Firearms of the Mountain Men

1803 Harper' Ferry Rifle

The first rifles of this type were issued to Lewis and Clark for their expedition to the West. An early "halfstock" rifle, it was made in .54 caliber and featured a metal ramrod. One of the first military rifles in the West, it may have seen use by trappers who were former soldiers.

Northwest Trade Gun

This smooth bored gun was very popular with the Native Peoples of the West. It was specifically made for trade with the Indians. It was also widely used by Hudson's Bay Co. employees. The Trade Gun could be shot with either shot or ball, making it versatile. It was also known for it's reliability.

Double Barrel Shotgun

Double Barrel shotguns were popular for night watch duties, and sudden attacks. This rare flinklock double barrel would have been the type most widely found in the Rocky Mountains for guarding the horses as well as the camps.

Pennsylvania Rifles

Now known as "Kentucky Long Rifles" the most widely carried gun in the American Fur Trade Era was the full stocked flintlock rifle. These rifles were most commonly made in Pennsylvania by a number of gun makers. The Henry Rifles were considered by "work horse" of the Mountain Man by authority James Hanson. Long barrels, 42"-44" were the most common, in large calibers of .50 to .54, sometimes larger.

Hawken Rifle

The Hawken Rifle was made in St. Louis by Samuel and Jacob Hawken. Hollywood would have you believe that every Mountain Man carried a Hawken, but the facts show otherwise. While the Hawken was a strong, reliable gun, it cost more than twice what a regular full stock flintlock cost, placing it out of the price range of many trappers. Some mountain men were also suspicious of the "new fangled" percussion caps.

Full Stock Flintlock Hawken

Though not as widely known or still extant as the half stock Hawken, some full stock Hawken's with a flintlock were said to be made. This is a replica of the full stock Hawken. Notice the overall size of the barrel and stock. Many of the half stock Hawkens in existence today weigh over 13 pounds.


Pistols were common with the Mountain Man as a close in, last ditch effort at survival. Commonly carried on the saddle in "pommel holsters", these pistols provided extra comfort in a tight spot. Mountain Man Osborne Russell describes holding off a determined attack by the Blackfeet with his "horse pistol". Available in both flintlock and percussion ignition systems, these pistols were widely found in the American fur trade.


The firearms in this display were loaded with blackpowder and a patched lead ball or shot.

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