Author Topic: New here & new to BP shooting.  (Read 3382 times)


  • Guest
New here & new to BP shooting.
« on: July 16, 2011, 06:01:25 PM »
Several years ago I bought a flintlock rifle that was made by J Garner.  I've never shot it.  I know zero about shooting a flintlock.  It is a 50 caliber.  I guess it would be called a Kentucky Longrifle.   Can anyone give me some suggestions about black powder shooting. 

A starting load?

Additional equipment I need to have?

Any info about J Garner?

Anything else I should know?

I've shot alot of smokeless guns but no black powder at all.   Hope someone here can help me out.  I want to start shooting this gun.


  • Guest
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2011, 07:09:25 PM »
I would try to find a club near me, or someone near me who could help me get my rifle sorted out. Exact addresses are not necessary, but to post an area accessable to me, as in "anyone in the "X" area who is willing to help me get started, please PM me" - would be a step in the right direction.

Gleaning what you can from a site like this, is also a step in the right direction.  Searching for loads listed in previous threads using the search function can also provide the information you need.

Generally speaking, the .50s I've had and see frequently, use a ball that is from a .495" mould, with a 10oz. denim or .020" to .022" thick ticking patch, with 85 to 100gr. of 2F powder.  Some people prefer to use 3F in the .50's. You will see recommendations in powder use from 50gr. to 110gr. in 2F or 3F. 

Note that about any load will cut a single small hole for 5 shots at 25 yards - even a smoothbore with only one sight.  In order to find an accuracy load for your rifle, you need to shoot at 50yards minimum and even further is better.

The crown  (top of the muzzle) probably needs attention- which can be accomplished by your, with emery cloth or wet/dry paper in 320 grit and the end of your thumb, rotating your thumb and rotating the gun periodically to get a smooth finish.  This type of crown allows a tight ball and patch combination to enter the barrel without harming the ball or cutting the patch. Most barrels, as received from the maker, any maker, need this smoothing to be done as most are merely machine crowned with a lathe and that leaves sharp corners or edges that cut the patch. Cut patches produce built-up fouling and poor accuracy.  We use a water based lube for range shooting and a non-rusting oil for hunting. It seems the most accurate water based lube, is spit with some concoctions of watersoluble oil and water worked well too. It's all called experimentation.
Here is a .50 so crowned.

Here is my brother Taylor, loading the combination I mentioned above, into his .50 cal Virginia rifle.

Offline hanshi

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4521
  • My passion is longrifles!
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2011, 07:55:19 PM »
Welcome to the forum, ALNative.  I agree the best move is to get with other bp shooters and get help from them.  Otherwise Daryl's advice should help.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline Dennis Glazener

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 16023
  • 2005 Transylvania County NC Heritage Day Event
    • GillespieRifles
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2011, 11:36:28 PM »
While I agree with what Daryl says, but knowing this will be your first time shooting a flintlock, I suggest that you not expect the accuracy that he does. It will take awhile to get used to shooting a flintlock muzzleloader.

Until you get used to the flash in the pan, the slight delay in firing the main charge (flints are not quite as fast as modern rifles) the use of open sights, you may not get the one hole accuracy at 25 yards that Daryl describes. Don't get discouraged, keep shooting.

For a first timer I suggest picking up a box of .495 balls, a can of FFF black powder (shoots good in a .50 plus it makes good priming powder).  DO NOT let the store tell you that black powder substitutes will work, they will work in a percussion muzzleloader but not in a flintlock!

Also buy some pre cut & lubed patches .018 to .022 thick (you can try others after you learn to shoot the flint). I would start with 50 to 60 grains of FFF powder followed with a patched round ball. Be sure to seat the bullet all the way down to the powder. Then prime the pan with some of the same FFF black powder, close the pan and have at it. Shoot this load until you get the feel of shooting a flintlock then work with different combinations of patch thickness and grains of powder until you get the rifle shooting to suit you.

