After all, it was for the most part that same "not good enough" attitude and Yankee ingenuity that really sparked the whole underhammer revolution in the first place shortly after Reverend Forsyth hit upon the percussion cap idea back in 1807, or thereabouts. (No, I don’t believe he was a relative of Capt. James Forsyth of later Forsyth rifling fame).
Once the percussion cap made its way across the pond, it seems that every backwoods blacksmith and gunmaker in the newly formed united States of America was developing his own version of an underhammer action to take advantage of the new ignition system. Gone was the need of complex and expensive English flintlocks or the newly developed caplocks that evolved from them. Most anyone with half a lick of sense and some basic tool working skills could make a serviceable underhammer action and ultimately a rifle - or shotgun - with little trouble.
I really admire those few makers of today who take the time to design and build their own underhammer actions. I know that many more underhammer builders probably would also do so if they had the skills, tools, and facilities to fabricate - and the time. Sometimes you have to make a priority decision whether to spend your time designing and fabricating an underhammer action, or to just build your rifle with existing components and get into the field or range to shoot it. As for me, it seems that I’m spending far more time these days dreaming up and fabricating new designs and less time actually shooting them. But, that’s okay as it’s my choice – for now.
Richard Holmes is one of us who have to have it our own way. So he created his own underhammer action and a rifle design that is also quite unique - even down to the barrel configuration. Clicking on any of the photos will enlarge them for closer viewing of the rather unique design features of the Holmes Underhammer. Clicking the "Back" button on your browser will return you to the text.
According to Richard, “The receiver starts off as a piece of bar stock 5/8” wide. The two ends are machined to accept the cup rings. The 5/8” bar stock is also turned down on the breech end to 5/8” round by 1” long and threaded to form the breech plug screw. The back end is drilled and tapped to accept the stock bolt”
see the flat-topped and bottom barrel design.
Thank you, Richard, for sharing your ideas and your work with us. What isn't readily apparent in the photos is Richards use of the tail of his mainspring to reach up inside the action and provide double duty as his trigger return spring. Also, in case you didn't catch it, Richard and his brother also make their own barrels on a hand-operated rifling machine which they also built.