I have a question for the Smoothbore crowd

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Hey everyone, as of late I have been looking to buy my first muzzleloader. I wanted it to be a flintlock rifle but I am having trouble finding one. At the same time I want a fowler for Turkey and other bird/small game. So i figured hell why not go with a smoothbore and cover all my bases. My question is, how "accurate" can a smoothbore be when hunting Deer. I know without rifling you wont be 100% on the money but how far can you stretch a smoothbore. I was talking to some fellas in Chestertown who are American reenactors for the War of 1812 and say they've taken their Springfield 1795 Muskets to the range and can strike a target every shot at no more than 50 yards at most with the standard cartridge load. Is this because it is a Military arm and not one for taking game ? Or is it due to the military load ? Ive seen a lot of posts on here about smoothbore hunting and a lot against it citing rifles as a more obvious choice. Does anyone have a smoothbore they reccomend and what size bore and load ? I've been watching videos all damn week of people hunting with smoothbores and they either do a whole lot of missing or a whole lot of nothing and they blame the smoothbore in these videos. I kind of want one gun for everything as my budget is now very tight sadly (maybe about $1,200 for a nice flintlock at most). I would kind of like to get a nice smoothbore and get it right the first time. Like I said if anyone has some decent ideas or reccomendations for style of gun, barrel length and bore size it would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the very long post.
 
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Hey everyone, as of late I have been looking to buy my first muzzleloader. I wanted it to be a flintlock rifle but I am having trouble finding one. At the same time I want a fowler for Turkey and other bird/small game. So i figured hell why not go with a smoothbore and cover all my bases. My question is, how "accurate" can a smoothbore be when hunting Deer. I know without rifling you wont be 100% on the money but how far can you stretch a smoothbore. I was talking to some fellas in Chestertown who are American reenactors for the War of 1812 and say they've taken their Springfield 1795 Muskets to the range and can strike a target every shot at no more than 50 yards at most with the standard cartridge load. Is this because it is a Military arm and not one for taking game ? Or is it due to the military load ? Ive seen a lot of posts on here about smoothbore hunting and a lot against it citing rifles as a more obvious choice. Does anyone have a smoothbore they reccomend and what size bore and load ? I've been watching videos all damn week of people hunting with smoothbores and they either do a whole lot of missing or a whole lot of nothing and they blame the smoothbore in these videos. I kind of want one gun for everything as my budget is now very tight sadly (maybe about $1,200 for a nice flintlock at most). I would kind of like to get a nice smoothbore and get it right the first time. Like I said if anyone has some decent ideas or reccomendations for style of gun, barrel length and bore size it would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the very long post.
Well let me answer this question for ya, hell smoothbore is my name lol (not really). First of lets sort out your Springfield 1795 question. The reason why they cant hit anything past 50 yards is because they are using a paper cartridge military load. I did the same thing with my first smoothbore my Pedersoli Brown Bess that I won in a raffle. I brought it home and immediately started making paper cartridges and .715" round balls. I was dead set on showing those deer what musket made 2/3 of the world tremble in fear, hell I even bought a cartridge box. Then reality struck the two deer I got with my "Military load" didnt suffer but my shots landed high and right on deer one and low on deer two. I carefully took aim resting the musket on a log so I knew it wasnt me at issue. So I moved up to a larger ball and patch. This time I used a .730" ball and .010" patch. I was then getting 4" groups at 60 yards and took two more deer with my Bess. The militaries back then had inferior powder to what we are using now so it created a lot of fouling so an undersized ball was more suited for repeated volleys. The Bess back in the day was .75" but fired a .69" ball. On to the next, you'll note that most smoothbores are large in bore (.62"-.78"). This means they will eat a lot of powder and lead. You'll want to think about how much powder you have ( if you have none get 5-10 pounds of it). I used 2-1/2 pounds of powder my first year with my bess. Once i finally got my Bess trained well it all in all killed 4 pounds of powder ( due to working out round ball and shot loads). You asked what bore, length and style. Well here is my reccomendation either go shorter and pick up a Pedersoli trade gun in .62/20gauge or go longer and get a nice Fusíl de Chasse. The Fusíl de Chasse is a nice fowler. They come in a variety of bores typically .62/20 but can be had in .66/16 or .72/12. Personally I would like to have a 12 gauge .72 Fusíl de Chasse. Then youll want to consider barrels and other things. First Fusíls are most likely going to have a 42" or 44" barrel although some are cut down. I would like to have a 44" barrel personally and my Bess has a 42" barrel so the extra two inches arent bad. You'll also want to decide if you want a rear sight. Personally I would want a rear sight on mine when I go for one or build one. A rear sight is great for a begginner. Once you have a smoothbore picked get some roundballs and some shot for it. Remember to never use Steel shot as it will tear up your bore or any hard metal for that matter i.e. Copper, Tungsten, Titanium, Alloy or Tin. Use only Lead and Bismuth shot. It can be bought off the internet in bulk in up to 10 pound bags. Then head on over to track of the wolf and get some shooting supplies like card wads and either buy some gear here or TOTW while you're there . Personally I only own three rifles. One is a Percussion underhammer, one is a .54 cal Mortimer and the last is a c.1790 Infantry Rifle from Britain that I dont hunt with cause I dont want it damaged. All of my hunting has been done with my Bess and Bess carbine. This month I plan on going for a Turkey with my Bess. My best load is 120g FF powder then an over powder wad and card followed by 3 oz of No4 shot in a paper cartridge and then an overshot card. Ram her all home and last year's gobbler got the buisness end of the smoke show at about 30 yards. ( I use the paper cartridge to hold my shot similar to what shot cups in modern shells do). It will all seem complicated at first but that is what this forum is here for. This forum helped me along to where I'm at today and it will help you too.
 

