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why you should know how to use a flintlock rifle Empty why you should know how to use a flintlock rifle

Post by 12acrehome on Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:23 pm

I don't normally post what if scenarios, but the need to own a flintlock is rooted in what if's. So bare with me on this post as I mingle opinion, facts, and a few what if's.

Own a flintlock?? Why?? That was the action or lock type that fought wars, fed families, and conquered this nation during its settling. In fact for about 200 years this was the preferred action type, outliving percussion arms by 150 years.  They were inexpensive, and once mastered easily used and maintained. In fact with three other skills the flintlock could be kept in service and supplies by the owner without buying anything.  Bullet casting is obvious, flint knapping is not a stretch, but also making your own black powder are all skills that the original homesteaders had knowledge of.

What can be done with a flintlock muzzle loader? That all depends on the caliber.  Small bore, medium bore, or large bore all have their places. In discussing muzzleloaders a small bore rifle, pistol, or smooth bore is .40 caliber and under.  These are frugal little guns using little powder and lead for each shot.

The diminutive .32 caliber is the most frugal that is (and was) commonly available. By giving the shooter 150 shots (balls) for every pound of lead, and up to 700 shots for each pound of powder makes the .32 the king of frugal hunting.  The .36 calibers require 50% more powder and use 110 round balls for each pound of lead, but is still quite frugal, and slightly more powerful than the .32.  Those guns bored smaller than .32, and larger than .36 are hard to find outside of the custom built guns. The .32 and .36 easily duplicate .22 Rimfire Magnum velocities, and exceed the .22 Magnum in ft lbs of energy due to their heavier bullets.  These two calibers will gather food from squirrel and rabbit, up to turkey and, with very careful shot placement, small deer.

The medium bore start at about .45 caliber and go through about .56 caliber.  These are the guns that are most often used for hunting deer, bear, and Elk.  Being quite powerful for the task, some have even hunted buffalo with them.

why you should know how to use a flintlock rifle 15946_698936673465282_1424991037_n

Author Sam Fadala shown here reloading after shooting the charging buffalo ( now shown rolling backwards off its feet).  Sam shot the buffalo with a .54 caliber roundball fired from a traditional style rifle. (action type unknown to me)  This shows the power of the medium bore rifles.  The picture and related article are found in The complete Black Powder Handbook, 4th edition, page 8.

The large bore guns are marvels, fun to look at, but very powerful and having fierce recoil are not for todays average shooter.  These start at .58 caliber, which is perfectly manageable by most shooters, and run through the mighty 2 bore.  A 2 bore rifle shoots a roundball that is 1/2 of a pound.  Two balls to the pound as they were called in their day. To this day there are surviving 4 bore and 8 bore rifles that harvested all manner of African game.  One surviving rifle belonged to Sir Samuel White Baker, a noted African adventurer of his day.  This rifle fired a load of 430 grains of black powder, under a patched roundball weighing 1,750 grains (or 4 ounces).  Muzzle energy is reported to have been 6,000 to 7,000 pounds feet of energy, with a velocity of 1,200 to 1,300 feet per second.  Todays modern rifles can only hope to achieve that level of energy.

So why a flintlock instead of another action type? By learning to knapp your own flints, and cast your own bullets, your only expense will be the powder. This will make you much less dependent on stores for your shooting needs. You can legally store up to 50 pounds of powder in your home, and if you choose a small bore that would be nearly 15,000 shots before you needed more powder.  A typical load in a medium bore (50 or 54 caliber, 100 grains per shot) will still give 3,500 shots before you need more powder.  At less than $20.00 per pound of powder these two categories  are very frugal.

Besides there is something about how the lock plate of a flintlock looks that just speaks of craftsmanship and independence.

why you should know how to use a flintlock rifle 942412_698903330135283_1756985959_n

My flintlock (aka rock lock) is a .32 caliber, built by Pedersoli of Italy.  

http://www.davide-pedersoli.com/scheda-prodotto.asp/l_en/idpr_97/rifles-pennsylvania-pennsylvania-percussion-model.html


why you should know how to use a flintlock rifle 1016938_551481774910807_1603015006_n

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Post by Rohn on Thu Jul 25, 2013 7:47 pm

Thanks for this informative post 12acres. I also have a flintlock rifle. Mine is not as fine of a rifle as the one you pictured here, but I consider it a very dependable rifle. I own a Thompson Center Hawken rifle with a Green Mountain barrel in .50 cal. It is a joy to shoot. I have only had it for a few years but I enjoy it a lot.
I have often thought about a .36 cal. for small game hunting but don't think that purchase will happen any time soon. But then again you never can tell.
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Post by 12acrehome on Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:34 pm

I believe the lowest picture is a museum piece, it is not from my collection. It does show some fine craftsmanship doesn't it.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Post by Rohn on Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:12 am

When you think of how the gunsmiths back in those days made their guns it is amazing the skills they had to have possessed.
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Post by 12acrehome on Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:17 am

Yes sir, not just wood carving, but working with fire, hammers, and files to fit intricate parts. Then the decorative carving and engraving...the modern guns may perform better, but they are just not what the old guns were.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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why you should know how to use a flintlock rifle Empty How to load a flintlock

Post by 12acrehome on Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:56 pm

These days the average shooter has the idea that the flintlock is undesirable because of a delay between the ignition of the powder in the pan, and the main powder charge in the barrel. This idea is correct, if the gun is improperly loaded, or improperly handled.  The correct loading technique will give the shooter a faster lock time than a percussion style gun will.  

