Rifle

 

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Preparing the black powder rifle for loading

If the rifle is a flintlock check the flash hole is clear of any bits or oil; this can be done with a piece of wire of the right size or a commercially made flash hole pricker.

Percussion rifles need to be capped off by putting a cap or two on the nipples and firing the action to blow any bits or oil out of the nipple hole. It is not uncommon to see black powder shooters put the end of the barrel near some grass when doing this to see if it moves. Moving grass equals a clear nipple hole.

Return the hammer or cock to the half cock position prior to loading.

How to load a black powder rifle with a patched ball

1) Holding the rifle vertically lower a long funnel down the barrel and pour in the correct charge of powder. Jiggle the funnel up and down to ensure all the powder is out of it and withdraw from the barrel. ( The long funnel gets the powder right to the bottom of the breach without it sticking to the sides of the barrel; this is especially important with target rifles).

2) Place a lubricated patch on the muzzle of the rifle. On to that put the round ball. Now using a short ball starter or a mallet depending on how tight it is, get the ball inside the barrel.

3) Using the longer end of the short bullet starter push the patched ball down in to the barrel, then use the ramrod to push it down until it is on top of the powder.

4) If it is a flintlock just cover the flash hole in the pan with priming black powder and close the frizzen. If it is a percussion rifle fit a percussion cap to the nipple.

The rifle is now ready to fire. After several rounds you may notice that it is becoming more difficult to push the patched ball down the barrel; you need to clean the barrel at this stage with either a phosphor bronze brush or some cloth on a jag soaked in soapy water.

How to load a black powder rifle with lubricated bullet

1) Holding the rifle vertically lower a long funnel down the barrel and pour in the correct charge of powder. Jiggle the funnel up and down to ensure all the powder is out of it and withdraw from the barrel. ( The long funnel gets the powder right to the bottom of the breach without it sticking to the sides of the barrel; this is especially important with target rifles).

2) A card or lubricated felt wad can be put into the barrel at this stage and pushed down with the ram rod. (target rifles only)

3) Take a either a pre-lubricated bullet or smear lubricant on to a bullet and place it in to the barrel.

4) Using the short bullet starter followed by the ram rod, push the bullet down the barrel until it is sat firmly on top of the powder.

5) If it is a flintlock just cover the flash hole in the pan with priming black powder and close the frizzen. If it is a percussion rifle fit a percussion cap to the nipple.

The rifle is now ready to fire. After several rounds you may notice that it is becoming more difficult to push the bullet down the barrel; at this stage you need to clean the barrel  with either a phosphor bronze brush or some cloth on a jag soaked in soapy water. Some target rifles such as the Gibbs need to be wiped out between each shot.

What to do when things go wrong

Problem. You pull the trigger; the percussion cap does not go off.

Solution. There are several possible causes. The percussion cap was not seated properly - re-cock  hammer and try again.  You have a non exploding percussion cap - fortunately manufacturers do not make too many of these, so swap it for one that does go off.

Problem. You pull the trigger, the percussion cap fires but the main charge does not.

Solution.  Replace the cap and try again; hopefully it will go off. If not try clearing the nipple hole with a thin piece of wire (you did remember to pack it), put a new cap on and try again. Still no luck, put a few grains of fine powder in to the nipple, put on another cap and try again. If that does not work,  remove nipple and clean, pour some powder down the hole and screw the nipple back in and try again. If it hasn't gone off now you must have contaminated the powder with water or oil and it is not going to burn, so the rifle needs to be unloaded, attach a bullet puller to your ram rod and pull the projectile out.

 

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