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Original U.S. Pennsylvania Double Barrel Turnover Combination Rifle & Musket by Kelker & Bros. of Harrisburg, PA. - Circa 1850

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Just purchased at a recent military auction! This is a very nice heavy octagon barreled "Pennsylvania" percussion hunting rifle, often referred to as a "Kentucky" rifle. The design developed in Pennsylvania, and then spread down the Ohio River Valley to Kentucky, where it was very popular. This example is a bit different than most however, as it is double barreled, arranged "over and under", and it also features a swivel at the breech so that the barrels "turnover", required as there is only one lock. This also makes for better sighting of that barrel as well. As an additional twist, while both barrels are in .39-40", one of the usual sizes for Pennsylvania rifles, one has heavy 7 groove rifling, while the other is smooth.

This is too small to be any kind of "combination" gun with a rifle and shotgun barrel, so we assume that the smooth barrel is for close range, while the rifled barrel is for long range. Rifling was more prone to wear and fouling, so it was probably preferable to use the smooth barrel when applicable. The rifle is definitely a high grade example, which is quite the looker due to the lovely "Tiger Flame" maple half stock. It is all "German Silver" mounted, and the rifle features a 36 1/4 inch long octagonal double barrel assembly, and an overall length of 52 3/4 inches. With two barrels in front, it is definitely quite heavy, almost as heavy as "bench rest" rifles of the day.

The back action lock on the right side has some lovely engraving, showing flying game fowl, and the maker name clearly on the tail:


Kelker & Bros was a known maker located at 17 South 2nd St, Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. There is a lock plate on the left side, but it is actually the latch for the "turnover" swivel joint in the barrel. This mechanism still works very well, though as with most the lock must be cocked to swivel the barrels so that the hammer is not in the way. We checked the lock, and it holds securely at full cock, and does not appear to have any provision for a half cock position. We checked both bores, and they are clear and mostly clean, with some fouling in the 7 groove rifling on the rifled side. Both sides have a rear sight, however the front sight on the rifled side is missing. There are ramrods fitted into long German silver fittings on both sides of the barrel assembly, one of which has a threaded steel fitting on the end.

A very interesting double barrel turnover Pennsylvania rifle, with lots of display and research potential! Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: c.1850
Caliber (Rifle): approx .39" seven groove rifling
Caliber (Smooth): approx .39"
Cartridge Type: Ball and Powder
Barrel Length: 36 1/4 Inches

Overall Length: 52 3/4 Inches
Action type: Side Action Percussion Lock
Feed System: Muzzle Loading

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