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Flintlocks: How to Shoot Them

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I've experienced not compressing the powder/shot in smoothbore loads causing what the old timers locally called "punk loads". Sometimes being able to watch the shot leave the barrel, much less break a bird.

I also was taught when loading a rifle to compress until you feel the powder crunch, then stop. So if that's what he's speaking of then i agree. I've seen some keep pounding the powder afterwards, I'm not sure that's necessary.

But talking about leaving air in the load should be handled carefully. Because the old " if a little is good a LOT is better" might be tempting to some, causing a disaster.

I'm sure the Bevel brothers or others have done test on compressing powder.. Anyone know of tests being done?
Paul was not saying to leave a space between ball and powder, he described feeling the ball touching the powder. But, he advocated not compressing the powder, so the air space would quicken ignition.
(Compressing black powder allows for a stronger load in a metallic cartridge, but Paul, and we, are not talking cartridges).

Paul wasn't always right, but he, and Spence, were the two people who brought me to this Forum. Anyone who disagrees with him is free to prove otherwise. We're still indebted to him.

That may well be but with black powder cartridge cases you must fill the case with filler between the powder and bullet to avoid excessive pressure and this compresses the powder.
The same should apply to loading a muzzleloader in so much as the breech acts as the case. I would think it would be much safer to be sure the load is compressed rather than loose. I'm not a proponent of pounding the bullet/ball down on the powder but I do seat it with a firm push. This is with black powder, with Black MZ or BH209 I really lean into it to compress it as much as possible.
I feel sure ET that’s what Paul was trying too imply..not leaving a gap, but not packing the load tight..
Once the ball contacts the powder a slight crunch is all I give it.
From my experience packing the load , compresses the powder making it harder too ignite…
Especially, if you have a small touch hole.
Maintaining consistent uniform pressure when the seating the projectile on the powder is very important when accuracy is desired.
Maintaining consistent uniform pressure when the seating the projectile on the powder is very important when accuracy is desired.

It has been a while since I shot my Musketoon for group. But thinking back after talking with some guys on N-SSA I started using a bathroom scale and as much pressure as possible on the range rod loading, upwards of 60 lbs of pressure. That consistently produced my best groups; under 2 MOA with issue sights. After a while I was able to leave the scales at home and try to use the same amount of loading pressure... basically all I could muster on the Rod. This completely surprised me and others. I'm talking about accuracy, not ignition.

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Some substitute powders work best with no compression. But, since this is the flintlock forum, we are talking of real black powder and that seems to function better when under some compression. Consistency is what we are seeking in our loading process. Not all of us will bring a bathroom scale to the range to seat our loads at 40 or 60 pounds. I have seen both recommendations. The recommendations to feel the powder crunch is a consistent measure of compression, its just doesn't have a poundage number. By bringing the loading rod to the same loaded depth will also provide a consistent level of compression. Also, after a few practice rounds, the same compression can be applied without having a scale to measure. I have placed the butt of the rifle on the arch of my foot. A rather crude measuring device, but there can be some consistency. Now, as for the air gap, these are irregularly shaped grains of powder and even if they are buffered by corn meal or cream of wheat, the oxygen molecules are much smaller and the oxygen in the black powder's potassium nitrate supplies all the oxygen the powder needs to burn. There's going to be plenty of oxygen for ignition of the powder charge.
Many of the discussions we're dealing with here were put to rest years ago. Paul and I had many arguments about the speeds he claimed . One was that the ball in a flint gun would be moving before the hammer on a percussion gun was half way down. At the time I had a computer interface that would time events to .0001 of a second. I challenged Paul to bring his lock to the spring shoot and I would time it. Paul came but left his lock at home, saying it needed some work. I realized after talking with him that all of his remarks about speed were concluded by eye sight alone.

In the past I have timed hundreds of locks and done slow motion video to film 80 or more locks (from current locks to originals). (The fastest lock I timed was a Joseph Manton from one of his flint doubles.) The results are on the web at www.blackpowdermag.com

In the links below I repeated the testing, usually with 20 trials. I believe good science is repeatable and tried my best to eliminate variables.

These links deal with a few of the questions brought up in these topics. There is more to explore on the www.blackpowdermag.com web site including the slow motion videos.

