Sunday, January 27, 2019

Hopkins and Allen Underhammer Caplock Rifle

One of my oldest memories is associated with this rifle.

The year was 1970 and I was two years old. We were visiting my paternal grandparents in Patchogue, New Yawk. My dad went to a local gun shop and came back with this Hopkins & Allen .45 caliber Heritage Model underhammer caplock percussion rifle.

The black powder revival of the 1960s and 70s was in full swing, and Numrich Arms of West Hurley, NY, owned the rights to use the old Hopkins & Allen name. They started making these simple designs with only two moving parts, the hammer and trigger. The trigger guard is a flat spring and acts as the hammer spring.

In 1981 my parents gave me the rifle as my bar mitzvah gift. (I am quite aware of how unusual that sentence reads.)

I loaded the rifle with 40 grains of 3Fg black powder and a .440" round ball patched with ticking. It is quite accurate out to 50 yards and I used it to win the first shooting match I ever entered.

Because the nipple screws directly into the barrel where the powder charge sits, ignition is very reliable and fast. There can be some spitting, though, so it's wise to hold your support arm off to the side and wear long sleeves.

In the cap box I have a spare nipple and the open notch rear sight that fits the dovetail on the barrel, which can be used in lieu of the tang peep sight. The latter allows you to shoot the rifle more accurately but it's harder to see through in low light, so I'd probably switch them out were I to take it hunting.

I haven't shot the rifle in years but it's time to take it out and let my 14 year old daughter give it a try.

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