Smooth bore rifles...

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sooter76

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So I've run across some references to smooth bore rifles, both being reemed out after the rifling has been worn out and specifically ordered as such... I'm curious how common these were and if they were specific to certain styles? Anyone know?
 

Artificer

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I hope Rich Pierce see's your thread and chimes in.

As far as I know, Smooth Rifles were mostly made in Pennsylvania and from a rather early date.

I was privileged to handle an original one near Punxsutawney, PA; that though it had been converted to percussion, it was a LOT earlier than that. The whole gun screamed Pre AWI; with the wide trigger guard, stock, and butt plate. It had a wood patch box cover. VERY nicely made Smooth Rifle, though very little carving. There was no name on the lock or barrel. What got me was whoever did the conversion, was enough of an artist that the new made percussion hammer blended right in with the style of the gun.

Gus
 

tenngun

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We see lots of guns that may have been bored smooth after the fact,but...
Today glasses are cheap, and plentiful, and we can get repos of 18th cent glasses, but they were not common then. Even badly nearsighted can hold on a deer at fifty yards. It IMHO that smooth rifles were made for guys who would have been wearing glasses today. A person that can hold on a palm sized target has use for a rifle, a person who has to hold on a trash can cover to see it well wouldn't be served by having a rifle. No need to pay for putting in rifling you can't use.
 

rich pierce

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Ok I will bite, Gus!
We all know that in many cases rifles were bored and reamed smooth after the rifling got worn. Right? But can anybody show me a single original with double set triggers that is now a smoothbore? Not yet. Hmmm, hmmmm. So maybe they only bored out and reamed the ones with simple triggers? This, for me, calls into question how many of those which are smooth now were once rifled.

Bucks County PA guns are next to never found with traces of rifling. Northampton county PA originals built in rifle style are more commonly smooth than rifled as found now. On the other hand it is rarer to find smooth bored rifle-built guns from Virginia and points South. This suggests to me that a good many guns were built with smoothbore barrels originally in specific Pennsylvania locales and periods. In late flint/early percussion period in Berks County PA a great many very plain "barn guns " were made as smoothbores. So time and place seem to be determining factors. Keep in mind it took 20 hours or more to rifle a barrel adding to its expense.
 

Jeff Gleason

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Smooth rifles being what they are: versatile for large game or shot for small game. I would think smooth rifles were made from the ground up for that purpose. Rifles being bored out seems like a pretty remote circumstance.

I would think, especially with a flintlock, the barrel would outlast the stock. I would see it as more likely to re-purpose a well used rifled barrel and restock it. Maybe I'm all wet....
 

silverfox

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Smooth rifles. I have a Smooth rifle that was made in Harrisburg , Pa. between 1846 and 1856 It was made as a smooth rifle. .62 cal smooth bore very thin barrel like modern shotguns not rebored rifle. the sights are very small and so low on the barrel that most people that look at the gun don't see them. they might be 1/32 inch high but look right when you shoulder the rifle. This gun looks like a squirrel rifle not a shotgun.
Fox
 

Spence10

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They are mentioned early in the 18th century.

The Pennsylvania Gazette
September 20, 1739
RUN away ...a Servant Lad, named Richard Beddes, aged about 17 Years, has light bushy Hair: Had on an old striped Jacket, old linnen Shirt, new Linnen Breeches and an old Hat, no Shoes nor Stockings. Took with him a smooth Rifle Gun.

The Pennsylvania Gazette
January 26, 1769
RUN away from his bail, ...had on, when he went away, a blue broadcloth coat, with mohair buttons, a red plush waistcoat, leather breeches, and a fine hat; he also had other clothes, of a light ash colour, lined with striped linsey, the coat had no lining in the sleeves; these he had packed up in a pair of check trowsers; he may dispose of one suit; he took with him a smooth rifle gun, and as he has served his time, he may possibly produce his indenture.

The Pennsylvania Gazette
Philadelphia
February 15, 1773.
To be SOLD very cheap.... A QUANTITY of this country and German made RIFLES , both cut and smooth bores, in the best manner;

Virginia GazetteӬ(Purdie)
Williamsburg Ӭ
April 21, 1775.
Fifty six dollars reward. RUN away last night from the subscribers,....They had, and took with them, a country square-barrelled smooth bore gun rifle-stocked, one pistol, and other fire-arms.

Spence
 
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