Kentucky Half Stock

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by travelingman, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. travelingman

    travelingman New Member

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    I have come into possesion of a Kentucky Half Stock .32 Caliber Percussion Rifle. The stock is in great shape with good finish. Has signs of wear at the lock plate where chemicals in powder have worn wood away gently. The rifle has not been neglected when it comes to using it, just neglected when it came to cleaning the black powder off lock mechanism.

    There are two pheasants on the lock in the lower right. Scrolling work looks good where corrsion pitting hasn't occured. Has a buckhorn sight at rear and a brass blade sight front sight. Both sights are dove tail into barrel. Barrel length is 35 inches and overall legth when measure from crescent brass butt plate to barrel is 50 inches.

    Ram rod is plain old hickory stick, iron ram rod pipes with brass piping at stock, brass trigger guard in great shape, barrel is aged brown patina with some light pitting, with original pewter fore-end cap. Original hammer probably had engraving but is gone. Hammer screw looks to be period. The main spring is strong, but lock seems to missing its half cock feature. Both triggers are functioning. Heavy octagon barrel to stock has pin fastening system. Lock, stock and barrel in weighs roughly 9 LBS.

    I am looking for any help in identification of gunsmith, age, information on lock maker, and value. Please see attached pictures.

    Attached Files:

  2. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Maybe someone can help, but in my limited experience, it is nearly impossible to track one of those "no name" rifles. They were made by hundreds of gunsmiths and even by some "semi-factories" in the period before and even after the Civil War. The caliber indicates it is an Eastern rifle, and was probably a "turkey rifle" or (depending on the siize) perhaps a boys rifle. I agree that the hammer is probably a replacement.

    The hammer may not lack a half cock; locks made for use with a set trigger almost always have a "fly", a small piece set into the hammer that prevents the sear from dropping into the half cock notch when the set trigger is used. It is supposed to be pushed out to allow use of the half cock when the hammer is let down, then pulled back slowly. Very often, though, the fly sticks or is rusted in place and doesn't work right.

    Jim
  3. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Active Member

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    It appears to be about 1850 or so and is a small game rifle--commonly called a squirrel rifle here in Virginia, but I suspect turkey rifle is also correct. At 9 lbs, it appears to be a bit heavy for a boy's rifle. You might try carefully removing the barrel to see if there are any markings underneath, indicating who made the barrel. You may even discover old dovetails indicating the barrel is off an earlier gun--a common practice. 19th century gunsmiths commonly purchased locks from suppliers and may give no indication of who made the gun or the lock. Often a makers mark on the lock indicates the lock maker only. It looks to be in largely "untouched" condition, so other than oiling it and cleaning and lubricating the lock mechanism, I'd leave it alone. If you do remove the barrel, that would be a prime opportunity to thoroughly clean the barrel's innards.
  4. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I have two similar rifles. One is named and I have traced the maker. (Wm. Kail) The other is unmarked. Neither one has a half-cock, you have to set the trigger before they will hold at full cock.
    Seems kind of weird to me but I have been told by some pretty knowledgable collectors that this is pretty much the norm for this type of rifle.
    I would think that if you were hunting that you would want the gun to be capped. Maybe they were intended strictly for shooting at a mark. Then you would approach the line, set, cock, cap and fire. Who knows??????

    Jim, I've been into the locks on mine and there is no sign of a half-cock notch on the hammer nor any sign of ever having had one.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2010
  5. travelingman

    travelingman New Member

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    Thanks for the replys. I first thought it was a boys rifle also because of the way the butt and the fore-end measures up to me. However, I am 6' 1" and my parents who were born in the 1917 were both small people. I guess something in the Captain Crunch or Infamil formula caused us all to be bigger then people of the last century.

    Thanks once again for your replys. This site has always had very good information on it.
  6. travelingman

    travelingman New Member

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    Here are pictures of the left side of rifle. The butt stock has an unusal rest. Retaining screw for lock is plain.

    Attached Files:

  7. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    That style cheek rest is common for that era. The buttplate was not rested on the shoulder (too small) but on the top of the arm.

    I agree on it not being a boys rifle; I missed the bit about the weight.

    By about 1850, the do-it-all gunsmith was about gone, if he ever existed. Even in the back woods, smiths got most of the parts "mail order" and put together what we might today call "kit guns". Large gunsmith supply houses, like J. & D. Little, of Pittsbugh, PA (the Brownells of the era), supplied barrels, locks (from Elwell and others), patch boxes and plates, semi-inletted stocks, butt plates, thimbles, ram rods, etc.

    Jim
  8. travelingman

    travelingman New Member

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    Buffalochip - well I broke down this evening and diassemble the rifle. You were right under the barrel were two three dove tails. But they look like they were for various positions for where to set the stock pins. On the under side of the barrel hidden by the stock was the number 22 was stamped by the end.

    I ran a bore cleaning rag thru the barrel with lube, clean the percusion cap, disassemble and cleaned the lock with WD40, disassemble and clean triggers, lube all screw fittings with cocoa butter and put her back together. I did soak a little boiled linseed oil into the stock under barrel as it was very dry with age.

    She's ready to hang on the wall maybe go another 100 plus years. Just simply amazing the simplicity of the mechanisms. Everything looked hand carved. If she was built in the 1850's or earlier, maybe shoot a squirrel or two this year on her 160th plus birthday.
  9. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    It may have been fired a bit more recently, as I am pretty sure that is a modern replacement nipple. I see no reason not to shoot it if the barrel looks OK. Black powder only, of course, and a round lead ball with a greased patch.

    Jim
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