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Old December 19, 2020, 10:47 PM   #1
ECM4
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Flintlock: what powder?

I have never owned a flintlock. I want to get a 50 cal Hawken flintlock. What powder do you like best? Do you use a different powder in the pan than what you load? Both the same? I have read that certain powders aren’t good for priming because of poor ignition. Any advice would be helpful.
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Old December 19, 2020, 10:50 PM   #2
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FFg or FFFg for the charge and usually FFFFg for priming the pan. Some more experienced rock lock shooters will be along to offer more.

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Old December 20, 2020, 12:55 AM   #3
Jim Watson
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Real BLACK powder. A flintlock will not ignite the fake powders like Pyrodex.
Yes, you can put down a booster charge of black under Pyrodex and black in the pan, but why?
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Old December 20, 2020, 08:14 AM   #4
mehavey
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Quote:
I want to get a 50 cal Hawken flintlock.
1. What manufacturer/source are you looking at?
2. Try real 3Fg for simplicity at start. Get 4Fg as well if you can.
3. Get real flint. The cut agate "most" commercial manufacturers ship w/ the guns is "mostly" useless.
4. Get a 38-cent lagbolt
https://i.postimg.cc/jdVScqhJ/knaptool.jpg
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Old December 20, 2020, 09:18 AM   #5
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Flintlocks have a longer lock time than percussion. You will have to practice to not flinch between the flash and the bang. When you master that you will be better at shooting pretty much anything.

And don't put your gun away dirty, even overnight. Ignited black powder creates sulfuric acid which will pit your barrel in short order.

Personally, I don't think I would try any combination of black powder and pyrodex in your charge. I'm a coward, but I always considered double basing your powder a bad thing, unexpected consequences. There may be others here with more black powder experience that can prove me wrong.
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Old December 20, 2020, 09:40 AM   #6
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http://www.cherrytreefamily.com/blackpowderhistory.htm
Very-well documented Black Powder chemistry/ignition/residue info.
Puts a lot of "myths" to rest with what actually happens/not happens,
and under what conditions
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Old December 20, 2020, 12:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mehavey View Post
1. What manufacturer/source are you looking at?
2. Try real 3Fg for simplicity at start. Get 4Fg as well if you can.
3. Get real flint. The cut agate "most" commercial manufacturers ship w/ the guns is "mostly" useless.
4. Get a 38-cent lagbolt
https://i.postimg.cc/jdVScqhJ/knaptool.jpg
Pedersoli Hawken is the gun I have been looking at and been thinking about goex powder. 2F or 3f for charge??? Both list 50 cal at the smallest or largest caliber. I’m assuming both work for the charge. After looking more and hearing responses I will pick up some 4F for the priming charge
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Old December 20, 2020, 12:54 PM   #8
Jim Watson
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Either will work. There seems a bit of a trend to finer powder for higher velocity in steel barrels.
4F is traditional for the pan. But if you were in the Army, you would just dribble a little out of the cartridge into the pan before you loaded the powder and ball.
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Old December 20, 2020, 02:07 PM   #9
mehavey
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As recommended, go 3Fg for the ball by default, and
try it in pan as well unless/until ignition problems occur.

Fill the pan only to the bottom of the touch hole, not over it.


postscript: get those real flints mentioned.
You'll tear your hair out otherwise
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Old December 20, 2020, 02:35 PM   #10
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START HERE:



(4F in the pan here. But try 3F to start)
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Old December 21, 2020, 02:18 PM   #11
bamaranger
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flinters

As noted, for a flinter, real BP is the way. Using 3F for both pan and charge simplifies matters significantly. Using 4F solely in the pan is not uncommon, but finding 4f can be difficult. I know longer shoot flinters, but when I did, went 3F for everything and life was good.

As a rule, as a main charge, 3F is used in revolvers and rifles up to .36. Size 3F is used in .45 and often .50, and 2F for bores larger than .50.
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Old December 21, 2020, 08:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Flintlocks have a longer lock time than percussion. You will have to practice to not flinch between the flash and the bang. When you master that you will be better at shooting pretty much anything.
Agree that trigger time on a rock lock really stresses fundamentals, especially following your shot through.

