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 The Mountain Man's other gun!

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lighthorseman

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PostSubject: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 17th 2017, 9:25 am

Here's a quote from 1833 from W.A. Ferris during a winter with the Kootenai Indians on Thompson's River in Northwest Montana 1833.
" but in consequence of our not having rifles our sport was quite Limited."
" we each possessed a fusil brought to this country expressly for the Indian trade a light kind of gun which is only used by the hunters on our side of the mountains for running Buffalo."


I built this the year my oldest son was born. He turns 38 in Oct.

Some of the guns attached the butt plates with nails.

Back in my Steamboat Springs days, we called 'em "Brass Lizard guns"!

Notice the tang screw was attached in the opposite direction and also held the front of the trigger  guard in place.

I cheated and eventually put a rear sight on....which fancier "Chief Grade" trade guns often had.

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 17th 2017, 3:48 pm

What is the origin of the design of the side plate dragon so common of Trade Rifles? 
I know when they appeared and on what. I do not know why. Any thoughts?

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 17th 2017, 5:16 pm

The only thing I ever heard was that it became a standard on Indian guns...sorta like a totem and was expected by discriminating natives......along with a sitting fox on the barrel or lock plate. There's not any conclusive  origin of the dragon/serpent side plate...however here's one theory:

The "trade gun" almost invariably had a serpent-like brass figure, known as "the dragon ornament," on the left side-plate, and often there was also a seated fox in a decorative circle elsewhere on the gun. This dragon ornament appeared on Indian guns well into the nineteenth century. It seems to have originated hundreds of years earlier in Europe. A dragonhead adorned the mouths of small blunderbusses carried by seventeenth-century cavalrymen. Soldiers equipped with such weapons were called "dragoneers," literally those who wielded the dragon. The name was soon shortened to the modern "dragoon."

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 17th 2017, 11:38 pm

Interesting. Maybe. 

The fox.. interested in that origin, too. I might poke around. Here is a reproduction with the fox in the bright and clear.


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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 18th 2017, 6:34 am

I read an article about the fusil and this is what they called it:  “Fusil de Chasse” translates to “gun of the hunt.”   Doug is yours a .62 caliber?

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 18th 2017, 1:11 pm

Yes, mine is a 20ga/.62 cal. However I also have a Caywood "officer's fusil" which is a 12 ga/.73 caliber. The sitting fox again is one of those things that discriminating natives came to demand. Not sure of it's origins either....but a fox was a big totem typically denoting wisdom, or shrewdness as a hunter. "Fusil" became a generic term for small ga./caliber smoothbores with a few exceptions. A “Fusil de Chasse”was a very distinctive gun in various smaller gauges like 20 ga.... typically largest, and 24 ga/.58 cal. and 28 ga./.54 cal. the more normal. These were not specifically trade guns but were popular and standard among the French and the Canadians of the 18th century. Fusils could be trade guns or light officers/gentleman's fowling pieces. Capts. Clark and Lewis each carried one on the expedition. Lewis and his many "adventures" typically happened as he was walking along shore of the Missouri while the men pulled the boats up stream. He seemed to always be armed with his "fine fusil" and his espontoon which was a spear like weapon that denoted rank of an officer.



Here's a download of a pdf file by Charles Hanson who's the leading authority on the "Northwest Trade Gun"   



file:///C:/Users/light/Downloads/B014_Hanson.pdf

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 19th 2017, 8:05 am

'horseman, the Cool  rifle butt plate got my attention.  Did the majority of trade guns have a flat vs. curved plate, and how do you load your smooth-bore...PRB Question
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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 19th 2017, 11:02 am

Marty

There are "trade guns" and there are "Northwest trade guns". The trade guns for instance that Caywood makes are based on a "Wilson" trade gun, and had typical styled butt plates seen on smooth bores and rifles alike. The Northwest guns had flat butt plates that were either held in place by screws or nails. There were specific distinctions between NW guns and the many other styles traded to the Indians. For instance....Leman built trade rifles which were short heavy barreled guns with crescent butt plates, but they also built NW trade guns which had the typical flat plates......I believe by the time Leman entered the market their butt plates were held on by screws.......Leman "I believe" built their last NW gun in the 1860's but you see their use all the way into the 20th. Normally one thinks the NW guns as cheaper made for the Indian trade, but Leman had with their rifles a reputation of quality, but the NW style is what the natives also demanded. There are a number of discriptions of both Natives and Mountain Men alike using NW guns specifically for "running buffalo". The NW trade gun I read, existed before the "Brown Bess" in the early 1700's and lasted over a hundred years until repeating center fire guns became the norm.

