18 March 2011

Underhammer chunkin'

One of the oldest games around is chunk gun shooting. It is also one of the simplest, although not easy to win. Here is a report from one of our long-time readers, Jeff Bibb, about his recently finished chunk gun and a nifty "chunk" shooting bench that he now offers.

Just a reminder that clicking on any of the photos will enlarge them for more detailed viewing. Clicking the "Back" button at the top left of your browser will return you to the text.

Hello Roger:

Hope all is well with you these days. I keep reading the blog and enjoying the content. Folks seem to be building some really great pieces.

I thought you might be interested in my underhammer rifle. We talked about it briefly last year, but I have been very slow getting something together on it. This is a .54 caliber chunk gun made by Ed Rayl and Charles Bowers. To Ed's knowledge, it is the only all-stainless one in existence. 

For those not familiar with chunk gun shooting, this is a form of muzzle loading target shooting that has been going on in the Southern mountains for a long, long time. Basically, one shoots from a prone position over a log (or chunk) at an "X" target 60 yards away. The person who gets closest to the center of the X over a string of shots wins. These days, folks shoot flintlocks, percussion guns, and yes... underhammers. The competition is fierce, and a match may be won by a few thousandths difference.

This gun is a bit of a horse. It measures 71" long overall, and weighs just over 30 lbs. The barrel is 54" long, and 1.5" wide across the flats. It is entirely stainless steel, as is the action. 

The lock is a Charles Bowers and made from stainless. The trigger is light and has a crisp release. There is a half-cock notch. The action is fitted to a nice walnut, monte carlo stock with a steel buttplate. Length of pull is a bit over 14". 

Loads for the gun are very tight to produce the best accuracy. In this .54 rifle, a good starting place is a .530 or .535 ball with at least a .015 patch, and 100 to 110 grains of 2F. A custom made stainless range rod with a bore guide makes loading a bit easier. A step stool is also suggested. 

This rifle is quite accurate in capable hands (not necessarily mine), and has competed several times at the Alvin York Memorial Shoot in eastern Tennessee. Since that event is approaching this month I thought it might be appropriate to share the gun with you and your readers. Hope you all enjoy it.

As a full time artisan in the muzzle loading world, a surprising number of my customers are also chunk gun shooters. It is an addicting past time. As a result, last year I started making and selling a fully adjustable chunk or bench rest. 

All the best,

Jeff Bibb

All photos copyrighted by Jeff Bibb

Thanks, Jeff, for sharing your new rifle with us. As you shoot some winning targets maybe we can add them to the story.

If you would like more info on Jeff's shooting bench and other fine products, take a look at his site: 





Kermit said...

Nice to see! The Bowers/Rayl chunker just moved west, and now resides with me. Even if it doesn't improve my shooting, my fitness level should be improved just hefting the thing around. Plan to shoot it for the first time this weekend.

Anonymous said...

This Charles Bowers action looks neat. How can I make contact with Mr. Bowers? I would like to purchase an action.

Ole Flintlock

Roger Renner said...

Howdy Ole Flintlock,

Sorry I don't have any current contact info for Charlie. If anyone out there has his phone number or other contact info, please forward it through this comment system.




Anonymous said...

You might try Ed Rayl for Charlie's whereabouts.

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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!