IronHand

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You will get a lot of opinions on this topic. My recommendation is a. 62/20ga Northwest Trade gun or an English fowler.

I have a trade gun that was built for me years ago by Jackie Brown. It's, hands down, my favorite gun. I chose to go with a 36in barrel, Queen Anne lock and iron furniture. It has killed everything from chipmunks to Whitetail. I have tried military muskers but I find them too heavy and difficult to shoot well.

The trade gun is also a simpler gun so it might be less expensive.

With round ball the key is load development and consistency. There are several different ways to load a ball in a smoothy. Range time is definitely required to find the right load. This is a subject for a whole nuther thread.

Constantly locating your face on the stock is the other factor. Since there is no rear sight cheek weld becomes extra important. If you do it all right then 50 yard deer should not be a problem.

There are a number of guys making smoothbores. One l like is Sitting Fox.

If you are handy you can save money by buying a kit or a unfinished "in the white" gun.

Good luck on your adventure
IronHand
 

satwel

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I have two smoothbore flintlocks that I shoot in NMRLA territorial matches. Both are 20 gauge. One is a Jim Chambers English Officer's fusil with a 40 inch barrel, the other is a Type D French trade gun with a 42 inch barrel. I shoot a .590 ball with either a .015 or .010 patch over 80 grains of 2F black powder. At 25 and 50 yards I routinely shoot five shot groups that approach what I can shoot with my flintlock rifles. Beyond 50 yards however, accuracy drops off dramatically with both guns. I have won my share of NMRLA rifle matches, but over 20 years of competing, I have managed to win only one smoothbore match because one of the relays is shot at 100 yards. I find it very difficult to get five shots to score at 100 yards within the 30 minute time limit.

I don't hunt, but if I did, I am confident I could hit a deer cleanly out to 30 yards with either smoothbore. I'd hesitate to try a shot at anything beyond 35 yards and over 50, forget it. IMHO the ideal smoothbore for hunting is a Fusil-de-chase in 16 gauge with a 44" or 46" barrel.
 

