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.54 cal flintlock

FTTPOW

Moderator
Moderator
I'm going to Colorado in September for a muzzleloader elk hunt and have been working with a .54 cal flintlock. I'm trying to get a feel for what the rifle does at 125-150 yards. There's a noticeable drop off between 125 vs 150, like about 8" and the group spreads out to about 10" or so. Anyway as I'm about done with the session for the day, a groundhog decides he's curious about all the noise. Said groundhog and I now know that the rifle is DEAD on at 85 yards! A .54 is actually quite impressive on groundhogs at that range.
 

P304X4

Moderator
Moderator
At least you should have no problem with Colo. prairie dogs......:smiley-mouse:

Good luck with the elk hunt.
 

FTTPOW

Moderator
Moderator
I'm back from Colorado...empty-handed. I got there a day earlier than expected due to driving straight through with a few hours rest vs getting a motel. Still it was a 30 hour, 1500 mile trip. I got with the Outfitter to set up a little range time before going to camp. After spending several months of shooting, adjusting loads and dialing in, I'm suddenly shooting 8" high and right at 100 yards! I don't know if it was due to low humidity or higher elevation, but it required re-sighting in regardless. After this confidence shaking event was resolved I got to camp the day before the season opener full of expectation. Opening morning we rode about 2 hours in the dark to get to the guide's favorite open park. We heard a bull bugle from a ridge as we rode then heard him as we tied the horses. Just as it was getting light, he had me prime the rifle and head to a clump of aspens out from the edge of the park, it was a perfect little natural hidey-hole. As I got settled in, the guide, Quinn, bugled to the bull. He bugled back immediately. I could see movement about 200 yards up the ridge as his antlers were sky-lined through the timber. He bugled 3 more times as he approached. For you turkey hunters it was just like having a gobbler coming to the call, announcing his location as he came in, only on a grander scale! I saw him break out of the timber at about 50 yards and could see that he was a big bull. He was blocked by a big aspen I was sitting behind and when he cleared, he turned and was facing directly towards me, searching for the source of the call. I had the hammer back and held on his chest as he stared at either me or the guide, 30 yards behind me in the brush. He stared for what probably wasn't more than about 10 seconds, even though it seemed like a lot longer, but it was long enough for me to see that he was a 6x6 about 42" wide with beams about 5' long. I stopped looking at his antlers, I couldn't take that shot. Finally he turned around and walked away, then turned broadside and stopped at about 60 yards. I held low behind his shoulder and touched the trigger. When the pan flashed I was right on the heart and then I had a horrendous hang-fire! I recall not holding through as I should have, but still thought he was a dead bull as he ran back into the timber. It was not to be. Quinn said he saw it hit him high behind the shoulder, just below the backbone. We only found 2 drops of blood. We searched for several miles on horseback till after noon and never found another trace of him.
After all the shots I'd taken, I never had a hang-fire like that one all summer. I'm still trying to understand what I did differently to create it. Maybe just enough oil left near the breech plug from cleaning after re-sighting in was all it took. Although we heard bulls bugle every day and I saw several more bulls in the distance, that was my only opportunity for the week.
I'm haunted by it, yet.
 

BelchFire

I speak fluent Vise-Grip
Admin
Every soot-burner has those stories. The main thing is that you kept at it and still had a good hunt. If you're like me, you don't have to kill anything to have a good time. That's a great write-up on a good hunt. I know you know what you're doing, so it's not skill; could'a been the alignment of the planets. Either way, if I know you, you'll be back at 'em first chance you get.
 

FTTPOW

Moderator
Moderator
I think my first piece of the remedy will be to use rubbing alcohol down the barrel before loading for a hunt. That should dry up any leftover oil and leave the bore clean. Since it removes all oil, I should maybe run an oiled patch down the barrel AFTER loading to ensure against rust until the gun is fired. My mentor suggested plugging the touch hole with a toothpick when loading, then pecking some priming powder into the main charge when priming. In a hurry-up situation, in the dark, like I had, I'm not sure if this will ensure reliability or hinder it.
My next thought is to build a new rifle with the prospect of having a variety of drop-in barrels to choose from. The problem with that is that in order to accommodate a .54 cal projectile, the barrel would need to be about 1 1/8" across the flats. When going with a drop-in .50 cal, it will still require a 1 1/8" with a .50 cal bore. That would make for a heavy rifle. Colorado law states that it can be a .50 cal with a conical projectile, but .54 cal for a roundball. The Outfitter didn't like the idea of using a roundball because he doesn't think they penetrate well enough and flatten out too soon. Now I need to make up my mind, and soon, what caliber to go with and get started on the build this winter.
He also suggested I build a percussion instead of flintlock. That's like telling a traditional archer to give up on his recurve and start using a compound with sights!

NIPPLES BELONG ON A WOMAN, NOT A MAN'S RIFLE!
 


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