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Dixie deluxe cub rifle.

* The flash of fire and puff of smoke as flint met steel was my second clue that the operation of muzzle-loader was far different than that of the cartridge-fed firearms I had handled before. My first clue was loading the rifle. The painstaking process of measuring a charge of gunpowder and pouring it into the bore, topping it with a patch and ball driven firmly down with a ramrod, then priming the pan with powder and cocking the hammer involved a few more steps than I had previously found necessary to ready an arm for firing. But in no time at all I discovered that black powder shooting is not only interesting and educational, but relaxing and fun as well. I couldn't have asked for a more ideal candidate for my introduction to the sport than Dixie Gun Works' new .40 caliber "Deluxe Cub" replica rifle.

The authenticity and dependability of the most recent addition to Dixie's muzzle-loader lineup is appealing to novice and expert alike, as I and G&A Black Powder Editor Phil Spangenberger were to discover throughout our evaluation of the rifle. It is especially suitable for the young or novice shooter, being relatively light and small compared to the original Kentucky/Pennsylvania longarms it is patterned after. Even so, more experienced black powder shooters will also find the manageable muzzle-loader accurate and reliable enough to suit their needs, whether as a plinker or handy brush gun.

Fine workmanship and close attention to historical detail were in evidence throughout preliminary examination of the brand-new model. Weighing in at 6 3/4 pounds, the Cub measures 45 inches overall, including the 28-inch browned barrel. The full-length walnut stock is enhanced with an oil finish, giving it a rich brown luster. Brass furniture, including patchbo, triggerguard, buttplate, nosecap and thimbles, is both functional and ornamental, and serves to compliment the rifle's graceful lines.

The browned, high-quality steel locks, which came complete with a flint, can actually be interchanged with a percussion system available from Dixie. The shooter simply removes the vent of the flint system, replaces it with the identically threaded drum of the percussion system, and changes the locks to convert the rifle.

The Cub also comes complete with a 28-inch ramrod which has brass tips on each end, one for loading and the other threaded for standard cleaning accessories.

Pleased with the outward appearance of the little rifle, we were anxious to put it through its paces at the shooting range. We rounded up a supply of Hornady .395 lead swaged balls, .010-inch-thick Ox Yoke Originals All Day patches, Goex Black powder, and of course, plenty of cleaning patches, and headed out to the rifle range at the Petersen Ranch in Palmdale, California. The day was particularly warm and calm, ideal for our accuracy tests. But before we could begin shooting at the bulls-eye targets, the brand-new rifle needed some "breaking in."

Phil thoroughly explained the operation of the flintlock as I ran dry patches through the bore (rifled I turn in 48 inces) to clean out excess oil. Next I touched off a light powder charge to ensure that the chamber was clear and found the ignition to be very quick. I then carefully loaded the firearm, following Phil's explicit instructions, starting off with a light charge of 35 grains of FFFg powder behind the .395 swaged lead ball and .010 patch. Firing offhand, I was instantly pleased with the rifle's mild recoil. This characteristic, along with the Cub's manageability and comfortable fit (its length of pull of 13 1/4 inches seemed just right for me), helped take my mind off the unfamiliar flash and smoke that emitted close to my face and just enjoy the action of shooting. I might add that my enjoyment was enhanced by the rifle's impressive out-of-the-box accuracy--I was able to consistently hit a variety of 25 to 75-yards silhouette targets with my first few shots!

I continued firing offhand to further familiarize myself with trigger action and sight alignment. The double-set, double-phase trigger is adjustable for both weight of pull and tension of the double leaf springs, although I was pleased with the way it felt as set by the factory and found no changes necessary. The steel open buck-horn-type rear sight and silver blade front sight are dovetailed into the barrel and may be adjusted horizontally as needed by gently tapping the dovetailed bases to the right or left. The oversized front blade can also be filed down if desired.

Now that I was more familiar with the loading procedure and shooting qualities of the muzzle-loader, I was ready to find out what it could do from the bench. Firing from 25 yards, this time using 40 grains of FFFg powder, I managed after some practice to fire a respectable 3/4-inch, 3-shot group in the center of the target. Considering the small amount of black powder shooting experience I'd had up to this point, I was thrilled with the results and very impressed with the Cub's accuracy.

Phil Spangenberger, who had also taken a few turns shooting the rifle throughout the day, agreed that it was turning in a fine performance. We had been trying different powder charges from the bench to see which produced the best results, and settled on 45 grains of FFFg for our 50-yard tests. Phil excelled at this distance by firing a 1-inch, 3-shot group in the black--excellent accuracy for this type of firearm.

During the course of this enlightening day at the range I was to discover that a black powder firearm always requires special attention for proper functioning, no matter how well made it is! I needed to clean the bore of fouling on a regular basis to prevent loading difficulties and ensure best accuracy. Also, misfires occurred when the flint became dull. (We ended up replacing ours with the finest-quality English flints from RVI, P.O. 1439, Stn. A, Dept. GA, Vancouver BC V6C 1A0.) Occasionally, a "flash in the pan" would catch me off-guard, but as Phil pointed out, this is a typical problem with any flintlock firearm.

If nothing else, I had learned to really appreciate what our ancestors accomplished during the reign of the temperamental but effective flintlock--a system that survived unreplaced for over 200 years. Dixie's Deluxe Cub replica offers not only a hands-on lesson in history, but satisfying, practical and fun shooting as well. Retailing at $240 (both flint and percussion models), the Cub is also available in kit from for $195. For more information contact Dixie Gun Works, Inc., Gunpowder Lane, Dept. GA, Union City, TN 38261.
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Author:Jacobson, Gretchen
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Jul 1, 1985
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