Ballistics Of A Round Ball

I found an interesting program that calculates the ballistics of a round ball. I compared the results of the program to the very little CVA gives in their sidelock manual and the program does seem to be pretty close.  Here is an example output that I did with the round ball size set to .490 and the point-of-aim to 80 yards.

0 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1800/1276.4 Drop =   -1.0 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.000
5 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1739/1191.5 Drop =   -0.6 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.008
10 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1675/1105.2 Drop =   -0.2 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.017
15 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1615/1027.3 Drop =    0.2 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.026
20 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1559/957.0 Drop =    0.5 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.035
25 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1500/886.5 Drop =    0.8 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.045
30 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1445/823.1 Drop =    1.1 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.055
35 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1391/762.4 Drop =    1.3 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.066
40 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1342/710.0 Drop =    1.4 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.077
45 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1299/664.4 Drop =    1.5 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.088
50 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1255/620.9 Drop =    1.5 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.100
60 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1178/546.5 Drop =    1.3 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.125
70 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1118/492.3 Drop =    0.8 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.151
80 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1072/452.7 Drop =   -0.0 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.178
90 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1034/420.9 Drop =   -1.3 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.207
100 Yds: FPS/fpe = 1001/394.4 Drop =   -2.9 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.236
120 Yds: FPS/fpe =  939/347.6 Drop =   -7.5 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.298
140 Yds: FPS/fpe =  885/308.6 Drop =  -14.1 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.364
160 Yds: FPS/fpe =  837/275.8 Drop =  -23.1 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.434
180 Yds: FPS/fpe =  792/246.8 Drop =  -34.8 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.508
200 Yds: FPS/fpe =  748/220.4 Drop =  -49.5 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.586
220 Yds: FPS/fpe =  706/196.5 Drop =  -67.6 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.668
240 Yds: FPS/fpe =  665/174.4 Drop =  -90.1 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.756
260 Yds: FPS/fpe =  626/154.5 Drop = -117.1 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.849
280 Yds: FPS/fpe =  589/136.5 Drop = -149.3 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 0.947
300 Yds: FPS/fpe =  552/120.1 Drop = -188.5 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 1.053
320 Yds: FPS/fpe =  517/105.4 Drop = -234.7 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 1.165
340 Yds: FPS/fpe =  484/ 92.1 Drop = -289.8 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 1.285
360 Yds: FPS/fpe =  451/ 80.3 Drop = -354.7 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 1.413
380 Yds: FPS/fpe =  420/ 69.6 Drop = -431.9 in. Drift =  0.0 in. TOF = 1.551

Caliber: 0.49 Inch Bullet Weighing 176.5 Grains
Aim Point: 80 Yards with 0 MPH Crosswind
Sight Plane: 1.0 Inches
Muzzle Velocity: 1800 fps

It seems like a point-of-aim at around 80 yards seems to make the round ball shoot pretty flat out to 100 yards, which would be about the farthest you would want to shot at a deer while hunting.

The round ball calculation program can be found for free here on this page.

Common Questions About Gun Flint

The following was written by Rich Pierce (who knaps some really good flint) and is used with his permission.

Common questions about flints

Are English or French or cut American or knapped American flints “best”? There is no simple answer to this question.  Lumping all French flints or all English flints or all American flints together and discussing which are best does not recognize the variability you will find among these different types.  But as you decide which gunflints may be best for you, consider what you want from your flint.  Generally the 3 qualities shooters care about are performance, price or value, and authenticity.  Let’s start with the easiest first.  If you are interested in authenticity, then get French flints if your persona would be in French trade areas, and English flints if you are in English trade areas, and do not worry about price or performance.  Performance?  Performance can mean “flint life” or how many shots before a misfire, and how many shots total before a flint needs replacing.  Or “performance” can mean, “I want this flint to throw SHOWERS of hot sparks into the pan when I am deer hunting and if I get 10 shots out of it and never a misfire at deer, then this is a great flint.”  Performance does not depend so much on the TYPE of flint (English, French or various American cherts or agates) used to make gunflints.  Performance depends on material, shape (thickness and angle of the cutting edge), and most of all, on the lock and the user.  Price or value may mean “sparks per dollar” or “shots per dollar”, and you may find that flints from some suppliers give excellent value.  But if you got 100 flints for 50 cents and each was only good for three shots, you might get so frustrated that you would toss them in the weeds.  So cheaper is not always better.

