Sunday, February 17, 2013

Allentown - Bethlehem Longrifle by N. Jenkins

.45 caliber, 40-1/2" barrel, 
cherry, sliding wood patchbox, brass trim. used,

This classic golden age era fullstock flint rifle is made in the style of the Allentown - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania rifle makers. The rifle is stocked in cherry with a deep red color. The buttstock is fitted with a sliding wood patchbox. The Russ Hamm flintlock, and straight octagon barrel are finished to a dark brown with a lightly aged patina from use. The barrel is signed N. Jenkins. Used, the rifle does have one cosmetic crack and one chip on the forend.

The 40-1/2" length .45 caliber barrel is a light weight 13/16" straight octagon. The bore is bright and clean and has been well maintained. The barrel is fitted with a brass blade front sight, and a flat top rear sight.

One of the defining characteristics of the Bethlehem school is the "roman nose", which refers to the convex comb and the concave wrist to toe. A third arc extends from the bottom of the lock panel and creates a very subtle step at the rear of the triggerguard. This rifle is stocked in cherry with a deep red color. The stock has developed a cosmetic crack from the corner of the buttplate comb about 1" long. The crack follows a grain boundary and was likely from the tightly fitted wood drawing against the buttplate as the stock aged.

The buttstock is fitted with a sliding wood patchbox. The long bullet shaped patchbox door has thumb relief cut into the base. Compress the patchbox spring toward the door to allow the door to slide to the rear. Beneath is a deep correctly cut cavity.

This rifle has a 13" trigger reach for todays average size shooter. The rifle weighs 6.9 pounds, it points very naturally with the balance point at the ramrod entry pipe.

Viewed from the top, this graceful Bethlehem rifle features a tapered comb. The buttplate has a speckled aged patina from use and handling. 

Attractive incised carving surrounds the pointed and flared tang of the breech plug. This rifle has very well done tight inletting. Truly the work of a skilled craftsman. The top flat of the breech end of the barrel is signed N. Jenkins .45 caliber with a seven in the center of a star burst.

The brass triggerguard has aged to a speckled patina. A double line incised molding extends from the lock panel to the rear wedge key. Three small headless wedge keys secure the barrel to the stock. A brass muzzle cap protects the end grain of the stock.

The stock does have one chip at the front edge of the ramrod channel where the left hand side of the stock has been chipped with about 3/4" of material missing.

The 5/16" diameter ramrod does not have any provisions for threaded accessories.

Ignition for the rifle is provided by Russ Hamm flint lock. Properly tuned and assembled the lock has a heavy set of springs that will ensure fast and reliable lock time. Finished to a dark brown, the lock has aged over time with bright edges from handling.

The single trigger is correctly positioned, and releases smoothly. Fast ignition is assured by the Ampco vent liner, positioned well above the bottom of the pan, centered on the heat of the flash. If your flint longrifle suffers from that infamous slow whoosh-bang ignition delay, study the work of today's best gun makers, and position your vent well centered on the pan, high above the bottom, to serve as a window on the center of the flash.

The early buttplate has a pleasant curve, comfortable to aim, it engages your shoulder to minimize recoil. The sideplate is secured with a combination of wood screw and lock bolt. Scrolls of incised carving decorate the square cheek piece.

Copy and photos supplied by Track of the Wolf.

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