It is believed that the Model 1792 Contract Rifle was quite possibly the rifle issued to the Lewis & Clark expedition from the Harper's Ferry Arsenal for the Expedition of Discovery. Based on research in Man at Arms
magazine by Frank A. Tait, and American Military Shoulder Arms
by George Moller, a better picture of the 1792 Contract rifle has begun to be pieced together.
After the defeat of Major General Arthur St. Clair on the Wabash in late 1791. The Secretary of War, Henry Knox began procuring rifles for the army. After examining a prototype rifle, he gave approval on February 4th, 1792 for the first small arm designed specifically for the Army of the United States.
The rifle was to have these specifications:
- 42" rifled barrel bored 40 balls to the pound (about .490")
- lock was to have a fly in the tumbler
- stock to be made from well seasoned maple
- catch spring release to be high so as to be accessible to the thumb
The small number of rifles produced and the belief that many of these rifles were not marked as Government property, has made identification of these important rifles difficult.
Order our 1792 Contract longrifle parts set, and use your imagination. Plain or or fancy maple, with 15/16" octagon barrel, single trigger, and brass furniture. Each part is offered separately, so you can create your own custom rifle. Select the parts you need for your project in traditional brass furniture. We recommend plain maple, as this is a copy of a military rifle.Colerain Barrel Company
offers select calibers in 15/16" straight octagon barrels. Offered in .50, or .54 caliber. Colerain straight octagon barrels are threaded to accept the breech plug.
Colerain rifle barrels are the favorite choice of today's best muzzle loading gun makers, because knowledgeable shooters demand Colerain's accuracy, inside and outside. Founded by two entrepreneurs, Scott Keller and Scott Kelly were tutored by Bob Paris, the famous rifle barrel maker who was first to perfect the technique for production of correct swamped barrels.Colerain rifle barrels
are cut rifled, with fancy radius groove rifling geometry, in correct twist rates for round balls:
- Cut rifled, with .016" deep grooves
- 1 turn in 56" twist, in .50 and .54 caliber.
Colerain rifle barrels are drilled from solid steel. Each barrel has six "round bottom" grooves, called "radius groove rifling". Colerain eliminates the sharp inside corner that accumulates fouling. Radius groove rifling cutters are a bit more expensive to make, but Colerain's customers agree that the accuracy, easy loading, and easy cleaning are worth the cost.Stocks
, our classic 1790 - 1810 era Lancaster County longrifle fullstock is from the "golden age of longrifles", following our revolution. Refined from earlier designs, this graceful longrifle stock from the end of the flint era is thought to be the high point of artistic achievement, by many collectors, shooters, and rifle builders. Easily shaped and inlet for the military style castings. Cut for a 15/16" straight octagon 42" barrel, with a 3/8" rod hole drilled full depth. Pull length is up to 14-3/4", drop is 3-1/2" from sights. Butt end is about 5" x 1-5/8", not cut for the buttplate.
We offer a complete set of wax casting furniture in brass, to fit this rifle. Much of the 1792 Contract rifle furniture appears to be very nearly identical to the later 1803 Harpers Ferry rifle. Furniture includes the buttplate, triggerguard, forward and entry ramrod pipes, sideplate, ramrod, and ramrod tip. As cast, the castings need to have the casting gates removed by filing or grinding, and must be polished, then drilled for mounting screws, as needed. The ramrod entry pipe should have the square tail rounded off before inletting into the maple stock.
The furniture includes the patchbox, which is virtually identical to the patchbox used on the later U. S. Model 1803 Harper's Ferry Rifle
. The patchbox is made of heavy gauge brass, hinged, ready for installation. The patch box release button will sit high above the comb of the buttplate "to be more accessible to the thumb", as per the original military revisions of the prototype rifle.
The triggerguard on one known example of this style rifle closely matches the triggerguard used on the later U.S. Model 1803 Harpers Ferry rifle. Much of the 1792 Contract rifle furniture appears to be very nearly identical to the later 1803 Harpers Ferry rifle. Indeed, one author speculates that the Model 1803 is a half stock version of the Model 1792 Contract rifle.
Very nice photos of the original can be found in the Man at Arms
magazine, June 1999 edition.
Our close-up view of the lock shows the markings on the plate. No 1792 Contract rifle has ever been published with the original lock. All known examples are fitted with 1812 dated model 1803 locks, due to arsenal reconversion. The original locks may have been imported due to a lock shortage in the 1790's. The 1803 locks appear to be so well fitted that the locks they replaced must have been nearly identical in size. The 1803 locks are marked HARPER'S FERRY - 1803
. An American Eagle over the letters U. S.
is shown at the center of the lock plate.
We also offer a similar version of this lock with no markings on the lock plate, #LOCK-COMMON.
