Priming Your Rifle

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starman

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I read an article on flintriflesmith.com that said historical evidence shows priming horns were not used until the mid to late 19th century. What do you use for priming your rifle?
 

starman

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Do you measure the powder or just use what looks right?
 

Art Caputo

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I either use a small brass charger, or antler tip charger with 4F, or charge directly from the powder horn when the main charge is 3F.

I haven’t read that article you speak of but this one cited on another forum a couple of years ago claimed mid 18th century,

From: Small Arms of the British Forces in America, 1664-1815, by Dr. De Witt Bailey

Chapter 18, Pages 260 – 261

One of the earliest specific references to a “priming horn” occurs in the description written by George Scott, the ranger captain, concerning a unit which he wished to raise, cloth and arm according to his ideas. It is more intriguing because we do not know whether he was ever able to fully achieve his outfitting goals, thanks to the logistic limitations in America, although he certainly continued to lead ranger units. In writing to Lord Loudoun in 1758, Scott describes the priming horn:

[Captain Scott wrote the following:]

“The priming-horn is intended to be filled with Pistol Powder, and the Ranger always to prime from it in time of action, by which method he will not be near so subject to burn priming or miss fire as He would by priming from a Cartridge, as the grain of the powder will be small and a very great fault which Men are subject to in time of action will be prevented, Vizt. That of spilling one half of their Cartridge of powder and sometimes more in priming and shutting their Pans, and when they have loaded and discharg’d their Pieces after the common method, it often happens that the Ball is not sent with half the force it is intended or anything near the distance it ought to go, which mistake will (I imagine) be avoided by the handiness of the Priming-horn, as the Men will have nothing more to do with the Cartridge than bite off the top, put it in the barrel at once and ram it down, and if the Cartridge is fill’d with Cannon powder it will have just the same effect I conceive as if fill’d with Pistol powder which will get into the touch-hole and catch fire as quick as can be wished…..” 21
 

Grenadier1758

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I fill the pan about half way and all across the bottom of the pan.

I don't measure the powder.

Now when I wear the red uniform, I prime the blank loads from the cartridge. I do have a small horn with the same powder I use in the main charge for the times I am loading a ball. So I do have a priming horn then. There is no measuring. Sometimes I think I overfill the pan, but old Bessie doesn't care.
 

tenngun

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I prime from my regular horn.
Matchlock military arms had a pre loaded tube charge and ball in tge wooden tube oft called an apostle, since twelve was often carried and apostle means to send forth.
Matchlocks had a flask to prime with. And finer ground powder was normal.
With the coming of flintlocks this fell in to disuse.
It did not disappear compleatly but as far as we can tell from writings and paintings it would have been very rare.
Now I do have some fake powder and will shoot it by putting a kicker charge of black down and then prime from a flask or priming horn
Most folks can’t tell three f in a prime and four f, and two is still very quick.
I just tap a finger on the horn till I dump in what looks like enough or not to much.
 
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appalichian hunter

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4-5 gr. plunger type from a elk tine or on occasions a small flat priming horn, then I kind of eye ball it I shoot mostly siler locks and one durs egg it does not take much 4 f to get the satisfactory results. All the locks are very fast and never had a problem.
 

starman

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Interesting quote that leaves no doubt priming horns were used in the mid 18th century. I did go back and check to be sure that I reported correctly what the article I read stated, and it did say mid to late 19th century. When I was in graduate school, I remember a professor saying that enough research on any subject will prove your point. This is certainly a case in point.
 

Art Caputo

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I use 3 gr in my Silers and 4gr in my Queen Anne locks, measured using plunger spouts. Always a bit below the flash hole, pan about 1/2 full.
 

Brokennock

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Interesting quote that leaves no doubt priming horns were used in the mid 18th century. I did go back and check to be sure that I reported correctly what the article I read stated, and it did say mid to late 19th century. When I was in graduate school, I remember a professor saying that enough research on any subject will prove your point. This is certainly a case in point.
It doesn't say they were used in any quantity of instances, only that their use was suggested.
Also, as mentioned in another topic thread about the use of "priming" horns by military loading from cartridges, there is no indication that these horns were the tiny "primers" we see today to supplement a main horn. They would have been the only horn.
It is an interesting quote, but doesn't seem evidence for use of a main horn and a smaller "priming" horn.
 

Brokennock

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I generally prime from my main horn. I load with 3f.
I found with the coarser powder, less is more. A half full pan is noticeably slow. I put just enough that if evenly spread (which it isn't) it would just coat the entire bottom of the pan.
I do have a small antler hollowed and plugged that hold some more 3f. Small hole, no plunger, so it is easier to control when hands are cold while hunting. I found when it is just barely light and my hands are cold, it is very easy to dump too much powder in/on the pan from my main horn.
 

Bill Burgin

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I generally prime from my main horn. I load with 3f.
I found with the coarser powder, less is more. A half full pan is noticeably slow. I put just enough that if evenly spread (which it isn't) it would just coat the entire bottom of the pan.
I do have a small antler hollowed and plugged that hold some more 3f. Small hole, no plunger, so it is easier to control when hands are cold while hunting. I found when it is just barely light and my hands are cold, it is very easy to dump too much powder in/on the pan from my main horn.
Sounds like a recent discussion with my urologist.
 

Kid Shelleen

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You either have a different urologist than me or maybe just different equipment.
 

Flinty Scot

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I have a couple of priming horns and a brass pan charger that I use, depending on the situation and my mood, or I'll use my main horn to prime. I find my rifle likes a small pile (c. 3-4 gr) at the very outer end of the pan.
When I use the main horn, I sometimes get too much but I've gotten fairly good at filtering most of the excess back into the horn. Waste not...
 

Grenadier1758

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Okay, I was a little glib in my first posting. How I prime my rifle depends very much on what I am doing with the rifle (or smoothbore). For the historically correct / period correct situations, I do prime from my main horn. Even with a nice fine tip on the horn, it is difficult to maintain a consistent fill to the pan. It takes practice to get powder to the neck of the horn and dribble just the right amount of powder to half fill the pan. At the bench, I often use a brass flask filled with 4f powder. The little valve directs powder to the pan in a much more controllable manner. I get good performance and great accuracy with the little flask and just the same amount of powder each time.

As @Flinty Scot has learned, it takes practice to get the right amount of powder from the main horn into the pan and getting what's left in the neck back in storage. Its much more difficult when shooting blanks and I prime from the cartridge.
 

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