Old long rifle help needed


Well-Known Member
I was gifted an "old" muzzleloader rifle over the holiday. I am being told that it was built by my grandfather's grandfather. I am not sure what "built" means either. I am not sure if it was built as a kit....if they did that back then or if it was actually "built" meaning they had the lock, stock and barrel all assembled and made some of it themselves. My grandfather is passed and those I am getting the info from are not 100% sure of it's history, other than where it came from. Where would be a good source for me to try to track down maybe some info on this gun? I have no numbers or identification marks on the gun that I can see...and taking the gun apart I fear will only further damage it as the stock is already broken in several places. The metal surfaces are highly corroded and any reasonable detail is lost.

The gun is in VERY poor shape and has zero value I am sure....but it's a piece of the family history and as such being able to put even a rough age to it would be helpful.

It has an octagonal barrel - even the muzzle end of the bore is octagonal. I am told it has "square" rifling.... It is a percussion style lock with a hair trigger (actual 2 triggers with curved trigger and straight trigger). The stock seems very "crude" to me in that it is very square in style and doesn't seem to have "pretty" lines. It's also a smaller caliber....I'm guessing 38, 36 or 32. I am told it is more of an "ohio" style rifle as well.....but I am not sure even what that means.

I'm just looking for a resource to tap in to ti try to help me figure out exactly what it is and roughly how old it is..
Accurate Shooter forum.....probably has some of the most knowledgeable gun nuts out there. I know every now and i then i have odds and ends questions and majority of guys on there know their stuff in and out or could point you in right direction.
I can only help with one aspect, the triggers. It has what is called a “set” trigger. The rear one sets up the front, which is then a “hair” trigger. Guns and Ammo has a column called “Identification and Values” or something similar. Garry James is the columnist and he is rarely stumped on identifying a firearm. Might email them with pictures. Good luck !
Working on it. I left it with my folks as I was not prepared to transport it when it was given to me. I was fearful of the kids stepping on it and further damaging it.....it's in that bad of shape. I'll post up a few pics once I have it home.
Sorry for the delay in getting pics. But here are some. The bore is a bit confusing as it measure roughly .345" So I am thinking it's either a .32 or a .36 caliber. There are no exterior numbers or marking on it that I can find....and I REALLY don't want to take it apart as it is in terrible condition and I fear disassembly will only damage it further.

Percussion cap lock with "hair trigger":
lock 1.jpg
lock 2.jpg

Butt stock:
stock 1.jpg
stock 2.jpg

rear sight:
rear sight.jpg
I just realized the barrel is 8 sided but the bore is 7 sided.....WTF! Leave it to my family to come up with some sort of weird #$%@ (stuff) like this!
j-bird, did you ever get any feedback on the old rifle ?
No.....not a word. The only thing I have learned in my search is that the concept of the multi-sided bore was to improve accuracy back around the time of the civil war. Everything I have seen as examples of that have been 6 sided however.
There is a lot of information available on The American Longrifle Association's web site. Don't do anything to your rifle without doing some research. Each one of those rifles were hand crafted and should be considered a work of art. If your grandfather's grandfather made it, check his name against information contained on that web site. I'm guessing that it was made late 1700s early 1800s. It may have started out as a flintlock and later converted to percussion . That rear site and trigger guard should help narrow down when and where it was made.
So I wanted to give a little update on what I have found out and confirmed so far. The gun was made by my grandfathers, grandfather. Putting the build somewhere in the 1875 to 1900 time frame. We believe it to be from the Tri-state Ohio river valley area of IN/KY/OH which is where I am today. The gun was made in the "poor boy" fashion, in which the metal parts where store bought but then the stock was made by hand and then assembled by hand. The trigger guard was also made by hand and can be used to identify different makers at the time but we have not been able to track that down yet. This was very common and thus can create many one-of-a-kind type of firearms with very little documentation. Turns out the 7 sided bore is not that uncommon and neither is the smaller 36 to 38 caliber. Also many of these guns have had the barrels cut down from the original length over time, but mine seems to be un-altered....even thought the rest has seen better days. This has been an interesting little project in family history as well as some firearms history for me. I will continue to try to find out more and more details if I can as I feel it's important to present the firearm with as much of the truth and facts as possible.....
At least you’ve made some progress on finding out more about the old rifle. My wife is into ancestry, but for the most part I don’t ingulge. My family is probably full of horse thieves and outlaws:D But if a family firearm was involved, I could get a whole lot more motivated ! Keep us posted....
I’m reading my Guns & Ammo magazine and I see you made Garry James’ column. I’m glad you got some more info on your old rifle.