Thoughts on Traditions Pennsylvania Flintlock Muzzleloading Rifle 50 Caliber

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NorthFork

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While Traditions (actually Ardesa) has certainly chucked some real lemons out the factory door, most Traditions work just fine. The PA has a single piece stock, not a 2 piece. Traditions for all of their faults generally have great and accurate barrels. For a guy who wants a good shooter and does not put a lot of emphasis on PC/HC, Traditions are a fine option. While I personally don't have a Traditions FLINT firearm, a good friend owns 2. One is older, roughly 1998-2002 and the other is much newer say 2018. Both are stock with no alterations. Both have very reliable and reasonably fast ignitions. None of my percussion Traditions have ever given me grief either. To the OP, if you like the Pennsylvania, buy it. I'm sure it will give you good service.
 

Emery1791

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I have one of those. It was my first longrifle and I got a good price of ~$449 at Sportsman's Warehouse in about 2001 or 2002. The good news is the rifle is a tack driver with the right load. Mine actually needs a 95gr. load of 3F powder and then it is a tack driver.

It's a pretty rifle and mine actually has some highly figured walnut which is unusual. They had two and one had a walnut stock with the normal grain and the one I bought actually has striping on it. It's very pretty rifle. It is very nose heavy because it is not a swamped barrel, but I don't know of any production rifle that has a swamped barrel.

It is also HIGHLY decorated and not at all what you would see during the Rev War, but rather in the "Golden Age" of the longrifle which went from just after the war until about 1840. There had been a lot of demand for longrifles during the Rev War and when the war ended and the treaty was signed in 1783, that demand all but disappeared.

It was then that the gunsmiths started ornamenting their rifles with hunters stars, weeping hearts around the wrist, and more ornamentation along the length of the barrel. This rifle has all of that ornamentation as well as a much deeper crescent shape in the butt than you would see during the war. All of those things point to a much later period of use.

Nonetheless, I used it for reenacting until about 2005 when I bought a much more historically correct Early Lancaster rifle with a swamped barrel from a private builder. Nobody ever gave me grief about my Traditions longrifle except the gun builder in our group who "educated" me in Rev War period longrifles. And he really only did that once. The main thing in Rev War reenactments is that it must be a flintlock rifle.

By the way, the bluing on this rifle is fine as charcoal bluing was a popular option in the 18th century. If you are not worried about historical or period correctness, none of that cosmetic stuff matters. So if you're not doing reenacting...don't sweat it at all!

The biggest problem I ran into with my Traditions Pennsylvania Longrifle was the shape of the stock. It has a big Roman Nose sweep to it and it will bruise your cheek or give you a black eye if you try to shoot it like a normal rifle. The reason for that is that, mounting it like you would a normal rifle, you have to lean your head over the stock to line up the sights. Then when you fire the rifle that upward recoil will smack you right in the cheek or along the bottom of your eye. It hurts and it bruises so you look like you've been in a fistfight.

There are two ways to keep that from happening. One is that you mount the rifle with your head farther back on the stock than normal. That allows you to sight your rifle with your head farther down that Roman Nose stock and without putting your cheek over the top of it. That way the recoil doesn't smash the stock into your cheek but rather up and along side it.

Another way to fire it successfully is to use an old shotgunners trick and when you mount the rifle, turn your noise into the stock so you are just sighting out of the corner of your eye. That keeps your cheek away from the top of the stock and recoils just slides up and back instead of bashing into your cheek.

Now when you have a rifle made or order one from a maker a few years from now, ask for a 1/4" offset on the stock (right-handed shooters) and a swamped barrel. I used to do fittings for custom-made shotguns and that 1/4" offset will make it so your eye aligns with the sight when you mount it with extremely little sighting adjustment, if any, to get on target. Most people need 1/4", a few folks, and more commonly women need a smaller 1/8" offset, and folks with big cheeks and a wide jaw may need as much as a 1/2" offset. For most folks, 1/4" works just fine and is much better than a straight stock.

The swamped barrels taper from the breech to the middle of the barrel and then swell back up about a foot to 18" before the muzzle. The swamped barrels are how rifle barrels were made in the 18th century. They are lighter and the balance point is right back at the hand you place on the forearm. They are not nose-heavy at all! They are much easier to mount and swing with as well as hold on target when shooting off-hand (without a rest). My much longer Early Lancaster rifle is a full 2-lbs. lighter than my Traditions Longrifle.

Hope this helps,
Dan
Twisted_1in66
You are a wealth of knowledge sir. Very much enjoyed reading your response.
 

