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Muzzle Loaders: Proper Loading and Maintenance

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The muzzle loader is a simple gun that uses black powder or Pyrodex as a propellant. It utilizes technology that dates beyond the civil war.

The muzzle loader will fire a variety of projectiles from balls to hollow points. Muzzle loaders are cheap to use because they don’t require brass and are not expensive to buy. Their effective range is about 10-150 yards.

Muzzle loader season occurs during modern rifle season, but has a couple dates before the majority of hunters go, giving you a unique advantage.  The muzzle loader is an overall convenient, cheap, and useful firearm that is a must-have for any outdoorsman’s arsenal.

To fire a muzzle loader you will need the following: powder, the projectile, the wad, and the primer. The most popular two actions are bolt action and break action.

Loading a Bolt Action Muzzle Loader

To load a bolt action muzzle loader, you must first open the bolt. Then add the measured powder down the barrel.  Next you insert the bullet into the muzzle. If your bullet has a sleeve, you don’t need a wad, but if you are using a ball you will need a wad. The wad is a small patch of cloth in which the bullet is wrapped. Once the bullet is started, you must force it down all the way down the barrel with the ram rod. After the powder and the projectile have been loaded, insert the primer into the receiver and close the bolt. You are now ready to fire.

Loading a Break Action Muzzle Loader

The break action is similar, except you must cock back the hammer because it is external. The muzzle loader must be treated using the same safety rules as any other gun. After you have fired the gun, reload using the same technique as before. Every time the weapon is fired, fouling builds up inside the barrel and makes the bullet harder to ram down. When the bullet is too hard to force down the barrel, it is time to clean the gun.

How to Clean a Muzzle Loader

Cleaning the muzzle loader is quite simple because there is very little surface area that is exposed to the explosion. Black powder is very corrosive and must be cleaned as soon as possible.

Cleaning a Bolt Action Muzzle Loader

 

On the bolt action muzzle loader, you must first remove the action according to the manufacturer’s instructions, insert a metal edge into the slot in the firing pin and pull revealing a slot into which you must slide a coin, as pictured below.

muzzle loader, muzzle loaded rifle, guns, firearm maintenance

The entire firing mechanism will then slide out easily and should be cleaned thoroughly with a metal brush and a powder solvent.

Run a brush and a rag down the barrel and clean the bore. Make sure to remove all leftover residues using the solvent. Then reassemble the firing assembly, reinsert the bolt, and you are done.

Cleaning a Break Action Muzzle Loader

The break action is much easier to clean. First remove the bore plug and clean it thoroughly using powder solvent. Run a bore cleaner and a rag down the barrel to remove fouling. It is imperative that all residues are removed.

Clean the bore hole with a small piece of wire and reassemble the gun. Make sure to run clean rags down the barrel until they come out clean. You have now completed thoroughly cleaning your firearm. Be sure to add a small amount of lube to the threads on the bore plug before storage to prevent it from seizing up and making it difficult to remove.

Conclusion

Be sure to clean you black powder rifle often to maintain you guns functionality and beauty. Because great care was taken on maintenance, the gun will remain reliable whenever it is needed.

Want to know more? Check out these related articles:

Homemade Weapons for When SHTF

.22 Long Rifle: The Ultimate Survival Weapon?

Best Survival Weapons: Bows or Guns?




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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Ronald Rexroad

    January 7, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    I have never heard of a bolt action, muzzle loader. The Black Powder rifle that I have, is a Muzzle loader, with an external hammer and primer cap. I cannot remove the breech plug, as per manufacturers instructions. I have heard of a break barrel Black Powder rifle where it is loaded through the bolt, then a cap placed at the rear of the chamber. How is the best way to clean a Civil War Era/Style revolver?

    • Richard

      January 7, 2015 at 10:03 AM

      Cap and ball revolvers are best cleaned by removing the cylinder, then with a nipple wrench I remove all six nipples (or five nipples if the cylinder just has five chambers). I soak the cylinder and nipples in a warm soapy solution (I like Murphy’s oil soap) to soften the black powder fouling. Clean the nipples using a pick or a piece of wire to remove the fouling from the inside of the nipples, the cylinder can be cleaned with a bore brush and rod of appropriate caliber and a pick to clean the nipple holes. Compressed air to blow all the water out, pipe cleaners in the nipples, then I use a heat gun (a hair dryer would work) to remove the last bit of water. Brush or wash the frame depending on the presence of fouling then reassemble. Care should be exercised when using heat to displace the water that too much heat is not applied to the the metal as to remove the heat treating of the metal

