GRRW North West Trade Gun - First timer

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Grenadier1758

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About the safety issue in regards to loading a flint lock firearm at half cock. The NMLRA range officers require the flint lock to loaded with the hammer down.

??? Huh? If the pan/frizzen is open, what would be unsafe about it?
Just curious, maybe I'm missing something...
This is another one of these it depends sort of on the range requirements. There are some flint locks that either do not have a half cock notch in the tumbler or the half cock notch doesn't hold. Since the range officer has a lot of rifles to watch over for safety reasons, having the hammer down makes his job a bit easier since there is no way for the lock to cause an accidental discharge due to a fall from the half cock position when the lock is fully down. Also a glance will verify that all locks are in the same safe condition. Yes, I am aware that an ember may still be luring in the barrel, but the likelihood of such a discharge is unlikely. Almost as unlikely as a hammer falling from half cock with the pan closed. The hammer at half cock and pan open is a safe position. Hammer down, pan open just makes the range officer's job a bit easier.

Then there is the other debatable point to consider that some touch holes are really too large for the use of the powder used to load the rifle. I had a rifle with a touch hole that allowed 3fg powder to flow through the touch hole into the pan. In this case loading with the hammer down (and the pan and touch hole open) would allow powder to flow out of the barrel, out of the pan and onto the ground. Not necessarily unsafe, but that is another story. Certainly it makes the quantity of powder in the ignition chamber quite variable with an adverse effect on accuracy.

In situations where safety is the top priority when loading and a lot of shooters are loading, the range officer must be sure that there will be no accidental discharges at the loading bench. Hammer down, pan open allows air to flow because at the NMLRA range most target shooter will be wiping the bore with a damp patch and the combination of damp patch and air flow will extinguish any embers from the previous shot.

If I am loading with the pan open, I will insert a vent pick through the touch hole for two reasons.
1. To insure that the touch hole is open even though I have seen smoke and heard air flow through the touch hle as I ran the damp patch to wipe the bore after the shot.​
2. To block the touch hole so no powder fines can flow from the chamber into the pan and keeping my load consistent.​

With my rifle with an overly large touch hole (for fast ignition) that would self prime and I could see the adverse results on the scattering of the shots on target. Having the touch hole blocked during loading, hammer down pan open helped with the accuracy issue some, but accuracy improved with a new touch hole liner.

My King's Musket has a very large touch hole, but since I use very coarse powder, self priming is not an issue there except for some blank loads which use finer grain sized reenactor powder for a louder report.
 

Hatchet-Jack

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??? Huh? If the pan/frizzen is open, what would be unsafe about it?
Just curious, maybe I'm missing something...
I believe they think there is a chance that the cock could drop out of half cock and if say the Flint struck the side of the barrel could cause sparks setting off the load.
 

Frontier's

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Some range rules don’t have to make sense. But you have got to play by field rules anyway.
i refuse to go shoot at a range with peacocks like that strutting around causing a commotion. I have my own range and thats where i stick to unless i am at rendezvous. Some of these places push safety so much, that they are a safety issue themselves when it comes to those guys running around yelling, causing a shooter to become side tracked.
 

JCKelly

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In the 18th century, sporting arms had a variety of extra "safeties" to ensure the cock would not fall on a closed pan/frizzen. Flint guns tend to be self-priming, with powder coming out of the vent into the pan. Half-cock notch must have been considered a good enuff safety in military muskets, when one's target is shooting at him anyway. But for bird hunting the sportsmen wanted something more reliable. Oddly enuff, I'd suggest that if you want to know about shooting muzzle-loaders you read stuff written way back when they were actually used for serious purposes. When they not looked at as toys. Of course, not to imply that some today do not look at them seriously.
 

beardedhorse

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I passed my NMLRA range officer test several years ago and they do require cock down. What is to prevent frizzen from closing and coming into contact with the flint in the let down cock? Not likely to set it off but unless there is something mechanically wrong with the half cock, not likely that the cock will fall out of half cock and cause a spark. Some rules might be dreamed up by lawyers or clubs trying to avoid any future litigation. Case in point - blowing down the muzzle of a just fired muzzle loader. The explanation for this is that one of the ten commandments of firearm safety is to treat every firearm as if it were loaded. A novice seeing a shooter blowing down the muzzle might get the wrong idea that it is o.k. to put one's mouth over a "loaded" weapon.
 

