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Old 07-20-2011, 02:49 PM
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Default My "New" Western Arms Corp Hawken Rifle

I recently purchased this firearm. I was sort of looking for a utilitarian black powder rifle to give me an extra week at the beginning of deer season. Smith357 talked me into this one.

It is marked "Western Arms Corp Santa Fe, N.M." "Jedediah Smith, 1799-1831". "xxx of 1000" on the tang. It appears to be in excellent condition with minor storage dings. I'm not sure if it has been fired, it doesn't show any signs of it to me, but I am far from an expert.

Pictures by Smith357:





















Through a little internet research I was able to find out that these were imported in the mid '70s starting in 1975.

I found the following on a several year old thread from another forum. I don't know if it is true or not, but it makes a good story:

Pedersoli Rocky Mountain Hawken Rifle - Topic

"As I remember it Allen Arms Manufacturing (or similar name) of Santa Fe, who also marketed Western Arms guns, had requests from customers in the 1970's for a Hawken rifle. The Masonic Lodge in Santa Fe had a Hawken donated by Kit Carson who had been a member (rifle since moved to a national/State museum(?)). They agreed that blueprints could be made. Allen Arms approached Uberti to make 1000 exact copies of the original but in .54 calibre. Uberti shipped them with Uberti and .54 stamped on the breech but mistakenly with the actual bore still .53 as per the blueprints (the way to identify that original custom order). Allen Arms were selling them for about $700-800 which proved a little too expensive for the market. A little later the young Uberti son who was running the USA side of the business thought Uberti could sell a cheaper version and they produced their own, the Uberti Santa Fe Hawken which they sold via their agents/importers. It looked similar, was stamped .54 and the bore was also .54. A good gun but not up to the quality of the Allen Arms special order."

My bore is .53
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Old 07-20-2011, 02:53 PM
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Fired or not, it's a great-looking firearm! Nice pics, too. TACC1
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Old 07-20-2011, 03:38 PM
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Wow,

I like that one a lot! Great find....and in .53 you say.... - that is interesting. Definitely like the correct mounting and furniture.

What great fun!!!!

Giz
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Old 07-20-2011, 04:29 PM
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Default Barrel

That barrel appears really long for a Hawken. What's its length?
It might be a good idea to pull the lock for a clean and lube.
Thanks for sharing, that is a really nice looking gun.

Bruce
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Old 07-20-2011, 05:04 PM
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It is 32". Not sure what it is supposed to be.

Sent from my HTC Thunderbolt.
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Old 07-20-2011, 05:37 PM
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That's a great looking long gun. Jeremiah Johnson would be proud.
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Old 07-20-2011, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45Wheelgun View Post
It is 32". Not sure what it is supposed to be.

Sent from my HTC Thunderbolt.
A Hawken barrrel can be any length. I should have stated that it appears to be a longer barrel than my TC Hawken or my CVA double 50cal. They both are under 30". The double barrel wedges and long stock make the gun appear even longer in the picture.

Bruce
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Old 07-20-2011, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gizamo View Post
Wow,

I like that one a lot! Great find....and in .53 you say.... - that is interesting. Definitely like the correct mounting and furniture.

What great fun!!!!

Giz
Giz,

Being a bit of a blackpowder neophyte, can you expand on your comment on "correct mounting and furniture" for me?

Thanks,
Dave

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Old 07-20-2011, 06:34 PM
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That there is "fat cow doin's." A very nice rendition of the ol Hawken.

Only thing I see is the front sight might be mounted ba'kards...

Last edited by Iggy; 07-20-2011 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 07-20-2011, 06:47 PM
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She's a real beauty. Congrats!
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:46 PM
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That's probably the most historically accurate production Hawken that I have ever seen. Looks like you picked it up in Saint Louie in 1840. Please tell us how she shoots. Mike
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 45Wheelgun View Post
Giz,

Being a bit of a blackpowder neophyte, can you expand on your comment on "correct mounting and furniture" for me?