    • cmac

      January 7, 2015 at 12:35 PM

      I knew a guy who hunted with a cap and ball muzzle loader. When he cleaned his he fixed a bucket of hot soapy water and put a piece of tubing on the nipple and into the water. He then fixed enough cloth on his cleaning jag to form a suction as he ran the cleaning patch up and down the barrel. That drew the hot solution into the barrel and along with the action of the patch cleaned it. He then repeated the actions with clean hot water to rinse the gun. After he did the detail cleaning around the hammer, nipple, etc. as needed he gave everything a light coat of oil.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 7:33 PM

      Ron, I suggest you look at the number and variety of MLs for sale. They are as the OP says. Here http://www.basspro.com/Traditions-Evolution-BoltAction-50-Caliber-Muzzleloader-Rifle/product/10213244/ Most MLs, due to changes in ML hunting laws, are of the modern variety.

  2. Shelby Howell

    January 7, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    When I first read the heading, I was impressed. However, after getting into the article, I was amazed and disappointed. When it stated there were two types of muzzleloaders, I naturally thought flintlock and percussion. Whoever wrote this piece obviously knows little about firearms, or history. Come on, bolt action and break open? Really? How many bolt action muzzleloaders were used prior to a few years ago? At least make an effort to present what a survivalist needs to know. Real muzzleloaders are inexpensive, both to buy and shoot. But to present the idea that the two types are bolt action and break open severely strains your credibility. I, for one, am looking at all your articles with suspicion, from now on.

    • Rich

      January 7, 2015 at 12:29 PM

      I agree about about real muzzleloaders. I have looked at few of there articles already with suspicion. Do not believe half of them..

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 7:27 PM

      Mr Howell as much as I “feel your pain” the OP is actually “more righter” than you. Here about 6 or 7 years ago, I pulled out my 50 cal Hawken style smoke pole, cleaned it and then went to the BassPro shop to buy some shoottin stuff. Well, if you have a traditional ML then you’ll be disappointed because you won’t find much. The new MLs are made for faster rifling spin rates and typically smaller caliber bullets, and shot with a sabot. Fifty cal bullets need a 1 in 22″ spin but a fifty cal shooting a sabot with a .308 cal 150gr spire point needs a 1 in 12 spin. If you stuff a real 50 cal projectile down a NEW 50 cal rifle (if you can) it won’t shoot well. The same goes for putting a 50 cal sabot down a traditional ML (with whatever caliber bullet is loaded in the sabot) it won’t shoot worth spit. The spin is too slow. It will shoot 2 foot groups at 100yds…ask me how I know this. I THOUGHT I knew all there was to know about MLs, been shooting them for years. The correct bullet calibers, proper weights, patches, grease, etc. for traditional MLs are not typically sold at larger stores. No customers. If you go to deer camp with a traditional smoke pole, you’ll be the only one there. I was, and this was over half a decade ago. You almost can’t find granular black powder or Pyrodex. They’ve all gone to the pre-measured pellets. It was a good and valid post for most of the people that have MLs. Just sayin. Be Well.

  3. Don Schaefer

    January 7, 2015 at 10:02 AM

    You only covered the new modern muzzle loaders, you did not cover the the older but still available (and in wide use by reenactors and hobbyists) Flint Lock style and percussion cap style (with the side hammer) muzzle load rifles. They clean quite differently.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 7:49 PM

      Don, the hunters greatly outnumber the reenactors and I’m not sure what you mean by hobbyists. The ML mfg’ers go with the money, the hunters. You can still get the “real” MLs and “possibles”, you just have to order them. For traditional MLs the following books are very useful.

      Lyman’s “Black Powder Handbook” C. Kenneth Ramage
      “Lyman Muzzleloader’s Handbook” same guy
      “Black Powder Guide” George C. Nonte

      I have these, they are OLD, but available, and they are good. If you don’t like the OPs comments go get one of these books and solve your problem.

  4. bob grady

    January 7, 2015 at 11:09 AM

    What about cleaning a flintlock rifle or a cap and ball revolver?

    • bob grady

      January 7, 2015 at 11:10 AM

      I agree 100% with you Don

  5. John

    January 7, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    To clean a muzzlw loader you must use water, just using plain old powder solvent will not get rid of the acids and the gun will be ruined in short order.

