Yes, and the Lyman BlackPowder Handbook from 1975 shows only the GRRW halfstock Leman. It also contains two articles by Gary White, one of big game hunting and the other on shotgunning. Awful good reference... Shoot sharp, Mike
Captchee and Mike,
I agree with you both; these old books are great references and bring back some good memories. The mid-70's was when I first got interested in black powder and muzzleloaders and bought my first black powder guns.
Another good resource is Guns&Ammo's Complete Guide to Blackpowder, copyrighted in 1974. My copy is pretty tattered from the many times I've thumbed through it. It has several references to GRRW rifles including a color picture of Hawken Prototype #1 on the cover and a BW photo of the same rifle in the catalog section. There's an article on Hawken rifles starting on page 22 that has pictures of what I've referred to as GRRW's early pattern S Hawken rifle. There are other pictures with GRRW Hawkens in other articles. The catalog section also lists two different half stock Lemans, one of which they refer to as a GRRW squirrel rifle. GRRW actually called this their "Little Leman". I believe this is the same rifle as the "scaled down version of the Leman" you referred to, Captchee, in the Lyman book.
I agree with Mike. I would like to have this info in printed form.
I never have been much for drinking the kool-aid.It's not in my nature.
The rest of the GRRW line of rifles.
Captchee brought up the next topics I wanted to cover, namely the the Little Leman and GRRW's Trapper's Pistols.
Another rifle listed in their 1976-77 catalog, though rarely encountered, is the Little Leman. I don’t have any pictures of one to show, but since it was a scaled down version of the Leman Trade Rifle, we can assume it looked essentially the same, but slightly smaller. Below is a description from their catalog.
GRRW also offered a Trapper's Pistols in flintlock and percussion. These were advertised as reminiscent of pistols built by Hawken and Leman (not sure if Leman made many pistols), but really resemble typical trade pistols from England and some American makers. In addition to the choice of ignition, they were offered either as half or full stock, in .45, .50, .54, and .58 calibers. The few I've seen pictured have Siler locks, both percussion and flint. Sash clips were available on factory made pistols, but not in the kit. They don't appear to have been ordered in large numbers, and GRRW likely made 100, more or less.
Mike, you should recognize this pistol.
The last addition to the GRRW line was a Tennessee or Southern Mountain rifle they called the Poor Boy, and like the Bridger Hawken Commemorative, it was introduced in 1977. To quote a GRRW catalog copyrighted in 1977 but still in use as late as 1979-80,
Barrels were either 7/8” atf in .45 and .50 calibers or 1” atf in .45, .50, .54, and .58 calibers. Locks could be large Siler or Ron Long with the 1” barrel and small Siler with the 7/8” barrel. Flint ignition and set triggers were available at extra cost.
That completes GRRW's full line of catalog items. This image from their 1977-79 catalog illustrates their mature line-up.
GRRW also made barrels for NW Trade Guns and included these in their advertisements. They may have offered a pre-shaped NW Trade Gun stock, based on an article that Doc wrote, but these were not a regular catalog item. [As it turns out, I was wrong again. GRRW did offer a factory North West Trade Gun in their 1975 catalog for $500.] Below is an ad from 1975 that mentions the NW Trade Gun barrels.
I'll illustrate some of their options for the Hawken rifle next with an example.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Meek,
Meek, Yes, I recognize that pistol. And I had another GRRW pistol, a percussion in .54 caliber. That percussion pistol was a very early one, made with a short section of 1" barrel. It was on the heavy and clubby side... I might find a picture of it if I look hard enough but I don't recall what happened to the gun. It must have been traded off a long time ago. Shoot sharp, Mike
I have been following this thread with great interest....I did not realize that there was still this much interest in the old GRRW rifles. I really don't have any interesting stories but I have some personal information to share... I started shooting in the mid 70's in Minnesota. I was fortunate to find TOW when they were just starting and purchased a GRRW barrel from them, as GRRW rifles and barrels were said to be the most desirable available. I finally found a used Leman and eventually a new Leman that I purchased and shot for years. In the 90’s I was poking through a small gun shop and found a GRRW Hawken in .58. I purchased it and gave both my Lemans to my boys. My oldest still shoots his regularly. I made a point of buying and selling GRRW’s for at least 10 years. I must have found at least 6, maybe 8 GRRW Leman rifles, none of which I really liked because all that I found had single triggers, and although most were made well and shot good, they just weren’t as comfortable to shoot as a Hawk. It seems that the parts were different in each rifle, one even had a coil spring lock. It seems to me like GRRW used whatever parts that they could get, not necessarily the best available. Money/credit was probably the issue.
