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Servia resident buildscustom flintlock rifles

Kenneth Moore finished his first flintlock in 1984

By Shirley Shuman

It would definitely be accurate to say that Kenneth Moore has never built two flintlock rifles that were exactly alike. Moore builds flintlock rifles according to the customer’s requests and needs. He built his first one in 1984; that one was for himself.

Moore’s first experience in building rifles actually came in 1978-79 when he built percussion rifles from kits. The percussion rifle, Moore explained, “was the predecessor of the flintlock, but it went out of style during the Civil War.” A breech-loading rifle, which had a cartridge, followed the percussion rifle, which obviously remained since Moore worked with them in the late 1970’s.

His interest in the flintlock rifle evolved with an adult education class in which former Braxton County High teacher Ed Rayle taught the process of building the rifle. Moore figured it was time to apply what he had learned, so he set out to build his own flintlock rifle. It took him “eight or nine months” to finish it. That first rifle, a .45 caliber, was designed for deer hunting.

Soon Moore, who was operating his own business, began a second rifle, this one for squirrel hunting. For some time after that, he built “about one rifle a year,” all for himself. In 1990, he began custom flintlock-building for customers. He was still finishing just one a year. “Making a rifle like that is a labor-intensive job,” he explained and added, “I’d judge it takes about 400 hours.”

The rifles Moore builds, he said, “come in a lot of grades, from basic to fancy, like those with a lot of inlays in the wood. These designs are made of metal. Also, in these more elaborate rifles, the trigger guard and the butt plate are metal, some iron, some other metals.”

He continued to explain that the original rifles had patch boxes that held the balls. “You have to shoot undersize balls in all deer rifles because you can’t force regular size down the muzzle.”

Currently, Moore owns seven flintlock rifles, including a shotgun which he uses to shoot grouse and turkeys. For the shotgun, the shooter puts the powder in, then adds wadding followed by the shot and fiber card. “This load is built right in the barrel,” he explained.

This flintlock expert still builds about two rifles a year, and the price he charges depends on what the customer wants. The cost for one of his rifles ranges from $1,200 to $3,000. Those on which he carves and engraves are the most expensive.

Moore added an interesting note about his rifles. He actually cut the tree the stocks are made of 25 years ago. The wood is sugar maple, and he cured it 20 years in his barn loft. He explained that he chose sugar maple because of the curl it contains. “It makes a prettier stock,” he said. To finish the stock, he stains it with different kinds of stains, then finishes with a coat of sealer.”

Kenneth Moore not only builds and hunts with flintlock rifles. He loves to shoot and said he “got into shooting competitions with these guns and still competes.”  Last June he even won a national championship.

He belongs to a national muzzle-loading rifle association which has a 500-acre range in Indiana, “all just for shooting.” This organization holds the national championship competition.

Locally, Moore says the WV muzzle-loading association holds meets, and there are some informal meets “where members get together and see who is the best shooter.”  Kenneth Moore loves them all. He’s truly a flintlock fan.