Usefulness of traditional muzzleloaders...

Andy54Hawken

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So before we get started on my ramble here...
Let it be known that :
I am not out to change anyone's mind...
Or
Have it thought that I am against innovation and new designs...
Or
Even that one must have whatever Andy likes and shoots....
Any of the above is not what I or my postings are about.

Traditional muzzleloaders have been with us and in use for hundreds if not thousands of years.
Take the flintlock ...
The flintlock really came onto its own around 1700...and its use hasn't really stopped since then.
Think about that... 3 centuries of use as of the year 2000...

Sure it was replaced by more modern arms , by the military as well as many if not most shooters of today and even back in the 1830's and 1840's , when the percussion system was catching on.
I am not saying that it was the best ignition system in a firearm , only that it has been used for a long time , if it was not useful why would it still be around and made today...?

With that said...
The flintlock was still being made and used , by choice , by many folks.
I have a Belgium made Flintlock Fowler , made around 1900-1920 , that is well into the repeating arms era , it was made to be used , not a "decorator " piece...I still hunt and shoot with it today.
My grandfather and great-granddad used a flintlock rifle well into the 1930's for keeping the family fed.
Walter Cline's book "The Muzzleloading Rifle Then and Now" is filled with folks who used the both the flintlock and percussion systems...Granted his "Now" in that book was the 1930's....

The Traditional Muzzleloader is still used today and not just as a hobby or quirk.
Matches are still won by these arms , game is taken by powder , patch and ball...
Many folks invest quite a bit of time a money into this , to be more than just a passing interest or lark.

Yes I will admit that their use is dying off in many areas and this saddens me.
Lots of misconceptions surround the use and history of traditional muzzleloader.
This along with sales ad wordsmithing to sell a new product has done much damage to idea of the use of the traditional muzzleloader in the modern world.

If anyone is interested I would like to continue with this "article"...when I get more time today...
And if that is the case...Could I get you all to hold off on direct comments and questions , about what I said in the post , until later today , when I am finished with this "article"...
Thanks
Andy
 
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Andy54Hawken

Andy54Hawken

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So welcome back and thank you for tuning in...:D

One common story I hear repeated over and over when discussing flintlocks in particular and traditional muzzeloaders in general is the story of the hunters with Lewis and Clark and the bear.
( Not to be confused with Goldielocks and the 3 bears...:D )
So to make a long story short...
Some hunters were out , stumbled upon a grizzly bear shot him...got chased by him...shot him some more... then chased again by said bear into a river and the bear finally dying from a head shot...8 shots all told went into Mr.Bear....
This is often cited a proof that flintlocks don't work well for hunting and muzzleloaders are "weak" and inaccurate.

Well , two things have always bothered me about this proof...
In no part of the story are we told :
Just where those shots hit the bear...
A bad shot or poor hit , is the same no matter if it is with a rifle made yesterday while using the latest and greatest cartridge , or if it was done with a antique flintlock firing black powder and ball.

Nor are we told of what loading they were using...Again a poor loading , no matter what era , will preform poorly...

Which brings us around to today...
A rifle , be it one made 200 years ago or a brand new one simply needs to place its projectile accurately on the target.
A traditional muzzleloader can do just that just a bit slower than a modern rifle.
Round ball will win your match or keep you fed...no the ballistic numbers are not impressive , but like anything learn how it works and work within it...Just like a modern rifle.

With that in mind if you are in to numbers , speed , ballistic tables and such , muzzleloaders will not seem very impressive.
My .54 Hawken with its .530 round ball and 80 grains of 2F rounds around 1519 FPS...
When I bump it up to 100 grains its hits around 1662 FPS...
I have it sighted so that with a little hold under at 25 yards or less and a little hold over at 75 yards I can hit where I want
( mostly ) out to 100 yards...a hold over of about a foot will have me hitting at 200 yards.

Just what does this prove...nothing really other than I "know" my rifle and load.
This comes from practice at the range , during rendezvous , monthly club shoots , shooting it like many of us did a .22 rifle using it as a "plinker"...In short treating it like a rifleman did of his rifle in the 18th and 19th centuries.
All of this use , about 20 plus years of use , has convinced me that a traditional muzzleloader can be shot well...I do have the ribbons and been kept fed enough times to know this.

