or Dublin Castle marked on them. It is possible that SOME left over locks marked "Grice" and "1762" marked locks were used in the earliest models or when taken from unserviceable muskets and fitted to new P1769's in later years, but there would not have been the huge numbers of them seen in the repro's today.

One suggestion to this "problem" of the early locks with the flat sideplates, as Loyalist Dave has mentioned, is to get a rounded sideplate from TRS and fit it to the musket. http://therifleshoppe.com/catalog_pages/new_items/(199).htm

One thing I admit I have to do is pull out my Pedersoli Bess and look at the buttplate tang compared to the originals listed in the books above. There also may be some slight small differences in some of the stock design, though most people don't worry about that or can change them to look like the natural differences one would see in the original hand made stocks.

The late Kit Ravenshear used to modify Pedersoli Brown Besses, or "De-Farb" them as some re-enactors say, to make them correct for FIW. What he did was alter them to a copy of a P1756 Long Land Pattern (LLP) that had been shortened during the FIW or to look like those cut down for Horse Dragoon Muskets. What he did was braze brass onto the buttplate tang and reshape it to resemble a LLP one with the longer tang, a rounded LLP sideplate not unlike the one TRS now offers, weld up the above mentioned lock plate markings and re-engrave them with Tower or Dublin Castle or a Private Contractor's Name and a correct date for a FIW LLP, and on some of his "conversions," he even put in false inletting for rammer pipes to show where the pipes had been moved when the LLP was shortened, finally he filed off the modern markings and added period King's Proof and other barrel stamped markings.

Now, I have not been an active AWI/FIW reenactor since around 2008. At that time, most AWI/FIW reenactments allowed the Pedersoli Bess since there were few or no more accurate reproductions made. I don't know for certain, but I don't think that has changed for most re-enactments, though it would always be a good idea to check with re-enactment sponsors of events.

Gus
 
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eaglesnester

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I initially ordered my transitional Bess from the Decremented General. They are probaly fine firearms but are made in India. THere has only one been blown up by a reenactor when he put in 9 blank charges one on top of the other before the barrel let go and blue up the piece. When shooting on the line with a 75 bess loaded up with a blank it is nearly impossible in the excitement to know if yur musket discharged or not from all the smoke and confusion when firing on the line with 50 or 100 people shooting side by side re-inacting. The exploded barrel had about as much powder in it as a 3-lb cannon, not good boys and girls. It wre loud when she burst. This in no way refelects on the quality of the gun but it has to rest on the responsibility of the shooter. Now as for me I ordered a Loylyest arms Bess as Loylyest Dave literately rebuilds every gun he gets from his East India exclusive
supplier So Dave has good quality control and non mandrel formed barrels,(His barrels are stainless steel high carbon)tubs. they are also pre drilled with proofing data including. (U have to Prove it) frizzen stall flint in the jaws and a pan flash guard. I ordered the white leather sling as well. good locks and all are fitted and formed with tight wood to metal fitting.
 

flytrout

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I have a smoothbore Howdah .58 cal from MVTCo. It has good steel locks and good barrels on it. They did picture it with checkering, and it can with no checkering on it, but that was OK as I do my own anyway. The brass is cheap, Great engraving job. It take about ten days to get. Over all OK for the price.
 

J.G. Terry

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I can't address the Italian or India made flintlocks. The experience with Italian made cap lock guns has been spotty on the best day. Got two 1853 Enfield copies from a large large mail order company. Of these guns one was usable and the other was junk. The third was a second hand two band rifle musket that was acceptable. Point being that not all Italian cap lock repros are good grade firearms. Make sure of what you are getting.
 

AZbpBurner

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J. G. Terry said:
I can't address the Italian or India made flintlocks. The experience with Italian made cap lock guns has been spotty on the best day. Got two 1853 Enfield copies from a large large mail order company. Of these guns one was usable and the other was junk. The third was a second hand two band rifle musket that was acceptable. Point being that not all Italian cap lock repros are good grade firearms. Make sure of what you are getting.

Who are the makers and who was the seller? What were the issues on the non-satisfactory guns?
 
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