I have attached a few pictures of my Hawk, number H020, that was mentioned in a previous reply as having been seen for sale on the internet.
The 70’s and 80’s were a great time in muzzle loading, and some of the old makers built really nice rifles and are fun to remember.
GRRW was a very good barrel maker, but I was also very impressed with Sharon barrels and made a few fine shooting Hawkens with their barrels. A small company named Old West Arms built some very nice Lemans and Hawkens from Sharon parts kits.
I am also thankful for the wonderful barrel makers of today like Getz, Rice, Colrain, and even Green Mountain. And the great rifle stockers like Homer Dangler, and Jim Chambers!! 30 years from now, a new group of old men will be talking about the good old days which are now.
An additional picture of GRRW Hawken H020
I have to agree with you, oldarcher; these ARE the good old days.
By the way I lived just a few miles from you - Athens or surrounding area - for half a century. Then moved here to Va. I still have friends in Monroe. Beautiful rifle, there.
*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
Thanks for the input guys.
oldarcher, I was going to talk about barrel stamps soon and refer to your rifle again. But first, some thoughts on the options that GRRW offered on their rifles.
While the standard catalog offerings are best described as semi-custom rifles, options offered by GRRW allowed a customer to purchase what was essentially a custom rifle. Flintlocks, flat-to-wrist trigger guard, fancy wood, choice of locks and breech plugs, double set and single set triggers, barrel diameter, length and caliber, and even custom engraving were available options.
Below is an example from my collection of a half stock Hawken in the J&S style with flat-to-wrist guard, engraved lock, and a breech plug different from the more common Ron Long plug. It has a straight octagon barrel 1-1/8” x 36” and is .54 caliber. This rifle weighs about 12.5 lbs. The quality of the inletting and finish rivals custom work. It was built by Carl Walker and has a serial number in the early 600's. I don’t know when this rifle was made, but it’s noteworthy that it isn’t finished with a chromic acid stain that was used on the late Sam Hawken, Bridger Commemorative, and Poor Boy pictured above.
If you look closely at this picture, you can see that the breech plug is not one of Ron Long's. I'm not sure who cast these, it may be from Pete Allan. I have an unused plug & tang like it in 1-1/8" and a couple in 1". This picture also shows the hand engraving well.
Next, I talk about barrel stamps.
The Green River Rifle Works name stamp changed over time. The first rifles may not have had a name stamp, but some evidence suggests that with serial number H-020 and below, only the name “Green River Rifle Works” was stamped. This rifle and name stamp is illustrated in oldarcher’s post above.
Other early rifles were stamped with “Green River Rifle Works” over “Roosevelt, Utah”. This stamp typically adorns a Douglas barrel.
Latter the stamp was changed to “GRRW” in a slight arch over “Roosevelt, Utah”. The name was often stamped on the top flat in front of or behind the rear sight, but can be found on the bottom flat of some rifles such as the Bridger Hawken Commemorative and special orders like the flat-to-wrist half stock above. Doc acquired a “S Hawken, St. Louis” stamp, possibly from the original Hawken shop or copied from one. This stamp was used on the Bridger Hawken Commemorative rifles and apparently other rifles on request.
Barrels sold as part of a kit may have the full name “Green River Rifle Works” without the town and state or later stamped “GRRW” without the town and state. Some barrels had no name stamp. Late in their operations, barrels sold individually apparently were stamped with “G.R.R.W.”
Barrel stamp from one of my GRRW kits.
Barrel stamp from a GRRW barrel sold individually.
Bob Allen presented some of the more common makers marks in his last issue of the GRRW Gazette , but for completeness, I’ll repeat some of it here. As mentioned earlier, the first GRRW rifles do not bear makers marks. The exact timing and reason for their use is an area for further study. They appear to follow the absence of the “H” prefix on the Hawken serial numbers and may coincide with the manufacturing of their own barrels. Their use may have been another way of distinguishing a factory made rifle from a kit. In any event, they add another dimension to the study of the rifles that wear them as they indicate which riflesmith stocked and finished the gun. The makers marks vary from single stamped cartouche to individual letter combination stamps to hand engraved initials.
Greg “GRIZZ” Roberts used an engraving that represented a bear track.
Ron Paull used simple capitol "0" with a lower case "p" within it.
