Author Topic: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day  (Read 11899 times)

Offline 4ster

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« on: July 10, 2012, 04:01:25 PM »
I've read that a lot of muzzle loading guns were kept loaded in case of immediate need.  A few posts on this board have mentioned finding antique rifles with a charge (or two!) in the breech that had been there for quite some time. 

When cleaning my pistol the last time I was thinking about what the common practice might have been.  I assume a dry patch and ball over a charge and powder in the pan in an otherwise clean gun.  It seems like any lube at all would either damage the bore or the effectiveness of the powder. 

Assuming the gun is stored in a dwelling - not in field conditions, can a charge of BP be kept in the gun for long periods without harming the barrel?

How often would a prudent person pull the ball and reload so that a gun was at the ready? 

Obviously this is an unsafe practice today, I'm talking about past practice in the period before cartridge weapons.
Steve

Daryl

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 04:55:38 PM »
The powder will not hurt the bore for at least a very long period of time. If the moisture inside the bore achieve a level that the powder became damp, it is possible the bore would be oxidized/rusted somewhat.

How they loaded, ie: wet patch with tallow or dry, we can only speculate.

We know that a wet patch around the ball, with a card wad between it and the powder, will leave the powder unhurt by the lube.

 When Taylor did his week's loaded test when using Hoppe's #9 Plus, no extra patch nor wad, there was no damage to the powder, bore nor chamber- although he cycled it indoors and out daily when it was around minus 20 degrees - ie: no rust, anywhere.

Offline heelerau

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 05:41:20 PM »
Gents for what its worth, I have kept my Lancaster loaded for a week at a time,  on occasion when pesky crows have been botherin the chooks. I used spit patch and put a quill in the touch hole. Gun fired fine.
  Have also kept a colt navy loaded in the safe for near on a year, that did missfire on a couple of chambers. I think the caps may have become a bit sus as recapping the gun went off fine.

Cheers

Gordon
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !

Daryl

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 06:05:00 PM »
Gordon, please use something other than spit for your Lancaster. Spit is useable and a wonderful 'lube' for target shooting only. It will make a rust ring in your chamber if left loaded for extended periods of time- ie: a day or more.

Neetsfoot oil is a good lube for hunting and for extended loading. It will not evapourate for a LONG period of time and will protect your bore as well.

Offline Roger Fisher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6805
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 06:10:13 PM »
Gordon, please use something other than spit for your Lancaster. Spit is useable and a wonderful 'lube' for target shooting only. It will make a rust ring in your chamber if left loaded for extended periods of time- ie: a day or more.

Neetsfoot oil is a good lube for hunting and for extended loading. It will not evapourate for a LONG period of time and will protect your bore as well.
He's on the mark with this since spit has acid therein and I knew a gal once that had more than normal amount of acid on her tongue but we won't go there ::)

Offline heelerau

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2012, 07:21:02 PM »
Gentlemen,
                  thank you for your advice, I have recently aquired a TAW tin of Mink oil, iffen the crows start bothrin the chooks agin, will use this instead of spit. Might put a card over the powder as well.   Or some paper wasp nest.
     Only did leave it loaded on  couple of occasions, and considrin the ammount of red I drink, surprised the barrel did not fall in half. !!!!
 I reckon I am currently livin with that Gal, she came from Western Australia!!!!!
Cheers  

Gordon
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 07:24:15 PM by heelerau »
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !

Offline hanshi

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3894
  • My passion is longrifles!
    • martialartsusa.com
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2012, 07:58:48 PM »
I normally will keep a long gun loaded for the entire hunting season if it is not fired at game.  Since I often rotate long guns during the season it's not uncommon to still have a loaded one in my closet by late winter.  Never have I had a failure to fire or rust because of this. 

Once when my only short piece was a 1858 Rem revolver, I kept it loaded all the time.  Eventually when I finally fired it, it performed admirably.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline Canute Rex

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 341
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2012, 09:33:11 PM »
The old gentleman who taught me about muzzleloading, Henry Palmer, sometimes kept a loaded Walker revolver at his shop. He dripped beeswax over the caps and into the cylinders before stowing it. I guess if it was loaded properly in the first place it would be good to go for quite a while.

I'm thinking that the caps would be the weak point for moisture to get in.

Daryl

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2012, 01:14:28 AM »
Leaving a gun with a charge in the bore, is not a problem as long as the lube is up to the storage. I've had good luck with bothNeetsfoot oil and Track's Mink oil.

