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Flintlock: Build or buy? What is your take on this?

robert38-55robert38-55 Senior MemberPosts: 3,621 Senior Member
I always had a notion in the back of my mind to buy a flintlock pistol kit/rifle kit and build my own. I was wondering if any of ya'll here have done this [and I am sure some here have], built their own flintlock pistol and/or rifle. I looked at some kits on line, and depending on which company offers them depends on the price. What may or may not be involved in this project, before I get into something that is over my head and have to end up crying and contracting Teach to finish this endeavor? All opinions and advice welcome. Thanks.
"It is what it is":usa:
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Replies

  • Elk creekElk creek Senior Member Posts: 6,718 Senior Member
    Buy a copy of "the art of building the Pennslysania long rifle." Read it and see what you think.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Building-Pennsylvania-Longrifle/dp/B002DVKDH4
    Aim higher, or get a bigger gun.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    Never built one myself simply because I can tangle up crowbars and break anvils, but I've been around this subject for 40 or so years, and know the ends-and-outs pretty well. All of my flintlocks, about a dozen left, are custom built, but none were kit pieces. But.....

    The absolute best kit that you can get would be one of Jim Chambers. Pull Jim's stuff up on the web and take a look. He also has a series of videos teaching various aspects, and if you run into a problem he'll help you out via email with suggestions/instructions. His kits are about as historically correct as you can get, too. Not cheap, the most expensive kit piece that you can get, but also the very best in quality. And remember.....the heart and soul of a flintlock is the LOCK! A poor quality lock will cause you grief totally from Day One, so don't skimp on this component or you'll regret it totally.

    Track of the Wolf also has several kit pieces, but I know nothing about what they have. I hear pretty good reports on TOTW kits occasionally, and I'm sure that they would stand behind what they market. They would be cheaper for sure, so if $$ are a major concern I'm sure that they would be cheaper......

    There are a couple of other kit marketers out there, but I promise you that the best advice that you can get is......be cautious.

    Let us know how it goes! I would be interested in seeing photos of whatever you make!
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Shop TOTW and Dixie Gun Works for good kits, but be aware the locks they supply aren't going to be top of the line. A Chambers or Siler lock adapted to a slightly less expensive kit would be a good compromise, and you can offer the original lock for sale on Ebay to recoup some of the cost of the lock upgrade. Siler makes a "gunsmith" lock with a completely rectangular lockplate that can be fitted to the opening in whatever stock you choose to use if it's pre-inletted for a different lock. The position of the flash hole in relation to the pan on a flinter, both front to back and vertically, is vitally important to good ignition. Most kit barrels come without the flash hole drilled and tapped, so it can be positioned properly after the barrel and lock are fitted to the stock.
    Jerry
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 3,395 Senior Member
    I put together a Pedersoli Trade Musket some years back. It was a little more than "assemble" the parts, but a whole lot less than the other kits that require 80 hours of fitting and hand work. The Pedersoli has pretty fast ignition, after one gets over the learning curve. Never launched a round ball from it, but it shoots squirrel shot really well.
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,496 Senior Member
    You could easily NOT outfit the armies of both Napoleon and Wellington with the number of unfinished flintlock kits that are stashed in closets and under work benches.

    Buy.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,517 Senior Member
    From what I have found looking into it, 80 hours is not a high estimate at all to finish a long rifle "kit". There is a reason they cost what they do. If you are good at woodworking, and have the tools for hand carving, then you are ahead of the game. If you go this way, no matter what you go with, have the bbl inletted.
    http://18thcenturyartisanshow.com/ Pics to drool over and links to a lot of real builders and such.

    Now if you get a Lyman kit, then that shouldnt be a real problem. That is basic stock inletting and finishing.

    Personally, my woodworking skill stops at the end of the 24" bar on the Husqvarna. I found a good builder, sucked it up and put cash down and waited a long time. Once I get the basement bathroom finished and the garage sheetrocked, I will start rebuilding the Black Ops fund and start hunting a 20ga smoothbore. Yes Woods, I remember your post. :wink: but mama comes first.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 12,060 Senior Member
    I was thinking about getting one, either a commercial one or a custom one, which is expensive. I can't remember how I looked into it now, but I saw several of them fired. Without exception, the commercial ones had a delay in firing while the custom ones were immediate. Kinda cured my desire for a flintlock of the only kind I can afford.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,517 Senior Member
    I dont think you can ever get a commercial to go off like a custom. At 1/3rd to 1/4th of the price they have to cut corners. However, you can make them shoot pretty well without to much invested except some time and learning. People take deer in PA with everything from 200.00 plastic stocked cheapo flinters to original pieces that you would have to trade your car in to afford.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • gunwalkergunwalker Member Posts: 479 Member
    I always had a notion in the back of my mind to buy a flintlock pistol kit/rifle kit and build my own. I was wondering if any of ya'll here have done this [and I am sure some here have], built their own flintlock pistol and/or rifle. I looked at some kits on line, and depending on which company offers them depends on the price. What may or may not be involved in this project, before I get into something that is over my head and have to end up crying and contracting Teach to finish this endeavor? All opinions and advice welcome. Thanks.