That may well be but with black powder cartridge cases you must fill the case with filler between the powder and bullet to avoid excessive pressure and this compresses the powder.
The same should apply to loading a muzzleloader in so much as the breech acts as the case. I would think it would be much safer to be sure the load is compressed rather than loose. I'm not a proponent of pounding the bullet/ball down on the powder but I do seat it with a firm push. This is with black powder, with Black MZ or BH209 I really lean into it to compress it as much as possible.
Full power loads, as used in cartridges in the old days, did not use fillers or wads. Bullets had to compress the powder in order to be seated.

Full power loads, as used in cartridges in the old days, did not use fillers or wads. Bullets had to compress the powder in order to be seated.

Correct, the standard BITD for loading BPC was prime, fill to the top with powder, seat your bullet, shoot.
The main thing with shooting any firearm accurately, and is especially important with flintlocks, is follow through . Flinching , head lifting and "taking a look" are enemies of accuracy .
Full power loads, as used in cartridges in the old days, did not use fillers or wads. Bullets had to compress the powder in order to be seated.

Agree. But less than full power loads it is recommended to use a filler to take up the space. That is the same logic I am applying to a muzzleloader. Seating a bullet may increase the burn rate but I don't think I'd want to chance it. I'll continue to seat my projectile firmly on the charge.
In fact with BH209 and Alliant Black MZ a tightly compressed charge is recommended.
“A flintlock fires faster”


No, it doesn’t. Not in the real world. Just not true.
Yes it is true. Flinters dont compete against cap guns, only amongst themselves.
The mere fact of the compressed air inside the 90 degree drum slows the fire down. Flinters are direct drive.
I bought what was boasted as the fastest flintlock made in 2005. Until I fired against other rifles I never knew. Its slit second, unless you have a camera and slow it down.
I found this very interesting article and learned a lot being new to flintlocks and thought it might help other old beginners like me.

