View Full Version : Range Report: Traditions Pennsylvania flintlock

August 26, 2002, 10:52 AM
Received my Traditions Pennsylvania flintlock rifle a week ago from Bass Pro. It is a pretty rifle if I do say so. With a 44" barrel it is a bit muzzle heavy and I wish the comb dropped a little more for comforts sake but seemed to be a good quality starter rifle out of the box.

Weather and work prevented me from shooting the thing until today and I suppose that was a good thing. For several reasons I tabled plans to do some action pistol shooting and went right to one of the 50 yard ranges at my local shooting club. As it happened there was another gentleman who was shooting a flintlock which is the reason I state that it was a good thing I was delayed and happened to shoot my new flintlock for the first time at that particular time and place.

As I was setting up he came over and complimented my rifle's looks and gave a once over of my equipment. Right away he said I would probably have trouble with the Pyrodex powder I had brought. I answered that I had not seen any true black powder on the shelves for purchase. He told my I needed to ask the clerk as they kept it in the back. He went back to shooting his rifle and I prepared to shoot mine.

Loaded up the shot with 55 gr of 2F and then primed the pan with 3F as there seemed to be no 4F available when I bought the rest of the stuff. Misfire. Waited a minute. Reprimed. Misfire. Other guy comes back and looks things over. He offers to prime my pan with some of his 4F. Of course I agree. This time it touches off but with a noticable delay in between the primer charge firing and the main charge firing. I reload and try to use the 3F again in the primer pan. This time it works but the delay between the primer charge and the main charge is even longer. The guy says that I should try using as little powder as possible in the pan since the more powder you shove in, the longer you are making the fuse. He generously gives me a supply of 4F and 2F in real black powder, enough for several shots and I manage to crank off 10 more rounds with no misfires and with the last five the delay between the primer charge and main charge was extremely short. It was really fun at that point. Thank God for that gentleman or else I would probably still be there trying to get the thing to fire the first time and uttering all manner of profanity. I cannot really comment on accuracy as this was more of a familiarity run. Next time I'll try to shoot for "score".

It is a pain to clean though but thems the breaks. I'll shoot this thing a lot more and just maybe I'll start saving for that Baker.

4V50 Gary
August 26, 2002, 01:52 PM
Thank you for sharing this with us. Once a flintlock is properly tuned, you won't even notice the Psst! BOOOM! and it can be just as fast as the percussion gun. One advantage of the flintlock is that blackpowder doesn't harm the stock as much as the priming compound of the percussion cap.

While I use also use 4f for priming, there are other things to bear in mind. Flint: be sure it's sharp and clamp tightly in the jaws. I prefer lead to clamp the flint in as it's easier for me. I also wipe it down frequently - just like I do for the frizzen. BTW, I'm pretty cheap and with one flint, have managed to get over 100 shots out of it.

August 26, 2002, 02:48 PM
Hooray, Andabeer! It sounds like you've been converted. The flinters really don't ignite pyrodex all that well and therefore black powder (especially in the priming pan) is a must. I use 3F in the pan as nobody ever stocks 4f. Seems to work pretty well. I do use Pyrodex as the main charge but put in a booster charge of 3F equivalent to a 9mm shell worth. Goes off pretty well with that set up.

I've found that keeping the small amount of priming powder away from the flash hole give the most consistent ignition. In other words, the few grains you put in should be as far to the right as possible. Just tipping your gun to the right after closing the frizzen will do it.

Also, BP makes a kind of greasy residue on the frizzen that can hinder ignition. A wipe down with a dry rag every few shots seems to help.

Jimmy Mac
August 26, 2002, 03:07 PM
Why do they make it with such a high stock? No one likes the stock on these rifles.

Pryodex is crap. I am sure you now agree with me on this.

It had been my experience that FFF works fine in the pan.

As they already said wipe the flint and frizzen between shots. This makes them much more reliable. Also keep the pan clean.

Jimmy Mac
August 26, 2002, 08:36 PM
Use only good English flints in the size reccomended for your lock.

I use lead instead or leather to hold my flints. If you have a piece of flint a little too short you can make it long enough by using thick leather to hold in in.

Every now and then you will find a piece of flint that seems to last forever. I have got over 150 shots out of one piece. Normaly it is from 50 to 80.

You can knap them or turn them over to make them last longer.

August 27, 2002, 05:08 PM
As I was shooting it I was amazed that anyone could fight a battle with one of these things.

August 28, 2002, 07:27 AM
Pyrodex and Flint usually don't mix. Black powder ignites around 350 to 400 degrees F. Pyrodex goes off around 700 F. The flint sparks will ignite Black without a problem, but not Pyrodex. This is why you can buy Pyrodex at Walmart, but not Black Powder. They have different gov't. classifications due to the ignition temp.

If Black is really hard to find, then you can duplex your load by charging with about 10 gr of black them then the rest Pyrodex. This puts black around the touch hole and the heat from it will ignite the pyrodex.

Always prime with Black Powder!

You might want to open up the touch hole to just under 1/16 of an inch and remember that the priming powder should only come up to the bottom of the touch hole, never covering it.



Jimmy Mac
August 28, 2002, 06:15 PM
I also have found 1/16 inch to be the correct size for the touchole.

Also if the Penn. rifle in question does not have a touchole liner it will get much quicker ignition with one installed.

4V50 Gary
August 28, 2002, 06:22 PM
If the stock is too high, take a spokeshave to it and shave away. If you don't have or like using a spokeshave, use a surf-form and that removes wood quick. Problem is that you'll have to refinish the entire stock. Uggh.

