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Old June 29, 2009, 04:04 PM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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want to build, buy or customize a "reliable" flint lock

my tastes have been switching to alot of these old single shot rifles, & the primer shortage has fueled my interest towards flintlocks...

if I'm wanting to get one to shoot ( no collector interest )... what should one be looking for ???

I like the artistic looks of some of the older stuff ( & replicas of older stuff ), & I'm not afraid of building a custom rifle or handgun, but would also guess as a shooter that alot of these newer hunting style flintlocks should be reliable...

looking for suggestions for what to look for, what type of replicas ( since I like that artsy look ) seem to be both lookers & function the most reliably ??? I understand the weather is an issue, just by the nature of the action, but ( I know... it's the movies ) how does a pirate pull one out of his belt & fire the gun without sprinkling a little magic dust in the pan ???

help a newbie in this area of shooting out ???
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Old June 29, 2009, 04:38 PM   #2
mykeal
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Excellent shootable rifles in many, many different styles are available to anyone who is willing to consider the services of some really talented craftsmen.

First, you need to pick a general style: full stock or half stock? Carbine? Smoothbore? Big bore for elk/moose/swine or squirrel/critter rifle? Civil War or mountain man rendezvous? How about a tack driving target shooter? Long distance (1000 yards)?

Shop the kit gun sites for the various styles and one (or more) will give you a warm feeling - follow that thread by asking for information on that period or style in the forums.

I think the factory guns, available in finished or 98% kit forms are excellent guns. Lyman makes a Great Plains Rifle in flint (mine is .54 cal, an elk gun); it's a half stock plains style with generally good quality lock, trigger and barrel and excellent quality stock. A Thompson Center Hawken or Pedersoli Hawken is the competition; Dixie Gun Works sells one also.

For some really nice kit guns and a wider variety of styles, see Sitting Fox Muzzleloaders, Tennessee Valley Muzzloading, Tennessee Valley Manufacturing (not the same company) or the consignment rifles at Track of the Wolf. There are many more.

Many people say you can't get a better rifle than a Jim Chambers flintlock, or a Don Stith Hawken kit.

Visit the Log Cabin Shop and Dixon Muzzleloading Shop
web sites, or better yet, go visit them in person.

You're in for quite a ride.
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Old June 29, 2009, 05:38 PM   #3
4V50 Gary
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My vote is for Odell (Marsh Jim Chambers). Marsh Jim stands behind his products (and so does his alter ego, Odell).
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Old June 29, 2009, 06:11 PM   #4
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'Reliable' is in the hands of the person setting/knapping the flint and doing the loading.

They ARE fun to shoot and will cure you of any flinching problems that you may have. Lock times are slow, same with pan ignition and burn to charge times with a smoke bomb going off right in front of your face. Add in the FTF % and in no time you will be cured of flinching forever.
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Old June 30, 2009, 06:42 AM   #5
Magnum Wheel Man
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thanks for the links & comments guys...

I'm looking at an older CVA 32 for something to get my feet wet... I like the ornimental lock... the guns been used pretty heavy but is still supposed to shoot well... to me it looks like the flint is worn or broken off... it's supposed to stick out past the metal, so it can freely contact the "striker" ??? sorry not up on the terms yet... but you probably get what I mean ???

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File Type: jpg flint lock CVA.jpg (81.1 KB, 1433 views)
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Old June 30, 2009, 06:57 AM   #6
Uncle Billy
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Cabela's also sells flintlocks (not kits) under its own name, in a variety of calibers.

Cabela's black powder guns
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Old June 30, 2009, 06:59 AM   #7
Magnum Wheel Man
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while I have that pic up... my understanding of the function of the gun is as follows ???

"some" powder is put in the "pan" & the "lid" is closed, to retain the powder in the pan ( some "lids" are better than others at keeping rain out of the "pan" ??? ) ... the gun is loaded like a typical muzzle loader... "the hammer" is pulled back, & upon firing, the flint / hammer strikes the roughed up steel, while opening the "lid" & causes the spark to light the powder in the "pan" ... so, is there powder residue around the "hole in the side of the chamber", or is there enough of a shower of sparks to insure one finds it's way into "the hole" is the spring there concave to allow funneling o the hot sparks towards the "hole" ??? are there systems that offer faster or more reliable ignition than others, if so, any examples or brands to look for...

when tamping in a ball, is the charge tamped as tight as for a percussion muzzleloader ???

seems like there are a lot of kits out there, & most parts are available seperately... I assume one could "upgrade" on a part or a system if the gun you had wasn't performing as well as it could be ???

any help with the terms & part names along with helping me out with function would be great...
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Old June 30, 2009, 07:32 AM   #8
fineredmist
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1. The flint shown in the photo is need of replacement.
2. You load the main charge before you prime the pan.
3. You don't tamper or hammer a ball, you push the ball down to the charge and with steady pressure you compress the charge. Hammering will deform the ball and accuracy will suffer.
4. It requires little powder to prime the pan and you will need to experiment a bit to find the right amount. Too much powder is as bad as too little. The powder is placed in the "dish" of the pan and not placed in the touch hole.
5. It is a learning experience that requires a good deal of patience.
6. Do some research for "Flintlocks" on the web and you will get all the detailed information you need.

