Author Topic: Hawken Rifles  (Read 893 times)

Offline Niederlander

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Hawken Rifles
« on: October 23, 2021, 07:42:06 AM »
Gentlemen, I've been doing research on various muzzle loaders, and their authenticity.  The most common comment I keep seeing is some form of "It's not close to a real Hawken".  In most cases that's entirely true.  I do wonder if most people who should know better realize Hawkens were a small minority of the rifles used in the west.  Most seemed to have used whatever they already had, at least until it wore out.  Many were rebored to bigger calibers, but that was a whole lot less expensive to have done than buying a new rifle, especially for people who were pretty financially strapped to start with.  Just because we think something is cool doesn't mean the majority of people used it.  Just my thoughts.
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline Jeremiah Jones

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2021, 09:15:38 AM »
I agree.  But even among "Plains rifles", Hawken's were only a small portion. To me the term Hawken is used like saying "Corvette" to mean an automobile.
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Offline St. George

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2021, 10:21:57 AM »
Part of this lies with the various writers of the era who lumped things together - thus, any half-stock Plains Rifle became a 'Hawken' - every lever action a 'Winchester and every revolver a 'Colt'.

It was far easier for them to do that, than explain what a 'Leman', a "Whitney-Kennedy' or a 'Merwin-Hulbert' was, and besides, their intended audience didn't know - or care.

Kinda like C&WAS shooters who draw their historical knowledge from John Ford movies and TV oaters.

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Offline Dave T

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2021, 01:25:54 PM »
Another point about the Hawken and it's place in history.  They were never "the Mountain Man's choice.  The greatest use/appearance of the infamous half stock percussion rifle was in the 1840s and 1950s.  Long after the beaver were trapped out and rendezvous were a thing of the past.

Dave

Offline Galloway

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2021, 08:30:39 PM »
Excellent point, the saa may have been the most produced handgun of the 19th century but was only a fraction of the total handguns used. Just depends how you want to play the numbers.

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #5 on: Today at 01:41:19 PM »

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2021, 12:05:27 AM »
I must concur with the sentiments generally expressed so far ... the "Hawken" name gets applied altogether too much, and to guns which don't look anything like a real Hawken rifle ...perhaps the worst case in point being the long-produced, but basically "gaudy" Thompson/Center "Hawken" ... I will freely admit to having one for a while, but ultimately "wised up" and went to a Lyman "Great Plains" rifle, which I then used for quite a few years.  Much more authentic appearance ... besides, they didn't call it a "Hawken" anyway ...

Regretfully, I disposed of the Lyman some years back when I gravitated out of shooting muzzleloaders  ... retaining only my .50 Dixie Tennessee Mountain Rifle (flint/percussion convertible), my Miroku Brown Bess and my Parker-Hale P'1853 rifle.   

However, some time after that... but still several years ago ... a chap I know was disposing of a rifle he had received in a trade, or some such, which was much too "beefy" for him to enjoy handling and shooting, offered to me at a price I absolutely could not refuse - a custom-made .62 cal. Hawken-style rifle, with a full octagon barrel 1⅛" across the flats, complete with a .60 roundball mould.  It is truly a thing of beauty, but now I must make another embarrasing admission: although I have owned it now for several years, I have never gotten around to casting any ball, and thus have never fired it! (At 6' 4" and weighing in at over 21 stone  (... 1 stone = 14 pounds ... you do the math ...) I find this rifle quite pleasant to handle ... although I'd definitely want a horse if I had to carry it very far!)

 :-\ ::) :-\  ::)



Mind you, I was at the range the other day with a long-time friend from those muzzle-loading days ... who also pretty much gave up shooting front-stuffers at the same time I did, when we both transitioned heavily into Cowboy Action shooting ... and we were talking about dusting off the old girls and giving it another whirl.  (Dale: in fact, that would be Merle "Squirrel" Krause, who you will remember accompanying me to Muster, second-kast time I was able to come, who was so enamoured of your Krag that you let him shoot in the Long Range ...)

