J. Henry Trade Rifle
Eastern suppliers made up a variety of arms, like this small game rifle for emigrants heading west.
Circa 1860 Henry (U.S.) Fur Trade Percussion Plains Rifle (single-shot/
muzzle-loading/ black powder/ ball ammunition) In terms of
manufacture date, the display gun was not made before 1860. Yet,
it looks like a half-stock rifle of the 1850s. This anachronistic small
caliber rifle was produced in Philadelphia by J. Henry and Son for fur
trading or treaty payment to Native Americans. Because of its
small caliber, it lacks the killing power of the half-stocks which it
Obviously, in 1860, Natives were not given powerful arms. They
were, however, being provided with arms that were sufficient for small
game hunting and for short-range self-protection. During the
Civil War, Native American raids on frontier settlements increased in
scope, requiring diversion of military forces and/or self-protection by
settlers. - Dr. William L. Roberts, THE AMERICAN
LIBERTY COLLECTION; #69The NRA Firearms Museum.
The Rifle presented here is the same type as the rifle noted
above. It was found with the stock broken into 9-12 pieces.
The barrel was drilled and tapped with 3 holes into the bore. It
looked like the barrel key was lost and the owner decided to bolt the
stock to the barrel with ¼ x 20 bolts. The tang was broken
off and someone tried to braze it back in place. Interesting
enough the bore was blocked and I drove the obstruction towards the
breach plug and when it passed the hole closest to the breach plug it
was a ball wrapped in ticking. Somehow the powder was removed
without the rifle going off.
The percussion lock doesn’t have a half cock notch. The
rifle has a set trigger. The bolster breach is applied to the
barrel either with brazing or solder, The breach plug is a
standard flint type breach. The wood is plain walnut with a very
elegant cheek piece and shadow line. The caliber is 28 to 30.
I decided to use it as a pattern rifle and tried to duplicate it as
best as my skill would allow. I used a 1 inch unrifled 40 caliber
barrel. I used a drum and nipple because I don’t know how
to apply a bolster breach. The nose cap is brass so I used a
poured cap in the same shape. The rest of the furniture is