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Saddle Wear
December 9, 2013
7:07 am
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I think that carbine we’ve been talking about has honest wear from honest use. I post this in a separate thread so as to not confuse the subjects.

I’m going to posit a theory and stand back for the input.

There is no *saddle wear*.

Leather is softer than wood. Maybe raw hide or a wood or steel tree/fork/swell/pommel could wear wood, but most saddles are covered with leather.

Thus, what we call saddle wear is actually one of two things:

1. Honest period sanding of the fore arm done to enhance the grip or balance of the weapon and reduce the slide-off to either side (followed by burnishing in honest use), or;
2. Dishonest sanding/burnishing done to provide illegitimate character to a weapon.

As to the former, and why a rider would not cut 90 degrees in to provide a better grasp, well, that would result in unnecessary wear on the saddle at those cut points. Thus, they did it smoothly.

In the end, I just can’t imagine how many hours, days and years in the saddle it would take to create the wear I have seen on some weapons. I’m not sure Lewis and Clark could have done it on several trips with heavy muzzle loaders. I could be wrong.

December 9, 2013
9:23 am
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If it were me and I wanted a better grip on the forearm, I would cut checkering into it. I have my doubts about sanding the forearm to give a better grip. I think you might be right about leather not wearing wood down much. Wood on wood or wood on metal seems more likely. In the days before vehicles became common, I imagine a lot of guns spent a lot of time in buck boards and sleighs. When I was a teen, we forked hay and straw every day for 200 head of cattle. Dad and I each had our own pitchforks and they had wooden handles. We always wore leather mitts in the winter, so we had a lot of leather on wood. One winter represented hundreds of hours of forking. Those pitchfork handles got polished up slick, but there was never any wear on the wood.

December 9, 2013
11:03 am
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Sorry your wrong. As an ex Custom knifemaker I can tell you for a Fact leather can wear Steel. I used a leather strop to final sharpen my exotic tool steel blades.

Ever seen a pistol with one side of the muzzle worn to a bevel by the leather on the inside of a holster? I see them all the time.

I'm not saying any rifle has saddle wear but to say leather is softer then wood so it can't wear the wood is just not the case.

Ever seen a Gallery model Pump .22 with the butt stock sway backed from a bunch of kids soft as a babys butt checks rubbing up against them? And that ain't even tanned yet. LOL

December 9, 2013
1:38 pm
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I have to vote along with Mark W on this one...Holster wear is a great example, but there are many other examples of a softer material wearing down a harder.. The saddle leather gets sand, and or dirt imbedded in it which is what is actually wearing down the wood or steel. This has been common knowledge dating back to prehistoric times....If you want to polish or just remove material from a very hard surface [such as stone] you use a soft material that will imbed with grit. I own a very well used 73' in .44 cal that has "saddle wear" it is a fairly pronounced sway in the forend starting just past the receiver..This gun has a 28" barrel on it and so balances right in the center of the sway...is it from saddle or hand carry? The scientific side of me can not be positive, but the romantic side says its saddle wear....My gun, My story.....The earlier post also pointed to wear from a gunrack..This I am also officially pooh pawing....Being from a rural area and old enough to have been around when almost every pickup had a gun rack I can tell you that a winchester lever action will not ride well in an upright position. Due to the amount of drop in the stock it just doesn,t work well..Now if you flip it over so the lever is on the topside it rides well and won't slide around because one side of the rack will sit right between the end of the tang and the swell at the comb...This is the only logical way to store it in a truck gun rack and in my area it was the only way you would see it done. I also own a 94' carbine built in 47....The barrel blueing is beautifull except for a 2" patch on the top of the barrel near the end of the forend that could not possibly be more silver and worn. This is classic wear from a gun rack.... brian

December 9, 2013
2:12 pm
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I know I said it before but this is a fascinating discussion to me.

December 9, 2013
4:02 pm
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Mark W. said
Ever seen a pistol with one side of the muzzle worn to a bevel by the leather on the inside of a holster?

I had an original S&W Schofield with the outside edge of the muzzle worn to a bevel, but I figured it was because the muzzle was sticking out the bottom of the holster rubbing on all sorts of things. If Mark uses a leather strop to sharpen knives, then it surely must wear the metal. I recall when I was a boy, the barbers had a leather strop hanging off their barber's chair. They would strop their razors on it to get them good and sharp.

December 9, 2013
4:05 pm
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I support the theory of this being a trapper's carbine. To me, it seems the carbine in question saw a lot harsher environment than riding around in a truck rack. The stocks look like they've been exposed to wet weather causing the wood grain to soften giving them a weathered look. The stocks also show evidence of things (maybe tree branches, etc.) brushing against them over the years--perhaps from riding around on a dog sled?? It seems it could have been strapped to the frame near the operator causing the unusual forearm wear. This would have been wood-to-wood contact. See attached photos of a vintage dog sled.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ADK_Museum_-_Dog_Sled.jpg

December 9, 2013
9:33 pm
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Is it possible the fore stock was used as a lever handle to help compress one of the springs on a steel trap? That could surely cause some rapid wear in the area we are looking at.