To load a flintlock for the utmost dependability and accuracy you must carefully measure the main charge.  After pouring the main powder charge down the bore, seat the projectile fully on the powder charge, but do not pack the powder tightly.  Next, use a vent pick to clear the vent of any fouling, and ensure no kernels of powder are blocking the vent hole.  Charge the pan with fine grained powder (4F, aka FFFF, works well enough, but is often too energetic. Try 3F, aka FFF instead) but fill the pan no more than 1/2 full. Close the frizzen / pan cover and tilt the rifle so that the powder in the pan is as far away from the vent as possible.  The sparks created by the flint striking the frizzen will light the pan powder, when it burns (quite quickly) the fire needs to shoot through the vent hole and ignite the main powder charge.  If the pan is over filled, the flame will shoot straight up, delaying or even preventing ignition.  If the pan powder is banked up against the vent the flame will travel away from the vent, with the same results as an over filled pan.

Other tips for absolute dependability are:

1) NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER oil the frizzen, this hardened piece of steel must be absolutely clean and dry.  The flint strikes the face of the frizzen and shaves off hot curls of steel that ignite the pan powder.  Any oil or moisture will prevent a good spark and ruin any chance of ignition.

2) The flint must meet the frizzen face squarely.  When installing a new flint, ensure that the leather or lead grips the flint fairly tightly, but loose enough to allow the flint to turn slightly, as needed to make full contact across the width of the frizzen.  With the flint so held in the jaws of the cock, ease the cock forward while holding the frizzen closed.  While holding the frizzen closed, with the flint and cock resting against the frizzen, tighten the jaws to firmly hold the flint in place.  (note lead is preferred to leather, since the lead will only give so much, and then remain stable and anchored in place for several hundred shots (assuming your flint lasts that long)

3) buy only top quality natural flints, the synthetic versions do not give adequate spark. (and buy several)  Natural flints also are easier to knap the edge of, and maintain their sparking ability longer than the man made types, which often cannot be successfully knapped

4) learn how to moisture proof your gun, since black powder is hygroscopic (meaning it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere readily) you must devise ways of keeping that from happening.  Bees wax and bullet lube have all been used successfully.  A small amount spread around the edge of the pan (careful that you do not contaminate the pan itself) The lubricated patch will protect the main charge well.

5) use only real black powder.  Pyrodex, and all other substitutes are much harder to ignite, and best used in more modern designs.

Happy Shooting


Last edited by 12acrehome on Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Post by Rohn on Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:12 pm

Good information there 12 acres. I have had my flintlock rifle for a couple of years now and this information is a help to me. Some of it I knew but a lot of it is a help. I'd like to take a deer with my flintlock rifle, maybe this is the year.
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Post by 12acrehome on Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:14 pm

you can do it, remember it was the flintlock that fed the Pilgrims. (Remember these were state of the art guns from about 1630 through 1820, and still are used today)

I have noticed a general tendency for most folks to try to use too much powder in their muzzleloaders. My .54 performs best with between 75 and 90 grains of Goex 2F, under a .535 round ball with a ox-yoke lubed patch of .010 thickness. My .32 likes 25 grains of 3F Goex with a .310 patched round ball.

Target shooters who are using Hawken Style Rifles report best target groups when the powder charge is reduced to around 50 grains. With round ball loads this is not enough power for hunting. The typical 24 to 28 inch 50 cal barrel will make best use of the powder when loaded with 100 grains or less.

Ram rod pressure is critical also, do not damage the ball when seating it over the powder.

A few days before you are ready to go hunting, flush the barrel and vent with hydrogen peroxide, followed by rubbing alcohol. Lightly oil a patch and lube the barrel, but leave the vent dry. (Watch for rust formation, in the vent area. Two or three days is all I allow mine to sit unprotected)

Other than that, it is just a matter of practice my friend. Good luck.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Post by Rohn on Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:22 pm

Thanks 12 acres. I am really enjoying all your posts about these old guns. Even though I don't comment every time you post something (I run out of words to say) you can be sure, I am reading them all and soaking in the excitement, and pleasure that you feel, and the information that will be a help to me as I shoot and hunt with mine.
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Post by 12acrehome on Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:04 am

Happy to share. The old guns, in fact nearly all of the old technology up through the 1950's, is something that has always fascinated me.

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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