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Thread: Lyman Rifles

  1. #1
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    Default Lyman Rifles

    I don't recall any mention here of the Lyman line of St. Louis Hawken style rifles that are readily available at a very affordale price. Does any one have and/or any experience using? They make a .54 with a slow 60 inch twist for round ball that looks good. I am not too enthusiastic with the deep cresent steel but plate or the narrow stocks, but hey it worked 150 years ago, and well apparently.

  2. #2

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    It's more of a "plains" style than a Hawken in the detailing, and that's why they call it a Great Plains Rifle rather than Hawken. Small point, but it really is one of the closest representations of a generic plains style available, much closer to that than almost any labeled "Hawken" such as TC and other actually come to original Hawkens.

    Semantics aside, it's one of my favorite rifles. Accurate as can be after 100 or so shots are fired to smooth the sharp edges on the rifling and crown a bit.

    Some fine tuning points are in order, but they're minor. The packing grease in their barrels is the darnedest stuff I've ever seen. Clean and clean and clean with regular gun solvents, and you still won't get it all. And accuracy won't come up to potential until you do. Fortunately there's an easy fix- Just use brake pad cleaner from your favorite auto store on two or three patches. It cuts the grease like nobody's business.

    Another is the Lyman nipple, if you're looking at a capper rather than flinter. Lyman nipples are just fine with Remington or RWS caps, but the CCI caps tend to sit very slightly high on them. You have to really push them down hard to get them to seat all the way down, and if you don't you'll have misfires. My solution is simply to change the nipple.

    I don't particularly like the adjustable sights on them, but fortunately Lyman packs a primitive sight in the box with each. Trouble is the primitive sight is too loose in the dovetail. Another easy fix. Flip the sight over and use a punch to put several dimples in the bottom side. Done deal.

    The Lyman ramrods will break sooner or later, often sooner. You can switch to a better quality hickory or one of the synthetics. My problem with the synthetics is that they are too flexible in the first place, and so slick you have trouble keeping them in the pipes.

    Read Lyman's recommendations about cleaning. The rifles have a "patent" breech that's smaller diameter than the bore, and they recommend a 35 cal bore brush for cleaning that in addition to the bore cleaning. Good advice.

    I've got both 50 and 54 cal, and happen to like the balance or "hang" of the 54 caliber, finding the 50 just a little too muzzle heavy for my tastes. Others feel differently. Both calibers really thrive on 30-35 grain charges of 3f Goex or Pyrodex P as a reduced load for head-shooting snowshoe hares. We're talking ragged hole groups at 25 yards once the barrel is broken in with 100 shots or so. A 60 grain charge of the same powders is a real comfortable plinking or practice load. I'm using 80 grains of the same powders in my 50 for deer and 90 grains in my 54. The 50 doesn't particularly like 2f Goex or Pyrodex RS, while the 54 does just fine. I bump the charge to 100 grains when using 2f or RS.

    As for the hooked butt, you don't use it like you do modern rifles. Try this: Raise your arm and hand into "shooting" position, but rather than leaving the elbow down, raise it to horizontal at shoulder height. With it there use your other hand to feel that shoulder. Outside of the shoulder joint and a little down the arm you'll feel a pocket has formed. THAT is where the butt goes, and not inside of the shoulder joint or on top of it. With very little practice it will feel natural to mount the gun our there, and doing so is not uncomfortable to shoot at all, even with stout loads. But get that butt inside the shoulder joint or right on it, and you'll bruise, as well as swear. I've got some comparatively light 58 and 62 caliber guns with the hooked butts, and they're impossible to shoot if you mount the butt the same as a modern gun. Sure you can shoot them that way, but you won't do it twice!

    I use .490 balls and .018" pillow ticking patches in my 50 and .530 balls with ticking in my 54. Some guys prefer .495 and .535 balls with ticking, but you just about have to beat them in with a mallet to get them started. Fine for a range rifle, but not for me in a hunting gun.

    Oh, and speaking of that, in the early stages with either bore, you'll likely be happier with .015" patches than the ticking, just cuzz loading is a little tough until the bore smooths down a little bit. If you start there, be sure to try the ticking after 100 shots or so to see if loading has eased up. You'll see a jump in accuracy I bet.

    One more "oh." The crown on the rifles tends to be a little sharp when new. If you slap the short starter when starting a ball, you'll almost certainly cut the patch and ruin accuracy. Instead, use a firm push on the short starter to get around the cutting.