Alex Johnson
August 28, 2002, 08:38 PM
I've noticed on many commercial flint rifles that the touchole is incorrectly located, I've never seen the brand of rifle you have so I don't know if this is the case. The touchole should be located just slightly above the top edge of the pan, most custom makers now do this, but I still see some of the commercial guns floating around with the touch hole at the bottom of the pan where powder can get into it and burn like a fuse.

September 2, 2002, 09:19 PM
I will second the suggestion you stay away from pyrodex in a flinter. It works fine in a caplock gun, but again, due to ignition temperature doesn't work well in a flintlock gun. When you use 4f in the pan and 2f in the gun you will find the ignition time to be much faster. Shoot the gun and have fun. I use leather, by the way around my flint. Quality knapped English flints are the best IMO. Welcome to the black powder ranks!

September 3, 2002, 09:01 PM
All the gents gave you good advice. I'll just add a few things. Put a wooden matchstick behind a short flint to move it closer to the frizzen. However, you don't want it touching the frizzen and back an eight or the thickness of a match stick works well. Oil the frizzen pivot screw and the spring where the frizzen slides along it. A stiff frizzen can hang up the flint and cock -- no sparks.

3F works in the pan but a can of 4F is good for 2000 shots, so it's worth your trouble to hunt some up. If a flint is getting dull move it sideways a bit so it cuts a new track on the frizzen. I'm not sure I should give you any advice on sharpening flints. I got a handfull of gravel more than once. Use a new flint for hunting, of course.

My T/C flinter was used when I bought it. Dull flint, wore out frizzen and a can of Pyrodex. I think I averaged a shot an hour. I picked up a can of Goex and Dr. Sam Fadala's book the next day. Much Better.

Speaking of service, I ordered a new frizzen from T/C. It didn't fit the lock so I sent it back with the measurements of the old one. They said they didn't have any that old anymore, so they sent me a whole new lock, FREE :)

How fast can you shoot a flinter? From the very interesting Dixie Gun Works catalogue. "No recruit to be dismissed from the drill until he is so expert with his firelock, as to load and fire 15 times in 3 minutes and three quarters." 1768.

Have fun

September 4, 2002, 07:16 AM
How fast can you shoot a flinter? From the very interesting Dixie Gun Works catalogue. "No recruit to be dismissed from the drill until he is so expert with his firelock, as to load and fire 15 times in 3 minutes and three quarters." 1768.

before I disadain in my own incompetence I will assume this rate of fire was for smooth bore muskets not that I could match it even so armed

September 4, 2002, 07:54 AM
4 rounds a minute is doable historically (which is what you are looking at here) with either a smoothbore musket or a rifle with mini-ball. The whole reason we were using rifles in the civil war was that Claude Minet's invention of the "mini"-ball brought the reloading time down for them. Otherwise they would still be weapons for skirmishers.

Evidentally some of the more experienced soldiers in the revolutionary war and napoleonic wars could shoot 5 shots in a minute and reload their muskets on the run. That must have been something to behold.

4V50 Gary
September 4, 2002, 10:30 AM
While it was as fast to load as a musket, the reason why the Minie was adopted was its greater range. It made every soldier who was armed with a "rifled musket" a potential sharpshooter. The Minie not only loaded faster than the round ball rifle gun, it reached out farther. 500 yard shots on man sized targets could be accomplished with practice and, depending on the gun and the shooter, 800 yards was attainable. Oh, the British Enfield was about the best there iwas in the ACW before going into "small bore" guns (Henry, Metford, Whitworth, Kerr).

BTW, loading speed also depended on how clean the gun was and fouled rifled muskets could be tough to load. I've read of some accounts during the ACW where over 60 rounds were fired non-stop and others where some soldiers had to pour water down their bores to rinse the fouling out. I guess humidity had a lot to do with it. I use SPG on my minies and was able to fire non-stop for 60 rounds. It beats using beeswax and lard which I think is the historical lube (than ran in hot weather).

September 4, 2002, 11:18 AM
Pour water huh? In the napoleonic wars the british used to have to piss in their Bakers and then beat the ball down the barrel by using a hammer on the ramrod. And that was with an undersized ball for the bore too (a clean baker was fired with a leather patch around the ball to grip the rifling).

September 4, 2002, 02:29 PM
There's instructions and pictures in Lyman #46 and Lyman's Black Powder Handbook of a skirmisher loading a caplock with paper cartridges.

The firelock drill of 1727. I haven't sorted it all out myself yet, yet alone tried it.


4V50 Gary
September 4, 2002, 03:04 PM
I've heard about urinating down a barrel, but have yet to read an actual account from either the Napoleonic or Civil War. Hence I did not mention it. I don't doubt that it happened and in the heat of battle who wouldn't? It may well be that the soldiers may have been too "polite" to have mentioned it. BTW, only the .69 caliber Bakers were issued with a small mallet and the later .62 caliber Bakers did not come with one. The ramrod on the Baker is swelled and purposely so. It is wider so the rifleman doesn't impale his hand when he taps on the top of the ramrod to pound the ball in.

Anybody got a reprint of Johnathan Leach's "Rough Sketches from the Life of an Old Soldier?" Been wanting to read it for years now.

September 4, 2002, 03:15 PM
This article by Ross Seyfried is more usefull for the first time flint shooter than the historical stuff is.

Some old timers don't agree with all he says, but it's a very good read.