What size flint do I need?  How do I know if it will work better with the bevel up or the bevel down? First, your lock or gun maker may have a  recommendation for the size of flint you need, and that is a good place to start.  But even with common production locks there is some variability in lock timing, etc and so it’s worthwhile to figure out what size flint works the best in your lock. A half hour of your time tinkering with your flintlock is never wasted
To test this, make a “fake flint” of hardwood. First measure the frizzen at its widest point. Get or cut a piece of 1/4″ thick hardwood slat and cut it to that width. If your lock is tiny, use thinner stock. Make a chisel edge at one end of the hardwood slat. Not a knife edge, but a chisel edge like on a gunflint, so there’s a “bevel up/bevel down” side to
the “fake flint”. Now cut the piece off at a length 1/4″ longer than the width measurement.

Mount this in your lock with a folded leather piece just as you would a gunflint, bevel up. Now test it.
1) Does the flint clear the frizzen at half‐cock by more than a smidgeon? If not, take some off the back until you have at least 1/16″ clearance.

2) Take it to full cock and fire it. Hopefully, no matter how hard the wood, you won’t get sparks. But did the frizzen fly open easily?

3) Go ahead and turn the flint so the bevel is down (flat surface on top). Now it should strike higher on the frizzen. How’s your clearance to the frizzen? How did the frizzen fly open? Keep trimming the backside of the fake flint until you have a measurement that works, then trace around the fake flint on a piece of cardboard. This is you “max size template”. Make 3 copies and write which rifle they belong to. Stick one in the patchbox now.

4) Now keep shortening the back of the “fake flint” until it starts to fail to flip the frizzen open and note whether it fails first in the bevel up or bevel down position. Note when the flint is so short that the top jaw hits first (been there!).

Now you have the correct maximum width and the minimum and maximum length of flints that will work in your flintlock. Use this when ordering or better yet when picking out flints at a shop or vendor.

How do I mount the flint to get the best performance? Always mount the flint so that it will strike the frizzen 2/3 to at most 3/4 of the way up from the bottom of the frizzen. Make adjustments as needed if bevel up or bevel down. Do not trust the adage that the flint should just about touch the frizzen at half cock. That’s hooey and just depends on how the tumbler notches are cut. To pad the flint in the jaws of the cock, use a piece of folded leather thick enough to deform some if the flint is “peaked” but supple and thin enough to easily fold at the rear of the jaws. Whenever possible anchor the rear of the flint back at the jaw screw. If it is short, put a piece of matchstick or a square of hardwood behind the flint so it has support in the back against the top jaw screw while you extend the front edge the right amount. If the flint is the same width as, or narrower than the frizzen, mount it in the center of the jaws. If it is wider than the frizzen, mount it offset a little to the outside of the jaws so the flint will not strike the barrel. When you have it mounted so the striking edge is square to the frizzen and so it will strike 2/3 or slightly more above the base of the frizzen, tighten the dickens out of it and re‐check to see it will strike the frizzen squarely.  Now snap the lock in your unloaded gun 2x. Look for sparks and double check to see that the flint did not chip or get loose.

Now you should get 10‐15 shots with lots and lots of sparks with most any lock and flint. When you have your gun emptied after 10‐15 shots, dry fire once and see how things are going. Make adjustments as needed. This may involve flaking to sharpen the flint (some call it knapping the edge), flipping it so it is bevel down after some wear, or moving it forward in the jaws and placing support behind it. Go back to the steps outlined above after adjustment: tighten the dickens out of it, check to see it is square, and dry fire it 2x to see it is sparking. Go shoot another 10‐15 times or until you experience ignition problems.

