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Thread: A flintlock target pistol I made.G.Wilson

  1. #1
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    A flintlock target pistol I made.G.Wilson

    Unfortunately my better guns have been sold,or are on slides. Maybe not all wood,but pretty much all hand made,except the screws were made on a lathe. Their contours were freehand turned like wood,though,and their heads detailed by hand. With these lock contours,etc.,I couldn't do it any other way,anyway. To tell he truth,even CNC equipment doesn't compare to what can be done by hand on ornamental work. CNC does have its place,though,for precision things like turbine blades,engine blocks,etc.. I have never felt inclined to get into it,not being too computer savvy.

    This is a late 18th.C. target pistol I made in the 70's. It is starting to show its age. Tiny specks of rust from being fired with black powder. You can never get it cleaned away but so well,it seems.

    It is not a dueling pistol because it is rifled. Duelers were strictly smooth bore in England to increase the chances of missing your opponent.

    The stock is walnut,and the checkering was done strictly freehand. I made a special file with 2 edges side by side. The edges were V shaped. One was smooth,and 1 edge had teeth. You made 2 master grooves with a needle file. Then,the smooth edge of the file was put into the master groove,and with reciprocating action,the file was carefully canted down to bring the 2nd.,toothed file's edge to cut. Try hard to not jump the shallow groove and scar the gun up!!!Then,the process was repeated till the grip was filled up.

    The flat topped checkering is typical 18th.C. checkering.

    The gun has all of the latest and last improvements of the flintlock age. The pan is the "waterproof" type,meaning that the edges of the pan are filed away so the rain wouldn't puddle and creep into the priming powder. The pan and its lid(the battery(the frizzen,later) were fitted tightly to exclude water. It wasn't reliable anyway in rain,but they did their best before percussion models came along.

    The little spring under the frizzen(which the flint hits to make sparks) has a roller bearing about 1/4" diameter,seen under the "toe" of the frizzen. The toe itself with no roller,would be a source of friction,and slightly slow down lock ignition.

    The lockplate is a Manton style,but I chose to not make the French style hammer he sometimes used. Manton was a very high class gunsmith in London.

    There is a bit of engraving on the hammer,though engraving is something that must be done every day to stay good at it,which I never did. My name is stamped with individual stamps as I had no name stamp back then. It is difficult to get the letters all straight!!

    The border line around the edge of the lock plate,and the engraving on the tail of the lock are also hand done.. Every part,even the screws were individually made on this pistol(and my others,too) of tool steel.

    The screw threads,especially the threads of the cock screw,holding the top jaw against the flint wrapped in leather,are authentic style threads. Note:the top jaw is blued,while the rest of the hammer,and lockplate is bright. This was a standard practise. I don't know why. I could have color casehardened everything,but like bright as the color casehardening is so thin,and easily damaged by corrosive black powder.

    The main spring inside the lock was hand forged,a rather tricky operation to get the square corner at the right end of the spring. There is a little roller bearing against the tumbler.

    Notice the little "birds mouth" holding the end of the sear spring in place. I see I didn't notice that the screw slot on it isn't quite parallel with the other screw slots. I must have been messing with it. You see these details with a close up picture.

    The inletting in the stock to take the lock is painstakingly done by applying candle soot to the lock,pressing it against the wood,and carefully chiseling away the soot.There has to be sufficient space in it to allow the spring and parts to move.

    Believe it or not,the trigger is forged out of a flat sheet of iron. The trigger is formed by hammering the edge of the iron sheet,spreading it out,and forming its curve.

    The top view shows the tang of the barrel. The mouldings around the end of the breech were strictly hand filed out. Their sharpness,and lack of rounded over corners is an indication of the quality of the gun. So are the crisp corners of the octagonal barrel.

    The breech mouldings hide the joint where the barrel can un- hook from the breech to facilitate cleaning the barrel separately,without getting the stock wet. The little silver oval has a steel key that slides out to remove the barrel.

    The best work is in the forged out spring steel trigger guard. the pineapple was filed out from the solid,including the little leaves projecting from it. The pineapple was the symbol of hospitality. You wouldn't want to be inhospitable in your duel!!

    The breech tang has a bit of engraving on it also. The screw heads were ornamented with carefully filed notches on the guard screw,breech screw,and lockplate screw(not seen),to look like little petals on high class guns.

    The ram rod is Brazilian rosewood,with a buffalo horn tip. You would not use it normally,using a thicker one in the supplied accessories.

    The nose cap was easier than it looks: The wood was carved away as desired. Then,stiff paper was snugly wrapped around the assembled stock and barrel,and melted pewter was poured in,filling the stock perfectly.
    then,the outside shape was filed and polished to shape. This was a common way to make nosecaps. The pewter doesn't melt high enough to scorch the wood,or even the paper.

    This gun took about 6 months to build in evenings and weekends.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by george wilson; 10-08-2010 at 3:01 PM.

  2. #2
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    George,

    That is just beautiful!

    Have you done many long arms? I'd love to see more...

    -Jeff

  3. #3
    Incredible workmanship.

    'to increase the chances of missing your opponent' Doesnt sound like a very good idea ! Is that a typo or is my knowledge of duelling lacking ?

