A Rifle of Unknown Origin

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This robust rifle pays homage to the colonial period guns of unknown origin, guns that have turned up in America, but of uncertain provenance.  Heavy with overtones of Germanic descent, one might conclude that this is a Continental-made gun. However, there are undercurrents of colonial America running through the carving and form of the maple stock. I tried infuse all the speculation and mystery that accompanies these early rifles into my latest work, much like an historical novel written the language of the day.

While maple was often used in Europe for gunstocks, it was perhaps the most common wood for stocking firearms made in the American colonies.  The stock wood, then, proves nothing about the origin of this rifle-gun.

The round face lock would have been made in a German production shop. The barrel is swamped and rifled, a jaeger styled barrel. The reproduction mounts are definitely European, possibly Dutch, but probably German.

One could assert, and not wrongly, that this gun was made in Germany, using European maple. It could also have been stocked in America, with imported European parts, by a German immigrant smith.

The most compelling argument for this being a colonial-made gun is the two-piece brass patchbox. The complex sliding bolt closure instead of the usual, and later, simple latch and hook mechanism, indicates this is an early form of the hinged brass box.  A mortice is chiseled into the buttplate to receive the sliding bolt. A similar bolt mechanism can be found in the patchbox of the ‘Musician’s rifle’, or Fesler rifle, thought to be a very early colonial stocked rifle.

Warmest regards,

Tom Curran

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Breathtaking photography by the very talented Jim W.Filipski.

Barrel: made by John Getz, .60 cal, 35” long
Lock: Davis Jaeger lock, heavily modified
Mounts: reproduction, brass, lost wax cast
Patch Box: fabricated from sheet, rod, and iron bar
Wood: New York sugar maple


About Tom Curran

Gunmaker, machinist, engraver, artist
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