    • Linda

      January 8, 2015 at 10:55 AM

      We use hot soapy water to start, then use a solution of Murphy’s oil soap mixed with Windex (no other brand). The reply above speaking about using a tube to pull this mixture into the barrel is right on. Once the barrel and all the other parts are cleaned in the solution and with the pick, be sure to apply an oil to the metal parts. We actually use WD40 because it removes the last vestiges of any fouling and definitely protects the barrel. We also put some patch lube on a patch and wedge it into the end of the barrel when getting ready to store the gun after cleaning. It will prevent moisture from getting in and causing trouble. We have used this method for many years and consistently have better looking barrels than many of our fellow muzzleloaders.

      Pistols are cleaned in exactly the same way as a rifle.

      Not cleaning your firearm after ANY use is a sure way to make it worthless.
      An added bonus to using black powder is that it can be used for many other things in a survival scenario. Never play with it! Store it securely in a low moisture and heat location.

      When using a muzzleloader, using spit patches (yes, spit from your own mouth) can dramatically reduce the fouling in the barrel and avoid having to clean during a multi-shot hunt or trail walk. Commercial patch lube (oil-based) can actually cause fouling in the barrel to increase. We also use Windex as a patch lube. No patch lube should be put into the gun and left there long term. If you are going to load the gun, you should fire it within a couple of hours at most. Real muzzleloaders (not the modern in-line variety) need patches – not wads. Putting a wad in a real ML gun will cause trouble.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 7:58 PM

      Actually John, they make a solvent specifically for muzzleloading firearms and it neutralizes the acids and cleans quite well. The gun will do quite well.

  6. Peatro Giorgio

    January 7, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    First off What the author is writing about is what is commonly known as the inline muzzle loaders system’ modern system’s, They can Be break action, bolt action, both rolling block and falling block action. There purpose is to provide a straight path of fire from the primer to the main charge. Indirectly they provide a faster firing method an hence greater accuracy less hang time. They also provide weather protection and indirect strike protection for the primer. How ever they still require the main powder charge as well the projectile to be loaded form the muzzle. This is not your grandfathers primitive matchlock, flintlock,or 1840 percussion cap muzzle-loader. The in-line muzzle loader with there sabot projectiles an triple seven powders, scope sites of today are very effective out to and beyond 250 yards. Don’t be fooled these are not Round ball an patch weapons with there 1 in 66 inch rate of twist rifling. Try 1 in 20-22 inch fast rates of twist designed to stabilize spritzer style conical boat-tail bullets. used in modern cartridge cases. I am no expert by any standards However the author appears to be quite the neophyte.

  7. Ron Lohan

    January 7, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Just stick to survival items in your articles. You, being an editor, you simply don’t know anything about muzzle loaders. safety issues, maintenance and cleaning these type of guns.

    I have using these guns for more than 35 years and there is a lot more to this than a one page article…..trust me, I know what I am talking about!

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 10:01 PM

      One, I never trust anyone that has to say “trust me…”. Two, this isn’t a book, it is a blog post. (look at my post above for books) If you aren’t on a topic specific forum for an explicit item and for a specific question, you don’t expect SME level information. Did you expect it to be more than that in a page of a blog post? If you did, then you need to rethink exactly where the problem of “not gettin it right” is. While the OP’s writing could use a little polishing the point was to spark interest in a (for the uninitiated) little known topic, related to prepping and survival, that could be very useful. Anyone coming here for the first time would be turned off to anything associated with prepping by the “mister grumpy pants” demeanor and tenor of these whiny responses to the OP’s post. Did anyone bring any cheese to go with the whine? Offering some of your supposed wisdom (since apparently some of you hunted with Jeremiah Johnson) to the OP in a more constructive way would have been encouraging, positive and inherently more productive for the site, the OP, the community of preppers at large and mostly for the prospective newbies that come through. You sound like kindergarteners, “you suck”, “no you suck”, “you’re a dodo head”…….blah blah blah. “Well gol dang it boy you done mucked it up, here I done been shootin this heyar gun for forty-leven years….trust me”. Did you ever have a beginning when you didn’t know as much or thought you knew it and didn’t. Who helped you? Did they treat you like you hooligans have treated the OP? I suggest all you “experts” rethink your personal “presentation strategies” for imparting your “wisdom”. Just my thoughts.

