Lehigh Valley Longrifle,
.54 caliber 42" Rice swamped barrel,
curly maple, wooden patchbox, brass trim,
new, unfired, by Michael Hayes
Part Number: AAR-453
Availability: In Stock
Price: $4,999.00
This extraordinary flint .54 caliber Lehigh Valley longrifle bears the signature of Michael Hayes, whose fine longrifles are appreciated for their quality, artistic merit, and correct details. This classic golden age era fullstock flint rifle is takes inspiration from rifles by Herman Rupp and John Moll. Stocked in fancy curly maple, stained with Aquafortis the striped figure has nice contrast from muzzle to butt. The buttstock is fitted with a sliding wood patchbox. The brass furniture is well fitted and finished with a number of parts hand made for this rifle. The L&R Classic flintlock and Rice swamped barrel have a light patina finish on the brown barrel finish and with regular use this rifle will develop the appearance of a well maintained antique. This rifle has a 13-3/4" trigger reach for todays average size shooter. The rifle weighs 8.3 pounds. The rifle points very naturally with the balance point behind the rear sight.

The .54 caliber swamped octagon Rice barrel has a 42" length. The swamped octagon barrel is thickest at the breech, tapers to a narrow waist, and flares slightly at the muzzle. Cut rifled the bore has seven lands and radius grooves with a 1 in 66" twist for a tightly patched round ball. The bore is bright and clean in as-new condition. Rice Muzzle Loading Rifle Barrels are set between centers and milled octagonal, insuring a centered bore, concentric with the exterior, with no "run-out". Each barrel is stress relieved in an atmosphere controlled electric furnace, to eliminate work hardening or barrel warp, and to dampen harmonic vibrations or barrel whip.

After the rifling has been cut, each bore is "ball burnished". A carbide bore-sizing die is pulled through the barrel, to insure bore dimension uniformity, eliminating any tight or loose spots inside the barrel. This critical procedure leaves the top of the lands smooth and polished, equaling the traditional lead lapping procedure. Rice barrels are Match grade quality, with bench rest capability. Rice barrels do not require lapping or extensive shooting to break-in. A flat top rear sight is dovetailed 11-3/4" ahead of the breech. Shooters with "older" eyes or corrective lenses will find this extra distance from the breech easier to use. A nickel silver blade with brass base is dovetailed behind the muzzle. The top flat of the barrel is engraved M Hayes.

One of the defining characteristics of the Lehigh or 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 slight step at the rear of the triggerguard. The stock is a lovely piece of maple, hard and dense. It is an ideal choice for the fine inletting, and delicate raised carving. Mr. Hayes fine attention to detail includes another unusual feature influenced by Rupp rifles. The barrel typically has more than half their height above the edge of the barrel channel, which gives the forend a slender profile.

The incised carving in the transition from the wrist to comb is superbly executed. The carving appears striking, despite its shallow actual depth. Mr. Hayes's execution of raised and incised carving shows how a nearly perfectly smooth and clean background allows the scrolls to leap out. This is clearly some of the best finished carving, that we have seen!

The buttstock is fitted with a sliding wood patchbox. The patchbox door has incised moldings along each edge, and incised rococo carving around the thumb relief. Compress the patchbox spring toward the door to allow the door to slide to the rear. Beneath is a deep correctly cut cavity. The incised carving that creates the cameo wrist includes small details such as the small incised accents at the ends of the scrolls.

Viewed from the top, this graceful Lehigh Valley rifle features a tapered comb. The buttplate comb is inlet into the comb of the butt, and does not extend over the edges of the comb unlike many other schools of rifles. The buttplate comb has is the longer style found on the evolved form of longrifles from this region. Attractive raised and incised carving surrounds the thumbnail tang of the breech plug. The incised molding surrounding the tang transitions into raised carved rococo scrolls. Notice the exceptionally clean backgrounds, truly the work of a skilled craftsman. The buttplate screws and tang bolts are neatly aligned with the barrel. Notice how the lock panels taper widest at the rear, another correct detail of flint longrifles.

The triggerguard is shaped with a wide bow and decorated with filed moldings. A incised molding runs the length of the forend, terminating behind the rear entry pipe, ending as a incised carved rococo design similar but a bit more decorative than the tails of the lock panels. All the ramrod pipes are hand made from sheet brass, and unique to this rifle. Mr. Hayes has captured the captured the thin graceful appearance of the originals. The barrel is served by a tapered hickory ramrod with a brass tip with hidden ball puller. We highly recommend using a dedicated cleaning rod to save wear on this well fitted ramrod.

Ignition is provided by a early Classic L&R flintlock. Finished with a dark brown with a light patina finish to compliment the barrel, the lock plate has a hand forged appearance. Tuned for best performance, this lock is fitted with a heavy mainspring, for fast lock time and best sparking. The frizzen shows only wear from test firing. Notice the fleur-de-lis design at the tail of the lock panel, another feature found on early Bethlehem rifles.

The single trigger is correctly positioned, and releases smoothly. Fast ignition is assured by the White Lightnin' 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 buttplate has a pleasant curve, comfortable to aim, it engages your shoulder to minimize felt recoil. The hand made sideplate is shaped with an arrow point at the tail. Swirls and scrolls of rococo carving decorate the classic cheek piece, with molded edge. The carving is simply superb, while giving the appearance of depth, it is actually very shallow, just like carving found on best quality original longrifles. Twin incised lines run from the toe to the triggerguard.

Mr. Michael Haye's fine longrifles are contemporary American folk art of the best quality made today. We are delighted to receive and offer consignments of this quality. If you are interested in selling a hand made longrifle, we invite you to call us. The lucky buyer will own a treasure that will last a lifetime, and his heirs will raise toasts to his good taste, far into the future.
Track of the Wolf, Inc.
18308 Joplin St NW
Elk River, MN 55330-1773

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