Rock Home Isle

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Hey everyone, as of late I have been looking to buy my first muzzleloader. I wanted it to be a flintlock rifle but I am having trouble finding one. At the same time I want a fowler for Turkey and other bird/small game. So i figured hell why not go with a smoothbore and cover all my bases. My question is, how "accurate" can a smoothbore be when hunting Deer. I know without rifling you wont be 100% on the money but how far can you stretch a smoothbore. I was talking to some fellas in Chestertown who are American reenactors for the War of 1812 and say they've taken their Springfield 1795 Muskets to the range and can strike a target every shot at no more than 50 yards at most with the standard cartridge load. Is this because it is a Military arm and not one for taking game ? Or is it due to the military load ? Ive seen a lot of posts on here about smoothbore hunting and a lot against it citing rifles as a more obvious choice. Does anyone have a smoothbore they reccomend and what size bore and load ? I've been watching videos all damn week of people hunting with smoothbores and they either do a whole lot of missing or a whole lot of nothing and they blame the smoothbore in these videos. I kind of want one gun for everything as my budget is now very tight sadly (maybe about $1,200 for a nice flintlock at most). I would kind of like to get a nice smoothbore and get it right the first time. Like I said if anyone has some decent ideas or reccomendations for style of gun, barrel length and bore size it would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the very long post.
I have several smooth bores.

My 1st was a Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine kit. It was plenty accurate out to 50-60yrds. I took 2 deer with it. I bought it for goose hunting, and it was awesome as a waterfowl firearm.

TVM has made 2 smoothbores for me: an American Fowler (essentially an early Virginia smoothbore) set up to shoot round balls, and a Fusil de Chase…both are great guns. I’lll post images later.

If you get a nice solid, well made smoothbore, you will be very happy.
 

hanshi

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I had a TVM built for me years ago. It's a 20ga/.62 and I got it with a rear sight so I could shoot it just like a rifle. The gun has taken deer and I like it a lot. With a patched .600" ball it shoots 2" to 2.75" at 50 yards for three shots and is almost as accurate with bare ball. I trust the gun/load up to at least 60 yds and a bit farther.
 

No Deer

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I have a 20 gage French Fusil Fin trade gun, it has a 42 inch barrel. I have taken bear, deer, turkey, rabbit, squirrel, duck, quail, and chukar with this gun. I limit my round ball shots to 50 yards. I have taken many deer, and none of them went over 40 yards, all were heart/lung shots. Practice, and shot placement are the keys.
 

smo

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The can be accurate….

C5816C61-FCFD-4DC7-8967-93579BC02D22.jpeg


RIP Mr. Tip

2912526F-9DD2-4F12-BEDE-956A3E534466.jpeg
 
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This is my "R. Wilson Chiefs grade smoothbore London" replica from Danny Caywood , it is .62 cal. and it has hit 3 inch Christmas balls offhand at 50 yds at my muzzleloading club more than one time with a .600 patched round ball , a quality gun with a quality lock is very important in my opinion !
 

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Brokennock

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This question gets asked very frequently. If you spend some time scrolling through this smoothbore forum and the hunting forum you will find it discussed over and over again.
Generally, for hunting purposes, general consensus seems to be 50 yards max with some folks who are talented and have very open shooting lanes stretching it to 75 yards.
For targets and fun shoots, 100 yards and further is feasible depending on what the target is.

My smoothrifle will keep as many shots as I want to fire within 3 or 4 inches at 50 yards when shooting off the bench, 4 to 6 inches when I leave the bench and shoot from field positions. I honestly haven't tested it any further as I don't have much need for shooting further than that where I hunt. And, I don't trust my eyesight to allow me to shoot at an animal further than that in the woods.
My Fusil des Chase needs a little more load development, but shoots close to that well. It has a thinner/lighter barrel and the rear sight isn't dialed in.
 
