View Full Version : Starting To Look For a New One
Robert J McElwain
September 19, 2001, 02:16 PM
I'm just starting what I expect to be a several month process of looking for a new muzzle loader. The one I've got is an 1800s original, which is lots of fun, but not good enough for competition.
At this point, I know I want a long barrel. At least 38". This is strictly a target shooting gun.
What I need input on is percussion versus flintlock, pros and cons. Also, any thoughts on calibers would be helpful. I've been told that for target shooting at 100 yards, at least .45 cal in needed. My current ML is .32
Since I might want to add custom sights, what about a custom gun, rather than an off the shelf gun that I'll want to customize?
All advice appreciated. I'm a novice at this. :)
Cap n ball
September 20, 2001, 07:28 AM
Robert, I think youv'e got the right caliber in mind. There are many fine rifles available now-a-days since the sport of BP shooting has become so popular and you can have them tricked out with just about any gadget or sighting. I see many young people at the range who are learning this art and are loving it.
I would suggest that you buy a copy of some of the fine books by Toby Bridges or Sam Fadala on the subject. Fadala's books are indispensible to the beginning and even more advanced shooter.
I appreciate someone telling the truth about being new to BP. Many people who shoot nothing but cartridge guns of the modern sort think it's the same thing but it isn't. I'm going to list some very important things to remember when you are shooting whith BP. (I assume you know these but there may be others reading these threads who are attracted to the sport and don't and I don't want anyone to have an accident.)
Never smoke while using your muzzleloader or while near any quantity of black powder or PYRODEX®
Before loading, make sure the muzzleloader is not already loaded.
Check and clear the flash hole through the nipple before shooting.
Use only black powder or PYRODEX to load your muzzleloader - never use even small amounts of smokeless powder, even if it is black in color.
Never exceed the manufacturer's maximum recommended powder charge.
Never load a muzzleloader by pouring powder directly from a powder flask or container - a sudden powder ignition from a lingering spark could cause the entire flask to explode.
Only use the ammunition components that exactly match the caliber markings of your firearm and that are meant to be used together.
When loading, be certain powder, patches and projectiles are in their proper sequence and that they are completely seated against one another.
Always use cotton patching - the use of non-cotton patching could build up a static charge possibly creating a spark that could ignite the powder.
Never pound on the ramrod - black powder and PYRODEX are impact sensitive and could ignite from impact.
Know the range of your black powder firearm. Muzzleloading projectiles have a range of more than one-half mile.
If the firearm fails to fire, be prepared for a hangfire - keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and wait no less than one full minute before repriming. Then unload the firearm and dispose of the powder, patch and projectile safely. Before reloading, be sure the muzzle and barrel are not obstructed.
Render your black powder firearm inoperable whenever you are not shooting. Never place a percussion cap on the nipple until just before firing and remove it immediately if you do not fire.
Black powder leaves heavy corrosive residues. A thorough cleaning and lubing are absolute necessities before storage and prior to loading and shooting.
Discharging firearms in poorly ventilated areas, cleaning firearms, or handling ammunition components may result in dangerous exposure to lead.
Robert J McElwain
September 20, 2001, 09:25 AM
Thanks Cap, for the good suggestions.
The local ML club, which I intend to join in the near future, Ft. Osage Muzzle Loaders, is raffling off a customized 50 cal Henry Leman next month. As soon as I win that, I'll really be into BP shooting. :rolleyes: It has a 38" DeHaas barrel with an L&R trigger set and a modified Siler lock. I have no idea what all that means, but it sure sounds impressive. And they've got a pretty picture of it, so now I really want it. Check it out. http://www.foml-mo.org/Rifle/RiflePg.htm[/URL] Is that a good one?
Your safety suggestions are appreciated. You've got a few on there that I hadn't seen on other lists. And I'm going to pick up some of the books you suggested as well.
I assume you have a fair amount of experience with both percussion and flintlock. Do you have any thoughts, pro and con about either?
September 22, 2001, 02:06 AM
Siler locks is now made by Jim Chambers who has not let quality declined a bit since taking it over. L&R is also a name brand in the muzzle loading industry. As for De Haas barrels, I've heard of it before and nothing bad about it either.
You may want to go slow rather than rush out and buy a gun. Look around and try someone else's rifle first. Your taste will probably change over time. Mine certainly has.
I've always wanted to cheat and have a minie ball barrel made into a flintlock. Civil War technology masked with "trade gun" or "fowler" appearance. Looks ordinary but drives that "ball" further and with greater accuracy than any gun Daniel Boone ever owned. ;)
Robert J McElwain
September 22, 2001, 04:58 PM
Quote<<<You may want to go slow rather than rush out and buy a gun. Look around and try someone else's rifle first. Your taste will probably change over time. Mine certainly has.
I've always wanted to cheat and have a minie ball barrel made into a flintlock. Civil War technology masked with "trade gun" or "fowler" appearance. Looks ordinary but drives that "ball" further and with greater accuracy than any gun Daniel Boone ever owned. >>>
Now you've got me. As I said, although I've owned my current ML for over thirty five years, until a few weeks ago, it hadn't been fired in over thirty. I'm not sure I understand what you're saying in your second paragraph. Did they and/or do they not make flintlocks in the smaller calibers? And are the smaller calibers more accurate? This one of mine is terribly inaccurate, but I'm working on it. Getting the barrel clearner than it's been in years.