Ah but that is a percussion rifle...what about them flintlocks in the rain in such...?
A flintlock , properly timed and tuned , with a sharp flint , clear touch hole and fresh priming it will go off , even in the rain.
The trick here is again to learn your rifle and load...
This only comes from practice.
Will it work every time , all the time...? Nope.
This often comes from failure to check :
The sharpness of the flint...
Tightness of the jaw...
Clear vent / touch hole...
Too much or too little priming...
Or...
Poor quality of the lock itself...
Vent / touch hole place wrong in relation to the pan...
Any of the above is not the fault of the gun , or the design , but the person who is using the gun or made the lock ....

A traditional muzzleloader requires one to learn all the nuances in its use.
It forces one to focus on the mechanics of loading and shooting , until they become second nature.
Often one also makes their own shooting gear as well and can gain new skills and insights into hunting and shooting.

Which really isn't much different than say shooting a more modern rifle such as a AR15.
One must learn the rifle and load as well as practice with it , if one wants to be good at it.
About the only thing a AR15 does different is shoot faster and reload faster...but that is not the sum of usefulness now is it...?

Both can place a bullet / round ball accurately on the target , both can win a match , bring home dinner or even defend oneself....all that anyone asks of a rifle....which is useful.
Andy
 

11Charlie

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Good post Andy!! You make some very valid points about muzzle loaders and flintlocks still being a valid option that I know I have never really thought of or considered. To me with the options today I can see them being used for hunting or sport.

In a SHTF scenario would you still grab your Hawken? I am using your Hawken because I know that is your go to and the one you are most proficient with. I know for most myself included I would leave that behind but I am not you and nearly as proficient with a muzzle loader as you. Heck I have never shot one to be honest.
 

bbbass

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Well, in comparison, my .22lr rifle shoots a 30gr projectile at only 1295fps so it is even less impressive ballistically. Yet almost everybody says they want to have one for apocalyptic scenarios. In that I can discourage bad guys, and feed my family for years with one box of 500 shells. Your point is well taken Andy!!
 
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Andy54Hawken

Andy54Hawken

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Good post Andy!! You make some very valid points about muzzle loaders and flintlocks still being a valid option that I know I have never really thought of or considered. To me with the options today I can see them being used for hunting or sport.

In a SHTF scenario would you still grab your Hawken? I am using your Hawken because I know that is your go to and the one you are most proficient with. I know for most myself included I would leave that behind but I am not you and nearly as proficient with a muzzle loader as you. Heck I have never shot one to be honest.
It would depend on the just what S hit the fan...
If I need to engage multiple targets , by myself , a repeating firearm would be nice...
I have a few of those I shoot very well with.

But if we are just talking the need to make a rifle shot count when needed , then my Hawken would be the one I'd use...If backed up by others , I'd feel pretty comfortable being in a fortified and fixed position with my Hawken....

As for having never shot a muzzleloader...Oh the Horror...! We need to fix that and soon...:D
Andy
 
I exclude Hi-Points as they deserve nothing. :p
I'm not usually a critic of anyone's choice of firearms, be it for serious matters or recreation, but I have to agree with this. There was a Hi-Point in .45 ACP that came into the office recently for a transfer. I took it out to record the serial number and other markings per the law. I would describe it as terribly balanced, heavy, clunky, ugly as sin, and otherwise cheap looking. If seriously bad things were going down and I had to defend my family, this would not be the firearm I'd want to be wielding in said defense. It wasn't my piece, of course, I was just handling the FFL transfer (for a small fee) for a local, so it is a nonissue.

Back on topic @AndyinEverson, have you done much shooting with double-barrel, SxS, muzzleloading shotguns? I'll admit to having an interest in said, but have only shot cartridge shotguns. Thanks. :)
 
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Andy54Hawken

Andy54Hawken

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Back on topic @AndyinEverson, have you done much shooting with double-barrel, SxS, muzzleloading shotguns? I'll admit to having an interest in said, but have only shot cartridge shotguns. Thanks. :)
Oh yeah...they are fun to shoot for sure.
Many a clay bird , rabbit and grouse have been taken with a ML SxS that I have used...
I have found that my hunting range regardless of gauge or choke in a ML SxS has been around 30 yards or so...the traditional loading has been an equal amount of powder and shot...which is mostly true...I suggest like always play around , find the load your gun likes and stick with that...
Andy
 
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Most of the arguments I'm seeing here favoring traditional ML's seem to revolve around "If you do it just right and master a particular set of skills then you too can enjoy reasonable performance out of this tech within the increasingly out of date limits it has."

