What makes a Tennessee mountain rifle?

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I was wondering if some of you could tell me what makes a Tennessee mountain rifle vs some other kind of mountain rifle. In addition to this, do you guys have any recommendations for reading material or good picture sources?
 

Tom A Hawk

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I was wondering if some of you could tell me what makes a Tennessee mountain rifle vs some other kind of mountain rifle. In addition to this, do you guys have any recommendations for reading material or good picture sources?
Iron furniture. Distinctive trigger guard. No inlays or carvings. Deeply crescent butt plate with sharply pointed heel and toe that in larger calibers hurts like hell if not mounted carefully. 😮

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It’s regional mostly made in the southern mountains, Carolinas and Tennessee, a few made in Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama,and Arkansas
Most were iron mounted, some silver and very few brass
Most were small caliber, some up to .54
Deep crescent butts common, some flat
Plain but super fine made, some poor boy
General distinctive shape
Maple mostly some made in beech
Most with imported English locks.
 

M. De Land

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Iron furniture. Distinctive trigger guard. No inlays or carvings. Deeply crescent butt plate with sharply pointed heel and toe that in larger calibers hurts like hell if not mounted carefully. 😮

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Amen. Good figured wood, excellent architecture, fit and finish to wood and steel and no crow bate inlays and other superfluous crap that makes them look like an electric guitar made in Juarez Mexico ! Opinionated............. who me? 😄
Let form,fit and finish be their embellishment and if executed correctly they need nothing else to turn a head!
 
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I like how slim and simple they are. Nothing too fancy, and gets the job done. Plus you could tape a knife to the end and use it as a pike with how long they appear to be lol
 

Stophel

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I don't think it reinforces anything. It can, however, help hold the wrist together if it does break!
 
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Probably the best book you can get is Kentucky Rifles of the Great Smoky Mountains by Randal Pierce. Also look up Roger Sells work, he makes fine southern rifles.
 
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The contemporary makers blog spot is an excellent source for pictures, just type in southern or tennessee in the search box. ALR forum also has an archive with a bunch of original guns listed by state or region.
 

M. De Land

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I used to kind of like some brass furniture but now days I much prefer the simple elegance of browned or rust blued iron. I can take or leave patch boxes as I never carry anthing in them anyway that I don't want to loose.
I always have thought a grease hole in the stock was a bit of nonsense and worse than completely useless in function as well as appearance.
I have in recent years warmed up to a bit of modest carving with some subtle silver wire inlay accent. Looks pretty nice, with out over doing it and tends to accent fine grain wood. Personal opinion is what it all boils down to. :)
 

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I was taught that in addition to the above the tang was unusually long to reinforce the stock wrist.

LD
The long barrel tang can be seen in this picture of the Tennessee I built. Notice it extends almost the full length of the wrist.
ten3.jpg


What can't be seen is the trigger plate. Unlike the typical trigger plate used on Pennsylvania rifles, the trigger plate on this Tennessee extends completely down to the rear leg of the trigger guard. Screws pass thru the stock in two places. One at the normal forward location ahead of the trigger and one at the rear of the tang/trigger plate.
This combination of a steel plate on the top and on the bottom of the wrist, held together by two screws gives a huge amount of reinforcing strength to the wrist. It can be thought of as a wood sandwich with steel used for the bread.

In this particular gun, that's good because as you can see, the grain of the wood is not parallel with the wrist of the stock. Instead, it is running parallel with the barrel. If this hadn't been for a Tennessee style rifle with its long barrel tang and trigger plate, I would have sent the stock back to the place I bought it from.

Getting back to the original topic, both the Southern Mountain and the Tennessee used locks which had a rounded shape at the rear of the lock plate.
That is not what these stocks as supplied in the Pecatonica River kits are usually supplied with. They usually come with a Siler lock.

In this guns case, I used the incorrect "Germanic style" Siler lock because it is what I already had. This Siler lock was originally a flintlock kit. I frinkled up the pan and frizzen when I tried to drill the screw hole the frizzen pivots on so, just to be different, I converted it into a percussion lock.
TEN4.jpg


The purple color was caused by my camera. Actually, all of the steel parts including the lockplate are a nice warm brown color.
 
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I too gots the dreaded tennersee with a silar lock. Didn’t know no better 😊
Seems I am destined to spend some time on a project only to find out I was wrong about it. That’s ok
Folks do have it easier today to get it right, but we had a lot of fun learning from our mistakes
 

rich pierce

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So did even the flintlock Tennessee's have the round lock plate or was that just the percussion guns?
A secret in plain sight is that most of what we recognize as Tennessee Mountain Rifles were made in the percussion era and were made as percussion rifles. I’m guessing that between 60% and 80% of originals now showing as flintlock never were flintlock before “restoration.” Sure they look cool as flintlocks and are fun but a lot of makers are making contemporary guns based on 1860s or even much later originals, that were never flintlocks. This is relevant because by the 1840s percussion locks had round tails or squared off tails.
 
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That makes sense. So the actual originals that were pre percussion would probably have had some sort of imported lock i imagine since materials would not have necessarily been easy to come by. Correct me if my assumption is wrong
 

YJake

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That makes sense. So the actual originals that were pre percussion would probably have had some sort of imported lock i imagine since materials would not have necessarily been easy to come by. Correct me if my assumption is wrong

I believe so, an early TMR or SMR would likely have had an English Ketland style lock.

-Jake
 

rich pierce

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That makes sense. So the actual originals that were pre percussion would probably have had some sort of imported lock i imagine since materials would not have necessarily been easy to come by. Correct me if my assumption is wrong
Materials were very easy to come by. Percussion locks and buttplates, guards, cap boxes, and other small parts were abundant in the marketplace. The Tennessee mountains were not isolated from the rest of the economy of the US. Because iron mountings were forged, some have assumed that “they couldn’t get brass” and so on. While we do not have a written record of why the style of iron-forged furniture and often maker-made double set triggers developed, it was not because anything was unavailable. More likely to me, highly skilled blacksmiths started making rifles and took pride in their forge work. Anyone with a forge, whether they called themselves blacksmiths or gunsmiths, did a variety of iron work in their community.
 
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So maybe I have completely misunderstood, when is it generally accepted the Tennessee rifle came about? I understand that eventually of course East tennessee would not have been as isolated, otherwise how would the territories even further out have been supplied. Was the Tennessee rifle mainly a percussion gun style and not actually something that came about initially as a flintlock?
 

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