  8. Dodged5

    January 7, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    I have been building and using black powder firearms for over fifty years. This is about the most non-informative and mis-informative article I have ever read on the subject. You had a great opportunity to inform people about an enjoyable hobby and sport and completely blew it.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 10:11 PM

      And apparently you did too. IF, after your first sentence you said something like “what most people would probably like to see……. it might be better if you had listed……. and so on. But no, you missed your chance to MAKE IT BETTER. Do you know how to keep A crab in a bucket? Put another crab in there with him. You just piled on with everyone else. The ability of human beings to join in and combine efforts to humiliate, castigate and belittle, in a “tag team” manner, someone that couldn’t quite get the perfect 300 pages into 2k-3k word blog post, just stuns me. Why don’t some of you experts go to the top where they ask if you would like to “write for them”? I’m sure that no one would say anything bad about what you wrote.

  9. Major Charlie

    January 7, 2015 at 3:08 PM

    I have been using muzzle loaders since the 1950s, this is a wimpy article on a serious subject. Much more needs to be said. Although I do not own one, I have fired and trained others on the inline modern designs, but even this were not covered well. You totally skipped the flintock and percussion versions, although you pictured a cap lock revolver. A major skip is that powder charges are measured by volume not weight and that projectile must be seated firmly over the powder charge on all of them. Please consider getting someone with knowledge to write a more complete article. At very least, you should have made clear that one never use any form of smokeless powder in any version. Many guns are destroyed and people injured by doing same.

  10. Rick Metz

    January 7, 2015 at 4:32 PM

    My family shot muzzle loading black powder front stuffers prior to all the current out fitter catalogs. We’re talking flinters & cap n ball guns in .45 .50 .58 varieties. If your readers would like to save money on powder residue solvents, try the run of the mill, blue colored, windshield washer fluid. This was a huge plus next to pouring boiling hot water down the barrel as you won’t get scalded and it cleans very thoroughly. Plug the ignition end and filler up. Let it stand about 5 minutes, pour it out, pour in about a 1/4 barrel load to jostle and rinse. Immediately dry the barrel inside and out, oil her up and you’re done.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 10:19 PM

      Awesome reply rick. You offered a solution to a problem, a little wisdom and some valuable technique. You didn’t once say a single bad thing about the OP AND you contributed to the discussion in a positive manner. DO THE REST OF YOU SEE HOW TO DO THIS? Thanks Rick…just from me but thanks. Be Well.

  11. Chuck Naturale

    January 7, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    Who ever wrote this article has never shot Black powder First they are called muzzle loaders for a reason they are All loaded threw the Muzzle not the bolt not threw the break threw the Muzzle and the best thing to clean with is hot soapy water and if you run a patch with some solvent on it after every shot you can shoot more then 4 shots before you have to stop and clean it.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      Whoever wrote this comment to the OP didn’t read what the OP wrote, Chuck! The first 3 sentences, and I’ll paraphrase here (that means I will shorten it up and use my own words) say to 1. open the bolt (nothing about loading through [threw? really] the bolt) 2. put in the powder and 3. put in the bullet and ram it down. Really, go back up there and read what he wrote, s-l-o-w-l-y……come back down and read what you wrote, s-l-o-w-l-y. Now see, aren’t you ashamed of under-smarting yourself? I think it would be best if you read most things s-l-o-w-l-y from now on, Chuck. Just sayin.

  12. obsidian

    January 8, 2015 at 10:28 AM

    I recall most users of muzzle loaders in the days gone by also carried a tomahawk or bowie knife for when the muzzle loader stopped shooting due to a dirty nipple, faulty loading cycle and wet conditions.
    I understand a muzzle loading Infantry invented the bayonet for the same reason.
    These are deadly but for self defense they are a joke.

    • Linda

      January 8, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      Muzzleloaders can actually be great for survival because the feds don’t consider them firearms. You can own one when you have a felony conviction and can’t own a modern gun. Plus, black powder has many survival uses. Also, if you use one a lot, you can load almost as fast as someone with a modern firearm. Self defense doesn’t require a long-range weapon in most cases. If you use a ML, practice with it for various ranges – it makes a difference how you sight and load it – more than a modern firearm. It also makes more smell and powder going off can give out your location much more easily. It makes a lot of noise and that can actually be a defensive tool of it’s own. It can also make you easier to find if you are trying to evade or stay hidden.

