John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE

Posted by: CJF

John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 12:39 AM

I recently came to have a hammer double rifle by John Dickson of Edinburgh. Proofed as a 39 bore, so I assume pre-1887 and likely 500 BPE. Haven't cast chambers yet.

Hammers have stalking safeties and firing pins are non-rebounding. Jones underlever. Lockup is very tight. Proofs on watertable appear a little faint, so this must have been used enough to warrant a reblacking, but overall, feels very 'new'

I will try to post pictures using Google for hosting vs Photobucket. Also, in case those don't work, I've also linked to the auction.

Any advice? This is my first double rifle. I'm in no rush to do something stupid and fast to get this shooting.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/xiPCoCfyxjtoRvV3A

The auction listing: https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/john-dickson-son-rifle-double-barrel-1920s-jmd-ccf4a28a1e
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 12:55 AM

Can you tell me if the google image link works for you?
Posted by: SKB

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 06:04 AM

pics work, nice looking rifle. Start with a chamber cast, slug the bores and then check the rate of twist. Try olde Eynesford powder. Henry rifling? How are the bores? That should be a really fun rifle.
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 12:07 PM

Here are a few pictures (on Photobucket instead of Google):



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Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 12:10 PM

Thank you for the advice. The rifling is in good shape and the left bore looks very nice. The right is either dirty or has some pitting after the chambers. Both sides are in good shape towards the muzzles.

I haven't weighed it yet. Doesn't feel heavy at all. I'll be curious to see what it actually weighs.
Posted by: HalfaDouble

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 12:13 PM

Beautiful!
Posted by: SKB

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 12:54 PM

Splendid condition! Does the rifle have Henry rifling?
Posted by: rocky mtn bill

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 01:00 PM

Your rifle appears to me to be in completely original condition and to have had little use. The partial stamp on the water table is just poorly struck. From the appearance of the breech face, I'd say it's been shot very little. Any imperfection in the bores is likely the result of poor cleaning. Enjoy.
Posted by: KDGJ

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 01:18 PM

Nice looking Dickson rifle. According to Dallas' Dickson book, SN 3717 is a .500 rifle with 28" barrels. It was sold on 4 Nov 1882.

Ken
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 02:52 PM

Originally Posted By: SKB
Splendid condition! Does the rifle have Henry rifling?


I don't think it has Henry rifling, Steve. I'm not an expert but it does not appear to have the triangular lands of Henry rifling. Looks more like traditional flat lands and grooves, although it does appear to have seven lands.

I need to get out a few books and refresh on the differences
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 02:55 PM

Originally Posted By: rocky mtn bill
Your rifle appears to me to be in completely original condition and to have had little use. The partial stamp on the water table is just poorly struck. From the appearance of the breech face, I'd say it's been shot very little. Any imperfection in the bores is likely the result of poor cleaning. Enjoy.


How wonderful Bill.

What makes me think it received little use, other than the breech face, is the horn butt plate. Too bad the worms got to it, as its checkering (flat diamonds) is crisp, and the engraving on two retaining screws is undamaged.

I also had a chance to weigh the rifle...9 lbs even on the digital bathroom scale.
Posted by: rocky mtn bill

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 06:18 PM

The worm damage is not hard to repair with properly colored epoxy.
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 10:06 PM

Hey Bill - would you recommend trying this myself, or an expert I can send it to. I can't shoot it till I address this challenge.
Posted by: SKB

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 10:20 PM

How about a picture of the Damage? I can likely repair it for you.
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 10:32 PM

Hey Steve - Here's what the butt plate looks like. There's significant damage to the toe of the plate and undercutting voids on the sides at points, but here's the back.

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Along with a poor picture of the rifling (this makes the rifling look awful...it's actually quite shiny.)

