View Full Version : Muzzle/Breech loaders

Kentucky Rifle
July 21, 2001, 02:14 PM
When I was in Military School there was a crazy guy on my floor who did truly dumb things. I watched him set his face afire one night as he was trying to spit a fire cloud like the magicians. (Only with lighter fluid!) We put him out with a pillow. Not too much damage. Face blistered and eyebrows gone. (Silly-a$$.) However, he could build muzzle loaders! They came out beautifully and he inlayed this German silver, (nickel, I guess.) in the stocks. They were like art!
Did anyone see the Mel Gibson movie, "The Patriot"? If you looked closely, you could see some of those actors turn their heads and close their eyes BEFORE they pulled the trigger on those breech-loaders. I guess a small explosion taking place THAT close to your face made them a little "gun-shy". :) You could tell who was really a shooter and WHO was not!
Anybody have a breech or muzzle loader in their collection?


July 22, 2001, 09:05 AM

All of my rifles are breech loading ( :o ) but what your probably asking is breech loading Black Powder. I have a Shiloh Sharps in 45-110. This is a Matallic Cartridge Black Power falling block breech loader. Tom Sellick used one in his movie Quigley Down Under.

Now, seeing this has to do with muzzle stuffers and black powder I'm going to teleport this thread over to that Forum.

Hang on.... here we go....

July 22, 2001, 09:41 AM
I think you mean MUZZLE loaders, i.e., they load from the FRONT one shot at a time. The Patriot was using BROWN BESS muskets, a 75 caliber smooth bore flintlock weapon.


Kentucky Rifle
July 22, 2001, 02:55 PM
I'll try again.
I didn't see where the "ball" was stuffed into the barrel, however I did see the powder being poured into the rear side (I think the left side) of the locking mechanism. What type rifle would that be called? I thought in muzzle loaders, powder, ball, and paper went into the front end.


July 22, 2001, 03:37 PM
You were looking at the flintlock, but like all good hollywood movies they don't show you how it's really done. Remember the 30 shot six shooters in the old Westerns? :rolleyes:

The flintlock and the percussion lock (Caplock) load the same, that is, powder first, then ball down the barrel. Where they differ is the ignition mechanism. On the flintlock, what we would commonly refer to as the hammer is called the cock. Just in front of it is an L-shaped piece of steel hinged at its forward end. you tip up this frizzen, exposing a shallow powder pan which has a communicating hole bored thru the side of the bbl called the flash hole. you put a smidgeon of powder into this pan and close the frizzen. Then you cock the "cock". When you pull the trigger, the cock scrapes a flint down the face of the frizzen producing sparks. The frizzen flies forward from the impact of the flint and exposes the priming powder in the pan. The sparks from the frizzen rain down on the powder, igniting it. The resulting flash jets thru the flash hole and ignites the main charge. Capish?

The percussion has simply a steel nipple on which a pressure sensitive cap is placed. The hammer is a hammer which swings down and crushes the cap against the nipple. The resulting flash goes thru the perforated nipple and communicates with the main charge in the bbl. HTH:D

Kentucky Rifle
July 22, 2001, 05:51 PM
Suppose you stumbled a little with your muzzle loader "cocked". What would keep the cap from just falling off?
Sorry, I don't mean to be dense here. It just seems like there are way too many things that could go wrong.


July 22, 2001, 10:09 PM
The normal cap that finally was standardized is made out of copper foil and is a press fit on the nipple. If you get an undersized nipple, the cap is soft enough that you can squeeze the sides to hold it on. When the hammer hits the cap it ends up looking like one of those trick cigars that explode in the cartoons. HTH/

4V50 Gary
July 24, 2001, 12:51 AM
Historically, it would not be inaccurate for a solider to close his eyes or turn his head before shooting. Tactics of the day called for volume of fire over aimed fire. Aiming takes time, requires practice (which costs money) and slows down the rate of fire.

Funny, but if you concentrate on that front sight, you don't get distracted by the flash in the pan.

Kentucky Rifle
July 24, 2001, 09:27 AM
..but I also thing I'd want some eye protection when I touched it off!


July 25, 2001, 08:55 AM
Eye protection is always a good idea when shooting any fire arm. I guess I'm lucky that way - I have to have glasses on when I shoot.

That said - The flash in the pan normally is just a distraction, and is far enough away that it normally doesn't cause problems when loaded correctly.

July 25, 2001, 09:14 AM
The flash in the pan will not hurt you, it just is a distraction as the last poster said. Once you get used to it you'll stop flinching. HTH

July 25, 2001, 01:03 PM
What about for us lefties? Can we fire a flintlock without getting burned?

And what's the difference, between, say, a modern muzzleloader made by, say, Thompson Center, and an old design, the the reproduction 1861 Springfield? Does the 1861 Springfield function differently than, say, the reproduction Brown Bess that they also have in Cabela's? Ooh, wait...looking at my Cabela's catalog...the 1861 seems to be a precussion, whereas the Brown Bess is a flintlock. Am I right here? (as you can see, I know next to nothing about black powder firearms)

Holy crap...this 1766 Charleville Flintlock. .69 Caliber? Wow! That'll ruin your day.

Kentucky Rifle
July 25, 2001, 03:08 PM
You and me both!
I couldn't even SEE the front sight without my
glasses. This last time I purchaed a couple of
pairs of glasses, I had them made out of the
strongest plastic that was available just because
I knew that I'd have to be wearing the irritating
things just to be able to see the sights. This
began to happen to me when I was about 45. Since
then, every time I go in, I have to get a
stronger pair. I'm now 51. Sucks to have to wear
these things. Especially in the hot, humid
Kentucky summers when they keep wanting to slide
down my nose.


4V50 Gary
July 25, 2001, 08:21 PM
[A]s one of TFL's bonafide southpaw, I have shot flintlocks built by other people without any adverse affects. Concentrate on that front sight and there is no difference. However, use of eye protection is still recommended and if you're a reenactor, you can buy period glasses and have them put in safety glass or polycarbonate lens.

BTW, don't overlook Lyman's Great Plains flintlock in left hand. My first left handed flintlock is a Lyman. It comes in either .50 or .54 caliber. Don't know if their Hunter model with its slower twist bore for conicals is available in flintlock though.

August 2, 2001, 01:57 PM
. I guess a small explosion taking place THAT close to your face made them a little "gun-shy". You could tell who was really a shooter and WHO was not!

I heard some mtn-man reenactor folks talking about this last year. Apparently, the folks playing the Brits were explicitly told to turn their heads on firing. As reenactors and history buffs themselves, it wasn't by choice, but rather because the directors couldn't find an easy way to make the rather subtle visual differences between "point and pray" vs "aim and squeeze" techniques easily visible to your average 21st centuty audience. So they made it glaringly obvious the Brits weren't aiming by turning thier heads.

Personally, I liked the redcoats in Last of the Mohicans better.. extras really got drilled hard for that one, I've been told.


August 2, 2001, 07:40 PM
4V50 Gary,

You meant FASTER twist, right? 1 in 32 for the Hunter compared to 1 in 66 for the regular Great Plains Rifle.

BTW, how do you like it? I am thinking of getting a Great Plains, and I have heard that they are superb.

4V50 Gary
August 3, 2001, 09:20 AM
TaxPhD: Caught me & you're right. The Hunter version has a 1 in 32" twist which is faster than their standard round ball 1 in 66" twist barrel.

BTW, I like the Great Plains enough to order a Hunter which I plan to scope with a brass telescope. I'll probably make a steel patchbox for it too. My first one shoots good, but it's been a while since I've shot it. That's the problem when you don't get enough range time.