Flint Guns; more accidents than percussion?

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by Col. Batguano, Jul 15, 2019.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Jul 15, 2019 #1

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    69 Cal.

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,448
    Likes Received:
    78
    Some time ago, I tried to get BSA to change their policy about allowing Boy Scouts to shoot flint guns in addition to percussion and in-line. It was a losing argument. The individual I spoke with at the NRA (name withheld deliberately) stated that flint gun accidents are about 6x more common than when shooting percussion or in-lines. Since I have no experience other than by observation with in-lines, I'll limit the discussion to flint and cap guns.

    In my personal experience I've had many more difficulties to get cap guns to shoot reliably, and those copper # 11's seem to blow apart all the time, presenting much more risk of fragmentation (yes, eye protection is mandatory). Dry-balls are much more difficult to clear, and pssst-bangs are much more common than with flint.

    Other than getting cut by a sharp flint, a shattering flint, burned by TH gas venting, or loading over a closed frizzen with a flint scraping it, (unintended discharge) I can't think of actually WHY they would provide more of a hazard than cap guns, but others here are likely far more knowledgeable about the subject than I.

    One clue he DID offer though, was that when he teaches Rifle and Shotgun instructors, most of them come to the class with experience in both arms. When he teaches new Instructors in ML'ers, most come to the class with pretty much zero experience in them.

    Anyone else care to comment?
     
    Brokennock likes this.
  2. Jul 15, 2019 #2

    BJHabermehl

    BJHabermehl

    BJHabermehl

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2014
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    1
    In my personal expierence iv never seen a accidental discharge with a flintlock gun, however in percussion guns ive seen two. This in pa which is a hot bed of flint shooters. I do see a possibility of more safety issues with the typically crappy foreign made flintlocks, due to the crap I’ve seen people go through to get them to fire.
     
  3. Jul 15, 2019 #3

    Larry (Omaha)

    Larry (Omaha)

    Larry (Omaha)

    45 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2004
    Messages:
    601
    Likes Received:
    82
    Col. B,
    Interesting to say the least. If I were the one trying to help the BSA experience flintlock shooting here is a question to ask. If there are more accidents, then there should be data, may I see the data? To me it would be a toss up for safety. All guns require safe handling, per their own idiosyncrasies. A percussion fragmented cap can damage an eye. I do not recall every getting hit by a piece of flint, although I would have to believe it could happen. A flintlock can for sure cause a burn to someone next to it.
    The NRA individual is telling you statistics of safety comparison, ask him to provide it. You also said "some time ago". Maybe they have new data or changed their rules.
    I do question your statement about capper dry balls are are more difficult to clear. When you Co2 or use a ball puller I personally see no difference.
    Flintlocklar
     
    Loyalist Dave likes this.
  4. Jul 15, 2019 #4

    SDSmlf

    SDSmlf

    SDSmlf

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    274
    Location:
    Western North Carolina
    I am sure things have changed over the years, but remember being at Philmont in the early 70s and given the option to shoot a flintlock at their muzzleloader range. All that was presented initially were caplocks, and when we asked about flintlocks (believe Daniel Boone TV show may have had an influence on our inquiry), one was brought out and we got to try it. Also learned about the necessity of blowing down the barrel in their dry climate..... it had been pounded into me previously by my father to NEVER put my face over the muzzle of a gun. Times have changed with the Scouts.

    As far as ‘unintentional discharges’, it happened once to me with an in-line when a primer went off as I was pushing the plunger type hammer against it to check a fit. Fortunately, the thing wasn’t loaded.

    The one safety difference I can think of between caplocks and flintlocks is that a caplock is ‘legally’ unloaded in many jurisdictions with the cap removed, while a flintlock is considered ‘legally’ unloaded with the pan charge removed, even though both still have the main charge and ball in the barrel. No flintlock with a flint in the cock and the main charge in the barrel is ‘safe and unloaded’ in my opinion. You do not need a charge in the pan to have it fire. Not looking to debate effectiveness of a feather in the touchhole, frizzen stalls or removing the flint here, just giving my opinion as to why the Scouts may have a safety concern with flintlocks. Maybe too many items on the checklist to make them safe? Or just fear of the unknown?
     