Weather forecast here is for pleasant, but a little on the cool side, for the next week or so ... and I am very seriously considering a bullet casting session ... in which case that .60RB mould will definitely come out!
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Niederlander

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2021, 06:09:44 AM »
That's a REALLY nice rifle, Grant!  How much does it weigh?
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2021, 02:00:19 PM »
As near as I can tell, using the “weigh yourself with and without the rifle” method, it is about 12 pounds, maybe less.  Not too bad, really … With that massive barrel, it seems comparatively “front-heavy” when you pick it up, but it settles into a very steady hold when shouldered to fire …
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2021, 03:32:22 PM »
Dale,

The only marking on this rifle is a small, neat stamping of "ADCOCK" on the top barrel flat.  Tried googling the name and I am pretty sure the maker would have been "Mike Adcock", based on this online listing of muzzleloaders for sale privately a few years ago - https://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=984334

The one this chap had for sale, that he says was built by "Mike Adcock", is very similar to mine (i.e .62 cal, percussion, 34" barrel 1⅛" or more across the flats) although the tiger-stripe maple is lighter toned, the lock & barrel-key escutcheons appear not to be browned, the barrel marking sounds a bit different, and the cheekpiece inlay is different.

(I wonder if you maybe should contact this chap ... the original listing was in late 2014, but there is no indication of any sales, and his last "bump" of the post was as late as early 2016.  Possibility he might still have them ... or some of them  ... and after a while he was asking for offers ...)
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Tsalagidave

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2021, 02:31:08 AM »
I’m inclined to agree with those whose research has revealed that Hawken’s rifles were considered to have great merit, but was definitely not the only arm out there. Even if we forget about all the other guns on the frontier and focus only on the arms of the Mountaineers and Border Hunters, they tend to be rifles of .50 to about .62 as a general rule with a few being smaller or larger-bored outliers.

There was a wide variety of Southern ‘Pig Guns’ to larger-bored ‘Pennsylvania’, ‘Carolina’, ‘Virginia’, or ‘Kentucky’ rifles to name a few. The term ‘Jager’ carried over from the German short-barreled, big-bore rifles and applied themselves in slang to everything from American rifles of like-design to the US Army’s m1841 ‘Mississippi’ Rifle. A good example is G. W. Kendall’s travels through the Southwest in 1841 where he remarked on carrying a Dickson Rifle (well known of Louisville, KY.) The rifle was ’24 balls to the pound’ or 24g. (.59 cal.).

Jacob & Samuel Hawken reputedly furnished Wm. H. Ashley with a rifle in 1823. By 1825, they had an established shop that did metal working from tool manufacturing to gun repair and gun manufacturing. Other famous owners of Hawken’s guns were Jim Bridger, Kitt Carson, Jos. Meek, and Jedediah Smith to name a few. Their location in St. Louis made them visible to western travelers and following Jacob’s death, Samuel set up shop in Denver and the story of the rifle continued to grow from there.

Contemporary writers such as George F. Ruxton and R. Marcy added to Hawken’s fame just like other writers continued to do. The script of Jeremiah Johnson spoke excessively of the Hawken just like the Crow-Killer novel (1969). The film , Jeremiah Johnson borrows heavily from Ruxton so a connection can be drawn there as well. Regardless, there were many rifles in the hands of Mountain Men but the Hawken became as symbolic for the muzzle loading rifles of that time as a ‘Colt’ would be for the revolvers of the following generations.

Great discussion.

-Dave
Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #10 on: Today at 01:41:19 PM »

Offline Galloway

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2021, 07:48:02 AM »
Seems like you cant mention even the TC without hearing the express right to know liability osha statement about how unauthentic it is. But considering how many people its brought into the hobby my question is. Does it resemble any common rifle of the period?