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Well let me answer this question for ya, hell smoothbore is my name lol (not really). First of lets sort out your Springfield 1795 question. The reason why they cant hit anything past 50 yards is because they are using a paper cartridge military load. I did the same thing with my first smoothbore my Pedersoli Brown Bess that I won in a raffle. I brought it home and immediately started making paper cartridges and .715" round balls. I was dead set on showing those deer what musket made 2/3 of the world tremble in fear, hell I even bought a cartridge box. Then reality struck the two deer I got with my "Military load" didnt suffer but my shots landed high and right on deer one and low on deer two. I carefully took aim resting the musket on a log so I knew it wasnt me at issue. So I moved up to a larger ball and patch. This time I used a .730" ball and .010" patch. I was then getting 4" groups at 60 yards and took two more deer with my Bess. The militaries back then had inferior powder to what we are using now so it created a lot of fouling so an undersized ball was more suited for repeated volleys. The Bess back in the day was .75" but fired a .69" ball. On to the next, you'll note that most smoothbores are large in bore (.62"-.78"). This means they will eat a lot of powder and lead. You'll want to think about how much powder you have ( if you have none get 5-10 pounds of it). I used 2-1/2 pounds of powder my first year with my bess. Once i finally got my Bess trained well it all in all killed 4 pounds of powder ( due to working out round ball and shot loads). You asked what bore, length and style. Well here is my reccomendation either go shorter and pick up a Pedersoli trade gun in .62/20gauge or go longer and get a nice Fusíl de Chasse. The Fusíl de Chasse is a nice fowler. They come in a variety of bores typically .62/20 but can be had in .66/16 or .72/12. Personally I would like to have a 12 gauge .72 Fusíl de Chasse. Then youll want to consider barrels and other things. First Fusíls are most likely going to have a 42" or 44" barrel although some are cut down. I would like to have a 44" barrel personally and my Bess has a 42" barrel so the extra two inches arent bad. You'll also want to decide if you want a rear sight. Personally I would want a rear sight on mine when I go for one or build one. A rear sight is great for a begginner. Once you have a smoothbore picked get some roundballs and some shot for it. Remember to never use Steel shot as it will tear up your bore or any hard metal for that matter i.e. Copper, Tungsten, Titanium, Alloy or Tin. Use only Lead and Bismuth shot. It can be bought off the internet in bulk in up to 10 pound bags. Then head on over to track of the wolf and get some shooting supplies like card wads and either buy some gear here or TOTW while you're there . Personally I only own three rifles. One is a Percussion underhammer, one is a .54 cal Mortimer and the last is a c.1790 Infantry Rifle from Britain that I dont hunt with cause I dont want it damaged. All of my hunting has been done with my Bess and Bess carbine. This month I plan on going for a Turkey with my Bess. My best load is 120g FF powder then an over powder wad and card followed by 3 oz of No4 shot in a paper cartridge and then an overshot card. Ram her all home and last year's gobbler got the buisness end of the smoke show at about 30 yards. ( I use the paper cartridge to hold my shot similar to what shot cups in modern shells do). It will all seem complicated at first but that is what this forum is here for. This forum helped me along to where I'm at today and it will help you too.

Man, that's a stout load. I like it.
 
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There's a learning curve with shooting a flintlock. I've always been an avid shooter and hunter. when I first started hunting with flintlocks I limited my shots to not much further than archery range. My last deer with a flintlock was 75-80 yards. I wouldn't have taken that shot first starting out. I've often passed up close shots with modern rifles because of angle or limbs in the way etc. Rifling is not going to guarantee you're gonna be a 100 yard deer slayer, especially just starting out.