JCKelly

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As I often say, its the lock that makes shooting a flintlock so enjoyable. @Phil Coffins is spot on about the lock. If one knows how to properly tune the lock, it can be made to spark. The springs are weak. The Traditions/ CVA lock were the locks back in the 1970's that established flint locks as being so unreliable.
I believe the US Army had established this by about 1840 We had a lot to learn back then. In fact it took me over 20 years to finally get into flintlocks with a Siler lock in a TVM fowling gun.
 

JCKelly

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You got one of the best guns you could. Traditions use actual high strength low sulphur steel for their barrels, not screw stock. If something goes wrong it tends to bulge, maybe split open, but not shatter. Screw stock with its added sulphur, phosphorus and lead machines beautifully but is not used to handle shocks, i.e. explosions.
 
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I bought a Traditions Shenandoah Flintlock and within months I ended up ordering a Kibler. I did not enjoy shooting the traditions even though I put a lot of time into working up loads and trying to get consistent ignition which I could not achieve. It didn't shoulder well so it would kick my cheek and bruise my face. The patent breech would get clogged up with fouling so it wouldn't fire. I wish now I had saved my time and money and just went straight to ordering the Kibler.

Other things, the factory guns are not historically accurate. No cheek piece, small lock, chunky stock, short straight barrel, lines are all wrong, LOP is short etc.
View attachment 86825
The Kibler is a work of art, easy to assemble, swamped barrel, accurate as hell, fun to shoot, shoulders great, light weight, top quality fast lock etc.
View attachment 86826

Shoot your Hawken and when you want to get a Flintlock do yourself a favor just order a Kibler kit. You will thank me later.
Most shooters today are used to using too long of a LOP on factory guns... so everything properly fitting seems short lol. I'm 5'8", and prefer a 12.75-13.25"LOP lol... only learned that once I made my own stocks and I kept cutting the back off until it felt good lol. Not all guns, historically had a cheekpiece, not all locks were MASSIVE musket locks (particularly by the 1770's onwards), and barrels came in all lengths and profiles straight, tapered, swamped (usually not as swamped as modern reproductions lol). Gotta remember the originals were made to the customer (some larger shops kept stock of a variety of partly finished guns, to speed up delivery, and they'd mod them to suit you), so if you wanted it and were paying, you got it, generally.

I agree, though, the Tradition's stocks aren't well shaped, the locks and the lock-vent relationship isn't always right, the chambered breech only complicates things (even on percussion guns), Straight barrels make for nose heavy (and just heavy all around) guns. My Traditions PA Pellet (old model) is stripped for parts, and I'm rebuilding it lol, shoots well.
 
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with all said its a pc. of sh?t
yah, the Pennsylvania rifle the OP expressed interest in is, for the money, garbage... you can build a quality rifle for notably less than that yourself, or spend a bit more at a Build-A-Longrifle-Workshop for a kit. Barrel and plug-$230, Lock-$170, Set trigger - $45, buttplate- $17, Trigger guard- $17, Nosecap, $10, thimbles- $12, simple stock $85, sights + pins and bolts- $30. Grand total- $616... and you didn't even have to fabricate anything (you can cut costs by making some of this stuff (my $23 plywood stock project gun is going great lol), or going with a simple lever trigger). All it takes is a cheap set of carving knives, sandpaper, a smidge of glue (fixing f-ups) and time/patience (that's how I built my first one). Tradition's imports are best value at their lowest level entries (if for no other reason than parts), everything else they sell is overpriced
 

bldtrailer

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OK it's time to get real, for the cost it is an entery level gun.
Not everyone can start at the top. I have several custom made flinters with Getz, and Bobby Hoyt ,and green mountain barrels !
But with the right load and some lock tuning I can get 1 1/4 inch groups with my 2 traditions flint locks rifles at 50 & under 2 @100 yrds ,poor locks but good barrels 1-66 and very bad trigger on my Kentucky. I had more trouble with my great plains rifle's lock . I get near 95% with the traditions after my tuning almost as relable as my siler locks (tuned by Brad of cabincreek)
DSC03303.JPG
red rifle 50 yrds 2.jpg
red rifle 100yrds.JPG

If you can go to muzzleloader shop like Dixons(just over the hill from me) or the Log cabin ohio .
Go to trad shoot and see what fits you and your buget . That way you might find a good used starter gun (and maybe the load it likes)
Most gun /sporting goods stores don't have a flint/muzzle loader guy
The above photos show what a good load in a starter rifle can be 50yrds low hole from clean barrel the others no wipe . at 100 clean off to right low throw out the flinch the other are 1 1/2 . the load of the other high and right are with a tighter patch .020 vs .018 but did not group as well.
Are there better flint lock rifles YES, but if you have one you can make it shoot and enjoy it.
It's more the guy then the gun.
 

bldtrailer

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I forgot :doh: to add my son killed his first 2 🦌deer with the Traditions Tennassee I lent him for his 1st Pa flint lock season (I didn't get it back for 2 more years) and gave him my great plains rifle for a replacement in trade🏹🎯
 

nkbj

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I have a flinter Traditions Deerhunter that's just sooooo dependable.

