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Smoothbore for hunting birds

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3Setters

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Dont own one, never shot a muzzleloader. But looking to get one this year to shoot woodcock/grouse over my dogs. Now the questions:

1. Percussion or flintlock?
2. Single barrel or double barrel? Looking at fowlers, they all see, to have long barrels, which would be tough to carry and swing in thick wooded areas. Are there flintlocks with 30 inch or shorter barrels?
3. Do I need anything larger than a 20 gauge? Loaded with an ounce of shot? 90% of shooting will be under 25 yards, 75% will be under 20 yards.
4. Does the gun really need much choke at those distances? Plus doing a little reading here, it seems tough to load barrels with a modified or tighter choke.
5. What else do I need to know to start my search?
 

tenngun

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I don’t hunt the flying, although I havetaken a few doves and bobwhites with my FDC and have busted a clay or two.
You have to keep your lead going with flint as there is the increased lock time.
Chokes were rare on ml guns until late.
the classic fowling piece carried by gentleman hunters were built with out chokes and most were single barreled. Most seem to be in the 20 bore size.
So it depends on what you want.
Doubles became real popular mostly in nineteenth century. For most hunting a choke doesn’t help.
personally I like single barrels guns and shot a Turkey or two with a flintlock
 

zerosprk

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You could also consider a .62 smooth rifle. This configuration gives you a 20 gauge smoothbore with the addition of a rear sight. That rear sight might come in handy if you ever decided to use the same gun to send a .610 patched round ball down range. Full disclosure, I have not tried to wing shoot anything using a gun with a rear sight installed. So I can't give advice on whether or not it helps or hurts. But I intend to find out this fall...
 

Feltwad

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For shooting over dogs be it pointers or setters all you need is an original English sxs in 12 or 14 , keep off them Italian repros with their chokes .You say that the average range will be 25 yards which I hope are flying shots not sitting which are non sporting otherwise pot hunters . Using a charge of 2.3/4 drms of ffg to 1.1/8 oz of 6 shot will do the job quite well ,in my youth here in the Uk I did a lot of shooting over dogs mostly English pointers and setters at pheasants red grouse , partridge and wood cock , on several occasions I did a left and right at woodcock which earned me a bottle of Bols
Feltwad
100_2155.JPG

Not a library photo
 
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Bob McBride

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Then as today a fowling piece doesn't have rear sights. If you will use it for PRB as well and you'll have just one gun a rear can work for wingshooting just as no rear sight can shoot ball accurately. If it were me, and I was going to use it for shooting shot over dogs I would get one most like what you would be used to on a modern gun, and what is most correct in the period for what you are doing. A Fowling Piece with no rear sight. That said, anything with a smooth bore will work.

As Brit says below, an average flint lock is worse than a poor percussion lock for most shooting but particularly for wing shooting.
 
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Britsmoothy

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I've taken woodcock, pigeon, pheasant and duck off the wing with flintlock and percussion and no choking.
At the distances you speak of go with cylinder.
I want to say go with percussion first but not just because flint is slightly more involved but because I dont want you to get frustrated with say a poor flintlock you may end up with ( we dont know your mechanical skills) and if you ever struggle to get black powder a percussion gun will work with the substitutes.
Setters? Red or Gordon's?
 

ppg1949

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3S, since this is your first ML, it is my understanding that guns with removable chokes can be a pain because the choke needs to be removed when loading. I only shoot cylinder bore so if anyone reading this has experience with screw in chokes please comment.
 

pilot

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You need some success to start off with, I would recommend a percussion double. It is a lot closer to the cartridge experience. Get good with that, then start looking for a flintlock.
 

oldwood

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Have done a fair amount of bird hunting , over dogs w/SBS m/l's. Moved over from the dark side , (modern unmentionable shotguns) , in early 70's to a percussion 12 ga. Pedersoli and then , when the 10 Ga. , same gun different Ga. , came on the mkt. , got one of those , too. Both shotguns were good on small game ,but the 10 Ga. was slightly more powerful. Neither of the guns had perfectly regulated SBS barrels , but on both guns, the first trigger / Right barrel , fired it's shot pattern perfectly on target , and the 2ND barrels of both guns were not unacceptable. . Had seen a few ctg. SBS shotguns w/barrel regulation the same as both my SBS m/l shotguns. Neither of the two SBS shotguns appeared to have choke in their barrels , as well.. So , using the correct wad column should make your shotgun perform at it's best . A couple suggestions on wads , powder first , one.125 card wad on top of powder.. Shot equal by volume to FFg powder charge , (same dipper.) A 1/16" hole can be drilled in the over powder .125 wad to make it easier to seat on the powder charge. The over shot wad is a .125 wad cut in half . The trick to wadding is to get the wads to quickly fall away from the in flight shot pattern so the wad doesn't create a hole in the pattern. Often , heavy felt "cushion " wads don't drop away from the shot cloud , ruining a dense pattern. Another note on "preference ", To optimize shot performance , I use copper plated shot and one size larger than shot sizes recommended in modern ctg. shotguns. Just one guy's opinion from years of trial and error.............oldwood
 

