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Percussion caps in period

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sussexmuzllodr

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To answer lets say....Carbon6...I would have to send a dispatched rider with my letter providing the details of my message thats if I was well off to have paper and a quill to begin with. If I went myself it probably would be several days before I met up with Carbon6 thats if my Enemies or illness didnt do me in....or Carbon6 for that matter. We in the modern day can only relate to those back then in a limted way. If you were to take a Person from back then and they saw what we have today they would fall over. We all love this Hobby and have this forum but realize that its mostly done through romantic ideas of the Past. Im 60 in our Modern era...go back 200 years and I would more than likely have been Dead years ago. Hey but we all like the Romantic link back to the Past through our Hobby. Carbon6 thanks for letting me use you in my Post.
 

sussexmuzllodr

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Im sure that those back then had calloused hands layers thick. Today a paper cut is troublesome....
 

CaptainKirk

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Well, yes. Flint is not everywhere. But to my original point; while flint doesn't appear naturally in all locales, caps don't occur naturally in any of them. A caplock without caps is a club with a handle.
 

TFoley

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I read that Lewis and Clark also carried an air rifle with them ? If this is an accurate statement they must have thought in advance about running out of caps and powder?
Yes, they certainly DID carry a Girardoni repeating air rifle with them - it was actually owned by Mr Beeman of Beeman air weapons for many years, but has now been graciously donated to the NRA Museum. See the Yotube movie about it. The L&C air rifle could shoot around twenty shots without the necessity for re-charging, and must have impressed the native population immensely, since they were unaware that there was just the one of them. Attacking the expedition with the possibility that they had one each was a great put-off.
 

Carbon 6

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Well, yes. Flint is not everywhere. But to my original point; while flint doesn't appear naturally in all locales, caps don't occur naturally in any of them.
You could say the same about firearms in general.
 
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Aside from the availability of caps or flints would be the subject of their frequency of use.

I read many years ago in a book about muzzleloading, which covered a lot of history as well, it was mentioned the average 'working' outdoorsman probably averaged maybe a shot a day.

This is probably pretty accurate as I am sure many days would pass without a shot being taken, and then maybe a few on another day.

I think this is something Hollywood portrays very inaccurately in movies - especially in muzzleloader era movies - given the numbers of shots that are often shown as being taken in certain scenes and how reloading is rarely ever shown completely and quite often depicted very incorrectly.
 

Old Hawkeye

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Well, yes. Flint is not everywhere. But to my original point; while flint doesn't appear naturally in all locales, caps don't occur naturally in any of them. A caplock without caps is a club with a handle.
What's a flintlock without a flint??? A club with a pan?
 

JBrandon

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If I was headed west back then I would make sure I was able to:
Work on my rifle and bring parts.
Be able to knap Flint for rifle, knives and arrowheads.know how to find same
Be able to make bow's and arrows and atlatl.
Know universal sign language.
You get the idea.
That all makes sense - but a bit too modern. No universal sign language was available. Nobody but a few locals in Mexico, the Arctic, S. Am. knew about atlatls. And I wouldn't recommend them as a survival tool anyway - take too much practice to be accurate. Bow is better, but if you want small game, learn snares or throw a rock or stick.
Flintknapping - ok. I can teach anyone to make sharp flakes that work as gunflints in an afternoon. Making an ugly but usable arrowhead takes a couple of sessions at least. Making better arrowheads takes longer.
 

RjSixgun

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Im sure caps were available anywhere powder was sold, any dry goods shop or general store at the time worth its salt would have caps, powder and lead.

Im also sure that any company that set up rendezvous would bring plenty of powder, caps, lead and flint.

not many people where shooting hundreds of rounds a day like some do today. Most firearms where just tools, and only shot when something needed to be shot. Most high value furs where trapped.
 

Billy Boy

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Lead probably would have been a bigger issue if one was shooting alot. It is heavier and with a plains rifle with a large bore would have much more weight. 1000 caps isn't much weight, but 1000 balls or the lead to cast them is.
Load ‘em such that they don’t shoot through, recover them from the animal and re-cast or chew them round, use again. Saved on freight costs...
 

Shotgunblast

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The Lewis and Clarke expedition solved the lead AND powder transport problem in the most clever manner. They had a large number of lead bottles cast, which they filled with powder. As and when they became empty, they were melted down into ball. If you get over to Fort Clatsop, up in the pointy bit of Clatsop County, Oregon, you can actually handle such an item, in replica form, of course. It was Messes Lewis and Clarke's over-winter quarters of 1805/6.
But the Lewis and Clarke Expedition were "mostly" outfitted with .467 cal Austrian air rifles with 5 round magazine.
 