  5. Jul 15, 2019 #5

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Messages:
    2,372
    Likes Received:
    339
    Hi,
    I suggest that part of the reason for the prejudice against flint is simply that most modern shooters have no idea how a properly designed and tuned flintlock should function because most of the flintlocks on mass-produced commercial offerings are garbage. In addition, too many of the semi-custom and custom flintlocks sold have locks that are not tuned in the least and are poor compared to what 18th century folks generally would expect from their guns. Few modern folks get to experience what a proper flintlock will do, even the military ones.

    dave
     
    RP3543, TFoley and Grumpa like this.
  6. Jul 15, 2019 #6

    Stony Broke

    Stony Broke

    Stony Broke

    32 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    100
    I would sort of doubt that a supply of custom and tuned flintlocks would be available for teaching good sized groups of young men. The cap locks...even the lower quality ones... would be easier for an instructor to teach about. If it were me, I would start the kids on the cap locks and when they have passed the class, move on to a second class of flinters.
    I have seen lots of excellent flinters over the years, but I think basically the cap locks sure would be easier to teach youngsters to shoot.
     
    TFoley likes this.
  7. Jul 15, 2019 #7

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    Col. Batguano

    69 Cal.

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,448
    Likes Received:
    78
    I should have elaborated more. "Some time ago" was 2012 or 2013. At the time, Venture / Sea Scouts (ages 14-21) WERE allowed to shoot flint, but Boy Scouts (ages 10 1/2-18) were not. Since that time the BSA Shooting Sports Manual (also known as part of the "No Fun Book") has been updated and now neither group is allowed to shoot flint. Cub Scouts (ages 7-11) are still limited to BB guns. No firearms.

    The supervision ratio for ANY ML'ing arm is 1:1 for loading, and 3:1 for shooting, which I think is appropriate. Too many things that can be done wrong if the ratio (for loading) is any looser than that.

    I've never had much luck with the CO2 dischargers. The gas either seems to blow by the ball, or doesn't have enough pressure to dislodge a very tightly patched ball. With flint, I can never get a tight enough seal to have it work with the rubber lips of the device. I've found it easier just to patiently poke as much powder as I can through the TH and then just shoot it out. Or resort to the screw-in ball puller. With percussion guns I've had hard hammer blows wind up swaging a bit of the copper from the caps in to the nipple holes and clogging them up. Not a safety issue, but still a giant pain to deal with.

    All that said, I don't think it's so much the quality of the firearm that is the issue, but the quality of the instructor that's doing the teaching that makes all the difference. And that being said, yes, I HAVE taken Scouts shooting MY flint guns, but mine are all guns I've made myself, and have well tuned locks as custom-built guns.

    No policy like this is going to be made for experts in the field, but has to be written for those that are barely past the beginner stage themselves. Just because a guy is an instructor, that doesn't make him an EXPERT!

    The part about what types of ML'ing guns are "legal" for Scouts to shoot is in the BSA Shooting Sports Manual, page 53.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2019
    TFoley likes this.
  8. Jul 15, 2019 #8

    biliff

    biliff

    biliff

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Messages:
    1,676
    Likes Received:
    28
    "The individual I spoke with at the NRA (name withheld deliberately) stated that flint gun accidents are about 6x more common than when shooting percussion or in-lines."

    First time I've ever heard that one. If you can't come up with a good argument then just make up some statistics and use them to say "no".

    Coincidentally, my gun club just asked me to put together a muzzleloading presentation for youth. Never having done anything like that I went to the Boy Scout Rifle Merit Badge webpage to see what they do for muzzleloaders. This is what I found:

    Option C - Muzzleloading Rifle Shooting

    1. Discuss a brief history of the development of muzzleloading rifles.
    2. Identify principal parts of percussion and flintlock rifles and discuss how they function.
    3. Demonstrate and discuss the safe handling rules of muzzleloading rifles.
    4. Identify the various grades of black powder and black powder substitutes and explain their proper use.
    5. Discuss proper safety procedures pertaining to black powder use and storage.
    6. Discuss proper components of a load.
    7. Identify proper procedures and accessories used for loading a muzzleloading rifle.
    8. Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to safely shoot a muzzleloading rifle on a range, including range procedures.
    9. Shoot a target with a muzzleloading rifle using the five fundamentals of firing a shot.
    10. Identify the materials needed to clean a muzzleloading rifle safely. Using these materials, demonstrate how to clean a muzzleloading rifle safely.
    11. Identify the causes of a muzzleloading rifle's failure to fire and explain or demonstrate proper correction procedures.
    12. Discuss what points you would consider in selecting a muzzleloading rifle.
    13. Using a muzzleloading rifle of .45 or .50 caliber and shooting from a bench rest or supported prone position, fire three groups (three shots per group) at 50 feet that can be covered by the base of a standard-size soft drink can.
    14. Center the group on the target and fire three groups (five shots per group). According to the target used, each shot in the group must meet the following minimum score:
      1. at 25 yards using NRA A-23 or NMLRA 50-yard targets : 7;
      2. at 50 yards using NRA A-25 or NMLRA 100-yard targets : 7.


