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Old June 30, 2008, 10:34 AM   #1
The Great Mahoo
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Join Date: June 3, 2008
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Posts: 1,268
New to BP shooting

After months of thinking about it, I have finally decided to buy a muzzle loader. I was always into modern firearms, particularly of military design. I have noticed a new trend in myself over the last few years, that I have strayed from high-capacity, quick reloading weapons to more simplified designs. My AR's and such have not seen daylight in quite a while, while my lever-action carbines see the range everytime I go. My semi-auto pistols rarely get the working that my revolvers have been seeing as of late.

I have found that having fewer rounds, and taking longer to reload, not only saves me money, but makes me shoot much better, and is more enjoyable.

But I digress.

I recently came across a used Hawkin's .50 caliber cap-lock rifle for a good price, and being interested in black-powder weapons, I snatched it up. However, I have never used a muzzle-loader before and was wondering if anyone had any information for me. I have been shooting for the better part of my life and am familiar and comfortable with firearms in general, but I find myself a bit hesitant to just load up and start firing.

Is there anything in particular to note in using a blackpowder rifle?
Extra care in ammo storage/transport?
Added risk of bore corrosion?
Special precaution in loading?

Any advice would be appreciated.
If they are as much fun to shoot as it seems, I will be keeping my eyes open for a nice BP revolver next.
The Great Mahoo is offline  
Old June 30, 2008, 01:43 PM   #2
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Join Date: March 15, 2005
Location: Central Connecticut
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Is there anything in particular to note in using a blackpowder rifle?
Extra care in ammo storage/transport?
Added risk of bore corrosion?
Special precaution in loading?

Do you feel that you have all of the knowledge and equipment needed to load, shoot and then clean the gun when finished?
Do you know how to unload a projectile that has been rammed without loading the powder first? (a.k.a. - dryball)
Become familiar with all of the loading and safety procedures.
Store powder tightly closed in the original container away from heat, flame and moisture.
A gun is considered loaded if the flintlock pan is primed or if a cap is in place on the nipple, so don't place a primed or capped gun in the car since in most jurisdictions it's a crime. Having powder and ball in the gun is usually legal in most places, just not with the primer, priming powder or cap. Know your local laws.
There's a lot of risk of corrosion, so clean the gun promptly after every firing. The cleaner the better, and lubricate it afterward. Natural lubricants like commercial BP patch lubes are the norm but everyone has their favorites. Some people use BP solvents to clean and some use soapy water depending on their personal preference and the type of powder used.
Always seat the projectile firmly down on the powder charge so as to not leave an air pocket which can bulge the barrel.
If a projectile is loaded without powder, either place a pinch of powder under the nipple and then shoot it out, or buy a CO2 discharger with the proper fitting to dispell it, or safely pull the projectile out with the proper tools, or with an inline remove the breechplug and push it out from the rear.

Do you already know most everything about muzzle loaders on the pages below?

One thing that the pages below don't cover is how much powder to load. That's usually addressed in the owner's manual.
So here's a PDF link to the Thompson Center Sidelock Manual with much useful information:

And here's a link to the 1st page of chapter 5 of the South Carolina Hunter Safety Education Course regarding primitive hunting. This first page is only an outline of the information contained in the chapter about muzzle loading and archery.
Look at all of the muzzle loading pages in the chapter by clicking on "next page" at the bottom of each page. Then if you still have further specific questions, we'll try to help with the answers.

The pages include basic info about:

I. Primitive Hunting Equipment and Techniques

1. Know Your Muzzleloader
a. History of Firearms
b. Parts of a flintlock, percussion, wheelock, matchlock & inline

2. Ammunition for Muzzleloaders

3. Basic Muzzleloader Safety and Skills
a. Cleaning a Muzzleloader
b. Basic Muzzleloader Safety

4. Loading a Muzzleloader

5. Unloading or Firing a Muzzleloader
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