  3. #3
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    That is an awesome reply!!
    I also have the Trade rifle in .54. I used in a lot in the lower 48 for pigs and deer. I switched out the site to a peep site that lyman makes.
    I don't have all the particulars but I do know it is a tough and accurate rifle. I have a target in storage to I touched three round balls at 100. Very nice to carry as for balance and shoots well.
    I haven't had any luck shooting anything but 3f goex in it and have not used it up here. I tried pyrodex up here and had no consistant accuracy.
    For most of my hunting I used a 425grn Hornady lead conicle with 90 grns goex 3fg. Very accurate.

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    Thanks brownbear. Very good counsel. From your description on how to shoulder the gun, that's what we call a "arm rifle". Any body got any stories on use in the wood on game?

  5. #5

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    No real stories. I've only used mine for deer, and inside 75 yards. Dead quick with both calibers, for sure. In truth I use mine heavily for head-bopping snowshoe hares each winter. A charge of 30-35 grains of 3f Goex or Pyrodex P cuts ragged holes with either caliber at 25 yards. We shoot a whole lot of them, to the point that I wonder if pound-wise we don't actually eat more of them than deer!

    Here's and interesting "story" about the gun, though. Way back when Investarms first started making them, they also made a 58 caliber with the same 15/16" barrel. No more since manufacturers and lawyers decided 1" barrels were minimum for 58 caliber. You don't see them all that often, but I just managed to pick one up. It's even lighter than the 54 caliber as you might guess, and may well become my favorite "Lyman." It doesn't say Lyman on the barrel, but parts are interchangeable. I'm a fan of 58 caliber in the first place, and to have my favorite rifle in that caliber is going to make for lots of stories!

  6. #6
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    BrownBear,
    Have You shot your new 58 yet?
    I am still thinking of "upgrading" my 50.

    Good hunting, have fun-

    Chris

  7. #7

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    Yeah, and I'm delighted. It's a little lighter that the 54 due to a bigger hole in a barrel that's also 3" shorter, so it carries easy. It has just enough muzzle weight for easy shooting too. I've only shot a little offhand in addition to the bench, and will upgrade the trigger soon. It's pretty "standard" and a $50 Davis trigger is remarkable. From the bench it pretty much cuts ragged holes at 25 yards, but I haven't had the chance to shoot it further. I tried 80, 90 and 100 grains of 2f Goex and it liked them all. Recoil wasn't excessive by any means at 100 grains, but you were aware you weren't shooting 80 grains. With the thin barrel I doubt I'll take it higher, and in fact may settle on 90 grains as a standard hunting load.

    As for upgrading a 50, that's a problem in today's world of lawyers saving folks from the next cup of McDonald's coffee. No manufacturer will go as high as 58 cal these days in a 15/16" barrel like the Lyman. 54 is as big as you can get. That's a dandy caliber too, and you can get replacement barrels from Lyman for not that much money. The alternative is to keep your eyes open for one of the older guns like mine or to go to a gun with a 1" barrel. CVA, Investarms and a couple of others made their 58 cals with 15/16" barrels and they pop up once in a while for sale. I feel really lucky to have found mine, getting the whole rifle in great shape for little more than the cost of a replacement barrel.

    Another good used 58 to watch for is the TC Big Boar. It's basically a 58 cal version of the single-trigger Renegade, and they too pop up once in a while.

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    Brownbear,thanks very much for sharing your experience. Tell me more about the upgraded Davis Triggers. I had no idea that such was available. I know the Lyman trigger are double-set type shootable always, set, not-set, set any time in the cocking sequence. I imagine a premium replacement trigger would be much more polished and precise.

  9. #9

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    The RE Davis company makes a bunch of different triggers and locks, their Deerslayer trigger. Click HERE for a link that goes right to their page. You can buy direct from them or from other outfits like Track of the Wolf. I think TOW is close to $50, while it's $41 directly from Davis.

    The Deerslayer is intended for the TC Hawken, but in my experience it's usually a straight drop-in replacement for double-trigger for Lymans. I've put them in 6 Lyman rifles now and 5 were in fact perfect drop-ins. On required the thinnest shaving for one side of the trigger plate at the front end. We're talking molecules here. Unset, it's about the best I've ever had on a muzzleloader. Breaks about 3 pounds and really crisp. Set it, and it's really something. In a league by itself beyond the standard Lyman. Also nice, the rear trigger is a completely different shape than the front one, so there's no mistaking them when you're in a hurry.

  10. #10
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    Thanks BrownBear, I will probably be looking at new rifles. Was really hoping to draw a muzzleloader moose tag, but drew a road cow tag instead. That would have been good excuse to get new rifle. However, since will have to have eye surgury- I am really glad got the "easy" tag. Will use a new 300 wsm and get it ready (test) for next years Kodiak hunt w/Tom Kirstein.

    Chris

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