How do I knap or sharpen my flint when it dulls? Flints can become dull or develop a projecting shiny round spot that prevents the rest of the edge from striking the frizzen.  The solution is to knap a fresh edge on the flint.  There are at least 3 basic techniques for knapping the flint.  Safety first: NEVER, no matter what precautions you take, knap the flint on a loaded gun.  No matter what technique you choose, you must make sure the gun is unloaded.  If the gun won’t fire with the flint as it is, replace the flint.  Now, to get down to business, flip the frizzen open and put the lock on half cock. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and for good measure you may want to plug the touchhole with a feather or toothpick. Being right handed I cradle the gun in the crook of my left arm with the muzzle pointing to my right and me facing the flint head on.

The simplest way to knap the flint is to strike downward across the face of the flint with a piece of coarse threaded rod about 2” long and 5/16 in diameter.  The threads give repeated small blows to the edge and give a very controlled result.  I angle a sweeping blow forward from behind the edge of the flint toward the pan.  Little chips should fall in the pan.  Always blow or brush the flint chips out.  Flint dust will cause wear or pitting of your frizzen spring and frizzen pivot and affect the fit between pan and the frizzen pan cover.

The second method is to strike the front edge of the flint with a copper, brass or soft iron tool shaped like a miniature hammer.  Place your left forefinger below the edge of the flint and press upwards with a good bit of pressure as you give little blows along the front edge of the flint.  Little chips will fall off the underside.

The third method uses no tools.  With the lock in the fired position, bring the frizzen back to lie atop the flint.  With your right hand draw the cock back as you press the frizzen down on the flint.  When the very edge of the flint is just barely below the base of the frizzen, press down mightily on the frizzen while drawing the cock back.  This should shear a fresh edge on the flint.  But it feels like scratching your fingernails on a chalkboard, so it is not for everyone.

Written By: Rich Pierce

Made A Leather Ball Bag

I made a leather ball bag to carry my round balls in. The leather is a Biz tanned deer hide that I tanned. The bag itself is cut from a pattern I made my self; it is in a bit of a heart shape with the top necked in some. The bag is stitched together with a nylon thread then turned it inside out. Then to finish it I punched six holes in it for the leather strap to go through. Pretty simple and fast to make and really looks like something a person a few hundred years ago might have used.

Rich Pierce GunFlint

Gunflint top left Agate, right English (Tom Fuller), and bottom Missouri Long Trek Flint.

Missouri Long Trek Flints or probably more commonly called in the muzzleloading world as Rich Pierce Flints has been my favorite source for flint. The flint which is really Burlington chert is collected by Rich Pierce who then hand knaps it  “using only simple tools that an early hunter might have.” The flint color varies from white to gray which Rich says is due to his “[exploring] new sources for raw material.” In my own personal experience with his flint I have found it to be typically a white color, but it is the spark that counts not the color when it comes to gunflint, so I do not really care what it looks like.

The flint I have found seems to spark similar to English flint, but there is no comparison to machined agate flint which typically sparks poorly and does not knap well for re-sharpening. In contrast both English and Missouri flint do well at re-knapping which allows for more sparks per flint. To me it seems like English flint chips less easily compared to Missouri Flint. So, I think English flint might possibly have a longer life (at least in my gun), but English flint also costs considerably more.

The cost of Rich’s flint I think is very fair. My gun seems to eat 5/8″ x 3/4″ flints the best so for $10 + $1.50 shipping I can have one dozen gunflints. This dozen when I have ordered from him has been slightly over a dozen. He seems to throw in a few usable, but not perfect flints sort of like a baker’s dozen. Anyways assuming an exact dozen flints I would pay $11.50 for 12 which comes out to about $0.96 per flint. In contrast English flint from Track Of The Wolf would cost $19.80 for a dozen plus $5.35 shipping bringing the total to $25.15; costing about $2.10 per flint. This means that even if English flints lasted twice as long as Missouri flints I would still be ahead buying Missouri flints. However, I do not think the difference in flint life is that great; while I have only used a few English flints I think Missouri flints are not far behind English flints.

