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Old July 15, 2013, 09:54 PM   #1
Ultra12
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New to muzzle loading have few ?s

Looking to pick up my first flint lock and start practicing for fall hunting season. I don't know much about them so I figure I ask. First question smooth bore vs rifled? 50 , 52 , 54 or 56 cal? This will be mostly for deer. Thanks in advance.
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Old July 15, 2013, 11:43 PM   #2
n5lyc
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That's a tough question to answer( for me it is at least)

I guess it depends on other factors.
Do you cast your own balls or bullets now?

If not, then stay with a standard caliber you can get easily, and a choice of projectiles.

On that subject, do you intend to use round ball or conical?

Have you chosen a rifle Style yet?

And to me, at muzzle loader velocities, and under 100 yards open sights, the bigger the hole in a deer the better..

Just my opinion..

Good luck and keep us posted..

45 Bravo
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Old July 16, 2013, 03:05 AM   #3
Bill Akins
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Hi Ultra12.

I'd recommend either .45 caliber, .50 caliber or .54 caliber. Because unless you mold your own projectiles, those will be the easiest calibers to find.

Since you want a flintlock for deer hunting, I'd recommend a rifled barrel rather than a smoothbore. Because a rifled barrel will give you better hunting accuracy.

I'd also recommend a double set trigger. The advantage of a double set trigger over a single set trigger, is that when the hammer is cocked, when you function the rearmost trigger, that will "set" the front trigger so that it becomes a hair trigger and sets off with just the very slightest touch (if you have it adjusted that way). Once you "set" the trigger, do not leave it in that condition or drop it or jar it because it will go off. If you have set the trigger and then lost the opportunity for the shot, then raise your flintlock's frizzen so the flint can't strike it if your finger slips off the hammer, and then carefully lower the hammer all the way and then bring it back to half cocked, and don't leave the rifle in the set trigger condition.

The double set triggers are helpful because the less muscle motion you impart to the rifle as you function the set front firing trigger, the less your barrel will move and the more accurate your shot will be. I have mine set so sensitive that if I barely move the front trigger after it has been set, it will go off. You can adjust the sensitivity of how sensitive you want the "set" of the front trigger to be, on the CVA rifle. There are two screws that stick out the bottom of the trigger area that allow you to set that sensitivity.

Of course with a double set trigger you can also just give a longer & harder pull on the front trigger and it will fire without you using the rear trigger to "set" the front trigger to a hair trigger capacity. So a double set trigger will allow you to give a long or harder pull on the front trigger to set it off, (just as a single trigger rifle will do), and it also gives you the option of setting your front trigger to be a hair trigger by you pulling on the rear trigger first to set the front trigger.

This is good for deer hunting like you want to do, because you have the advantage to set the trigger if you have plenty of time to take a shot, or without setting the trigger, you can quickly just pull the front trigger if you have to take a hasty snap shot without time to set the trigger.

CVA made a fine percussion and flintlock rifle both in .50 caliber and .54 caliber that is called the "mountain rifle". I have that rifle and mine was originally in flintlock configuration. I changed it to percussion by buying a new barrel and a percussion lock. The CVA mountain rifle uses two wedges to hold the barrel to the stock rather than the usual one wedge. It is an accurate and very fine rifle and I am always amazed how accurate it is. You couldn't go wrong getting a CVA (Connecticut Valley Arms) mountain rifle in flintlock in either .50 or .54 caliber. You can find them pretty regularly at auction on gunbroker. More often in percussion but here and there in flintlock too.

Of course there are other brands out there too. But I am partial to the CVA mountain rifle since I have one and it is dead on accurate and I like the two wedges holding the barrel to the stock since I think it gives it greater stability. I use 50 grains of BP under the patched round 50 caliber ball. I could use more, up to 90 or slightly more grains if I wanted to. But I have found that 50 grains of BP gives me the best performance and accuracy and does the job just fine.

Here's a good tip to remember. One old timer way of gauging how much powder to use if you don't have a powder measure handy, is to lay the ball in the palm of your hand and then pour powder directly over the ball until the powder just covers the ball completely from sight. You will find that almost amounts to the same amount of powder grains as what the ball weighs in grains. I've tried that method a time or two just to see if it worked pouring powder over my 50 grain ball, and then carefully poured the powder out of my palm into a funnel going into my powder measure. It came out very close to 50 grains.

Hope this was helpful to you.


.
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Last edited by Bill Akins; July 16, 2013 at 06:37 AM.
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Old July 16, 2013, 07:18 AM   #4
n5lyc
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There is some good advice in Mr Akins response, somewhere aound the ball caliber in powder charge is a good starting point (50 gr of powder for a .50 caliber ball, or 54 gr of powder in a .54 caliber rifle) but experiment with heavier & lighter loads.

