Thirteen Original Colonies – French and Indian Warfare Tactics gave birth to the wide use of the Pennsylvania Rifle for a new kind of warfare.

In my research on the Pennsylvania/Kentucky Rifle, (America’s first Sniper Rifle) I learned that Continental Congress leaders learned warfare tactics by Native Indians et. al. during the French and Indian war of 1756 also known in Europe as the Seven Years War.

http://www.history.com/topics/seven-years-war/videos/what-was-the-french-and-indian-war

 

“SEE WEBSITE BELOW :

“Riflemen played an important role in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, wars characterized by irregular combat in woodland battlefields. By the eve of the latter conflict, several patriot leaders believed that American woodsmen armed with Pennsylvania Rifles could easily defeat stodgy, musket-wielding redcoats. In 1775 George Washington recruited rifle companies as the core of his new Continental Army. The Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment and units from southern colonies answered the call.”

http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-333

The British had the 13 colonies and wanted expand north and west. The French had Canadian land in Quebec and wanted to expand south and west. It was the native Indians of different tribes that aided both sides in battle.

It was George Washington who learned battle tactics during this time frame.

http://www.history.com/topics/seven-years-war/videos/george-washingtons-early-years

And in New Hampshire, General John Stark learned his new colonial battle tactics under the New Hampshire Provincial Regiment led by Colonel Nathaniel Meserve under British leadership in the French and Indian War as well.

Accordingly, the British won the French and Indian war and concluded with the Treaty of Paris but because Britain’s Secretary of State William Pitt who managed the money, borrowed heavily to win. Accordingly the British taxed the colonist’s too heavily for it and resulted in rebellion. Thus making British leadership and its military unwelcome in the colonies and itching for a Revolution to kick the British and its King George driven monarchy out.

Meanwhile, the German trained, Pennsylvania gunsmiths such as Jacob Dickert, were busy making the Pennsylvania Rifle many know as the Kentucky Rifle (to settle Kentucky) with grooves (called rifling) in the barrel to spin the bullet. Thus making that rifle a superb long range rifle, out to 300 yards, in the hands of a marksman, hunter or soldier. General Washington created Rifle Regiments…and Brigadier General Daniel Morgan

A master of the Pennsylvania Rifle and one the most brilliant battlefield tacticians of the Revolution and trusted by General Washington.

And today we get to honor those men and reenact with that Rifle and Hunt with it.

 

 

Most Read Article: The .270 Winchester vs. the 6.5 Creedmoor by Ed Hale

My rifle article has the shooting world by the tail and read by tens of thousands around the world from New England to Alaska, and in South Africa. They just can’t get enough of it!!.

So here it is again below. Enjoy!!

The .270 Winchester vs the 6.5 Creedmoor- by Ed Hale

Sniper Rifle of the American Revolution

The first rifles of the American Revolution were made in Pennsylvania by Swiss and German immigrant gunsmiths based on a German hunting weapon.  The most prolific of these gunsmiths was Jacob Dickert born in Europe and built these rifles in Pennsylvania.  The barrel usually 45 and 50 caliber (1/2 inch) and over 40 inches in length was grooved (rifled) to impart spin to the ball as it left the barrel and was far superior in accuracy to the Brown Bess below in long range accuracy.

Image result for brown bess musket

The Brown Bess musket was first imported from Europe, a smoothbore (no rifling) of .75 caliber (3/4 inch) which was used by local settlers and militia men in New England. The Brown Bess could be fitted with a bayonette and was good in traditional head to head battles of short range but it was the Pennsylvania rifle and guerilla tactics that won the war.

The Pennsylvania  rifle  was brought into the war by one of the first acts of the Continental Congress and called for companies of “expert rifleman” says John W. Wright of  https://historicfloridamilitia.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/the-rifle-in-the-american-revolution.pdf

These are, I believe,  “the first snipers” and armed with the Pennsylvania Rifle, originally made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and vicinity.

