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.40 Percussion Kentucky Rifle Advice

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I recently acquired a family collection that includes a Kentucky long rifle and I’m fascinated with the prospect of firing it. On the practical side, I don’t know if it might have a powder charge loaded. The mechanism is dated 1838 and has some corrosion. Does anyone know a gunsmith knowledgeable enough to check it out? Finding a gunsmith is proving a challenge in Knoxville. I know it’s a longshot- almost 200 years old. 


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I have more than a few smoke poles. If the inside of the barrel looks as bad as the lock, I would hang it on a wall after I wiped some oil on the metal you can see. The issue with BP is after it is fired it is very corrosive and will rust the metal. If it has been Neglected for more than a few months or years it may not be worth trying to clean up. How about some pics of the whole rifle? Try to get close-ups of the muzzle end.

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It seems unlikely that it would have a charge loaded, but you can find out pretty easily. There's a tool for extracting a ball from the barrel, something like a corkscrew. You put that on your [modern threaded]  ramrod and screw it into the ball then pull the ball out. You should also be able to use the ramrod as an indicator. Put it down the bore, mark the muzzle on the ramrod, and then see how far the down the barrel that reaches. 

I have a muzzle loader that belonged to my grandfather when he was a youngun. It appears to be in good condition and I think it would stand up to firing, but I'm not gonna do it.

Edited by Darrell
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You might be able to bore the barrel out to a larger caliber.  That's a pretty normal thing to do with these because of the corrosion issues. They start out small and get bored out to .45, .50, ... on up to .69 before you can't go any bigger. It's usually the same barrel blank so a larger caliber a lighter rifle. 

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  • 1 month later...

I'd not decide it was for Cracker Barrel relic having not seen the entire rifle. I have a  modern custom cap lock rifle made up with a rebored and rerifled original barrel. It's an accurate highly functional firearm. I suggest doing a little homework on efforts to get originals shooting again.

You take a cleaning rod. Run rod into the muzzle until it bottom out. Mark the rod. Then remove the rod. Hold rod next to barrel aliening mark with muzzle. You can see the difference between the inside outside on the barrel. If it's inches it's a clue there may be a charge in the barrel. Do not try to  shoot load out. Nobody has any idea what's in there. Check out ball pullers as an attachment to a steel cleaning rod. Make sure the rifle does not deteriorate and further. 

Edited by Mowgli Terry
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