All of which are fine for hobby and sport purposes, but they quickly fall by the wayside when anything serious needs done. People have hunted and killed with pointy sticks, blunt rocks, and the odd chasing of animals off a cliff. They've made war with similar tools, but somehow nobody is embracing the pointy stick and blunt rock approach to hunting and SHTF protection. I don't see anyone advocating horse drawn chariots for SHTF protection, or a handgonne for a last ditch self defense role.

Why? Because traditional muzzleloaders exist in a historical limbo that is heavily rose tinted and steeped in several centuries of cultivated and massaged tradition. The flintlock gives you a direct connection to the early American settlers pushing west towards the far blue mountains. The Hawken ties us to the romance of the fur trade. A musket might connect us to the glory of the Civil War, or to the mythos of the wagon trains crossing the prairie.

So we try to find reasons to use them. When the historical appeal of real or replica artifacts kicks in, we want to use those tools, to feel their purpose, and slip back into the sepia toned past. Eventually hunting in specially segregated seasons, and various forms of authentic or semi-authentic shooting matches, combined with mastering the unique skillset needed to make these things work properly, create a need to further justify and promote their use.

That's when we cross over into "10 ways to use your musket when the zombies come. Number 5 will surprise you!"

It gets worse when the odd Fudd who thinks any gun that isn't a blued and wooden stocked hunting rifle is ok to ban decides that a ML is also a grand and noble tool that represents the "true" art of hunting/shooting/whatever. (Note, I don't think any of those Fudds are in this thread).

In SHTF, conceivably any technology is suitable for use in a pinch. When things go south, you keep rolling technology back as your supplies deplete, until you are reduced to the rocks and sticks from earlier. Anything better than that is a step in the right direction. But that too is steeped in romance and cultivated mythology. The noble survivor making do with what he has on hand, fending off the bandits/bear/tyrant soldiers/etc...

One might have mastered a primitive technology, but that does not require justifying it, or trying to find a place for it through convoluted means of extolling alleged virtues for a carefully developed SHTF scenario. That's the stuff of fiction, not planning. And I've met far too many people who think their ML will be all they need when the zombies come. Except the zombies have repeating cartridge rifles, body armor, and vehicles. Grizzly Adams 0, zombies 1. Maybe one of them will enjoy the cool ML though and take it as a trophy.

To me, when people start trotting out ML's as something other than hobby and sport guns, we cross over into the realm of surreal and fiction. When modern ML designs are eschewed, then the surrealism gets stronger as the attempts to force a single acceptable idea of what ML's are grows.

ML's are so heavily steeped in nostalgia and romance as to become a strange subculture of gun owners who are trying to bring forward elements of the past that the very people they emulate abandoned as technology advanced and became available. There are cases where a ML or some sort could be a stand in for self defense use, but it is almost always rooted in legal, rather than technical issues.

In short, I think the only use for traditional muzzleloaders in the 21st century are hunting, sport and hobby uses, and as a way to make money through the vibrant reproduction market. They are wonderful things, fun to play with and own, and put historical items into the hands of people who could never afford the original. But if they were so great for any other use, armies would still field muskets, and cops would still carry 1851 Colts. Instead, the world quickly abandoned the technology, and the only people remaining using it are almost exclusively hobbyists or people in remote places that cannot or do not care to get anything else. In other words, outliers.
 

EPS

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Oh if I can I will add something.
They are fun to shoot .
The reload time gives you plenty of time to B.S.
With others at the range.lol
And just in case .
Did you know that almost all black powder muzzleloader gun's .
Cap and ball or Flint locks are untraceable.
All the balls have different markings on the round .
If you can find the round in the first place.
Me and @AndyinEverson .
Have dug up a round ball after a shot in the sand.
There is no way to get Rifle marks off it .
It's basically a lump of lead.
LOL JUST SAYING. HEHEE
 

OldBroad44

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As for muzzle loaders and SHTF scenarios, seems like it depends on duration of the S. If things were set back for a couple of generations or more, the stockpiles of factory cartridges and even factory white powder and reloading components would be long gone, wouldn't they? You could presumably make your own black powder and find your own flint. I was attracted for a while to archery, not with fancy modern bows that it takes a factory to make, but recurves or longbows, something I could, at least in theory, actually make myself if I had to. And we still do learn how to hit things with rocks or rock substitutes. We enjoy it. The fact that there are guns, bombs and missiles doesn't at all change our pleasure in being able to accurately throw a baseball or nail something with a rock or snowball.
 
