How often do you replace the nipple ?

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This applies to both cap and flintlocks. If accuracy starts failing, the nipple or vent have worn too large, giving uneven pressures. Nipples only need removed once a year for inspection and re-lubing. Some remove them every time, thinking they can clean a breech better. Think about a hose. How is more pressure created, with or without a nozzle? High pressure cleans better. All that removing them every time to clean does is to wear the threads.
Not to be pedantic, (yeah right) but the smaller orifice doesn’t increase the pressure of that jet. It increased the velocity of the stream and really either way works. I replace th steel nipples after 40 shots or so with bullet shooting rifles. I mostly use Ampco for the lighter weight bullets and replace them when they reach .032” or so. For heavy rifles I use the platinum lined BACO nipples. And I haven’t replaced one yet. Need to get out and shoot more.
 
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When I started this game I was advised by an experienced shooter to replace my nipples before every important match. The ones available at that time were soft iron or other soft metal. It was good advice then. But, later Hot Shot, Treso and Ampco products came along that changed everything. A hard bronze nipple lasts nearly indefinately.
 

Bassdog1

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I have shot hundreds of rounds through my small caliber rifles using a single nipple without loss of accuracy. I am only shooting 15 grains of powder but have yet to wear one out.
 
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I found factory supplied steel nipples burnt out in less than 10 shots in my .45/.44 rifles which shot long cylindrical slugs and heavy loads ,PH Whitworth , Henry, Rigby , and Pedersoli Gibbs , the first 3 shots would be dead on then the shots would start to drop as the hole burnt out letting the pressure / velocity drop .Hard stainless nipples were good for 50 or so shots , Beryllium nipples were much longer lasting and I never wore ( burnt) out a platinum lined nipple . Shooting patched round balls , beryllium nipples seemed to last indefinitely .
 

M. De Land

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I shoot.... a lot..... and I replace the nipple on the guns I shoot most usually 2-3 times per year. The nipple is a wear item and every time you pull the trigger, it wears a bit more from the ignition of the charge. By the time the hammer is rebounding, that nipple is long gone. The key to accuracy is consistency. A worn nipple doesn't help. If you think 2-3 times per year is a bunch, look at the guys shooting Whitworths. The stock nipple that comes with the gun is only good for about 10-15 shots.
Conicals erode nipples much faster than does round ball shooting (more breech pressure). Measure the nipple orifice diameter with a numbered drill bit when new and when it opens up and /or become irregular in shape change it. You will also notice a fall off of accuracy as the nipple erodes.
 

sportster73hp

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What is the nominal orifice diameter on an Enfield musket nipple? The original in my carbine looked large so I purchased a new one and it doesn’t look much smaller.
 

Center_shot

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I'm using the one that came with my T/C Hawkin in 1994. Not sure how many shots I have fired through it, has to be close to 1,000.
 

ord sgt

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I replace nipples and vent liners when the flash hole gets too big. Accuracy starts to drop off as more gas pressure escapes through the vent hole. This decreases the pressure in the barrel. That change in pressure affects the ball speed, changing the point of impact.
 
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I'll follow the advice of @Artificer, who instructs competition shooters to change nipples during the practice session before an important match. He has seen too many shooters' groups become patterns because they didn't install a new nipple since their gun was shooting so good and they didn't want to change anything.

Back to making the change the nipple decision dependent on the situation the shooter is facing. If one has very accurate notes of the group size, the nipple gets changed when the group opens up. If there are a lot of shots fired in a year, then once a year. If you shoot heavy conical bullets, then the orifice in the nipple needs to be checked and the nipple replaced when the orifice opens up after only a few shots (10 to 50).
 

M. De Land

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When I started this game I was advised by an experienced shooter to replace my nipples before every important match. The ones available at that time were soft iron or other soft metal. It was good advice then. But, later Hot Shot, Treso and Ampco products came along that changed everything. A hard bronze nipple lasts nearly indefinately.
Yes, beryllium copper nipples ( if you can find them ) are the way to go in heavy caliber conical shooting rifles. I have one in my Navy Arms .58 Hawken Hunter for musket caps.
I cut a Maxi style mold to fit my bore and it drops at 620 grains. The accuracy load with that combo is 150 grains of 2F Goex ( 4 inches at 100 yards, 4 or 5 shot group) I forget now if it was a full 5 shots but it was nicely round and made with open barrel hunting sight. It will do better with an aperture sight but I'm punch drunk from recoil after the first two or three ( even using a PAST pad). I generally shoot five per group in hunting rifles.
 
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Dude

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Has anyone ever thought of relining nipples? Seems like it would be a simple task with a lathe, which I have. Since I work on speedometers and make, and replace, bushings, it seems like more of the same. Platinum certainly isn't cheap - for less than the cost of two platinum nipples I could have enough to line twenty or more. Probably start with stainless, since that's relatively cheap in comparison, though Beryllium Copper isn't expensive either, and since stainless supposedly lasts a long time it might be a good starting point. Quite a few of my 'new' rifles and pistols have nipples with orifices larger than .024 so I certainly have enough practice material.
 
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Has anyone ever thought of relining nipples? Seems like it would be a simple task with a lathe, which I have. Since I work on speedometers and make, and replace, bushings, it seems like more of the same. Platinum certainly isn't cheap - for less than the cost of two platinum nipples I could have enough to line twenty or more. Probably start with stainless, since that's relatively cheap in comparison, though Beryllium Copper isn't expensive either, and since stainless supposedly lasts a long time it might be a good starting point. Quite a few of my 'new' rifles and pistols have nipples with orifices larger than .024 so I certainly have enough practice material.
Hi! I’m your new buddy! When do you start and do you want me to send you a priority box full of worn out nipples? 😁
 
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Without sounding flippant, it purely depends on how much you shoot.

...

When the hammer starts blow back after firing, it is time to replace it
When the hammer starts to blow back, it is long past the time to replace the nipple. Accuracy on target will have long since gone away.
 
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