  4. #4
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    Andrew,yes,the British laws did everything they could to keep people from getting killed. Dueling was illegal,anyway,but duels got very common. Every gentleman of means had a set of dueling pistols. They usually also carried a pair of "traveling pistols",which are often mis- named duelers. (Travelers had shorter barrels,usually about 4" or a little longer barrels.) They had a pair on "Pawn Stars" not too long ago. Even their "expert" got their type wrong.(What kind of "experts" live in Las Vegas?) If you accidentally saw someone's wife's ankle when she was climbing into a carriage,you could be challenged to a duel. The slightest mis- speak could cause a duel. It was ridiculous.

    If someone stopped a smooth motion when raising his pistol in order to attempt to take a brief aim,the seconds would shoot him.

    Pistols were loaded more or less potently according to the gravity of the offense. Sometimes a ball would be loaded to not penetrate too deep. Surgery in those days was not anything to be desired,though. Getting a bullet dug out while awake hurt a lot more than the duel. You might well die from the infection. Those little 19th. gambler's derringers were dreaded,too. They always resulted in surgery,at the least!

    Shooting parlors were pretty common right in London as gentlemen strove to become good shots.

    If anyone managed to kill an opponent,he had to flee the country.

    In France,rifling was allowed. In England,one way they could try to control deaths was to at least forbid gun makers from making rifled pistols for dueling. A few gun makers developed "secret rifling". The pistol barrel would be scratched with an abrasive in a spiral manner. Do you know that you can rifle a barrel with a wad of sandpaper in your rifling machine,and get 1 good shot from it?

    Jeff,I have a rifle under way,but with my other responsibilities,I don't know when I'll get it done.

    My best work is still on slides photographed with 400 speed film. I don't know if they'd look at all decent if gotten onto a disc. I used to get paid to give slide presentations to groups,and only made slides for many years. Taken in poor light in Williamsburg,thus the 400 film. Might look grainy.
    Last edited by george wilson; 10-08-2010 at 11:46 AM.

  5. #5
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    Great job, as usual. Thanks for the post.
    Gary

  6. #6
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    Looks pretty sweet. I built my first (and only) muzzle loader when I was in high school. I built a 30-06 years latter but no where to your level George. Now if you've got a long rifle and what to give it a go, antelope season is now open!

    English walnut I presume?
    The Plane Anarchist

  7. #7
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    George, if there were such a thing as a “Craftsmen Hall Of Fame” you would be in the first induction class. I have worked with some world class machinists and tool makers in my career but I have never known anyone as versatile as you.
    82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot. -- Steven Wright

    Please help support the Creek.


  8. #8
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    Mr. Wilson, what can I say. You leave me speechless and with a wet shirt front from drooling. Are there any Crafts that you have not mastered? How one person could aquire as much talent and skill in one lifetime bewilders me.

    Thank You so much for the privilege of viewing this exquisite piece of craftsmanship.

    Jr.
    Jr.
    Hand tools are very modern- they are all cordless
    NORMAL is just a setting on the washing machine.
    Be who you are and say what you feel... because those that matter... don't mind...and those that mind...don't matter!
    By Hammer and Hand All Arts Do Stand

  9. #9
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    Comes from having a screwed up childhood,Harry. Being on light houses,being in Alaska with nothing to do but read and make stuff like models,or practice guitar.

    American black walnut Leigh,actually,but a nice brown color instead of the usual ugly gray-brown color. I used Tru Oil on it,but not too many coats. The old guns usually did not have their pores fully filled. Some royal quality ones did,but not the usual too much finish seen on Italian repros. I got the extent of the original type finish about right on this pistol.
    Last edited by george wilson; 10-08-2010 at 11:50 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by harry strasil View Post
    How one person could aquire as much talent and skill in one lifetime bewilders me.
    Jr.
    Not to mention the obscure information that goes with it, "secret rifling"?! Makes an ordinary guy like me feel down right ordinary! But that's ok feeling ordinary on this forum is ok with me.
    The Plane Anarchist

  11. #11
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    "But that's ok feeling ordinary on this forum is ok with me."

    Being thought of as ordinary, would be a great honor for me and my crude ways and equipment.
    Jr.
    Hand tools are very modern- they are all cordless
    NORMAL is just a setting on the washing machine.
    Be who you are and say what you feel... because those that matter... don't mind...and those that mind...don't matter!
    By Hammer and Hand All Arts Do Stand

  12. #12

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Page View Post
    George, if there were such a thing as a “Craftsmen Hall Of Fame” you would be in the first induction class.

    +1 I totally agree with you Bruce. I love reading about George's
    journey through the years.

  13. #13
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    You aren't ordinary,Harry. You care about things,and you have many interests.Many don't.

  14. #14
    Beautiful piece! Thanks for sharing!

  15. #15
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    George, that's an amazing pistol! I'm glad ya shot it too, nothing worse than such a beautiful firearm just being a "safe queen". You have really lived a pretty amazing life and have created a legacy of wonderful, as well as beautiful, tools and instruments that will survive long into the future. If there ever was a modern day Renaissance man, you would definitely get my vote!

    Harry, don't sell yourself short! Your knowledge and skill consistently amazes and astonishes me.

    One day, hopefully I will be in "the same ballpark" as you gentlemen... even if I am just sitting in the nosebleeds

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