Here's a deer I killed this past year with my "smooth rifle".... rifle sights and architecture but with a smooth bore barrel. this is a 28 gauge/ .54 caliber gun. this deer was over 50 yards but didn't look it. It was early and she was standing in front of a really sunny patch in a hardwood bottom. She looked huge and closer than she actually was silhouetted like that. This is the exit wound in the pic. The entry hole is a little higher. Shot her right through the heart..... 30 yard recovery
 

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My favorite is my 20 bore fusil de chasse. I've taken deer and bear from 40 to 70 yards and Turkey from 10 to 30 yards. That's my comfort zone for hunting distance, I've shot on paper and steel out to 200 yards just for fun with more hits than misses. I don't have a rear sight so practice is the key, the more you shoot the the better you get and the better you get the more confidents you gain then the more game you take.
 

waksupi

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If you want to shoot round ball a lot, stick with a 20 bore. A 12 bore loses its fun factor quickly. Most deer are shot at around 35 yards, regardless of firearm type. A smoothbore will handle that easily.
 
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Hey everyone, as of late I have been looking to buy my first muzzleloader. I wanted it to be a flintlock rifle but I am having trouble finding one. At the same time I want a fowler for Turkey and other bird/small game. So i figured hell why not go with a smoothbore and cover all my bases. My question is, how "accurate" can a smoothbore be when hunting Deer. I know without rifling you wont be 100% on the money but how far can you stretch a smoothbore. I was talking to some fellas in Chestertown who are American reenactors for the War of 1812 and say they've taken their Springfield 1795 Muskets to the range and can strike a target every shot at no more than 50 yards at most with the standard cartridge load. Is this because it is a Military arm and not one for taking game ? Or is it due to the military load ? Ive seen a lot of posts on here about smoothbore hunting and a lot against it citing rifles as a more obvious choice. Does anyone have a smoothbore they reccomend and what size bore and load ? I've been watching videos all damn week of people hunting with smoothbores and they either do a whole lot of missing or a whole lot of nothing and they blame the smoothbore in these videos. I kind of want one gun for everything as my budget is now very tight sadly (maybe about $1,200 for a nice flintlock at most). I would kind of like to get a nice smoothbore and get it right the first time. Like I said if anyone has some decent ideas or reccomendations for style of gun, barrel length and bore size it would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the very long post.
I have a Kibler colonial in .54cal., a smooth rifle, put rear sights on it, didn't come with them on in case I didn't want them. I can get approximately 3" groups in 50 yds. with a patched ball, 70grs. of 3f, fine for hunting deer. I'll also mention that I coned the barrel.
 
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I also have a Kibler Colonial rifle in 58 cal smoothbore.It is definitely a great gun. You can probably get one for about your price limit and it will be excellent quality. Kibler kits are relatively easy to put together and he has a whole set of videos on YouTube to show you every step in completing the kit. Mine shoots a 620 rb with a 012 patch and 70 to 80 hrs 3fg pretty well out to 50 yds. The other posts are correct that it takes a lot of experimenting to find the right combination for your smoothbore and round balls. Best to get the best gun you can afford so you are working on developing loads instead of fixing problems.
 

Tn poor boy

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I also have a Kibler Colonial rifle in 58 cal smoothbore.It is definitely a great gun. You can probably get one for about your price limit and it will be excellent quality. Kibler kits are relatively easy to put together and he has a whole set of videos on YouTube to show you every step in completing the kit. Mine shoots a 620 rb with a 012 patch and 70 to 80 hrs 3fg pretty well out to 50 yds. The other posts are correct that it takes a lot of experimenting to find the right combination for your smoothbore and round balls. Best to get the best gun you can afford so you are working on developing loads instead of fixing problems.
Your 58 cal will take a 620 ball i have hard time getting mine to take 570 ball
 

