Loading a Fowler vs Rifle

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TheTyler7011

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I have been doing some research (as I only have experience and knowledge on military muskets), and was pregaming for when I order a TVM Fowler.

I am seeing that historically, fowlers weren’t really loaded with a patched ball. They used wads. I’m assuming this was to contain the powder and prevent build up residue in the bore. My question is, why weren’t wads used in rifles? Is it because patches were needed to engage rifling and there isn’t a point to double dip and use both? This sparked my curiosity because a gentleman with a 20 gauge Fowler (.615 gauge), used a wad and a .610 caliber ball and could load all day without cleaning.

As someone who’s never owned a rifled flintlock, I was under the impression you’d have to clean them quite a bit to continue to use the patched round ball. So why not just use the wad.
 

rchas

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For rifles, the patch is necessary to engage the rifling in the barrel. Loading a lead ball large enough to engage the rifling itself would be nearly impossible. In my experience, using a patch dampened with a light, water based lube (like the classic "spit patch") will dissolve and push fouling down the barrel on top of the charge with each shot. I rarely swab a barrel when using a light, liquid lube.
The more oily and waxy the lube is, the less you get this cleaning effect. However when I am hunting and not expecting to make multiple shots I use a waxy lube as I don't want a water based lube sitting in the barrel all day.
Fowlers are a different beast. With a round ball, some shoot better with a patch, some without--and don't get me started on how to get good patterns with shot! It's all experimentation with different loads and components. I do have to tend to swab my fowlers more than my rifles, but that may be due to the construction of the load and components I am using. But once I find something that works, I stay with it, and deal with the fouling.
 

Banjoman

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I load smooth bores and rifles the same way; powder, wad, bare round ball, wad. You can check out my threads “Wacky Shooting” and “Wool in Summer” to see how I did loading a Traditions Kentucky rifle this way. By loading the rifle this way, I can use .495, .490, .451 or .440 round balls in the rifle.

I started loading my rifles this way a few years ago for several reasons. First, I was already loading my smooth bores this way and thought, why not. Let’s just see if it will work. It does work for plinking out to about 50 yards. I haven‘t tried it farther than that.

Second, it keeps everything the same. Even my bags for each gun are set up similar.

Third, it’s very easy to load. I may have to run a spit patch down every ten or fifteen shots if the barrel starts getting a little fouled, but that’s no big thing to me.

Also, and I have no documentation for this, I think maybe rifles could have been loaded this way back in the 1800’s if someone didn’t have good patching material or had been used to shooting a musket with wads. But that’s just my unproven opinion.

I do keep some lubed patches in my shooting bag if I want to drive tacks.😉
 

hanshi

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I load smoothbores and rifles the same way too, but that's with a patched round ball in both. I've also loaded the smoothbore with wads from time to time and the results were far from shabby. For a smoothbore I don't use a tight patch like I load in my rifle but one around .012", My rifle patches are twice that at .024". I also have a rear sight on mine and just shoot it like rifle. 3-shot groups at 50 yards have been as small as 1.75" but all are usually under 3".
 

smoothshooter

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I load smooth bores and rifles the same way; powder, wad, bare round ball, wad. You can check out my threads “Wacky Shooting” and “Wool in Summer” to see how I did loading a Traditions Kentucky rifle this way. By loading the rifle this way, I can use .495, .490, .451 or .440 round balls in the rifle.

I started loading my rifles this way a few years ago for several reasons. First, I was already loading my smooth bores this way and thought, why not. Let’s just see if it will work. It does work for plinking out to about 50 yards. I haven‘t tried it farther than that.

Second, it keeps everything the same. Even my bags for each gun are set up similar.

Third, it’s very easy to load. I may have to run a spit patch down every ten or fifteen shots if the barrel starts getting a little fouled, but that’s no big thing to me.

Also, and I have no documentation for this, I think maybe rifles could have been loaded this way back in the 1800’s if someone didn’t have good patching material or had been used to shooting a musket with wads. But that’s just my unproven opinion.