Flintlocks: How to Shoot Them
By Paul Vallandigham

Sadly, there is such a lack of information about how to shoot traditional
muzzleloading guns, both flintlocks and percussion guns, that the consumer
is left with whatever is the newest fad, and whatever the clerk at the
local Wal-Mart doesn't know about guns. Cap and ball guns are close enough
to cartridge guns, and even to the in-line actions, that clerks can't
steer you too far wrong if you choose to buy a modern rifle or double-barreled
percussion shotgun.
But, put a flintlock on the shelf and no one knows how to make it go
bang, beyond that you have to put this rock in the cock (hammer), and
hope it sparks, and hope the sparks hit the powder in the priming pan,
and then hope the main charge in the barrel is ignited. It all sounds
like so much hard work that consumers just don't want the guns anymore.
With the new in-line actions, you use #209 shotgun primers, the same
as used to reload modern shotgun shells. You use black powder substitutes
like Triple Se7en and Pyrodex, and sometimes this comes in pre-measured
pellets, so you don't have to measure any powder! Then we have plastic
wads instead of cloth, and jacketed pistol bullets instead of round lead
Because everything
goes down the muzzle, we (properly) call them muzzleloaders, and pretend
we are doing things the way Daniel Boone and Davie Crockett, or the
men on the Lewis & Clark Expedition did it 200 years ago.
Add to that bad legislation passed by Congress to give us a little more
false security, which restricts how black powder is sold transported
and stored, and even finding a store that carries black powder is a chore.
Finding Flints? Where do you start to look? If you live on the West coast,
you are a long way from Friendship, and even Arizona, where the NMLRA
holds it winter matches and all the products you need are available,
just like at mountain rendezvous in the 1820's.
A myth has been spread by lazy, uneducated gun store clerks, and accepted
by the public, that flintlocks are hard to get to fire, are slow to fire,
and just can't be as accurate as a modern rifle shooting jacketed bullets
in front of smokeless powder. You will even hear that flintlocks are
slower firing than side action percussion guns.
Another problem that has become all too common is kind of a reverse
snobbery among some flintlock shooters, who disdain anyone who doesn't
shoot a rocklock, and don't want to teach people how its done. Some fear
the competition they will have at the rifle matches, and don't want to
give away any secrets to protect their edge--as if they are winning thousands
of dollars in prize money at any rifle match held today! They pretend
to be great shooters, who know all there is to know about flintlocks,
when they usually are just mimicking something they saw their fathers
or grandfathers do, and haven't a clue as to why it is done. The literature
on shooting a flintlock is also lacking, so it is no wonder that young
shooters have trouble finding information.
Flintlocks are actually faster to fire than a percussion gun, all things
being equal. By that I mean, if you have two side lock actions, one flint
and other percussion, and the flintlock is tuned properly (has the flint
mounted properly in the cock, has a good frizzen that sparks, the angle
of the cock will throw the sparks into the middle of the priming pan,
and the main charge has been poked with a vent pick to allow more than
one granule of powder to be ignited by the priming charge at one time),
the main charge in a flintlock will be burning before the hammer on the
percussion gun strikes the percussion cap. The priming powder ignites
and in turn ignites the main charge in the barrel before the cock finishes
its stroke and comes to a rest. The percussion gun, by design, has to
strike the cap between the hammer and the nipple to cause ignition, so
the flintlock has to fire sooner. Flintlocks fire quicker, lock time
being equal.
The secret of shooting flintlocks are few, but important. With the current
celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition 200 years ago, west coast
shooters are likely to see a lot of flintlocks being fired at ceremonies.
So will people all along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers from Wood
River Illinois, where the expedition began, to Astoria Oregon, where
it wintered over 1805-6 before returning. When you watch the flintlock
shooters, check to see if they do the following:
1. In a flintlock, you don't pack the powder by ramming the ball down
hard on the powder charge. A flintlock has to burn the powder one granule
at a time, while a percussion cap sends a flame burning or pushing its
way through the powder charge, igniting lots of powder all at once. A
percussion cap actually detonates the powder, much like the primer in
a cartridge does today.
The flintlock was designed to start a fire that quickly ignites all
the powder to create the gases needed to expel the projectile. Load the
ball using a marked ramrod, so that you load to a mark you have made
on the ramrod that represents where the ball just begins to touch the
powder under it. (You can feel and sometime hear a grinding action when
the ball touches the powder). Leave extra air between powder granules,
to speed the burning process in a flintlock. Actually, there is enough
oxygen in the powder itself to provide all the O2 it needs for combustion.
But extra oxygen helps it burn faster. (That is the secret!)
2. A flintlock works
best if your priming pan is wide and shallow, holding the powder over
a wider surface so that regardless of how you set the flint in the
jaws of the cock the sparks will hit priming powder and ignite it.
This may require use of a Dremel tool to grind the sides of the current
locks to widen them, but the effort will pay off with more positive