OldSmoky1967

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Well let me answer this question for ya, hell smoothbore is my name lol (not really). First of lets sort out your Springfield 1795 question. The reason why they cant hit anything past 50 yards is because they are using a paper cartridge military load. I did the same thing with my first smoothbore my Pedersoli Brown Bess that I won in a raffle. I brought it home and immediately started making paper cartridges and .715" round balls. I was dead set on showing those deer what musket made 2/3 of the world tremble in fear, hell I even bought a cartridge box. Then reality struck the two deer I got with my "Military load" didnt suffer but my shots landed high and right on deer one and low on deer two. I carefully took aim resting the musket on a log so I knew it wasnt me at issue. So I moved up to a larger ball and patch. This time I used a .730" ball and .010" patch. I was then getting 4" groups at 60 yards and took two more deer with my Bess. The militaries back then had inferior powder to what we are using now so it created a lot of fouling so an undersized ball was more suited for repeated volleys. The Bess back in the day was .75" but fired a .69" ball. On to the next, you'll note that most smoothbores are large in bore (.62"-.78"). This means they will eat a lot of powder and lead. You'll want to think about how much powder you have ( if you have none get 5-10 pounds of it). I used 2-1/2 pounds of powder my first year with my bess. Once i finally got my Bess trained well it all in all killed 4 pounds of powder ( due to working out round ball and shot loads). You asked what bore, length and style. Well here is my reccomendation either go shorter and pick up a Pedersoli trade gun in .62/20gauge or go longer and get a nice Fusíl de Chasse. The Fusíl de Chasse is a nice fowler. They come in a variety of bores typically .62/20 but can be had in .66/16 or .72/12. Personally I would like to have a 12 gauge .72 Fusíl de Chasse. Then youll want to consider barrels and other things. First Fusíls are most likely going to have a 42" or 44" barrel although some are cut down. I would like to have a 44" barrel personally and my Bess has a 42" barrel so the extra two inches arent bad. You'll also want to decide if you want a rear sight. Personally I would want a rear sight on mine when I go for one or build one. A rear sight is great for a begginner. Once you have a smoothbore picked get some roundballs and some shot for it. Remember to never use Steel shot as it will tear up your bore or any hard metal for that matter i.e. Copper, Tungsten, Titanium, Alloy or Tin. Use only Lead and Bismuth shot. It can be bought off the internet in bulk in up to 10 pound bags. Then head on over to track of the wolf and get some shooting supplies like card wads and either buy some gear here or TOTW while you're there . Personally I only own three rifles. One is a Percussion underhammer, one is a .54 cal Mortimer and the last is a c.1790 Infantry Rifle from Britain that I dont hunt with cause I dont want it damaged. All of my hunting has been done with my Bess and Bess carbine. This month I plan on going for a Turkey with my Bess. My best load is 120g FF powder then an over powder wad and card followed by 3 oz of No4 shot in a paper cartridge and then an overshot card. Ram her all home and last year's gobbler got the buisness end of the smoke show at about 30 yards. ( I use the paper cartridge to hold my shot similar to what shot cups in modern shells do). It will all seem complicated at first but that is what this forum is here for. This forum helped me along to where I'm at today and it will help you too.
Great answer. I agree.
 
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To the OP - your question might be better answered if you told us the range you want to be able to consistently hit deer at. If you want to consistently hit deer sized game at 75-100 yards you will need a rifle, a smooth bore is not an ethical choice. I find wind drift to be a serious issue with smooth bores. I shoot a .56cal smoothbore and it is good to 60yds, with more practise maybe 65-70yds. Today the winds are 13mph with gusts to 25mph. In a cross wind situation I would not shoot past 25yds, head or tail wind maybe 30yds, or maybe not at all. With my .54cal fast twist and a conical I would just dope the wind and easily double those ranges, ethically. You could spend your money on a nice rifle now, and pick up a cheap percussion 12ga, and upgrade to a better smoothbore later. YMMV
 
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A fusil fin de chasse with a 46" Long Hammock barrel in .620 makes a nice gun. Note that a lot of barrels are made in 5/8 bore which is .625. The difference is that a .610 ball is just not as snug in the bore as with a .620. I shoot it unpatched with a wad over the ball to keep it in place. I am pleased with the accuracy. The Long Hammock barrel has a more pleasing profile than, say Colerain. At lease to me. Others opinions may vary. Also, I have had good luck with a French model 1728 at 100 yds. shooting a .678 ball in the .690 bore unpatched, but that is not something I would do on a regular basis.
 

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