HardBall

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2012, 02:47:54 PM »
Once when my only short piece was a 1858 Rem revolver, I kept it loaded all the time.  Eventually when I finally fired it, it performed admirably.

I once left my .50 Lyman Deerstalker short rifle loaded after the season was over.  I intended to leave it a good three months and then chrono it and see what the velocity was- whether it was where it should be.  I kept forgetting to take it to the range with me, however, and since I was living in the city then and after some 9 months, I blew out the load with a CO2 discharger.  Powder was still dry, no rust in the bore and the patch, which was a wonder lube pre-lubed, still had it's lube.

I've had my Navy brasser loaded for a month now.  I intend to run out back and chrono it soon- that is, if I don't forget.

Offline Don Getz

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6854
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2012, 03:04:34 PM »
I have no idea of what the old timers used for a patch lube, but it did not work for keeping a loaded gun from rusting.
If you think about it, how many old guns have you looked at that had the barrel shortened?   It was the breech end of
the barrel that was removed, almost always.   If we think of back in the time when you had to fear the indians, they
had to keep it loaded, unloaded it was nothing more than a club..............Don

Offline rich pierce

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 12236
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2012, 01:06:14 AM »
+1 on most original barrels the powder chamber is a mess, the worst part of the bore.  I surmise it's from keeping a gun RE-loaded after it's been shot, and the gunk and moisture from firing gets pushed down with the load and sits there for a long time.
St. Louis, Missouri

Candle Snuffer

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2012, 03:26:35 AM »
I've never experienced a problem leaving a clean dry barrel loaded during the big and small game hunting season's, but if you shoot your muzzle loader that day - you must clean and dry it to protect the bore, and surface metal.  It will draw rust if not cleaned and dried before loading.  This also means you need to shoot that re-load out or pull it if you loaded after a shot on the day of the hunt.  My patch lube of choice has been TOW Mink Oil and TC Bore Butter during these hunting season's.  If I'm using a cap lock, that loaded rifle gets stored with either a piece of leather between the nipple and hammer once the cap is removed, or a safety cone over the nipple and cap between the hammer and nipple.  My flintlock gets a thooth pick in the vent hole after the prime is brushed from the pan.

Now we can do this kind of stuff today for the most part, but our forefathers weren't always able to take such measures as they could ill afford to be caught without a loaded firearm in a serious situation.  Even so, when they loaded a dirty (prefired) bore, they were rollong the dice if it would shoot a few hours later, or even minutes depending on the weather.  Just my opinion on the latter thought.   

Offline Pete G.

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1872
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2012, 01:07:31 AM »
I left one loaded from one hunting season to the next (sort of forgot). Snapping a cap on an "EMPTY" gun prior to loading at the beginning of the next year was exciting. They say to point the muzzle at a blade of grass to check for movement. It did move. Unfortunately the Hoppes No. 9 patch lube had evaporated and left a rough spot where the patch sat.

catman

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2012, 04:27:37 AM »
And the rains would come too, and snow, you had to do what you had to do, and eat also..

I have no idea of what the old timers used for a patch lube, but it did not work for keeping a loaded gun from rusting.
If you think about it, how many old guns have you looked at that had the barrel shortened?   It was the breech end of
the barrel that was removed, almost always.   If we think of back in the time when you had to fear the indians, they
had to keep it loaded, unloaded it was nothing more than a club..............Don

Daryl

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2012, 05:08:48 PM »
I left one loaded from one hunting season to the next (sort of forgot). Snapping a cap on an "EMPTY" gun prior to loading at the beginning of the next year was exciting. They say to point the muzzle at a blade of grass to check for movement. It did move. Unfortunately the Hoppes No. 9 patch lube had evaporated and left a rough spot where the patch sat.

If/when I leave a ML with a 'charge' down the barrel, there is a piece of leather betweent he hammer's nose and the nipple - or a piece of masking tape on the frizzen - either method tells me instantly there is a charge inside the barrel.  Here, a gun isn't loaded unless there is prime in the pan or a cap on the nipple. That's the law.

jamesthomas

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2012, 10:54:53 PM »
I left one loaded from one hunting season to the next (sort of forgot). Snapping a cap on an "EMPTY" gun prior to loading at the beginning of the next year was exciting. They say to point the muzzle at a blade of grass to check for movement. It did move. Unfortunately the Hoppes No. 9 patch lube had evaporated and left a rough spot where the patch sat.

