Help a newbie with misfirng caps

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Semper_Smokey

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Sounds like you are well on the way. 20 shoots. 2” group at 50 yards. On day one. Good job.

You are getting a lot of good advice, but I would suggest you slow down and tackle your issues one at a time, changing one thing at a time. Start changing multiple things at the same time and you won’t know why or how things got better or worse.

The misfiring caps are most likely a cap to nipple fit thing. Follow the suggestions mentioned above to fit one nipple (I would start with the ‘original’ nipple) to the caps you have. You can test if they pop as they should with an EMPTY (NO POWDER) gun just about anywhere, as you tweak the fit.

If you are not using a short starter, make or buy one. That will simplify getting the ball started. Are you using a range rod with a handle and bore protector to load? If not, a palm saver will help until you get one. Something as simple as a shallow hole in your short starter to allow you to put it over your ramrod to protect your hand while you load works. What you are describing doesn’t sound like a sharpe bore crown if you are not tearing patches, and with the accuracy you are getting, unlikely. But a good polishing of the bore crown with 400-600 wet paper under your thumb won’t hurt and may ease the amount of effort to get your ball started.

When you straighten out your two originally stated issues you will be way ahead on the learning curve. Go slow and try one thing at a time with a reason. You want to avoid going backwards. Change patch material, lube and round ball size at the same time, and then find your 50 yard group opens up, hard to figure out why.

Just another opinion.
I hear the advice on sticking to one change at a time. It's all exciting at first, so I definitely feel the temptation to try everything new, not to mention I can only get to the range once or maybe twice a month!

I do, thankfully, have both a short starter and a brass range rod with bore protector. I even tried one of those CVA knuckle saver gimmicks... Not much use for any traditional rifle.

Good point on the crown. I picked up quite a few patches and all looked intact and fairly well off.
 

Semper_Smokey

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Concerning your misfires, I suggest that you inspect/ clean the inner cup of the hammer that strikes the primer. This area is often overlooked when cleaning a side-lock muzzleloader. You wont believe the amount of soot that can build up in this area that can lead to pitting/rust and perhaps a lighter hammer strike. I always remove the hammer and thoroughly clean and oil this area after a range session.
Good call. Being second hand, I have no idea how it was treated before!
 

Henry2357

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It's definitely a cap fit issue. Could be the nipple is too large or the win caps are too small. When a nipple has had a lot of use it tends to flare a bit and is too wide to get the cap all the way on.

Here's a solution at least for the use of the Win caps. Chuck the nipple threads into a drill ( not tight enough to damage them) and spin it with light contact with a fine file. Have some of the win caps handy and test fit until the caps slide easily onto the nipple. That will take care of the problem at least for the moment.

If you have only a few of the win caps on hand, get some cci or rem caps. If they don't fit, go ahead and modify the nipple. At that point it's probably a good idea to get a new nipple.

Also check all the other things mentioned in this thread.
This is what I had to do to a couple of my spare nipples. You don’t need to file much and then, no misfires, for me at least.
 

Woodnbow

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I’d also be leery of taking sandpaper to the muzzle of any rifle
I cared about unless the crown is already trashed. Even then, there are tools that can do the work slowly, evenly, and accurately.
 

SDSmlf

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You have a gun shooting small groups and not cutting patches. I would probably leave the muzzle crown alone for now.

Just as a FYI, I probably finish the crowns on my muzzleloader bores a bit different than most. I use a series of ball bearings, from about one and half times the bore diameter, to right around bore diameter, and use wet sandpaper of different grits from 120/180 up to 320 or finer (I take it up to 1000 grit for a mirror finish). A couple of turns of muzzle over each ball bearing with progressively finer sandpaper over them gives a smooth barrel crown.

Basic idea is to hold the sandpaper over the ball bearing (you can place ball on the floor and hold paper with your feet) and rotate the barrel bore on the bearing with the paper on it. Easy to keep barrel square with the floor. I’ll start with the larger diameter bearing and roughest grit paper and end with a smaller ball bearing near bore diameter, repeating with progressively finer grit sandpaper. I stop when I have a slight chamfer on bore and rifling lands that is highly polished.