and faster ignition. There is nothing more conducive to a flinch than
a misfire, or a "flash in the pan."
Polish the surface of the priming pan to a mirror finish so that it
attracts less moisture from the air to foul your prime. A smooth finish
also makes it easier to wipe out residue after the prime has burned,
so that the residue does not attract water.
In humid areas or conditions, use the same powder used in the main charge
to prime your gun. Leave the 4F priming powder for sunny days at the
range. The coarser powder will burn just a tad slower, but that time
is measured in millionths of a second, and you won't hear the difference
or react differently in the interval between the two powders.
I also find that in some guns it helps to bank the powder in the pan
away from the touchhole, so that there is air under and around the touchhole
for the flame to go towards. This helps direct the flame from the prime
into the touchhole and to the main powder charge. Make sure the touchhole
is above the priming pan, and never cover the touchhole with powder.
There are compounds sold that you can mix with your prime to decrease
its affinity for water, but no one with much experience relies on these
compounds in lieu of common sense. When I hunt in the rain, I leave my
priming pan dry, with a feather or toothpick in the touchhole to keep
moisture out of the main charge. I wrap the muzzle with plastic. If you
are trying to be period correct, a leather collar that has been water
proofed using tallow, or some other grease, can be tied over the muzzle.
Animals such as deer and elk move slowly when its raining, if they move
at all, because they are robbed of their sense of hearing by the sound
of all the raindrops hitting branches and leaves around them. That gives
a hunter time to take the feather out of the touchhole, remove the muzzle
cover, prime the pan, cock the hammer, and take an aimed shot while the
quarry is still in sight.
Wipe the underside of the flint with a swipe of your index finger as
you cock the hammer. This removes moisture that may have condensed on
the underside, where you can't see it, and your gun should fire as expected.
It works for me. I killed a wild boar in Eastern Tennessee one Labor
Day weekend when it was about 85 degrees and raining, with my .50 caliber
flintlock rifle. I wore a poncho to keep both my rifle and me dry, my
gun tucked under my arm so that my body could keep moisture out of the
lock. My leather hat with the broad brim kept water out of the priming
pan when I loaded it.
3. Use a vent pick to poke a channel in the main powder charge in the
barrel. This allows room for the flame from the prime to enter the barrel
through the touchhole, and burn several granules of powder simultaneously.
This speeds ignition so much that I have had club members come up to
me while reloading to ask if I am shooting a flintlock or a percussion
gun! When I show them the flint action, they all want to know how I do
that. Now you know.
4. Wrap your flints with lead, not leather. Leather tends to act as
a shock absorber, and the flint will rebound or bounce off the face of
the frizzen just at the time it is cutting into the steel and starting
to shear off bits of steel at the high temperature required to ignite
the priming powder below. Instead, when the flint rebounds, it tears
bits of steel off that are then caught on the edge of the flint. The
second repeat hit will produce a few sparks that may ignite the prime.
Within a few shots there will be usually so much steel clogging the
edge of the flint that it will not throw a spark from the frizzen into
the pan. Misfire! Then you will see the shooter take out his knife, or
a hammer, or some other device, and begin pounding on the front edge
of the flint. He has to knock off enough of the edge to make a new one,
free of the bits of steel that are clogging the edge. That takes at least
20 shots out of a flint, takes time, leads to flinching, and a general
distrust and dislike of flintlocks in general. Finally the shooter buys
another muzzleloader that uses percussion caps or shotgun primers for
ignition! And all because he wrapped the flint in a leather shock absorber
instead of lead.
Lead does not give, or bounce, and it doesn't let a flint bounce when
it hits the frizzen. Lead holds the flint firmly in the jaws of the cock,
and provides weight to drive the flint into the frizzen and down in a
scraping action to cut and throw very hot steel bits into the priming
pan. If the lock is tuned properly, the angle of the cock to the frizzen
will be correct and the flint will not only scrape steel from the frizzen
in one continuous stroke, but will be self-knapping. That is, it will
make a new edge every time the gun is fired. There will be no need to
knap the flint, as it will not clog its edge with steel.
It takes a few shots
for a flint to "set up" in lead, unlike
a leather wrap, so you have to initially check the tension on your cock
screw about every 5 shots, but it will hold the flint firmly once the
lead forms to the smooth surfaces of the flint. About every 30 shots
you will need to check the flint to see where it is throwing the sparks.
You may have to move it forward in the cock, and use a piece of twig
behind the lead wrap to keep the flint wedged in the forward position.
Aren't you glad that Mother Nature provides us with twigs virtually everywhere?
5. Springs. Most modern locks have springs that are out of balance and
are too strong. The result is that they crush expensive flints, and damage
the frizzen unnecessarily, and jar the gun, making it difficult to achieve
consistently tight groups. The frizzen spring should provide such tension
that it takes no more than 3 pounds of weight to open the frizzen.
Use a trigger pull gauge to measure it. Just hook the trigger pull gauge
over the top of the frizzen, and slowly pull in a straight line forward