 Thats the reason I use  a grease lube for hunting. I'll leave mine loaded for the duration of my hunting trip usually 3 to 4 days. Since I have a flintlock I'll stick a pipe cleaner in the touchhole and wrap the excess around the hammer. Never had problem with the gun going off when needed.

chuck-ia

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2012, 12:42:30 AM »
I would guess back in the day most muzzleloaders were left loaded, I would bet everyone, (most people) would be around a gun daily, it was a tool, and everyone knew it would be loaded. Not to change the subject, but, at our last shoot a guy went to pop a cap on his gun, BOOM, forgot it was loaded. chuck

Offline TMerkley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 635
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2012, 03:27:18 AM »
Back in my High-school days, I had my .50 cal Frontier Carbine loaded for an entire season, not seeing anything to shoot.  I put it on the top notch of the gunrack in my room.  (high and dry).  I used a prelubed patch.  Well at the end of the School year, my brother, being a little upset at a chemistry teacher for flunking him decided that when he turned in his chemistry book that (since it was the last year for its use) it need to be demolished to send a message.  So, when we got home from school, I told him that I still had my rifle loaded.  He said "get it", so I did.  He capped it and stood about ten feet from the book with the covers opened and pulled back.  He aimed dead center and it fired first time.  It left a 1/2" hole on the first page, and about a 5" ripped hole through the back.  He then closed the covers and turned it in the next day.  "It didn't close all the way of course.  It stood about 3" tall with the covers closed.  The teacher apparently didn't have much to say when it was turned in.  Interesting fact, my brother took a college level chemistry course at a local state accredited college and got an A+ in the class.  Which went to his HS grade that summer.  The teacher was a Jack @&& to begin with.  I have not experienced any rough spots in the barrel even after that.  That was 18 years ago!  Still shooting straight.

Offline heelerau

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2012, 04:13:15 AM »
That wasn't cause the chem teacher was holding it? ;D
Keep yor  hoss well shod an' yor powdah dry !

Far Atwill

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #20 on: July 15, 2012, 07:56:21 PM »
Using alox/beeswax for a lube I left a .50 cal loaded from one season til the next. It was clean when loaded and after a yr. everything was the same as if loaded yesterday. FWIW, hardly anytthing rusts here because of the low humidity.
FA

Daryl

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2012, 08:07:54 PM »
Incidently, ALOX is a modern, ie: smokless powder lube. It will neither soften, emulsify nor mix with BP fouling. It may work with some sugstitute powders, but not black powder, nor it's fouling.

If you are only firing one or two shots and you are sighted for it & it shoots OK, it might answer for a long loaded gun that does no harm to the bore.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 08:09:16 PM by Daryl »

Offline TMerkley

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 635
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2012, 08:13:22 PM »
That wasn't cause the chem teacher was holding it? ;D

Nope,  My brother was probably wishing he was at the time. 

It is a amazing wat 80gr FFg and a round ball will do!

Offline Larry Pletcher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1705
    • Black Powder Mag
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2012, 10:55:01 PM »
Thinking "back in the day" , I suspect Don's answer about the damage at the breech in pretty close. Especially in primitive, dangerous areas, the colonial shooter may have been in too much danger to take time to clean before reloading.  Perhaps after shooting game, he reloads quickly because he isn't sure what the noise of his shot may bring.  He doesn't risk a trip home with an empty gun. When he gets home, does he pull the ball and do a good cleaning - or does he wipe and oil the barrel down to the ball, or does he do nothing at all?  I don't know but suspect the second possibility.

Regards,
Pletch
Regards,
Pletch
blackpowdermag@gmail.com

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what can never be taken away.

Kayla Mueller - I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.  Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.

northmn

  • Guest
Re: Keeping a loaded gun - back in the day
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2012, 02:27:54 AM »
An old trappers trick was to leave a gun loaded outside in cold weather to avoid condensation when brought in to a warm room.   A ML left laoded is similar to a cartridge and should go off.  When I duck hunted with a ML shotgun I remember leaving a load in the gun after firing it a couple of times and had a misfire.  Had to pick th nipple and even use a little 4f primer and got a hangfire.  If loaded into a clean gun I have had no problem with firing it after it has been stored and kept loaded during deer season.  Usually I keep a toothpick in the vent when storing it.  As to cleaning, back then they may have also cleaned a loaded gun once in a while down to the load.  Also if I do fire at something I carry cleaning patches in the woods and often clean the rifle before relaoding.  Who is to say GGGG Grandfather did not do so also.

DP