Re-Boring And Rifling A 50 Caliber Hawken

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by victorio1sw, May 20, 2019.

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  1. May 20, 2019 #1

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

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    As they say "old too soon, smart to late". This applies to my question here.

    In 1966 I built a 50 caliber half stock percussion Hawken, using a Bob Roller lock and Douglass barrel. W. L. Mowrey of Jacksboro, TX made the tang-breach plug assembly. It is a pretty rifle, inletted to perfection, using maple with nice striped figure. I elected to not use a hooked breach plug, although the two keys are in place as expected on a Hawken. But I made at least one big mistake. Not having an original Hawken handy, I went with a 1-1/8" octagon barrel. That barrel is 35 inches long. So the gun weighs 12 pounds! Too heavy.

    I don't know if Hawken made plains rifles with bores as large as 65 caliber. That would reduce the weight by 1.4 pounds. Can this barrel be re-bored and rifled to 65 caliber? I know that the breach plug thread will have to exceed 0.65". Does a re-rifled barrel require some shortening at the muzzle for best accuracy? If so, then the under-rib and two thimbles can be replaced, along with the dovetailed front sight. Shortening the barrel by 5" would reduce another 1.2 pounds of weight.
     
  2. May 20, 2019 #2

    bang

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    bang

    45 Cal.

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    Why not cut the barrel down to around 28". Weight removed, cg moves back and the weight moment reduction would be very noticable. Plus you maintain caliber.
     
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  3. May 20, 2019 #3

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

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    That may be a better idea. With steel weighing 0.287 #/Cu Inch, that 7" barrel reduction would drop the weight by 1.7 pounds. With a 50 caliber bore, my 1-1/8" octagon barrel weighs 0.244 #/Inch of length.
     
  4. May 20, 2019 #4

    bang

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    45 Cal.

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    That weight drop will feel 4 fold with the CG and weight moment change.
     
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  5. May 20, 2019 #5

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

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    That is a good point. Right now the CG is near the fore end cap on this half stock Hawken. In other words, it is about where my left hand is positioned (as a right handed shooter). Moving the CG back towards the breach plug forces some of that weight to be borne by the crescent buttplate (my shoulder), and my right trigger hand.
     
  6. May 20, 2019 #6

    bang

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    Will probably put the new CG about 1 to 1.5 inch aft of barrel wedge. Good place to have support fulcrum with off hand and arm being less extended will make the weight moment even less. This will also drastically decrease the mental need to be so supportive at the trigger allowing a relaxed grip and more squeeze control.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  7. May 23, 2019 #7

    Huntschool

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    Seems I remember orig Hawken barrels went from1 1/8" at the breech to 1" on 36". That being said , it also seems I have seen an orig with a straight 1 1/8 barrel but it was shorter...….

    Ed White (Eldorado, IL) built one way back when with a Bill large 1 1/8" straight barrel and a Roller lock which I had the privilege of using for a deer season here in IL back in the day. It was a beast to carry even in my younger days but man could it shoot. No surprise there, based on components and builder.

    If it were me, I would cut the barrel back (but not to 28", rather 30") and perhaps have Hoyt bore it to .54 (or .58 if you prefer), replace the rib, re align and solder the thimbles and go shoot it.

    JMHO
     
  8. May 24, 2019 #8

    Stony Broke

    Stony Broke

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    I would think reboring to such a large caliber might end up with a problem for you. The screw holes on some of the barrels are deeper than others, and a guy has to be sure to leave some barrel between the bottom of the holes and the bore. Mr. Hoyt bored a .56 caliber smoothbore tc for me a while back,and I had him take it out to .58. I was seriously thinking about .62 caliber but I and Mr. Hoyt both thought it might be smarter to go to the smaller caliber.
     
  9. May 24, 2019 #9

    Huntschool

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    The barrel in reference here is a 1 1/8 across the flats barrel...… You were dealing with a TC product not a Douglas (likely XX grade) barrel. With your TC barrel I would also have concerns for the depth of "screw holes" for the fixtures TC uses/used on their guns. Without seeing this gun in hand I would assume (this is just me) that this barrel is good for .62 but as I suggested above a .540 or .580 would be just as good if not better. If screw holes are present, a good tig welder can fill them and then no big deal.....
     
  10. May 24, 2019 #10

    BrownBear

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    Just some numbers for your calculations. I have a GRRW Hawken, 58 caliber in a 36" barrel tapered from 1 1/8" at the breech to 1" at the muzzle. It tips the scale at 12#, so I don't know quite how to account for the similarity in weight to yours with a straight 1 1/8" 50 cal. Unfortunately I picked it up not long after I sent our last horse down the road, cuzz I sure would have appreciated equine feet for lugging it. In fact I've made no long hunts with it because of the weight.

    I can't imagine screw holes going so deep into a 1 1/8 barrel that boring would be a concern, but it's easy enough to check that. I'd consult with whoever is going to do your rebore job.