until the frizzen opens. Another test is take the frizzen spring off,
and put some priming powder in the pan. If the cock is angled correctly
and the flint set properly in the jaws, the flint should cut steel and
fire the prime without the frizzen spring providing resistance.
The mainspring only needs to be about 10 pounds to ensure proper ignition.
Today's locks often require more than 40 pounds of tension to cock them.
Put your rifle or shotgun butt down on your bathroom scale, make a note
of the weight of the rifle on the scale, and then slowly cock the hammer
back to full cock while watching the dial of the scale. Subtract the
original weight of the rifle, and you have the amount of spring tension
measured in pounds.
If your gun is a large musket with a large lock, the spring may be even
heavier than 40 lbs. Those big locks require very expensive flints, and
I have seen men with locks that literally shattered the stone in one
blow. Even in the days of the Brown Bess, paper cartridges came boxed
20 to a package, and with a new flint for the gun. They did not expect
the flints to shoot more than 20 times before being replaced!
Think you are better off with the new in-lines? I doubt it. Modern arms
makers want to protect themselves from product liability lawsuits, so
they sell us guns that are intentionally over-engineered. That means
heavy springs. Can't shoot consistent groups because of the hammer jolt
that shakes the gun when you fire? You will need to do something about
those springs. A competent gunsmith can reduce the tension on the V-springs
found on modern replica flintlock actions. He can remove the rattle and
tickle that destroys accuracy, while still allowing your gun to shoot
each time you pull the trigger and save your flints.
The large rifle flints I use in my American 20 gauge fowler can get
60-80 shots per flint. MY .50 caliber rifle gets about 80-100 shots per
flint using medium sized rifle flints. The large flint I use in my fowler
run about a dollar each at retail, and the smaller rifle flints run between
60 and 75 cents each. That means it costs me about .0125 cents for each
shot fired in my fowler, cheaper than the cost of shotgun primers, and
about .0075 cents every time I fire my .50 cal. rifle. That is cheaper
than large rifle primers.
6. For the past 60 years or more we have been stuck with the idea that
the cloth patch we use with a round ball performs two functions: it grabs
the ball and imparts the spin of the rifling to the ball as it travels
down the barrel, and it seals the bore so that gases behind the ball
cannot cut past the edge of the ball and melt or blow away parts of the
ball. We measure our patches and tweak our loads with micrometers to
find the right ball and patch combination to achieve this mythical goal,
so that we can provide that perfect seal. But, even in the best of guns,
time lapse photography shows that gases make it past the patched ball
and exit the barrel in front of the ball. Our guns are rifled fully to
the muzzle, and we have to use a short starter to seat the bullet or
ball. When we examine 19th Century possible bags we find no short starters
before 1870, and no loops or straps to hold the short starter in the
bag. When we examine old guns, the muzzles all appear to be worn, but
tighten up a couple of inches below the muzzle. What happened?
Davie Crockett, Daniel Boone, and Simon Kenton did not take micrometers
to the range with them to measure cloth thickness. And they surely didn't
carry such a thing through the Cumberland Pass into Kentucky, where they
spent as much as a year at a time, hunting and exploring the country
while planning to move their families west.
The Cloth they had was homespun, not cloth made at a mill. Yes, expensive
cloth was available to the wealthy city people from the mills in England
and other European countries, but the folks who explored and settled
this country lived a far rougher existence.
If they had clothes made of cloth, it was homespun wool or flax (linen).
Cotton came later. Wool was turned to thread using a spinning wheel,
and then the threads were made into cloth using looms. The cloth these
explorers had was anything but consistent, and no one had any accurate
method to measure its thickness, anyway.
The muzzles of their guns were routinely coned, or tapered, so that
the patch and ball could be pushed into the barrel quickly with the thumb,
and would be centered and slowly grabbed by the patch as it was pushed
down with the ramrod. No short starter needed. No manufacturer today
cones its barrels.
So, what was really going on back then? How did they get guns to fire
so accurately, as we know from historical accounts that they did? I believe
that the patch served one purpose, which was to center the ball in the
barrel. In a rifle, the patch did transfer the spin of the rifling to
the ball as it traveled down the barrel. But they sealed the bore from
the gases another way.
There are numerous references about longhunters keeping wasps nests
in their hunting shirts, and it is this that I believe they used to seal
the powder behind the bullet. If they ran out of wasps nest, they used
whatever was available, including rawhide, leaves, tobacco, broad grasses,
bark (especially birch bark), weeds, etc.
But the nest was desirable for a couple of reasons. First, it could
be found throughout eastern North America. Second, it is made from digested
cellulose fibers that are regurgitated by the wasps to make the nest.
It has a fine smooth silken texture to it, and it is strong, although
it can be crushed easily in the hand when dry, just as can tobacco leaves.
A pinch of wasps nest could be crushed between fingers or rolled in the
palm of the hand, and then it would be dropped down the barrel of the
About half an inch of this fine material would provide a very good seal