Rich Pierce’s shipping also seems quite fair. He charges $1.50 for 1 dozen, $2.00 for 2 dozen, and $3.00 for 3 dozen. He also offers the use of flat rate shipping boxes for those who would like to order his some of his shards of flint in bulk. What really stands out about Rich is his return/inspection policy. When you order flint from him, he encourages you to test one of the flints in your gun then send him his money. If you are not happy with them, he says to just send them back at your expense.

When I contacted Rich for permission to post his information he asked me to say that he is currently about 3 weeks behind in orders, but hopes to make progress soon. Frozen ground has been making it hard for collecting flint and business travel has used his spare time.

Rich Pierce can be contacted at:

Rich Pierce
504 West Drive
St. Louis, MO   63130

Below is the text of the January-March 2010 price sheet for Missouri Long Trek Flint. The full PDF version is available here: Missouri Long Trek Flints Info January 2012

Missouri Long Trek Flints are hand-knapped in Missouri from white to gray “Burlington” chert that I gather myself.  I make them using only simple tools that an early hunter might have.  I don’t heat treat flint to make it easier to work or reproduce the European style of making gunflints.  As a result of my collection methods and the way I make them, the color, gloss, and shape of the gunflints vary a bit within a single batch and during the year, as I explore new sources for raw material. They are not as pretty as English or French or cut flints, but are hard to beat in “sparks per dollar”.  I hope you will find them, as I like to say, “rough, tough, and sparky”.  Standard sizes are 1/8” longer than wide. Though not “flat-topped”, they will not be overly “humpy”.  If I ship them, you can trust I’d use them.

Shipping It costs me $1.50 to pack and ship 1 dozen flints by USPS, first class, but only $2.00 to ship 2 dozen, $3.00 to ship 3 dozen, etc.  Shipping to Canada is done by air mail and sometimes takes almost 2 weeks.  Shards, being heavy, cost more to ship.  The Flat Rate Priority Mail Box of shards for strike-a-light, which contains at least 50 assorted irregular flint shards, is a great value.  Share these with friends or teach scouts or other kids how to make fire with flint and steel.  They have sharp edges but may be thick.  With the large Flat Rate box, the customer is getting more than 50 shards for $14.65, since the shipping costs me $10.45.  If you order gun flints at the same time this saves shipping costs, because it is all included in the flat rate.

Availability Lately, orders are coming very often, so please limit your order to 2-3 dozen of any one size, so other customers can be accommodated.  If you do not know the size of flint you need, check with the manufacturer of the lock or gun, or measure a flint that works well.  Flints should not be wider
than the frizzen at its widest point, and should be of a length that allows secure half-cock position, and flips the frizzen open readily.  I have another few pages on how to know what size flints to use, and how to get the best results with your flints.

Ordering Please email me ( your name, address, and quantities of flints desired, sizes, etc.  I then ship the flints to you with an invoice.  You inspect and even try for sparkiness in your gun or with your firesteel.  You don’t need to go to the range to do this.  Just dry fire an unloaded gun in a darkened room.  If satisfied, you send me cash, a money order or a check as payment, made out to “Rich Pierce”.  Please do not pre-pay, as I prefer to not have your money, while you don’t have the flints.  If the flints I send are not suitable, you may send them back to me at your expense.  That is no problem whatsoever.

Other items I occasionally build rifles and smoothbores in Colonial styles, focusing primarily on the period from 1750-1790.  I may have something in stock in the $1800-$2400 price range, so ask if you have interest.  I also make powder horns for the same time period to order, and sometimes have one or two in progress or in stock.  I favor large horns engraved with simple period designs.