Others just take the sandpaper and use their thumb to smooth crown.
upload_2020-2-16_21-55-12.jpeg
 

longcruise

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Whoever cast the balls undoubtedly makes that claim and Track repeats it. The only way to establish the size is to measure them in at least four directions keeping the measuring device off any sprue or block joint lines.

Most shooters either cast their own or buy swaged balls. The price of swaged balls has made casters out of many. :)
 

renegadehunter

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I too also question the size of the roundballs (RB), it is common knowledge that most TC's take a fairly thick patch (for good accuracy). You'll more than likely want a set of calipers or a c-mic (preferred) eventually anyway, it's fairly common progression to end up wanting to go to a local fabric store and get your patching material that way. A .490 RB and .010 patching should start pretty darn easily and in my experience wouldn't return a 2" group, mine would do much worse than that.
Perhaps your barrel bore is a bit under normal? Also something to measure that might be lending to the problem, it isn't unheard of for this to happen. Is the barrel for sure the factory TC barrel? What does the barrel say on it?

You are using the small nub on the short starter to start them, correct? I have a .54 TC, with a .530 RB I use .018" pillow ticking patches and while they require a firm smack on the short starter, they aren't firm enough to cause a bunch of bruising by any means. I have pinched my little finger a few times causing a blood blister or bruising if I have the darn thing in the way when I use the longer portion of the short starter.

You got good advice about the cap to nipple fit. Turn down the size of the nipple a bit so that the caps seat all the way down onto it while still being snug and that problem will go away. You could do that at home and test without having to head to the range.
 

Larry (Omaha)

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Hi all,


2) I hesitate to mention this... but is there some way to avoid absoluting mashing up your hand while starting PRBs? I don't want to complain too much, but when I woke dy damned hard to start. I only tried the 0.495 balls twice and it took several minutes of pounding on the ball starter to get it into the muzzle. Thought I was going to break my hand:)
!
No cap opinions from me because it seems to have been well covered already.
I will give my two cents on the sore hand/finger. In my opinion, if the ball is going down OK with the RR, then it is not too tight. Get a T handle or make one. The more surface your hand has will distribute the hand trauma, making it less painful. My little guns have round top starters, my large guns have T handles.
Another item: If you hit it light and have to keep beating on the bullet to get it started, then you are beating your hand. Give it a smack hard enough so it goes in first blow. Be more aggressive with the starter, but you have to have one that has more surface area for the hand.
Flintlocklar:D
 

mooman76

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If whoever cast the RBs with and alloyed lead like wheelweights the RBs cast will be .002-.003 larger than with pure lead. Also I have used flannel material to load with. While not the best material, it generally still works well enough. It being soft compresses more.
 

Eric Krewson

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I have a TC .50, I shoot a .490 ball and a .015 patch, I can't even start a .495 ball and the same patch, the bore is too tight. I have owned a lot of TCs and never run into the tight bore problem with any of my previous rifles. My current rifle is a 30+ year old kit gun.
 

Cowboy

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I wouldn’t worry about what brand of caps you’re using my friend. Sounds like you have a seating problem on the nipple. Two things you can do?

1. check the inside of the cup on your hammer to be sure there isn’t a spent cap lodged up in there.

2. When placing the cap on the nipple, be sure it’s fully seated. You can achieve this by slowly and firmly putting pressure down on the cap using the spur of the hammer and thumb pressure. Then recock and fire! See if those two suggestions help you out my friend?

As far as the difficulty starting your ball? I’d try a thinner patch coupled with maybe a different patch lube? I personally just use a spit patch if I’m just range shooting. Has always worked for me. Ya shouldn’t have to be wacking the ball to get it started.

