First Muzzle Loading Hunt

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BritJoe

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Ten days ago I bought my first muzzleloading smoothbore for shooting. I have an Enfield P1859 musket hanging on the wall but given the state of the stock I was happy for it to stay and even though there were times I looked at it wistfully the thought of putting it on licence and buying a new cabinet to fit meant muzzleloading was just another thing on my must do one day list.

I guess I was looking for a military carbine but when I saw and handled this I just knew it would make a fine introduction and I didn't think twice. It's an Ardesa percussion fowler dating from 1997 in 12 bore which meant I could both trust it and also find the parts I need to shoot it. I'm using Pyrodex to get me going before I get a black powder licence and my beginners load is 58gn Pyrodex RS, nitro card, lubed felt wad, 1oz No 5 shot and an over shot card.

The location is one of my older permissions where we keep a constant pressure on the rabbit population and remove the geese as and when required. This will not see use on geese but it will be used on the rabbits when all we want to do is remove a few at a time. I felt it would suit those times when I simply wanted to stalk through the woods and take a few for the pot rather than ambush greater numbers at longer ranges with guns that shall not be mentioned here.

The first rabbit appeared last Monday among some broken branches at about 20 yards, I cocked the hammer, raised the gun,drew a bead and fired, the rabbit dropped with barely a flicker of the leg. First shot, first kill. I took it to the top of a nearby badger set to reload the gun and decided on a photo, gun, rabbit, quarry and accoutrements. Had I thought more about it I would have made a better composition but I'm pleased with the result and it's a fine reminder of an important step on my shooting ladder.

a-1.JPG


I reloaded the gun slowly and carefully, it was a pleasure rather than a chore and I found that the rhythm suited the slow reawakening of the woods from the shock of the awful boom that had just reverberated through.I waited a while until a pigeon in the trees announced peace by cooing and set off again along badger highway which joins the sets and is used by the badgers, foxes, rabbits and me. Eventually I reached a tree where I had made my first kill with the unmentionable HMR and standing at the same spot saw a second rabbit 25 yards away as it emerged from a burrow and reached the point of no return. Boom,it simply fell over.

I retrieved and reloaded but to be fair that was me. I thought it would feel like shooting an antique but it just felt like any other gun and that was good because it's not a novelty, it has become a tool for a job and a seemingly quite capable one although I haven't even tested it's limitations in any way. I'm not conveying this very well, I was grinning from ear to ear!

I've got a lot to think about now, loads to test, what gear do I need and why am I carrying powder for more shots I'll ever need in a day? When do I get a flintlock, should I join a club and get a rifle? Is it time to be thinking about getting rid of a couple of unmentionables that will now never see the light of day again?

I don't often post pictres of myself but I enjoyed myself so much and this seems to mark a real turning point so here we go:

2022-05-16-Bishopton-13a-mini.JPG


I met up with my mate who had been targeting a distant burrow with unmentionable and thermal scope and let him clear the third shot. He's a big bloke but it hurt his shoulder, yes he smiled but I doubt I have a convert. His loss!

ps. Those rabbits are small, they won't go in the pot but they will do for the dog.
 
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bushytail

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Nice shooting! Looks like you already have a load worked out for the gun. I’m sure your dog will be happy.
 

BritJoe

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Dang but that's a fine looking gun!
I've never seen one of these before. It would be a fine gun for use here in New England.

Thanks for the comments on the gun. To be honest when I first saw it I was not too impressed, I think I was looking more for an Enfield carbine type which it stood alongside stacked up in a bucket. They were various odd looking calibres, mostly rifled which I don't have a slot for on my licence but this was 12 bore so would be easy to get up and running. I asked the vendor to unlock it so I could have a look and once I picked it up I was smitten, it was one of those guns that felt just right in the hands, a nice weight, lovely balance and in good condition too although without a thorough inspection that's always a gamble. It was literally in the bargain bucket so the price was right.

So it's an Ardesa "Fowler" from 1997 and I think it's more a general impression than a copy of an actual gun although I may be wrong. I believe they were sold in the US under the Traditions brand but may be not this model. The specs are:

Length 49.5 inch
Weight 6.8lb
Barrel length 33 inch
Length of pull 14.25 inch
Trigger weight 7.5lb

The size and weight are pretty perfect for me. The other thing I really like, which I didn't think of at the time is that single captive "stud" makes it very easy to break down for cleaning without risking messing up the woodwork.

The downsides are that trigger pull is very heavy although to be fair I only really noticed it when I measured it. The lock will be getting a good clean but I'm not doing anything else to lighten it. Also the finish is a coat of varnish that has worn away in places. It could do with stripping and oiling but I'm worried about damaging the checkering which is rather good. I'm not skilled enough to tackle that myself but I may consider getting it done professionally even if it costs more than I paid for the gun. It would be worth it, this one will last me until I hang up my boots and I don't swap and change guns around.

Now a question for you. When I fire it, the hammer rebounds to the half cock and the cap is gone, is this normal?

ardesa-fowler-grey-mini.jpg
 

Sooty Scot

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Welcome down the BP rabbit hole. It's nicely warm down here.
That's a beautiful smoothie. I look forward to your next report.
 

toot

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Ten days ago I bought my first muzzleloading smoothbore for shooting. I have an Enfield P1859 musket hanging on the wall but given the state of the stock I was happy for it to stay and even though there were times I looked at it wistfully the thought of putting it on licence and buying a new cabinet to fit meant muzzleloading was just another thing on my must do one day list.

