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Never owned a gun, but smitten by flintlocks, not sure what to do

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Regarding mentors, it sounds like a very good idea to find someone, although with this present covid stuff it might be harder, and this is emberassing but i have very bad social skills, so its a bit of a scary thought to be with a stranger in such a way, I've had a very oversheltered childhood its very difficult for me to talk to strangers. Its a bit scary to even reply on this forum 😂
Just as it will take you time to master muzzle-loading marksmanship, you might also become a more social creature through this shared hobby/craft.

See kill two birds with one stone
 

flntlokr

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Check around your locale and find the local black powder clubs. (there will be at least one), contact them to find out when/where they meet and shoot, and state your interest. I have no doubt they will be happy to welcome you into the sport, and if you show up at a practise session, and are interested, they will no doubt explain the basics and put a gun into your hands and let you experience your first shot. It's like crack; one shot and your are hooked, and your journey will begin. Good luck! 'See ya' on the trail, Pilgrim.'
 

FishDFly

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So some background:

USA, 27, male

I've never owned a gun. I only shot a bb gun in cub scouts when very young. I love history. Father owns quite a few guns but never shoots them. I understand some might see my history and personality as a "city slicker", but I grew up and live in an area which is bordering farms, woods, yet close to town with housing projects advancing quickly. I sadly in youth spent little time outdoors.

One friend just bought a modern rifle and another acquaintance hunts often with modern rifle. Seeing them having fun, I started looking into guns, because I have little for hobbies. But modern guns like theirs I just don't find interesting.

I've seen videos of long rifles, I know the history and admire the mythology. I am just smitten by them and feel I would love to own one, historically correct.

Problem is, I know nothing about actually using guns, how to aquire them, or anything. I like the idea of hunting with one, even if never succeeded, but I also know nothing about hunting.

So my question is. If I have $1300 available to spend, with no experience with guns (but a willingness to learn) is it unwise to go into the flintlock route as a first gun?

Any thoughts or replies will be appreciated

Books to read:

It has been mentioned to read and read, but what to read?

The Muzzle Loading Cap Lock Rifle by Ned H. Roberts

The Muzzle Loading Rifle Then and Now by Walter M Cline

Flintlocks A Practical Guide For Their Us and Appreciation by Eric A. Bye.

Last 2 are available from the NM:RA
 

Spikebuck

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Javier,

Welcome. You have been given a lot of advice to sort through. Take it one step at a time. I know you said you have some social anxiety, but going to a club meet or getting one-on-one with someone knowledgeable who can let you handle and shoot a few different types of guns (cap and flint) would be a huge first step in the right direction. While hunter safety courses are a good thing, I'm not sure that would be the first thing I'd jump on, or doing a build or studying that kind of material.

If you like videos, there are lots on You Tube, just be careful since being on You Tube doesn't make one an expert! ;)

Brian Beckum has three videos for purchase that I would recommend based on the interests you stated. His videos are mostly centered around flintlock hunting, but he gives a lot of good information on care of these guns, loading, shooting and hunting/scouting too! They are informational and fun to watch. I have all of his videos, but I'd most recommend Real Blackpowder and Flintlocks & Whitetails Vols 1 & 2. You'll get to see him and others taking whitetails, scouting, setting up blinds on the ground, hunting from treestands, following blood trails and what they look like and even some cooking of game. I like his squirrel and turkey videos as well, but the three I mentioned are a very good starting point.


Here's the link to their YouTube channel. His brother Thad also has videos, but he's about primitive bows and skills....if we have a major disaster, I want to live next to Thad!


Here's a quick view of Real Blackpowder:


I'm in SE Minnesota about 90 miles from the Twin Cities, so feel free to PM me anytime.
 

tnlonghunter

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Our very own @Bob McBride has a first class YouTube channel, Black Powder TV. This series here is specifically for new shooters. I'm not sure if it is new to black powder only, or new to shooting altogether. Either way, lots of good info in easily digestible segments.

