New musket owner (flintlock): Question on loading/paper cartridge

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bwayne65

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So I finally ordered my first musket (and my first black powder firearm) and should be receiving it in about a week. It is a .62 cal English artillery carbine replica.

I was planning on making paper cartridges for it but I already ordered .60 cal balls for it. I'm now wondering if that may be too close a fit for all the paper wadding (I'm thinking I should have gone closer to .57) and if I should instead just use the paper cartridge to pre-measure the powder and load the ball on a greased patch?

Another thought I had, was to keep the ball in the cartridge but instead of putting the paper tubing in first, invert the cartridge, tear off most of the excess paper and load the ball end first (with maybe some olive oil or crisco on the paper surrounding the ball).

Also, since I do not have crisco at home, does olive oil work as a decent grease (or could I even just use undiluted Ballistol)?

Thoughts?
 

RAEDWALD

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Military paper cartridges were not greased. They dealt with fouling by a generous windage to accept the fouling build up. The paper will take up all the windage with a 0,600" ball in a 0,620" bore. Or at least soon will foul too much. The best way to use the 0,600" ball is a reasonably thick felt wad. Just pushed a bit into the muzzle. Then the ball. Then a fingerfull of aqueous cheap hand cream. Then a thin felt wad. The whole package can finally be run down the bore onto the powder. Repeat ad nauseam as the cream will keep the fouling away and the ball will be more accurate than a military paper cartridge.

n.b. other creams can be used. Some assert udder cream is best (contains lanolin and leaves you hands soft). Others water based, er, 'personal' lubricant as best. I use whatever is the cheapest hand cream in the supermarket. However, it is amusing, when there is a special offer on the 'personal' lubricants' to embarrass a spotty young assistant when an old codger comes along to pay for a pile of 10 tubes.
 

Grenadier1758

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Ordering ball before you have measured the bore is a risky procedure when you plan to make cartridges. The windage taken up by a paper cartridge depends a lot on the thickness of the paper, size of the bore and the diameter of the barrel. You should be able to use the 0.600 balls if you use a thin paper such as onion skin. Watch your fouling and be prepared to wipe the bore occasionally. @RAEDWALD has a good solution using a wad over the powder and using the cream to soften the powder. Typically I use a 0.715" ball wrapped in news print weight paper in my Long Land Pattern with a bore of 0.770". We use a pretty dirty powder, so even with all that windage, the bore will get quite fouled to the point that loading is difficult. On more than one occasion we needed to pound the ball to the breech as the wrapped ball got stuck in the fouling.

I would use a 0.580" ball in a light weigh paper from a brown paper sandwich bag. I have used computer paper, which is really too thick. I have used newsprint which is good and I have used the onion skin paper which is thin and strong enough for the cartridges. Olive oil is good for the wads. Save the Ballistol for the cleanup. If you use the wad method, I would load the wad, add the dab of lotion, then the ball and the final wad would get the edge wiped with cream. Too many steps for some. Using a 0.015" cloth patch lubricated with olive oil or a mix of 1 part Ballistol and 7 parts of water is an alternative that works for some.

At this point, you want to keep your loading method simple so you can concentrate on enjoying the shooting.

What are your plans for shooting your musket? Hunting? Targets? Reenacting? You have been on the Forum long enough to have learned what equipment you will be needing. Tell us more about your musket. Who is the supplier? I always emphasize that black powder is the only powder to use in a flint lock.
 

bwayne65

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Thanks everyone. Yes, I do want to start off simple so maybe I'll just use my .01 patches with olive oil and only use the paper cartridge to hold the pre-measured powder. When I use up the .60 balls then I'll go with .58.

After years of debating (and having bought another Garand and M1 carbine in the meantime...) I finally decided to get a black powder arm. Decided to go with Loyalist Arms and their 1756 artillery carbine replica. Was advertised as .65 cal but they said the latest batch are actually .62 cal. They suggested going with a .60 ball and the .01 patch. I'm sure that will be fine but I do want to use the paper cartridge/wad therefore will go .58 next time :) Btw, they were great to talk with on the phone -- they even called me long distance when I had questions.

