Antique Target Rifle
.40 caliber, 32" barrel,
walnut stock, silver trim, peep sight,
by L. Butterfield, Lynn, Mass
Part Number: AAS-049
Availability: In Stock
Price: $1,999.00
Order Quantity:
This antique target rifle is marked L. Butterfield Lynn, MS, who we believe to be Levi Butterfield from Lynn, Massachusetts that was active from 1857 to 1868. The lock is marked William Reed & Sons, Boston who were in operation from circa 1852 into the early 1900's. This is a very well made percussion target rifle with walnut stock, German silver furniture, back action lock, peep and globe sight. Trigger reach is 13-3/4" and this rifle weighs 9.5 pounds.

The .40 caliber 32" barrel, including breech plug, has fast twist rifling likely for a Picket bullet, Sugar-Loaf bullet, or another similar elongated bullet of modest weight. Picket bullets (also called Picket balls) are described in detail in Ned Roberts' book, The Muzzle Loading Caplock Rifle. They were a unique American experiment, during the transition from round balls to elongated bullets. While the military selected the hollow base Minie bullet, which was quick to load, target shooters were searching for a better bullet design, despite the need for a separate guide starter (plunger) to engrave the rifling, and the need to clean the bore after every shot. Development of the Picket bullet rifle was abandoned after the American Civil War proved the effectiveness of breech loading cartridge firearms, but the Pickett bullet rifle was the choice of match shooters during America's 1840 to 1860 era.

The bore is mirror bright and looks to be in excellent condition. Even after over 150 years there is no doubt that this antique rifle would continue to be a good shooter. The muzzle end of the barrel is stamped with a 490 and three L's around the muzzle. The exterior of the barrel has aged to a gray brown patina with some fading and speckling just ahead of the forend cap. The barrel is stamped L Butterfield / Lynn MS on the left oblique flat just behind the rear sight dovetail. The front sight is a globe sight with a post. The peep sight is a long strap sight, mounted with dovetail and two screws. A screw with cross drilled holes mounted in the tang adjusts the elevation. The peep sight retains a good amount of the original fire blue finish.

Stocked in walnut with a medium brown color the wood is in excellent condition with some minor handling marks, it does not have any visible repairs or cracks. The rifle is trimmed in mid to late 19th century period German silver. Some of the furniture castings appear to be commercial castings, which were available by mail order from companies such as E.K. Tryon of Philadelphia, as nearly identical parts such as the cap box are encountered on rifles by other makers.

Our top view of the rifle shows the ever so slightly tapered comb that is shaped without a cheek piece. The rifle is fitted with a long tang hooked breech, which helps to strengthen the wrist of the rifle. From below the square toe and German silver triggerguard of the rifle can be seen. Both are correctly mounted with steel screws. Finished with a slight polish the guard is representative of all the silver furniture, well cared for it has not developed a tarnish or patina. A German silver ringed entry pipe with thumbnail finial and two steel ramrod pipes secure the wood ramrod to the rifle. The ramrod appears to be original to the rifle, but is missing the cover for the worm on the hidden end. A small washer style sideplate is mounted on the side panel to support the single lock bolt that secures the back action lock.

Ignition for the rifle is provided by a back action percussion lock. The lock is stamped Wm Reed & Son / Boston, which was a sporting goods and hardware store. The lock has a simple engraved border and die stamped scroll designs. The lock is neatly inlet into the stock and fitted to the tang of the hooked breech. The decoratively filed snail of the hooked breech has a modern nipple with aged appearance fitted. The lock is mated to a single trigger, pinned high to provide good leverage with a smooth light release.

In excellent condition the fit and finish of this rifle is quite remarkable considering its age. Still in perfect working order, with a mirror bright bore, this little .40 caliber gun could still have quite a day at the range. If you collect antique target rifles, or are in need of a target rifle to round out your muzzle loading collection, then consider this nice piece today. It would make and excellent addition to, or could become the cornerstone of, any black powder weapon collection.

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