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Black Powder Firearms


Muzzleloading handguns come as both pistols or revolvers. Pistols mainly singleshot. ... modern handgun bullet of lesser caliber ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Black Powder Firearms

Black Powder Firearms
Key Topics
  • Know Your Muzzleloader
  • Black Powder
  • Black Powder Substitutes
  • Basic Muzzleloader Safety Skills

  • You should be able to
  • Show a basic understanding of the history of
    black powder
  • Know the different black powder firearm actions
  • Understand how to select powder used in black
    powder firearms

Objectives (cont.)
  • Know equipment and safe techniques for shooting
    black powder firearms
  • Know the importance of cleaning a black powder
  • Know how to determine if a black powder firearm
    is loaded!

Know Your Muzzleloader
  • Muzzleloader is the term given to early firearms
    because they are loaded from the muzzle or open
  • Locks took the place of actions on early
    firearms. Matchlock and wheel lock muzzleloaders
    are rare and valuable, but may be unsafe to use.
  • Flintlocks and percussion caps are typically used
    for competitions and hunting. Generally less
    expensive, lighter, more reliable and easier to
    load and maintain than matchlocks or wheel locks.

Parts of a Muzzleloader
Black Powder Firearms
  • Muzzleloaders are usually rifles, but there are
    also smooth-bored muzzleloaders shotguns.
    Shotgun muzzleloaders can have either single
    barrel or double barrels joined side-by-side.
  • Critical to avoid putting two loads down same
    barrel when loading double-barrel. Usually have
    two locks, one for each barrel  allowing shooter
    to fire each separately before gun is reloaded.
    Most double-barrels are designed with two

Black Powder Firearms
  • Muzzleloading handguns come as both pistols or
    revolvers. Pistols mainly singleshot. Revolvers
    contain multiple-shot chambers. Chain firing
    muzzleloading revolvers can be dangerous. When
    chamber round is fired, it produces sparks that
    could accidentally ignite loads in another
    cylinder(s). To guard against this, protect each
    load in cylinder with coating of grease to
    prevent sparks from entering open end of other

History of Black Powder Firearms
  • The Chinese are believed to be the first to
    use gunpowder's, now called black powder. The
    first firearms were tubes closed at one end,
    usually made of brass or cast iron. Early
    firearms were loaded by pouring black powder,
    shoving a projectile into the tube from the
    muzzle end, and then igniting the powder using a
    lighted wick or match. The powder burned creating
    pressure that launched metal objects or arrows.
    These firearms are called muzzleloaders due to
    their loading process. Advances in ignition
    systems were the major changes that brought about
    modern firearms

  • Matchlock ignition was developed in the early
    1400s. When the trigger is pulled, a lighted wick
    is lowered into a priming pan located next to a
    vent hole drilled into the closed end of the
    barrel. When the priming powder ignites, it
    lights the main charge.

Wheel lock
  • Wheel lock ignition replaced the wick of the
    matchlock in the 1500s. When the trigger is
    pulled, a coiled spring forces the rough-edged
    steel wheel to spin against a piece of iron
    pyrite creating sparks to ignite the powder in
    the priming pan

Wheel lock
  •  Flintlock ignition appeared in the late
    1600s. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer
    holding a piece of flint fell against a steel
    cover (the frizzen) sitting over the priming pan.
    The hammer knocked the cover out of the way and
    the collision of flint and steel caused sparks
    that ignited the powder in the priming pan.

Top View Flash Pan
Percussion Lock
  • The percussion lock (also called caplock)
    replaced the flintlock in early 1800s. Early
    percussion locks used priming compounds inside a
    metallic foil cap placed over the vent hole.
    When the hammer strikes the cap, the resulting
    spark ignites the main charge.

Percussion Lock (cont.)
  •    The percussion cap also paved the way to the
    self-contained ammunition we have today
    cartridges and shotshells. The percussion cap
    ignition system was developed in 1805 by the
    Reverend John Forsyth of England. Gunpowder, the
    projectile and the primer were put together into
    a single housing that could be loaded quickly in
    the mid-1800s. In addition to this system, some
    of the new in-line muzzleloaders may use a 209
    primer, the same as is used in some shotgun

Black Powder Revolver
  • The next advance, in 1835, was to arrange a
    series of percussion locks and barrels on a
    rotating wheel (cylinder) to allow a rapid
    succession of shots (Patterson revolver). With a
    single hammer and trigger, multiple shots could
    be fired without reloading a repeating firearm.
    The percussion cap revolvers were the forerunners
    of modern revolvers

