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Thread: Do any of you shoot a Jenks Carbine?

  1. #1
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    Do any of you shoot a Jenks Carbine?

    I just bought a Jenks carbine this weekend. I was wondering if anyone else was shooting one? I intend to make a chamber casting to determine groove size, but was curious what others may be shooting in theirs? Round ball or conical? Flat base or Minie? Are you making up combustible cartridges or using loose powder? Any comments or insight are welcome.

    Thanks,

    Hal

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    Dave Fox is offline
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    Jenks

    Not precisely what you're looking for, but I am contemplating purchasing a Jenks to shoot, too, and have read and Googled all the information I can. First, the Jenks, as you doubtless know, was initially designed to be loaded with a ball and powder charge from the contemporary Navy powder flask, the one with a bold anchor pressed in its side (if you're like me, you'll now have to acquire one of these, too). Along the line, the Jenks's loading port was enlarged to take a combustible cartridge. A modern shooter reports it's a tad cramped and he uses a separate powder cartridge and ball when he uses cartridges. Round ball. My guess is, as to ball fit: the largest diameter, lubed with, say, SPG, that will roll into the chamber. I'm presuming your piece is rifled. The Jenks is mighty like a Merrill, so you'll have to experiment with a powder charge that fills the chamber when the piston is closed. Personally, I'd load with the proper measured powder charge and skip the cartridge which, if you have such luck as I have with my Merrill, leaves unburnt paper in the chamber, complicating reloading. I've a buddy who shoots a replica Ferguson rifle, and seating the ball with his little finger is part of the drill once the chamber gets dirty.
    As luck would have it, I just started a Jenks thread yesterday on the FaceBook site "American Civil War Long Arms". Someone responded noting an N-SSA friend who shoots a Jenks. Climb aboard, find the tread, and make an inquiry. Best wishes.

  3. #3
    Muley Gil is offline
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    Where did your friend find a Ferguson????
    Gil Davis Tercenio
    # 3020V
    34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
    Great, great grandson of Cpl Elijah S Davis, Co I, 6th Alabama Inf CSA

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    geezmo is offline
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    Gil,

    They show up used from time to time. Lodgewood sold one not too long ago. I’ve seen a couple on Gun Broker and one or two at shows. They’re not cheap. The ones I’ve seen actually sell went in the $4,000 to $6,000 range. Narragansett arms assembled and sold several hundred rifles (I’m told from The Rifle Shoppe parts sets) quite a while ago. The Rifle Shoppe still lists them in the $2,000 range for the kit. The only way to buy one is if you can make contact with them directly and confirm they have one in stock to send out. I bought one quite a while ago from them and received it in less than a month, which is record time. I just got off my rear and finally started working on it. It’s about half done. It’s excellent quality and a lot of the work is done for you. You just need the ambition to put it together. If you were to order one have them finish the lock and cut the dovetails in the barrel. It’s money well spent.

    Go on YouTube and search Ferguson Rifle. They have a number of great videos about the rifle.

    If you think you’re interested a good place to start is to buy the Ferguson book “Every Insult & Indignity, The Life, Genius and Legacy of Major Patrick Ferguson” by Ricky Roberts & Bryan Brown. It has a lot of history on Ferguson and his rifle that I’ve not read before and great insight into shooting and maintenance of the rifle.

    Good luck,
    Barry Selzner

  5. #5
    John Holland is offline Moderator
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    Barry - If the barrel of your Ferguson is not vented yet, let me give you some advice. The original Ferguson Rifles have a vent, or touch hole, that is drilled on a forward angle so as to just miss the threads of the breech screw.

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    geezmo is offline
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    John,

    Thanks a lot for the insight on the originals. I?ve thought a lot about that. The vent is the last thing I will do. I?ve instinctively thought about the angle - angle. But was thrown off when Ricky Roberts, in the book, mentioned that his vent eroded larger from so much shooting that he installed a vent liner. I?m not sure how any liner, on an angle or straight in, could be done without the liner threads conflicting with the breech threads. The good thing about my age is that I probably don?t have to worry about burning out the vent.

    Thanks again,
    Barry

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    Dave,

    Since my original post, I skirmished with the Jenks once. I used paper cartridges with .535 round balls and a combination of powder and filler to equal the chamber volume. I have yet to do any load development. I made a guess at a really low powered load and it shot fairly well. Not great, but not bad either. It definitely has potential. And best of all, it was hitting at point of aim, which has never happened to me with any original civil war era gun. It shot well enough I thought I'd take it to a skirmish, so I did. Overall, I didn't do as well as I usually do with my beater Smith, but I didn't embarrass myself either. It hit an egg at 50 yards, but I don't think I could do it consistently.

    I was not going for period correct cartridges. I was just going for something quick and easy to make that would shoot reliably. I wrapped hair curler paper around a mandrel. Slipped it about 1/2" off the end and folded it against the end of the mandrel like a roll of pennies. I slipped it the rest of the way off. Filled it with powder then filler, then dropped the ball inside and twisted it shut. I cut the twist off to down around 1/8" long with a pair of scissors and dipped the ball end into melted musket lube.

    A cartridge without paper and lube over the nose of the ball might be better, but would be more time consuming to make. The next thing I want to try is gluing the fold shut. I refrained from doing that due to fear of the cap not burning through the glued paper. The way the thing is made, the fire kinda hits the cartridge in the corner. There is an angled slot in the face of the breech plug that kinda channels the fire across the base of the cartridge. If any were to burn through the side, then there would be no problem with ignition. If it is burning through the several layers of folded paper on the base, then glue may complicate things. Maybe loading a dummy cartridge with all filler and no powder then popping a cap on it would tell you where the cartridge gets burned through. I haven't tried that, but I think I will. I'm gonna have to try gluing the folds though because the folds don't necessarily stay folded well enough. Most did, but some tried to open up and the cartridge got soft, which made it difficult to load.

    Obviously, mine has the elongated loading port modification. And yes, it's a tight fit loading a cartridge though it, but that's just part of the fun.

  8. #8
    Dave Fox is offline
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    Jemks, etc.

    Alas, in my golden years I keep purchasing my last firearm. This current one happens to be an Inglis 9 mm High Power with wooden buttstock/holster. Likely late war issue to Stoneman's Raiders. Anyway, I've developed an appetite for acquiring and shooting CW breechloading carbines and, as I said, a Jenks is sorta in my sight. As to the Ferguson, my friend, an accomplished jackleg gunsmith, purchased a kit from The Rifle Shoppe, finished and assembled it. Gorgeous weapon with a bayonet as long as a walking stick.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Muley Gil is offline
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    More pictures of the Ferguson please!

    I'd love to have a Jenks. I love the oddball arms. My wife sez it's because I'M an oddball!!!
    Gil Davis Tercenio
    # 3020V
    34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
    Great, great grandson of Cpl Elijah S Davis, Co I, 6th Alabama Inf CSA

  10. #10
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    I own 1 smoothbore and 1 rifle musket. My wife has 1 rifle musket. Then between us, we have probably 10 breech loaders of various sorts, so it's pretty obvious where our interest lies.

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