Few people know it, but the Kentucky rifle did not originate in Kentucky,
it was not solely used by Kentuckians, and survived long after the Kentucky
frontier was well established.
The "Kentucky" rifle was first developed in Pennsylvania by
Germanic settlers who had emigrated from their homeland. Initially the
riflesmiths made rifles similar to the hunting rifles they had made and used
in their homeland. These were big, heavy barreled, large calibre guns with the
innovative rifling cut into the bore. They were either very plain or very
fancy. They usually had sliding wooden patchboxes. They were relatively short,
being about a 30" barrel length. The frontiersman loved the accuracy of
the rifle, but were not warm about the weight, the few balls they could carry
per pound, nor the amount of powder it took to drive such balls. They asked
for and received from the riflesmiths a rifle which was longer in barrel
length for greater accuracy and more efficient powder burn, smaller in barrel
width and calibre to reduce weight and allow more shots per pound of lead
balls and powder.
This then finally developed into what we know as the Pennsylvania Rifle
which was such a necessity to our early forefathers in pushing back the
country's frontier. A rifle of about 40-50 calibre, about 42" or longer
in barrel, slim, carved for enhancement as were the German hunting rifles but
not to the finesse. They were WORKING guns, NOT sporting guns. They were used
for defense as well as for food gathering when it was necessary to bring meat
down with one shot or starve.
I have been building custom made Pennsylvania/Kentucky rifles since 1975
when I made my first rifle on a kitchen table! It was meant to be a Lancaster
County rifle and rifle it was. It worked. It began my learning curve!
Since that time I have of course become more professional with a workshop,
workbench, all required tools, patterns etc. I prefer to make as much of the
rifle as I can with only hand tools in order to keep within the tradition of
our fore fathers. However, the stock blanks are cut to rough shape with a
bandsaw. The customer may choose any type of rifle of any period he desires
but I primarily work on flintlock or percussion rifles of the Revolutionary
and "Golden Age" period of our history. Price and construction times
will depend of style and complexity of the request.
For more information on owning your own custom made rifle please feel free
to CLICK ON the link below, or email me via the bar on the left.
Please visit the site of my favorite blackpowder magazine, Muzzleloader
Magazine, from whom I borrowed the image for this page. Just click on the
I intend to eventually have pictures of my work scanned and provided on the