    Lots of good advice here. When you visit the Chambers site,order the instructional video on assembling the kit. Worth every cent.
    We do not view the world as it is, but as we perceive it to be.
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,189 Senior Member
    I built a caplock muzzle loader kit years ago, and built a rifle from it. It's been a long time, but I think the kit was made by traditions. I also bought a pistol kit (same maker) and made a pistol.

    I was expecting it to be easier than it was. I had to do a lot of wood removal to get the barrel to fit in, but it wasn't an overwhelming task. The rifle and pistol were okay, but nothing special.

    In my opinion, it boils down to a matter of time versus money, the skill you have in working wood, and the tools you have for doing it. Throw in the factor of whether you really want to build one or just want to have one, and you have your answer.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • Bill M.Bill M. Member Posts: 65 Member
    I have been sitting on this fence for a year or so now. For a flintlock I want a nice one. Add Sitting Fox to the short list of really good suppliers. The parts from both Jim Chambers and Sitting Fox are more in line with being parts kits instead of just a gun that you drop the lock and barrel int. I do have a couple of TC percussion guns to shoot. For me if I get a flintlock I want a higher level of gun altogether. With a swamped barrel, upgraded maple stock and the work they need to do (fit the breech plug, install the under lugs, cut the sight dovetails, and what ever else) both run about $1200. I have seen pretty nice new already built guns for $1800 or so.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Traditions is the Lorcin of muzzleloaders- - - -barely adequate to do the job, and their flintlocks suck like a Hoover upright! My kids bought me a Traditions Pennsylvania flinter for my birthday a few years ago, and I've had to do a major amount of work on it to make it semi-adequate for hunting. The frizzen had to be rehardened, plus it needed a total rework of the flash hole liner to get the pan flash to the powder in the chamber without frequent misfires. I've also rebarreled it from .50 caliber to .45, but that was not the gun's fault. I damaged the barrel while trying to remove a ball after forgetting to drop a powder charge first!
    Jerry
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Senior Member Posts: 8,189 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    I've also rebarreled it from .50 caliber to .45, but that was not the gun's fault. I damaged the barrel while trying to remove a ball after forgetting to drop a powder charge first!
    Jerry

    Don't feel alone on that count. I've done it a time or two myself. Once I was able to use a screw in accessory to the ramrod and pull the ball out (with a lot of pulling and help from a friend). Another time I removed the nipple and managed to pour in a little bit of powder from the breech, reset the bullet, and fire it out. That was with a caplock, though. I don't know if that technique could be used on a flintlock.
    Jerry

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    I tried to remove the breech plug, and it was seized to the barrel threads badly enough to strip as I forced it out with a BIG wrench. I had a percussion .45 barrel stashed away, the same length and size across the flats as the .50, and ended up making a flinter breechplug and a flash hole liner for it. A little draw filing and some Laurel Mountain browning solution, and I was back in business.
    Jerry
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    A few other thoughts come to mind:

    1. Double-Set Triggers: If you are experienced with this type trigger you'll quickly understand how advantageous it will be with a flintlock. These were common on original pieces, especially Pennsylvania Rifles, and also with Southern Mountain Rifles.....when us "Pore Old Mountain Boys could afford one!

    2. Swamped barrels: These barrels will improve the balance of a long barreled piece making off-hand shooting highly accurate and much easier to hold on target. Again, very common on originals.

    3. Cast-Off: A quarter inch or maybe 3/8ths just makes everything fall right into place!

    Jerry mentioned vent placement in relation to the pan. This is "Heart Surgery" when it comes to flintlocks! As little as 1/64th in placing the vent hole can make a difference! This is where someone like Jim Chambers (or his daughter, "Black Powder Barbie") comes into play. IF the vent is correctly placed, and the lock properly "tuned" with the flint correctly in place and knapped, the main charge in the chamber will ignite just before the cock has reached the end of its downward plunge. Recent high speed photography of a flintlock firing will absolutely blow your mind with what the sequence is! A properly tuned lock will have the projectile at the muzzle before the powder in the pan has totally ignited. Improperly tuned locks yield the common "Clack-Poof-Boom" that everyone associates with flintlocks. This is what separates the better kit rifles from the cheaper ones.

    Now if any of "youn's" is in the market for a really well built high-end flintlock rifle, I've got 4-5 that I'm willing to part with....but they ain't cheap!
  • DanChamberlainDanChamberlain Senior Member Posts: 3,395 Senior Member
    Hey, I'm rich Rich. What's yer price?
    It's a source of great pride for me, that when my name is googled, one finds book titles and not mug shots. Daniel C. Chamberlain
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I want to build a flintlock, Woodsruner is spot on, I figured on getting a swamped barrel first, rifled, 70 cal. slow twist for patched round ball, an unfinished stock blank and good quality parts, since I have access to a huge shop now !
    I will put aside a few dollars, lol I will likely buy the barrel & plug first, then the stock, lock etc.......