Here's my "officer's fusil" which Caywood models after the Wilson trade gun he also builds....Pathfinders also owns a Caywood Wilson trade gun. The Officer's fusil has a few more refinements, including a sling and an adaptation for a "knife bayonet". Wilson guns I believe, were based on the "Carolina" school of design...but I'm not sure.

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 3:26 pm

Kentucky Colonel wrote:
Interesting. Maybe. 

The fox.. interested in that origin, too. I might poke around. Here is a reproduction with the fox in the bright and clear.


Read this:


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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 3:26 pm


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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 3:33 pm

Kentucky Colonel wrote:
What is the origin of the design of the side plate dragon so common of Trade Rifles? 
I know when they appeared and on what. I do not know why. Any thoughts?

This was a government required side plate, several different styles got approval.


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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 3:37 pm

Marty wrote:
'horseman, the Cool  rifle butt plate got my attention.  Did the majority of trade guns have a flat vs. curved plate, and how do you load your smooth-bore...PRB Question
 
A government issue found in all the spec requirements on the NWG contracts from start to finish.

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 3:57 pm

Quote :

lighthorsemanMarty

There are "trade guns" and there are "Northwest trade guns". 

There are poor quality NW trade guns built by Belgian and Spanish builders that were trying to cash in on a new market.

The trade guns for instance that Caywood makes are based on a "Wilson" trade gun, and had typical styled butt plates seen on smooth bores and rifles alike. 

He's using the wrong barrel and lock plate stampings, no fusils on wrist or back of breech tang, and the wrong drop in the stock plus a barrel that's way to heavy. Everyone is using the same supplier for their barrels. I have complained along with dozen others, nothing happens other than seeing his guns up for sale like so many others.

The Northwest guns had flat butt plates that were either held in place by screws or nails. There were specific distinctions between NW guns and the many other styles traded to the Indians.

There are distinctions between the cheap Belgian and Spanish NW guns built for the North West Company and the high quality guns built for the Hudson's Bay Company.

For instance....Leman built trade rifles which were short heavy barreled guns with crescent butt plates, but they also built NW trade guns which had the typical flat plates......  

And their NW Trade guns where sold to HBC, correct on butt plates.

I believe by the time Leman entered the market their butt plates were held on by screws.......Leman "I believe" built their last NW gun in the 1860's but you see their use all the way into the 20th. 

H.E. Leman started his contracts in 1831 and was still building NW guns for Hudson's Bay Company until 1868 (but some still in flint and continued until the mid 1880's). Then H&R Arms got into the trade with a cartridge gun, single shot shotgun, .20 gauge that was still available until the late 1950's with HBC markings. 

Normally one thinks the NW guns as cheaper made for the Indian trade, but Leman had with their rifles a reputation of quality, but the NW style is what the natives also demanded.

These firms listened to the demands of their customers, Native American were the best customers.

There are a number of discriptions of both Natives and Mountain Men alike using NW guns specifically for "running buffalo". The NW trade gun I read, existed before the "Brown Bess"....

Some of the earliest date back to as early as 1610 found in the New England area. 

Here's my "officer's fusil" which Caywood models after the Wilson trade gun he also builds....

Wrong barrel and lock plate stampings, no fusils on wrist or back of breech tang, and the wrong drop in the stock plus a barrel that's way to heavy.

My family were antique collectors and have owned dozens of originals over a 100 year period (they were the cheapest guns available for 50 years back east). Not until Hanson wrote his first papers on them most didn't have a clue what they had. My father bought a Sharpe and a Wheeler in the early 1930's for under $1.30 each (had to make payments of .10 cents a week on them). I sold several of these NW guns a few years ago in the $3,500 - $4,500 range.



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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 4:14 pm

Government required the side plates on Indian trade guns... 
Intriguing. I'll go over it all more thoroughly a bit later. Thanks!! 
This is brilliant.

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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 4:27 pm

Kentucky Colonel wrote:
Government required the side plates on Indian trade guns... 
Intriguing. I'll go over it all more thoroughly a bit later. Thanks!! 
This is brilliant.


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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 5:01 pm


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PostSubject: Re: The Mountain Man's other gun!   May 30th 2017, 5:14 pm

KC,
Look at this page, have one built correctly. Read the reasons why some builders are not paying attention to today's shooters, correct stampings, LOP or drop in the stock. If you can't get your head down low enough to see the barrel flats or if you can and get kicked in the cheek bone it will become another wall hanger. At today's prices none of us need wall hangers. 

