Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chris Barkers' Rig

CLA artisans create works in many different disciplines. I have had the good fortune to have examples by a number of them fall into my hands. I selected a rifle from my small collection and photographed it with pieces by CLA artisans who are experts in their given fields.

The rifle was made by Dick Breitenstein. It was made from dark photographs of the Robert Hughes rifle in John Bivins' book on North Carolina longrifles. The full stock is American Black Walnut. The iron furniture is all hand forged. The toe of the butt plate and the toe plate are pinned. Dick put the lock together from various components, and he hand swamped the .36 cal. 44" octagonal barrel. Dick felt that the off-the-shelf swamped barrels available at the time (mid '90s) had too much taper. At the time the order was placed there were numerous Southern mountain style rifles being turned out. Too much "artistic license" was built into many of them. Some looked like they had been turned out by big city gun smiths, and mountain simplicity was lost. Dick wanted to make a Southern Mountain Rifle that looked like the real thing. I could not have been more pleased with the results.

The shot pouch was made by Jim Webb. The body is brain tanned and walnut dyed buckskin. The flap retains the hair, and there is a fylfot in the center of the flap. Inside there is a large pocket with a flap closed by an antler button. The shoulder strap was woven by C. J. Wilde. I made and attached the fringed buckskin finials. Jim had left tabs for strap attachment projecting a couple of inches from the sides of the bag. This made lacing on the shoulder strap an easy job. The powder horn and turned measure were made by HCH horner Mark Ewing. Mark lathe turned the walnut base plug, horn bands, spout, stopper, and measure. The bands were heat shrunk in place and attached with tiny iron pins. I made the powder horn strap, and attached the measure. I put together the pick and brush set from a vent pick from Ed Wilde, a .357 magnum cartridge case, and bristles from an old shoe brush. You can't see it in the picture, but there is an iron buckle obtained from Ed. Wilde on the horn strap. The knife and scabbard were made by Tommy Stanford. Tommy made the blade from an antique cross cut saw blade. The flattened priming horn was made by Barry Anderson. The reproduction 18th Century compass, and the flint knapping hammer came from Track of the Wolf. The silver oil bottles were purchased from Dixie Gun Works nearly forty years ago. I made the bullet bag. The neck and stopper, as well as the bullet board, were made by Bill Jones of the long closed Alpine Dulcimer company. The pig skin cleaning tool and flint bag was made by Joe Erwin, manufacturer of the elegant leather covered Doc's Shooters Box.

The contents of my two photographs just barely scratches the surface of that wonderful group of artisans. I am indeed fortunate to know and to have worked with a number of them. When I pick up a rifle or reach into my pouch I have the pleasure of deeply experiencing the Longrifle Culture. Lifetimes of research, effort, and craftsmanship went into my kit, and I appreciate it more and more every day.

Copy and photos supplied by Chris Barker.

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