I know it took me awhile getting used to shooting a flintlock with open sights after years of shooting only modern rifles with scopes. I am still not competitive shooting flintlock's (I was with modern rifles/scopes) but I sure have a lot more fun!
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend" - Thomas Jefferson


  • Guest
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2011, 12:21:52 AM »
Excellent addition and explanations, Dennis - was so long ago I started, I took many aspects of the sport for granted - especially how easy the loading is for those with technique and experience.  The crown is important and loading is very much easier if that is handled prior to shooting.  If not, loading can be difficult to impossible and frustration can ruin the experience.  We're able to shoot all day without having to wipe the bores of our guns, smooth or rifled- but for someone starting out, it can be a challenge.

Wet the patches thoroughly- not merely damp or squeezed out all the way, will help a lot with cleaner shooting. A 'range' rod can help a lot until you get more experience and save a broken rifle's rod.

In order to load a snug combination that needs no wiping, a short starter is needed. It is also used on top of the rod to help get the ball odnowsung tothe powder charge as shown in this video. Note, the ball and patch have been already loaded flush with the muzzle - a single crack with the knob of the starter by the palm of the hand does this- then another to seat the ball down 5" or so, then the rod is used in 6" to 8' thrusts to seat the ball down onto the powder.

These are pictures of short starters I use - the little knob is to seat the ball just under flush with the muzzle, then the longer shaft to put it down further so the rod is somewhat supported when getting it going. The hole is to put over the end of the rod as in the video, to help put the ball onto the powder with the same pressure, each time. Consistancy in all aspects of loading helps accuracy with a ML, just as consistancy in handloads of a modern rifle helps with it's accuracy.

Offline Don Steele

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 523
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2011, 01:00:03 AM »
I'm gonna climb in here and suggest you consider starting out with loads on the mild side for your 25 and 50 yd. shooting. Get some range experience using 50-70 gn. charges of fff before you try the 90-110 loads some folks use. I'd also suggest you keep it to 25 and 50 for now. Wailing away from 100 yds. can be real frustrating for a beginner. When your 25 yd shooting has become boringly won't take long , move to 50.
Don't force anything....if your load is too tight, you'll enjoy your shooting less. When I'm shooting for group, my combination is so tight I use a tap or two with a mallet to get it started. Otherwise I use a "snug" combination that I can load in the field without the 3/8th's dia. brass range rod. REAL tight loads, one-hole groups, etc will come. Right now, you got some learnin' to do.  ;)
When priming your pan...Don't overload the pan. A little is good....A LOT IS NOT better. I use a little brass dribbler thingy.
Keep your rock in good shape. Along the way you'll pick up some skill @ minor flint knapping.
As Daryl already pointed out, CONSISTENCY....your barrel's condition shot-to-shot..uniform fouling residue...uniform patch and ball, uniform loading pressure...etc,etc.
Hope this helps, Be safe....ENJOY...!!!
Look at the world with a smilin' eye and laugh at the devil as his train rolls by...(Alison Krauss)


  • Guest
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2011, 02:18:44 AM »

Can anyone give me some suggestions about black powder shooting.  

Welcome, an excellent hobby for sure.

One rule of thumb for spending time at a range...particularly starting to simply use a powder charge that matches the 50grns in the case of your .50cal.
As one reference, I use 3grns Goex 4F priming powder in the pan, and 50grns Goex 3F as the main.

25yds is all you need to bother with right now because most of your attention is going to be on learning the operation of the muzzleloader, and in particular, the Flintlock mechanism itself.
You can start expanding powder charges and distances in the coming weeks and months.

A simple stack of paper plates from a discount store make excellent low cost targets...if you happen across a roll of 2" colored stickers to stick in the middle as an aim point, so much the better.

IMO, there are a number of excellent introductory Flintlock articles available via Google search that are well worthy the time spent to read them "before" ever going to a range.  This is an excellent, comprehensive one to soak up first:
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 02:20:07 AM by roundball »

Offline Bill Ridout

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 93
Re: New here & new to BP shooting.
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2011, 03:41:23 AM »
J. Garner would be Jack Garner of Tennessee Valley Manufacturing. You more than likely have a very nice rifle & one to be proud of. Just take it slow and easy and find out what the rifle likes- it'll let you know.
Be Well,
If the noise does not improve upon the silence, then let the silence prevail.
Thomas Jefferson