    Notice it discusses flintlock and percussion rifles and doesn't specify percussion only for the shooting portions, just "muzzleloading rifle".
     
    TFoley likes this.
  9. Jul 15, 2019 #9

    hanshi

    hanshi

    hanshi

    Cannon

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    9,082
    Likes Received:
    293
    Very bizarre. The only accident I know of is touching the flint wrong. I've been cut a number of times by flints. I like percussions pretty well, but I've been hit with cap fragments and "spit on" from the nipple.
     
  10. Jul 16, 2019 #10

    tenngun

    tenngun

    tenngun

    Cannon

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    9,886
    Likes Received:
    983
    Location:
    Republic mo
    I do see a lot off You Tube vids of sawn off flintlock muskets being shot stupidly.
    I did see an ol’boy at a shoot knap a dull flint with a knife holding the rifle on its side.
    He had dumped the prime but a spark dropped off his knife through the touch hole. Boom.
    The ball flew just a few feet away from another shooter.
    The ol’boy making this mistake was by no means a slob shooter. He just let his guard down once and the dragon bit him. Luckily no one was hurt.
    Maybe nra thinks it’s just easier to make a mistake after view such vids.
    I don’t think a flinter is any more dangerous then a cap, just as a matchlock is as safe as a any other gun. But.... stupid shouldn’t be near any gun. And a lot of pathways to hurt yourself or others from stupid mixed with ml and maybe it’s a little easier to be stupid with a flint (?)
     
    SamTex1949 likes this.
  11. Jul 16, 2019 #11

    Cjensen

    Cjensen

    Cjensen

    32 Cal

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2019
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    7
     
  12. Jul 16, 2019 #12

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave

    Cannon MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    Messages:
    7,985
    Likes Received:
    734
    Location:
    People's Republic of Maryland
    Quite simply, the person at the NRA HQ is full of balderdash. I guarantee he had no data. 6X? I stand by my statement.
    Because I did the research four years ago and found that in-lines BY FAR had more accidents, and ALL were serious. So the NRA official is ignoring the folks who put smokeless powder into their inlines and blow themselves up, or he simply hasn't done the research.

    I did my research as a senior hunter safety instructor to try to convince Maryland DNR to change it's hunter safety exam to return the questions about only using black powder or a proper substitute to the exam. No, they thought the possibility of a 20 gauge shell being accidentally loaded into a 12 gauge chamber and then having a 12 gauge shell loaded on top of that and fired was a much more serious situation. I easily found a dozen inline accidents where people were maimed or died..., found no accidents with the shells with the same (I found no accidents with the shells at all where people were hurt). Further I found where the 12 gauge over the 20 gauge shell "accident" was TESTED in several shotguns. Not even close to being as dangerous as inlines.... but they didn't care.

    So I quit.

    Even when you include the cutting of a thumb by the flint....Because the cutting of a thumb by a flint rarely requires documentation from something like an ER visit, so the actual data isn't there. Flint shards in the eye are prevalent in the reenactment community on a very very small scale, while at the range are practically unheard of, as folks have to wear safety glasses on the range.

    A.D's in flinter are extremely rare, and rarer than a caplock. Failures to fire are not accidents. So that leaves..., being cut by the flint, since the boys are wearing safety glasses. GEESH...,

    You don't want the kid to get a scrape or a cut, don't let them out of the house and into the woods, and don't let them have sharp objects when they are indoors either.

    LD



     
    shane a gress and TFoley like this.
  13. Jul 16, 2019 #13

    wiksmo

    wiksmo

    wiksmo

    36 Cl.

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2019
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Interesting for a newbie to read a little about the "dark" side of black powder shooting. Kind of wondered about accidents and the what-ifs that go along with this firearm type?

    I did some different searches on MLF trying to find more chats re. this topic. Didn't find a whole lot of threads. Maybe this isn't the place to ask, but wondering what are the potentials and/or common things to look for that can cause BP accidents? I've read any number of comments about how enjoyable BP shooting is. This thread made me think it would be good to know both sides of the coin. TIA.

     
  14. Jul 16, 2019 #14

    smo

    smo

    smo

    70 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Messages:
    4,723
    Likes Received:
    242
    Location:
    Tn
    Wiksmo, the biggest safety concern with a Muzzleloader is to always use the correct powder!

    Either use real black or an approved substitute in a black powder firearm.

    This is in my opinion, no documentation of any stats on accidents.
    But I’m sure the Web is full of them.