Black Powder
  • Black powder is the only type of powder that
    should be used in muzzleloaders. However
    synthetic substitutes, such as Pyrodex, also may
    be used. Dont use modern-day smokeless powders
    in black powder firearms it could cause serious

Black Powder (cont.)
  • Black powder is made of potassium nitrate
    (saltpeter), sulfur and charcoal. When ignited,
    it causes a dense cloud of
    white smoke. Comes in four sizes or

Black Powder (cont.)
  • Fg Coarse grain typically used in cannons,
    rifles larger than .75 caliber and 10-gauge
    shotguns or larger
  • FFg Medium grain typically used in larger rifles
    between .50 and .75 caliber, 20-gauge to 12-gauge
    shotguns and pistols larger than .50 caliber
  • FFFg Fine grain typically used in smaller rifles
    and pistols under .50 caliber and smaller
  • FFFFg Extra-fine grain typically used as a
    priming powder in flintlocks

Black Powder Substitutes
  • Pyrodex and other black powder substitutes that
    can be used in amounts equal to black powder
    loading may vary. Be sure to consult instructions
    from qualified gunsmith for loading procedures.

  • Pyrodex modern substitute for black powder
    not an explosive but a propellant. Not lawful
    in some states. Available in powder form and
    pre-measured pellets.
  • Pellets to be used in in-line ignition systems
    only. Not recommended for use in flintlocks.

Triple Seven
  • Non-corrosive black powder (Triple Seven) does
    not leave corrosive build-up in barrel of
    firearm. Shooter may be able to reload more times
    without cleaning inside of barrel. Not
    recommended for use in flintlocks. Available in
    powder form and pre-measured pellets. Pellets to
    be used in in-line ignitions systems only

Safety Tip
  • The use of smokeless powder (except in the new
    Savage designed for it), a mixture of smokeless
    and black powder, the wrong type or granulation
    of black powder, Pyrodex, or overloading may
    damage your firearm and cause injury and/or death
    to the shooter or bystander.

Equipment for Shooting
  • Powder
  • Caps or Flint
  • Patches
  • Sharp Knife (optional)
  • Powder Container
  • Patch puller
  • Ball puller

Equipment for Shooting (cont.)
  • Powder measure
  • Nipple wrench pick
  • Cleaning solvent patches
  • Ball starter
  • CO2 type discharger
  • Possible bag or pouch

Projectiles for Muzzleloaders
  • The types of projectiles are
  • Round ball, made of pure lead and requiring a
    lubricated patch
  • Minie ball made of pure lead and has been fired
  • Maxi ball made of pure lead and lubricated on its

Projectiles for Muzzleloaders (cont.)
  • Sabot, a plastic cup allowing the use of
  • modern handgun bullet of lesser caliber
  • PowerBelt Bullet, also has a plastic cup
    but is attached to the bullet
    allowing for the same
    caliber bullet to be used in the
  • Shot Pellets, designed to spread, just as with
  • todays shotguns

Basic Muzzleloader Safety Skills
  • Pre-Loading Check
  • Place stock on ground between your feet with
    muzzle pointed in safe direction.
  • Remove ramrod, insert into barrel, mark rod at
    end of muzzle.

Pre-Loading Check (cont.)
  • Place rod along outside of barrel on same side as
    action to same depth as indicated by your mark.
  • If ramrod tip reaches flash hole in flintlock or
    within ¼-inch of breech plug (nipple) in caplock,
    gun is empty. If it does not it is loaded.
  • If loaded, and an antique gun, take to reputable
    black powder gunsmith to unload it.

Loading and Firing a Muzzleloader
  • Loading a muzzleloader firearm presents some
    special concerns because it requires the muzzle
    to be pointed upward.
  • Place firearm on half cock (safety), then place
    stock on the ground between your feet with muzzle
    pointed in safe direction.
  • Be sure barrel is clean and dry.
  • Cap nipple or prime flintlock, point muzzle at
    ground and fire to complete drying process. Do at
    least twice.

Loading and Firing a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Do not smoke. Black powder is explosive!
  • Place firearm on half cock and place stock back
    on ground between your feet with muzzle pointed
    in safe direction.
  • Measure powder charge then close powder container.

Loading and Firing a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Pour powder down muzzle and tap on side of barrel
    to settle powder. When using pellets, place
    darker end in muzzle first.
  • Place lubricated patch on muzzle when shooting
    round ball.
  • Place ball (spur up) on the patch.

Loading and Firing a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Place short end of ball starter on projectile and
    drive ball into muzzle with one sharp blow so
    that top of ball is even or just below muzzle.
  • Cut off patch even with muzzle if making your own
    lubed patches. Look out for fingers.