for the bore. It would compact under the patched ball driven down on
top of it, sealing the powder away from the patch and ball. This gives
more consistent velocity to the load, and protects the patch around the
ball from being burned, which in turn protects the ball from being melted
or cut. All of which contributes to accuracy.
The patch material
needs to be thick enough to fill the deep rifling characteristic of
a traditional muzzle loading rifle, where each groove is typically
cut 6 thousands of an inch deep. We usually use a .015" to
.020" thick cloth patch made of pillow ticking, or denim, or some
coarse cotton or linen material, and this thickness compresses sufficiently
to get down into the rifling.
So, the final secret is to find one patch and ball combination that
will serve the function of filling and cleaning out the gunk from the
rifling, as well as grabbing and centering the ball in the barrel. Then,
to seal the bore, use a separate wad or filler, such as corn meal (yes
the same kind you buy to make corn bread), PufLon (a synthetic filler
now being sold for straight wall rifle cartridges), or try wasps nest,
birch bark, tobacco, or whatever else you can find.
You can buy card wads from Butler Creek in most standard calibers and
gauges, or buy a punch from Dixie or Brownells and make your own out
of Styrofoam plates. I generally prefer to use cardboard wads, as they
hold up well in the barrel and seal well. Celotex, commonly used as an
insulating material in construction, is often used to make the thicker
shotgun wads. It can be used in rifles, too.
Because we do not
have a military draft, and colleges dropped their mandatory ROTC training
for freshmen and sophomores back in 1964, young men and women today
rarely have been trained in proper marksmanship techniques. This is
the other reason why shooters look for an easy gun to shoot, with optical
sights. No one practices long range shooting standing on his or her
two legs, and the art of off-hand shooting is becoming a dinosaur,
along with my generation. See my article "Off-Hand and Trick Shooting" about
the secrets of off-hand shooting for more information about this important
The rest of the comments here have to do with the lock, but once you
know what is optimum, you can usually do the modifications yourself.
A propane torch will provide enough heat to let you bend the top of the
cock forward enough to get the proper angle. Use a protractor to measure
the angle, it should be 25 degrees from the bottom edge of the flint
to the face of the frizzen on contact.
The flint should strike the frizzen between 1/3 and 1/2 of the distance
up from the bottom of the frizzen. A belt sander, using your bare fingers,
and with water nearby to keep the spring cool, will allow you to reduce
the size of the V-springs to useable dimensions.
Coil springs can be cut with a Dremel tool, grinder, or diagonal pliers.
I cut them one coil at a time, then reset them in the lock and measure
the change. I do the same with the springs in my modern bolt action rifles.
You can do it, too, if you understand and obey the rules of firearm safety.
If your local gun dealer does not stock black powder, go online and
look up the Goex powder distributor for the area where you live. I found
a distributor in California that delivers to 11 states. I also see a
distributor in Montana. Certainly the distributor can tell you who his
dealers are. And, you can always contact the National Muzzle Loading
Rifle Association in Friendship, Indiana ([email protected]) for a list
of local black powder gun clubs. Members of the club will steer you to
sources for powder and flints, gun makers, and black powder gunsmiths.
Some club members order powder together so that they can get a discount
on the price, and the members buy a year's supply at one time. Flintlock
shooters also do this in buying flints, often buying a lifetime supply.
I am still using rifle flints I bought in the early '80's, at about 10
cents each.
The flintlock tips I have written above have been learned from years
of practice, trial and error experimentation, and advice from friends--some
long dead. The shooter controls how he loads his gun, whether he sets
his flint properly, how much powder he puts in the pan, whether he picks
the main charge with a vent pick before shooting, and, of course, his
shooting skills.
There really is no good reason not to own and shoot a flintlock rifle.
Yes, you can't use black powder substitutes, because they don't ignite
consistently unless they are contained in a closed chamber and lit with
a very hot flame. But, black powder can be cleaned out of a barrel with
soap and water, while you have to use smelly commercial cleaners to remove
most black powder substitute residues.
You do have to clean guns that you shoot with the substitutes, and even
with smokeless powder. There is no getting around that. You have to use
one solvent to remove the plastic that rubs off the wad in the barrel,
and another to dissolve the salts and other chemical compounds in the
residue from the black powder substitute. At the range I use a brush
to break up the crud after each shot, so that I can continue to load
and not see a change in the point of impact of my shots due to fouling
Flintlocks are as accurate as any other gun, if the shooter can shoot.
Just check the current match records with the NMLRA and compare the scores
shot with flintlocks versus percussion guns. There is no difference.
And any modern rifle shooter would be proud to have such scores by his
Thanks for the information. I had heard of some of that but didn’t know that picking the vent would help speed up the ignition by creating a tunnel for pan flash. Also had never heard of leaving the powder slightly loose, instead of seating the ball tightly.
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