    Double charges would be another concern....
     
    wiksmo and Loyalist Dave like this.
  15. Jul 16, 2019 #15

    SDSmlf

    SDSmlf

    SDSmlf

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Messages:
    817
    Likes Received:
    274
    Location:
    Western North Carolina
    Double powder or ball loads. Ball not seated on powder. Dry ball (no powder). Smoking while loading. Talking to others while loading (aka, a distraction). Not paying attention to direction muzzle is pointed and pretty much anything you can do with a smokeless/centerfire gun.

    Had issues with Scout organisation years ago. Sad story, but not relevant to this topic.

    Disappointed with NRA. Would push hard for 6X data. Don see it or believe it, but only doing this for over 45 years so have a very limited perspective. Shot first flintlock in the 1960s (original Brown Bess) and have been hooked and shooting muzzleloaders since. Have cut fingers on flints. More than once. Most times with lock out of stock. If asked before reading OP’s post would have quessed a statistical dead heat in accidents with caplocks vs flintlocks. Opinion hasn’t changed. Need to see data. NRA should be able to provide, but unfortunately, they are having their own issues lately.

    Next steps, if not already beat into submission, would be to get NRA data. If it exists. Then find out what is driving Scouts other than political correctness and see if there is anything other than a bit of smoke. Then comes the hard part. Convincing a ‘group think’ organisation that real facts and statistics don’t support their position. Anyone for a pitcher of KoolAid? Popular this time of year.
     
    wiksmo likes this.
  16. Jul 16, 2019 #16

    Stumpkiller

    Stumpkiller

    Stumpkiller

    That Other Moderator Staff Member MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2003
    Messages:
    18,172
    Likes Received:
    298
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    I have never heard of or experienced a flintlock being more prone to accidental discharges.

    The only long hang-fire I ever experienced was with a cap-lock. It was about a four second delay! Happily my Daddy and Grand-daddy taught me about muzzle etiquette and it went down-range.

    I would say you do have to be mindful of who is standing to the vent side of a flint lock. But then cap fragments can also be a problem.

    I don't see any advantage of an in-line over a cartridge firearm for training (less so as you are at the muzzle end more often that a cartridge gun) but I don't see that would be any more or less immune to accidents. Complacency with ANY system is a hazard and assuming one was immune would be a mistake.
     
    SamTex1949 and wiksmo like this.
  17. Jul 16, 2019 #17

    smoothshooter

    smoothshooter

    smoothshooter

    50 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Messages:
    1,232
    Likes Received:
    42

    I would agree accidents are more likely, primarily due to vent blast.

    The other reason that most flinters have crappy locks that require lots of fiddling around to get nearly every shot to go off. More fiddling means more opportunities for a muzzle to be pointed the wrong way, an unexpected shot with both bullet and vent blast going in directions not intended, and the fact that flinters require real black powder for ignition ( at least ).
    Most flintlocks, in most users hands, are a potential logistical and safety nightmare.
     
    wiksmo likes this.
  18. Jul 16, 2019 #18

    Britsmoothy

    Britsmoothy

    Britsmoothy

    70 Cal.

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2007
    Messages:
    5,469
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    England.
    Experts.
    X = the unknown factor.
    Pert = erect nipple.
     
  19. Jul 16, 2019 #19

    wiksmo

    wiksmo

    wiksmo

    36 Cl.

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2019
    Messages:
    74
    Likes Received:
    33
    Location:
    Kansas City, Missouri
    If I write it, it will come back to mind.:)
    ~~A double caution to watch for double loads...makes good sense. And of course, use of correct powder.
    ~~The gun etiquette was especially helpful...most of all, keeping muzzle pointed downrange. Had not considered the possible hang-fires.
    ~~Smoking is not a problem. Last Marlboro pack I used was at the then-exorbitant price of 40 cents. Many moons ago.
    ~~Getting the ball and powder correctly together.
    ~~Always an important reminder: "Complacency with ANY system is a hazard and assuming one was immune would be a mistake." Like the years I drove my cycle, a healthy respect for how it could bite is important. Even more so for me with any firearm!

    ~~Question re. "...standing to the vent side of a flint lock. But then cap fragments can also be a problem." I don't know what the vent side is? I have a cap & ball.....same caution??

    Thanks to Everyone for the sage cautions.
     
  20. Jul 16, 2019 #20

    Carbon 6

    Carbon 6

    Carbon 6

    54 Cal.

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2018
    Messages:
    1,891
    Likes Received:
    694
    I respectfully disagree with every point you just made.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white