Sorry dear readers, that it's taken so long to get back to The Underhammer Society, but I've been really busy with new designs and projects that I will share with you loyal readers in the near future. But for now, I have a very interesting underhammer to share with you from our friend Bob Worthington. You may remember Bob's underhammers from earlier features which I've published here. You may access them by scrolling down toward the bottom of the page there on the right-hand side where you will see a link to Older Posts. Just click on the link and you can revisit some of our earlier features, including Bob's unique underhammers.
For the most part, Bob prefers to build his rifles on the Billinghurst style of action which was noted in the day for its amazing accuracy. Even today, slug gun builders utilize the Billinghurst action for its strength, accuracy, and simplicity of design.
Bob is a builder like me in the sense that he prefers to create functional art of his own design and not copycat those designs of old. As a musician once told me, you'll never get very far if you play other people's music. You have to find your own groove and ride it out. In my mind, Bob is the Salvador Dali of underhammer builders and I mean that with the highest regard to his art. He's willing to color out of the lines and I admire that spirit.
Billinghurst style pocket rifle. I'm just surprised it took me this long to get around to it, some 50 years later!
I've been making underhammer pistols for a few years now, along with two underhammer schuetzen rifles and a hunting rifle, as well as sidelock guns, but always in the back of my mind was that idea of marrying the short and long arms into one. I examined everything from the dragoon flintlock, the Civil War era revolver with shoulder stock, the Smith & Wesson model 320, but mostly the numerous versions that were produced as underhammers. Finally, this summer, I dove headlong into the project.
I began with the standard parts for the Billinghurst action that I get from Muzzle Loader Builder's Supply, (www.muzzleloaderbuilderssupply.com)which I have modified to use as pistol parts, eschewing the heavy tang-collar in favor of my own brass collar and standard breech plug-tang. Ryan at MBS also turned the Hoyt .36 cal. barrel for me, a slender 16" octagon-to-round with a double wedding band that is soooo pretty! (And shoots like a champ!)
. A 1/4" bolt secures the buttstock to the grip, threading into the lower end of the trigger bar, forming a nice, strong and stable fastening, form-fit to the grip and lined with felt to prevent marring the grip, which also has a brass plate where the bolt passes through the grip
I have always finished my pistol grips bright with no stain, but for this critter, I decided to break pattern and go with a cherry stain under a satin finish, all Laurel Mountain products. The stock got my usual treatment of hunter's star and oval, with a brass oval and wire work on the right side. On my pistols, my logo of "star and four directions" goes on the buttcap, and on long guns, is engraved on the toeplate, so this gun got 'em both.
The spring, trigger, and hammer all were hardened and tempered, and the barrel fire-blued. The unique flip-up front and adjustable rear sight work well together, and add to the appearance of the gun.
The safety mechanism is a recent feature on my underhammers. I used to provide a half-cock notch, which worked fine, but sometimes made it difficult to use a capper, especially on the smaller calibers. I developed the pivoting safety, which positively blocks the trigger when cocked, and is easily unlocked with the trigger finger. It can be made for right or left-handed shooters. The brass safety pivots on a brass bushing and the screw that holds the trigger guard/mainspring in place. When the safety is engaged, a wedge blocks the underside of the trigger, and when it is disengaged, the wedge is moved aside and a slot allows the gun to be fired. Check the photos below for details.
I spent an afternoon at the range playing with loadings, and after several powder charges and patch sizes, 18 grains of 3f under a 000 buckshot (.350 ball) with a .016" pillow ticking patch led to a 1-9/16" group at 50 yards, the first shot of the group was an X! I'm happy, and now I can't wait to shoot our monthly black powder match, both pistol and rifle, with one gun!
Our friend, Bob (Salvador Dali) Worthington
Grey Haven Arms
All photos copyright by Bob Worthington
Thanks, Bob, for sharing your beautifully unique underhammer Pocket Rifle with us.
Hopefully, you other makers will muster up the courage to share your work with us, too. This is an open forum for all you makers as well as non-builder aficionados, so come and claim your spot in the sun with the rest of us builders!