Thursday, May 1, 2014

guest article

Muzzleloaders for survival

Keeping in line with my philosophy of low tech weaponry, the next progression in weaponry would be the muzzleloader.

This article assumes that one is able to discharge a weapon without drawing unwanted attention to one's self, and that you are using these weapons for hunting, as opposed to defense (Though a cache of pre-loaded cap and ball revolvers would work pretty well for this purpose in a close range gun battle).

Why would anyone want to bother with a muzzleloader? The reasons are a few, but they are sound. As many of you may have noticed, ammo has not only gone up considerably, but is also becoming scarce. My mother informed me that when she went to pick up my pellets at Walmart, that there was a limit of two boxes per customer. Having a muzzleloader will allow you to effectively take game, and save your modern ammo for a situation in which it would be more useful (Such as gun battles, which if you're smart, you will place yourself in a situation into which you will not be getting into any in the first place?). These guns can purchased through the mail in most states, without any background checks or hassles.

With the muzzleloader, you need only to aquire the powder and the caps (or flints, if using the flintlock, which would be an even easier ignition system to keep going long term). A mould can be purchased cheaply, and there is no shortage of lead. Last that I checked, track of the wolf had plenty of powder in stock, but they have a 25lb minimum purchase. (Federal law permits a maximum of 50lbs in possesion). However, you can mix and match the granulations for a total of 25lbs, so you can have some of the finer granulation for your cap and ball revolvers, and the coarser granulation for your rifles/shotguns, as well as some of the ultra fine for priming your flintlock flash pans should you need to. The price for the Goex powder at the time of this writing is $18.76 per 1lb can. I saw no mention of a hazardous shipping fee? But figure for a total of around $500.00 you will have a lifetime supply of powder.

I read an article once that stated that a .50 cal using round balls will work in a pinch for taking small game. The ideal for the smaller animals, would be something like the .32 calibre squirrel rifle that Cabela's sells, but they are charging a lot of money for that gun now. So barring that, a 12ga percussion shotgun, or perhaps a flintlock musket would be a good choice? The shotgun and musket can fire shot for small game and waterfowl, as well as other birds, and can also fire a large projectile for the taking of the larger game animals. The flintlock serves double duty as a fire starter, which is why it was so popular with the mountain men long after the advent of the superior percussion ignition guns. If you are located on the plains, then I would probably suggest a Hawken rifle for the longer shots at the larger game animals. I read another article, in which a group of men were shooting their .58 calibre Hawken rifles at an effective range of 600 metres/yards. You will need to install a tang sight for these longer ranges to compensate for the rainbow like trajectory of the muzzleloader.

The price of these guns, as with all guns, has now risen considerably. I purchased my Hawken as a kit many years ago at a price of $119.00. You will probably not pay any less than $400.00 now for a new Hawken. A word about kits. They are only worth it if you really want to build your own gun. After you take into account all of the work that goes into one, they really are not any cheaper. And as it stands, they are not much cheaper to purchase in the first place. I did see a used Hawken at track of the wolf for around $269.00, which would be a good price. Gun shows are another good place to look for deals.


  1. ATTN Spud et al
    Is it possible that loading two 177 pellets
    may reduce MV only about 20% ???

    Assume that advertised MV is with lightest available pellet.
    RWS-Diana model 48 .22 cal
    RWS Hobby 22 cal pellet 11.9 grains mv 910 fps
    RWS-Diana model 48 .177 cal
    Gamo PBQ 177 cal 5.4 grains 1110 fps

    two each 5.4 gr pellets = 10.8 grains
    910 is about 82% of 1110

    RWS 48 Air Rifle- .177 cal Side Lever w/4X32 Scope 1110 fps-
    RWS Airguns- RWS 48 .22 cal Side Lever 910 fps-

  2. 1) One reason to at least look at flintlocks isn't the carriage/use, but to make them. They're the most advanced design you can build or sell that doesn't require the tech to make caps or primers. Find a place that has water, hardwood and railroad tracks. Railroad tracks? Yep, modern high-quality steel, literally lying there on the ground.

