"Plains rifle" is a generic description for a type of muzzle-loading percussion rifle originally developed by the Hawken brothers in St. Louis for the needs of hunters and trappers in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain west, beginning in the 1820s. Although they were made into the 20th century, plains rifles were mostly replaced after the Civil War by mass-produced breech loaders. They differed from the earlier American long rifle (or "Kentucky rifle") in having shorter barrels and larger caliber in half-stock rather than full-stock configuration. They generally do not have the ornate decoration that is observed on Golden Age Kentucky rifles. Typical caliber for a plains rifle is .42 to .60, and typical octagon barrel length is in the 32" to 38" range, with an average weight of a bit over ten pounds. In addition to the Hawken brothers, noted makers include Gemmer, Dimick, Tryon, Henry Lehman, and James Henry. Values shown are generalizations for original 19th century guns in plains rifle configuration by noted makers such as these. Original Hawken made plains rifles may bring double or more, and unmarked plains rifles or those by lesser-known makers may bring half or less.
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