If it will help others identify makers marks on their rifles, here is a picture from a GRRW 1976-77 catalog with a list of some of their smiths. Obviously, there are others that worked for GRRW prior to and after this picture was taken that are not listed.
Meek, Thanks for more info. I, for one, would like to hear more if there is any.
Mike Nesbitt, You mentioned GRRW gazette. Is that published and mailed out or just sent by email?
Redwood, It is sent by email. If I can have your address I'll forward you a copy. Shoot sharp, Mike
Mike, Thanks for the offer. Bob sent me issues 1&2. Just wasn't sure if they all came by email.Just read your latest article on sighting in. Great stuff. Redwood
Meek, I know I'm the one asked you to post pics and here I am late to the party as usual, but I sure appreciate you posting those. Dern, those are pretty guns!! I fell in love with the GRRW Leman sometime in the late 70s-early 80s. I, too, originally saw the write-ups & ads in MZL Blasts mag and ordered a catalog. I never could afford to buy one of those beauties but salivated all over that catalog for hours on end. Thanks again for posting the pics and all the terrifically interesting data!
Hey Red, Thanks for the compliment. Shoot sharp, Mike
Thanks, everyone, for the compliments and encouragement.
I had planned on wrapping this thread up, but I recently acquired another GRRW Hawken rifle of interest that I wanted to share.
Back in a January 29th post and again in a February 3rd post, I speculated on what a GRRW Hawken rifle might be like in the transition between the early Hawken pattern and the late Sam Hawken pattern.
The new acquisition is one of those “transition” rifles. I was off nine digits on the serial number. It has a barrel with 7 grooves-and-lands, stamped “GRRW” over “ROOSEVLET, UTAH” on the top flat, and is 36” long and 1” across-the-flats. The lock appears to be a Ron Long lock but it is not marked with any names or symbols. I believe that this was a Ron Long kit assembled by a locksmith at GRRW. Jim Summarell, Rick Guthrie, and Dave Holmes are listed as locksmiths in a photo caption from the 1976-77 catalog. I also believe that many of the William Morgan and Siler locks used on GRRW rifles were assembled from kits by GRRW locksmiths.
This rifle was made in 1976, and I find it interesting that many of its parts and characteristics are the same as the early Hawken pattern from 1973 and 1974. The same Cherry Corners breech & tang, butt plate, and trigger guard were used. The same hand-made, 2-piece nose cap was used as well as other small furniture such as escutcheons, barrel wedges, thimbles, and toe plate. I haven’t removed the triggers, yet, to see who made them, but GRRW used both Cherry Corners triggers and Ron Long triggers early on. The primary differences between the early Hawken pattern and this “transition” rifle are the barrel, the lock, and the barrel markings.
This suggests that the change to the late Sam Hawken pattern was more abrupt than and not as gradual as I once thought. And the timing suggests it was the result of the collaboration with the Montana Historical Society on the Bridger Commemorative Hawken, and the access it gave GRRW to the original Jim Bridger Hawken.
Below are full-length photos of the latest rifle:
Right and left views of the butt stock:
The lock view
The name stamp:
As I expected, the “H” prefix had been dropped from the serial number:
The makers mark is that of Ron Paull:
Inside the barrel channel, written in pencil:
In spite of the similarities, this transition rifle still has a look and feel that is a little different from the earlier rifles. The lock and longer barrel obviously contribute to this. But on closer inspection, there are variations in each GRRW Hawken I own, not too unlike that seen in original Hawken rifles. No doubt this was due to the fact that the final fitting and shaping was done by hand just as Jake and Sam did. It also reflects the individual styles of the different gunsmiths that worked for GRRW just as it did in the original Hawken shop. The beaver tail cheek rest is slightly different on this rifle and the treatment of the comb as it transitions into wrist is different.
The underrib is thinner, also, measuring only 0.16” from bottom of the concave to the flat. This allows for a very slim forearm, even though, it has a 7/16’ ramrod for the .58 caliber bore. The distance from the top of the barrel to the bottom of the forearm measures 1.80” at its thickest point.
The .50 caliber Hawken shown in earlier posts has an underrib that measures 0.20” and wears a 3/8” ramrod. This combination also yields a slim forearm that is 1.85” thick—top of barrel to bottom of forearm.
The other early pattern Hawken I own is .54 caliber, wears a 7/16” ramrod, and has the more common ¼” underrib. This combination results in a slightly beefier forearm that is 1.95” thick.
