Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Custom Rifling Options

I used to attend the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee each year. When I could, I'd spend a few minutes talking to an elderly muzzle-loading rifle builder that always set up his display inside the back end of the livestock barn there. He had a slightly derogatory nick-name which he'd earned honestly and embraced quite openly. He usually wore buckskins or bib-overalls, had a long grey and white beard and was always willing to talk.

He rifled his barrels the old-fashioned way - hand-cut on a rifling jig. He specialized in ratchet rifling and sang its praises loud and long. (They may have been progressive (gain twist), too, but then again, maybe my aging mind is grafting two old men into one memory.) His rifles were supposed to be good shooters, from what I've heard. I have to wonder though; was it because of the type of rifling, or simply good workmanship? I'll never know, I guess, since I could never afford one of his rifles. The show isn't what it used to be and he may now be dead, for all I know. He was an interesting fellow, though. © 2013


Le Loup said...

So much information lost every time one of these knowledgeable people pass on. I wonder if he ever wrote any of it down.
Regards, Keith.

Michael Silvius said...

Could you elaborate on the method a bit. I have always wondered how it is done.

Gorges Smythe said...

I don't think he was the type to write things down, Keith, but I think he DID teach his skill to a few others.

Too much to include here, Michael, but I'll try to find you a link or two.

Gorges Smythe said...

Michael, here's some links and suggestions for you:
google “rifling bench” under “images”
google “ratchet rifling”
google “gain twist” (progressive) rifling
One of the Fox-Fire books might have information; I didn’t look to see.

Michael Silvius said...

Thanks for the links, I will look in to it a bit. The spiral jig makes sense but I am curious as to what the cutter head looks like. Very interesting stuff.