 

The above rifle is a replica of the Lancaster style Jacob Dickert Pennylvania Rifle recently this reproduction in kit as a Lancaster Rifle by Jim Chambers Flintlocks LTD of North Carolina was purchased and built by yours truly.  The daisy patchbox was engraved by a master engraver using a Dickert design.  This is one of America’s first Sniper Rifles and used to provide game and to later settle Kentucky. I will use it to deer hunt and do reenactments.

Recorded in the article, The Rifle in the American Revolution by John W. Wright states in the American Historical Review of 1924 vol. 29, no.2 that “the best American Rifleman (sniper) could, in a good light and with no wind, hit a mans head at 200 yards and his body at 300. We are told that the rifleman (Morgan’s Rifleman) when they joined the army near Boston in August 1775, gave an exhibition, in which a company on a quick advance, placed their shots in seven-inch targets at 250 yards. It was during the battle of Saratoga where General Morgan and his rifleman ended the war by sniping the native Indian scouts and British officers in the Battle of Saratoga.  The British soldiers were left leaderless and without scouts, they were lost. In the battle of Saratoga below, the British lost 1000 men and the Continental Army lost only half.

 

“From the 1760s, Jacob Dickert and others were known both as a military contractors but Dickert more than others perhaps earned more respect as a Lancaster County gun maker. As an arms contractor to the Continental Army and for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he made and sold rifles to the government, and repaired muskets and other firearms. http://www.customflintlock.com/dickert_history.php

An unnamed military writer in 1811 said “where the musket ends, the rifle begins”.

The History Channel you tube clip goes on to further document in other you tubes the total Battle of Saratoga and is very much worth your time.

Good Shooting!

 

Lancaster Pennsylvania Rifle Kit – A Diamond in the Rough by Ed Hale

Some of us know the rifle as the Kentucky Rifle built in Lancaster Pennsylvania and surrounding towns by German Immigrants like Jacob Dickert for those mountain men aiming to settle Kentucky.  The rifled barrel is 44 inches long, made famous by David Crockett and Daniel Boone. It is the first long range rifle with rifling in its bore to accurize and spin a bullet fast enough to stabilize it in flight. The rifle was made for hunting! In the right hands it was an essential part of winning battles in the American Revolution and our first sniper rifle seen here in the Battle of Saratoga at a range of 250 to 300 yards.

It was a proven performer for mountain men hunting game before its service in the American Revolution and a thing of beauty and balance when carved and shot.

I don’t have a forge and foundry nor a lot of exquisite curly maple, but there are, I have discovered, a dedicated group of folks who are craftsmen at forging the authentic locks,  stocks, and rifled barrels for this flintlock rifle. The rifle, as I said, is basically a diamond in the rough.

A high end craft kit can run from say $900 and up. I have pulled the ticket on my bucket list to make one of these at the higher end out of the finest curly maple. My kit from Jim Chambers cost is $1200. Crazy Huh! I have to be out of my mind! Right? Maybe so, we shall see. http://www.flintlocks.com/

It has not arrived and will not for a few weeks. Some of my skills are there already. I have made queen pencil post bed out of solid cherry from scratch and did the mortise and tenon by hand with a chisel and I have made several self-bows of Osage and Hickory so I have the basic shaping skills except for wood carving, and brass inlay.

My first job is to inspect and verify the parts are correct as ordered. Second is to realize that the build of this rifle will take around 100 hours or so and to plan lots of time alone in my workshop.

I have a video coming and will purchase another video soon. One of the best books to purchase they tell me is entitled “The Gunsmith of Grenville County” by Peter A. Alexander. I received it yesterday and am very pleased with it.

A well built flintlock of highest quality can be worth thousands of dollars. I just want one made by yours truly. I will report back when I receive and inspect my purchase. If all is in order I will proceed and when finished, I will hunt with it and display it on occasion along with the powder horn and pouch I will also create.

Good Shooting! Good Hunting!