As everyone has said, real BP. I personally use 3F in the barrel and the pan for simplicity sake. Try Swiss or the less expensive but almost as good Old Ensyford powder. Of course shoot a patched round ball. I would start at 60 grain charges and work up. I found 80 grains had the best balance of accuracy and power for me. Groups opened up a good bit past that.

I’ve done ok with the agate flints, but took the advice of others and now have a few dozen hand Knapped English flints. They are a little more finicky to set right, but actually last longer than the agate because they don’t round as much when they wear and you can re-knapp for a fresh edge.
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Old December 21, 2020, 11:28 PM   #13
mehavey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5whiskey
(Real flint) ...knap for a fresh edge.
.... the lagbolt trick makes life a no-brainer
https://i.postimg.cc/jdVScqhJ/knaptool.jpg
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Old December 23, 2020, 06:55 PM   #14
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2F black powder. If you must use 3F, reduce the charge.

BTW, I'd prime the pan with 2F. Remember, when the Redcoats marched on Lexington and Washington's Continental surprised the Hessians at Trenton, no one had priming powder and primed from their cartridges.
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Old December 24, 2020, 01:46 PM   #15
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With my flintlock 3F real black powder under the ball and 3F in the pan provides for a nice discharge - no delay.

.02 David
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Old December 29, 2020, 07:04 AM   #16
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Time

Quote:
You will have to practice to not flinch between the flash and the bang. When you master that you will be better at shooting pretty much anything.
Hmmm. If there is time between the flash and the bang, you have done something wrong. Properly loaded, the sequence is not “click/flash/bang” but more “clabang”....very fast. This has been the case with both my Lyman GPR and 16 gauge fowler that I use for Upland hunting.

The thumbnail attached is a group fired with the GPR, benched, at 100 yds.
.50 cal LRB, 0.010” patch, 90 grs. FFg Goex, FFFFg primed.

https://thefiringline.com/forums/att...4&d=1603794275
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Old December 29, 2020, 01:51 PM   #17
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What darkgael said... and to add,

If your lock has a decent geometry, and you have a well adjusted SHARP flint in the cock jaws, along with a properly hardened frizzen, you're good to go confidently with proper ignition. A different sound compared to a caplock's on the gun's firing, but done right, it's hard to tell the difference in lock time between flint and cap; my experience, anyway.

When I start a hunt with my flinter, and after loading a fresh charge in a clean, and completely devoid of any kind of oil/chemical whatsoever in the breech area of the gun, I prime thusly;


With the rifle being in the crook of my left arm, and using my separate priming horn, I fill half a pan of 4fg priming powder.

After the prime, I tilt the gun slightly to the left, then gently tap the lock with my right hand, which banks the priming powder up against the touch-hole. Now, for the vent pick, I use the wire part of a piece of bronze wound, bass E guitar string. This is very good wire; very thin, rigid and strong.

I then run the vent wire through the prime into the main charge in the breech, which lines the touch hole with priming powder, and also lines the main charge with the fine stuff.

I then level the gun, pat the lock area gently to level the powder in the pan and close the frizzen. I then lean the gun slightly to the right and pat the lock area again to lodge the prime away from the touch hole. This causes the prime to "flash" to the touch hole, instead of "burning" to the touch hole, ensuring the proper ignition.

I learned this from master flintlock shooter mentors when I first started shooting flinters back in the 70s. I was very, very fortunate to have these guys as teachers, besides being good friends, to learn from. They were amazingly fine shooters with their flintlock guns, both rifled and smoothbores. Some of those fine guys have "gone home" long ago, and I still miss them very much.

This may sound like a lot to do when priming, but really doesn't take much time at all when it becomes part of your own loading habit. If when hunting, and you need to prime quickly for a follow up shot, just prime a half pan and close the frizzen. As you start your stalk to your downed critter, give the gun a little pat "to the right" to settle that prime away from the touch hole. Once these habits become ingrained, they're not even thought of as you do them.

