View Full Version : After-thoughts about shooting a flintlock rifle

10-28-2008, 10:10 AM
1. Shooting patched roundball this is definitely a one-shot/one-chance weapon: be it bagging game, or Redcoat 200yrs prior. For an accurate follow-up load will take 3-5min of prep. time (mind you I have all my cleaning/lub patches, moose milk for clean/lube, vent pick, short starter and range rod, pre-measure powder charge...laying all over the place, and there is no way you can stuff all that in a possible bag). I doubt the forefathers can do any better. For one thing: being a competent shooter, first-shot usually did the job so there is no need for practiced/hurried 2nd-shot.

2. This is definitely a 100yrd (maybe 150 at max) weapon: a minute-of-6" plate is about all you can reasonably ask for- and that's for a clean-barrel shot.

3. In the Revolutionary War period, I'd perfer a smoothbore over a rifled gun for the common soldiers: couple volleys and in w/ the bayonet. A rifle, at best, is a sniping tool, and that's only if the Redcoats ignor you. At worst, it becomes a steel club, because your 2nd or 3rd PRB was stuck in the barrel, if the Redcoats decided to mind you (I made a mistake of not patch-clean after 2 shots, I got the 3rd PRB in w/ the starter, and it was stuck.) I'd like to think Col. Morgan's men probably shot the 1st or 2nd shots w/ PRB, and follow up shots without the patch (thus, a very expensive smoothbore) in face-to-face battleground contest.

4. All them stories of stand-off and continuous shoot-outs between armies (i.e. US civil wars) w/ accurate cap muzzleloaders- that are capable 300yrd aimed-killer, now I taken w/ a grain of salt. It's probably true for the 1st and 2nd volleys. After that, it's all blinding white smoke and fouled barrel. After 10-20 shots, it's probably plugged bolster drum. I can just imagine the following: after 2-3 volleys, men were shooting blind. After 10 min.or so of shooting, most of the rifles were broken down, and you see most men on both sides cleaning, cussing, and disassembling their rifles instead of load/shoot.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE shooting my flintlock...it's so addictive (even my homemade BP are doing well group-wise, just not as powderful as commercial grade). I havn't touched cartridged rifle in 2 mo.

Full Clip
10-28-2008, 10:41 AM
The pace of battle was far different back when, allowing for such issues.

10-28-2008, 10:45 AM
I just recently finished reading 1776 and something struck me as funny. Throughout the book, they would talk about these huge battles, 10k men vs 15k...and the casualty list would be like 400 dead, 800 wounded, somebody withdraws. Army gets back to camp and 5000 people die from exposure. It happend over and over again, the defining battles of the war werent really all that deadly, and I guess it had to be because the weapons and style of fighting of the day wasnt that effective.

10-28-2008, 10:53 AM
I'm glad you had a chance to experience a frontstuffer. But, you need a little more experience before you go off "half cocked" (a term that first came from muzzleloaders). I took my very first buck at +150 yards with a patched roundball. It was done with my second shot after I broke my ramrod while loading. I missed him when he was at 70 yards due to buck fever. My .54 did hold 1-2 moa (off the bench) out past 100 yards. I had to replace the stock and it's not bedded like it used to be. Now it's a 2-3 moa gun. It's still better than most, if not all, AKs and SKSes can do that. And most hobby shooters can't consistantly shoot 2moa with modern firearm. I have run +20 rounds through my rifled barrels without having any issues about bullets getting stuck and I shoot a very tight load. .530 roundball with a .020 patch.

As for all of those stories you've heard about, I'm willing to believe the historical facts much quicker than believe someone with extremely limited experience. I will concure with you about how confussing and disorienting a smokefilled battlefield can be. Of course, wind blows the smoke away. Given the fact that in many battles during the first 80 years of our country's existance, many combatants had little or no training and were new to the whole military type of fighting thing, it would be safe to assume that there were cases of unqualified soldiers making mistakes in the heat of battle at the cost of their life and/or other lives.

