The NRA Museum’s YouTube Channel isn’t exactly popular. When I caught up with it, the Gun Gurus’ Plains Rifle video above had garnered just 527 views. I’m sad that there’s such a limited audience for such a superlative production about such a historically important firearm. As a gun blogger who can spend four hours writing a post that’s seen by less than a thousand or so readers, I know that it’s not all about the views. Some things simply must be said. Like this: thank you NRA, the NRA Gun Gurus, Henry Repeating Rifles and NRA members/financial supporters for preserving and promoting our firearms heritage. Much obliged.

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24 Responses to Not-So-Obscure Object of Desire: The Plains Rifle

  1. Hey I watch Sportsman channel(and Outdoor channel). I see lots of cool guns. I support the NRA but videos won’t save my rights.

    • Part of the NRA’s job is preserving America’s firearms heritage. I’m glad they chronicle the history of firearms, because I know several NRA members who got into guns because of the history behind them.

  2. The plains rifle. I dnnt get all them channels cuz I live n a cave. Went fishn today, caught 8 drum, two carp n 6 channel cat. The channel went from 2-6Lbs..,. The plains rifle, itd be nice if we could have lived back then. I think them fellers liked s good rifle bout ad much as they licked a knife that would hold a good edge. If yah shot it yah skinned it. You go skinning 50 buffler you like a good knife.

    • The professional buffalo hunters rarely did their own skinning. At least not those under Jackson. That was the job of the skinners who followed the hunters after the kills. Whole teams went out. Scouts located, riders harried, shooters shot, skinners skinned, truckers hauled.

  3. Omg! I didn’t know the NRA museum had a Youtube channel! I just subscribed to the NRA museum channel on youtube.

    I was view 538 and Like 30 for the video above.

    It’s definitely time that more of us like, share and subscribe. Great vids like this are not meant to be kept secret!

    • I had no idea this channel existed either. One would think that in all of the emails that the NRA sends me almost daily this would have been mentioned…

  4. the small bore muzzle loaders are lots of fun. very accurate. Daniel Boone carried a .29 caliber long rifle he called “tick licker” (calm down , beating someone was called a lickin’ back then) because the bore was so small . but with head shots, it always worked, and he went on unsupported expeditions for months at a time . you can carry a lot of .29 lead balls, and it doesn’t take a lot of powder to get them going.

    • Small bores like that, even down to .25 cal., were often called squirrel rifles, and were used mostly for small game, and were the first rifle for a lot of young boys.

  5. the video was a bit short, as there is a lot of history to these types of rifles. The Plains rifle is also known as the Hawken Rifle, and it was characterized by a half stock, as distinguished from the earlier full stocked so-called “Kentucky” rifle. The Kentucky name probably came from an association to Daniel Boone, however the history of these guns starts in Pennsylvania and the German immigrants who settled there. The Jaeger was the first style rifle that was produced in large numbers, but smiths soon embarked on their own particular versions, soon sporting the drooping stock and the longer barrel, ranging from three feet to over four feet (which must have been quite a feat to load, as the average man stood only 5′ 5″ in that day and age). This style of rifle spread quickly throughout the colonies, due to its superior accuracy (the Jaeger was a smooth bore musket, the long rifles were, as the name implies, rifled) Versions were made in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, which versions where similar, though less intricately carved versions than the “old world” Pennsylvania rifles.
    These rifles are still widely available, both as finished guns and as kits. The Traditions finished guns and kits are $300 to $400 and can be had in flint lock or percussion. The stocks are beech, not maple. There are at least two makers of both kits and complete guns, Track of the Wolf and Sitting Fox, both of which will sell in any stage of build you like, from a shaped stock with no inletting for lock, triggers or barrel to guns “in the white” eady for final sanding and staining, with high end barrels and straight maple to extra fancy curly maple, plus various lock sets and trigger sets. These guns are usually 1-66 twist, and thus only appropriate for patched ball and black powder.
    I recently completed a Traditions kit, a .50 Cal Kentucky long rifle, with a 36″ barrel. I did all the final sanding and fitting, and the browning of the barrel. It was a pleasant learning experience. I wanted something I could screw up before I spent at least $800 on an authentic reproduction kit.