FWIW, on the guitar string vent pick I mentioned, if you play guitar, or know someone who'd give you a used, bass E, bronze wound string, you can cut it to any length you'd like, then strip off the bronze winding to expose enough wire to use for the pick. Leave enough bronze winding on the string for a grip. Works really well for a vent pick, and one string makes lots of 'em to share. I have them mounted in the stopper ends of all my powder horns (both flint and perc.; works good in a nipple, too) and use it when I prime from the horn (I do that too, sometimes; not sure of any real difference in lock time that I can tell). Prime, and the vent pick is right there to use if needed before you plug back up the horn.

All this has worked quite well for me for the past 40 plus years in my own care and feeding of my flintlock rifles.

Oh, yeah, #1, keep yer powder dry . A cow's knee will be "kneeded" in inclement weather... had time to ramble a bit this morning; hope anyone reading it might glean a bit from it.
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Old December 29, 2020, 03:13 PM   #18
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What powder for Flintlock?

Traditionally 2 or 3Fg for the ball, 3 or 4Fg for the pan.

Other combinations will work, usually.
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Old December 31, 2020, 10:02 PM   #19
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Have a Flint lock Thompson Center although I don't take it afield much. I've been told powder manufactures use the same recipe through-out their grades. Only difference is the size of the kernels. The kernel size differentiates burn speed. BTW: Since I shoot larger bore calibers than 50 cal. If I were purchase store bought? __2-FFG for barrel and chop a bit of it up for pan use.. Then again since I have made B/P powder for quite some time. I typically use my screened powder now. Fast burning but very very fouling. Could corn my screen? Which I have done in the past. But doing so is just too time consuming for my likes.
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Old December 31, 2020, 10:32 PM   #20
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I always gotten better ignition with FFFFg in the pan. FFFg under the ball. I've never seen FFg around here ..... then again, I haven't shot that rocksmasher in a couple of years .... one of the places I bought my powder has been out of business for some time .... and I don't even know if Bass Pro still sells it.
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Old January 2, 2021, 06:55 PM   #21
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I have an ignition problematic Traditions Pennsylvania .50 flinter and after much experimentation and aggravation I settled on 75gr of Goex 2F and Goex 4F in the pan. When your starting out with a flinchlock it's best to use a fast powder in the pan for ignitions. Slower powder = slower ignitions = greater perceived flinch. Typically a good starting point for your main powder charge is 1.5X your caliber so a .50 cal = .75 or 75 grains. I also found it a good idea to occasionally wipe down my flash pan and flint with alcohol , this helped me with better consistency with ignitions.
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Old January 9, 2021, 12:48 PM   #22
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I've been shooting flintlocks since the 1970s - built my first one back then. The 2F will probably shoot a little bit tighter group than the 3F, but the 3F will burn a bit cleaner. For the same velocity, less 3F is needed. Most consider the 50 cal as the point where 2 or 3F is used. Larger bores use 2F, smaller 3F. But, as most things BP, the old " rules " don't always apply. I use 3F in my 54 and 62 cal rifles, and at times even in my 12ga BP loads. There, it's only 70grs of 3F with 1oz of shot. I do like 4F in the pan, but would think the 3Fwould also work. I want to say it was in the late 70s that I tied for first place in the Silhouette Matches at Friendship [ nation range ] using my homemade fullstock Hawken 54 flinter. I normally shot 85grs of 3F but never shot it longer than 100 yards. I called Bill Large, the barrel maker, and ask him what to use. He said just go to 120grs and use the same sight picture. It worked. There were 4 targets each at 50, 100, 150, 175, and 200yds, all shot offhand with a 5 minute limit. The 200 yard bears could be shot in any position. 14/20 was pretty good for a pistol shooter, and tied for 1st.

Don Davis years ago [ 1970s ] use to write for a weekly mag - forget the name now - and he had high speed photography [ 1/10,000 of a sec ] take photos of a caplock going off and a flintlock going off. There was only a couple of tenths difference. The powder in the pan should lay BELOW the touch hole because BP burns UP and OUT when it goes off. Something to look for when buying a flintlock is the touch hole should be even with the top of the pan, or even a bit above it, but never below it. Use a good English flint - you can buy them from Dixie. The only caplocks I own are revolvers, SS target pistols, and a SxS shotgun. Oh, also a homemade Matchlock - now that's a real treat to shoot if you're looking for a delay in going off.
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