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Here is Ron Gabel's answer to question number 13870


Mr. Gabel, I'm going to guess that you have never received this question before in all your years of researching Kentucky rifles, but, I've been wrong many times before. As a grizzly bear handler for the past thirty years I have worked on many commercial productions including portraying the real John "Grizzly" Adams in an A&E mini series starring Beau Bridges some twenty years ago. Anyway, I've researched Adams for many years now and am very interested in finding a couple of replica rifles like he carried into the wilderness in the fall of 1852. Theodore H. Hittel interviewed Adams for many years and eventually published a book based on these interviews in 1860, the same year as Adams' death. In the book, Adams is quoted as saying that he took with him into the mountains, "an old Kentucky rifle which used thirty balls to the pound of lead, a Tennessee rifle which used sixty, a Colts revolving pistol, and several bowie-knives." Could you please assist me in better identifying the two rifles Adams claims to have taken with him into the wilderness and also with steering me in the right direction to procure the most authentic replicas of these rifles?


Jeff - You are correct this is a new question. You would require a high caliber firearm to hunt grizzly bear. Of the firearms you mention the best for grizzly would be the 30 balls to the pound rifle (about 54 caliber). An even higher caliber would be better, It is any ones guess what the characteristics of this rifle would have been. In 1852 the rifle would have most likely have been percussion with a 40 inch to 36 inch barrel length. The Tennessee rifle using sixty balls to the pound would have been about 44 caliber. The Tennessee rifles often had iron hardware rather than the usual brass. A 40 inch barrel would be good guess. There are a large number of gunsmiths who specialize in the recreation of these rifles. The majority belong to the Contemporary longrifle Association which meets annually in the state of Kentucky.

Submitted By: Jeff Watson On: 1/23/2019 8:26:59 PM

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