7. Flintlocks can and do "HANGFIRE" so be extremely careful if you have a "flash" and no "Bang". Keep it pointed down range and wait a minute or two before reprimeing.
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Old June 30, 2009, 07:59 AM   #9
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The "lid" of the pan is called the "frizzen".

After dumping the correct amount of powder down the barrel (hold the barrel away from your face when you do this in case the powder ignites inadvertently) and pushing a ball or bullet atop it with the ramrod (I rest the butt atop my foot for this; hold the ramrod in a manner such that if the powder ignites it won't send the ramrod and the bullet through your hand)), the hammer is drawn back to half cock and the frizzen flipped open.

A small amount of powder is put in the pan. I use a finer grained powder for this (called "priming"), and tip the rifle so that the powder lays against the barrel at the "touch hole" or "flash hole".

The frizzen is closed. If you're going to shoot right away, the hammer is drawn all the way back to "full cock". If not, the hammer is left in "half cock" until the shot is imminent.

When the trigger is pulled, the flint strikes the frizzen and does 2 things: 1) It flips it open and 2) it showers the powder in the pan with sparks, which ignites it. The ignited powder in the pan ignites the main charge. It's not a good idea to stand too close to the right side of a flintlock when it goes off because there's a small jet of fire that comes from the flash hole when the barrel charge burns.

After a few shots it might be necessary to be sure the flash hole is open because BP makes a lot of stinky residue. I use a hat pin for this . A "vent pick" is a mandatory inclusion in your kit ("possibles bag").

There are a number of colloquialisms that come from this process: "Going off half cocked" refers to the failure of the lock to prevent the hammer (called the "cock" in British English) from falling when it's in the half cocked position, which is a safety precaution. Without the presence of "half cock", where the trigger is disabled, the hammer would have to be drawn all the way back to full cock while loading the gun, where it's possible to trigger the lock. "Going off half cocked" means to do something before it ought to be done.

"A flash in the pan" refers to the pan being ignited with its flash and bang, but not the barrel charge, referring to a flurry of activity with no real accomplishment.

"Lock, stock and barrel" is often attributed to a flintlock rifle's parts.
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Last edited by Uncle Billy; June 30, 2009 at 08:11 AM.
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Old June 30, 2009, 08:06 AM   #10
mykeal
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To amplify the above:

Your flint is worn out. Replace it; it should look like this:


Always charge the rifle bore before putting powder in the pan (called 'priming the pan'). It is very dangerous to prime the pan before putting powder in the barrel. Charging the flintlock rifle is done exactly the same way as a percussion rifle. Synthetic powders have higher flash temperatures than real black powder and are notoriously bad performers in flintlocks. If you must use a synthetic powder as the main charge, precede it with a small (5 or 10 grains) charge of real black; otherwise you will have very unreliable performance.

The 'lid' is called a 'frizzen'. It opens to allow priming the pan and is closed to keep the primer in place and to ready the gun for firing. A closed frizzen is considered a loaded gun, whether you have primed the pan or not.

The opening in the side of the barrel is called a 'touch hole' or 'vent'.

Once the bore is charged, pull the hammer back to half cock, open the frizzen and place a small charge of powder in the pan; location is not critical. Do not fill the pan; a small mound is sufficient. Close the frizzen. (Depending on the geometry of the lock it may be necessary to pull the hammer back to full cock to prime the pan.) (Use 4f or 3f real black powder to prime the pan, never anything coarser and never synthetic powders as failures to fire may result.)

When you pull the trigger the hammer falls forward and the flint strikes the face of the frizzen, scraping off tiny bits of metal as sparks. This also drives the frizzen open so the primer in the pan is exposed to the sparks. The sparks ignite the primer powder in the pan. The burning gas from the ignited powder enters the touch hole and ignites the main charge in the rifle bore. The sparks do not enter the touch hole.

The quality of the lock is paramount to good flintlock shooting. Cheap locks do more to frustrate new flintlock shooters and drive them away than anything else. Locks made by Jim Chambers, called Siler locks are considered premium quality, but there are others as well. In the factory guns Lyman and Thompson Center locks are considered adequate but generally need work to get really good performance.

Upgrading a rifle by replacing a poor lock is sometimes possible. It depends on the details of the rifle design. Often the stock inletting requires major surgery to accommodate a new lock and the effort isn't economically feasible.

