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Thread: School me in an underhammer rifles

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    10

    School me in an underhammer rifles

    Hello,

    I've been mulling over the idea of building a underhammer from the pectonia river kit (http://www.longrifles-pr.com/underhammer.shtml), but I had a few questions I was hoping to get answers to before I make I take the jump:

    -Is there anything especially different or weird about and hunting and shooting with an underhammer as opposed to a sidelock I should know before purchasing? I've read some stuff about burning out nipples, needing specialized nipples, gunk blocking the nipple after swabbing, etc.

    -Is there a half cock on the rifle?

    -I am in love with my Lyman 57sml peepsight. Has anyone mounted one to one of these rifles?

    -I think I am a generally mechanically competent individual, but only posses hand tools and have never put a rifle together before. Anyone with experience with this kit want to weigh in on it's difficulty to put together?

    Thanks! I really appreciate any insight!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    615
    Mine is a original H+A with a few up grades thanks to johnson 1942 ,aside from wood note the magspark ignition (209 primer) .No burn on bare forearm and never a lost cap , bonus its quite moisture resistant . Mine accounts for most all my squirrel needs (wings) Please note the 1/2 cock position ! Ed Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Edward; 05-06-2018 at 07:54 PM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    532
    If you experience nipple burn out, switch to platinum lined or treso ampco nipples. Mine was damaged in the store fire so I only replaced the shoulder stock. (I have multiple caliber barrels I'm having converted to UH profile. Mine uses a tapered pin.) So I dont want a fore end. Half cock is too close to the nipple to use a cap holder. A nipple pick is a good idea.
    QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Aug 2009
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    gardners pa.
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    i have been shooting underhammers since 95. i use hotshot nipples and real black powder. never had a problem with nipple burnout also so if you use th flash cup you will not get burnt on the arm. never had a problem with lossing caps.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

    dondiego's Avatar
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    I put together one of the Pecatonica kits and it was a little more involved than say, a TC or Traditions kit but still pretty straight forward. I have a Lyman 57 mounted on the flats of one of mine.

  6. #6
    I put mine together from a Pecatonica kit. It was fun and not too bad. I started with a .36 barrel. It is great for targets and small game.

    It has a half cock. Never lost a cap. I always remove the nipple when cleaning so no clogging. Just a fun light weight rifle.

    I have bought and working on fitting an 20ga barrel for my underhammer. It groups well. Looking forward to upland bird hunting.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Sep 2013
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    I have an original H & A in 45 cal and one of the H & A models that Deer Creek made years ago - I love under hammers.

    In regards to differences between a sidekick and under hammer - my .36 has taken lots of critters. With the nipple on the underside flat - just make sure that you have tight fitting caps for the nipple - if not, they can be an issue falling off while in the field or target shooting - all common sense.

    Make sure you have a nipple that is the correct size for you barrel size - i.e. the threaded portion should screw in to the barrel so that the bottom of the nipple is more or less "even with the bore wall. Track of the Wolf offers a variety of nipples for under hammers so that you can get one that is correct to the barrel size.

    Mine all have a half-cock position - i.e. safety notch.

    It's really too bad that someone isn't making these rifles anymore - but Pecatonica certainly has everything you need to make one and the work to do it would be minimal compared to making a standard sidekick rifle.

    The "Plus" is that you can also have the capability of having several barrels in different calibers - or smoothbore - that can easily be changed out without a problem.

    The H & A style action is a very simple action with minimum parts. Very dependable as you flash is going directly into the powder load. Add plus is that an under hammer is easily adaptable to either lefties or righties. Once you have one and shoot it, it just kind of grows on you - enjoy and have fun!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    I make under hammers occasionally but I can't compete with the price from Pecatonica. Their kits are the same as the later H&A with the three set screws to hold the barrel to the action. The only improvement that should be done is to grind the half cock down some so it won't catch the hammer when firing. I have had several come in over the years with broken triggers caused by them catching the half cock. When I first started shooting an H&A I got some bad burns from a burned out nipple. I have not had a problem with good nipples.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    I Hate underhammers... Back in about 1976 we had this sharp eyed kid buy a cheap H and A underhammer and join our club. Soon this kid with a $40 rifle was outshooting al of us some who were shooting $500 dollar custom guns. That little stubby cheap underhammer just shot like a house afire. Out to the 50 yard line we just couldn't beat him. Finally he was convinced to buy a GOOD gun and he never shot the GOOD muzzleloader a well as that cheap old H and A. Now his grandson is shooting that darn gun but now I have an excuse!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    I got the Allan Foundry underhammer action, it is quite nice.
    The underhammers have the hammer fall inline with your line of sight (not on the side), and hammer is out of sight, seem to have faster lock time too. it is a shorter distance from nipple to powder with the underhammer. otherwise the flame path must go around the corners of the drum to get to the powder, underhammer is a direct shot from cap to powder.

  11. #11
    Boolit Bub
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    I have built and refurbished a few underhammers over the years... really had the bug for them a while back. I have also hunted with an H & A .54 underhammer but it was heavy barrel model and decided to go with a lighter TC Scout. I too like the Lyman 57 sml sight but if I'm not mistaken, the radius of the curve on the mount is made to fit a Thompson tang. You would want to match that curve with shims or other solution to get the proper fit & alignment. Steve

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
    Tom W.'s Avatar
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    I should have bought one when I lived close to Numrich Arms, but didn't get any muzzle loaders until 1976 or so. Then I bought a T/C Hawken. It sits in my son's gun safe now. I haven't fired it in probably 15 years....I do believe I'd like an underhammer in my old age....
    Tom
    μολὼν λαβέ

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    Back in the day, the old-timers used to speculate that a straight flame path into the weight of the charge produced a more uniform ignition and thereby contributed to accuracy. If that is true, then theoretically an under hammer should have a edge in accuracy over a side lock. Certainly the under hammer ignition was the most popular style for the New England rifles of the 1840-1860 period- the old timers knew a lot!

  14. #14
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    The underhammer also seems to be the action of choice for the big slug gun benchrest guys, too.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I have several Pacific Rifle Company under hammer rifles. They accurate reliable and fast ignition rifles that just work. They carry like the best 30-30 you ever owned and are gorgeous rifles. Mine have Forsyth rifling and Roger Renner who built them is an outstanding craftsman. they shoot the round ball better than many conical shooting rifles.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    One thing you have to check is the length of the threaded portion of the nipple that goes into the threaded hole drilled & tapped into the bottom of the barrel. All of mine are too short to come even with the bore so after shooting 20 rounds or so there is a build up of powder residue from the bore to the bottom of the nipple with a small hole the same size as the one in the nipple! This happened with both the 58 caliber H&A that I recently sold and the 45 caliber slug gun I built with the Allen action. I use a Pedersoli 209 shot gun primer adapter as when it seats the end of the threads are right at the bore and there is no build up. I checked my collection of nipples from various mfgr's and all have the same thread length.


    I tried to take a picture of what I was talking about but the camera could not get a good enough picture, sorry.
    John

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check