How soon is too soon to reaload your gun?

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bigbadben

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I was at the range this morning. Being the kind of absent-minded guy that I am I had forgotten to bring my cleaning jag. (I have a "don't ferget" list of stuff to bring. But being absent minded I can never seem to find it.)

So I decided I would just see how many shots I could put down my barrel without swabbing before accuracy went really south.

(Seven shots in case you're wondering.)

But this got me thinking. I was in a pretty quick succession of loading/shooting, loading/shooting, etc. Is there any danger of a situation similar to a hang fire when doing that? I know that when I have a misfire I like to sit there for at least 45 seconds in case I have some smoldering ember that's going to touch this thing off late. How safe is it to simply upend the gun after shooting, dump another powder charge in it, and seat the ball? Am I risking blowing my hand off by seating a ball on top of a still smoldering ember?

Has anything like that ever happened? I was thinking that if the gun touched off while I was ramming the ball home I could pretty much kiss my right hand goodbye. (And I need that for other things.)

Ben
 

Little Wattsy

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"knock on a democrates head" .... I load relatively quickly, at least I dont wait; Have never had an issue.
 

paulvallandigham

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I don't know about blowing the hand off, but you are likely to have a good size hole through it!

Yes, this kind of thin has occurred. Not often, but once is TOO OFTEN, particularly if its YOU! And the fact that it can happen is the reason for the rule.

When I began shooting BP in the 70s, it was considered OK to simply blow down the barrel to extinguish the burning embers and blow the smoke out the vent or nipple. This softened the residue with the moisture in your breath, and proved that the flash channel, or the vent hole was not blocked.

We later changed that practice, at our club, prohibiting the old practice all together, because we caught a man whose gun had misfired blowing down the barrel! The shot did not fire, but if it had let go, the muzzle would have been in his mouth and the results would be unthinkable.

Using a proper cleaning jag, and a dampened cleaning patch will acomplish all the same benefits, softening the residue, extinguishing embers, blowing( pushing ) smoke out of the nipple or vent. In addition, it actually removes the residue so that the area of the breech that holds the powder for the next shot is not enlarged with crud, making for lower pressures, and a ball soing to a different POI.

Finally, by changing the safety practice, we complied with the most important rule of gun safety : Treat Every firearm with the same care and respect afforded to a LOADED firearm. Never point the muzzle at anything you don't intend to destroy. By doing so, we set a better example to those people who know nothing about shooting MLers, but watch us shoot and reload.

NOw, having blown down my barrel for years before our change, I am not going to get into that old debate about whether blowing down the barrel of a Muzzle loader is " Safe". ( I still think it is, as long as the rest of your brains are in gear!)Claude has left up a post topic on Blowing down the barrel if you want to read all the arguments, for an against. I am NOT GOING TO TRY TO Persuade someone who has been blowing down the barrel of his gun for many years, that the practice is Dangerous, per se. ( Its only slightly more dangerous, when the operator is brain dead!)

With my gun club, I am the attorney for the club, and the officers and directors ask me if the club could be exposed to liability if someone blew down the barrel after a hangfire and injured or killed himself. I told them I knew several Plaintiff's lawyers who would not hesitate to sue the club if we knowingly allows an " unsafe practice " to go on during club shoots. And, our Insurance carrier would not be happy, either.

At the time, most insurance companies were stopping their coverage of gun clubs and ranges. The NRA got involved and arranged for Kirk Van Arsdale, in Iowa, to underwrite insurance for Charter clubs, and that was the only way we could be insured. ( We had been insured by a company out of Minnesota before they dropped out.)

The Board was faced with a serious issue. OUR landlord required, as a condition of our lease, that we maintain liability insurance, and that the landlord be named as a co-insured. Without the insurance, our lease was null and void. We would lose our range. The Insurance policy also was void if there was anyone drinking alcohol anywhere on the leased grounds while the firing line was OPEN! So, the board took the drastic step of imposing some strict, " NO-Drinking" rules,( until the line was closed at the end of the day), and changed the range rules to prohibit Blowing down the barrel.

It is not unusual for businesses and organizations to adopt more stringent operating rules to limit their liability exposure, even when lesser standards are not going to realistically increase the danger to people involved in activities. The cost, and availability of Insurance motivates organizations to attempt to limit all exposure they can reasonably anticipate, and carry the insurance for that rare case they didn't anticipate. That tends to keep Insurance premiums lower, and for volunteer associations, that becomes critical.

