View Full Version : R. Southgate

04-30-2006, 08:19 PM
Anyone have knowledge of a blackpowder rifle/pistol builder "R. Southgate". I was given a .36 cal kentucky style pistol with a brass lock plate stamped with R. Southgate.

04-30-2006, 08:29 PM
I can't give all of the details, as I am not into muzzle loaders, but Robert Southgate was the premier custom builder of such rifles back in the 40's, and 50's. He was one of the very few in those days. His rifles are much prized by collectors.

I don't know if he made and sold locks or if he only did complete rifles. I do recall that all of his rifles were serial numbered.

04-30-2006, 08:30 PM
The maker is most likley Roland Southgate, can't remember where he was from at the moment, but it was (is ?) a well respected name.

04-30-2006, 08:33 PM
Roland Southgate was a premier maker from the 1930's ??? to about 1970??? I will have to check my old Muzzleblasts. If you have a Southgate M/L it is a treasure. He did sell a lot of his work through Dixie years ago. I have use a couple of his locks in building guns and they were well made. If you did a search through the old issues of Muzzleblasts you should come up with all the info you want.

04-30-2006, 08:39 PM
Thanks for the input. I'll see what some Muzzleblast research turns up. Its a pretty nice piece, used but good shape. Nice maple stock and with some geometric inlays.

05-01-2006, 05:53 AM
................I have the book by Roberts on the percussion rifle and he has a picture in it of Southgate and another Tennessee riflemaker and says Southgate is one of the last premeir muzzle loading rifle makers. The book I have was a Stackpole publication from 1952 and the photo appears to be in the 1930's and Southgate appears to be maybe in his 30's.

I am not much on the old long type Kentucky or Pennsylvania rifles, and Southgate is affiliated with that 'type rifle'. For me to know his name, means he must surely have been famous for them :-)


05-01-2006, 01:18 PM

Yes, Roylan(?) Southgate was one of the few M/L makers to live thrugh the transition from the "old days" to the revival of muzzle-loader shooting after WW II. I yearned for one of his pieces, and wrote him a couple of times in the 1950's; I never could afford one, but he did make me a .40 caliber RB mould for another piece I had. The DIXIE Antique Arms Catalogs offered several of his pieces, flint, percussion, and a few pistol / rifle sets around ten years ago but I haven't seen any of them for sale lately. I think his serial numbers ran into the low 1xxx range, but that's from memory. Below is a photo of the mould; a bit crude, but totally functional. It is marked ".397" and casts right-on.


05-01-2006, 05:20 PM
Floodgate, Thanks for the photo. I also have the brass or bronze Southgate mold for this pistol. What little I have found on the web is for Rowlan(d) Southgate, but not much.

05-01-2006, 09:54 PM
On Southgate. I am right in the backyard of his production. Someone I shoot with actually helped Southgate in his shop and will have lots of info. Unfotunately he ain't no member here so I will have to relay his info. At least he shoots cast boolits of the round persuasion and big ol things out BP cartridge guns at funny metal animules way on out ther.
HOLD on to the Southgate gun, it is worth something. His guns are well thought of, seem to be plain simple guns made when good quality guns were NOT available except from folks like him.

Greg Murray is the primier build in the area now and one of his guns are a work of art
Wish I had bought ome when he first got started and I could have afforded one!

05-02-2006, 01:28 AM
I bought a single shot pistol (muzzle loader) from R. Southgate in 1953 when I was a senior in high school. It was a well made, but simple piece with good lines and shot well. I no longer have it, mores the pity. It was a cap lock. I actually took it to High School and showed my teachers and fellow students (try that today, if you dare:( )

I was a member of the NMLRA at the time (and still am) and Southgate advertised in Muzzle Blasts.

Now that I think about it, I still have a powder horn that Southgate made me and scrimshawed.


05-05-2006, 05:39 PM
Dale53, Thanks for info in the PM. Would it be possible to post a photo of your powder horn. My pistol is also fairly simple except for the inlays. The hook of the grip fits my hand very well, very smooth which allow the pistol to sort of revolve in the hand under recoil. If I can locate the camera, I'll try to post a image.

05-06-2006, 12:19 AM
I have some photos to shoot for a couple of magazine articles this weekend. I'll run the powder horn at the same time. It is pretty simple with some simple "scrimshawing" of deer heads and such.


05-06-2006, 08:42 AM
First msg from Norman
As you know, I am just full of info about R. Southgate.

He started making rifles (and pistols) after WWII and serial numbered 1008
before his death in 1979 at age 64. The barrels were rifled in his shop.
The brass plate locks were his own castings, as were the trigger guards and
buttplates. Most of the brass locks are found in early to mid production.
1952 was his year of greatest production. When I moved to Franklin in 1964,
he charged $187 for a standard flintlock rifle with a simple patchbox, some
incised carving and a few inlays.

Second Msg
Southgate almost always signed his guns on the top flat of the barrel. He used a stamp---R Southgate--- on most guns. On some finer pieces or for friends and aquaintances, he would sometimes engrave his signature in script.

The serial number was almost always stamped just in front of the tang. They range from 1 to 1008. The lowest number I have personally seen was 7. I have viewed 1000, 1007 and 1008. A local man has 1005. A friend has 999. I have 998. Both are signed in script. He made 1007 for Slim Pickens and took it to Slim's ranch in Wyoming to hunt antelope in September 1977. R got sick while there and had to be driven home by his brother-in-law. He suffered a massive stroke and really was never to work after that but he did finish his Masterpiece, # 1000. He suffered another stroke in the spring of 1979 and did not recover.

That was definitely a Southgate mold on the web. They were made of cast iron and he put them together himself and cut the cavities with handmade cherries. I used that .397 cherry to recut a Lee mold long after his death.

05-08-2006, 04:39 PM
Again, thanks for the info that keeps on coming. On closer examination, some careful cleaning and a magnet, it appears the mold is cast iron or steel and is stamped R. Southgate in script on the sprue plate. It is for a .375 round ball.

05-08-2006, 09:12 PM

DAMN, that's a beautiful set! The mould looks like mine, but mine has only the diameter stamped on it. I was THAT close about 10 years ago to ordering a Southgate rifle and pistol pair from DickC for about $1500, but was feeling frugal at the time with lots of reworking needed to the old farmhouse; *SIGH* for forsaken opportunities!!!

Can anyone confirm the first name in my notebook: ROYLAN Southgate?


05-08-2006, 09:18 PM
Plus, when Ray Morgan and Eric Johnson were building the .22 rifles in New Haven which swept the 1952 Olympic smallbore competition, they built a few extras and asked if I wanted one for $100 or so.... and I declined (*SOB*). I'm going to get another glass of wine and cry myself to sleep. floodgate