      • obsidian

        January 9, 2015 at 1:13 PM

        I once stood at the edge of the the hornets nest and looked along the sunken road at the Shiloh battlefield and was amazed that it was done with basically muzzle loading weapons.
        These are deadly I know, the casualties reflect that fact as does the water hole called he bloody pond ever after.
        It’s just not what I would grab as a go to first weapon.
        I like them but I know they are obsolete for most armed encounters.
        Hunting yes.

      • TripodXL

        January 11, 2015 at 10:34 PM

        Miss Linda, You are correct in that the federal gubment doesn’t consider them “firearms”. However (this isn’t for chastisement, I just don’t want someone to misconstrue what you said and go to jail) SOME STATES DO. Also, while it may not be considered a firearm, IT IS STILL A DEADLY WEAPON. If your state does consider them to be firearms and you are a felon, you could be back in prison over it. If you need to know this distinction, for the reasons Linda said, then go find a LOCAL advisor to explain the local law to you concerning YOUR past and black powder firearms. It would be in YOUR best interest. Be Well.

  13. obsidian

    January 8, 2015 at 10:30 AM

    Just so ya know, my muzzle loader is a CVA Bobcat in .54 caliber.
    So I do use one, not for defense though.

    • Linda

      January 8, 2015 at 11:13 AM

      CVA Bobcat is one of the most accurate MLs I have ever owned and shot. However, they are pretty entry-level guns. They are relatively small and lightweight – which makes them better for survival. They are also what we start all the kids out on when they turn 3. Most full stock guns are heavy and many are front heavy which makes them hard to shoot repeatedly when supported only by your body.
      One advantage of ML guns is that they look threatening to an attacker. (You could always use it for a club or support post if you run out of powder or ball :).

      • obsidian

        January 9, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        I like to shoot it, and it is accurate. Powerful as it can get! How ever after pulling a ball back out the front after a powder charge failure I must state again, as a hunting or recreation rifle it’s fine as a self defense weapon these are jokes.
        My brother used a flintlock for a time and got better ignition than any cap action.
        If you use them for survival it would make sense to carry two at a time just in case and go with the rear loading, bolt action models in stainless steel, those offer the best and most reliable ignition and cleaning.
        We shot our rifles and remarked about how the movies, “Last of the Mohican’s and “Mountain men” did not quite reflect the reality of the loading and firing.

  14. david

    January 8, 2015 at 5:16 PM

    what about a pure muzzel loader

    • obsidian

      January 9, 2015 at 1:19 PM

      An 1853 Enfield or a Kentucky long rifles?
      The Enfield will load fast and easy but it’s accuracy can be beaten by a 12 gauge slug gun.
      The Kentucky is a beautiful accurate rifle and in flintlock! hard to load fast though, and fun to shoot.

  15. Mike Moore

    January 8, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    I must agree, this article is from someone who may have seen a black powder gun shot from a distance and then felt qualified to write such a useless article. Also, don’t believe that TSA cannot detect the credit card knives, trust me, I lost mine to the thugs. They had NO trouble picking it up on their x ray.

  16. obsidian

    January 9, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    Stainless rear loaders using pyrodex is the route to go with a non modern firearm.
    Old style Black powder is fun, can be great hunting tools but have their limits.

  17. StarvinLarry

    January 10, 2015 at 1:59 PM

    This is a horrible article,full of misinformation-first of all,it’s a patch-not a “wad”,second,Pyrodex is rarely used any more,most of us use Triple7 when using loose powder,and Triple7 or Pyrodex pellets if using a modern inline.
    Third-you do NOT use “powder solvent” when cleaning a muzzleloader-soap and water,unless you want to waste $10.00 or so buying one of the bore cleaners like the one Thompson Center sells. The original blue dawn dish soap works best-even modern inline muzzleloaders tell you to use hot soapy water to clean them.
    A muzleloader should be one of your SHTF weapons for one reason-ammo will become very,very scarce very quickly,stock up on bottles of Triple7 or Pyrodex-(if you want to spend more time cleaning your muzzleloader,and have less velocity for the same amount of powder)- and/or lots of pellets. You can but a box of 100 .45caliber bullets,and a couple bags of .50 caliber sabots for your .50 caliber muzzleloader online from Midway USA for under $50.00-including shipping.
    I use Hornady’s XTP bullets-240 grain jacketed hollow points-a .45 caliber bullet,with a .50 caliber sabot-it’s devastating on deer out to 150 yards with either 95 grains of triple 7 powder,or 2 50 grain Pryodex or Triple7 pellets.I shoot that load out of a Traditions Buckstalker-an inexpensive inline,in my older CVA Woodsman,I use a Hornady 240 grain .44 caliber XTP bullet,with Hornady’s .50 caliber green sabot-made for older muzzleloaders-or I’ll use Hornady’s PA conical bullets,or their Great Plains bullets. I stick with the Hornady bullets because that’s what my muzzleloader shoots best-I’ve tried just about everything out there for muzzleloader ammo-the Hornady XTP bullets expand properly at muzzleloader velocities,most other jacketed hollow points do not.
    The exit wound on the deer I shot at about 40 yards this year was a little over .75-from a bullet that started out at .452,and went through 1 rib,both lungs,and part of the heart,before exiting between ribs on the way out. That’s pretty good expansion for not hitting any muscle. On other deer that I’ve hit in the shoulder-the bullets went out at over 1″,after breaking and going through bone and muscle tissue.