Oh, had to come back for a moment...
That Traditions Shenandoah I got on the forum, the .36 with the bulged barrel, the one that became a .46; it always goes bang if I do my part.
 

SDSmlf

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OK it's time to get real, for the cost it is an entery level gun.
Not everyone can start at the top. I have several custom made flinters with Getz, and Bobby Hoyt ,and green mountain barrels !
But with the right load and some lock tuning I can get 1 1/4 inch groups with my 2 traditions flint locks rifles at 50 & under 2 @100 yrds ,poor locks but good barrels 1-66 and very bad trigger on my Kentucky. I had more trouble with my great plains rifle's lock . I get near 95% with the traditions after my tuning almost as relable as my siler locks (tuned by Brad of cabincreek)View attachment 87049View attachment 87050View attachment 87051
If you can go to muzzleloader shop like Dixons(just over the hill from me) or the Log cabin ohio .
Go to trad shoot and see what fits you and your buget . That way you might find a good used starter gun (and maybe the load it likes)
Most gun /sporting goods stores don't have a flint/muzzle loader guy
The above photos show what a good load in a starter rifle can be 50yrds low hole from clean barrel the others no wipe . at 100 clean off to right low throw out the flinch the other are 1 1/2 . the load of the other high and right are with a tighter patch .020 vs .018 but did not group as well.
Are there better flint lock rifles YES, but if you have one you can make it shoot and enjoy it.
It's more the guy then the gun.
Getting real, the gun the OP asked for an opinion on was the ~$800~ Traditions Pennsylvania, while mentioning a Kibler for next year, not the two piece stock Traditions Kentucky. He already bought a Traditions Hawken for a ‘starter’ and didn’t want to wait for the Pedersoli Kentucky to come back into stock. OP was mentioning guns a bit above what many consider entry level guns. For what it’s worth, agree with others that many of the Traditions (and their predecessors) were and are accurate shooters,
 

bldtrailer

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:dunno:the barrels Pa 33.5 kentucky 33.5 1-66, locks, the patten breach all are the same. Pa , triggers pa set it's got to be better, ken. bad single
Midway has the Pen in stock $729 flint
deluxe Kentucky flint (patbox and set trigger) $449.99
a good starter flinter
w free shipping
 

sportster73hp

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Took my Traditions Tennessee to the range yesterday after reading this forum. Ten hammer drops ten bullets down range. I can be accused of bad mouthing this brand but it worked for me this time. Even if it didn’t I won’t sell it, is my first bp gun.
 

hanshi

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The only factory flintlock rifle I could never get to spark reliably was a Pedersoli. Traditions aren't nearly as pretty but I hold them in high regard. The most astonishingly accurate rifle I ever owned was a Traditions Crockett .32. Not a flintlock but it shot well under 1" at 50 yards for 5-shot groups. I have a custom .36 flintlock that does that so I consider them tied for accuracy.
 

Erwan

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Well, I have an old PA (Jukar/Dikar/Ardesa/Traditions : mine is an Ardesa with the stock in blond walnut and inserts in brass), it's a damn good rifle at 50yds and a good rifle to start with a flint...
Except for the wood which is a bit ill-fitting and forces you to put your cheek and head down for aiming (sometimes it can hurt a bit) everything else is good, even the lock good enough and the stecher: the 1:66 twist barrel with .445 bullets, 0.10 patches and 45 grains of 3Fg works like a charm for a small investment (I paid 400 bucks for mine, but that was quite a while ago)...
I still have this old gun and use it quite often for fun and also sometimes in friendly challenges...
If it's your first flintlock, take it and go for it, you won't be disappointed, and you'll have a lot of pleasure for very little money and with very good results...
 
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fishmusic

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As I often say, its the lock that makes shooting a flintlock so enjoyable. @Phil Coffins is spot on about the lock. If one knows how to properly tune the lock, it can be made to spark. The springs are weak. The Traditions/ CVA lock were the locks back in the 1970's that established flint locks as being so unreliable. We had a lot to learn back then. In fact it took me over 20 years to finally get into flintlocks with a Siler lock in a TVM fowling gun.
Too true, Grenadier, I purchased the Pedersoli Kentucky kit and the lock just wasn't right. It ate flints for all three daily meals. The cock geometry was wrong and the spring tensions were way stiff. Had to send it out to have it tuned correctly.
 
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