In over thirty years of building underhammer guns I have come to notice that there seems to be two kinds of people when it comes to underhammer arms. Those who instantly recognize and embrace the logic and simplicity of the mechanism and those others who view it - may comment that it is interesting - but, ultimately, go back to their “ traditional” flint or conventional caplock guns. But, that’s okay as it takes all kinds to make a horse race.
Looking at the typical flint or caplock action it is immediately apparent that the hammer protrudes significantly above the top of the rifle, as seen above. This is necessary to allow quick and easy cocking of the mechanism. Aesthetically, the hammer or the flintcock is wonderful eye candy that us artistic types are always fiddling with to create something with even greater eye appeal. However, that upward protruding hammer provides Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) with untold opportunities to screw up your weekend – and perhaps your life.
With the hammer mounted below the barrel, however, the geometry of the stock places the hammer in a very secure and protected location as a rifle almost never would fall and hit the trigger area directly due to the angle of the belly of the buttstock and the length of the barrel. That is, unless, you’ve got some huge hammer that hangs way down below your trigger guard when the hammer is at half cock.