Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thomas Curran Moravian Smooth Rifle












This gun has the architecture and sights common to a rifle, but the bore is smooth for versatility. Suitable for roundball or bird shot, it's a practical choice for large or small game.

The initial concept for this rifle began as a very simple gun, with little or no embellishment. It was to be a working gun: functional yet sparse. During the final shaping of the stock, I realized the gun had to be carved. For the overall design of my gun, I referenced two of my favorite guns in the book "Rifles of Colonial America," by George Shumway, for their glorious carving and stock architecture: rifles #41 and #42.

This gun has a strong Germanic flavor, inspired by several guns attributed to the smiths of Christian's Spring, a Moravian settlement north of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The gunsmiths of Christian's Spring, working from 1762 to 1787, had a distinctive style of gun. Sometimes referred to as a "transitional" style, their early guns fall between the European jaeger and the fully developed Pennsylvania rifle.

The stock is from a fallen giant Sugar Maple (Acer Saccharum) rescued from the Tullar Farm in Egremont, MA, that was on its way to the chipper. I counted over two hundred rings on this log. Too large to move, a friend and I split it into quarters to haul to the sawmill one by one. This wood has a pleasing figure, and because of its density, it takes carving beautifully. The stock is stained with a formula of iron filings and vinegar, and has an oil finish.

Some of the gun hardware is purchased and modified to suit, such as the lock, the barrel and castings for the buttplate and guard. The guard, for example, has finials that I shaped and engraved. The hickory ramrod has a flared horn tip, to load shot wads easily. The lockscrews are turned from solid steel rod, have domed heads with decorative rims. The thimbles are formed of sheet brass, hammered and filed to finish. The sling fittings are turned and forged, and have a sling sewn in place.

The Moravian is a very functional gun, full of character and color. Building this gun took me deeper into the history and lore of the Pennsylvania rifle. T.C.

Stock: Sugar Maple, vinegar stained.
Barrel: Colerain 44" full octagon smooth bore, 20 ga.
Lock: Chambers Germanic
Guard: Dixon's
Buttplate: Dixon's PA#325
Finish: Keith Casteel's Oil Finish

More of Tom's work can be seen at his web site.

Photos and copy supplied by Tom Curran.

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