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Author Topic: "It Finally Happened to Me"  (Read 169 times)

Online RobD

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"It Finally Happened to Me"
« on: February 22, 2021, 08:01:20 AM »
"It Finally Happened to Me"

~ Excerpt from Mike Nesbitt's column in the November/December 2013 Muzzleloader Magazine

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Well, it finally happened to me. While at the Free Trapper's November Turkey shoot last year (2012), I took my first shot with "Tacky Too", my .54 caliber flintlock Leman styled rifle, just as a fouling shot.  The bore was oily and I knew that, so the fouling shot was necessary.  I poked a good hole in the powder through the flash-hole and that powder simply felt soggy.  Then the pan was primed to the top, and as much FFFFg as possible was poked or shaken through the flash-hole in order to get as much fire as possible inside the barrel. That shot still had slow ignition, just as I expected.  Then, while preparing to load for the next shot which was going to be fired for score, the powder had just begun to pour from my powder measure and into the bore when it was touched off by a lingering spark down inside the barrel.  That powder charge, only 50 grains of FFg, blew the powder measure out of my hand and left me with some very numb and sooty fingers.  Yes, I quickly checked and counted those fingers!  All of which were still present and accounted for, quite thankfully!  Then the numbness began to wear thin and I quickly submerged my blackened and aching hand in the cool of the rainwater barrel.  That cleaned some of the soot off my fingers and it allowed me to begin feeling normal again.

My powder measure, one of the old treasured ones from Doc Haddaway, was blown more than a few yards away but I was able to find it.  Other than being very sooty, like my hand, there was no damage to the powder measure. However, the blast at the muzzle of my rifle was enough to send that powder measure far enough that I know how lucky a guy can be to not have my fingers directly in front of the gun's muzzle.

The experience allows me to testify that there is certainly a chance of having a lingering spark present in the gun's barrel that can be "hot" enough to ignite the next powder charge.  Why it happened this time, and I'm just guessing, is because my gun's bore was left rather oily after being fired and cleaned during the previous week on a rainy day.  The oil was wiped down the bore just after cleaning the gun.  My thought is that some of the powder in my first powder charge absorbed some of that oil and did not burn completely when the shot was fired but remained in the bore, allowing a "slow spark" to remain after firing my first shot.

Just let me say that a premature ignition can certainly happen.  I had never seen or witnessed such a thing in over 40 years of shooting muzzleloaders but, I will say it again: it finally happened to me.

As I look back on it, there was at least one warning sign which I completely ignored and this is being mentioned just to give you all of the details from my recent experience.  Right after that first shot was fired, the hangfire because of the oily bore, my gun's muzzle was pouring out smoke that was a slightly different color and thicker than the usual wisps of white smoke from a "just fired" muzzleloader.  That smoke had a yellowish tinge to it and I plainly remember seeing it.  That should have warned me that something might still be burning down the barrel, but it didn't.

I might be ridiculed for admitting that the next charge of powder was poured into the barrel while the bore was still smoking and that will be a ridicule that I accept because I deserve it.  But let me ask, how many of you have never added powder for the next shot while the barrel still contained or emitted a little smoke?  We shoot guns that make a lot of smoke and we tend to get used to it or relaxed about it.  Yes, I deserve that bit of ridicule and I will allow a black powder shooter "who is without sin to cast the first stone."


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

THIS IS WHY WE "BLOW DOWN THE BARREL" IMMEDIATELY AFTER EVERY SHOT IS TAKEN.  It is a SAFETY MEASURE.  Cup your hand 'round the muzzle and blow into it.  When smoke stops pouring out the touch hole or nipple, the barrel is safe to accept the next powder charge. Further reading on this matter - http://bwanabob.info/page2.html 

The NMLRA considers this practice to be unsafe!  Most clubs and matches follow that dictum, unfortunately.  To get around that nonsense, I carry and use a foot long length of neoprene tubing to accomplish blowing down the barrel.

Online rollingb

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 10:48:23 AM »
That's why,.... I blow down the barrel and watch the smoke come out of the touch hole/nipple after my rifle has "fired".  :bl th up
The NMLRA (and their ridiculous rule against doing so), be damned!  :toast

Can you imagine the outcome, if the NMLRA told a hunter/shooter from centuries past,.... "Hey, you can't do that"!  :laffing
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Online Bigsmoke

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 12:32:59 PM »
Interestingly enough, I recollect a company that produced a "blow tube" to take care of that situation.  It was about a foot long piece of 3/8" ??? neoprene tubing with a tapered plug on one end so it could be used on most anything from a .45 cal up to maybe a .58 cal rifle.
I thought it was a great idea and ordered in a couple of dozen of them to see how they sold.  Sorry to say, they were dead stock and I finally had to special them out at below cost, just to clear out the dead inventory.
On the other hand, I also recall buying .45-70 brass by the box full and making blow tubes for the BPCR shooters.  I would drill a hole enlarging the primer pocket and solder a piece of soft 3/8 copper tubing into it.  Sold lots of those.
So, it goes to prove, you never can tell...

