Need loading advice for Harpers Ferry 69 cal

Discussion in 'Black Powder Shooting / Muzzleloaders / Handguns' started by Grandpa1948, Feb 4, 2010.

  1. Grandpa1948

    Grandpa1948 New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
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    Location:
    San Angelo, Texas
    Hope some of you fellas out there can give me some information on what would be a safe load to use in my original 1842 Harpers Ferry smoothbore.
    I acquired this gun many years ago, and would like to fire it before I leave this world. Had the gun inspected when I got it, and it was deemed safe to fire.

    As to loads, 69 cal ball, 65 cal ball, patched or unpatched? I don't particularly desire the buck and ball load. What is a safe powder charge, just want to "get the feel" of the gun. This type of gun radically different from anything I have ever messed with, so I feel it is prudent to ask the experts before I make it go "boom". Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Dave.
  2. flintlock

    flintlock Active Member

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    I probably would not fire it myself due to it's age. Others will certainly disagree with me. If you really want to fire it, I'd load it with 60 grains of FFG black powder, and a .660 round ball with a patch. That shouldn't be too heavy a load for your gun. With these old timers you have to remember that metalurgy has improved over the years, and so has the quality and strength of black powder. The old guns are not as strong as todays.
  3. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

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    No problem in firing these old weapons, IF they are in good condition (we do it all the time). Make certain that it's NOT loaded (from a forgotten firing, way-back-when), and that your primer channel is not obstructed.

    Place shooting glasses on face. Ear protection is recommended, also.
    Fire a couple of PRIMER only rounds, while pointing the barrel at the GROUND. You should notice grass, twigs, leaves, etc. moving about when the primer ignites. This indicates that your primer channel is clear, a very good sign. Load 50 - 65 grains(well under a service load) of FFG BLACKPOWDER, not a substitute. Some use a foil patch (I do). Tamp this firmly (but don't beat it to death) in the barrel. Place primer, aim, and fire. There will be a significant recoil felt.

    If you decide to fire again, you can skip the 'in the ground' phase, mentioned above. However, be certain that no body part covers the barrel, or the end of the ramrod during the loading process. Cook-offs are no fun under the best of circumstances.

    Clean with hot water and soap. Lightly oil, inside and out; afterwards. Place on wall, enjoy!
  4. Grandpa1948

    Grandpa1948 New Member

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    Location:
    San Angelo, Texas
    I finally got around to shooting the old Harper's Ferry musket recently. I went with 70 grains of FF behind a .662 patched pure lead ball & was quite amazed at what I could hit at 100 yds. After shooting nothing but modern rifles, super magnums included for more than 50 years, I had the best time at the range that I can remember.

    It's been a long time between postings, but wanted to thank all of you for your advice. It is a real pleasure to have all of your experience to draw from.
  5. sewerman

    sewerman New Member

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    Jan 22, 2007
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    Location:
    hurricane ally florida
    the army manual for the times stated the use of round ball and buck & ball.

    later a conical bullet was designed for use when this rifle (12K of them) were rifled during the war for southern independence.

    the powder charge was 110 grains though i have used/shot this charge, 70-60 grains is more enjoyable. the 110 grain may have been a carry over from when the earlier .69s were flintlocked allowing a small portion to be used for priming & the waste involved with doing so from a paper cartridge during battle.


    i have easily hit man sized targets at 60-80 yds. but it's not consistent.

    S.M.
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