This lock has a plate with the tail of the lock slightly more pointed.Flash Hole Liner,
touch hole liner, or vent liner, is an essential part of our kit. Our standard vent has the popular 1/4-28 thread. We also offer the Jim Chambers White Lightnin'
vent as a option. The special 1/4-32 fine thread allows an extra large concave cavity inside, for use on swamped octagon barrels. Made in the USA, stainless steel, with removable lug for easy installation. Order our #TAP-1/4-32 tap and drill, if you prefer this special vent.
Concave inside, the White Lightnin'
vent liner brings the main powder charge very close to the incandescent heat of the priming flash. Position the vent on the center of the pan, slightly above the pan to frizzen joint, sometimes called the "sunset" position. Covered by the frizzen when closed, the hole is a window centered on the heat of your priming flash, for instant ignition, without the whoosh-bang delay, seen in many flint guns.
Typically only the better quality London made guns were factory fitted with vent liners, but nearly all flint guns were later fitted with vent liners, after the vent hole in the barrel became worn from flash erosion, corrosion, or the aggressive use of a vent pick.
Slings were not normally fitted to this model rifle. Provisions for swivels would have been added to the rifles for the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Indeed it seems the expedition procured 15 slings from a armoury in Pennsylvania for the expedition. The famous portrait of Lewis shows a rifle with swivels, with the rear most swivel actually mounted through the wood of the stock just under the head of the patchbox.
Order two of our #SWIVEL-5W
, which includes the 6-40 mounting screw. If you plan to use swivels be sure to order a additional underlug (four total) for mounting the forward swivel.
Gunsmithing Labor Options
are a popular low cost method of speeding assembly. Our gunsmith can install the plug (#LABOR-BP
) front and rear sights (2 #LABOR-DS
), and underlugs (3 #LABOR-UL
) for standard rifle (4 #LABOR-UL
) if you plan to mount swivels. This work can be performed at small extra cost, with prompt delivery. #LABOR-BP:
Our gunsmith will install your breech plug, in your barrel, with the front face of the breech plug tightly sealed against the inside shoulder of the breech thread, and the barrel maker's name indexed to the bottom flat. Threads are lubricated with Birchwood Casey's Choke Tube Lube anti-seize, so the plug may be removed, even after decades of use. Never remove a breech plug, unless you have a compelling reason. The plug is never removed for cleaning, and should only be removed by a skilled gunsmith, who has the correct tools to avoid marking your polished and finished barrel and plug. #LABOR-DS:
When you buy the sight from us, we will remove any burrs, gates, or parting lines, and hand fit the sight to the dovetail slot, ready for you to finish and use. Many of our rear sights are cast with an oversize base, to allow these to fill oversize slots. It is wise to allow us to trim these to a standard size, before installation in a new barrel. We must install the breech plug before installing sights, rib, or pipes.
Front sight slots are centered 1.5" from muzzle, unless your clearly specify another location. Do not embed special instructions within lengthy text of a letter. Place special instructions immediately after your written order for that item, or in the comment field of our on-line order form.
Rear sight slots are centered 8.5" from the breech end of the barrel (not including plug), unless your clearly specify another location. Do not embed special instructions within lengthy text of a letter. Place special instructions immediately after your written order for that item, or in the comment field of our on-line order form.#LABOR-UL:
When you buy the lugs from us, we will remove any burrs, and hand fit the lug to the dovetail slot, ready for you to finish and use. Allow our gunsmith to determine the best location for lug. Typically these rifles require three lugs. Order four (4) if you are going to mount a swivel to the rifle. We require the breech plug to be fitted before performing this operation.
We strongly recommend Recreating the American Longrifle
, by William Buchele. The late William Buchele was recognized as a true master longrifle maker. But his greatest contribution to muzzle loading must be this book. He shares the step-by-step details of his craft. His work has been enhanced by the editors. This book does not assume that the reader is an expert stock maker, but begins with illustrated explanations of the basic concepts. Buchele shows several alternate approaches to most tasks. This newly revised fifth edition includes full scale plans for a carved flint longrifle, and fullstock flint pistol. Over 250 photos and drawings, within 176 pages, 8-1/2 x 11" format, soft cover.
We also recommend our new catalog, which describes this kit in great detail, explains the options, and shows most individual parts in exact full size photographs
. Prices may change, over the years, but the technical data, dimensions, instructions, and precise photos will make this 432 page book an essential too on your work bench.
Typically 40 hours of skilled labor is required to build a longrifle rifle. Use of a drill press in recommended. A skilled mentor, as always, can be a invaluable aid in building any rifle.
Gun building is fun! Click ADD TO CART, and send your order, for same day shipment. Call 763-633-2500 to place your order by telephone.