Loading and Firing a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Place longer end of ball starter on projectile.
    With one sharp blow to starter, drive ball five
    to 6 inches into barrel.
  • Place ramrod on ball using concave end to push
    ball down to powder charge. Push ramrod in short
    strokes, gripping few inches above muzzle. Using
    longer strokes may accidentally snap rod and
    cause injury. Ball must go down to powder. Do not
    pound ramrod on ball.

Loading and Firing a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Prime or cap.
  • Shoot in a safe direction.

Damascus Barrel
  • Damascus or damascus twist barrels are older
    shotgun barrels that were typically made before
    1900. Iron and steel ribbons were twisted and
    welded together. Damascus barrels are weaker than
    modern barrels and are not designed for the high
    gas pressures created by modern ammunition.
    Damascus barrels have a distinctive, irregular
    pattern of short, streaklike marks around the

Damascus Barrel (cont.)
  • If you have a damascus barrel gun, dont
    shoot it. The barrel may burst slightly ahead of
    the chamber, crippling the shooters hand or
    forearm. If you have an older firearm and are not
    sure if it has a damascus barrel, before shooting
    it go to a qualified gunsmith to identify its

Modern Muzzleloaders
  • Modern muzzleloaders are reproductions of
    original muzzleloaders.
  • Muzzleloaders made today are quality
    reproductions of the originals and are the safest
    ones to shoot.
  • They are made of modern steel by modern methods,
    which make them stronger and usually safer than
    the originals.
  • In selecting a reproduction muzzleloader for
    hunting or target shooting, it is best to contact
    a reliable retail store and get with someone
    knowledgeable about muzzleloaders. You may be
    able to contact a local club and get reliable
    information from its members. There are many
    different models available.

Cleaning a Muzzleloader
  • After firing a muzzleloader, it should be cleaned
    thoroughly. Black powder is very corrosive -
    residue inside the barrel causes pitting,
    reducing accuracy. Buildup of residue, called
    fouling, will also make loading difficult.

Cleaning a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Follow this procedure to clean muzzleloader
  • Be sure it is unloaded.
  • Remove barrel if possible.
  • Wash inside of barrel with hot soapy water or
    commercial cleaning solvent. Wash nipple area
    with old toothbrush.

Cleaning a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • Rinse with scalding water.
  • Dry with clean patches until patches come out
  • Run several damp patches of bore butter or good
    grade black powder gun oil inside barrel.
  • When barrel has cooled, put light coat of good
    grade gun oil on outside of barrel.

Unloading a Muzzleloader
  • If you load your muzzleloader and do not have
    the opportunity to fire it while hunting, you
    will need to unload it safely before entering
    camp, home or vehicle.
  • Unload muzzleloader by discharging it into
    suitable backstop. Do not fire into air or ground
    at your feet in case projectile ricochets.

Unloading a Muzzleloader (cont.)
  • A CO2-type discharger may be used to remove
    projectiles from bore without firing.
  • When muzzleloader is unloaded, place ramrod or
    loading rod in barrel before leaning it against a
    good rest this prevents debris from falling
    down barrel and blocking touch hole.

Basic Muzzleloader Safety
  • Muzzleloaders take significantly more
    knowledge to operate than modern firearms. They
    also present greater risks. Several rules must be
    followed to ensure safe operation.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Do
    not lean over, stand in front of or blow down the
  • Use only black powder or safe substitute in a
    muzzleloading firearm.
  • Wait until youre ready to fire before you prime
    or cap a muzzleloader.

Basic Muzzleloader Safety (cont.)
  • Always wear shooting glasses and ear protection
    when shooting a muzzleloader a long sleeve shirt
    is also advisable.
  • Never smoke while shooting or loading or when
    near a powder horn or flask.
  • Load a muzzleloader directly from a calibrated
    powder measure do not load from a horn, flask
    or other container. A loose spark or glowing
    ember in the barrel can cause the powder to

Basic Muzzleloader Safety (cont.)
  • Load only one charge at a time and load only from
    a calibrated measure.
  • Unload a muzzleloader before bringing it into
    your home, camp or vehicle.
  • Stay with your charged muzzleloader at all times.

Review Questions
  • What is the only type of powder that should be
    used in muzzleloaders?
  • Explain an unsafe practice when using a

Review Questions (cont.)
  • What is the last thing you do before firing a
  • Where should you place the ramrod after a
    muzzleloader is unloaded but before leaning it
    against a rest?