Thanks,
Dave

Sent from my HTC Thunderbolt.
I hate to answer for Giz since he's so knowledgeable about these things, but "mounting and furniture" refers to how the gun is set up and the things like the barrel wedges, trigger guard, sights, tang, cap on the stock, ramrod and thimbles, buttplate, etc. Those things are generically referred to as "furniture."

I hope Giz checks back in and corrects if any of this is wrong, but I think that about covers it.

It's a very nice gun. I really like the browned barrels. I hope you plan to shoot her!
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
That there is "fat cow doin's." A very nice rendition of the ol Hawken.

Only thing I see is the front sight might be mounted ba'kards...
No, it is correct. It is those who turn them around so they resemble a "Baughman" that are wrong.

Overall it is a very nice rendition of a late S. Hawken rifle, from the last years when he was working in Denver. Actually, a 32" barrel is fairly short for a Hawken, the originals averaged about 34", with some early guns 42" and possibly longer. There is one glaring error on it, and that is the barrel wedges. While the vast majority of rifles which had the barrels retained by wedges had the wedge heads on the right, a true Hawken typically had the wedges inserted with the wedge heads on the left side. Average caliber for a S. or J.&S. Hawken was .53 caliber using a ball of typically .526 diameter.

And, Bruce Lee M, please don't make comparisons between a Thompson Center rifle and a good replica Hawken. The only similarity between the two is being muzzle loaders, and precious little else! Thompson Center appropriating the name "Hawken" for their rifles is, and always has been, a travesty.

"Mountings" and "Furniture" refer to the same things, so use of both terms together is redundant. For firearms the term furniture is the more correct term. In firearms terms "furniture" refers to such items as the butt plate, toe plate, wedge plates, thimbles, nosecap, trigger guard, inlays, etc. These are the things which "furnish" or "finish out" the stock, in the same way that chairs, tables, etc. "furnish" or "finish out" a house. Hence the same term being used to describe what seem at first to be very different types of items.
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Last edited by Alk8944; 07-20-2011 at 11:34 PM.
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
No, it is correct. It is those who turn them around so they resemble a "Baughman" that are wrong.

Overall it is a very nice rendition of a late S. Hawken rifle, from the last years when he was working in Denver. Actually, a 32" barrel is fairly short for a Hawken, the originals averaged about 34", with some early guns 42" and possibly longer. There is one glaring error on it, and that is the barrel wedges. While the vast majority of rifles which had the barrels retained by wedges had the wedge heads on the right, a true Hawken typically had the wedges inserted with the wedge heads on the left side. Average caliber for a S. or J.&S. Hawken was .53 caliber using a ball of typically .526 diameter.
Thank you for the great insight and information. While I am certain you are correct about the wedge heads on most Hawken Rifles, the pictures of the actual rifle that Kit Carson gave to the Masonic Lodge in Santa Fe show the wedge heads on the right side of the gun. I can't post the pictures here because they are copy-written, but if you follow this link you can see Kit Carson's Hawken Rifle the last time it was examined/photographed (1999 I think).

Kit Carson's Last Hawken - a set on Flickr
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:36 AM
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Waugh!! That shines. Nice find. I agree with Iggy, the front sight looks to be in backwards. I have an Ozark Arms Hawken bought in 1979, took a nice little Muley 5 by with it a couple of years ago. Keep shootin'
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Old 07-21-2011, 02:58 AM
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It dosen't mattter what it looks like on the outside, it is only in prime condition if it was cleaned propererly after fired. Kind of like some of my old lady friends.
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Old 07-21-2011, 02:44 PM
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I stand corrected. The front sight is correct as pointed out by Alk8944. After my initial post I dug out my books because I wasn't sure. John D. Baird's "Hawken Rifles, the Mountain Man's Choice" and "Fifteen Years in the Hawken Lode" and Charles E. Hanson, Jr's "The Hawken Rifle" Its Place In History" and "The Plains Rifle" have good photos depicting original Hawkens. It is interesting that the front sight is shown either way in some photos and the barrel wedges are shown with the heads on either side in some photos.