    • TripodXL

      January 11, 2015 at 11:01 PM

      I have a muzzleloader, two actually (break open H&R I love and a hawken cap rifle in 50 cal) just for SHTF, but I only stock up so much stuff and have molds for round balls and minies and plenty of lead. $60 will buy 180 rounds of 5.56 ammo from Natchez. I would rather have that than ammo for a ML…I mean if you are storing ammo??? Besides you’re talking $50 for 100 rds WITHOUT THE POWDER CHARGE…that’s 50 cents plus powder. Way more than smokeless cartridges. I stock black powder, lotsa caps and a few bullets. The MLs are for when/if things go “road warrior” bad, TEOTWAKI for ten plus years. You can make your own caps, cast your own bullets and if you have pigs and sulfur, your own black powder. So yes, if you can afford to have them, have them, but I stock up on real ammo rather than anything else. If your priority is to survive the most probable scenarios then ARs and plenty of ammo and mags. 30-50k rounds a few ARs and several spare parts kits and 30 mags per AR. Add to that a few tens of thousands of reloading components and you are set. If the muzzleloaders have to come out, it truly is a bad thing.

      • StarvinLarry

        January 13, 2015 at 11:33 AM

        So,you have the same two types of muzzleloaders that I have-just different brands/models.

        I said under $50.00,as I didn’t recall the exact amount-here it is $26.00 for the Hornady XTP’s $9.00 and change for sabots regular price,got them on sale for $6.25. It’s under 50 cents a round including powder.
        Yes,a good.50 caliber muzzleloader “round” is comparable to lower caliber centerfire-such as .223/5.56 or 7.62×39.
        Note that I mentioned other bullets,which are much less expensive,I also have a bunch of patches and round balls for my older rifle-works out to under 15 cents per round.Plus I have bullet molds for ML’s and centerfire,round ball molds and lots of lead
        I also have reloading equipment for centerfire rifles-plenty of powder,primers and bullets-and plenty of loaded ammo for them.
        In any long-term SHTF scenario-ammo will become real scarce,real fast.

        You’re better off storing Pyrodex or Triple 7 instead of black powder-as they are much more stable-black powder doesn’t store all that well for long periods-it becomes very unstable.

        By the way,you do not need pigs to make blackpowder-there are multiple other sources for the potassium nitrate that don’t smell as bad.

        • TripodXL

          January 17, 2015 at 2:14 AM

          @StarvinLarry; Good reply. Yes, you can find the saltpeter in other places, but the pigs would have been the most common (though not the best)available in times past. And at less than 50 cents a shot, that is good. Patching can come in any form that isn’t synthetic (I like worn blue jeans) and round balls can extend your lead supply over minies, if you cast your own. Yes, in an absolute sense, ammo will become scarce quickly. My point was that, if money is an object, it would be better to have center fire ammo over smoke pole ammo (at equivalent costs). If we are standing and sending ML volley fire down range…well it won’t be pretty. In a relative sense, if you have (what ever number makes you comfortable) X number of rounds of smokeless available, YOU are not out of ammo. Me, personally, I don’t intend to engage in too many firefights, and don’t think I have to worry about running out of ammo, though I won’t be plinking a lot. You are absolutely right about the “synthetic” powders lasting longer and being more stable. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your reply and the fact that you didn’t opt to go for the “low hanging fruit” of a response lacking positive and constructive information. Obviously the poster is young/new (both), and I remember being there and it takes a gentle hand (military instructor) to inform one of their shortcomings and at the same time impart some encouragement, knowledge and the enthusiasm to “do it again”, only better. Be Well.