I guess I was looking for a military carbine but when I saw and handled this I just knew it would make a fine introduction and I didn't think twice. It's an Ardesa percussion fowler dating from 1997 in 12 bore which meant I could both trust it and also find the parts I need to shoot it. I'm using Pyrodex to get me going before I get a black powder licence and my beginners load is 58gn Pyrodex RS, nitro card, lubed felt wad, 1oz No 5 shot and an over shot card.

The location is one of my older permissions where we keep a constant pressure on the rabbit population and remove the geese as and when required. This will not see use on geese but it will be used on the rabbits when all we want to do is remove a few at a time. I felt it would suit those times when I simply wanted to stalk through the woods and take a few for the pot rather than ambush greater numbers at longer ranges with guns that shall not be mentioned here.

The first rabbit appeared last Monday among some broken branches at about 20 yards, I cocked the hammer, raised the gun,drew a bead and fired, the rabbit dropped with barely a flicker of the leg. First shot, first kill. I took it to the top of a nearby badger set to reload the gun and decided on a photo, gun, rabbit, quarry and accoutrements. Had I thought more about it I would have made a better composition but I'm pleased with the result and it's a fine reminder of an important step on my shooting ladder.

View attachment 140129

I reloaded the gun slowly and carefully, it was a pleasure rather than a chore and I found that the rhythm suited the slow reawakening of the woods from the shock of the awful boom that had just reverberated through.I waited a while until a pigeon in the trees announced peace by cooing and set off again along badger highway which joins the sets and is used by the badgers, foxes, rabbits and me. Eventually I reached a tree where I had made my first kill with the unmentionable HMR and standing at the same spot saw a second rabbit 25 yards away as it emerged from a burrow and reached the point of no return. Boom,it simply fell over.

I retrieved and reloaded but to be fair that was me. I thought it would feel like shooting an antique but it just felt like any other gun and that was good because it's not a novelty, it has become a tool for a job and a seemingly quite capable one although I haven't even tested it's limitations in any way. I'm not conveying this very well, I was grinning from ear to ear!

I've got a lot to think about now, loads to test, what gear do I need and why am I carrying powder for more shots I'll ever need in a day? When do I get a flintlock, should I join a club and get a rifle? Is it time to be thinking about getting rid of a couple of unmentionables that will now never see the light of day again?

I don't often post pictres of myself but I enjoyed myself so much and this seems to mark a real turning point so here we go:

View attachment 140130

I met up with my mate who had been targeting a distant burrow with unmentionable and thermal scope and let him clear the third shot. He's a big bloke but it hurt his shoulder, yes he smiled but I doubt I have a convert. His loss!

ps. Those rabbits are small, they won't go in the pot but they will do for the dog.
great story, and no dog needed, I guess??
 

BritJoe

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Might be the cone where the cap goes is burnt out thus allowing gas and pressure to blow back through the opening., find a new one and re-place it.

Ah, I must admit I didn't know what a cone was at first but I'm pleased to say I already have 2 on order with a matching key. A bit concerned that it it is burnt through then it's likely "welded" into the breech but where theres a will, theres a way. Obviously I am a little concerned now as a cap flying close to my face is not an attractive thought but it's all part of learning about these guns I suppose.

Welcome down the BP rabbit hole. It's nicely warm down here.
That's a beautiful smoothie. I look forward to your next report.

Quite a rabbit hole indeed. No my dog (springer) is good on pheasant in the air but I'm always wary with rabbits in case he gets into a line of fire and anyway he tends to clear them into a burrow. Hopefully by the time pheasant are back in season I'll have a nice patterning no 6 load.
 

Sooty Scot

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The bore of the nipple does seem a bit large. Hopefully, the replacement will correct the problem.
Is that simply a creaes in the casting of the bolster? A hairline crack there, though unlikely, might vent blow back. ( I know photos can exaggerate minor flaws.)
 

BritJoe

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Forgive my terminology but the crease marks the separation of the barrel and the bolster. Once the stock pin is withdrawn the barrel lifts and unhooks from the bolster. You can see the line separating the two continues along the top flat. I thought it a bit ugly at first but it makes removing the barrel for cleaning very easy. It will be interesting to compare the bore of this nipple with it's replacement. I have several non shooting percußion guns but none has a bore that large.
 
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Actually the nipple looks to be in fair shape, if me I would wait on the new ones and give it a go with one of those, if the blow back continues I would suspect perhaps a weak hammer spring. The other thing is the nipple in the picture looks like a musket size nipple, pull the nipple and see if someone has bored out the hole through the nipple, if so there could be the problem.
 
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Very nice shotgun. Good find and I really liked the story. I need to get my Side x Side 12 gauge Pedersoli out and shoot more.
I would say you might have a weak hammer spring. One of my hammers were going back to half cock when firing 80grn of 2F and an ounce of #8's which is my best load in my double barrel. I ordered new hammer springs and that fixed it.
Mike
 
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