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Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 10:34 PM

And a few more gratuitous pics

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Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 10:35 PM

One of the coolest small details is that the firing pins are still blued, which you can see till you pull the hammers back to half cock. Both where the striker hits, and the extruding pin when the hammer falls are blued.
Posted by: SKB

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/17/19 10:47 PM

I have repaired several horn plates but that one is too far gone for me to attempt. Might be time for a new plate. In the mean time try a sip on pad for load development.
Posted by: Eric 375

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/18/19 07:54 AM

That looks to be a very fine rifle in nice condition. Worth having the horn butt plate replaced. Spend the money and bring her back to original standard. Hope it shoots well for you. Take it hunting!(Deer or red stag would be perfection!)
Posted by: HalfaDouble

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/18/19 12:30 PM

For some ideas what one man did to get his Dickson shooting look at this link (scroll down to CptCurl May/14/2017):
https://shilohrifle.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=25117&hilit=50+140&start=15
I don't know if the photos will come up for you but in the one of the Eley 1893 Catalog note that the Nitro for Black powder charge (BP 142 grains - SP 54 grains) for the 440/480 grain bullet is a little under 40% of the BP charge which fits in with the oft quoted 40% using 4198 (is it?). Also note that his in in the 3 1/4 inch version.
Posted by: mbatten

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/18/19 03:02 PM

That's a beautiful rifle - congratulations!

I'm curious - are they blued damascus or steel barrels?

Have you looked inside the locks to determine who made them?

Cheers!

mbatten
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/18/19 03:40 PM

I've not yet looked inside the locks. I believe the barrels are steel and not damascus, based on what I'm seeing, particularly under the forearm.
Posted by: keith

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/19/19 05:45 PM

That is a very nice double rifle in what appears to be very nice original condition. Sad that the worms also found it to be so attractive. I'd agree that the horn buttplate should be replaced rather than wasting time and money on a repair.

There is a guy here named Joe Dobrzynski who often sells Buffalo Horn material for buttplates, grip caps, etc. I think he also sells horn material on Ebay. Here's a link to one of his recent For Sale ads here:

https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=547957#Post547957
Posted by: pamtnman

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/27/19 10:37 AM

This gun is in original condition. Wow. Great find.
Olde Eynsford powder works best out of all powders in my BPE rifles. I have tried Goex, Elephant, Swiss (not too bad), and Olde Eynsford. OE is much better, more powerful than the others in my brass case cartridges. This gun no doubt needs paper patched bullets.
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 08/31/19 09:39 PM

Thank you all again for the help. So now I've slugged the bore, driving a Hornady 50cal muzzleloading conical projectile 3 inches into the right bore, starting at the breech end. After popping it back out, I'm seeing what started as .505-.506 now is .496 where the lands impressed/indented the lead. I think these measurements are accurate. Isn't that too small?

The rifles proofs show a 39 bore.

Similar question was discussed here: https://www.africahunting.com/threads/british-double-rifle-gauge-to-caliber-conversion.50365/
Posted by: pamtnman

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 09/02/19 03:29 AM

Couple of thoughts: proof versus service load are two different things. So proof marks are often just indications, not gospel or science. Second, you should slug both barrels at each end. That is, drive a slightly oversize slug through each chamber and out an inch or two. Then run a slug all the way down each bore. You will probably find that the bores are tapered. About 2-4 thousandths. Tapered bore was almost standard in British BPEs. So see how your big bullet is starting out versus what it is exiting as.
Posted by: Mike Rowe

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 09/02/19 05:17 PM

The old .500 bullets ran around .502 bare. Wrap 'em in paper and shoot 'em - you'll be fine.
Posted by: rocky mtn bill

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 01/03/20 06:38 PM

Before I replaced the buttplate, I'd try restoring it. One worm hole or twenty worm holes might not matter if they're properly filled and finished off.
Posted by: mbatten

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 01/03/20 10:37 PM

Congratulations on a beautiful rifle!

I'm a new owner too, and there is some very good advice about loading for these old blackpowder rifles in a previous post I started here called 'Alex Henry 450 BPE double bullets'.

Also, Graeme Wright's 'Shooting the British Double Rifle' is an excellent resource.

Have fun!
Posted by: CJF

Re: John Dickson hammer double in 500 BPE - 02/15/20 05:07 PM

Originally Posted By: mbatten
Congratulations on a beautiful rifle!

I'm a new owner too, and there is some very good advice about loading for these old blackpowder rifles in a previous post I started here called 'Alex Henry 450 BPE double bullets'.

Also, Graeme Wright's 'Shooting the British Double Rifle' is an excellent resource.

Have fun!


Thanks MBatten. Sorry hadn't seen your post till now.