I am pretty new to blackpowder and muzzleloading. I would be very grateful for any advice anyone can provide with regard to the following:
I want a flintlock rifle or smoothbore musket. I have seen some attractive-looking repro muskets offered for sale by Middlesex Village Trading Co., Loyalist Arms, Military Heritage, and Veteran Arms. I know that most, if not all, of these guns are made in India and are stocked with 'rosewood' - teak and the like, but they seem reasonably well-built and I am not looking for perfection as far as historical accuracy is concerned. I plan to use the flintlock I purchase for hunting and practice. My self-imposed price range is up to $700, so most of the Pedersoli pieces are out of the question (which is fine because I tend to be wary of Italian-made stuff unless it's a sports car.)
What recommendations can you make? I am really leaning toward a smoothbore since I already have a percussion Enfield rifle. Has anyone had any experience with any of the companies I've mentioned, or the guns they sell? I've narrowed it down to either a Model 1777 French Infantry Pattern or the 1756-ish Brown Bess Long Land Pattern (with the brass nose cap.)
Also, any advice anyone can provide with regard to aiming one of these cannons would be much appreciated. I have no experience aiming a gun without sights. I know that, in the earlier years, the British army actually discouraged aiming in favor of rate-of-fire, but I also learned that during the F&I War there was a period where troops were encouraged to learn to aim, at least to a degree.
Again, I would be very grateful for any advice my experienced peers would care to provide.
Hi, in my opinion the italian made reproductions are probably at least as safe as the original and better due to todays manufacture abilities to maintain quality control, that are so much better than 3 centuries ago. So I myself would erase that as a concern.
As far as aiming, I would use the same aiming procedure as a sightless shotgun. Just aim down the center of the top line of the barrel and keep that line till its on the target you aim to hit, remember that these smooth bores only have a very limited range where they might hit them target, like 50 yds. at best, some may shoot further on target, Much further than that and a rifled barrel is mighty handy, if not mandatory. I know alot of folks like to shoot the smooth bore. I hope yu get something in your price range, watch the for sale links on several of the muzzleloading sites. there are many sites that have muzzleloaders in their forums and alot are sold in the guns for sale threads, check the states regulations on selling and shipping to avoid trouble. best wishes, ray
Keep in mind that smooth bore muskets were not INTENDED to be aimed at a specific target, but fired in a volley in the general direction of the enemy, so that front sight/bead is kind of like a bead on a shotgun...it may not even be centered, it's more of a reference point. The old saying was that a man will PROBABLY get hit by a deliberately aimed ball at 50 yds or less, MIGHT get hit by one up to 100 yds, but "It is the exceedingly unlucky man that finds himself hit by a deliberately aimed ball from a musket at 100 yds or more." I forget who said that but it WAS a famous 18th century General! LOL
The GOOD news is you can load buck and ball loads, or even Ball and Bird loads so you can hunt small game but at close range still have a ball in there to deal with a Deer, bear, or a Savage seeking scalps.
And the OTHER thing is the flintlock muskets use a BIG flint like 1" or more that lasts longer, can be knapped easier, and gives a HUGE shower of sparks so it's a lot more dependable than some finicky rifles with only 1/2" or 5/8" flints. Like MINE
But theoretically you COULD put decent sights on one AND use a very well sized ball matched closely to the particular bore, theoretically you COULD get decent accuracy at least out to 100 yd, maybe more. The round ball is "ballistically perfect," but loses energy pretty quickly after 100 yds.
I even shot 3 shots of trap with a Brown Bess at a Father's Day Shoot at Conner Prairie about 20 years ago. Missed the first one by a mile because I didn't follow through since it went boom a while after that big flash in my face, but hit the next two!
I want a Brown Bess, a trade musket, or a Charleville someday myself...
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Last edited by polishshooter; 02-19-2011 at 04:41 PM..
... I have seen some attractive-looking repro muskets offered for sale by Middlesex Village Trading Co., Loyalist Arms, Military Heritage, and Veteran Arms.
... I tend to be wary of Italian-made stuff unless it's a sports car.
It would be a mistake to under estimate those Italians. As craftsmen they're quite capable, not only with race cars but aircraft and yes, reproductions of black powder firearms, Uberti for example; some of the women aren't too bad either! :-)
Location: Raised in Buzzard Roost near Frog Town in hillls of Kentucky
Re: Looking for advice...
There is a breed of smooth bores that has both front and REAR sights, the smooth bore rifle. I own a custom built 62 caliber (20 ga) smooth bore Southern Mountain rifle that out to 100 yards is pretty accurate. I have taken deer at 100 yards and even a bit farther with it. Now once I get past 100 yards I prefer my rifled flinters over any of my smooth bores. I have a Brown Bess and they have advatages over otehr guns with the wider flint mentioned above being one of the main ones. The bayonet lug on it can be used as a front sight however I feel it is not as accurate a sight as I personally want past 50 yards. The wider flint and the shower of sparks it throws allows for me to prime with the same powder, 2F, that I load down the barrel. On some of my rifles I HAVE to use 4F to prime being the 2F or 3F I load down the barrel is too coarse for the amount of spark the smaller flints throw.
Bottom line IMHO if getting started into flint locks and want an all purpose gun then a military style musket or a gun of that pattern is the best to begin with. Actually less items needed to load and clean it over a rifled flinter.
Good luck and have fun. One thing I have found as to black powder shooting is most people eitehr love it or hate it with very few in between on that. I love it and will be seen in the woods with a smoke pole during modern firearm seasons. Then again I also do Rev War re-enatcments as well.
In my opinion, the Italian reproductions work better out of the box. I have seen a number of Indian made muskets that need some, sometimes a lot, of tuning before firing consistently. On the other hand, the price is half what the Italian muskets costs. For the most part, the vendors work hard to keep the customers happy.
Many thanks, all, for your opinions and advice - oddly enough, this is the first forum I've seen where opinion seemed to run in favor of Italian reproductions. It's given me something to think about, certainly~
I spent some time a few days ago talking with Wendy from Middlesex Village trading Co., and she described for me the detail and tuning work her husband puts into their guns once they get them from the Indian smiths. It was actually pretty impressive - among other things, he hardens the frizzens and then tunes them to ensure that any given lock will spark properly at least 10 consecutive times before they send it out. I was looking at their version of the Potsdam musket c.1740 earlier today, and it's a fine-looking piece. It even puts down my anxiety over lack of a rear sight :P
@ jjmitchell: I actually dragged out my old two-band Enfield for hunting season last year. Took a little whitetail buck with it, too. The first time I fired that gun was the first time I ever A.) fired a blackpowder weapon, and B.) shot a deer. In retrospect, I don't think I acted very intelligently; here I am headed into the woods by myself with all the equipment but only book knowledge (and a lot of Youtube hours! lol) about how a muzzleloader works and needs to be handled...no practical experience, and with a 140 year-old gun to boot. Oh, well...I survived, the deer did not, and all's well that ends well, eh?