 
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As regards the idea of 'starting out' with a cap lock, I am of two minds: one side says that cap locks are simpler and this would be a good idea, but then again, you're going to drop a pretty good chunk of change on something that you don't really want: you want a flinter, right? So buy a good (not necessarily expensive) one and then figure out how to make go bang on a reliable basis . I.E. a Thompson Center (i started with one of these) or a Lyman, or, if you have the money, a Kibler.
This is a terrific post for the OP. If flintlocks fascinate you, don't expend money, time and effort on a caplock. Everything in this post is a great summary of most everything you need to know

Only one small nit to pick: You don't have to blue or brown your barrel. Original guns also came "in the white" and were used like that for decades.

This brings up an interesting facet of the muzzleloading hobby: You'll find two basic kinds of historically correct (HC) people: Those who enjoy guns perfectly finished as if they were new built back in 1791 or whenever and those who want a gun that looks old and original.

You'll also find that basic standards of fit and finish are more exacting today, than they were back in the day. I'm one of those odd ducks who likes a Contemporary Long Rifle that is closer to a typical build than a showpiece, and shows years of hard use.

You'll know pretty fast which kind of long rifle fan you are.

1606744484989.png


1606744659414.png


That's my first build, from a Jack Garner "kit", and since it was my first time doing a long rifle build, I chose his "Po Boy" and just repaired the mistakes I made as I made them. I left all the metal in the white, and it is picking up some nice patina. It's a 42 inch straight 13/16 barrel in .40 and it shoots better than I can. Learning to shoot a flinter is a hoot, and requires patience.
 

Daryl Crawford

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Well @Java this post should give you an idea of the kind of folks you'll encounter in the Blackpowder world. We're all eager to help the next guy get addicted. We can come off as strongly opinionated, even be jerks about particular topics or issues related to BP guns or hunting. For many on the forum it is a consuming passion.
You'll figure out what it is for you. It may be a historical connection, it may just be a way of extending a hunting season, it may even become a consuming hobby. What it shouldn't be is fast. Have patience with yourself as you learn, with others as they may try to teach or show you things, and in buying rifles and kit.
For me, I'm not all about the historical reenacting or exact historical correctness. I like to hunt with flintlocks and I enjoy shooting them. The routine of loading, messing with the load, and the added consentration needed are what grab me. You find what you like in it...and take your time.
I'm glad you found your way here.
 
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And may I add, flintlocks are incredibly aesthetic. They are, in my opinion, the "Nihonto" of America, and the Longhunters were America's Samurai.

They are simultaneously weapons and art, and are inherently more difficult and satisfying to use than other, more modern arms. Their long slender shape, beautifully figured wood, and artistically carved designs and engraved and often elaborate brass work.

The kind of discipline necessary to develop to shoot well with them is hard, which is part of the allure. It's like dating a supermodel or driving a vintage race car; it's not easy, but would you really want it to be?

Flintlocks are good for developing humility as well as justified pride. You WILL screw it up, whether it is in building, or in shooting. And if you have sand, you'll fix the screw ups, and drive on to finish it and learn how to shoot it.

You can't buy that sense of satisfaction and joy. And the amount of money you can spend building and shooting a truly excellent artifact is actually relatively minor compared to any other hobby that brings the same rewards.

Anyway. Excuse my sentimental drivel.
 

JCKelly

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So some background:

USA, 27, male

I've never owned a gun. I only shot a bb gun in cub scouts when very young. I love history. Father owns quite a few guns but never shoots them. I understand some might see my history and personality as a "city slicker", but I grew up and live in an area which is bordering farms, woods, yet close to town with housing projects advancing quickly. I sadly in youth spent little time outdoors.

One friend just bought a modern rifle and another acquaintance hunts often with modern rifle. Seeing them having fun, I started looking into guns, because I have little for hobbies. But modern guns like theirs I just don't find interesting.

I've seen videos of long rifles, I know the history and admire the mythology. I am just smitten by them and feel I would love to own one, historically correct.

Problem is, I know nothing about actually using guns, how to aquire them, or anything. I like the idea of hunting with one, even if never succeeded, but I also know nothing about hunting.

So my question is. If I have $1300 available to spend, with no experience with guns (but a willingness to learn) is it unwise to go into the flintlock route as a first gun?