    In a nutshell I understand your desire to lighten it up rather that feed and care for horses 24/7/365. But I don't think the size and weight are out of line with historic examples, if that's a concern for you. If the construction details are already a pretty close match to an historic Hawken, I'd almost consider leaving it as is and devoting myself to picking up or building another. There are some fine examples of trade rifles around from the same era which are lots lighter yet historically accurate.

    Come to think of it, I seem to recall an original 62 caliber Hawken so no change other than a rebore would still be a fine possibility for weight lost. I can speak up for the effectiveness of a 62 caliber rifle as well, and you wouldn't be at all unhappy with your own, I bet. There's plenty of meat in that barrel for the job.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
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  11. May 24, 2019 #11

    Huntschool

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    Thanks so much for supporting my two previous posts regarding this barrel project...…...
     
  12. May 24, 2019 #12

    BrownBear

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    It's not rocket science, but personal taste and ambitions will dictate which direction you take.

    If at all possible I sure recommend you handle and heft a Leman trade rifle before investing the time, sweat and money in any mods to your existing rifle. I have a Leman and it's closer to 9# and very well balanced. Absolutely "sleek" compared to a modern design Lyman Trade Rifle, for example. It's a delight to carry and certainly different in balance. New construction of a custom would set you back, but I've seen very good used ones for lots less.
     
  13. May 25, 2019 #13

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

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    I looked at the possibility of shortening the barrel, but feel that the reduced sight "radius" would be detrimental to accuracy. That micrometer tang sight assembly is just silver soldered on, and I plan to remove it. Also the hooded Lyman front sight was a temporary experiment. It will be replaced with a Rocky Mountain type blade sight.

    I am attaching some pictures of this Hawken. I built this gun in 1966, using a 50 Cal Douglass barrel, Bob Roller Lock, and a W. L. Mowrey bolster-breachplug-tang assembly. I don't recall where the TG and butt plate was purchased. Most other brass and steel items I made.

    PS/This is a powerful website. Picture uploads are very speedy! And these were not small files either.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. May 25, 2019 #14

    BrownBear

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    Over and above the loss of some sighting radius, I think shortening the barrel would take away from the nice proportions as they stand. I'd sure look into having it bored to 62 caliber for weight savings, rather than cropping the barrel any shorter. You'll be tickled with the performance of a 62 as well. Get up to the top end of loads, and I can verify that you'll bless a little extra weight, too! ;) I have a light 62 (8.5#) with a slow twist that simply doesn't like loads lighter than 120 grains, and it's a lot happier at 140. Certainly nothing you'd take to a match, but an ace in the field on game.
     
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  15. May 25, 2019 #15

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

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    I totally agree. Who can be recommended to do that 62 caliber re-boring job? Is any loss of barrel length involved?
     
  16. May 25, 2019 #16

    BrownBear

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    Bobby Hoyt does superb rebores for surprisingly little money. There should be zero loss in barrel length, too. I don't have his contact info, but he's popular here on the site and someone can pass it along. He doesn't have a web site and may not even do email, so it's a phone call deal if I remember correctly.

    Anyone help with contact info?
     
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  17. May 25, 2019 #17

    Huntschool

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    Just a side note on this subject..... The dimension for typical Hawken tapered barrels is, as mentioned, 1 1/8 to 1" on 36". That does not mean that all barrels were 36" long. Fact is, if you look at some pictures and I can testify, having measured all the Hawken rifles in Dr. Leonard's collection when it was at Cody, that few were a full 36". Several 34" and If I remember correctly a 32" but that might be from another rifle I measured with Art Ressel. Then the 1 1/8 straight barrel on a gun from a different collection and if memory serves, that barrel was at 32".

    So, as with many guns of the day, barrel length can be quite subjective. Seems the Hawken boys ordered their barrels on the 1 1/8 to 1" on 36" as standard and then made up the guns as ordered or produced like the other builders.

    Also.... As an older shooter, with eye sight that is going South, I dont think a length reduction (4-6") as to sight radius will effect accuracy much if at all. You are removing the tang sight and the globe any way.....

    JMHO
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2019
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  18. May 25, 2019 #18

    Grimord

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    Robert Hoyt
    Freischutz Shop
    2379 Mt. Hope Rd.
    Fairfield, PA 17320
    717-642-6696

    Try calling first thing in the morning (EDST) before he gets his machines running.
     
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  19. May 25, 2019 #19

    BrownBear

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    There 'tis.

    Thanks!
     
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  20. May 26, 2019 #20

    victorio1sw

    victorio1sw

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    Thanks for providing detailed information on Hawken barrels that you have seen and studied. All I have is the old Hanson book on "Plains Rifles".

    My eyesight is also going down hill. But even when young, I had difficulty in using open sights. So for serious shooting, I added temporary peep sights to my muzzle loaders.
     

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