Antique Muzzle Loading Rifle - what is it?

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by QED314, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. QED314

    QED314 New Member

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    Hello everyone,

    New to the site here. I found an old musket at an estate sale and decided to get it. I know nothing about guns but since the price was only $60.00 I decided to go for it. It appears to be a muzzle loading rifle with a ram rod. The wooden parts of it look like they were once finished but this finish has since rubbed off. The firing mechanism appears to have broken off long ago. The wooden piece which sits under the barrel is cracker, particularly since there is a knot in the wood which seems to be coming apart and furthering de-stabilizing the growing crack. The ram rod is metal and the corrosion on it appears to match the corrosion on the barrel, trigger and other old parts. The back end of the rifle appears to be stamped "O.B.F O'Neil", but I think the "O" could also be a letter "C" or even a "G". More than likely it's an "O". I purchased the musket in northern, Delaware (not sure if this is helpful), and the former owner apparently used to work for a prominent museum. I was wondering if anyone out there could tell me anything whatsoever about this musket. Many thanks for reading my message. I am most grateful for any information anyone can provide me with.

    sincerely,

    QED314

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2010
  2. QED314

    QED314 New Member

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  3. QED314

    QED314 New Member

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  4. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    You have an old shotgun circa 1860-1900. It has a back action lock. It was a low cost gun when new, but most of these guns were serviceable.

    The barrel may have a proof mark on it, which most likely is Belgian. It could be English or even American, but the Belgian gun trade dominated the manufacture of shotguns like this one.

    I would not call it a musket. Lots of surplus muskets were cut down and used as shotguns, but your gun was made to be a commercial shotgun and not a military weapon.

    A new hammer and nipple can be found to restore the gun to working condition. But before you do anything with your antique shotgun, I suggest that you make sure it's not loaded. Sometimes an old gun like yours can still have a load of black powder and a load of shot or a ball down the barrel (and it can fire if a spark gets to it). To check, put the rod down the barrel and mark how far it will go in. Then pull it out and line up the rod with the barrel to see if the rod hit the bottom or not. If it appears to be loaded, take it to a gunsmith to unload it for you.

    Best regards,
    Greg
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2010
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    +1 on checking old shotguns. Most hunters fired off their muzzle loading rifles, but many country folks kept the shotgun loaded in case of a fox raid on the chicken coop. Over the years, people just forgot the old gun was loaded.

    As to value, I honestly don't think that gun is worth the cost of parts to make it workable, even if any parts can be found. In addition, it probably has a Damascus barrel, which I consider unsafe with any load of any powder.

    Its only value is as a wall hanger. The museum story, even if true, just means that all museums acquire junk in one way or another; they toss it or sell it for what they can get out of it.

    Jim
  6. QED314

    QED314 New Member

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    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the info. I knew nothing at all about it and I appreciate the input. I had no idea it was a shotgun. It's interesting to know that the date ranges from 1860 to 1900. Did they still use ram rods by 1900? Any ideas on the significance of O.B.F Oneil stamped on the back? I'm sure it's a name but I thought maybe that OBF stood for something. Thanks again for the information! Not sure what I'll do with it but hey, it was only $60.00!
  7. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    I think you did fine at $60.00 With a hammer on it, the gun may have a value of about $100 as a wall-hanger.

    People kept using muzzle loading firearms well into the early years of the 20th century. This was because black powder and caps cost much less than a box of shells and alot of poor rural folks knew how to make good use of these weapons.

    As for "OBF ONEIL," I'd guess this is the name of the person who owned the gun at some point. In researching things like this, I have found geneological web sites and local historical societies to be helpful. Given that you have a good guess as to the region it's possible that you might dig up some information.

    A provenance of the old clunker may help the value a little, as well as increasing your enjoyment of owning the old gun.
  8. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    Looks like the lock plate is still there. If so you can probably get a repro hammer from Dixie Gun Works for about $15. I would rust it up to look like the rest of the iron parts, install it (never mind making it workable), put some stain and 'character' looking finish on the stock and you will have a nice wall hanger. I see worse ones priced at $150 & up.
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