Any thoughts or replies will be appreciated
I started with Grampa's single barrel percussion shotgun. Later got a flint rifle and came to prefer flintlocks over percussion. Best sparking commercial guns with reasonable barrel steel are Caywood's smoothbores. Pedersoli are strong, professionally made firearms, some of their flintlocks may require a learning period for reliable ignition. Load the ball tight against the powder charge. A gap betwixt powder & ball can be deadly.
 

FishDFly

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"A gap betwixt powder & ball can be deadly."

Not true.

The Bevel Bros. dispelled that rumor in a recent article in Muzzle Blasts with their testing.
 

JCKelly

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Benjamin Robbins first wrote about Brown Bess muskets bursting this way. One of the 1760 issues of Proceedings of the Royal Society.

It is not a rumor, it is fairly deadly truth. Someone ought sue the NMLRA for publishing such a seriously dangerous piece. Really!

I no longer get MB, but could not imagine them being so idiotic. This is a serious matter.
 
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There's a reason black powder is used in pressure cookers to make IEDs in Southeastern Europe.

Black powder has a nice even flame front when the load is seated firmly.

Once you introduce air space, it's Katy Bar the Door, flame front-wise.
 

JCKelly

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Air space blows up modern rifles and cannon - howitzers, for example - as well. Some problem in mountainous Korea, high angle fire w relatively little propellent.
Here are a couple of older quotes for yor digestion:

Air Gaps

An air gap between powder and ball can spell trouble. This is widely believed and very wisely accepted as fact. Ezekiel Baker’s remarks on this subject still bear repeating: “Every rifleman should mark his rammer at the muzzle end of the barrel, when loaded, which will shew him when the ball is close down on the powder. After firing a few rounds, the filth from the powder will clog at the bottom of the barrel, and prevent the ball from going close on the powder; in this case, a little pressing with the rammer will be required to get the ball into its right place. More accidents happen from a neglect of this precaution than can be imagined: if the ball is not rammed close on the powder, the intervening air will frequently cause the barrel to burst; not, I confess, that there is so much danger with rifle barrels as with fowling pieces, the former being made much stronger . . . “

Ned H. Roberts also cautions “. . . if the rifle be fired with the ball partly down, you will soil the barrel by enlarging the bore, or making a “ring” in it, at the point of the obstruction.”

The best modern published work is that of Carl Wood, who showed that a 1/4” air gap could double the Breech pressure in a .40 caliber. Seating a .40 cal. ball just 1/4” ahead of 50 gr. FFFg resulted in 43,150 psi at the breech. Comparable to smokeless pressures in a .44 magnum.

This pressure was measured at the breech. However, when a barrel is ringed or burst by an air gap, that damage is said to occur at or just behind the ball. This means that the highest gas pressure is just at or behind the ball, and not at the breech. An air gap between powder and ball is clearly dangerous. And this pressure will be higher than whatever is measured at the breech.

Frank C. Barnes9 covers the air gap problem briefly. When discussing loads for the .45-70, he warns “. . . don’t use cardboard wads seated on top of the powder with a large air space between the wad and the base of the bullet. This practice has been known to bulge or ring the barrel in the forward area of the chamber.”

Why does this happen? One description given by Weldon H. Clark, Jr.,10 whose Master’s thesis was on wave mechanics, goes as follows: “If there is a column of air between powder and ball, the following series of events are very likely. The powder charge is ignited. The burning powder causes a pressure wave to travel down the barrel at a very high speed. When the pressure wave meets the ball, the ball acts as a solid wall (in wave mechanics, materials which are much denser than the gas are seen as a solid wall). At this instant, a reflected wave travels in the opposite direction back toward the powder charge. At the rear of the ball, the pressure becomes the sum of both waves. At a solid ball, the reflected wave is of equal strength as the incident wave, therefore, the pressure right behind the ball is double the pressure generated by the powder charge.”

A similar phenomenon occurs every once in a while during explosive cladding of nickel alloy plate onto carbon steel plate. Two plates are laid down on hard, solid ground, one on top of the othr. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (high explosive) is poured onto the top plate. A wooden framework around the plates keeps the explosive from spilling over the edges. The explosive is detonated from one end. As the shock wave travels along, it literally welds the two plates together by intense pressure. Once in a great while a shock wave travels to the end and REFLECTS OFF THAT WOODEN FRAME. It then travels back toward its start and meets a second shock wave. The pressure at that point is twice normal and that is indeed the end of those plates.