I guess I am not the Hawken authority I thought I was, but it is still my all time favorite firearm. Keep shootin'
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:10 PM
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Looks a lot like a Lyman 'Great Plains' rifle..
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Old 07-21-2011, 10:52 PM
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Don't seem like the front sight configuration is worth much arguin'

I've seen a couple of orginals and they was high part forward, but any ol trapper coulda sure switched it either direction according to how his stick floated at the time.

Last edited by Iggy; 07-21-2011 at 11:02 PM.
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Old 07-23-2011, 11:09 PM
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I like it. Very nice rifle. How does it shoot?
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethang View Post
I like it. Very nice rifle. How does it shoot?
I don't know yet!

I am waiting for .52 and .526 balls to arrive. Not something they stock at Walmart. Once I have what it takes, we will be out to the range to figure out which balls work best. I'll share the results when we are done.
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Old 02-15-2012, 11:57 AM
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Aside from measuring the bore is there another way to tell the difference between the original Allen/Uberti (53 cal) and the subsequent Ubertie model (54 cal)? In what way are the original 53 cal better than the 54 cal? Thanks
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:27 PM
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Mighty fine lookin smokepole you got yerself there! I like the silver furniture.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:11 PM
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Nice rifle. Looks like a slanted hook breech,,I think that was correct for the rifle/period.
The opposing flat drilled & plugged vent probably not true to the originals,,but perhaps so. I'm no Hawkin guy for sure. The Knock's breech did use the system though.

Nice workmanship. Fix that forward tang screw slot that someone decided was loose!
I think the screws on it were all 'qualified' when it left the factory, even the escutcheon wedge plates. A couple have probably been challenged over time as to wether they were tight enough.

53,,54 cal,,, That's interesting. Very unique that a mfg'r took the time to replicate the original spec like that. Much easier to take an off the shelf dimension that a bbl maker was already in production for.

FWIW,,Most M/L bbls (for round ball) are measured and quoted by true bore diameter.
The groove will be .010 to .012" more generally depending on the mfg'r.
A 50cal bbl will be .500" bore and (usually) .510" groove.
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:08 PM
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Nice rifle!

I have recently "Rediscovered" blackpowder shooting with a Pedersoli Hawken, .50 caliber, rifled for patched round ball. I've put about 50 rounds through it in the last month or so, using Pyrodex.

Black Powder is hard to find here in Virginia, very few stores carry it. I will be traveling to Northern Virginia next week, there is a store there "Clarks Brothers" that is reported to carry black powder.

I'm looking forward to comparing accuracy with black powder against Pyrodex, with Pyrodex I'm getting about 2" groups at 50 yards.

Just finished casting 50 .490 round balls (Lee Mould) from a pure lead Civil War ingot, given to me from a friend who dove on and recovered much lead from a Civil War blockade runner in 1963. The boat was sunk during the Civil War at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. He said each ingot weighed 190 pounds when he brought them up, and he recovered dozens of these ingots. He has been casting and shooting this lead since 1963.....
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Old 02-15-2012, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickschreiber View Post
Aside from measuring the bore is there another way to tell the difference between the original Allen/Uberti (53 cal) and the subsequent Ubertie model (54 cal)? In what way are the original 53 cal better than the 54 cal? Thanks
Take this for what it is worth, I am not the expert, but have read a bit about these on the internet. (Oh I guess that does make me an expert )

My gun is not marked "Uberti" anywhere. There is the Uberti family crest stamped into the breach that you can't see when the stock is in place. Later models were marked "Uberti Italy" or something similar.

Also, there is the 1 of 1000 markings....my understanding was they were the original order and the only models in .53

I just used a micrometer on mine to verify, but also a .53 ball will not go into the barrel where the .52 will.

I am not sure there is an advantage to .53 over .54. Certainly not with my shooting skills. My understanding is that the original order for Kit Carson is in the Hawkin museum and is specifically ordered in .53

If anything the .54 would be preferable as you can get proper sized balls and molds just about anywhere. .53 you have to hunt and then mail order the .52's that you need.

I never followed up about shooting this, but is has been to the range multiple times. Like all of my guns it shoots better then I do. A true joy to shoot.
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baughman, lock, micrometer, pedersoli, sig arms, thompson, uberti

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