Lancaster County Kentucky Rifle

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Project by RogerBean posted 12-30-2015 06:46 PM 3577 views 4 times favorited 42 comments Add to Favorites Watch

“And now for something completely different!” Many may remember this oft repeated line from the old Monte Python skits. Perhaps it’s time for a little change of pace.

Most of my project posts have been boxes, but I also enjoy making other things. This rifle is one I made years ago – one of a number of muzzle loaders I’ve made. I’ve always had a strong affinity for the beauty of line and detail of the classic Kentucky Rifle.

This one is not a direct copy of any particular rifle, but rather a rifle made in the style of Christian Beck; a Lancaster County PA gunsmith; a rifle he “might” have made. While it uses a modern barrel and lock, it remains quite true to it’s heritage.

The stock is curly maple. The barrel is a 42” straight (not swamped) .45 caliber 1/66 rifled barrel from Douglas. The lock is from L & R, their Durs Egg model. The double set triggers, trigger guard, and butt plate were from Dixie Gun Works. The engraving was done by me with a hand graver.

The original (high end) rifles, were often carved with modest recocco motifs. My carving was all completed with a single set of small Mittermier palm chisels, the only ones I had at the time. Creating a Kentucky rifle from a blank takes a bit of careful planning, and a lot of very careful shaping. Power tools are of little value, as the cut too fast, and will quickly get you into trouble, hence chisels, files, rasps, spokeshaves and scrapers become the tools of choice. In places, like the area at the bottom of the barrel and the ramrod, the thickness is little more than 1/16” thick. In fact, the entire forestock section is very fragile without the barrel to support it.

It’s finished with a dark walnut NGR dye followed by numerous coats of Sutherland-Welles polymerized tung oil. This rifle is testimony to all the reasons for NOT using NGR alcohol soluble dye. It is not light fast. This rifle began as a very dark reddish brown, and over the years has lightened considerably. I no longer use anything but water soluble dyes, which do not fade.

It shoots extremely well, and being only a .45, it offers practically no recoil at all. The flash, crack, boom and smoke are rewards in themselves. Mostly, it just graces my wall these days. I love these old rifles, and hope to get back to using some of the large stash of parts I still have on hand to make a few more. lol

Thanks for looking in. My current mahogany Newport tall clock is slowly progressing.

Roger Bean

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

42 comments so far

View dclark1943's profile


270 posts in 3427 days

#1 posted 12-30-2015 06:48 PM

Awesome! you are one talented dude! Love your work Roger !

-- Dave, Kansas City

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5458 days

#2 posted 12-30-2015 06:55 PM

It’s a beauty, Roger. My dad had a collection of old muzzle loaders, so I can really appreciate your rendition!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mauibob's profile


246 posts in 4307 days

#3 posted 12-30-2015 07:02 PM

Gorgeous piece, Roger. I second Dave’s remark—you are one talented dude! Happy New Year, my friend!

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View Schwieb's profile


1920 posts in 4701 days

#4 posted 12-30-2015 07:51 PM

Wow Roger, What a beautiful piece of work. My hat os off to you.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View Docopac's profile


45 posts in 3848 days

#5 posted 12-30-2015 08:09 PM

Excelent craftsmanship and truly a beautiful piece. One question though….. How did you finish the stock?

-- Docopac (a carpenter in a different medium)

View peteg's profile


4438 posts in 4063 days

#6 posted 12-30-2015 08:59 PM

Roger I have been rolling these pics back n forth for quite q while simply admiring your very unique craftsmanship & overall skill set, what a fabulous creation, tip of the hat to you

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View 489tad's profile


4058 posts in 4251 days

#7 posted 12-30-2015 09:22 PM

That is amazing.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View oakwood's profile


327 posts in 3309 days

#8 posted 12-30-2015 09:38 PM

Beautiful craftmanship! Skill and knowledge radiate quite clearly. I wouldn’t have a clue as to where to start.

View ralbuck's profile


6771 posts in 3506 days

#9 posted 12-30-2015 09:53 PM

BANG BANG up job!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4044 days

#10 posted 12-30-2015 09:55 PM


-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2949 posts in 2303 days

#11 posted 12-30-2015 10:34 PM

Absolutely stunning, Roger.
Your statement that it’s “only a .45, it offers practically no recoil at all,” has me puzzled. (I’m not very gun savvy, though I have owned a few – currently, a 30-06 and a 12ga.) Now, you said that it’s a “rifled barrel.” The word “rifle” in the name indicates that it fires a bullet, not a ball, like one expects from an old long gun (is this what they call a “flintlock”?). I can understand a 45 caliber ball not producing much recoil. But I’ve fired .45s, both long and short. When I think ”.45.” a lack of recoil doesn’t come to mind. Again, it may be a fundamental misunderstanding on my part as to the nature of such weapons.

-- Mark

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3532 days

#12 posted 12-30-2015 10:40 PM

Absolutely beautiful work!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4193 days

#13 posted 12-30-2015 11:12 PM

It does indeed fire a patched round ball, though the ball is only about 128 grains in weight. Your 30-06 would normally fire a 160, 180 or 220 bullet, at much higher velocity, thus more recoil. Actually, .50 cal is more common in muzzle loading rifles as the patched ball is 177 grains or so, but still not a heavy recoiler. It’s the rifled barrel that makes it a rifle, not the type of bullet.

For comparison, a .458 Win Magnum can launch a 500gr bullet at 2100 fps, and well… the recoil is, shall we say, meaningful.

Hope this helps answer your question.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View sawdustdad's profile


379 posts in 2125 days

#14 posted 12-30-2015 11:42 PM

Roger, a stunning piece. The figure in the stock is especially fine. And the stain you chose really sets it off. I’ve done very little carving, yours looks great. Shows that a gunsmith needs to master several different trades. Sure to be a family heirloom.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Half of all boards cut to a specific length will be too short.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 4020 days

#15 posted 12-31-2015 12:28 AM

Wonderful Roger, what a high level you reached in this piece ! I was very startled by the thin area along the forestock, had not realized they’d be that slim. really fine to get that without having a mess of splinters.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

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