Explosives do not always behave the way they are supposed to.

A problem with trying to measure the effect of an air gap is that the area where the pressure is doubled is “right behind the ball,” and not necessarily at the breech where pressures are measured. Further, there is no guarantee that this pressure doubling will occur each and every time an air gap is present.

When such pressure doubling occurs, the result may be a ringed bore or burst barrel.

I have seen more than one such burst barrel and heard of the permanent effects on the shooter. The
first was a pile of steel pieces, many smeared with a reddish-brown substance. Still gives me bad feelings to recall.
















first was a pile of pieces, many smeared with a reddish-brown substance. Still gives me bad feelings to recall.
 
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Air space blows up modern rifles and cannon - howitzers, for example - as well. Some problem in mountainous Korea, high angle fire w relatively little propellent.
Here are a couple of older quotes for yor digestion:

Air Gaps

An air gap between powder and ball can spell trouble. This is widely believed and very wisely accepted as fact. Ezekiel Baker’s remarks on this subject still bear repeating: “Every rifleman should mark his rammer at the muzzle end of the barrel, when loaded, which will shew him when the ball is close down on the powder. After firing a few rounds, the filth from the powder will clog at the bottom of the barrel, and prevent the ball from going close on the powder; in this case, a little pressing with the rammer will be required to get the ball into its right place. More accidents happen from a neglect of this precaution than can be imagined: if the ball is not rammed close on the powder, the intervening air will frequently cause the barrel to burst; not, I confess, that there is so much danger with rifle barrels as with fowling pieces, the former being made much stronger . . . “

Ned H. Roberts also cautions “. . . if the rifle be fired with the ball partly down, you will soil the barrel by enlarging the bore, or making a “ring” in it, at the point of the obstruction.”

The best modern published work is that of Carl Wood, who showed that a 1/4” air gap could double the Breech pressure in a .40 caliber. Seating a .40 cal. ball just 1/4” ahead of 50 gr. FFFg resulted in 43,150 psi at the breech. Comparable to smokeless pressures in a .44 magnum.

This pressure was measured at the breech. However, when a barrel is ringed or burst by an air gap, that damage is said to occur at or just behind the ball. This means that the highest gas pressure is just at or behind the ball, and not at the breech. An air gap between powder and ball is clearly dangerous. And this pressure will be higher than whatever is measured at the breech.

Frank C. Barnes9 covers the air gap problem briefly. When discussing loads for the .45-70, he warns “. . . don’t use cardboard wads seated on top of the powder with a large air space between the wad and the base of the bullet. This practice has been known to bulge or ring the barrel in the forward area of the chamber.”

Why does this happen? One description given by Weldon H. Clark, Jr.,10 whose Master’s thesis was on wave mechanics, goes as follows: “If there is a column of air between powder and ball, the following series of events are very likely. The powder charge is ignited. The burning powder causes a pressure wave to travel down the barrel at a very high speed. When the pressure wave meets the ball, the ball acts as a solid wall (in wave mechanics, materials which are much denser than the gas are seen as a solid wall). At this instant, a reflected wave travels in the opposite direction back toward the powder charge. At the rear of the ball, the pressure becomes the sum of both waves. At a solid ball, the reflected wave is of equal strength as the incident wave, therefore, the pressure right behind the ball is double the pressure generated by the powder charge.”

A similar phenomenon occurs every once in a while during explosive cladding of nickel alloy plate onto carbon steel plate. Two plates are laid down on hard, solid ground, one on top of the othr. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (high explosive) is poured onto the top plate. A wooden framework around the plates keeps the explosive from spilling over the edges. The explosive is detonated from one end. As the shock wave travels along, it literally welds the two plates together by intense pressure. Once in a great while a shock wave travels to the end and REFLECTS OFF THAT WOODEN FRAME. It then travels back toward its start and meets a second shock wave. The pressure at that point is twice normal and that is indeed the end of those plates.

