Building a Tennessee Longrifle




Introduction: Building a Tennessee Longrifle

About: Retired software engineer. Like the outdoors, canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing. I’ve built 3 cedar strip canoes and 2 cedar strip kayaks and use all of them. I built 3 acoustic guitars and play all of ...

My recollections of building a Tennesse Flintlock Longrifle.

for more information CLICK HERE:

info on using loading and firing :

Step 1: The Choice: What Should I Build?

I first built a Jaeger longrifle. It was ugly, so ugly it was kind of beautiful. It was a longrifle design brought to the US during the revolutionary war by the Hessians.

This time I built a Tennessee Mountain long Rifle in .50 caliber. It has a 42 inch barrel and a Tiger maple stock with iron hardware. It is NOT a piece of art.

Step 2: Now That You've Found a Style You Like, What's Next?

You could reasearch the longrifle and scour through catalogs looking for parts to purchase individually or you could purchase a kitted longrifle from one of several suppiers

I spent about $600 on parts for my rifle. I would also recommend purchasing a book to guide you through the build such as "The Art of Building the Pennsylvania LongRifle".

Step 3: A Little Terminology:

A lock is the mechanism that has a hammer (or cock) holding a flint in a half wrap of leather, which which stikes the hardened frizzen when the trigger is pulled, scraping hot metallic sparks into fine grained priming powder in the pan which ignites (eventually) sending flame through the touch hole in the barrel to the main powder charge. The charge burns creating a gas which expands in volume propelling the patched round ball through the barrel with a twisting motion imparted by the lands and groves in the rifled barrel.

Step 4: Some Advise on Components:

Lock: Purchase the best(period correct for the rifle style) lock you can afford. It will affect the performance of the longrifle more than any other component.

Barrel: Most barrels are rifled with a 1 in 66 twist. This means the ball will twist one complete revolution for every 66 inches it travels. This is best for stabilizing the flight of a patch round ball.

Trigger: A trigger can be of different varieties.

Stock: Most wood is either Maple, Walnut or Cherry. Walnut is nice and preferred for some styles. Cherry is used but less frequently. Maple can be purchased with many levels of figure in the grain.

Step 5: Building the Longrifle

The inletting of all the parts begins now, this is the fun part! This involves placing the parts on the stock in their proper positions and tracing their outline on the wood. A thin layer of wood is then removed from within the outline using your wood carving tools and exacto knife. Once the part is rechecked for proper fit and the initial inlet is adjusted if necessary. The part needs to be lightly coated with vasoline where it contacts the wood. This surface can then be held over a candle flame to allow black soot to build up. It is then placed back into the inlet and given a gentle tap with a rubber hammer. Use your wood carving tools to remove the wood that is blackened.

Step 6: Inlet the Lock

Next the lock needs to be disassembled so that just the lock plate remains. It is then clamped on the side of the stock so that the pan is aligned properly with the touch hole. The plate is then inlet, but additional inletting of the lock components (tumbler, sear, etc.) is necessary. Adequate clearance for all the moving parts must be given, including adjustments for any interference between the hammer and stock.

Step 7: Inlet the Trigger Assembly

Next the trigger should be inlet. Similar to the lock, the trigger assembly should be disassembled. The trigger plate should be positioned at the center line of the stock bottom such that you are certain the trigger will contact the lock sear when pulled. Inlet just as you did the lock.

Step 8: Inlet the Other Hardware

Next I inlettted the ramrod pipes and pinned them to the stock just as was done with the barrel lugs. Inletting the butt plate, toe plate, nose cap and patch box followed.

Step 9: Finishing the Rifle

Now you have a complete longrifle ready for finishing. I decided to “brown” the barrel and metal hardware. This is basically rusting the parts then rubbing out the corrosion with steel wool and coating with oil to stop the rust process.

The stock should be sanded, wetted to raise the grain then finish sanded with fine grit once it is dry. To bring out the striping in the tiger maple I used Aquafortis, which I think is acid. I applied a coating to the stock then let it dry to a yellowish tint. Carefully using a torch

I then sealed the wood with a 50/50 mixture of varnish and turpentine, followed by about three more coats of varnish.

Step 10:

Test Firing

If you are new to black powder you should purchase Sam Fadalas book:  

Follow all the safety rules associated with shooting sports in addition there are some precautions unique to black powder, which are covered in the book.

Step 11: Using Your Flintlock

When I tested the Tennessee, I used a small charge, 30 grains of FFg black power topped with a patched .495 round ball. The patching material needs to be lubricated. A commercial patch lubricant can be purchase or you can make your own by melting Crisco and beeswax.

Eventually I developed a hunting load of 80 grains of FFFg powder and a patched .495 round ball.

for more information CLICK HERE

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    6 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    These come in kits too. Show me your workshop, tools, etc.. Some steps of raw wood, carving inletting staining, sanding.. You need to show your work. Looks like you just went out and bought it. ???


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    This was a scratch build not a kit. Yes you are right about showing my work. Unfortunately I built this several years ago, and it never occurred to me to keep a photographic record of the project. Wish I would have. So I did the best I could to describe the build with photos of the completed rifle.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Step two pictures are not your rifle, right ?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic job. I love the long rifles, though I have yet to own a flinter. I did build a Hawken, in .50 and made meat many times. Bear and deer. During my research I found an old timer recipe for a stock finish that made my smoke pole shine. Soak a plug of chewing tobacco in a jar of Ammonia for about 6 weeks. Strain the tobacco flakes out, and apply the liquid with a soft cloth. Experiment sometime and see what you think. BTW I really enjoyed the canoe instructable also. Thanks for the postings.