I think I got the basic equipment: measuring flask, priming flask, new ramrod, jag, vent pick, and worm. I'm going to use GOEX FFg (70 grain?) and FFFF for priming.

My goal is just to do some basic plinking at the range for now.
 

bwayne65

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My other goal is try not to make a fool of myself at the range with my first muzzle loader...
 

cositrike

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So I finally ordered my first musket (and my first black powder firearm) and should be receiving it in about a week. It is a .62 cal English artillery carbine replica.

I was planning on making paper cartridges for it but I already ordered .60 cal balls for it. I'm now wondering if that may be too close a fit for all the paper wadding (I'm thinking I should have gone closer to .57) and if I should instead just use the paper cartridge to pre-measure the powder and load the ball on a greased patch?

Another thought I had, was to keep the ball in the cartridge but instead of putting the paper tubing in first, invert the cartridge, tear off most of the excess paper and load the ball end first (with maybe some olive oil or crisco on the paper surrounding the ball).

Also, since I do not have crisco at home, does olive oil work as a decent grease (or could I even just use undiluted Ballistol)?

Thoughts?
I see that this is one of the Indian replicas. Just because the vendors tell you it’s 0.62, doesn’t mean it is. The first thing to do when you get it , is to actually measure the bore, then work out what ball size you need
 

Loyalist Dave

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My other goal is try not to make a fool of myself at the range with my first muzzle loader...
You will be fine.

OK FIRST, the key to a proper paper cartridge in you Artillery/Sergeant's Carbine, is the Former, combined with the type of paper that you use.
Here is a chart showing how to make live musket rounds.

ROLLING CARTRIDGE 1.JPG

Here is how to make blanks and not use ties nor glue. Pay no attention to the dimensions as they are for Civil War blanks. The process though is the same.
Making Blank Paper Cartridges

So you want to start with a 5/8" dowel about 6" long. Now some folks like newsprint, and some like "book paper", and some like heavy linen bond...,
I like to use "book paper" for live musket ball, and newsprint for birdshot. I go to the library or the supermarket/Dollar store and find a hardback book on sale for around one dollar, and use the pages to make cartridges.

So first take the bare former and see if it will fit inside your barrel at the muzzle. You need to only insert about an inch of the former into the muzzle. It probably won't fit or is very snug. So you know if you wrapped paper around it to form a tube, that tube would not fit. So you sand down the dowel until it fits without any pressure to force it into the muzzle.

Next...,
You take a piece of whatever paper you're trying, and cut it to the proper shape. Then roll it around the dowel. You have to adjust the dimensions of the cut paper to give you two layers (two revolutions of the paper going around the dowel) at the bottom end of the cartridge. THEN you take the paper still wrapped around the Former, and insert the paper wrapped former into the barrel of your musket at the muzzle just as you did with the bare former. It probably won't fit. So more sanding until the dowel with the paper wrapped around it will fit into the muzzle . It should fit without having to force it.

Now you have a Former that is fitted to use that type of paper to make a cartridge tube for your musket.

Next...,
You close off the bottom end of the tube, and put a musket ball in, with the sprue facing the open end of the cartridge. Does it fit? Do you need to push it down the tube, while it flexes the paper outwards? Does it "just fit", or does it drop in easily and sort of have space around it?

You want the paper tube on the inside to just hold the ball, not needing pressure to put the ball into the cartridge (that means it will be too big for the bore) or too small that there is visible space left around the ball (that will reduce the accuracy).

Next...,
Once the ball is correct, you recheck the fit in the bore using a cartridge tube with a ball within it. It should fit just as before.

IF it doesn't fit, if it's too tight, you either a) try thinner paper, or b) try a smaller ball.