    • My brother and I built a Build Track’s Plain’s Rifle which we purchased via Track the Wolf. It comes with full size 1:1 plans and each section has tips/tricks/recommendations on assembly. Frankly, the hardest part is the stock and it depends on how experienced you are at wood working. But, as you stated you can simply get one that is pretty much ready to stain.

      Not certain you have to build a Traditions Kit before you go to the other kits.

      • Well, it wasn’t quite ready to stain–the stock is oversize and has to be sanded down quite a bit to fit the brass, the brass needs polished, and final fitting has to be done before staining and finishing. I like working with wood, so I enjoyed that immensely. I finished with Tru-Oil. I had never before browned a barrel, so that was a neat learning experience, nor had I ever hand fitted sights and barrel pins, which are easy enough to mess up. For $300 and finishing supplies, I couldn’t go wrong. Plus I haven’t the tools or skills to do the inletting. From what I gather, most of the shops that do it for you are using a CNC machine. I have a lot of respect for anyone who could or can do it with hand tools.

  6. I don’t think the lack of views is from the lack of interest, but more due to the fact that I’m willing to bet, like myself, nobody knows the NRA museum exists or that they have videos.
    That kind of stuff has no advertisement, there are a lot of things in this world, but if you don’t let people know about it, well, they don’t know about it.

  7. I have a Traditions Hawken Rifle in .50 caliber with double set trigger and percussion cap ignition. Getting used to the firing trigger takes some practice, as it is very light. It is great fun to shoot and very accurate at 100 yds. You just have to take your time and pay attention to what you are doing, so it’s kind of meditative and very relaxing. Takes awhile to clean and I’ve often wondered how our ancestors did it out in the wild with just water and some sort of soap and possibly some sort of lubricant sitting around a campfire.

    I stumbled upon the NRA Museum videos on YouTube a couple of years ago and they are a great source of information about firearms, albeit sometimes a little brief. The NRA’s collection is awesomely impressive, for certain. Definitely worth subscribing to as a resource where you can learn about firearms you’ve heard of and many you’ve not.

    • They did it with boiling water and grease, preferably bear or buffler grease. When I first got my flinter I was frustrated with how long it took to clean, then reread Little House in the Big Woods. Little Laura details how her dad cleaned the gun. Plug the touch hole, fill the barrel with boiling water, wait about 30 seconds, unplug and push a cleaning patch down with the ramrod. That takes about 3 times to clean the gun like a whisle. While it is still warm, follow up with a well greased patch, and you are done. It’s actually a lot faster than a modern rifle.
      Of course, that’s only if you are using black powder, as it is water soluble.

    • They lubricated mostly with lard made from rendered animal fat–from whatever animal was available. Lye soap was also made from rendered animal fats. Balls could be field cast or store bought, the store bought having no sprue. (There is still a shot tower in Baltimore that’s been there since the Revolutionary War period. The technique to make balls was to pour lead into a sieve at the top of the tower, the drops forming round balls as they fell and cooled, and ultimately landing in sand at the bottom.)

    • Thanks, gents. I had surmised lard or butterfat for lube because that would be most available. Boiling water makes sense. Possibly I am doing too much, as I feel compelled to take apart the hammer and trigger locks to clean the powder residue off the insides, springs and so forth for fear of rusting the mechanics while in storage. Those procedures take the time. Barrel cleaning is with Hoppe’s “Spitwad” and only takes ten minutes or so.

      Another fellow I used to shoot with had a flintlock Kentucky long rifle and he used to take it into the shower with him to clean it. He used mild dish soap and some small brushes, patches and the ramrod. I thought that was too much water into nooks and cranies. Then he dried with a hairblower and oiled with regular gun oil.

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