Only one rifle by Ron Southgate I knew of was one went to a NZ shooter, 40 cal & he used it a lot but its the only one I know of .I believe they are rather basic and not as sophisticated as todays makers tend to go for . But he is back in the' Hacker Martin' early days of the black powder revival .Not that it ever died out . I knew the owner but he's dead now .
I have 3 of Southgate’s Tenn Maids(read that moniker somewhere before. My second was one of his and after much research I’m always on the lookout for them. They’ve become rarer these days. The serial numbers are from the 200’s, 600’s and 700’s. They are utilitarian but I just love his story. Here are his signatures:
Sorry for the picture overload and lack of context, so let's try some here. All of the Southgate rifles I have possess the unique markings at the muzzle. I have read that it keeps your rifle from being haunted...
The picture of the 5 rifles shows the 3 Southgates compared to a Thom Frazier and an Ed Wenger. Please understand I am not the type to spend over $3000 for a flintlock (kids and a wife who notices when a 5 foot long box arrives). Although the Southgates seem "plain" in actuality you will see more brass insets (flair, for lack of a better word) than on the Frazier and Wenger. Now those two gents do have rifles that are real works, but in the "working" category of flintlocks, the Southgates fare quite well. Now, with the Wenger and the Frazier, and most moderns, the center of gravity, actually the full layout put the weight dead center the weapon. The rearends, butt and locks are rather large. The Southgates are very front heavy. The barrel is very heavy, yet the rear half is quite small and the locks are as small as they possibly could be to effectively work.
There is was an article done July of 1952 in American Rifleman that told his story. I got a copy somewhere I’ll post this weekend. He basically built his rifles from scratch, and was tied to Dixie Gun Works as a parts manufacturer. There are a lot of guys on other forums such as American Longarms or Longrifles, that y’all better versions and give background. His last rifle was built for actor “slim Pickens” in the 70’s. Here is a pick of Mr Southgate.
Mr Southgate certainly seemed to be prolific for simple down to a price & serviceable rifles . to day Gun makers are leigion but in his time they where much fewer or not so many full time I'me sure ML guns never ceased to be made . But he does seem to be a living link like Hacker Martin who at least are known links . I recently made up a Baltic Bird rifle of 290 cal stamped ' G Tyler' who made a good barrel if possibly a ' one off' nothing like todays barrel makers rustic it may be but it shoots very well I've been using 15 grains C & H no 4 ( old stuff ) I got it in Greenville OH Darke County but the previous owner shot at F ship so may be where he got it .He had died so I could'nt ask him. I feel sure there where many' living links' of makers it just the two Ive 'heard of .
I had the pleasure of knowing both Royland and his brother Bailey in the 70's. Both were gunmakers but Royland the most prolific. We would visit Roylands shop on his farm at Rebel Hill and he usually had a number of machines running parts at the same time. Great and welcoming fellow who always had his pipe lit his beer cold and ready to help solve a problem. His brother Bailey was blinded in a cannon accident at the WENO ranch but continued to build and occasionally shoot at Charlie Hafner's range. I have the last pistol he made. It is rough and tumble but he made it. I'll post a pic of it later.