What I use in most my .50 guns to include the TC Hawken:

1. Pillow ticking spit patch. .015 to.018
2. 60 to 70 gr. of Goex 2f or 50 to 60 gr. of Goex 3f. Pyrodex RS would be the same as 2f and Triple 7 would be the same as 3f for the most part?
3. I use a hand cast .490 ball.

Lastly, All rifle’s are different and a load worked up for each individually. I would imagine that the basic load mentioned above should give you descent accuracy out to 100 yards. 9” steel plate at that distance is what I’m describing as acceptable accuracy my friend.

Respectfully, Cowboy
 

Crow-Feather

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loosen the screws just a bit on your lock. Then try a cap. Sometimes, the hammer drags on the wood of the stock causing it to not have enough force to fire the cap. Then check and make sure the hammer hits flush to the nipple. If you have one of those protectors that fit under your nipple, take it off. I had a rifle with one and it would not fire until I took it off. (Navy Arms side lock) I sanded the nipple just a bit to insure that the cap was completely seated. I also took off the Lock and then seated a cap. I struck the cap with a light tap from a hammer with tape encircling the hammer face. If the cap didn't fire, with a solid tap, then I knew where the problem was. It pays to have a spare nipple any how so get another nipple and see if the same happens. If it works, then you know. Don't give up, learnin is part of the trip.
 

rafterob

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A lot of advice thrown out here that may lead you beyond the problem. Which as mentioned can be solved very quickly by chucking your nipples in a drill and giving them a run against a file. I believe the poster meant to say thinner patch. But if you are already using a .10 that is pretty thin. If your balls were handmade they could be on the hard side which does make them difficult to get in the barrel. A mallet is the best long term solution to saving your palm.
 

ChrisPer

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Concerning your misfires, I suggest that you inspect/ clean the inner cup of the hammer that strikes the primer. This area is often overlooked when cleaning a side-lock muzzleloader. You wont believe the amount of soot that can build up in this area that can lead to pitting/rust and perhaps a lighter hammer strike. I always remove the hammer and thoroughly clean and oil this area after a range session.
Absolutely! Not just soot but actual fired caps can stack up in the hammer nose and cause a cushioned blow.
The other most likely reason is that the caps' fit is cushioning the blow. #11 caps should go off whatever the fit with a heavy hammer blow, so the other possibility is that like a revolver, the blow is light and just pushes the cap deeper on the nipple without detonation. The test is to press the cap more firmly onto the nipple with a tool. If it becomes reliable there you go!
The cure for this is to lightly reduce the size of the nipple cone, eg with a fine file.
 

Mark Herman

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Follow Hanshi's, and others, suggestion regarding the muzzle. As for the cap problem first DO NOT FIT THE NIPPLE TO A #10 CAP. #10 are intended for cap and ball revolvers not rifles. Make certain you are using #11 caps, if they are #10 the hammer may be seating them on the first strike. I suggest this because you say you are using a new nipple. I presume your TC is used, if so be certain it does not have an aftermarket barrel as some barrels are cut larger or smaller than others.
 

Kansas Jake

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Also be aware caps from different manufacturers with the same number may be slightly different in size and hardness of the metal material. One #10 might fit right on, but the next manufacturer's may be loose or small.
 

Ferret Master

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I just got my new Green River .54 Drop in from TOW. The nipple that came with it is much larger than my other TC and the older ones that came on my other Green River Drop in's.
It does not fit the #11 caps from any of the manufactures. I tried it and it requires two strikes to fire. I took one of the older nipples out of an older barrel and put it in the new barrel, just had to shoot it, and it worked perfectly. With the new nipple I am not able to seat a cap properly with either hammer pressure or thumb pressure. I have ordered new nipples from TOW. No it is not a musket nipple. Half way between a #11 and a Musket nipple.
As far as starting the balls I make flat short starters not round and that helps a lot. When needed I use a rubber mallet from Walmart used to drive and pull tent pins. Works great only cost $5 bucks and leaves no marks on the short starter.
Ferret Master
 
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