Notchy Bob

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I believe, when shooting paper cartridges in muskets, it is customary to put the lock on half-cock, prime the pan from the cartridge, close the pan, and then proceed with loading the main charge. So, not only is the gun half-cocked, but the pan is primed and closed during loading. These days, it is also customary to verify the half-cock position is secure, and to keep a hammer stall (leather frizzen cover) in place until ready to fire. There are no safety issues if this procedure is followed.

However, rules is rules, and it is the prerogative of each range to develop their own. For better or worse, many of the range rules seem geared toward the "lowest common denominator." Someone above described Range Officers strutting around and harassing people. I have seen this, and once witnessed a Range Officer screaming at a cowboy action shooter, ordering him to cease fire, because of a perceived minor technical violation. There was no safety issue. It's just not a good idea to scream at people who are manipulating firearms, when a calm, spoken word could address the problem. Yelling at people induces a surge of adrenaline, puts them on edge, and may induce undesired reflexive responses. Rules, even the unnecessary ones, can and should be enforced calmly and respectfully.

Getting back to this thread's subject gun, it is a beauty, and @Frontier's shoots it very well. Good on you, brother! I doubt there are two of those .50 caliber Northwest guns, and I'm guessing this one is the same one shown as #890 in the "archives" on Doc White's website. It looks like a really nice gun, and congratulations to Frontier's for making it his!

Notchy Bob
 

Grenadier1758

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Indeed, @Notchy Bob, it is true that the method for loading a paper wrapped cartridge was to use powder from the cartridge to prime the pan with the lock on half cock. Once primed and the lock on half cock, the musket is cast about to complete the loading. The powder is poured down the barrel and the cartridge with the paper is rammed to the breech. Then the musket is brought to the ready position for the commands for firing. Safety is not of primary concern when there is an opposing line of infantry firing at you. After a few rounds, the musket is getting pretty hot and the barrel is getting fouled. The chance for the burning embers is increasing.

I prime blank loads first before pouring the powder down the barrel. No paper or ramming is done to pack the powder.

For live fire competitions, I pour the powder down the barrel, then ram the paper wrapped ball. Before firing, the pan is primed from a separate powder source. These are the range rules and following the range rules keeps us all calm and enjoying the shooting.
 

ML48

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I passed my NMLRA range officer test several years ago and they do require cock down. What is to prevent frizzen from closing and coming into contact with the flint in the let down cock? Not likely to set it off but unless there is something mechanically wrong with the half cock, not likely that the cock will fall out of half cock and cause a spark. Some rules might be dreamed up by lawyers or clubs trying to avoid any future litigation. Case in point - blowing down the muzzle of a just fired muzzle loader. The explanation for this is that one of the ten commandments of firearm safety is to treat every firearm as if it were loaded. A novice seeing a shooter blowing down the muzzle might get the wrong idea that it is o.k. to put one's mouth over a "loaded" weapon.
If you don't have, and I mean if you don't have common sense...stay away from any type of weapon, including a baseball bat....
 

Frontier's

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I tried 3fg powder today. Results from 80 and 90gr charges. Ignition was dang near instant! I filed down the front sight about .005" today and hope that will put it at least dead on at 50 yards. I still need to try 60 and 70gr charges, but will need to run more balls in the shop.

 

Brokennock

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I very much look forward to your testing of 60 and 70 grains of 3f. I am finding it interesting that with 2f you are having to use as much powder as I do with a wad and ball combo in my 20 gauge smoothrifle, and more powder than my patched ball combos. Oddly I get great groups with 80 grains 3f with wad and ball, but, at about 65 grains 3f she shoots patched ball or wad and ball just as well if not better, and that is a larger bore.
 

Britsmoothy

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Without checking back Frontier's, have you tried a bare ball on a wad of something. It may surprise, it has me many times!
 

JackP

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I like the ram rod. That is the way I did my last one. You can screw a coil spring on it to retrieve lost paches. If the rod has a straight taper all the way, it really helps for better grip.

Jack
 

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