Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Reenactments - Guns:

If you need to be armed, your gun will probably be one of the most expensive items you purchase, and if not, it will probably be second in cost only to your lodge.  There are a wide variety of guns which would be acceptable at most living history events, depending on who and when you are.  To learn more about period firearms go to the section on guns.  

Also, beware, too many folks fall in love with a gun, purchase it, and then try to build a persona appropriate to the gun.  This is backward and doing it the hard way.  It’s easiest to first decide who and when you are and then aquire the appropriate firearm.  

The lowest cost approach may be the purchase of factory manufactured guns such as those produced by Lyman, CVA, or others.  Some of these are very fairly authentic, but be careful about the details of the gun you are purchasing as some come equipped with non-period furnishings such as plastic butte plates, adjustable sites, etc.  Also be aware that factory guns have a sameness about them that make them stand out.  Also be aware that if you choose the cheap route, you’ll probably end up getting another, more authentic gun in which case is it really cheap.  I know!

An intermediate cost approach to obtaining a gun is probably constructing a kit.  There are some extremely good kits available in an almost unlimited number of smoothbore and rifle types.  Depending on the level of the kit, some kits will require extensive shaping and finishing, others will only require assembly and final finish.  Another advantage in building your own gun is that you will be intimately familiar with the firearm by the time you are done.  

The most costly firearms will generally be those custom and semi-custom guns produced individually by a craftsman.  A search of the internet will turn up numerous producers of custom and semi-custom guns.  Many of the semi-custom gun makers produce kits for half the price of the finished gun.

Used muzzle-loaders are often available at rendezvous, or can also be found at pawn shops or on the internet.  If you are considering the low cost approach, I do recommend that you carefully observe firearms being used at the events you might attend and compare to what you are considering to ensure that you will be happy with what you get over the long run.  Again, even a low cost rifle is not cheap, especially so if you decide its unacceptable after attending your first couple of events.  

Another thing to keep in mind is whether you are a hunter or not, be aware that at some time you will be tempted with the prospect of making meat with the muzzle-loader.  So in considering the appropriate firearm, it should be of sufficient caliber to take down any large game available in your area, even if you have no intention of ever actually hunting with it at the time you purchase it.  

However, if you are absolutely certain you will not be using your gun for hunting, there are some very distinct advantages to a small caliber guns. With a small projectile weight and powder charge a person can shoot all day without becoming fatigued.  Also, a small caliber gun will only use a fraction of the powder and lead that a large caliber gun will consume at the shooting range.

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