Offline Tsalagidave

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2021, 01:31:37 AM »
Seems like you cant mention even the TC without hearing the express right to know liability osha statement about how unauthentic it is. But considering how many people its brought into the hobby my question is. Does it resemble any common rifle of the period?
I think it's more a question of what would make you happy in the black powder hobby. The TCs are fine shooters. If all you want to do is some muzzle loading from time to time, it's a good, inexpensive way to try it out, minus the large financial commitment. I have logged some range time with TC rifles  over the years, and have found a few to be decent. BUT if you are interested in doing a historically accurate impression, run as far from TC as you can. For lack of a better way of saying it, they don't shoot as nicely as the more historically accurate custom rifles do, and aesthetically, they don't look right at all. If you took a TC and laid it on a table full of original 19th century American rifles, the TC would fit in  like a Yugo in a 1950's classic car lineup. It has a very cheap, generic design overall, as well as the various parts that distinctly have the look of a generic-made muzzle loading boom-stick from the 1980s but it looks nothing like a gun to have crossed the divide with Walker, Beckworth or Smith.  If you have one, shoot it and enjoy. It just does not look right to serious living history interpreters. My recommendation is to take the route that brings you the most enjoyment here.

-Dave
Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.

Offline Dave T

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2021, 12:03:38 PM »
Well said Dave.  Very well said.

Dave

Offline Niederlander

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2021, 01:37:20 PM »
Well said, Dave.  I agree completely.  I am, however going to use some parts (at least a barrel) and see if I can fabricate something fairly authentic from them.  I've been looking at a lot of original rifles from the 1850's online, and I'm amazed at the variety of styles.  I guess I shouldn't be when you consider thousands of different 'smiths were building them for lots of different people.  One thing I've noticed is a lot of longer rifles seemed to have been cut down and remodeled for frontier use.  Even found pictures of an actual Hawken built rifle that looked very little like what people think of as a "Hawken".  (One of their "Light Rifles".)  Been learning lots!
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline Dave T

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2021, 06:37:17 PM »
For your general fund of information there's a new Hawken book out titled The Hawken Rifle by Bob Woodfill.  It got a very good right up in the latest the Black Powder Cartridge News.  It's hardcover with 182 pages and lots of color photos.

For order info contact Bob Woodfill, 11428 N. State Route #56, Vevay, IN 47043.

Dave

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2021, 01:16:44 PM »
I mentioned that I intended to get some ball cast for my .62 Hawken ... and I did get around to it ...

I can see how the .600" ball should be a pretty decent "bison and grizzly thumper"  ... the other picture is a comparison with a .495" ball  ... ≈180gr vs. 320gr ...

Now I need to make time to get out and shoot it!
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline River City John

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2021, 06:58:20 PM »
You've got a lot of balls to post that, RJR.

(Someone had to say it . . .)
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Offline Niederlander

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2021, 06:47:35 AM »
He does, indeed!  (That should be a "thumper" alright!)
"There go those Nebraskans, and all hell couldn't stop them!"

Offline RattlesnakeJack

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2021, 12:32:26 AM »
 ::)
Rattlesnake Jack Robson, Scout, Rocky Mountain Rangers, North West Canada, 1885
Major John M. Robson, Royal Scots of Canada, 1883-1901
Sgt. John Robson, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, 1885
Bvt. Col, Commanding International Dept. and Div.  of Canada, Grand Army of the Frontier

Offline Tsalagidave

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Re: Hawken Rifles
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2021, 02:36:06 PM »
I have a Don Kammerrer custom Hawken that I like to use in photos for my articles. https://www.frontieramericanillustratednews.com/post/the-hunting-bag-of-the-19th-century-frontier

Outstanding .54 Rifle.  It has a G. R. Douglas barrel and I absolutely love it's durability and accuracy. To y understanding, Don Kammerer played a key role in developing the TC and CVA muzzleloaders which drew most of us into muzzleloading.  Don's custom work however, is top-rail quality.

As much as I agree that Hawken guns were rare among the many brands, I really enjoy carrying mine.

-Dave
Guns don't kill people; fathers with pretty daughters do.

 

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