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Not counting shotguns, my favorite firearms are the single shot offhand target rifles of the latter part of the 19th Century - the ones with the oddly-shaped buttstocks and pronged buttplates. Guns that were meant to be fired as a fellow stood properly on his hind feet, like a man. These were super-accurate - even by todays standards - and were usually chambered in mid-sized cartridges that could be shot all day and wouldn't knock the pi$$ out of you each time you pulled the trigger - usually .32s, .33s, and .38s. Some were muzzleloaders, some were breechloaders, and some were even muzzleloading breechloaders (!?) - the Schalks, Ballards, Sharps-Borchardts, Stevens, Winchesters, Rem.-Hepburn, and my favorite - the Massachusetts Arms Co. #16 Maynard Rifles.

#16 Maynard .32-35 offhand rifle M-1873 - with reloading tools and Ideal mould. Special-order fancy walnut PG stock with no checkering - original finish on the wood and metal.



The tools include the Hadley pat. Re/Decapper and the straight-line bullet seater. I usually shoot this gun using a single oriented case over-and-over and loaded with my favorite FFG/SR-4759 duplex combination. It shoots best if you breech-seat the bullet ahead of the case, and the weighed bullets are shot in the order that they were originally cast.



These rifles usually came with additional barrels, fore-ends, and buttplates to match the sport. Because of this ability to quickly switch barrels, it was the TC Encore of its day! I have the .64 cal shotgun barrel and the .40-70 express barrel in addition to the .32-35 barrel shown here, but only the pronged Swiss buttplate for target shooting.



I've had this superbly accurate rifle for ~28 years and take it out to shoot ~3 times a year. I don't think I've posted photos of it ever before and it is the closest thing I have to a safe queen - if the weather turns to rain, I sprint for the vehicle.

xtm
 
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I have never seen an original Maynard in that condition. Amazing. Most of the ones I have seen are lucky to be 20-30% guns. They are out there, as I know of two for sale here in New England.

That gun and compliment of gear are simply outstanding. What a great caliber...Gives me even more reason to pursue a Hepburn one of these years... ;)

giz
 

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If you look back at contemporary price lists, Maynards were expensive firearms - more expensive than comparative Sharps and Remingtons. That's because a lot more handwork went into their manufacture - particularly the barrels. Also, each Maynard rifle was furnished with moulds and tools that perfectly matched the chamber and bore dimensions.

Also, If you look back at match results for 200 yd. offhand matches, Maynard shooters would often sweep the field. The story goes that Stevens bought out the Maynard name so they could remove their main competition, but I suspect that the Mass. Arms demise had more to do with the high price of their firearms.

Their #16 rifles and a few of the #15s were the only models regularly made with a wood fore-end. Most Maynards are without that item and unknowledgable folks frequently assume that they were cheap inexpensive guns! Even their top-of-the-line #14 Long Range Creedmore Rifle was made without fore-end wood. I believe that it cost ~$65 in 1873 - a whole lot of dough! I believe that the #16s were ~$60 at that time.

For the longest time, old Maynards could be bought cheaply at gun shows around here - not really the case now. I can guarantee you this: I you find a Maynard with a perfect chamber and bore and have the proper weight and size bullet, you will have a superb shooter. I've found them to be the least finicky of all the single shots I've owned.

I've had two Hepburns, a .32-30 Rem. and a .45-70 Govt. Both of them were fine shooters. One thing you need to be wary of on the big bore Rem-Heps - for some reason, lots of the .45s and .50s were stocked with lots of drop at comb and heel which makes them brutal kickers at the shoulder and jawbone. My .45 was that way, and for that reason, I traded it off for some other firearms passion at the time. The Hepburn breech block rises and falls vertically in its mortise without any camming action, so after a bit of fouling gets built up ahead of the chamber, the cartridge case will not chamber all-the-way and the breech block will be blocked from rising fully until you clean away the fouling. Hepburns and Sharps-Borchardts were the worst two with this bugaboo. Rem.-Heps and Win. 1885s were the last hurrah of the golden age of single shots - and were among the strongest action types of this class.

xtm
 
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