It was mentioned in the section on Stock Duplicating and Pre-Carves that the early rifle stocks had a groove routed out in the barrel channel to form part of and help guide the drilling of the ramrod hole.  These can be found on both early Leman and Hawken rifles.

Barrel Channel of Leman Trade Rifle SN 1323
Barrel Channel of Leman Trade Rifle SN 1323


Ramrod hole routered out in forearm
Barrel Channel and Ramrod Hole in Hawken SN H-112


A common practice among custom builders in drilling the ramrod hole in a scratch build half stock rifle is to inlet the barrel, attach the under rib and upper pipes to the barrel, and use the pipes and under rib as a guide for the long drill rod while drilling the ramrod hole.  This is not very practical in a production setting, though.

Any number of jigs and/or fixtures could be devised to guide the ramrod drill, but GRRW used a very simple jig.  It was a section of scrap barrel with a piece of scrap under rib and a tube soldered on in place of the ramrod pipes.  The barrel section was clamped into the barrel channel and the ramrod drill run down the tube to drill the hole in the forearm.

Ramrod Hole Drilling Jigs

A jig of a given barrel diameter could have two different sized tubes attached for two different ramrod sizes.  A separate jig was needed for each barrel size in the product line.  The picture above shows one jig for 1″ barrels (top) and another jig for 15/16″ barrels (bottom).  Both jigs have guide tubes for 3/8″ drills and 7/16″ drills.

The bottom jig has “GRRW” stamped on one of the barrel flats.

Ramrod Hole Drilling Jigs GRRW stamp

This same jig also has “OTR BOISE IDAHO” stamped on the opposite flat.  I acquired these jigs from a person who had been given them by Ted Holland, one of the owners of Oregon Trail Riflesmiths of Boise, Idaho.  They came with a mixed lot of other jigs to stretch the GRRW Leman trigger guard bow and various Leman rifle parts.  The whole lot appeared to have a connection to GRRW.  Apparently, Ted Holland, or one of his partners, had acquired this stuff after GRRW went out of business and used them to make their versions of the GRRW Leman and Hawken half stock rifles.  The other jig for 1″ barrels doesn’t have any markings on it, but it probably came to OTR from GRRW, too.

Ramrod Hole Drilling Jigs OTR stamp

The jig for 1″ barrels has some windows cut in the drill guide tubes, probably to allow the wood chips to fall out without having to pull the drill bit all the way out of the guide.

Guide Tubes on Ramrod Hole Drilling Jigs

At some point in 1975 or 1976, GRRW quit using the router to cut the ramrod hole in the barrel channel and relied on these jigs to guide the ramrod hole straight and true.  GRRW likely had another jig for 1⅛” barrels, and it may still be out there somewhere.


For a look at some of the other jigs from GRRW/OTR, go to Drilling the Ramrod Hole.

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