    2) Powder. You can make low-quality, low-velocity, and dirty blackpowder with chickensh!t and charcoal if you have no other choices.

    3) Rate of Collapse. Too many of you are betting on a total collapse. There are lots of people who will tenaciously cling to anything that even looks like Normalcy. Which means uniformed police. A cap-n-ball revolver, by law, isn't a gun, and carrying one marks you as eccentric while carrying around a plastic carbine will get you proned out and arrested.

  3. I remember hearing awhile back that old time hunters with a muzzle loader rifle would use a technique called barking a squirrel. Having a loaded rifle with a large bullet for deer or bear on the ready.Finding a squirrel or rabbit or other smaller game required a shot next to the animal that would impact a tree causing a wave of concussion that would stun the animal long enough to get close for a hands on finish. Typical rifle loads would obliterate smaller game otherwise. Great article thanks for posting but why not just get a single shot or pump shotgun and reload some black powder rounds if the need arises. Shot guns, 45 colt, 7.62 X54r, 45-70 and a few others were black powder loads in origin. No extra costs to convert back. Just a lot dirtier than modern smokeless besides lower pressures requiring more powder and less plastic wad or power pistons for shotgun loads. Some YouTube post out about loading black powder in smokeless shot guns. Much quieter but lower velocities. I am sure it can be improved on what they did goofing around. One video the guy didn't even crimp but wax sealed them. Black powder needs compression not wax. Lee loaders are under $100 for shot gun loading and come with all the bushings added bonus it is USA made. From my research the 22lr in smokeless has a higher chamber pressure than any black powder so it is safe but dirtier than what we are accustom to. I see a use for black powder perhaps but no need for a different gun if you already have a shotgun in single shot or pump. Just my 2 cents. Lake Erie Pirate PS I loved your article on air rifles and got a 22 beeman used thanks for the info on artillery hold much better shooting after that lesson.

  4. Thanks for the input gents; much appreciated!

    Thanks 8:43; though I think that you may have me confused with someone else? I am the one that wrote the pellet gun article that you are referring to, but I am not the lake Erie pirate? I usually post anonymously, or sometimes under my first name Wayne.

    "but why not just get a single shot or pump shotgun and reload some black powder rounds if the need arises. "

    One of my main reasons for advocating black powder weapons was touched upon by peter above, and that is that they have been declassified as firearms per the 1968 gun control act. This means that you can walk into a store, and 5 minutes later, walk out with one, no hassles, no bs, and best of all, no paper trail! Or better yet, simply order one online and have it sent to your door!

    You also eliminate one or more of the major loading components, such as the cartridge casings and loading equipment. If you go with a flint gun, you also eliminate the need for the harder to replace percussion caps, that will become scarce, and more challenging to produce, should the collapse drag on for a spell?

    I have previously loaded black powder shells for my antique shotguns. I had to shorten the shell length for my antique guns because they were shorter than modern guns. As a result, I removed the star crimp, and had to roll crimp them, using a cardboard overshot card for a muzzleloading shotgun. I got the roll crimper from Ballistic products I believe? I never had the courage to try them through my old damastic barreled guns, but did try one in my modern 12ga, and they were twice as loud as a regular 12ga! Remember that the modern shells will have listed on the box, something to the effect of "3 1/4 drams equivalent", which means the smokeless powder equivalent. Whereas the old shells actually used 3 1/4 drams of black powder. In other words, you may not have room to use a plastic shot cup? But I'm not sure if you would want to anyhow? I hear that the black powder melts the plastic something awful, and makes a hell of a mess in your barrel!

    Personally, I feel that the smoothbore flintlock is absolutely the most versatile post collapse gun, serving equally well as a long gun, shotgun, and fire starter. But I base this on utility use, not as a gun to be used in battle. If you load rifled shotgun slugs in your musket, you can extend your range even further.