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Black Powder

Black Powder Muzzle Loading Firearms is something you will just be interested in or passionate about as I am. For me it is a step back in time and gives me a feeling of nostalgia as I wonder what it must have been like to have lived in those times and used these firearms. The picture below is of an enthusiast who not only likes shooting these old guns, or “smoke poles” but enjoys making the clothes and accessories that go with them and would used in the country of origin or period in which they were worn.

The gun being fired in the left photo is of a reproduction Mortimer 12 gauge shotgun made by David Pedersoli from Italy. The gun is a good copy of the original but rather heavier. Although sold as a 12 gauge the bore is actually 18.3mm in diameter which makes it a 13 gauge. This is important as the wads to be used in the gun must be of the correct size to be the right interference fit in the bore,

The means of ignition for this gun is the flint. On pulling the trigger the cock holding the flint is thrown forward against the frizzen face, As the flint scraps of very small pieces of hot metal from the frizzen it flies back to open the flash pan, exposing the fine black powder that is ignited by the shower of hot sparks.

The pan now ingnites the main charge of powder in the barrel through the flash hole in the barrel wall. As you can see, in this type of firearm you get fire and smoke at both ends. This is due to the flash hole through which the flash pan ignites the main charge in the barrel. Although most of the gases go out of the muzzle there is obviously a certain amount of back pressure that forces smoke and sparks back through the vet hole. This is why many infantry men had pox marks on the faces due to the powder burns. That is why today it is mandatory to wear eye and ear protection

The pictures above are really to show another historic costume worn buy the enthusiast rather than an actual precise loading of the gun. Left to right, the first picture shows a copper powder flask being used to put in the powder. The second a leather shot flask being used to  put in the shot and the last the loading rod being use to seat the wads on to the powder and shot.

I would like to dedicate this piece to my late good friend Ron Hunt. As without his friendship and association this  4 bore or (4 gauge) shotgun would never  have  been made. For more information on this gun go to my other the web site This huge gun is a single barreled percussion lock muzzle loading  4 gauge shotgun. It has a 45 inch barrel, weighs 21 3/4 pounds is loaded with 8 drams (1/2 an ounce) of Black Powder and 5 ounces of shot. All of the shot stays in a 5 foot circle at 50 yards. As a wild fowling gun it is very heavy to carry but in the right conditions it is extremely effective.

It must be remembered that there are a few old fashioned rules with these very large shoulder guns. The barrel needs to be at least  44  times the diameter ofthe bore to get all the powder burnt properly. The gun also needs to weigh 96 times the weight of the load being fired to absorb the recoil.This excellent photograph was capturing the point of firing  by Alex Rosevear with his high speed camera at 60fps. If you want to see what it looks like when it is fired in a video go the Alex link as I think you will be surprised what the slow motion video shows. The nipple has got worn and the pressure on firing is lifting the hammer and you can see the cap blow off.

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