Placing the wood over the strap shaped spring on the steel trap then pressing down as hard as required to compress the spring enough to allow the jaws to pass past the trip rod and allow the trap to be set?

December 10, 2013
5:18 am
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Mark W. said
Is it possible the fore stock was used as a lever handle to help compress one of the springs on a steel trap? That could surely cause some rapid wear in the area we are looking at.

Placing the wood over the strap shaped spring on the steel trap then pressing down as hard as required to compress the spring enough to allow the jaws to pass past the trip rod and allow the trap to be set?

That is possible, though I would expect to see more damage to the retaining band and even the magazine tube. They both appear to be in pretty good shape. On the other hand, my mind keeps going to a huge bear trap and that is not necessarily the case. Holding down a smaller fur bearer trap could indeed do this. And, in the extreme cold and snow it would be a possibility.

The more I look at that stock, the more I think of snow/stove/snow/stove/snow/stove, etc.

I'm not buying the leather wear though. Stropping just flattens the curl on mirco thin edges caused by honing or use and will not sharpen or wear steal. A fore arm is hardly "sharp" and as we all know you can't cut or even saw leather with a dull knife, much less a piece of round wood. I'd have to see the kid's cheek wear to believe it. Holsters full of dirt or protruding barrels can explain the beveling of muzzles. You don't see it on cavalry models that were carried in closed flap holsters and properly cared for by soldiers. I figure on any gun with a beveled muzzle you'd see a sixth less but similar wear on the front edge of the cylinder. Colt even beveled the cylinder edges to avoid wear on holsters.

In conclusion, *even if* saddle leather could wear wood, I think it would take a thousand years to create some of the "saddle wear" I've seen. That's just my opinion.

December 10, 2013
5:41 am
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Mark W. said
Is it possible the fore stock was used as a lever handle to help compress one of the springs on a steel trap? That could surely cause some rapid wear in the area we are looking at.

I ran a small trapline when I was a teen and always carried a 22 rifle with me when setting or checking my traps. I always used my foot to press down the springs. That way I could put my full weight on the spring. Opening the jaws of the trap and setting the trigger mechanism requires both hands, while standing on the springs. Using the fore stock of a rifle would not work at all ..... it is way too long so it would interfere with everything else on the ground either side of the spring, and I would need two hands to stabilize and press down on the rifle, leaving no hands for setting the trap. Standing on the springs is much easier.

December 10, 2013
7:44 am
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I always used my feet, but without a wide piece of board (I had a 2" X 6", about two feet long) it is almost impossible to use your feet on deep snow or mud.

I grabbed my Uberti 66 Short Rifle and two coyote traps (one single side and one double side) and went out back to try this. I found that *IF* I was to use my weapon, the natural inclination was to use the side of the fore arm, not the bottom. I used a picnic table bench to simulate the tote back of a snow machine if there was no board to use. I still wanted to use the side of the fore arm. I also think that even if I did this repeatedly it would really mess up my weapon quick and would not leave that smooth, burnished look. It would be pretty rough and chopped up.

It's possible, but I don't think holding open or pressing down on leg hold traps did that to the weapon in question.

December 10, 2013
10:21 am
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Remember this Carbine dates to the teens and early '20s, not many snow machines around then. Wink
I also trapped back in the '60s and '70s and like Kirk said always used my feet and sometimes just used the edge of my snow shoes without taking them off, when the snow was deep.
Another thing to remember, this gun was likely used daily for work back then, not like today when only taken out for a hunt and put back away. These were tools back then, not something to be waxed, stroked and put back in a safe. 🙂

December 11, 2013
7:06 am
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I'm in the "saddle wear school". In the other thread I mentioned a 1st Model '73 rifle I had with saddle wear in front of the receiver, right at the balance point. I can see no other way the wear could happen in that spot - certainly not from hand carrying. If you balance a rifle across the saddle in front of you, right behind the fork, it is in constant movement, even at a walk. Try it. That brings up the question - what will receive the most wear? I say the wood.

December 12, 2013
5:31 am
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You guys win. I've come around and admit I was wrong. I did a little more research beyond Winchesters. Muzzle loaders have the same issue.

When I think of human nature and how I might respond to my rifle continually slipping one way or the other, even with my hand on it, I might be inclined to help the wear process along a little bit without making it so rough as to abrade my saddle. But nonetheless I think over a very long time you could get the wear we see in an honest, unassisted way.