IF the next size down on ball (I have a custom .590 mold) is too loose, you sand down the Former until the cartridge hold the ball without any gaps between the walls of the tube and the ball. This will likely give you a cartridge that is too small for the bore when checking the ball/cartridge fit at the muzzle, SO... you try a larger piece of paper and three layers at the bottom end, OR you try thicker paper.

Eventually you will find the right dimensions for your paper with your ball and the right thickness of paper when wrapped to give you a good fit to your bore.

LD
 

cositrike

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Thanks everyone. Yes, I do want to start off simple so maybe I'll just use my .01 patches with olive oil and only use the paper cartridge to hold the pre-measured powder. When I use up the .60 balls then I'll go with .58.

After years of debating (and having bought another Garand and M1 carbine in the meantime...) I finally decided to get a black powder arm. Decided to go with Loyalist Arms and their 1756 artillery carbine replica. Was advertised as .65 cal but they said the latest batch are actually .62 cal. They suggested going with a .60 ball and the .01 patch. I'm sure that will be fine but I do want to use the paper cartridge/wad therefore will go .58 next time :) Btw, they were great to talk with on the phone -- they even called me long distance when I had questions.

I think I got the basic equipment: measuring flask, priming flask, new ramrod, jag, vent pick, and worm. I'm going to use GOEX FFg (70 grain?) and FFFF for priming.

My goal is just to do some basic plinking at the range for now.
Do not load directly from the flask into the barrel, if using patched ball. Pour from flask to a separate powder measure, then into the barrel from the measure
 

Grenadier1758

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My former has a concave end with a sprue sized dimple. After wrapping the tube, I pull the paper back to expose the concave end and Insert the ball with the sprue in the dimple. Then I pull the tube over the ball to tie the end closed. Then I tie the ball in place. After that I use the same method as Dave does. I found it very difficult to orient the sprue If I were trying to drop the ball down the entire length of the tube. While the lubrication step is not needed, I have melted in a double boiler one part of bee's wax to 7 parts of olive oil to dip the wrapped ball before I load the powder. This will hold the ball in place, but fouling does build up quickly. Great for hunting though. The extra wax and oil mix can be poured into a Sucrets or Altoid tin to carry later. That mix is good for all sorts of needs such as chapped lips, hand lotion, general lubrication... If you don't lubricate the ball with bee's wax and olive oil, you can leave the ball unlubricated. I then will have a small dish of 1 part Ballistol to 7 parts of water to dip the wrapped ball in prior to loading. The damp paper keeps the fouling soft and you get far more shots before needing to wipe the bore.

For live fire, I do not follow the 18th century practice of priming from the cartridge. I have a separate priming horn. First, I tear off the paper end to expose the powder and pour the powder down the barrel. I turn the cartridge over and insert the ball into the barrel and tear of the paper at the ball. Or with the powder poured the entire cartridge is rammed to the breech with the excess paper acting as an over powder wad. Prime and fire.

I have one of the Loyalist Arms Artillery carbines. Do measure the bore. You will be much happier and enjoy the sport more if you know the exact dimensions of your musket. Mine is 62 caliber. A 0.595 ball will work with thin paper such as newsprint. Mine is an excellent sparker. Since I reenact as a private in the Grenadier company, I use the Long Land Pattern King's Musket, (First Model Brown Bess). The Artillery Carbine handles much easier than the several pounds heavier Long Land Pattern. I got demoted (amicably) as sergeant so I don't use the artillery carbine as much as I would like. More's the pity.

I fully expect that you will enjoy your new musket. Hope to hear your experiences when you first go out to shoot it.
 