Btw, I've been shooting smokepoles for +20 years and re-enacting for 10 years so, I have experienced plenty of smoke filled fields and I've seen some pretty awesome shots with a patched round ball coming out of a rifled barrel. If you keep having trouble trying to shoot straight, we can try to figure out if the problem lies with your shooting techniques, your weapon or both.

10-28-2008, 11:53 AM
Thanks for the advice. Up north our club (Chabot) does have BP shoot-events. Maybe I'll poke my nose in to see what's what.

BTW, what type of flinter do you have that shoots 2-3moa? Mine is a Traditions Pennsylvania rifle, 50-cal (small lock, cheek bruising curved high comb, and patent-breech too small for reliable powder drop-in). So far I've done 4 range sessions w/ it, in those sessions I've managed to: shrank group size from 12" at 50yrd to 3", reduced mis-fire from 2-in-3 trigger pull to about 90% ignition. To do so, I've changed flint (from 5/8 milled Arkansas flint to 3/4 knapped English), vent hole (drilled from <1/16 to about 5/64), patch (from 0.01" to 0.015" ticking), powder (60gr, 2f to 3f goex), cleaning procedure (1wet/1dry to 1wet/2dry), added overpowder wad, and ball separation by weight of 0.5gr. I think my remaining problems are: inconsistent lock time due to uneven amount of powder in the patent breech, and lack of proper cheek weld (a proper cheek weld will give me a half-dollar sized bruise after about 20 shots).

I do believe a flintlock rifle is an accurate first-shot weapon; but I'm still in doubt, whether it can do 2-3moa, 3 or 5 shot-group without proper and time-consuming cleaning procedure between the shots.

10-28-2008, 11:54 AM
I used to hunt muzzleloader season in Nebraska. 50 cal percussion.

I know flinters probably take a bit longer to get off the second shot, but my shooting buddies and I had no problem getting off 2 aimed shots in a minute.

Most times less than a minute, but we did have to practice during off season.

I carried a capper and had the powder measured out in a small medicine bottle with a patch stuck under the bottle cap.

When we needed a second shot I grabbed a lead ball, popped the cap from the medicine bottle and loaded up.

Some guys used a patch block instead of the medicine bottle.

It was some of the best fun I had when hunting.

Mac Attack
10-28-2008, 3:26 PM
Didn't civil war troops use minnie balls rather than patch and ball?

I have a buddy in GA who shoots BP long distance matches and he said it is not uncommon to have 1000 yard matches. He is part of one of the largest reenactment groups in the US and shoot an authentic rifle. I believe he does not embellish his shooting abilities.

10-28-2008, 4:56 PM

I have several different BP guns. My favorite rifle is a LH .54 TC caplock. It is the first one that I built (from a kit) and the one I took my first buck with. When I first built it, it would shoot one hole groups off the bench at 77 meters (I shot smallbore silloutte at the time and benched it one night at my club's range). I see very little difference between ignition systems as long you, the shooter, can hold steady while shooting and your ignition system is properly tuned. I do have a .45 flinter too. It sounds like you are learning how to shoot your gun and your groups keep shrinking. In just four trips to the range, you've gone from 24moa groups to 6moa groups. That's great! If you keep it up, you'll be splitting balls and cutting cards in no time. Now, it really sounds like you will be shooting 2-3moa groups within the next few trips. I bet your gun is more than capable of it. Are you shooting offhand? If so, you are doing pretty good already. Try shooting off a good rest system. After you get used to it, you should be able to shoot 5 shot cloverleafs at 50 yards. Then, after you prove the gun can do it, it'll be time for you to prove that you can shoot close to the same sized groups offhand.

Mac Attack,
Although troops on both sides of the War of Northern Aggression used minnie ball, they used roundballs as well. The whole Civil War bullet coolecting thing is big bussiness because there are so many different projectiles to find and collect.

10-28-2008, 9:24 PM
This is a cool thread with some good information and no attitude. Very nice.

PS - and no talk of EBRs....shhhhhhhh....don't tell anyone..... :)