That's not to say some folks haven't tried to add some character for resale purposes but even that dishonest effort would be trying to emulate honest examples.

As to the carbine in question I'd bet it was a snow-country trapper's weapon. While the carbine is older and may have been used on a dog sled, it could also have occurred more recently (but still decades ago) with snow mobiles. Either way, the possibility of holding a double sided trap open with it on a dog sled or snow mobile is weak, but possible. Use as a tool, or bouncing around in transport, that weapon has seen some extensive wear over a long area of the forearm. The lack of similar wear on the stock makes me think tool and not just bouncing around.

Thanks for the argument and reasoned persuasion. I stand corrected. 😀

December 12, 2013
2:23 pm
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James it's just nice to be on a forum where grown ups can have a discussion with various points of view that people don't start calling names and acting like 11 year olds hopped up on sugar.

I so enjoy the discussions on this forum

December 12, 2013
2:54 pm
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Mark W. said
James it's just nice to be on a forum where grown ups can have a discussion with various points of view that people don't start calling names and acting like 11 year olds hopped up on sugar.

I so enjoy the discussions on this forum

And we can learn something. In the muzzleloader community I guess they occasionally find what they call a "belly plate" under the forearm on old antiques; it's a piece of metal. Maybe it's there to protect from saddle wear. Here is an example: http://www.antiquearmsinc.com/kentucky-percussion-rifle-squirrel-rifle-leman-southern-maple-patchbox-1850s.htm

December 12, 2013
2:56 pm
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Yeah, for a while there I was beginning to wonder if any of you guys had actually rode a horse before or not.

My father has a 28" barrel 73 with light saddle wear. I'll have to post a pic of it when I get a chance. It looks just like the ones pictured in Jim Gordon's book.

Sincerely,
Maverick

December 12, 2013
3:04 pm
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maverick said
Yeah, for a while there I was beginning to wonder if any of you guys had actually rode a horse before or not.

My father has a 28" barrel 73 with light saddle wear. I'll have to post a pic of it when I get a chance. It looks just like the ones pictured in Jim Gordon's book.

Sincerely,
Maverick

Actually, it's all that riding and familiarity with saddles that made me question it. While I used a scabbard for my rifle, I did a great deal of packing with very old saw bucks, all of which were wood and leather and none of which showed any wood wear after hauling around two hundred pound loads for God knows how many years through the mountains. Come to think of it though, none of the wood was walnut. I think it was hickory or oak.

You can see where paniers rub (example from internet):

[Image Can Not Be Found]

We didn't use paniers much but there was still a lot of rubbing. Side note, I prefer Deckers.

December 13, 2013
1:13 pm
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James

Not doubting your riding skills or experience. But on the other hand would wonder why you would think otherwise.

I think most people don't comprehend well how this type of wear comes about.
2CMR_2.jpgImage Enlarger
I'm thinking legit wear on a stock like those pictured in Gordon's book would be do by carrying the rifle like seen above. The canadian infantry man close to the picture has his rifle resting against the horn of the saddle.

The horn of the saddle has less leather on it than most of the rest of the saddle. Plus if the saddle saw much use, it wouldn't take long to wear down to the "tree" of the saddle. As I'm sure you already know the "tree" of a saddle is made of wood. And constant wood to wood contact would wear down over time and if not rather quickly.

Now as for the wear on the forearm of the fore mentioned model 94. I'm unsure as to how that type of wear came about but I could still see it not impossible to be done by saddle wear.

Sincerely,
Maverick

December 13, 2013
2:27 pm
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maverick said
But on the other hand would wonder why you would think otherwise.

Well, specifically, to answer your question, because, when I was a guide, packer and wrangler, I did a great deal of packing with very old saw bucks, all of which were wood and leather and none of which showed any wood wear after hauling around two hundred pound loads for God knows how many years through the mountains. I've seen a lot of different material (like wood, leather, rope, and steal) subject to much greater weight and rocking, same-spot-wear than any ten pound rifle/pommel/swell/fork contact, and all of it on equipment that was much older than me, used more than one generation. I've seen burn-wear from ropes on wood and dallies on leather horns, and ax handles top loaded on saw bucks and on and on, but don't ever recall seeing wood worn by leather in a fashion like that seen with rifles. Again, to repeat myself, maybe that's because most forks, ax handles, etc. are harder wood than walnut.

I don't know what else I can say. I've already stipulated that I must be wrong. But coming to that conclusion that I was wrong certainly wasn't based upon any of my personal experience wearing a rifle down over my saddle. Don't know how many folks around today can testify as to saddle wear on rifles from personal experience. Like I said, I used a scabbard. What convinced me was evidence of saddle wear on weapons with little to no collector value, as well as weapons with preventative care (belly plates). That, to me, was much more convincing that my personal experience referenced above, which actually raises doubt.

That's it for me.

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