For hunting, you may have to live with a slightly heavier load that you can live with accuracy wise.

Mr. Akins, I am sure this is a sleepy finger moment (you posted at 3am)
But I think you meant the ball caliber in grains of powder not the ball weight in powder (.45 caliber ball to 45 grains of powder or 50 gr to a .50)

As a .490 50 caliber ball weighs about 177 grains, and I would never suggest someone load that much powder in a front stuffer...



A flintlock is not something normally just jumped into, just getting it to go off reliably is a feat into itself.
There are so many variables, the flint, the frizzen being clean (oiled metal don't spark too good) the angle of the flint knapped edge, is the flint held by leather in the jaws and is it cushioning the fall, or is it held in place by lead, how many times has the flint Been fired, the position and amount of priming powder in the pan.

These are just some of the variables going on outside the gun every time you drop the hammer...

That being said, when it does go off, and you hit your target, you feel a deeper sense of accomplishment, compared to a cap popper..

45 Bravo
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Old July 16, 2013, 08:10 AM   #5
Rifleman1776
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For a beginner and hunting, a rifle is definitely the choice. Smooth bores are for experienced shooters who also enjoy reenacting certain parts of history.
A .45 with round ball is adequate for deer. So, in your list, the .50 would be a fine choice.
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Old July 16, 2013, 08:21 AM   #6
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Some good advice here. The mountain rifle is a good choice especially if you find one with a barrel marked Made in USA. Those are Douglas barrels. The mountain rifle has a 1:66 round ball twist. Another good one is the Lyman Great Plains. It has a 1:60 round ball twist. I'm not sure but I don't think the mountain rifle came with a different twist. The only drawback to the cheaper guns is the locks aren't top shelf and may need a little tweaking to spark reliably and they won't be as fast as a quality lock.
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Old July 16, 2013, 08:26 AM   #7
Bill Akins
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Quote:
N5LYC wrote:
Mr. Akins, I am sure this is a sleepy finger moment (you posted at 3am)
But I think you meant the ball caliber in grains of powder not the ball weight in powder (.45 caliber ball to 45 grains of powder or 50 gr to a .50)
As a .490 50 caliber ball weighs about 177 grains, and I would never suggest someone load that much powder in a front stuffer.
You are absolutely correct. I meant ball caliber in grains of powder (as you said), not the ball weight in grains of powder. It was very late and I am full of pain pills for my back and made that mistake. Thanks for catching that so no one would adversely think I meant ball weight. Good catch!




.
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"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".
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Old July 16, 2013, 08:38 AM   #8
Bill Akins
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Too bad this flintlock is a smoothbore (Not listed as such in the ad, but I wrote the owner and he said it was a smoothbore). Because at 7 feet 7 & 3/4's inches total length including stock, if the barrel was quality made and rifled, it probably would be pin point accurate. If it had been a rifled barrel, I would have recommended it to you since so far it's at a great price, but since it isn't rifled and you want one for hunting, I can't recommend it. But that's the longest flint or percussion rifle I've seen on Gunbroker to date.
Interesting to look at anyway, even if it is a smoothbore.
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=353708793



.
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"This is my Remy and this is my Colt. Remy loads easy and topstrap strong, Colt balances better and never feels wrong. A repro black powder revolver gun, they smoke and shoot lead and give me much fun. I can't figure out which one I like better, they're both fine revolvers that fit in my leather".
"To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target".
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Old July 16, 2013, 09:18 AM   #9
Ultra12
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Thank you guys lots of great info. For the info above u understood that rifled barrels have better accuracy. I am looking in to Lyman Great Plains and CVA. As far as caliber it's between 50 and 54. Leaning toward 54. I read some other posts and most dot recommend buying a kit. Even a 95% is no a good idea. I did come across chiappa rifles. They do have a good variety but I never read or heard anything about them. Can someone comment in Chiappa flint locks ?
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Old July 16, 2013, 09:41 AM   #10
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If you're good with working wood a kit might not be a bad way to go but usually it doesn't cost much more to get one finished. You can make a better looking gun if you do it yourself tho. As for Chiappa locks, I have NO personal experience but I would assume their locks would be like anybody else's in the price range and might need a little tweaking to be reliable and/or faster.
I used a .50 for many years but much prefer the .54.
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Old July 16, 2013, 09:52 PM   #11
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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oops thick fingers

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Old July 16, 2013, 09:54 PM   #12
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Triditions makes a nice flint lock. 50 cal is the usual purchased for deer hunting and fairly easy to find accessories for it. If not wanting to buy new. There is Track of the Wolf's web site where a decent used rifle being sold on consignment can be purchased.

www.trackofthewolf.com/

S/S
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Old July 17, 2013, 06:44 AM   #13
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Ill throw my 2 cents in even though im rather late to the topic .

