After building a few highly embellished close copies of original arms, it is refreshing to put the books away and build a simple rifle. This is my interpretation of a good solid plain rifle in the Lehigh Valley style. Architecturally the piece reflects the profile of Herman Rupp’s work, but with more robust sections through the wrist and buttstock reminiscent of earlier arms by Peter Neihart. Often today called a "Schimmel" or Barn rifle, these elegant pieces were probably quite common, used every day as tools.
I frequently use several late 18th and early 19th century tools while building a flintlock rifle. Every antique tool has dings, scratches, rust blemishes, and cracks that distinguish it from other tools in the chest. With that in mind, I built and finished this rifle with the intention of creating the same warm character and patina found some of my antique tools.
This rifle was stocked in red maple, with a 42" .50 caliber swamped barrel. A buttplate and triggerguard are the only pieces of furniture, with two sheet brass ramrod pipes forward. After staining with aquafortis, the stock was distressed to reflect wear and tear of actual use, but not abuse. I view a piece like this as a continued work in progress, the rifle developing character and patina with genuine use and wear in the woods.
Copy and photos by Eric von Aschwege.