 

 

 

Pennsylvania Long Rifles- Nostalgia You Can Hunt With by Ed Hale

Today while we are all going crazy for the next best and greatest rifle to enter the marketplace, there is a quiet following hearkening back to the grace and lines of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle and a resurgent interest in both hunting with them and proudly displaying them as works of art. The word “Rifle” refers to the lands and grooves placed in the barrel to impart spin and stability to the bullet. It was the frontier rifleman that was a key part of the Revolution but could not be the crack shots they were without the inventive engineering of those Pennsylvania German immigrant gunsmiths who understood the physics behind stable bullet flight and repeat accuracy. Armed with hand tools and improvised lathes these craftsmen created a rifle of precision and beauty. The most common calibers were 45 and 50 cal and shot round ball with precision.

There were  several Pennsylvania Rifle-makers and one of the best was Jacob Dickert my research tells me.

I am no expert here just a lover of fine craftsmanship and  history when I see it.

Jacob Dickert’s Pennsylvania  long rifle making was prolific enough as to arm frontiersmen in the American Revolution with many Dickert Long Rifles. It is news to me that he was a Military Contractor to the Continental Army making his famous Dickert Rifle.

A thing of great beauty, isn’t it, but a weapon that could kill out to 250 or more yards in the hands of a crack shot Frontiersman and Continental Army soldier.

From the website: http://www.customflintlock.com/dickert_history.php

Quote:

“Its nickname was “Kentucky long rifle” and was carried by the “Over Mountain Men,” who most every member of this little army was equipped with a Deckard rifle, a tomahawk, and a scalping knife, in which they were experts. Giving good account of themselves at the battle at King’s Mountain, North Carolina, in which backwoods hunters defeated Major Ferguson’s professional British soldiers. This being a major turning point in the Revolutionary War. Most of these men came mounted and armed with their Deckard rifles and no bayonets. This rifle was to play a significant role in many upcoming battles. The Dickert/Deckard rifle was also used in defense against the Mexican infantry who surprised the outnumbered Texans in a pre-dawn assault against the Alamo fortress walls in 1836 and one is on display in the Long Barracks Museum in San Antonio. It is said that Colonel David Crockett used a Deckard rifle in combat at the battle of the Alamo.” Unquote.

These rifles were great for hunting game like deer and bear as well as making a great squirrel gun. More to come…

Good Shooting! Good Hunting!

 

 

 

 

 

30-06 Springfield – A Reloader’s Hunting Cartridge

The 30-06 Springfield was introduced to the US Army in 1906. That was nearly 110 years ago. In that 110 years the 30-06 became one of the most popular hunting cartridges of all time in North America and on the African Continent for American hunters.  It still is today due to the wide availability of brass, and later, many bullet weights and styles, shot largely in bolt action hunting rifles. In Africa President Teddy Roosevelt kill much game including an Elephant with the 30-06. I would choose a larger caliber like the 458 Lott for dangerous game (yet another story) , thanks!

In hunting circles the 30-06 brass is still perhaps the most widely available brass along the .308 Winchester a smaller cartridge with its own story as a military round. Every corner store that has ammo stocks the 30-06 Springfield. Reloading dies are everywhere!

What is fascinating is that the 30-06 of military fame gave birth by experimentation by Wildcatters (experimenters) to a plethora of excellent hunting calibers both smaller in diameter and larger in diameter.  The 30-06 based cartridge that has dominated the smaller caliber is the .270 Winchester (diameter actual is .277 inches) a necked down 30-06 case. It was Jack O’connor of Outdoor Life that wrote so prolifically and eloquently on the .270 Winchester for all North American Game and African Plains Game but with moderate recoil in a standard action.  If memory serves, he loaded 130 grain heads with IMR 4350 and exited the muzzle above 3000 fps. I read lots of his work in Outdoor Life Magazine growing up. He was a master story teller but ever to inform that it is marksmanship that makes the kill possible. The .270 with 130 grain bullets were easier on recoil making it easy on the shoulder on long shots out to 200, 300 or more yards. I took my son Jason on Safari with the .270 Winchester and he did very well but I hand loaded 150 grain Nosler Partitions.(see photo below)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Also the 25-06 Remington (diameter .257) held its own on deer size game at long distances and is touted as an excellent Antelope round shooting a 100 grain bullet at 3200 fps.  The .243 Winnchester and 6mm Cartridges stole a lot of the 25-06 thunder.

