View Full Version : Installing flint

January 1, 2011, 09:10 PM
Instructions for installing flint into the cock jaws of a flint lock seems so basic to flintlock shooting that surely there must be Internet page after page of pictures, diagrams, and text. If so, my search engines can't really find any of this info!

I've got a Lyman Great Plains .50 flintlock rifle that I got last week. So far, I love it!

Can't figure out for the life of me how to figure out the proper way to position the flint. I am guessing that one would want the hammer on half-cock and the frizzen closed over the pan, and then that one would want the flint edge to just barely be not quite touching the frizzen face. Right? If I am wrong, please advise. I figure that one can't really set it properly with the hammer on full cock or fully forward over the pan, right? And, for the frizzen, I figure that if it is open all the way it would not let one properly measure the distance and positioning of the flint, right? So, if I am right so far, how far back would one want the flint edge from the frizzen face if the hammer is on half-cock and the frizzen is closed? Would the distance be 1 mm? Right at the frizzen face and barely touching? Back further and not even close to touching? Help!!!!

Thanks guys!

January 1, 2011, 09:45 PM
Whatever makes it spark best. Some people do bevel up, some down. As long as it fires it doesn't really matter.

January 1, 2011, 10:26 PM
On half cock, the flint should just touch the frizzen without opening it.

January 1, 2011, 10:35 PM
This is how the flint should be positioned in the down position.


January 1, 2011, 10:38 PM
Another look


January 1, 2011, 10:43 PM
This is the proper way to prime the pan. This will give the fastest fire.
Use real Black Powder, 4 F will be OK. The fastest is Swiss Null B


January 1, 2011, 10:53 PM
This is how a lock should spark. There is no powder in the pan, this is just
the flint and frizzen. I slowed it down for to see it better.


January 2, 2011, 12:58 AM
Thank you very much !
Great info and thanks for the pictures, too!

January 2, 2011, 08:35 AM
First of all, let me say that I have the utmost respect and admiration for [email protected]; he's a gentleman and knows more about shooting black powder than most of us will ever achieve. Ditto for Hawg Haggen. If you need to make a choice between what they say and I say, pick them.

However (you knew that was coming, didn't you?)...

The subject of the 'proper' placement of a flint in the jaws is the subject of much debate, the vast majority of it friendly. Friendly because, as Hawg succinctly states, you end up doing what works best for you.

I like to put it this way: the position of the flint at half cock, full cock or hammer fully down is irrelevant. What's important is where and when it hits the frizzen when the frizzen is down. So, put the frizzen down and lower the hammer until the flint touches the frizzen face. It should be over halfway up the face, and make an angle of approximately 60 degrees (eyeball it, this isn't rocket science). The orientation of the bevel (up or down) makes no real difference if the location and angle are right. And if it makes sparks.

For the best sparks, you need a sharp, unbroken edge. Be careful the front corner on the inside (near the barrel) does not hit the barrel or the stock when the hammer is down.

As for the location of the powder in the pan, there's a great test done by Larry Pletch at Friendship the last few years in which he used high speed photography to study the issue. His conclusions, published in a thread on The Muzzleleloading Forum, were that the 'best' location was actually away from the touch hole (at least, that's how I remember it - I could be wrong - I'll try to look that up and edit this if I am).

January 2, 2011, 09:03 AM
As for the location of the powder in the pan, there's a great test done by Larry Pletch at Friendship the last few years in which he used high speed photography to study the issue. His conclusions, published in a thread on The Muzzleleloading Forum, were that the 'best' location was actually away from the touch hole (at least, that's how I remember it - I could be wrong - I'll try to look that up and edit this if I am).

I didn't know about that test. But I do agree with it. Covering the touch hole smothers it and slows ignition. For forty years of almost exclusive flint shooting I have learned a small trail across the bottom of the pan works best. Ignition is not the powder burning into the touch hole. It is a form of a venturi effect that does the job.
Position of the flint, type of primer powder are sources of endless debate. The original poster has a good start and will find what works best for him. I use 4Fg for no special reason I can define scientifically. I like it and prefer it. If you want to use wet, used tobacco dip and it works for you, I say, 'go for it'.
And, I want to welcome a new flinter to the club. It is an addiction you may never get over.

January 2, 2011, 09:33 AM
Thanks for the kind words Mykeal but don't sell yourself short. You know as much as I do and maybe more plus you're better spoken than I am and get your point across better.

January 2, 2011, 09:43 AM
Then there is the wrapping of the flint. Some people like leather, some people like lead.

I use lead. I take a round ball, bash it flat with a hammer, then cut it to the width of the flint and use that to wrap the flint. Also, no matter which method you use, after the first couple shots, tighten the screw again.

What I learned is that the flint should strike the frizzen about 2/3 of the way from the top of the frizzen. What the flint is doing is actually shaving microscopic pieces of the frizzen away. The friction of the cutting action causes the metal shaved away to become white hot - ergo your spark.

Also, and almost finally, I poke the vent to create a little hole in the powder in the barrel, and then tap the gun to get the powder on the right side of the pan, away from the vent hole. Works almost every time.

Next to finally, this forum is nice, but you might have better luck with flinter questions at the Traditional Muzzleloading Forum. http://www.muzzleloadingforum.com

Finally, welcome to the world of flinters. Have fun! :D

The Doc is out now. :cool:

Mike Irwin
January 2, 2011, 10:16 AM
I also quit using leather and switched to a lead round ball hammered flat.

I found that the lead held the flint FAR more securely, and the lead and flint could just be washed off to remove corrosive fouling that you can never get out of leather.

January 2, 2011, 12:50 PM
i read about the leather or lead issue. & the bevel up or down.

so i experimented on my different locks..... thay all improved in spark with the lead mounting. not too much with the position of bevel.
maybe leather allows some small movement or bounce even though the tight jaws would seem to prevent it?

i did also notice the lead wrap accentuated wear on the flint if the strike/interference angle at the frizzen wasn't near perfect.


January 2, 2011, 01:05 PM
Well if you go back and read the work done by Larry Pletcher you will find
out that the fastest is covering up the touch hole just like you see in the
picture and the way I have done it for 40 yrs. I know, I know it's hard to
be humble;);)

January 2, 2011, 01:17 PM
[email protected] is right, as usual. I had it backwards. Larry Pletcher's (not Pletch) article was published in the April 2009 issue of MuzzleBlasts. He concluded that priming powder banked up against the barrel resulted in the fastest lock times. He made a point of the fact that great pains were taken in his tests to not fill up the vent hole.

Sorry, Phil. I should have looked it up first.

January 2, 2011, 01:32 PM
That's OK, I know, I know you'll be watching me in June!

January 3, 2011, 09:22 PM
Just in case anybody gets the idea I disagree with kwhi43 about how to do this, that is as far from the truth as can be. We both have our own ways of doing things that work for us. Ursa, find what works for you and stick with it.

No disrespect intended, kwhi43.

Oh, and a belated Happy New Year to all of us! :D

The Doc is out now. :cool:

January 4, 2011, 07:01 AM
I, also, have a GPR flintlock.
I use Tom Fuller flints. Lead wrap. Bevel down. Priming powder favoring the touch hole but not necessarily filling it.
The gun goes bang every time. (well.....almost every time. FTFs are truly rare.)

January 7, 2011, 10:54 PM
I found that the best combination for my Harper's Ferry pistol was to load the charge with the pick corking the touch hole, then priming half the depth of the pan. All with 3fg Goex powder (cause I'm cheap). A (literal) blast to shoot, and a pain to clean.