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Andy54Hawken

Andy54Hawken

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Most of the arguments I'm seeing here favoring traditional ML's seem to revolve around "If you do it just right and master a particular set of skills then you too can enjoy reasonable performance out of this tech within the increasingly out of date limits it has."

All of which are fine for hobby and sport purposes, but they quickly fall by the wayside when anything serious needs done. People have hunted and killed with pointy sticks, blunt rocks, and the odd chasing of animals off a cliff. They've made war with similar tools, but somehow nobody is embracing the pointy stick and blunt rock approach to hunting and SHTF protection. I don't see anyone advocating horse drawn chariots for SHTF protection, or a handgonne for a last ditch self defense role.

Why? Because traditional muzzleloaders exist in a historical limbo that is heavily rose tinted and steeped in several centuries of cultivated and massaged tradition. The flintlock gives you a direct connection to the early American settlers pushing west towards the far blue mountains. The Hawken ties us to the romance of the fur trade. A musket might connect us to the glory of the Civil War, or to the mythos of the wagon trains crossing the prairie.

So we try to find reasons to use them. When the historical appeal of real or replica artifacts kicks in, we want to use those tools, to feel their purpose, and slip back into the sepia toned past. Eventually hunting in specially segregated seasons, and various forms of authentic or semi-authentic shooting matches, combined with mastering the unique skillset needed to make these things work properly, create a need to further justify and promote their use.

That's when we cross over into "10 ways to use your musket when the zombies come. Number 5 will surprise you!"

It gets worse when the odd Fudd who thinks any gun that isn't a blued and wooden stocked hunting rifle is ok to ban decides that a ML is also a grand and noble tool that represents the "true" art of hunting/shooting/whatever. (Note, I don't think any of those Fudds are in this thread).

In SHTF, conceivably any technology is suitable for use in a pinch. When things go south, you keep rolling technology back as your supplies deplete, until you are reduced to the rocks and sticks from earlier. Anything better than that is a step in the right direction. But that too is steeped in romance and cultivated mythology. The noble survivor making do with what he has on hand, fending off the bandits/bear/tyrant soldiers/etc...

One might have mastered a primitive technology, but that does not require justifying it, or trying to find a place for it through convoluted means of extolling alleged virtues for a carefully developed SHTF scenario. That's the stuff of fiction, not planning. And I've met far too many people who think their ML will be all they need when the zombies come. Except the zombies have repeating cartridge rifles, body armor, and vehicles. Grizzly Adams 0, zombies 1. Maybe one of them will enjoy the cool ML though and take it as a trophy.

To me, when people start trotting out ML's as something other than hobby and sport guns, we cross over into the realm of surreal and fiction. When modern ML designs are eschewed, then the surrealism gets stronger as the attempts to force a single acceptable idea of what ML's are grows.

ML's are so heavily steeped in nostalgia and romance as to become a strange subculture of gun owners who are trying to bring forward elements of the past that the very people they emulate abandoned as technology advanced and became available. There are cases where a ML or some sort could be a stand in for self defense use, but it is almost always rooted in legal, rather than technical issues.

In short, I think the only use for traditional muzzleloaders in the 21st century are hunting, sport and hobby uses, and as a way to make money through the vibrant reproduction market. They are wonderful things, fun to play with and own, and put historical items into the hands of people who could never afford the original. But if they were so great for any other use, armies would still field muskets, and cops would still carry 1851 Colts. Instead, the world quickly abandoned the technology, and the only people remaining using it are almost exclusively hobbyists or people in remote places that cannot or do not care to get anything else. In other words, outliers.
You are of course able to have your opinion...
But your thoughts and opinion are wrong for me .