So, put a couple of cleaning jags in your range box, or leave at least one of them screwed to your ramrod. I have one on the rod in the gun, and another on my range rod, that goes in the same gun case with the gun. If the gun makes it to the range :shocked2: , I also have the right jags. Now, where are those cleaning patches.......... :rotf: :thumbsup:
 

stineys

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When I first shoot my gun after it has been cleaned and stored, I fire a few caps with some powder in the barrel just to clean any oil out. It always takes a few tries to get a good fire, so I've always been worried about swabbing the barrel between shots as I don't want to leave too much in there to wet the powder. Does this happen to anyone?
 

bajabuc

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I've been pretty lucky. I Never swab between shots or even after a dozen...but I don't shoot paper. I've always looked at it like this...most Western Hemisphere shooting in 1801-1840 era was either for meat or in anger and every second counted.
 

Vaino

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During the heat of the chase, mainly tree hopping gray squirrels, I don't even think about a hot ember in the breech when reloading. Don't think it's really a peril but the "technical guys" who ponder such stuff could "write a book" on the dangers of reloading too quickly. Have never had powder ignite when poured within seconds of the shot....Fred
 
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think about it - one of the 'prime commandments' in shooting muzzleloaders is 'never pour powder directly into the barrel from the flask/horn' there is a reason for that. I've never personally witnessed an explosion but have seen posts here regarding same.
I always dry patch with a thinner patch than the one I patch the ball with, it's a looser fit on the jag and brings out fouling fairly well.
 

GreyWhiskers

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BB Ben,

I guess there's always the danger of having enuf heat down the barrel to ignite powder as you pour it in. Never seen it but I'm aware of the danger.

I've been involved with speed shoots where you load and fire as fast as you can for 15 minutes. I use a water-based lube and fairly wet patch. I don't swab between shots. Never thought about having that kinda problem. GW
 

Tumblernotch

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I've only seen one "cook off" in 35 years of shooting and that was in a very dirty musket barrel during very rapid fire using blank charges.

If a charge was to go off as it was loaded, it would be while the powder charge alone was being poured and before the ball was inserted. However, as it has been stated above, never pour that charge straight from a horn or flask. If the charge ignites, you are holding a grenade in your hand!
 

bingo1952

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I have never waited to reload but if you wish to by all means do so. I have only seen one cook off in my 38 years and it was also firing blank charges at the 125th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of The Wilderness. I also used to shoot with the NSSA and there is no waiting between shots on anything except cannon and mortar. All of the team matches usually come down to the time it takes to clear your board of targets rather than a point system so rapid reloading is a must.
 

paulvallandigham

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I don't understand why cleaning your gun with a damp patch is asking so much, even in the field?

What I do, out of habit:

After firing the gun, my first grap is for a cleaning patch, which I put in my mouth while I put my tin back in my bag. I firs wipe down the frizzen, flint, flashpan, and barrel, in that order, and then drop the buttstock to the top of my foot. The damp patch is flipped over and put on the muzzle, and held there with my off-hand thumb, while I pull my ramrod, turn it around, and drive the patch down the barrel using a hand over hand technique. 1/3 of the way down the barrel, I stop and reverse the rod, to break loose the residue and crud in the barrel bringing the patch almost to the muzzle. Then I reverse, and hand over hand it down the second 1/3 of the barrel, and stop, and pull back on that. Then it goes down to an inch above the bottom( my ramrod is marked) and I pull the patch out of the barrel. Depending on how much gunk is on the patch, and how wet the crud appears, I will use a second damp patch, or go directly to a dry patch to dry the barrel. This decision is based on the relative humidity's affect on the powder residue in the barrel.

Now, I am ready to measure my next powder charge and load the gun.

The second damp patch, or the dry patch, or both, go all the way to the breechface, receive a turn of the rod to try to turn the patch even a little on the face, to help clean it off, as well as to force cloth into the corners to get at that crud, before the patch is pulled out. I still can be reloaded in 30 seconds or so.

