On one of the patch box photos I posted, a friend's adult daughter asked, 'What's the hinged part? It's really pretty." That is when I realized that some aspects of my photos of antique Somerset and Bedford County, Pennsylvania long rifles might be interesting to people who are not died in the wool rifle cranks, and who may know little or nothing about antique firearms. This page was written for them, and answers the question "What's the hinged part?"
Long rifles load from the muzzle, and the projectile is a round ball that is wrapped in a greased cloth patch. The cloth patch engages the helical rifling grooves in the bore of the barrel and helps the rifling grooves spin the ball rapidly for stability and accuracy when the gun is fired. The patch box comprises a recess in the stock to store patches, and a mating lid that is usually spring loaded. The mechanism that opens the lid is called the release. Several different types of releases exist, and some are well-hidden for aesthetic advantage.
The first photo below shows a closed patch box on a Bedford County long rifle, and the second photo shows same patch box with the hinged lid open and the cloth patches visible. The example patch box was made by John Border, who died in 1864. It has five piercings and the Q-shaped finial that was widely used on Bedford County rifles.
Both photos below are copyrighted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and are included on this website courtesy of Erin Sabatini of the NRA Museums, NRAmuseums.com with the express permission of the NRA Museum.
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