    IIRC Woodsrunner originally posted sources for swamped barrels and related parts, stocks etc...
    Not to forget to give credit where it is due, esp people like Jerry / Teach....
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 12,060 Senior Member
    Well, 70 caliber is a huge hole in the barrel for a rifle. Finding a barrel of that caliber might be hard to do.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    Thanks folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I watched the whole 30 episode's of Mike Beliveao's @ TOTW series the net. First of I do posses the necessary wood and met working skills to accomplish the task. Second I need to reread the advice you guys offer me on this thread and click the links offered here, to learn more about flinters. Third and the most sad part is upon my last 3rd divorce, I had to sell all my wood working and metal tools. the only thing I have left is a few gun smithing screw drivers and cleaning kits for what guns I do have left.... I think the best way for me to approach this project, is keep learning about flintlocks, reacquire the tools and information, before I begin.

    .....As mentioned in the TOTW videos, and here one of the critical items is that touch hole/flash hole location. With that being said, as Mike mentioned while he built his flintlock, he stated that his methods are not the ONLY methods that one can use.....Years ago when I got into black powder cap and ball, I just went and bought a few cap and ball rifles and pistols, without doing research and the such...MAN what a mistake that was!!!!!!! I want do that again!!!...Not only did I forget to place a powder charge in the barrel a time or two and have a devil of a time getting that ball out!!!!!!!been there done that.

    ...BTW Teach that ramrod you repaired for me a few years ago, is still going strong!!!!!!! Better and stronger the the original!!!!!... Thanks!!!
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Glad to help- - - - -us smokepole addicts gotta stick together!
    Jerry
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    Teach wrote: »
    Glad to help- - - - -us smokepole addicts gotta stick together!
    Jerry

    ...................:hug::rotflmao: You crack me up Teach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:jester:
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Remember they did not have fancy tooling in the old days !
    Mostly hand tools and a really steady way to fasten down the stock in order to work on it, I observed a real pro working on fitting box locks to an unfinished stock, one of the most important tools you possess is PATIENCE !
    Take your time.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,517 Senior Member
    Do yourself one huge favor. If you are getting a swamped bbl (which is what you want), have it inletted. That is a art, and something you can screw up fast.

    About dual set triggers. If you want one, get it, it is not going to be un authentic, or a worse shooter with a single trigger. It is a preference thing. My commercial is a dual set, my custom is a single.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    More good advice and guidance again. Thanks...Visited Jim Chandlers web site today. I can git one of his catalogues for a mere 5.00 dollars...His web site says he lives in Candler ,N.C., I is from N.C. and I never knew that, but again I wasn't into black powder and flintlocks back then either.
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • robert38-55robert38-55 Senior Member Posts: 3,621 Senior Member
    Do yourself one huge favor. If you are getting a swamped bbl (which is what you want), have it inletted. That is a art, and something you can screw up fast.

    About dual set triggers. If you want one, get it, it is not going to be un authentic, or a worse shooter with a single trigger. It is a preference thing. My commercial is a dual set, my custom is a single.

    Hey Varm? double set triggers I have experience with. What is a swamped bbl. and inletted?
    "It is what it is":usa:
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,517 Senior Member
    A swamped barrel is one that is not the same contour throughout unlike a regular octagon bbl like you find on a hawken. They are thickest at the breech then slim in the barrel, then thick at the muzzle. Makes a lighter rifle. Inletting a swamped barrel is a chore best left to a pro. Most of the makers in pa send their stocks to a guy in Lancaster. I used to know his name, but ......


    http://18thcenturyartisanshow.com/2015talent.html
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Senior Member Posts: 2,725 Senior Member
    My old Buddy Fred Miller who lived up close to Milton-Lewisburg Pennsylvania in Amish Country used to be the "go-to" source for excellent barrel inletting, but like me he's getting oldern' dirt, so he sold his machinery to a younger fellow named Dave Keck who picked up where Fred left off, and he, also, does excellent plus work. Dave is at 287 Mountain Road, Berwick, Pennsylvania. If you need barrel inletting contact him for top quality work.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    I wanted more than anything to graduate to a flinter at some point. But after reading all this, I think I'll just stick to my cheapo Renegate Cap Lock rifle. It makes that addicting smoke cloud as well as an up scale flinter.

    :tooth:
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,517 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    I wanted more than anything to graduate to a flinter at some point. But after reading all this, I think I'll just stick to my cheapo Renegate Cap Lock rifle. It makes that addicting smoke cloud as well as an up scale flinter.

    :tooth:
    Some are ok with the chubby chick, others go for the models... just sayin
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
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