First thing I would look at is your big game rules and what your intending to hunt .
Case in point .. Here you can hunt deer and antelope with a 45 cal muzzleloader . but elk and moose the law is 50 or larger .
Speaking for myself , I have had through the years , just about everything from 30’s all the way to 2 bore and have settle in at the 54 . Now the 58 and 62 are great calibers , but they also eat up a lot of lead . Also as someone else mentioned , it can be rather hard to buy projectiles from local places for those calibers , so casting would be an added expense that your probably going to want to consider.
The other thing is that if your going to be shooting RB ., the 54 cal is the break where manufactures go from 100 ball to a box , to 50 rounds to a box for the 58 and 62 . Well let me say , that used to be the case . I have not purchased balls in along time so things may have changed .

Next would be your ignition choice . Flint or cap lock .
Cap locks are a quick way to get started . There are a few things to learn but normally they are not to un manageable and even manufactures with cheaper locks normally work well enough to set off caps until their main springs go south and need replacing .

With a flintlock there are many things to consider . I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are not a good entry level type of ignition . But there is a learning curve that one will go through in order to keep them firing reliably .. As such its normally easiest if you have someone locally with experience with flintlocks that can help you through that curve .
IMO the cheep manufactured rifle locks simply wont do .
IMO I would stay clear of the Traditions and CVA flintlocks . While some work fine , a lot don’t without some work . Its really a roll of the dice as to if you get a good one or not .
Now that being said , you can buy replacement locks for those rifles . L&R makes a good replacement that’s 1000X better then any original lock found on those rifles. but your adding an exspense to the gun of atleast another 125.00 bucks

As to rifle or smooth bore . that’s really up to you . A few things to consider though .
What distance do you think you will be shooting the most at .
Will the gun be just for deer or will you be also thinking about possibly small game or bird hunting with it .
What type of accuracy are you looking for at that distance .

At around 50 yards or under its not uncommon to find a smooth bore just as accurate as a rifle . Especially if the smooth bore has a rear sight .. None rear sight smoothbores do take alittle understanding to get your sight picture down , but once you have that , things will start to come together .

Rifled bores on the other hand are for the most part dedicated bores but you get an increased accuracy over the smoothbore at very long distances .

When it comes to the guns themselves , you have a lot to think about .
IMO I wouldn’t recommend starting out with a manufactured flintlock that’s less then a Lyman or TC .
CVA or Traditions would be ok if the lock has been replaced or at least up graded .
Cap lock you could go with any of them and get reasonable results .

Depending on your funds , you might look at semi or full custom which will open up your options as to styles of guns considerably and for the most part give you a far better quality piece
Prices for finished pieces can very from around the 900.00 range all the way up to thousands of dollars . Used can be less , but watch what your actually getting . When ever you see a semi or full custom gun that’s being sold for less or equal to the cost of the parts needed to build that rifle , there will be a reason .

Watching ToW was mentioned . Track sells some very nice rifles in varying degrees of quality . One of the things to keep in mind though is that they are also marking up those guns 30-60% over what they purchased the guns for . So if you end up seeing something and considering a purchase in the 1000.00 and up range , I would recommend contacting a builder and see what their price would be for making a new gun for you as a lot of times that 1000.00 mark is right where a lot of folks to include myself start their pricing at .

So to close I would say this .
Take a good look at the minimum requirements for your state and the other states you may find yourself hunting in .
Consider the range your thinking your will most times be shooting at and the time you will actually have to become proficient with the gun .
If your set on getting a flintlock , even if you have someone to help you through the learning curve , get the best quality of lock you can afford. Its money well spent and will save you a whole lot of issues .
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Old July 17, 2013, 09:49 AM   #14
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If this hasn't been mentioned, be sure to understand the relationship of ball to patch.
For accuracy, the combination of patch thickness and ball diameter is very important for good fit to the rifling.
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Old July 17, 2013, 11:34 AM   #15
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I wouldn't go below .50 caliber. For me the .54 is a more serious hunting round in a lead round ball gun. I have the mountain rifle in .58. It shoots great with 70 grains of Pyrodex. I also have the Lyman Great Plains rifle in .50 that I built from a kit. It's accurate enough to be a squirrel gun, and is the source of much amusement for the kids.
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Old July 20, 2013, 07:06 AM   #16
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Also, flintlocks work best when you use real gunpowder or black powder as it's referred to today.
Use modern black powder substitutes only if you want the world's slowest firing flintlock.
The problem today is that real gunpowder is just about as hard to find in sporting goods stores as flintlocks are.
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