I do keep some lubed patches in my shooting bag if I want to drive tacks.😉

It looks to me that loading a rifle with an unpatched ball you are going to get smoothbore accuracy.
Past 50 yards is where the real differences between rifles and smoothbores show up.
Offhand shooting does not really count. The human error factor is so large that it muddles up the comparison.
 
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In 1847 an HBC officer back in England wrote for men going to Canada to get a smooth bore, and described loading a patched ball in it. In this case he said putting ball in the fingers of worn out gloves. As one would most likely shoot faster then one would wear out gloves we can infer a patched ball.
He said at the time it would shoot as good as a rifle to sixty yards. And that was where most game was taken.
A five inch group may not sound like rifle shooting, but even if this was as tight as one could shoot a smoothie it’s ‘as good as a rifle’ as far as the target is concerned. We know patching was done on rifles in early seventeenth century before the first rifles were shot in America
By the Revolution some ‘rifles’ were smoothbore. These were made for people who shot patched ball, for people who shot patched ball.
All loading manuals report wads and none patch, but I’m hard pressed to think someone with a smooth rifle wasn’t loading it in rifle fasion
 

smoothshooter

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In 1847 an HBC officer back in England wrote for men going to Canada to get a smooth bore, and described loading a patched ball in it. In this case he said putting ball in the fingers of worn out gloves. As one would most likely shoot faster then one would wear out gloves we can infer a patched ball.
He said at the time it would shoot as good as a rifle to sixty yards. And that was where most game was taken.
A five inch group may not sound like rifle shooting, but even if this was as tight as one could shoot a smoothie it’s ‘as good as a rifle’ as far as the target is concerned. We know patching was done on rifles in early seventeenth century before the first rifles were shot in America
By the Revolution some ‘rifles’ were smoothbore. These were made for people who shot patched ball, for people who shot patched ball.
All loading manuals report wads and none patch, but I’m hard pressed to think someone with a smooth rifle wasn’t loading it in rifle fasion
 

smoothshooter

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Agree.
Also, with the HBC operating in cold temperatures so much of the year, the fact that loading a large caliber smoothbore would be much easier than a rifle using a patch with cold, freezing fingers would be important.
To my knowledge the Canadians of that era were not a” rifle culture “ like so many of the Americans were.
I say this knowing many Americans were HBC employees too.
Smoothbores can be effective whether useable patching material of correct thickness is available or not.
 
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I have been doing some research (as I only have experience and knowledge on military muskets), and was pregaming for when I order a TVM Fowler.

I am seeing that historically, fowlers weren’t really loaded with a patched ball. They used wads. I’m assuming this was to contain the powder and prevent build up residue in the bore. My question is, why weren’t wads used in rifles? Is it because patches were needed to engage rifling and there isn’t a point to double dip and use both? This sparked my curiosity because a gentleman with a 20 gauge Fowler (.615 gauge), used a wad and a .610 caliber ball and could load all day without cleaning.

As someone who’s never owned a rifled flintlock, I was under the impression you’d have to clean them quite a bit to continue to use the patched round ball. So why not just use the wad.
For myself and others top tradeguners that I know of we all use a patched round ball. As for cleaning between shots much depends on the humidity in your area the greater humidity the more you will have to run a cleaning patch. In my area of low humidity we can easily shoot 30 rounds without worrying about a cleaning patch. In a very high humidity you may have to clean every few shots. For your birds many use cards and a wad. Myself and many others have changed to these. Two over powder and one over shot.
Doc,
 
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For myself and others top tradeguners that I know of we all use a patched round ball. As for cleaning between shots much depends on the humidity in your area the greater humidity the more you will have to run a cleaning patch. In my area of low humidity we can easily shoot 30 rounds without worrying about a cleaning patch. In a very high humidity you may have to clean every few shots. For your birds many use cards and a wad. Myself and many others have changed to these. Two over powder and one over shot.
Doc,
 

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