Last edited by mykeal; June 30, 2009 at 08:15 AM.
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Old June 30, 2009, 08:16 AM   #11
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To clarify: A properly timed lock, when it's half cocked, will have the flint very near, but not touching, the frizzen. If the frizzen can't be closed when the lock is half cocked, things aren't as they should be. Most of the time it's because the flint protrudes from the hammer too far.
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Old June 30, 2009, 02:29 PM   #12
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what the heck is that crap on the face of the frizzen? I'd get a new hammer/jaw piece and a new frizzen.

I have a cva plainsman flintlock is she is fast. Its darn near like shooting a percussion lock.

Heres some pictures and even a video on my flinter (traditions kentucky) being primed and fired. In the pictures you'll notice that i use a white flint. I get those from rich pierce for $10 per dozen. My last one lasted me well over 60 shots before it became to short to use. Thats a lot cheaper than those tiny percussion caps!
http://thepowerbeltforum.powerguild....trade-t551.htm
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Old June 30, 2009, 02:57 PM   #13
Magnum Wheel Man
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Thanks again for all the info... that 32 I posted the pic, is a Gun Broker rifle I'm looking at... I was wondering my self as to the build up on the "frizzen" it looks like weld build up with some cross cuts that were cut into it as seen in another pic...

maybe a kit gun is actually better, as seen in a couple of links posted here... a couple of them allow for various parts, would give me a chance to build it ???

of course since I know nothing about the flint locks maybe buying a better quality one from the start is better ???
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Old June 30, 2009, 06:56 PM   #14
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I've got a Hawkins style that I pieced together from parts on Ebay. Got a Thompson flint lock cheap, was listed as blackpowder parts with a bag of misc. screws and a pewter nosecap. It's fast but finicky and I usually get only 5 or 6 shots before changing out the flint and reknapping the old one. I ended up with 1 percussion Hawkins style, flinter Hawkins, and a Kentucky style flinter for a total investment of $350. I had gotten a Cabela's kit for Xmas many years ago that started me on the journey into the dark side and eventually flinters..
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Old June 30, 2009, 07:44 PM   #15
Hawg
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If it was me I'd pass on that one. The lower jaw and screw look pretty corroded and the screw has a lock nut on it meaning somebody has had problems with it or it wouldn't be there.
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Old June 30, 2009, 11:42 PM   #16
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Every extra feature comes at a price, and there's only so many models that cost between $300-$400. To gain noticiable improvement in the performance over those models can cost considerably more money.
There's the Traditions Kentucky and Hawken for $330 and $355 respectively at Mid South Supply:

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.co...54%49%4F%4E%53

The Lyman Deerstalker for $357 and Trade Rifle for $399:

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.co...41%4C%4B%45%52

http://www.possibleshop.com/lyman-rifle.htm

Considering smoothbores, there's a selection of good quality Indian made reproductions at the Middlesex Village Trading Company that are always interesting to look at and which cost much less than their European made counterparts.

http://www.middlesexvillagetrading.com/NEWmuskets.shtml


There's also reasonably priced used guns like the TC's that can have an upgraded hammer & vent liner installed [the hammer under TC's "No BS" lifetime warranty] or a new drop in Green Moutain replacment barrel added for a reasonable cost. Some TC owners just love their TC flintlocks so much that they won't shoot anything else. Now those are something to consider buying used for a good value for the money. With a Green Mountain drop in barrel the TC's can shoot right along with some of the best guns around for only a fraction of what the others cost.

Last edited by arcticap; July 1, 2009 at 01:44 PM.
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Old July 1, 2009, 04:34 AM   #17
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Run away from that one, looks like it has not been cared for or cleaned properly. Looks like the frizzen has been resoled to get it to spark better. CVA flintlocks are not of the highest quality.
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Old July 1, 2009, 05:59 AM   #18
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Flint guns

Look for a Lyman Great Plains Rifle - new or used. They are great shooters. You can purchase, if you wish, barrels for it in other calibers and different twist rates. They pretty much drop right in.
My GPR, bought used, is .50 caliber. Recently, I picked up a .54 smoothbore barrel from Green Mt. It patterns nicely with shot (28ga.) and, shooting a tightly patched round ball, will keep'em in a palm-sized group at 50 yards.
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Old July 1, 2009, 07:24 AM   #19
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All the parts I bought had good pics. and were in excellent condition. B/P is very corrosive and requires cleaning after every use, failing to do so can lead to dangerous conditions in the barrel. They are easy to clean with ordinary soap and water, finish with boiling water to aid drying and run through with patches til dry and light lube with any cooking oil. If it looks bad on the outside, it may be a lot worse on the inside.
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