12 May 2007

Introducing my new love, Faeton.

I’ve gotten several e-mails from visitors to this blog who have asked if I would share more info and photos of my current projects. While I don’t wish for this blog to become a commercial site for my work, we have not yet received any contributions from other underhammer makers, so, I guess it would be okay to do a little Show and Tell for now.

Not wishing to compete with the business that I just sold, Pacific Rifle Company, (www.pacificrifle.com), I have focused on the development of an underhammer rifle of slightly different design and materials than the beloved Zephyr for a much higher-end market. PRC buids very good rifles for the $1500 - $2500 market, while my basic Faeton starts at $2500 - and I only craft several rifles a year. So we have agreed that I am not competition in their market.

The Faeton receiver is crafted of Herculoy, an extremely tough silicon bronze alloy with strength that exceeds that of iron and even some mild steel alloys. It is NOT brass, and, in fact, I refer to it as being more like "yellow steel" - it's that tough. I like the soft, rich patination colors that this bronze acquires with use and age.

Clicking on the center of any of the photos will enlarge them for viewing detail. Return to the text by clicking the Back arrow in the upper left of your browser.

The lockwork is a refined design that is clean, simple, rugged, and finely-tuned. Unlike many ordinary underhammer designs, the Faeton's hammer incorporates a secure half-cock notch for safe carrying afield or on the range.

Like many time-honored underhammer makers of old, I prefer to utilize the trigger guard as the mainspring to simplify the design and provide cleaner, more elegant lines to the rifle. Some shooters erroneously believe that such an arrangement limits the accuracy potential of the rifle, as the argument goes, because the trigger finger or the middle finger of the shooting hand may contact the mainspring and affect the consistency of release of the trigger.

In over 150 years that has not shown to be a problem. In fact, several underhammer target rifle makers of old, including Billinghurst, Reinhard, and Brockway, and makers in the more recent past, such as Ellis and Resor, incorporated the triggerguard/mainspring design and their accuracy is legendary. To my way of thinking it is a most ingenious concept and one that I will continue to honor.

Faeton calibers range from .58,.62,.72, and the does all - kills all - 8-bore. I apply a slight taper to my barrels for better accuracy and perfect balance, and I utilize Forsyth rifling for the many benefits it provides.

The Faeton utilizes a "coned" breech for consistent ignition and improved accuracy. Any of you who are ex-military demolition probably remember the shaped charge principle. The Faeton's cone breech provides that same advantage in igniting the heavy charges it can digest. The breechplug is a full 2" long and is threaded its full length. Once installed into the barrel, the barrel is then threaded into the receiver and the two components are then torqued like a head bolt on a diesel engine into tight union just like a center-fire rifle. The result of this seemingly "extreme engineering" is unequaled durability and fine accuracy in the finished rifle.

Securing the buttstock to the receiver with a 1/2" X 8" grade 8 bolt is considered overkill by most builders, but such extreme engineering renders the Faeton very slender through the wrist, yet tough as a crowbar. The forearm, while quite slender, is also solidly built. It is not simply a hollow thin shell of wood as you might expect. It's unique construction and attachment assures that it will not loosen, crack or warp with use and age.

Yes, I guess the Faeton is over engineered which has resulted in a rifle that is best described as being tough and rugged as a Mack truck, but disguised as a sleek and sexy Ferrari with high performance to match.

By clicking on the opening photo, you can take a closer look at the Faeton's unique receiver design features including my exclusive Damascus Bronze(tm) finish of the receiver which is carried over to the buttplate. Fine engraving is also available for those who desire an even more distinctive and personal rifle.

It should also be noted that I love beautiful wood. The Faeton depicted above wears my basic grade of bastogne walnut. It's hard and dense, with nice grain. I also like very old English and Turkish walnut if the customer wishes to spring for it. However, I have little use for bland, ordinary maple or walnut, except for building fixtures or feeding the stove. If you wish for me to build a rifle for you, be prepared to review beautiful wood. It's that simple. I prefer mature, bastogne walnut exhibiting good color, character, and complex grain structure, although I will consider most any high-quality wood deemed suitable for gun making.

While most gunmakers might sand wood to a 320 or perhaps a 400 grit finish, the Faeton stock is progressively sanded with finer grits of paper to 600 grit and then polished down to a 1400 grit silky smoothness that has to be felt to really understand and appreciate what that extra work does for wood. Of course, the wood must be of the best quality to take and hold such a fineness. Then the wood grain is filled and finished with my proprietary blend of tung oil and resins.

You'll also notice in the full-length photo that the balance point of the Faeton is very close to the receiver. Combining that fine balance with it's light weight, the Faeton handles like a feather but clobbers game like a wrecking ball.

I've also developed a smaller frame (20% reduction in size and weight) for smaller bores up to .50 caliber. In fact, when the .50 is loaded with 45 - 50 grains of fffg under the 180-grain patched round ball, the result in power is about equal to the venerable .44-40 Winchester.

