The Plains Rifle
Back in the early 1800's, if you planned on making your fortune by heading west, the first stop you made was in St Louis Missouri.
St Louis was the "Gateway To The West", and there was no better place to get equiped with the best plains rifle of the day.
That was a Hawkens rifle made by brothers Jacob & Samuel Hawkens out of their St Louis Missouri shop, which they ran from 1815 to 1858.
The Hawken rifle was a brand of black powder long rifle used on the prairies and in the Rocky Mountains of the United States during the early frontier days. It has become synonymous with the "plains rifle", the buffalo gun, and the fur trapper's gun.
Born in the 1820s, it was eventually displaced by breechloaders (such as the Sharps rifle) and lever-action rifles which flourished after the Civil War.
I've always been a avid blackpowder fan, starting with a 38 caliber cap and ball Kentucky pistol that I made from scratch when I was about 20 years old.
Always lusting after a Hawkens blackpowder rifle, and after much research on the subject, I gathered up the necessary components to build my version of a "Hawkens Rifle".
My Hawkens is built with a left-handed lock, being that I am a southpaw. The wood used for the stock is walnut from Black Forest Products here in Calgary, and the ramrod is built from Hickory. Other than the barrel, hooked-tang breech-plug, lock assembly, and the various trigger parts, the rest of the components were made from brass.
After building the rifle, I also built all the other components that are required to fire a black-powder gun, such as the powderhorn that I built with a cowhorn found in a junk shop.
The possible's bag is what is used to carry all the components in used to load the rifle.
The barrel that I used for this project is 45 caliber with a 1 in 68" twist, making my Hawkens a round ball shooter. If you are not up to speed as to what the twist of the barrel is all about, I am making reference to the twist of the rifling in the barrel. To fire conical balls in my Hawkens, a twist of 1 in 48" would be required to stabilize a conical ball, to keep the balls from tumbling upon exiting the barrel.
The .440 caliber lead balls used in my Hawkens are formed in my shop with a round ball mould and electric smelting furnace.
My Hawkens rifle has proven to be a good shooter. When I am dressed in my buckskin shirt and shooting my Hawkens, I feel as though I am keeping company with the mountain men of the old west.