  18. TripodXL

    January 11, 2015 at 11:14 PM

    Elijah, don’t sweat the comments from all the “experts” that hunted with Jeremiah Johnson. If all anyone wants to do is be negative and kick you in the face while you’re down, it is just a reflection of who they are inside and how impotent they feel about themselves. FEFEFHs. If you would like some honest critique and some writing tips, or need to bounce ideas off someone else, who will be brutally honest, but still provide a solution or be part of the solution just let me know. I only check/answer emails every few weeks, so don’t expect instant feedback. If you want bonafides it will have to be offline as I don’t play well with others and it’s not their business. I have had so much fun today. ;-} Be Well.

    • StarvinLarry

      January 13, 2015 at 11:49 AM

      The guy wrote a post full of misinformation-

      1) There’s a huge difference between a “wad” and a patch

      2)”The break action is similar, except you must cock back the hammer because it is external.”
      You do not pull the hammer back to load a ML-that’s bad advice-maybe on some inlines,you pull the hammer to open the action-but any sidelock-which is the type ML with an external hammer-you do not pull the hammer back

      3)You do not use a powder solvent on a muzzleloader-soap and water is the proper and preferred method of cleaning one. The “powder solvent” made ofr ML’s you allude to is not called powder solvent-it is called bore cleaner,bore blaster,etc. For instance-Thompson-Center’s product is caled “Number 13 bore cleaner”
      Claiming you use powder solvent is also bad advice.
      4) “insert a metal edge into the slot in the firing pin and pull revealing a slot into which you must slide a coin, as pictured below.”
      That’s not the firing pin-it’s the rear of the bolt.

      The author can write-he just lacks the knowledge about muzzleloading firearms to write about them-that’s what everyone is pointing out in the comments.

      • StarvinLarry

        January 13, 2015 at 11:55 AM

        I somehow lost half a sentence.

        This…

        -but any sidelock-which is the type ML with an external hammer-you do not pull the hammer back

        Should read …pull the hammer back,except to load the cap.

        The way it’s written in the post reads as if that’s how you load the rifle-it’s not,it’s the last step in the process-you do not pul the hammer back until the powder charge and bullet/ball/conical bullet etc. has been loaded-from the muzzle. Pulling the hammer back before loading powder and projectile could result in hammer moving forward,creating enough of a spark to ignite the powder charge-causing injury even death to the user.

      • TripodXL

        January 17, 2015 at 2:29 AM

        @StarvinLarry; As I indicated above, youth and enthusiasm are sometimes all that people have. Having spent almost 4 decades in the military, I would rather have troops with the good attitude and some of the “not so right” than a bunch of sad sacks that “know everything” and have bad attitudes. You can teach the former, but not the latter. While the “letter of the law” parts of his essay were “not correct”, the generalities (without splitting hairs, which is too easy to do) were mostly correct and the gist was okay. Yes, if you want to nit pick, you can. I know that “more positive dialogue” would have made the situation better, without the club part. Here again though, if I had written it, I would have noted that all MLs don’t work the same and you need the “manual” that comes with the gun (or other suitable documentation). You can’t cover, in detail, any complex topic in a blog post. Just can’t be done. You won’t be able to ML from any post, with that as your source document. I write for several blogs and they limit posts to 1500-3000 words. I wrote one for bullet casting and caught so much hell for everything I said…this isn’t right and you left out that, you don’t have to do that….blah blah blah. You have to take a blog post for what it is and WHAT IT ISN’T. It isn’t going to be a technical manual. Which is why I gave the 3 best tomes for MLers available. Anyway, you made some good points in response, which, if the OP hasn’t given up, will be of some use the next time. Be Well.

  19. Anita Gunter

    May 23, 2017 at 9:56 AM

    I need someone to answer my question,please! They are saying my nephew committed suicide,but I do not think he did. When they found him he was in a fetal position,arms crossed on his chest,he had a hole in the back of his head but no face. He landed on top of his 50 caliber black powder rifle on his right side and the rifle was verticle with his body. The butt of the rifle was pointed towards the front of him and the barrel was pointed out away from his back. So I want to know if someone killed him?

  20. Pingback: How to Use a Bore Snake | Gun Care | Survival Go Bag

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