In the necked up version of the 30-06 is the 8mm-06 (.323 diameter) or the 338-06 (.338 diameter) but they are still in use today because of the availability of 30-06 brass and a wide assortment of bullets that came as a result of other .338 cartridges. I heard recently of someone singing the praises of the 35 Whelen (developed by Colonel Townsend Whelen developed in 1922) whose parent is the 30-06 case. The Whelen can shoot 180 grain bullets at 2700 fps, the 200 grain bullet at 2600 fps, and the 250 grain bullets at speeds of 2400 fps delivering great down punch on all North American Game. Even better is the .338 caliber bullet which when loaded in the .338-06 can push a 200 grain bullet at 2800 fps, a 225 grain bullet at 2600 fps and has a better long range ballistic coefficient (BC) and bullet selection than the 35 Whelen. Today’s excellent recoil pads are engineered to reduce recoil by up to 50% so go ahead and shoot what ever suits your fancy. If you hand load like I do then the world is your oyster with just a few rifles.

You can never go wrong with a 30-06 for North American Game and most African Game. © 2015

Reloading 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge – Initial Observations

The first thing I discovered is that new Brass for the Creedmoor does not appear to be abundant. In fact I found Hornady brass to be the one of the only available new brass in stock. Nosler Brass was out of stock. If you have read my previous articles on the 6.5 Creedmoor you will see that the Hornady brass is soft, thus making it difficult to reload. Lots of case prep to bevel the inside of the case neck without creating a sharp flair edge is difficult indeed. Pressing on with the only new brass in town, I have succeeded in reloading it more than twice. The brass is stiffer as it becomes harder with use and better for pressing the bullet into the neck.

Of great interest should be Cartridge Overall Length (COL) ; The Max SAAMI Over All Cartridge Length is specified as 2.825.

I am shooting 120 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter heads as I am a hunter first and a target shooter second. I originally set the COL for this head with case at 2.53 inches and later discovered that I could push the head out as far as a COL of 2.70 and still have enough of the bullet seated. Groups of the 2.53 COL show excellent results as groups are 1 inch or less. Yesterday I shot several rounds set at a COL of 2.70 and the result deteriorated with fliers in the 2 inch group area. One would think that groups would improve as the bullet is closer to the rifling. Not so in this case, perhaps because the case had very little of the bullet in it. I perceive that the 120 grain is still a small bullet for the 6.5 and that heavier and larger bullets will make better use of the max COL.

Bullets are readily available from most all manufacturers, key bullets like the Nosler AccuBond  are available as are several Berger Hunting Bullets, et al. The reloader must experiment with COL to see what works best and provides best groups.

On powders, my only experience is with Hodgdon Hornady Superformance at this time and I like it very much because it is a smaller kernel and meters well with less variation than larger kernels. Nosler folks suggest powders such as Varget, W760, IMR 4007 SSC, Big Game, H4350, RL17 and Hunter.among others.

Since the Creedmoor Cartridge is new, older reloading manuals do not have it. Nosler does provide load data at http://www.nosler.com/nosler-load-data/65-creedmoor/  and SAAMI specifications. Hornady has the 6.5 listed at http://www.hornady.com/store/6.5-Creedmoor but no data for reloading. Check out the scrapbook of game animals taken. It includes a record Gemsbok. © 2015

First Rifles in America by Ed Hale

matchlock rifle

 

The Matchlock Rifle was invented in the 1400’s and was used in Jamestown, Va in 1607. This rifle used a smoldering wick like fuse to impart a spark to black powder that was near the hole that enters the barrel to ignite a  larger charge of black powder and propel a lead ball from the barrel. The word “Lock” is used in early firearms as perhaps as a synonym for “mechanism”. It this rifle was not very reliable, and was superseded by the wheellock below.