Explosives do not always behave the way they are supposed to.

A problem with trying to measure the effect of an air gap is that the area where the pressure is doubled is “right behind the ball,” and not necessarily at the breech where pressures are measured. Further, there is no guarantee that this pressure doubling will occur each and every time an air gap is present.

When such pressure doubling occurs, the result may be a ringed bore or burst barrel.

I have seen more than one such burst barrel and heard of the permanent effects on the shooter. The
first was a pile of steel pieces, many smeared with a reddish-brown substance. Still gives me bad feelings to recall.

first was a pile of pieces, many smeared with a reddish-brown substance. Still gives me bad feelings to recall.
A chemist I know told me a slightly different explanation.

He stated that when black powder has an air gap, the nice even slow moving flame front expands the entire charge of powder, which then creates multiple flame fronts, which, instead of consuming the powder at a predictable rate, result in a nearly instantaneous explosion.

Either way, black powder is no bueno when air gaps are involved.
 

FishDFly

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"Benjamin Robbins first wrote about Brown Bess muskets bursting this way. One of the 1760 issues of Proceedings of the Royal Society."

Would think metallurgy has improved in the last 260 years.


Read their article and testing.
 

JCKelly

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Metallurgy mostly improved. Don't bet on exactly which "improvement" is in your muzzle loader barrel.
These are real guns, not home-made toys. A reasonably safe firearm must be designed and built by professionals.

More than just firearms blow up from air gaps, and definitely not from black powder mostly over the last century or so.
Why does this happen? One description given by Weldon H. Clark, Jr.,10 whose Master’s thesis was on wave mechanics, goes as follows: “If there is a column of air between powder and ball, the following series of events are very likely. The powder charge is ignited. The burning powder causes a pressure wave to travel down the barrel at a very high speed. When the pressure wave meets the ball, the ball acts as a solid wall (in wave mechanics, materials which are much denser than the gas are seen as a solid wall). At this instant, a reflected wave travels in the opposite direction back toward the powder charge. At the rear of the ball, the pressure becomes the sum of both waves. At a solid ball, the reflected wave is of equal strength as the incident wave, therefore, the pressure right behind the ball is double the pressure generated by the powder charge.”

A similar phenomenon occurs every once in a while during explosive cladding of nickel alloy plate onto carbon steel plate. Two plates are laid down on hard, solid ground, one on top of the other.. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (high explosive) is poured onto the top plate. A wooden framework around the plates keeps the explosive from spilling over the edges. The explosive is detonated from one end. As the shock wave travels along, it literally welds the two plates together by intense pressure. Once in a great while a shock wave travels to the end and REFLECTS OFF THAT WOODEN FRAME. It then travels back toward its start and meets a second shock wave. The pressure at that point is twice normal and that is indeed the end of those plates (I dealt with such plates in my ~3 decades as metallugist for specialty metal supplier).

Explosives do not always behave the way they are supposed to.

A problem with trying to measure the effect of an air gap is that the area where the pressure is doubled is “right behind the ball,” and not necessarily at the breech where pressures are measured. Further, there is no guarantee that this pressure doubling will occur each and every time an air gap is present.

When such pressure doubling occurs, the result may be a ringed bore or burst barrel.
 

Zonie

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I've read about the dangers of having an air gap between the powder and the ball or bullet all my life but I have doubts about it.

Talking about something we aren't supposed to talk about, I know of several powder loads used in modern cartridges that just barely cover the bottom of the cartridge case and they work fine. (Check out target loads for .38 Spl and .357 Mag with Bullseye powder).
I've also read the Bevel Brothers article in Muzzle Blasts where they tried everything from normal to huge powder loads with the ball seated inches to feet away from the powder and they found absolutely no swelling or bulging of the rather thin barrel they were testing.
The only way they were able to get the barrel to bulge was to load the powder and ball in the recommended manner and then load another ball a few inches down the barrel from the muzzle. When they did that, yes, they not only got some bulges in the area of the short started ball.

That short started ball loaded over a properly loaded ball and powder load simulates the often heard of barrel damage on all guns when they are fired after sticking the muzzle into mud or a snow drift.
 
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