How to Build a Flintlock Rifle: Big Bore Hawken: Selecting the Parts
I would like to add another flintlock rifle to my collection of hunting rifles. I want a rifle for hunting big game, not just squirrels and such. A .58 caliber should do the job. A lead round ball is about 290 grains and conical projectiles are available in the 500 grain neighborhood, incase I want to hunt rhino or grizzly bear....or something.
Why a flintlock? Well I say why not just purchase a modern in-line muzzleloader? I have one. Or maybe a cap lock instead or a flintlock, or maybe a reproduction military musket? Flint locks are pretty. I could make a spear and don a loincloth and chase down some big game, but….I get enough of the feeling of using a primitive weapon when I hunt with a flintlock. You have to be a bit more careful in damp weather and shooting accurately takes a little more practice, but they will get the job done, and in 58 caliber it should make a big boom.
A bit of history on the Hawken rifle.
Brothers Jacob and Samuel Hawken moved from the east where they were employed by the US Armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, to Missouri and began production of rifles, shotguns and pistols in a small shop. The first documented J&S Hawken rifle was manufactured in 1831 and in that year and the year following they had orders for only 18 rifles each year. The bulk of the later firearms were cap lock but some of the earlier versions were flintlock rifles. The rifles were heavy barreled in calibers up to 60. The Hawken rifle developed a reputation as a well made and reliable firearm. Legend has it that west bound fur trappers stopped in St. Louis to purchase a Hawken rifle before entering the western territories. As these rifles sold for several times the price of the plentiful trade rifles of the day, it is probably not likely many trappers actually purchased a rifle in the Hawkens shop. Most mountain men desired a Hawken but not many were initially outfitted with them.With the discovery of gold in California the demand for Hawken rifles increased and they became prized possessions by their owners. The sale of Hawken rifles declined with competition from military arms made by Colt and Sharps.
I’ve settled on a full stock Hawken style rifle with a fancy maple stock, iron hardware and a 1" x 36” ,.58 caliber barrel. I will purchase this kit from Track of the Wolf.
Cost = $817
The cost is a little higher because I chose a fancy maple stock. It will show some curl and contrasting tiger striping.
But....If I want to reduce my budget, what can I do? I can purchase the important parts and make the rest. The important parts are the barrel, lock and for me a nice pre-carved, pre-inlet stock. Pre-inlet means that the lock is inlet, the barrel channel is carved and the ram rod slot and hole are carved and drilled. Final fitting of the parts and inletting smaller parts is still required. On previous rifles I've built I did the inletting of the lock. It's not terribly difficult but takes some time and patience. For me a pre-carved stock ensures the rifle will end up pretty.
Below I've provided a list of parts and offered suggestions and savings for the parts you can make.
Dixie Gun Works
Green Mountain 1”x36” .58 barrel -$145
MP1110 Forged Flint Breechplug 3/4 X 16 Milled - $8.50
Track of the Wolf
Flint Hawken 1" slant faced breech & tang, 3/4-16 thread - $54.99
Hawken fullstock, pre shaped stock, pre-inlet,1" octagon, 38" barrel, L&R late English lock Plain maple - $175
Late English Flint Lock,right hand, with gooseneck cock,made in the USA, by L&R - $133
Sideplate,for Hawken or Plains Rifle,counterbored for 3/8" lock bolt head, steel - $2.00
Hawken Double Set Trigger, with curved front trigger, by L & R - $55.00
Triggerguard, Early Hawken Rifle, wax cast steel - $21.99
Lock Bolt, 6-32 thread, 3/8" diameter cylindrical head, 2" length $2.99
Tang Bolt Blank, 10-32 blank, 3/8" diameter head, 2-3/8" length $2.49
Early Hawken Rifle Buttplate, wax cast steel - $21.99
Hawken Ramrod Pipes,round, for 7/16" rod,wax cast brass or iron $9.99(1), $8.99(2)
Underlug for pin, milled brass, .640" dovetail $1.99(3)
Vent,Touch Hole Liner,3/8-32 thread, stainless steel,White Lightnin' $4.29
Square Blade Front Sight,wax cast brass - $8.99
Rear sight, adjustable Hawken style, with five step elevation riser, by L&R – $34.99
Ramrod, 5/16" hickory, 36" long, brass tip, 10-32 thread, made in the USA. - $12.99
Muzzle cap, H. E. Leman Indian Trade Rifle, for 1" octagon barrels, wax cast steel - $9.99
Below is a table with parts that can be made or substitued, shown in red. This assumes a stock blank which will need to be carved, have the barrel channel cut, the ram rod hole drilled and channel cut, and all the parts inlet. A big job, but it can be done. The trigger guard, buttplate and ram rode pipes can be made from steel or brass flat stock. The trigger is a basic, simple trigger with a heavy pull. The rear sight is fixed.
Of course if I absolutely had to have this rifle and just could not afford the extra $300 I could choose to the cheaper parts and method I've outlined. I'm sure the cheaper rifle would be a pleasure to build, but the kit rifle with the pretty stock, adjustable sights, and set triggers will be even more pleasureable to shoot. If you consider this a rifle to keep for your lifetime and perhaps pass on, then the extra $300 is not much.
- How to Build a Flintlock: The Basics
My recollections of building a Tennesse Flintlock Longrifle.