I don't want to reload any faster than that. If I did, I would be using one of my cartridge rifles. And, frankly, reloading faster makes the whole process WORK, and that is not why I shoot MLers. I don't want to have sore muscles, or be out of breath from pumping that rod in and out of the gun so fast. It doesn't show on the first shot, but by the time I have fired 20 shots, I begin to feel the aches, and my shooting accuracy goes down the tubes. :hmm: :surrender:

Oh, I have also never seen a cook off. I know people who have experienced them, and others who have been present when others have had them. It leaves a lasting impression. :shocked2:

But, what I have experienced, many times, is hearing the sound of an ember sizzling in my barrel when my damp patch snuffs it out. That is all the " impression " I want to experience, personally. Your opinion may be different, of course. :shocked2: :hatsoff:
 

dodgecity

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In 30 plus years of shooting front loaders, I've never seen it happen, nor do I know anyone who has, up until this post that is. It must be an extremely rare phenomena. If a poured charge were to go off when poured down a just fired barrel, I think it would be more likely to occur in a smooth bore where paper cartridges, or wadding such as tow or wasps nest were being used.
 

DOUBLEDEUCE 1

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I would shoot either my Thompson or CVA Mountain rifle all day long at local competitions or just days at the range. Rarely if ever have I had to swab the barrels out. But then I don't have the same weather as you, just fog and sunshine.
I've been involved in speed shoots where we would get off four or five rounds a minute. No blowing down the barrel, and no need or time to swab. I guess it is just a good combination of lube for me and a good barrel. At the end of the day the rifle gets a good thorough cleaning.
 

Many Klatch

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When the humidity is right I can get 20 shots without swabbing my rifle and more with my smoothbores. I never wipe unless it becomes tough to load and I never wait for things to cool down. I have never had a problem, but I always load from a measure just in case.

I have put three aimed shots in a target in 1 minute. 5 balls actually, the last two shots had two bare balls dropped in the barrel and rammed home without any spit wads. No problem with flashing off.

Many Klatch
 

renovato

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I'm with Blizzard. I've heard of it happening on occasion, hence the rule about loading from the flask. Saw a post once about a guy who was loading from a flask when it went off. Blew the flask away from the barrel before it exploded, so he wasn't injured.

I don't usually swab between shots and I've never had a problem, but I also don't "speed load" either. I have a comfortable loading ritual that takes a little time.

I think if there was an ember, it's likely to set off the charge almost instantly. Well before you get a chance to load a ball on top of it. That'd be scary and dangerous, but not nearly as much as tamping a ball when it fires.
 

jtmattison

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I don't pause much between shots. I fire, set hammer at half cock, remove the spent cap, measure next powder charge, pour down barrel, load patch/ball. All of this happens in about a minute or so. I never worry about embers.
IMO embers really aren't much of a possibility at all. Your powder should be completely consumed during firing leaving nothing behind to glow as an ember. I may be wrong but it's not a concern to me.

HD
 

Johnny Tremain

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I can and have shot over 50 times without ever swabing.

Ive always used +1000 in my round cut Rice swamped barrel.

Each pre-soaked patch, takes the shot before gunk down range.
 

Ridge

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I've fired blank cartridges so fast that my barrel became uncomfortable to touch. Still never had an ember ignite the next load or "cook off".

It could happen...but lightning could strike you while you are wearing your powderhorn too. Unless you want to stay home and lock the door..living is taking a chance.
 

jdstrang

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In the North-South Skirmish Assn., http://www.n-ssa.org , the object of the sport requires that we load and shoot our minie rifles, carbines and smoothbores as fast as we accurately can. That means getting off 2-4 aimed shots a minute. A team of 8 good shooters can break its 16 tiles, clay pigeons, wood blocks, etc., in well under a minute. The team that won last fall's Nationals musket competition broke its 32 clay pigeons on a cardboard backer at 50 yards in two minutes, 39 seconds.

We do this safely by:

1. Leaving the hammer down on the previously fired cap, thereby cutting off any air circulation through the nipple, and

2. Loading powder and bullets from individually charged plastic or vinyl caplugs in such a way as to keep all body parts to the side of the muzzle. These techniques ensure, if there IS a cookoff (and they do happen - rarely) that fingers, palms and faces are safe from the belching flame. These techniques are demonstrated in a YouTube video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtpI0zcaEjA


As far as cleaning/swabbing is concerned, minie-style rifles with their wide, shallow grooves can be fired dozens, even hundreds, of times between cleaning IF the bullets are properly lubed to keep fouling soft.

Granted, there's considerable difference in loading loose-fitting minies and engraving traditional bullets or patched balls. But fast loading can be done safely.
 
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