Last Updated on September 16, 2022
While a longrifle was the quintessential firearm of the American frontier, the Kentucky rifle has a uniquely American form. These rifles were made by individual gunsmiths one at a time, but were not initially developed for military use, but rather as personal firearms for defense, sustenance hunting, target shooting, and display. Nevertheless, they proved to be effective military firearms during numerous small conflicts, including the Civil War.
John Haymaker’s longrifle
One of the first long rifles to come out of the American Revolution was a weapon called the John Haymaker rifle. This rifle dates from 1785 and has a venated line around the C scrolls. The gunsmith added a small carved “AH” to identify it as Haymaker’s. The gun is the oldest example of the type and is very well preserved. It has a small engraved patchbox on the finial, which conceals the release of the lid. The patchbox is operated by moving the hinge section towards the butt to activate the rod and engage a spring catch. The patchbox also shows small engraved gouges, which remind us of the technique of J.P. Beck. Haymaker’s wavy line is reminiscent of the design on the side of the patchbox.
In addition to creating the legendary Kentucky Longrifle, Haymaker also built a variety of weapons for the film The Patriot, which starred Mel Gibson. For the powder horn strap, he used porcupine quills. To make the threads for the barrel, he learned how to make them from a Native American woman. Once the film was made, Haymaker used the same technique to create a whittler for the longrifle and made a replica in his home.
The long rifle was a weapon that changed the course of world history and liberated the United States from foreign dominance. The rifle was lightweight and elegant to look at online, and it was fatally accurate. It became popular almost immediately and was the standard rifle for more than a century. The Haymaker rifle lasted for almost two centuries and was not significantly altered. However, it has many similarities to the original John Haymaker rifle.
The long rifle was developed in the early 1700s in southern eastern Pennsylvania. Development of the long rifle continued into the nineteenth century in the Appalachian Mountains. Throughout its history, strong pockets of longrifle manufacture and use were found in the Appalachian Mountains. The Longrifle was often made entirely by hand with primitive tools. There are even some examples of hand-operated tooling used to create the long rifle.
Frederick Sheetz’s longrifle
A short and simple design distinguishes Sheetz rifles from their contemporaries. The buttstock carving is similar and consists of inlaid silver stars with silver wire around them. Both have rectangular pins attached to the pick holder. The lower C-scroll has an inlaid shockwave carved by an unknown gunsmith in Christiansburg, VA. The rifle also has an asymmetrical rococo carving that extends along the tang.
In the 1800s, a gunsmith named John Sheetz crafted a gun called the Sheetz long rifle. John Sheetz, who was a member of the Shepherdstown linage, reportedly forged the rifle. Unfortunately, genealogical data indicate that John Sheetz is not actually a member of the Sheetz family. In fact, he was a different name – John Jacob Sheetz, not Henry.
Several generations after Frederick Sheetz’s first long rifle, the sheetz DNA Project has provided organized genealogical data on gunsmiths who forged his guns. Although the sheetz family tree is confusing, there is no doubt that there are several distinct Sheetz families. This is because several of the gunsmiths were related to each other, often cousins, uncles, or other relatives who were practicing gunsmithing at the same time.
The longrifle shown in Fig. 6 dates from around 1765 and was probably made in western Rockbridge County, Virginia. It remains in flintlock condition. The rifle’s patch box contains a lid with the initials “RMC”. The lid is oriented to read when someone holds the rifle. This is likely the owner, but Ivey would argue that it may be an unidentified person.
While there is not an absolute answer to who made the long rifle, a number of experts believe the gun was produced in Pennsylvania by an unsigned early master. While there are no known works by Haga, it is believed that the early gunsmith Wolfgang Haga was responsible for a large proportion of the rifle’s unique design. Ultimately, Frederick Sheetz’s long rifle represents a transitional period in American history.
John Dickert’s longrifle
As the inventor of the long rifle, John Dickert is widely credited with introducing the American version of the German Jagerbuchse. He honed his craft by working in a gunsmith’s shop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Although Dickert worked for the government, he chose a career in the German trade. As a result, he preserved German culture and language. Dickert’s rifles have been found in museums across the world, including the famous ALAMO archaeological site, which contains the infamous Davy Crocket’s long rifle.
In the early nineteenth century, the name of Dickert was inscribed on the barrel of the rifle. This is how it became synonymous with the longrifle. However, this name was frequently mispronounced as “Deckard” in popular usage. The longrifle is one of the oldest known examples of a long rifle. It was also used during the Revolutionary War. The American Revolution ended up creating a very long-range weapon that could be used to kill an enemy.
Despite the fact that the long rifle was not the first of its kind, Jacob Dickert made it widely. His success inspired other gunsmiths and apprentices to imitate him. By the late 1760s, many Pennsylvania gunsmiths were referring to their rifles as “Dickerts.” Likewise, other immigrant gunsmiths in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland also copied his style.
Despite its early age, the rifle was heavily refinished. There are signs of restoration around the lock and the sideplate, as well as the broken wrist on the stock. Additionally, the carving has been cleaned. Because the long rifle is very rare, it is important to understand the process and the nuances involved. Dickert’s long rifle possesses a wide variety of characteristics. It’s a highly sought-after piece of American art.
The long rifle was slow to reload. The powder was poured into the barrel of the long rifle and the ball was seated on it. After a few shots, an experienced rifleman could fire two or three times per minute. Moreover, some experts claimed to be able to fire three times in a single minute. As a result, rifle users began to build loaders out of bored wooden blocks.
Hershel House’s longrifle
Known as “H.H.”, Hershel House’s long rifle is a remarkable achievement that can be proudly displayed on any wall. It’s a classic example of the style of gun making that has been enjoyed throughout American history. A replica is a beautiful piece of art, but a genuine long rifle has an even greater presence. Its uniqueness is also apparent in the details and craftsmanship that go into its making.
Hershel House is perhaps the world’s premier flintlock rifle maker, and he lives in a wooded knoll outside Woodbury, Ky. His heavily timbered property is littered with relics of the past. His workshop is a tightly packed grotto perched on the side porch of a rustic log cabin. There’s a rich history behind each piece and it’s easy to see why people aspire to own one.
In the process of building his rifle, Hershel used elements from two original rifles he discovered in Indian graves. He reworked the triggers and shaped the stock from lock panels to the butt. He also carved the buttplate and hand-forged the buttplate. All parts of the rifle were hand forged by Hershel and Chuck, and the finish is truly outstanding.
Whitehouse has learned the art of metalworking and blacksmithing from a sheet metal man and a real blacksmith. He even learned the art of wood carving from a master wood carver. While the process may have been a team effort, he focused all of his efforts on the boy. Besides the rifle’s beautiful finish, it also has a unique hand forged trigger guard that was created by Hershel.
The forged wood used to build Hershel House’s long rifle came from curly maple trees grown in Kentucky. The wood was donated by Freddie Harrison of Bradford, Tennessee, who has been supplying muzzle loading gun makers with stock blanks for over thirty years. The Contemporary Longrifle Association raffled the long rifle as a prize at its annual show in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition to the handmade rifle, the auction was also held at an event to benefit the Contemporary Longrifle Foundation.
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