A Plains rifle is a modification of the Kentucky rifle. Its original purpose was for use on the western frontier.
The Plains rifle is often referred to as a half stock, and first appeared around the end of the first quarter of the 19th century, with production ending by 1880. There was a demand for shorter rifles to be carried on horseback and larger bores for bigger game. Bores ranged from .50 to .60 caliber, and barrel lengths were 36 to 40 inches. Plains rifles are generally found with percussion ignition systems.
Like the Kentucky rifle, Plains rifles were all handmade. Jacob and Samuel Hawken are considered the originators of the Plains rifle. They were the sons of Christian Hawken, Kentucky rifle maker of Hagerstown, MD. The popularity of Jacob's and Samuel´s guns spread rapidly. Gunmakers from across the country began to copy the Plains style rifle. In addition to the Hawken brothers, other well-known makers were Horace Dimick, J.P. Gemmer, James Henry, and Henry Leman. Like Kentucky rifles, values for Plains rifles differ greatly, depending on the maker, condition, and style. Values can range anywhere from $500-$50,000! Flintlock Plains rifles are scarce.
The publisher would like to thank Mr. Jim Buelow for making the above information available to the Blue Book of Gun Values.