smoothshooter

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You could also consider a .62 smooth rifle. This configuration gives you a 20 gauge smoothbore with the addition of a rear sight. That rear sight might come in handy if you ever decided to use the same gun to send a .610 patched round ball down range. Full disclosure, I have not tried to wing shoot anything using a gun with a rear sight installed. So I can't give advice on whether or not it helps or hurts. But I intend to find out this fall...
If you shoot with both eyes open it is not a problem.
 

3Setters

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Britsmoothy, I hunt behind trail English setters. As far as sites on a gun, my current modern SxS has no sites in it, bead broke off and I never replaced it.

Feltwad, no ground or limb swatting for me. I'm good at missing easy shots, even have some on video.

I'll be starting a slow search for a percussion gun, single or double barrel with open chokes.
 

Stumpkiller

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I hunt grouse with a single barrel 16 bore flintlock, no choke. 42" barrel and 7 pounds on the nose. I must say I have a lot of fun. But seldom eat grouse.

The past two years I have had a bird dog. That is, I have a dog who flushes birds, sometimes while within 25 yards but occasionally 90 yards, and DEFINATELY helps locate them if hit. But he's an Airedale and I'm no trainer; so it ends up he has a ball and gets exercise. I get exercise. The grouse get exercise. Everyone wins.
 

Banjoman

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I won’t try to tell you what to get but I’ll tell you what I use just for your information. I use a flintlock Fusil de Chasse for turkey and squirrel hunting. It’s long (44” barrel) and heavy. It would not be a good choice for flying targets. Being a flintlock it would probably not be a good choice for a beginner. It has taken me a lot of practice to get proficient with this gun. For turkey hunting I have considered getting a percussion double barreled shotgun or short barreled Fowler.
 

Grenadier1758

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I'll be starting a slow search for a percussion gun, single or double barrel with open chokes.
I would confirm that the percussion gun with cylinder bores would be the best choice in your search for a fowling gun. I would look for an early Navy Arms sxs or Early Pedersoli sxs as these are much lighter than the current offerings. Look for a sxs that is about the same weight as the gun you are presently shooting. Most of the single barrel fowling pieces that you will find will be flint locks.

Good luck in your search and welcome to the Forum.
 

58 Caliber

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And once you get your gun I would recommend that as part of the patterning you try the Skychief load. Good luck and welcome to the forum.
 

GregLaRoche

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I’ve seen a number of original percussion shot guns for sale. At what I considered very reasonable prices. I’ve been tempted to buy one just add to my collection of guns. Most tended to be 16 ga. single and double barrel. I would definitely go with a double barrel to hunt birds. Birds are often together and you have a chance of bagging two, or at least have a follow up shot if you miss on the first.
 

Musketeer

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I hunt grouse with a single barrel 16 bore flintlock, no choke. 42" barrel and 7 pounds on the nose. I must say I have a lot of fun. But seldom eat grouse.

The past two years I have had a bird dog. That is, I have a dog who flushes birds, sometimes while within 25 yards but occasionally 90 yards, and DEFINATELY helps locate them if hit. But he's an Airedale and I'm no trainer; so it ends up he has a ball and gets exercise. I get exercise. The grouse get exercise. Everyone wins.
I thought your Portuguese dwarf manservant Portabello fetched your birds? Did the poor guy finally retire? 😄
 

Art Caputo

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I use a single barrel, flintlock, 20 ga fowler, no choke. Perfect for hunting over my Brittany where shots are rarely more then 20-25 yards. Pheasant load is 1Oz, size 6 shot at 25 yards, I like 7 1/2 shot for smaller birds. If you miss with a well set up flintlock, you will very likely have missed with a percussion. IMO.
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