See:  http://grrw.ca.tripod.com/page.12.html

These are light thin barreled guns (custom made for correctness) like the originals. Most original trade guns are in the 4.2 lb to 5.1 lb range not the 6.8 lb to 7.2 lb range like you are looking at. They are all using the same barrel with thick walls whether its a .30 gauge or a .28, .24, or .20 gauge. Think about this and read this website page.
I have owned over a dozen originals in a 50 year period. My father had that many or more, he started collecting antique firearms around 1920. The NW gun as we refer to them now where referred to back east as "squirrel guns'. "barn guns" or "cheap junk guns". I had a hell of a time getting him to call them by their correct name in the 70's. He knew better, just screwing with me, he was an officer at one time in the Ohio Gun Collectors Association.
Anyway Charles E. Hanson Jr was a good friend of several of us in the Estes Park area of Colorado. At a Colorado Collectors Show in Denver I introduced my father to Charley (friends on the spot). The three of us spent many hours, days or a week together talking guns. My father took one of his "cheap junk guns" up to Chadron to show Hanson. Charley about dropped his teeth when dad pulled the gun from its case. It was a Sharpe NW Gun according to Charley 95% NRA fine condition. First thing out of Charley's mouth was "HOW MUCH". We spent three days with the Hanson's and heard that "HOW MUCH" about every other hour. He never got the deal made.
-------------------------------------
Notchy Bob wrote: In response to the original question, no, I don't have any first-hand experience with Pecatonica River Supply, but they do have an excellent reputation.

WE USE THEM AT GRRW.CA - THEY WILL MAKE STOCKS THAT ARE NOT OFFERED BY OTHERS.

Thanks, Buck, for the link to the GRRW Collectors' Association Northwest Gun page. It was interesting. If I understood it correctly, the writer was saying most northwest gun reproductions, as well as a great many originals, had insufficient LOP and drop, but a few makers, including H.E. Leman, built their Northwest guns with a longer LOP and greater drop. The GRRW-CA appears to have chosen a Leman to copy for their Northwest gun.

THAT’S CORRECT BOB.

Interestingly, the complaint is not new. Charles Hanson, quoting the Secretary of the Hudson's Bay Company in 1861, wrote that the "Indians complain of the stocks being clumsy, and finished without taste..." (The Northwest Gun, page 42). In Trade guns of the Hudson's Bay Company 1670-1970, James Gooding noted similar complaints, and discussed "drop" at some length on pages 67 and 68.

NOT A NEW COMPLAINT AS STATED.

If the LOP is too long, recoil feels increased, and if the LOP is much to long, the heel of the butt catches the armpit of my shirt when I'm bringing it to shoulder. If you are short, like me, you probably want less drop and a shorter LOP. A taller fellow would probably want more.

TRUE, IT’S EASIER TO SHORTEN THAN RESTOCK FOR A CUSTOMER.

Gooding wrote that "The drop of six HBC NW guns made between 1821 and 1870 was between 2 and 2½ inches (page 68). So, the PR Northwest gun stock has a drop that is just a little greater than the average original from HBC. The GRRW-CA webpage indicates the Leman Northwest gun on which they base their reproduction has a drop of 3.10". The Barnett gun they illustrate has a drop of 2.01". This is probably one of the guns the Indians were complaining about, although in fairness, there were a lot of "counterfeit" Barnetts, including some from Belgium. The Belgian guns were generally regarded as inferior.

GOOD POINTS BOB, THAT WAS THE WAY WE READ IT ALSO. THE BELGIAN MADE GUNS WERE CHEAP KNOCK-OFFS OF THEIR LONDON COUNTERPARTS. THE BELGIAN GUNS BARRELS AND LOCK PLATES USED THE SITTING FOX IN A CIRCLE (COPIED OTHERS) WITH IN A FEW CASES THE LONDON STAMP. WHILE THE LONDON BUILT GUNS USED THE TOMBSTONE FOX WITH EDWARD BOND INSPECTOR’S MARK ON THE LOCK PLATE AND ON THE BARREL THAT CAUGHT THE NATIVE AMERICAN EYE FOR QUALITY.

I think, though, the point is your gun will be a lot more fun to shoot if it is in a gauge you like, is finished to your taste, and most of all if it fits you….. The GRRW-CA folks appear to give you the option of greater drop and longer LOP but still in an historically correct package. I think that's great.

PLUS WE OFFER THE THINNER BARRELS LIKE THE ORIGINALS IN ANYTHING FROM A .30 GUAGE TO A .72 GUAGE LIKE THE ORIGINALS.

WEIGHT IS AN AREA THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED, IF SHOOTING GAME I HAVE YET TO FEEL RECOIL AND REALLY ENJOY NOT CARRYING AN 8 POUND GUNS WHEN HUNTING ALL DAY.


THANKS BOB FOR YOUR COMMENTS.

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