I finally got out a caliper and checked the gauge. It's actually about a .35 caliber. I could have it re rifled to a 36 and maybe get some improvement to the barrel.
Going back to you first paragraph, I've only fired one other ML and that was a custom built ML of a friend of mine. That's what really got me hooked. :D I'm going to go to some BP events and see if I can pick up some ideas about what I want, but I'm still going to hold off until at least next spring.
September 23, 2001, 08:29 AM
The Minie Ball is a Civil War gun that fired a conical type projectile. Typically, the Minie was slightly undersized which facilitated rapid loading. Another prominent featurd includes a "skirt" which expanded to fit the bore when fired. This Minie ball gun of the Civil War was accurate out to 500 yards (and longer in the British Enfield). Easily it made the round ball obsolete.
Returning to the round ball guns, yes, there were quite a few guns which were smaller caliber and as hunting arms, they were either for small game or for "barking" squirrels from their trees. Since barrels were made either from soft iron or soft steel, they would wear and lose accuracy. When this happened, more likely than not, the barrel was bored out and re-rifled to take a larger ball. That was quite common in the old days.
Cap n ball
September 24, 2001, 11:17 AM
Re. Percussion VS Flinter:
The difference between the two methods of ignition is mainly one of speed in reloading and less fussy mechanics and maitenance of the cap lock as compared to that of the flinter.
I use both and have found that after tuning the flint and frizzen for consistant results there is very little difference except that with a flintlock you have a firearm that will be shooting long after the caplock shooter has run out of caps as well as you also have an excellent fire-starter in an emergency out in the boonies. A lot of the common problems fellows have with flintlocks are due to excessive spring pressure on the frizzen which doesn't allow the hammer to make a full stroke against the face of the frizzen and poorly aligned flints or poor quality flints that are also not knapped very well. Flint knapping is almost a lost art. If you ever find some really good flints buy all of them you can afford. Wrapping the flint with leather or soft lead will keep the flint secure and in proper alingement. The top-jaws of the flint holder on the hammer must be tight. Poor touch hole alignment or excessively corroded touch holes are also sometimes to blame. The touch hole should be high enough above the bottom of the flash pan so that powder doesn't go into it and foul the hole, just a flick of flame will leap in and touch off the charge. Moisture is also a problem with any sort of powder and especially with fine grain touch powder like ffffg. When I'm going out and I know that high humidity or rain is possible I rim the edge of the flash pan with beeswax to make a water proof seal. A small piece of such is always a good thing to have in your 'possibles' bag. The next applies to both cap and flint guns. To avoid more problems with open powder in a wet environment I also use a quick-starter board. This is a small piece of wood with up to six or seven holes in it that will hold a ball at the end of a paperwrapped charge. You can easily make one of these yourself. Place the starter board over the muzzle. The board should be recessed so as to not slip off the muzzle. Using a short starter rod push the ball and charge into the barrel, then use your ramrod to push the ball with the paper serving as a wad all the way down into the breech. Before priming the pan to fire I use a nipple pick or hatpin in the touch hole to make sure that the powder is 'good'. A flinter loaded in such a manner may be carried for a long time in damp environments prior to pricking the powder and charging the pan. A muzzle protector or plug tied to the sling or fore-end with a short thong is also a good idea to keep wetness and foriegn objects out of the gun. It sounds like a lot of stuff and proceedures but once you've got it down you will be surprized at how fast and efficient it really is. Organization and care of accessories is essential. I keep my picks and turnscrew and short-starter around my neck on a long enough thong that I can keep them handy in a front pocket and I'm not looking for them in a bag or missing a shot because I'm fumbling around with them.
I've been out to Ft. Osage several times recently. Kingsville is known to me. Good to see another Missouri 'Puke' here at TFL. Hope you get that gun. It looks like a nice one.
Robert J McElwain
September 25, 2001, 05:11 PM
Quote<<< I've been out to Ft. Osage several times recently. Kingsville is known to me. Good to see another Missouri 'Puke' here at TFL. Hope you get that gun. It looks like a nice one.>>>
Thanks. I hope I do to, but the odds are pretty great. I imagine I'll just be buying one the regular way next spring.
Actually, I have to drive about 35 miles from Kansas to get to Fort Osage Mussle Loaders, but it's worth it. A really nice facility, although I don't have any basis for comparision.
And thanks for all the info on flint versus cap. I'm still not sure which way I'll wind up going, but the more I learn, the better choice I'll make.
Still having fun with my 36 cal antique squirrel gun. :)
Robert J McElwain
September 25, 2001, 05:19 PM
Quote<<< Since barrels were made either from soft iron or soft steel, they would wear and lose accuracy. When this happened, more likely than not, the barrel was bored out and re-rifled to take a larger ball. That was quite common in the old days.>>
That must be where my gun is nothing I've done so far seems to have helped it's accuracy. It's just very erratic. I guess I'l eventually just hang it on the wall when I get a new one.
Cap n ball
September 26, 2001, 10:10 AM
Robert, Kansas? OK..I promise to not hold that against you;)
You might try using different loads of powder. A little too much can really have an effect on accuracy. If it is consistently shooting off to a particular quarter no matter what load you use then you probably do have a bore problem. You can get it re-sleeved for a smaller caliber or re-bored for a larger one but I think that unless I really had to and wanted to shoot it I would do what you said and just hang it up for a memento.
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