Today I did a lot of sneaking through the woods; it was a rainy day so it was a good day for that type of hunting. I saw quite a few squirrels, but no deer. At the end of the rainy day my gun went off with out hesitation, which is a huge improvement over last year.
I had a good start to Muzzleloader Season. At about 7:30 AM three antlerless deer came out of the woods and started moving towards me as they were feeding. One of them finally stopped about 17 yards away from me presenting a shot between a couple trees. I took the shoot with my flintlock and had great ignition and had a solid hand when the gun fired; I felt sure I had made a hit on this deer. I took time to clean the barrel good with a wet patch and a few dry ones and then reloaded. Then I walked to the spot where the deer had been standing and was unable to find any blood or hair. My bullet had left a trace on the ground on beyond the deer so I think I made clean miss. Later that day I looked around the area where the deer had headed for after I shot and still did not find anything, so I am convinced I missed.
Later that day when I walking through some brush I saw a buck; probably had about 5 or 6 points. A few minutes later I saw an antlerless deer that seemed like it might have been a button buck, however, it did not present me with a shot.
On the plus side at the end of the day when I fired my gun, to empty it again, it went off without hesitation. Since I am on fall break from college I have Monday and Tuesday to try again! So, I am really looking forwards to spending some more time in the woods!
I visited Cooperstown Trading Post the other day to find some parts for a muzzleloader I am building. The store had a surprisingly large inventory of parts for gun building despite its small size. There were also quite a few muzzleloaders for sale both production and custom, some of which the owner build himself. One of the parts I was looking for was a butt plate, which the owner helped me find a few different options for. He even found a CVA trigger guard for my gun which is an old CVA Frontier kit with a bunch on missing parts. I was surprised at the selection of parts he had and his low prices. He charged me about $8 dollars for the trigger guard which would be about $20 on ebay. There was pretty much everything needed in that store for building a traditional long rifle, which I might someday take advantage of and build a real long rifle.
Cooperstown Trading Post Ltd.
515 Steiner Bridge Road | Valencia Pa 16059
412.670.0141 (office) | 724.586.7220 (home)
When I was browsing the muzzleloadingforum.com I came across a good post telling how to determine the rate of twist. Most production muzzleloaders gun have this stamped right on the barrel, but some do not. While some people might think the rate of twist is unimportant it really is a very important thing to know about your gun. For example, most inline muzzleloaders will have a twist rate like 1:32, 1:28, or 1:24. In contrast, a production flintlock most likely will have a 1:48 twist. Or, on the far end of the scale a custom built gun it likely to have a much slower twist such as 1:66 or 1:70. What do those numbers mean? Well, the first number, which you probably have noticed is always 1, stands for the rifling in the barrel rotating once 360 degrees. The second number stands for how many inches of barrel it would take for that rotation to happen. Now, not all barrels are longer than the second number meaning the rifling never makes a complete rotation. This causes a problem for someone wanting to measure the rate of twist since just putting a ramrod with a cleaning jag on it down the barrel and pulling it out will not cause it to rotate all the way. This is where the forum post by Birddog6 comes in handy for measuring those short barrels. Below is a modified version of his original post he gave me permission to use.
On a Clean Barrel, push a snug Oiled Patched Jag in to the breech.
Take a piece of electrical tape or masking tape & tape around the rod at the muzzle, bring the two edges of the tape up & pinch together, making a Flag at the 12 o’clock position.
Now slowly pull the rod out (letting the rod rotate) til the flag is exactly at 3 o’clock position.
Measure the distance from the muzzle up to the Flag.
If you pulled it out 12″, take the 12″ times the 4 (as you did 1/4th rotation) = 48, you have a 1 in 48 twist.
If it came out 15″, 15 x 4 = 60, you have a 1-60 twist.
16.5″ is a 1-66 twist
17.5 is a 1-70 twist.
So now that you have measured your barrel’s rate of twist how can you use that information to make yourself a better shot? Well, certain projectiles “like” certain rates of twist. For example, the round ball is most stable at a slow rate of twist such as 1:66. Sabots and conicals on the other hand need much more spin to fly accurately thus they are typically used in barrels with twist rates such as 1:28. That leaves the twist rate 1:48 in the somewhere in the middle between these two projectile types, which means it can shoot both projectiles OK. With practice, trial and error with different loads many people can make these in between barrels shoot surprisingly well, however, it does take some time and work to achieve results. It is possible to shoot round balls in a gun with a 1:28 twist and sabots in a gun with a 1:66 twist, but bear in mind that the load will most likely never be anywhere near as accurate as the correct projectile could be.
I took my flintlock out groundhog hunting today. It was a great day to go hunting; I saw two other hunters out on another hillside. When I was approaching a fence row a surprised groundhog ran to his hole and stood there looking at me. It presented a perfect shot and my pan flashed, but no boom. I re-primed and fired twice more and still could not make it go off. The groundhog grew wary of this game and went down into his hole. The lesson to be learned from this is that I should always swab my bore with rubbing alcohol followed with a dry patch instead of being lazy and just using a dry patch. This is because the oil that I put down the barrel when I fired it last must have still been in there so it dampened my powder. To finish my day I went to where I have a target set up and eventually got my gun to fire two more tries latter. 😀
While I was out hunting I also heard a turkey gobble once, so that is a positive sign for turkey season.
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.
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:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Today I did some target shooting with my muzzleloader. I am still trying to work up the best load for a round ball with my gun, but this is one of the better groups I shot today. This five shot group was shot at 50 yards using a .490 Cast Round Ball, square cut pillow ticking lubed in crisco, and 50 grains of 2F black powder.