I guess the emphasis should be on the word “custom” in the term semi-custom shop.
GREEN RIVER RIFLE WORKS KITS
Early on, GRRW offered their rifles and pistols in kits. With the introduction of the Hawken rifle in 1973, their ads offered rifles Finished, Semi-Finished (in-the-white), and in Kit form for both the S Hawken and Leman Trade Rifle. The Semi-Finished rifles were serial numbered similar to factory finished rifles, but they appear to have been offered for a relatively short time.
Like their rifles, the kits changed over time.
In their 1976-77 catalog, they offered a “Standard Kit” which included all the parts needed to build a rifle of the style ordered and a “Deluxe Kit” in which the barrel is properly breeched, cut and crowned, the underrib and upper thimbles installed, the sight dovetails cut, and provision made for installing the barrel key tennons.
In 1978 or 1979, they had changed their “Standard Kit” for the Leman Trade Rifle and Leman Indian Rifle to include a completely shaped stock which was 90% pre-inlet for lock, tang, trigger, and pipes. All the machining was done such as breech installed, barrel cut and crowned, underribs installed, sight dovetails cut, and barrel tennons installed. The Leman Indian Rifle at the beginning of this thread was assembled from one of these kits.
In the same period, their other rifles were offered in “Custom Kits”, put together to each customer’s specifications. The stock was rough shaped from lock panels back to butt stock. The forearm was left square. The barrel channel was cut and ramrod hole drilled, but no other inlets. The barrels had the breech and underrib installed along with other machining as with the “Standard Kits”.
Other than the Semi-Finished rifles, the kits were not serial numbered. I don’t know the exact number of kits sold, but assume that they numbered in the thousands.
Below are pictures of one of my kits that I ordered in 1979. Note that, except for the barrel work, it is essentially a parts set. I had custom ordered this kit with a Griffith Tool Co. breech & tang and lock.
The 1970's were plagued with high inflation as a result of the Arab oil embargo and hangover from the Vietnam War. The price of GRRW factory made rifles increased substantially during this period compared to the price of their kits. This reflects the rapid increase in labor costs versus the more modest increase in the cost of materials and the labor saving manufacturing processes that Doc and the gang implemented with their machinery. Kits could be manufactured on machines while finished rifles required labor intensive hand work. The inflationary labor costs eventually became too much.
Please forgive me, but the engineer in me just couldn't resist looking at some data in a graph.
As you can see in the chart above, the price of finished rifles for both the Leman Trade Rifle and Hawken halfstock increased twice the rate of their respective kits. GRRW had developed labor saving machinery to fully shape the stock and 90% inlet the lock mortise, tang, and butt plate on the Leman Trade Rifle and Leman Indian Rifle which allowed them to offset the inflationary cost of materials and keep the cost of Leman kits at about the same price in the later half of the 1970’s. The finished Hawken increased twice the rate of the finished Leman because the Hawken required more hand fitting and shaping.
By the late 70's, several companies were competing with GRRW in the kit and semi-custom markets— Sharon Rifle Barrel Co., Art Ressel's The Hawken Shop, (Ozark) Mountain Arms, Ithaca Hawken, and Green River Forge Ltd come to mind. Their timing couldn't have been worse. Potential customers' income just couldn't keep up with the inflationary pressures. Even though they were Hawken rifles in name only, the Thompson Center and CVA Hawkens were simply more affordable for cash strapped folks and the semi-custom makers just couldn't compete.
Last advertisement for GRRW in MUZZLELOADERS magazine, Sep-Oct 1980 issue.
Green River Rifle Works went out of business in late 1980. This notice was published in the Mar-Apr 1981 issue of MUZZLELOADER magazine.
This message has been edited. Last edited by: Meek,
Meek, That .58 is some doin's!! Shoot sharp, Mike
Mike - Thanks for the pics - I forwarded them to TVM and I will have them put it on my gun build
"But I swear, a woman's breast is the hardest rock that the Almighty ever made on this earth, and I can find no sign on it." Bear Claw Chris Lapp
Keith, That's good doin's! Of course I'm not sure if TVM still offers that patch box but I think they do... You'll find out, for sure. Then tell us about your trade rifle.
Shoot sharp's the word, Mike
To All in this thread...
This has been a great read. I've been an ML Shooter and a Hawken fan and admired the GRRW and Sharon's since I GOT HOOKED IN THE 70'S!
It's hard to imagine that those years have become history to many folks now. Thanks for posting such great information...at least it is for me.
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