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Thread: Muzzleloading Safety Question

  1. #1
    Aurelius is offline
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    Muzzleloading Safety Question

    I am new to muzzleloading. Please inform me of how I am supposed to keep my hands out of line of fire when using the ramrod...I have a ball setter and know the rule about finger/thumb with placing the ball in the barrel, so that's good. But I cannot figure out how to keep fist clear of line of fire when pushing ramrod home. I need one hand to hold the gun, and the other requires some moderate force to ram the rod home (it's a Brunswick rifle). Thank you for your advice.

  2. #2
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    The rules we have developed for N-SSA are centric to the types of guns and ammunition we load i.e. Minnie ball and unpatched roundball. These bullets by definition must practically fall down the barrel by themselves. We therefore do not use or need a starter. We are also engaged in rapid fire where there is not time for a cleaning patch or waiting period between shots. Occasionally we do have to use more force to get the ball down the barrel due to fowling but we still do not put our hand over the end of the ram rod, you just have to develop a technique that gets the job done safely. We all do it so it can be done. Sometimes we cannot get the ball down the barrel, in that case, we have to blow the charge and bullet out with air or go the flood and pull method.
    Scott Kurki
    The Dulany Troop, 6th Virginia Cavalry

  3. #3
    jonk is offline
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    Indeed. When slow firing at your own range for practice, you can swab the bore between shots and ensure that no smoldering ember remains, or otherwise wait long enough to be sure. We're doing rapid fire.

    Standard loading procedure is to pour the charge in from a pre-measured plastic or rubber tube, being careful not to put your hand over the muzzle- i.e. pour from the side while holding the bottom or middle of the tube. Then, place the ball in the muzzle with two fingers without putting your thumb over the ball; so if it cooks off, hopefully the worst that happens is your fingers get some flesh torn off the pads, and you don't lose a thumb. With the ramrod, hopefully your bore is good enough and the bullet fit and lube are up to the challenge that you can push it down also using just two fingers. If something happens that you can't- such as a sideways sprue or abnormal fouling, personally I still use 2 fingers and slam the rod down using its weight and momentum to do the job, negating having to put your hand over the rod. All of this is done with the gun aimed as far from your face as possible of course, ideally at arms length, with the muzzle slightly angled away from you.

    Many of us also fill the bases of our minie balls with grease to help further lessen the chance of a cook off. It does happen; I've seen guys get their hands burnt by powder flashes, so shooting gloves are recommended too.

    Fortunately if it cooks off, odds are excellent it will do so as soon as you pour the powder in, not while you are seating the ball; just a powder charge might burn badly but won't likely do any lasting damage.

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    I never put my hand over the end of the rod, but on more than one occasion I have had to grab the rod firmly with my hand to get the ball down the barrel. It always makes me nervous.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Aurelius is offline
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    Yes, I am fortunate that I can take the time to wait and then swab, this is slow shooting. Is it a dry swab, or wet? What exactly is the procedure?

    I am not familiar with the term "cook off."

    I have a plastic implement for ramming the rod home. I am thinking it might be awkward to use, however.

    I am also told to keep the previous cap on the nipple, to prevent air entering as much as possible (to stifle ignition).

    Bottom line: If I wait a minute, and then swab, do you think it safe enough to handle the ramrod with the fist then? Of too chancy even so? I agree, it makes me nervous.

  6. #6
    jonk is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aurelius View Post
    Yes, I am fortunate that I can take the time to wait and then swab, this is slow shooting. Is it a dry swab, or wet? What exactly is the procedure?

    I am not familiar with the term "cook off."

    I have a plastic implement for ramming the rod home. I am thinking it might be awkward to use, however.

    I am also told to keep the previous cap on the nipple, to prevent air entering as much as possible (to stifle ignition).

    Bottom line: If I wait a minute, and then swab, do you think it safe enough to handle the ramrod with the fist then? Of too chancy even so? I agree, it makes me nervous.
    A cook off is just what it sounds like; the powder flashes due to a burning ember in the barrel when you don't want it to, i.e. when loading. Generally speaking you would swab wet, then dry it out between shots if going that way. Lightly moisten a patch with spit or water or ballistol or what you like, run it down with a jag, then a dry patch after.

    Not familiar with plastic implements to ram the rod home except those that fit over the rod, so I can't comment there.

    Keeping the cap on the nipple does help stifle ignition and cut down on air getting into the barrel; but if you swab it's a moot point.

    With patch and ball guns you're going to have no choice BUT to cup the rod in many instances, and force down with a palm tool for final seating. I'd say that if you wet and dry swab after each shot (which will take most of a minute I'm sure) that after that you'd be safe to do the palm over routine- at least as safe as can be done.

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    Aurelius is offline
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    Thank you all for your time and knowledge. I am comfortable with the issue now.

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    Joe Plakis, 9575V is offline
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