In addition to crafting Faetons I have been designing and prototyping a completely new underhammer rifle that features a concealed hammer and nipple which provides even greater protection to the percussion cap from inclement weather and from accidental discharge by an inadvertent blow to the hammer. I have christened this new rifle the "New Century." It will have great appeal to those underhammer shooters who prefer the aesthetic of the more "traditional" one-piece stock.

The New Century also lends itself well to more traditional design options such as a full-length stock, swamped barrel, and other features that could render a number of variations in a very sleek and beautiful rifle.

This design is also for sale to qualified parties who may be interested in expanding their present product line or for investors who may wish to enter into the muzzleloading market, not as copycats of the ordinary, but with a new and versatile product.

Interested parties may visit my site: www.rjrenner.blogspot.com, or you can contact me at: underhammers@safe-mail.net for details.

The names, Faeton, Damascus Bronze, and New Century, are trademarks of R.J. Renner; Dual Cap Ignition, Wide Body Barrel, Genuine Forsyth Rifling, Peephorn, and the comet-shaped scallop cut of the Zephyr and Faeton receivers are jointly held trademarks of Pacific Rifle Company and R.J. Renner.


MRW said...

RJ That is a really nice rifle, do you have pics of the underside that shows the trigger guard profile?

Anonymous said...

I like your new design better than your old one. It seems that new hammer is up snug to the barrel and I like the oval trigger guard better than that Hopkins and Allen design that you used before.

You mention Forsyth rifling in your barrels. What is the advantage of it?

Also would like to know why you make such big calibers when everyone else is going smaller bore with sabotted bullets.

What kind of performance can you get out of your rifle in .58 caliber?

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

This blog is good! don't quit now!

Anonymous said...

Nice rifles you make, but I'm not a hunter and don't need such a big caliber as you make.

I have heard that you have made some underhammer target rifles and I would be more interested in something along that line.

What kind of design did you use? Do you have any pictures of your target rifles?


PS: I like your web site and hope you can add more pictures in the future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Renner,

You may not remember me but I bought one of your Zephyr rifles when you first started Pacific Rifle Company. It is a .62 which was the only caliber you offered then. I have hunted all over the western U.S. and Canada with that rifle and have taken a few large animals with it and all with one shot each. Your suggestion to shoot the shoulder instead of the heart and lungs anchors them every time with no great loss of meat as everyone thinks.

A few years back I found one of your .72 Zephyrs at a gun show and was happy to add it to my underhammer collection. It has provided me with two big Alaskan moose – again with one shot each. It is so much more powerful than the .62 that I really don’t need to load it up as hot as it can go. I would like to take the .72 to Africa someday, but we’ll have to see about that.

I heard that you sold your company and thought you just got out of the business. Then I happened to find your new site while Googling for underhammers and was so pleased to see that you are still around and producing fine guns. I see that you made some target rifles, too. I wish I had known that because I really admire your schuetzen design and would have liked one. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a schuetzen rifle built on the underhammer system before. Yours may be a first.

I have been a collector of underhammer guns for many years and have studied quite a few of the various actions that were used by the old time gun makers and some new ones, too. However, I have always considered your Zephyr design to be the most beautiful and innovative of all the underhammers I’ve had the privilege of examining or owning.

But I must say that your new Faeton rifle now holds the distinction of being the most beautiful and innovative underhammer ever made - in my opinion, of course. It is beyond being a mere tool, it is truly functional art. It is so much more graceful and elegant looking than your original design and I just don’t think I can live without one. So my order for a .58 Faeton is attached.

Thank you for providing such a well designed and beautiful rifle. I believe your new Faeton is a modern classic and I can hardly wait to shoot mine.

Best regards,
Stephan Jameson

Anonymous said...

I am very interested in learning more about your 8-bore Faeton and its features. For instance, do you use the dual cap ignition and the wide body barrel that you used on your African Zephyr?

I read an article about it several years ago in International Blackpowder Hunting magazine and I have been hooked ever since then. But I have some concerns such as how well it will hold together under the recoil of the 8-bore. And what are the real advantages of your dual cap ignition? Some say that it was just marketing hype.

I am seriously interested and would appreciate your comments and any other details about the African. If you have any photos of the 8-bore that would be good too.

Thanks for a great blog. Lots of good information.

best wishes,


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About Me

Roger Renner

Hi. I've been a student, admirer, and designer/builder of underhammer guns for over 30 years. In that span I've built over 200 semi-custom underhammers exploring the possibilities from the ordinary to the exotic. In 1996 I founded Pacific Rifle Company to explore the market's interest in a high-quality underhammer rifle. Thankfully, that interest was, and still is, there. I sold PRC in 2006 but continue to craft high-end underhammers as I am truly afflicted with underhammeritis - which can be contagious!