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Online BEAVERMAN

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 01:13:12 PM »
And that is why I NEVER! stick my pie hole over any barrel! Ol Mr KNOWITALL should have dry patched that barrel before the first load!
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Online Ohio Joe

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2021, 02:27:38 PM »
Before my first load of the day; I pop a cap - then blow down the barrel and run a cleaning patch - then I blow down my barrel once again... If shooting a flintlock I'll set off a little prime in the pan - blow down the barrel then pick the vent with a pipe cleaner after running a dry patch...

After the above - I load, I prime (or cap), aim and fire - then I blow down the barrel and watch the smoke escape through the vent or nipple... I'm not going to change my routine / nor use a blow tube... I've been blessed to know exactly when my muzzle loading firearm has fired. It's not rocket science.

And in many cases, those who have had mishaps should have taken note of their loading / reloading instead of b-s 'ing, or simply not paying attention to their task at hand.

Just my opinion.  :shake
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Online RobD

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2021, 02:45:14 PM »
And that is why I NEVER! stick my pie hole over any barrel! Ol Mr KNOWITALL should have dry patched that barrel before the first load!

Yes, he made some egregious mistakes.  Kudos to him for sharing his folly in a national magazine. 

However, he never recommend the notion of blowing or swabbing the bore before pouring down the powder ... and in his reference about folks pouring down powder into a smoking barrel, that's just plain INSANE

But even more importantly, ALWAYS either blow the tube or swab it before dropping down the powder charge.  This is just pure common safety sense that appears to be missing from the NMLRA nomenclature.

Online RobD

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2021, 03:01:16 PM »
Before my first load of the day; I pop a cap - then blow down the barrel and run a cleaning patch - then I blow down my barrel once again... If shooting a flintlock I'll set off a little prime in the pan - blow down the barrel then pick the vent with a pipe cleaner after running a dry patch...

After the above - I load, I prime (or cap), aim and fire - then I blow down the barrel and watch the smoke escape through the vent or nipple... I'm not going to change my routine / nor use a blow tube... I've been blessed to know exactly when my muzzle loading firearm has fired. It's not rocket science.

And in many cases, those who have had mishaps should have taken note of their loading / reloading instead of b-s 'ing, or simply not paying attention to their task at hand.

Just my opinion.  :shake

I fully agree, Joe.

The NMLRA simply caved in to mislead public sentiment about how to treat guns safely, as well as doing a CYA for any lawsuits as a result of stupid people blowing down the tube of a fully loaded gun.

Online Winter Hawk

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2021, 03:37:20 PM »
If shooting a flintlock I'll set off a little prime in the pan - blow down the barrel then pick the vent with a pipe cleaner after running a dry patch...
I don't see the use of priming the piece, except that it may burn some oil out of the vent.  If that is what you are trying to do, then I suggest running a dry patch down the bore first.  The air pressure in front of the patch should push oil out, after which lighting off a small prime may burn off any residual lubricant.

With a caplock, popping off a cap with the muzzle by a leaf or patch of grass provides enough pressure to push any oil out of the nipple and bolster and you should see the leaf/grass move.  If you don't, pop off another cap or two; if there still isn't any movement of the light stuff it is time to clean out the nipple and fire channel. 

At any rate, always run a dry patch down the bore first to remove oil.  I have even gone so far as to run a patch moistened with isopropyl alcohol down to dissolve the oil and dry the barrel (a tip I read on the old MLML site) followed by a dry patch.

AS Rondo posted, I also blow down the bore after the shot and watch the smoke....

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Online Ohio Joe

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2021, 05:54:53 PM »
No reason not to do what works for ye, Kees.  :shake
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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #9 on: February 24, 2021, 07:33:27 AM »
Yep...usually wipe my flint...pan and frizzen with an alcohol patch and swab the barrel.  Sometimes I do this before I go shooting...sometimes after I get out.  And yes, I do blow down the barrel after a shot  :bl th up
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Offline JB67

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2021, 07:24:14 AM »
While the NMLRA frowns on placing the mouth or face over the barrel to blow down, I believe lhe OP's method of cupping the hand and blowing indirectly is reasonably safe.
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