First Wheel Lock Musket

The first wheellock rifle to arrive in America was the Mayflower Wheel-Lock Musket likely owned by John Alden in 1620 who arrived on the Mayflower. The Musket was a smooth-bore firearm and this one was discovered during a renovation of a home in Duxbury, Massachusetts in 1924. Click on the highlighted words for more details.  Later in the 1600’s, it was a home protection weapon, found, and kept loaded in a secret spot at the front door over the years and was forgotten. Black powder is the the propellant of a round lead ball and patch to hold the ball against the powder. The rifle is fired when the trigger is pulled releasing a spring loaded serrated wheel turns on the iron pyrite held against the wheel. The pyrite and wheel create sparks to ignite the black powder in a pan that connects to the powder charge behind the round lead ball.

This firearm is the only of its kind and is owned by the National Rifle Association and displayed in their museum in Virginia. Technology changed slowly back then. A flintlock came on the scene in the early 1700’s below.

BrownBessMarine_11_PG

The First flintlock rifle was the .75 caliber “Brown Bess“, perhaps receiving the brown from the metal acid wash that turned the metal a brown color. See web links. The term “Bess” may have come from its predecessor, the Arquebus or perhaps Blunderbus .  It was an imported smooth-bore rifle that was widely used by colonists and  militia men of the 1750’s to 1800’s. It was accurate to about 80 yards or so. The colonists used a long-standing version called the Long Land Pattern. Rifles of this type were kept as a pattern to make additional rifles. The weight was around 10.5 pounds.  It had no rear sight and the bayonet lug near the bore was used as the front sight. It was a good wild game getter of its time and used by its citizens to hunt and protect the home and town. The continental army depended on citizen militiamen to bring their own Brown Bess rifle and ammo to fight the British during the Revolution. Colonists used the rifle in battle by placing more than one ball in the bore and often used additional smaller balls. The load and shoot time for the Brown Bess was 2 to 3 times a minute. The British were not happy with such barbaric practices as to load many balls like a shotguns double O Buck on their soldiers

My Cousin Colonel Nathan Hale, commander of the Second NH Regiment used the Brown Bess in fighting the British at Lexington and Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary war and is chronicled in the book Saratoga, by Richard Ketchum first published in 1997. My 6th great grandfather Nathaniel Hale inherited his father’s “Brown Bess” in Newbury Massachusetts and used it as his protection weapon and hunting rifle in Falmouth, Maine.

Prior to the American Revolution an evolution in firearms was taking place where German immigrants in Pennsylvania were tooling the bore of rifles with grooves called rifling, one rifle at a time. This allowed the bullet to spin thus providing stability and accuracy out to 300 yards and more. They were made in Pennsylvania for use on the Kentucky frontier and called the Kentucky Long Rifle .

kyrifle1

 

The first true rifle that began to be built in the 1740’s one by one by German  Craftsmen. The detailed carvings, storage compartments, and accoutrements (to equip) of this rifle were scrolled metal work on the stock adding to the beauty of this fine rifle made with birds-eye maple. This rifle was capable of 300 yard accuracy and was enhanced with the advent of the cap-lock rifle and elongated Mini-Ball in the 1800’s. It was this rifle, in flint or cap-lock that began the romance of wood and steel  to be made into artwork that is sought after by many rifleman and hunters and collectors today that love a wooden stock. Today the most popular early rifles of this period are the Hawken Flintlock or Caplock Rifle and the Kentucky Long Rifle which is so often romanticized in stories of Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Today there are both collectors and shooter that relive and re-enact the past with these rifles in hand. I thoroughly enjoy the history that surrounds them. Rifles are part of America’s founding heritage and essential to maintaining freedom as well as home protection and sport. Over the next 100 years there were numerous advances we will see in the guns that Won the West, their use in hunting for food, protection and the military.

Since the invention of the rifle some 400 -500 years ago,military rifle applications, were always the driving force for rifle improvements. The benefits were seen in civilian use,marksmanship and hunting as well as home protection.