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If you get over to Fort Clatsop, up in the pointy bit of Clatsop County, Oregon, you can actually handle such an item, in replica form, of course. It was Messes Lewis and Clarke's over-winter quarters of 1805/6.
Been there!
Interesting place!
 

Musketeer

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I bet there are less than a dozen people on this forum with the ability to knap their own flints. Most people wouldn't know a flint rock if they tripped over it. I bet most mountain men/ trappers and the like didn't possess the skill either.
I know I'm still struggling mightily to properly knap (have mostly tried to do arrowheads at this point). It's not too difficult, however, to get decent razor sharp flakes, even for the beginner, nor is it difficult to crudely shape them down to a size suitable for the jaws of a flintlock. Though a flat, unreinforced flake of whatever suitable stone you have in your area will absolutely not match the longevity of a properly made gun flint (a few shots vs. 40, 50, even 80 or more), it will keep you shooting in a pinch, and they're easy enough to make that you only need a couple of basic and compact tools (maybe a small bopper and some sort of pressure tool, which could be something as simple as a tine off a deer antler) and a rudimentary amount of skill. Also, a whole lot of them can be flaked from a fairly modest chunk of raw material.

You are absolutely correct that one needs to know which minerals are suitable for sparking on hardened steel, what they look like in their natural form, and where to look for them. That would indeed be the biggest stumbling block for many today, just as it probably was for people back in the day. Fortunately we have more resources available today for gaining such knowledge than ever, and I encourage anyone interested in flintlocks or just in primitive ways of doing things in general to look into the subject. Warning: It's really pretty fascinating and may lead you into interests you didn't have before, like Stone Age tools and weapons. Those prehistoric people were really quite sharp (pun intended). 😄

Now back to your regularly scheduled program: percussion caps. :p
 

Carbon 6

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I know I'm still struggling mightily to properly knap (have mostly tried to do arrowheads at this point). It's not too difficult, however, to get decent razor sharp flakes, even for the beginner, nor is it difficult to crudely shape them down to a size suitable for the jaws of a flintlock.
I can't help but think of all the people I have tried to teach how to use a flint and steel, I am always surprised how steep the learning curve is for them when it comes so naturally to me, and this doesn't even include flint sharpening, or basic geology. I still think the average person with a flintlock was just as screwed as a person with a percussion.
 

Carbon 6

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Warning: It's really pretty fascinating and may lead you into interests you didn't have before, like Stone Age tools and weapons. Those prehistoric people were really quite sharp (pun intended). 😄
I can say this much, since I started sourcing my own flints for strikers and locks, I haven't looked at the ground or any stone upon it the same way since.
 

smoothshooter

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If you think 1000 caps weigh 2 pounds, you need a new scale. Regardless, if the volume of the caps is "slightly" bigger than I estimated, 12 flints is not going to provide the same number of shots as 1000 caps, is it. The number of flints that will give 1000 sparks is much bigger in volume & weight than 1000 caps. Why would anybody with a brain shun the best technology available when the reliability of their ignition system could mean the difference between life & death? You flintlock guys are living in a dream world if you think the people back then would think carrying enough flints is better than carrying enough caps. What are you thinking? That you can't run out of flints? Will a dozen flints last you forever? BTW, seems to me that the volume of caps in a tin of 100 caps isn't much different in size than your average flint. You ever get 100 sparks from a flint?? 1000 caps is no where near the size of my fist even if I leave them in the tins. In fact, I can hold them in the palm of my hand! I know because I just did it. Can you get the amount of flints it takes to get 1000 sparks in the palm of your hand??? Just sayin'.
If your supply of caps gets wet, you are done.
If your supply of flints gets wet, it is a minor inconvenience.
 

Stantheman86

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This is like a similar topic about Percussion Revolvers being used well into the cartridge era.

Many people just kept using what they had and if you didn't rely on guns to live i.e. you were just an average Joe with a job or a sharecropper, you probably rarely if ever fired your guns. So a Flintlock fowling piece and maybe a surplused 1860 Army would work just fine if you had no life or death need to "upgrade".

I mean there's plenty of dudes with Felonies who make YouTube videos on using Flintlocks as "Apocalypse Weapons" so there's that I guess
 

tenngun

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‘Hars wet powder and no fire to dry it” I’ve spent eight weeks one year in Colorado/Utah/ Wyoming wilderness, and six weeks in Wyoming treking and was in spring so met with snow a few times and rain a bit. I had flint rifle and sawn off Brown Bess as a shot gun, but a CVA trapper pistol and I had a few boxes of caps. I had no trouble keeping powder caps or flints dry.
ive fallen in creeks more then once and my old style tinder boxes stayed dry .
 
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