Jeff's New Englander, which he brought on safari to hunt warthog..

Some weeks I have to painstakingly comb the Gunfight Friday archives to find a good matchup. Other weeks, a good one falls into my lap, as is the case this week. We don’t often feature blackpowder guns here, mostly because I don’t get many pictures of front-loaders, but today we’ve got a couple of good ones. Both are modern guns made in the traditional side-hammer style. One is flintlock long rifle. This one is a .50 caliber, and while most long rifles started out as smaller calibers, many were bored out to larger calibers as they rusted, so a .50-caliber flintlock long rifle isn’t a complete anachronism. The other is a Hawken-style percussion rifle of the kind used by the mountain men in the West, with a period-appropriate big bore.

Jeff’s Long Rifle

long rifle
The long rifle features a hand-carved stock. Philip Bourjaily

I built my own long rifle years ago. It has a curly maple stock I carved from a blank, a siler lock, and a .50-caliber Green Mountain barrel. It’s pretty accurate, and when I could see well enough for iron sights, it killed a nice 6-point buck with it.

New River Valley Outdoorsman’s T/C

New Englander
The New Englander has made sixteen one-shot kills. Philip Bourjaily

This is my Thompson/Center New Englander rifle, in .54 caliber. I bought it brand new years ago; in my hands it has accounted for 16 whitetails and a large African warthog, all of them one-shot kills.

I opted for the .54, and I’m glad I did. It hits like The Hammer of Thor and has never failed me. I use round balls pretty much exclusively and never bother with conical bullets, except for that once with the warthog. The only modification to the rifle is a T/C peep rear sight better suited to my aging eyes than the open sights it came with.

There are your choices: flintlock versus percussion, and .50 versus .54. It’s nice to see these two guns making meat in this era of plastic-stocked inlines. Vote and comment below, and keep those gun pictures coming to fsgunnuts@gmail.com.

  • In case you were wondering about the logistics of taking your muzzleloader on safari, NRVO says: “You can’t bring blackpowder nor percussion caps on the airplane, so I bought them locally through my PH. I normally shoot GOEX but all he could get was [German] WANO, which is a high quality powder that gave me no problems. I shot the warthog at 30 yards through the heart and lungs. It sprayed blood everywhere and went no more than 20 feet.”
Which gun do you prefer?
Jeff’s Long Rifle
New River Valley Outdoorsman’s T/C
Poll Maker