My use of a traditional muzzleloader is not limited to hunting or as a hobby ...they are my primary shooting firearms.
And I will do just fine with them in almost any situation...this is not a romantic notion , fiction or surreal at least for me.
I shoot mine as often as I can , and have won far to many shooting matches , casual contests again modern guns and kept my family fed for far too long to be anything other than a very practical arm for me.

Please re-read my posts
At no time did I suggest or say that :
Armies should go back to muzzleloading arms..
Cops should only carry a '51 Colt revolver...
That muzzleloading guns are for everyone or for every situation...
Nor did I mention zombies....or any sort of historical romance...
Or that one must dress like Fess Parker to shoot one...

To be sure the history behind the firearms , dress and skills to learn and master , of those 18th and 19h century people , have a strong appeal for me.
I would even argue that the learning of these skills can be fun and worthwhile.

To drift a bit...flint and steel firestarting...would I say abandon matches and lighters..Nope...but if you learn how to use a flint and steel to start a fire , then you have yet another way to make a fire , which may come in handy if matches are damp or the lighter is lost...

Back to the point...nowhere , in any of my postings here on the forum , have I ever said that one must do everything as they did back in the day or that everyone should do so.
I prefer to , and it works for me...

I did say that , muzzleloading arms still work well for shooting and hunting.
Along with the fact that if you take the time to learn how to use one , it will do what you need a gun to do.

This point which you seem to take real issue with is confusing to me...
As shooting any firearm well takes the learning and mastering of certain skills

I have also repeatedly said that it is worthwhile to learn old skills along with older methods of shooting , and that to discount such knowledge is unwise.
Again not to forgo using newer methods of anything , just don't outright dismiss old tech and ways , as useless for today's world.

I understand that many people just can't master the set of skills to use them or have the mental ability and mindset to learn to do so.
Again they are not for everyone ...So I suggest that you stay away from traditional muzzleloading firearms.
Andy
 

11Charlie

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It would depend on the just what S hit the fan...
If I need to engage multiple targets , by myself , a repeating firearm would be nice...
I have a few of those I shoot very well with.

But if we are just talking the need to make a rifle shot count when needed , then my Hawken would be the one I'd use...If backed up by others , I'd feel pretty comfortable being in a fortified and fixed position with my Hawken....

As for having never shot a muzzleloader...Oh the Horror...! We need to fix that and soon...:D
Andy
Thank you for your reply Andy. I was thinking you would say something like that and makes perfect sense to me. As for the range time I am sure that we will be spending more time up in your neck of the woods helping my dad since the loss of my mom. Maybe a range day would do him some good as well. I will reach out and let you know the next time we make the trip.
 
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Andy54Hawken

Andy54Hawken

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Thank you for your reply Andy. I was thinking you would say something like that and makes perfect sense to me. As for the range time I am sure that we will be spending more time up in your neck of the woods helping my dad since the loss of my mom. Maybe a range day would do him some good as well. I will reach out and let you know the next time we make the trip.
Thank you for understanding what I am saying here in my postings.
Any time spent with you or your dad would be wonderful.
Andy
 
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You are of course able to have your opinion...
But your thoughts and opinion are wrong for me .

My use of a traditional muzzleloader is not limited to hunting or as a hobby ...these are my primary shooting firearms.
And I will do just fine with them in almost any situation...this is not a romantic notion , fiction or surreal at least for me.
I shoot mine as often as I can , and have won far to many shooting matches , casual contests again modern guns and kept my family fed far too long to be otherwise.

Please re-read my posts
At no time did I suggest or say that :
Armies should go back to muzzleloading arms..
Cops should only carry a '51 Colt revolver...
That muzzleloading guns are for everyone or for every situation...

I did say that muzzleloading arms still work well for shooting and hunting.
Along with the fact that if you take the time to learn how to use one , it will do what you need a gun to do.

This point which you seemed to take real issue with is confusing to me...As shooting any firearm well , takes time to learn and master certain skills.


I understand that many people just can't master the set of skills to use them or have the mental ability and mindset to learn to do so.
Again they are not for everyone ...So I suggest that you stay away from muzzleloading firearms.
Andy
I am with you Andy. Been shooting bp guns since 1965. Every thing you said is right on . And when it comes to big bears well a lot of them were taken back in the day. Cant say how many mountain men were killed buy bears but a lot were not. Shot placement, thats what its all about.
 

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