Jay Templin

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5/8" brass tubing rolls a cartridge the perfect size for a .600 ball or a blank for guns between .60 and .80 caliber. I have rolled (quite literally) close to 200,000 of these in my 30 years of demonstrating 17th and 18th century small arms professionally and reenacting on the side. I use a paper cutter these days, but over the years have cut most of my papers just with a knife. Cut a regular sheet of paper in half, so you get two sheets 5.5"x8.5", and each of those yields two cartridges. I roll tubes to keep my hands busy when I'm watching tv or talking to visitors, and store boxes until they're needed.
Jay
 

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tenngun

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I have a .62 Centermark. I have never miced a bore.
I start with the manufacturer recommended and move up or down from there.
Centermark recommended patch and a .595 ball. I found a .600 worked best for me.
Right off the bat I tried a cartridge with that .595. It didn’t work. The thickness of the paper wrap made it too tight. To use a cartridge I had to drop to a .570.
Cartridges can give you accuracy enough to put a white tail on the ground at fifty yards. But it may not turn out a group your happy with.
A cartridge was made for war. In war a wound is as good as a kill. For fun it can be a lot of fun, as you can shoot pretty fast. But you have to accept bigger groups then your gun will be able to get.
 

Canute Rex

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I have had some success with conical paper cartridges. I made a wooden conical form, kind of a blunt ended ice cream cone. I experimented with paper to get a proper shape cut out so that I wouldn't have to trim the paper after rolling. Using stick glue I rolled a bunch of little ice cream cones out of printer paper. You'll have to measure bore and ball to get the right thickness of paper and number of wraps. The cones are about 1/4" at the small end, 1" at the big end, and 3" long.

Once you have a bunch of cones you pour in your powder, drop a ball in, use a pointy object to align the sprue up, and pinch and fold the large end of the cone over the ball.

I heated up a mix of olive oil and beeswax (semi-soft paste at room temperature) and dipped the big end of each cartridge in it.

To use them you tear the pointy end and invert the cartridge into the barrel point down. The powder drains out as you reach for your ramrod. Ram down and the excess paper crumples into a wad. I have wondered whether I could dispense with the tearing and just crush the cartridge but I haven't tried that. Prime from a flask and fire.

I make the paper/ball combo just tight enough that it takes a firm push of the thumb to get it seated in the muzzle. The beeswax/oil mix tends to keep things rammable, but gets all over your fingers after a few shots.

I have used this with a smoothbore Indian copy of a .62 Baker rifle and it does well.
 

bwayne65

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Great advice folks. Appreciated. Tenngun, your experience is kinda what I'm suspecting i.e. the .60 ball will probably work with a greased patch but may be a problem with the paper cartridge (as most folks recommended, I will actually measure the bore). I was planning on using packing paper for the cartridge. Luckily I just bought a small number of balls so I will have a better idea by the time I order the next batch (or get a mold). Even if I use a greased patch for these initial balls, I will use a paper cartridge (minus ball) just have have the powder pre-measured for the range. I have a separate priming flask for my 4F powder.

Grenadier, nice to know you have had a good experience with the Loyalist Arms Artillery carbine. Looks nice per their web site and Loyalist Arms have been great to work with. As mentioned the carbines are advertised as .65 cal but they said the latest batch are actually measuring as .62 - I will double check.
 

Grenadier1758

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Here you can see differences between the Long Land Pattern Musket and the Artillery Musket.

1589832326953.png

The Artillery Musket is 8 pounds and the Long Land Musket is about 10. I wish the Artillery Musket would have been the proper 16 gauge.

1589832619844.png
 

bwayne65

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Yeah I was a bit surprised to find out not .65 cal. That being said I'm assuming .62, being more common, has it's own benefits.

Nice looking muskets --- hope mine turns out as nice.
 

FlinterNick

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In original practice, paper cartridges were not greased. In the field a musket was thought to be good for at least 5-7 shots until it was fouled out and there was no windage room for the udersized ball.

However, this doesn’t mean that you cant or shouldn’t grease your paper cartridges.

I grease the ball end of my paper cartridges with a mixture of beeswax, walnut oil and some pine Rosen, basically homemade chapstick. Walnut oil will harden over time, much like that of linseed oil, but not nearly as sticky. The mixture lubricates my shots, works great even in a dirty bore.

I also use cooking parchment to make the tubes, cooking parchment doesnt stick or burn.

I do this with my smoothbores, I also use the mixture for my rifled shots Too.
 

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