This page features a 19th century full-stock percussion long rifle by the gunmaker John Amos of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. This fascinating piece of Americana was purchased in California in excellent condition, except for a missing patchbox lid and vent screw. The seller was an elderly individual whose family was from somewhere in the Bedford County region. The seller, whose last name is Elder, remembers when the rifle was in his grandfather's home. The photographs were provided by Michael Hite.
The first picture below provides a full right-hand view of the rifle after the drum and patchbox lid were replaced. The picture has been rotated and cropped from a photo of the gunsmith who performed the repairs, to reduce web page loading time. To see the photo of the gunsmith holding the rifle, click here.
The next picture provides a view of the entire right-hand side of this handsome John Amos rifle after the replacement patch box lid was installed, but before the drum was replaced and before the replacement release catch was attached to the patchbox. Because of the angle of the photograph, the length of the rifle appears foreshortened. The the substantially straight nature of the belly of the stock is apparent in this view.
The next three pictures are enlargements from the preceding Bedford County rifle picture. The first of the three pictures provides an oblique view of the buttplate (aka heel plate), buttstock, patch box, trigger guard, lock, and lock panel of this antique black powder rifle. The cleanout screw appears to be missing from the drum.
The next picture provides an oblique view of the trigger guard, the lock region, and the rear portion of the forend of the rifle. The smooth transition of the stock in the vicinity of the entry pipe is very well done. Not every Bedford County riflemaker was able to achieve such an excellent transition from the grooved to the ungrooved portion of the forend. The narrow lock allows the lock panel area of the stock to have an unusually slender appearance, compared to the cap lock rifles that were made in many other areas of the United States.
The next picture provides an oblique view of the fore end of the rifle, including the nose cap, ramrod groove, and ramrod pipes. The picture shows that the barrel is retained to the rifle stock with transverse pins rather than keys. The pipes are also retained to the stock with pins. The nosecap (aka fore end cap) is relatively short, compared to some Bedfords. The sleek polished nature of the stock finish is discernable from the reflection on the forend.
The next photo shows the engraved patchbox of the John Amos rifle before the missing lid was replaced. The patchbox has a Q-shaped finial, which is frequently used on Bedford County muzzleloader patch boxes. The engraving on the finial has a floral theme. The side plates of the patchbox are unpierced, and are spaced away from the lid area of the patchbox. The photo also shows that the rear end of the trigger guard is retained to the stock by a transverse pin.
The next image shows the patchbox after the release catch was attached to the replacement patch box lid.
The next provides an oblique view of the rear of the repaired John Amos rifle. The picture provides a look at the toe plate, and a look into the trigger guard to see the trigger plate.
The next image shows butt of the rifle with the buttplate removed, in order to show the release mechanism for the patch box door.
The next image shows the old and new percussion drum assemblies. The threads that engage the barrel are much longer on the replacement drum.
The next image shows the new drum assembly installed on the rifle.
The next image shows the cheekpiece side of the buttstock.
The next image shows the underside of the cast brass trigger guard.
The next image shows the semi-buckhorn-style of rear sight.
The next image shows the ramrod entry pipe.
The next picture is an enlargement of the well-executed decorative details on the rearward part of the brass entry pipe. These attractive details are evidence of the quality craftsmanship that went into the manufacture of this classic Bedford County-style rifle.
The next image shows the foreward ramrod thimble. The transverse pin that retains the thimble to the rifle stock is visible below the thimble.
The next image shows the right-hand side of the nosecap and the front part of the forearm. The barrel projects from the nosecap by a modest amount. The front sight is located over the rear extremity of the nosecap.
The next image shows the underside of the nosecap, including the rivet that retains the nosecap to the fore end of the rifle stock.
The next picture shows the attractive dovetailed front sight, which has a brass base and a silver blade. (The barrel is removed from the stock in this picture.)
The next image provides a view of the decorated muzzle. The cut rifling of this antique firearm has seven narrow grooves and wide intervening lands. (The barrel is removed from the stock in this picture.)
The next picture features the graceful Bedford County-style rat-tail percusion lock, which is signed "JA" in script. The slender lock plate incorporates a tall fence/flash guard to protect the wood of the stock rearward of the nipple. The hammer has the long concave spur that serves as a visually pleasing feature of typical Bedford County-style rifles. Also visible in the picture, to the left of the lock, is a barrel tenon on the underside of the octagon barrel.
The lock was clearly built during the percussion era as a percussion lock, rather than being a converted flintlock.
The next image shows the lock in the un-cocked condition, to show how the nose of the lock clears the fence/flash guard. The image also shows the engraving on the side of the nose of the hammer.
The next image shows the mechanism of this Bedford County lock in the cocked condition. The image provides a clear view of the stop shoulder that is built into the percussion hammer. The stop shoulder is a feature of many Bedford County percussion locks that is more commonly associated with flintlocks.
The next image shows the lock mechanism in the un-cocked condition. This image may help to explain the shape of the nose on typical Bedford County-style percussion hammers. Not every hammer design would clear the fence/flash guard.
The next photograph shows the sleek-looking lock panel area of the John Amos rifle. The components of the rifle are subtlety shaped so that the rat tail of the lock is well-centered in the lock panel, and the tail-end of the lock panel is well-aligned with the curve of the wrist of the stock. Not all Bedford County rifle makers were able to achieve this degree of alignment, which in my opinion is an important aesthetic attribute of the most attractive Bedford County rifle stocks. Note the recess for the fence/flash guard of the lock. The fence/flash guard clearly provided significant protection to the wood of the stock that is located rearward of the drum. Also see the incised line at the base of the forward end of the comb. The photo also shows the set trigger arrangement of this old muzzleloading gun, including the adjustment screw. (The rear trigger is referred to as the "set trigger" and the front trigger is referred to as the "hair trigger".)
The next photo provides an overall top view of the curley maple stock with the barrel removed. This photo shows that the tang of the breechplug is pointed. Such pointed tangs are common to the region.
The next picture is an enlargement of the barrel channel portion of the preceding picture, which shows that the inletting for the octagon barrel involved chiseling.
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