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Advantages of Custom-built Firearms

The decision to commission a custom gun-maker to build a truly one-of-a-kind muzzleloader is a major step for any black powder shooter. Let's take a look at what you get for your money when purchasing a custom muzzleloader.

Historical Authenticity ~ Most manufactured muzzleloaders are not historically authentic to any particular time or school of design.  Even those with names similar to famous historical builders have little resemblance to actual historical muzzleloaders.  While this may not be of importance to the average hunter or casual shooter, historical authenticity is of great important to living-history enthusiasts who wish to gain a first-hand understanding of historical lives and lifestyles.

Jim Kruse can either duplicate an existing historical firearm, or help you design a muzzleloader that perfectly suits the time, place and historical character you portray in your living history activities.

Fitted to the Individual Shooter ~ Off-the-rack clothing rarely fits perfectly, and the same holds true for off-the-rack firearms.  Manufactured muzzleloaders are designed to fit an "average" person, but most people are not average.  By commissioning a custom muzzleloader from Jim Kruse you can be sure that the length of pull and other dimensions are fitted precisely to your body.  This leads to a firearm that is more comfortable and much more accurate to shoot.

Artistry ~ Custom muzzleloaders aren't just works of craftsmanship, they are works of art.  Each is individually hand built to the customer's specifications and no two are exactly identical, even when exact replication is desired.

Craftsmanship and Quality ~ No manufacturing machine can match the human eye for precision. Even when Jim Kruse uses commercially available parts, he relies on the very best. Some of the locks currently available are almost exact duplicates of the finest locks dating from the past. These feature internal surfaces that have been highly polished, and a precise fit between parts for smooth, trouble-free operation. It's not unusual for some locks to carry a higher price tag than most manufactured muzzleloader kits.

As you might guess, the finest locks and barrels are installed on the highest-quality woods available.   Even when a historically "plain jane" gun is ordered, it's usually built with fine wood. High-grade curly maple and nicely figured walnut command a premium price. This is especially true for a piece of wood that's long enough to full-stock a rifle that might feature a barrel of 40 inches or more. Relief carvings in the wood and brass or silver inlays (right) also add to the beauty of a custom gun's stock.

Although the old term "lock, stock and barrel" is often used to characterize something that includes everything, it takes a lot more that just these three parts to complete a fine custom muzzleloader. The buttplate, sideplate, trigger guard, nose cap, ramrod thimbles, trigger, sights, patchbox and toe plate are some of the other parts needed to build most custom muzzleloaders. Many of today's finest riflesmiths totally handcraft these features. Those makers who purchase some or all of these items, generally do so from a craftsman specializing in these parts for the custom muzzleloader trade.

Depending on the complexity of the style being recreated, Jim Kruse may spend 80 to more than 400 hours building a muzzleloader just the way you want it.  He is truly dedicated to producing some of the finest muzzleloaders ever built.

Accuracy ~ The barrels on Jim Kruse custom muzzleloaders are the highest quality barrels available today.  Rifled barrels are cut-rifled.  This means that  they are produced by pulling a cutter through the bore to remove a very small amount of steel with each pass. To cut a typical eight-groove, rifled barrel with .006- to .010-inch-deep grooves requires from 150 to over 200 passes of the cutter. These precision-cut barrels are time-consuming to produce and extremely accurate.

Each barrel is then bedded in the barrel channel by hand.