I don't like to use a ball starter.

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WVAED

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I was reading in Gunsmith of Grenville Co. He was saying, if I am remembering the right book, that he doesn't use a short starter and if you have to, then your patch, ball combination is to tight. I love the idea of not using a ball starter. Question: Are there others who don't use the short starter with their rifle? If so, what do you use for patching? I know some cone their barrel, which i would like but have no experience with doing such to my rifle. Thanks.
 

rodwha

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My understanding is that, in general, a tighter fit increases the accuracy.

I can certainly understand wanting to forgo a short starter for a quick follow up shot, especially when the range may not be so far anyway. And not only that but there wouldn’t be a desire for a palm saver.
 

WVAED

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As to the accuracy question, he cites a champion shooter who used a looser ball/patch combination and won many national matches while others struggled to load their rifles. I know people will say, well load up and try and see what accuracy you get, etc. I was just wondering if anyone had any experience with the less tight combinations.
 

Coot

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The majority opinion is that a tight ball & patch combo will be more accurate but will require a short starter to load. That said there are a number who for reasons of historical accuracy or simply a desire to load easier or faster, shoot a looser load with accuracy acceptable to them. One technique to load a somewhat tighter load without a short starter is to use the flat butt or side of the blade of a sturdy belt knife & a smack of the hand to drive the ball & patch flush with the muzzle & then with only an inch or two of the rod exposed below your hand, to start the ball down the bore. Re coning, it is easy enough to do with the aid of Joe Woods caliber specific coning tool. I have used his tool to cone several. Coning will make it easier to start a load & does away with the short starter and the knife blade technique. Serious target shooters are generally not fans of coning but many hunters find coned barrels easily shoot "minute of deer" & are faster to reload. For serious target shooting, I would not cone a barrel, for documentable historical presentations, I would not use a short starter. For everyday shooting, fine to go either way.
 

Stumpkiller

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I don't use one - though I do have a little 1-1/2" stub I use to push the patched balls out of one block I have.

Mostly I just choke up on the last 2" of the rammer and start the ball with that. The less I have to dig around in the bag for and hold when shooting the better.
 

hanshi

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I used to do the "choke up on the rod" way of seating without a short starter. But I was younger and my hands were in better shape. It does work, though.
 

tenngun

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Historically we just have a few ”˜maybes’ recorded. We can’t date them absolutely to before about 1850. That said I use them on my rifle and think it’s proper. Lots of folks shoot better then me who don’t use them.
In ramrod use keep your hands close to the muzzle and don’t try and go in long strokes.
 

Stumpkiller

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I will say my flintlocks have tapered wood rammers so it does make it easier to push. Especially that first bit where the rod is thicker.
 

zimmerstutzen

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I never fired tight PRB combos in my rifles. Nor did they fall down the bore, I always used a starter, put often it only required pinky pressure to start the ball. There is a certain amount of obturation (bump up) when the powder ignites behind a soft lead ball.
 

Heelerau

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Most of my rifles I just use the but of the knife to set the ball below the muzzle then cut the patch and choke the ram rod. I find this works fine for both competition and hunting. I have one rifle I use a short starter on as it likes a tight patch and ball combination.
 

M. De Land

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You then ought to consider a coned muzzle which is what the old timers did in lieu of using a short starter or choking up on the ram rod.
 

Darkhorse

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Since I started shooting BP in 1976 I always used a fairly tight patch and ball that required a short starter and was sometimes hard to seat.
I'm now past 65 with shoulder problems and I got tired of hard to start and seat loads. So last deer season I used a .530 ball and .015 cotton patch. I could start this combo with the ramrod and it seated real easy.
The patch maintained it's integrity at 80 grains of 3fg which was as heavy a charge as I tested. I ended up using 75 grains of Goex 3fg, .530 ball and .015 cotton patch with Bore Butter. This load gives me a 50 yard group in my .54 flint that will cut one hole if I do my part. So the accuracy part is about as good as it gets. I shot an 8 point buck at 60 yards and a doe about 30, both shots were complete pass throughs. So there was enough power for whitetails.
I don't see the need for a combo so tight you get a hernia trying to start it. Speaking for myself I have no problem getting my rifles to perform with an easier to start combo.
But! A big but here, if you need to shoot heavier charges at longer ranges then I suggest sticking with a tighter combo and a patch with the strength and weave to stay together, and continue to use your starter.
I built a .40 caliber for turkey hunting and load 60 grains of 3fg, a .395 ball and .018 pillow ticking patch. With this loading a tough patch is essential.
If shooting my small game, target load of 30 grains with the .010 patch this rifle will put 10 shots into a single ragged hole at 25 yards. No starter required and with LHV lube no cleaning either.
Your needs will dictate how loose a combo you can get away with. It just takes some shooting to get it all figured out.
 

WVAED

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Thanks for all the replies, especially Darkhorse. I am not intending to to shoot some "magnum" load, just regular range shooting and hunting.
 

Pukka Bundook

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When I gat my Chambers kit, (Mark Silver) in .58" I'd read enough to know there is very little evidence on short starters in the 18th Century, so figured it must work without.
I got a mould that throws a .562" and used 20 thou Very tight weave linen. The sort you can't see the sun through if you hold it up to the light. Deer tallow as lube.
I hunted 9 or 10 years straight with that rifle to get the feel of how it was to hunt all weathers with a flintlock. It never let me down and I was never skunked.
The gun always grouped and still does, better than I can hold it. Has a Don Getz barrel.

I never have and never will use a short starter, and I gathered very few balls from the game shot. (Muleys and w.tails). Most went clear through and I only used 75 grains of 2F, and the same powder for priming.
Made a .54" for my son, and coned that one and it shoots better than we can.
No short starter.

All the best,
Richard.
 

Black Hand

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edmelott said:
I was reading in Gunsmith of Grenville Co. He was saying, if I am remembering the right book, that he doesn't use a short starter and if you have to, then your patch, ball combination is to tight. I love the idea of not using a ball starter. Question: Are there others who don't use the short starter with their rifle? If so, what do you use for patching? I know some cone their barrel, which i would like but have no experience with doing such to my rifle. Thanks.
I have a tight ball/patch combination, an unconed barrel and DO NOT use a starter...
 

Black Hand

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edmelott said:
As to the accuracy question, he cites a champion shooter who used a looser ball/patch combination and won many national matches while others struggled to load their rifles. I know people will say, well load up and try and see what accuracy you get, etc. I was just wondering if anyone had any experience with the less tight combinations.
I have a friend that went to a looser combination and got better accuracy in his rifle.
 

SgtMaj65

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Developed a touch of arthritis in both thumbs the past few years so using a ball starter is the only way I can shoot BP and patched round balls. I'm also skittish using any wood ramrod after breaking one off into the base of my thumb. Almost 5 months to heal now, feeling is finally back 100%, but never again. It's either a heavy brass or steel range rod for me. Got a really nice and stout TOW short starter for Christmas.
 
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