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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Mountain Mans Choice

For economy and effectiveness you can't beat a Patch n Ball 50 cal. Muzzle Loader. (You can also shoot lead bird shot out of a smooth bore muzzle loader similar to a modern shotgun.)

Muzzle loaders were the rifles that that Mountain Men came west with in the early 1800's, and were the weapons of choice before that for hunters and the military. Traditional muzzle loaders that we use now are patterned after the originals ones that survived the ravages of time. As the name implies these rifles are loaded at the muzzle.

To fire, a measurement of black powder is first poured down the barrel. Then a patch is placed over the end of the barrel. A round ball cast of lead in the appropriate caliber is placed on the patch and pushed down into the barrel a couple of inches with a ball starter. A ram rod specific to the rifle is used to seat the patch and ball all the way to the bottom of the barrel tight against the powder previously poured in. A percussion cap is placed over a nipple that is connected to the breech where the powder rests inside of the barrel. The hammer will fall on the cap when the trigger is pulled. The hammer strike ignites the cap which ignites the powder charge which propels the round ball out the barrel at a deadly speed. Now the loading has to happen in that order, powder then patch then ball or the rifle will not fire. It does get messed up sometimes when you are not paying attention.

At Gettysburg many muzzle loaders of fallen soldiers were found with multipal round balls shoved down the barrel with no powder under the first ball. The fog of war? It takes a good 60 seconds or usually longer to reload the rifle and when someone is shooting back who knows.

You can scrounge around and find lead for your round ball ammo. Old lead pipe, roof flashings, etc... Old doors from a hospital x-ray room contains a lot of lead. Scrounge around is the key word here. Get to know your local scrap yard man and you will be set. Tire stores give away lead tire weights or sell them for 10 cents a pound or less. You can buy a mold, then melt your lead and cast all the ammo you need. The Patch is old pillow ticking or you can use store bought round patches. You do need to buy # 11 percussion caps to ignite the powder charge. Now if you really want to get traditional you can shoot with a flint lock muzzle loader in which a piece of flint strikes steel to creates a spark to lite off the charge. I bought my traditional muzzle loader replica at a local rendezvous for $100 bucks. I have seen them at gun shows for $100 dollars.

I use 40 grains of powder to shoot targets and 80 grains when I hunt. The more the powder the more the kick or recoil. 80 grains going off in a 50 cal. is similar to a 12 ga. shotgun recoil. One pound of Elephant brand powder contains 7000 grains of powder and is cheap to purchase. I paid six bucks for my last 1 pound can. I have taken 7 or 8 deer with my present rifle. Each time it took just one shot as that 50 cal. ball has a lot of wallop and knock down power. I do shoot at 50 yard or less when hunting to be sure of my shot. With the buckhorn open iron sights I can hit a 20 lb propane bottle at 100 yards - sometimes.

Anybody interested in Black Powder shooting should contact their local Muzzle Loading club. Folks these family friendly clubs are all over the Country. They hold club shoots and rendezvous throughout the year. These guys n gals are preppers and don't even know it. They wear homemade period clothing, they jerk venison and other wild game, they camp and cook without any of the modern conveniences. They take pride in everything and anything handmade. Weekend camps and rendezvous are full of tipi's, pyramid tents, campfires, fire pit cooking, hawk and knife competitions, target shooting, traders, and all kinds of fun.

5 comments:

Joel the K said...

This is a very interesting and informative article you have written Tricky-J. Well done.

Kymber said...

another wicked and thought-provoking post Trick...wow - i really learned alot from this - thanks friend! and keep up the good work! wow!

wvsanta said...

Great post and one thing with black powder is it will make you a better shot as you only get one chance when hunting big game. With the ammo shortages today it is a great thing to have in your stockpile also.
God bless my friend
Santa

Trick James said...

Thank you Santa.
I might add that black powder hunting and shooting is a lot of fun.

YeOldFurt said...

TJ,
You forgot to warn people that once the smell of black powder burned in a thunderstick occurs to them, they're hooked on it. It NEVER goes away, happened to me at age 7 over 50 years ago. And now I have several versions I take out and exercise. Oh ALL that money I could have wasted on wild women and good whiskey. Dang it!!!

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