Author Topic: What do I need to buy to get started?  (Read 23325 times)

Pennsylvania Professor

  • Guest
What do I need to buy to get started?
« on: June 13, 2009, 08:00:00 AM »
Greetings everyone on this forum and thank you in advance for any advice offered. If I missed a similar topic available through the search function, please excuse my ignorance.

I've been shooting centerfire rifle for most of my life. Over the past months (transplanted to north/central PA from Connecticut last year) I've become interested in learning to shoot and hunt with a traditional blackpowder rifle--the product of a longstanding interest in US pioneer history, esp. Roger's Rangers, compounded by my fiance's insistence that I not get bullseyed by an out of state hunter on opening day of rifle season! I want to go flintlock to maximize the days I can use for whitetail, as well as for the satisfaction of shooting with a historical/replica firearm. As some of you will probably know, PA has a special late season flintlock only in addition to the regular muzzleloader season.

I've been doing a lot of research and at this point I'm mostly feeling overwhelmed. I'm asking for help because I'm unsure of what to buy; Cabela's muzzleloader/BP section seems designed to brew feelings of uncertainty resulting in the maximum navigation of greenbacks out of my back pocket and into theirs "just to make sure I've got everything."

Here's my current top choice of gun: either Pedersoli Dixie Pennysylvania in 50 cal or Cabela's "Blue Ridge" Rifle in 50 or 54 cal (with or without starter kit). Unfortunately finances do not allow me to purchase a custom model from a master gunsmith at the moment--plus I wouldn't want to take the chance of damaging a masterpiece with my current level of muzzleloading proficiency (none).

I've looked at T/C Hawkens and other "entry-level" traditionalist muzzleloaders and while nice to look at, they don't really float my boat--fell in love with the longrifle as soon as I saw one.,

I would like to know what else I ought to buy in terms of cleaning/shooting supplies as there are so many different attachments/nipple wrenches/miracle bore cleaners/barrel seasoners/ramrod extensions/etc. I would like to stay as traditional and simple as possible (round ball and black powder). Once finances allow purchase of a melting pot, I'd also like to cast my own ammo.

As I'm hoping to take it deer hunting this October, the point is to have all my materials gathered together this summer so I can load, shoot, and clean my rifle without missing some critical tool or substance. I want to avoid that "uh-oh" factor of missing a key piece of the puzzle. A lot of these items don't seem to be available locally so there's almost always going to be a lag of a few days. I figure I'll need all the practice time I can get since most of my time is already accounted for--I hate it when grown-up stuff intrudes on my fun!

What I'd like to do is assemble a grand checklist of needed stuff that can be assembled in just one or two orders. I'm definitely not rich but do like quality products and avoid shortcuts where possible.

Thanks again in advance for any help offered.

Humbly yours,
PA Prof
« Last Edit: June 13, 2009, 08:16:08 AM by Pennsylvania Professor »

Offline Jerry V Lape

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3025
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2009, 08:27:01 AM »
I am sure you will get plenty of equipment related answers to your question.  However, I think the correct approach would be for you to hook up with a good club with knowledgable shooters and learn before you pay.  Most clubs have a number of members who will go far out of their way to see that you have a good learning experience and the opportunity to shoot with their equipment and to help you in assembling the essentials required.  If you go the Cabela's route first I guarantee you will buy a lot of junk you really won't be using very much nor are you likely to persist to succcess with it.  In PA I doubt you are more than a few miles from a club.  Some one on here can probably send you to the correct contact.  Also, find a NMLRA Instructor and learn the safety issues too - muzzleloaders have many additional trip wires than modern firearms.  This method will ensure your success while eliminating many of the frustrations you will otherwise experience. 

Beware,  shooting a well tuned flintlock is highly addictive!   

Pennsylvania Professor

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2009, 08:40:23 AM »
Thanks Jerry,

I'm used to teaching myself various skills, so I hadn't even considered the club route. I'm in Tioga county if anyone from PA happens to be on here.


Offline George Sutton

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 755
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2009, 01:34:23 PM »
Contact the Pennsylvania Federation of Black Powder Shooters. I believe they have a website. That should help to get you started.

Centershot

Offline SCLoyalist

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 697
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2009, 02:51:54 PM »
Pa Prof,  for hunting, you need pretty much the same kit that would be used on a woodswalk at a Rendezvous.   For a flintlock, my list is:

Powder, patch material,  patch lube (or prelubed patches), ball, priming charger
Powder horn or flask
Powder measure(s)
Short starter
Vent pick
Knapping hammer or awl
Extra flints + leather to wrap them in
patch knife
Screwdriver for lock's top jaw screw
A few cleaning patches
Ramrod accessories including cleaning jag, patch worm, breech face scraper
A means of clearing a dryball - either a screw-puller or a CO2 discharger

If you're shooting a percussion gun, substitute caps, capper, and nipple wrench for their flint equivalents above.  

Once back home, you'll be cleaning your rifle, and a stainless steel range rod with bore protector is usually more convenient and efficient to use than the rifle's ramrod.

While waiting to hook up with a local club, goind down to the local library and laying hands on a book like one of Sam Fadala's BlackPowder Handbooks would provide a lot of information (most of which would be correct) on getting started in the sport.  


Good luck.   SCL
« Last Edit: June 13, 2009, 02:55:35 PM by SCLoyalist »

Offline ehoff

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 193
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2009, 03:14:02 PM »
Welcome to the fray!

First off I agree with Centershot you can't go wrong by joining the PA Federation of Black Powder Shooters. Their address is 619N. 10th Street, Bellwood, PA 16617 annual membership cost $12.00, for that you'll get the Federation book that list all the clubs and shoots in the state and the Cap & Flint newsletter.

While its not a five minute drive from Tioga county I'm going to suggest you make the trip to Dixon's Muzzleloader Shop, in Kempton, PA (See the links section for the web link) You will find few people as nice or as knowledgeable as Chuck Dixon and you can get everthing you need at one place. And afterwards if your so inclined Cabela's is 15 minutes away down I-78.

ottawa

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2009, 03:24:11 PM »
the ppl here are right check with a club to get some trigger time and learn what is needed to get started and you might find a good deal on a long rifle thru them pluss when you find out what you need and want check some other places around for your rifle cabelas and the like charge about the same for their stuff as some good kits and stay reg on here as the guys and gals here will not stear you wrong
ps
this stuff is habit forming ;D

Offline Don Getz

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6853
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2009, 04:11:11 PM »
Professor....If you wish to use this gun in Penna's Muzzloading hunting seasons, I must assume that you want a flintlock
rifle?  The two guns you mentioned as possible guns to buy, I would like to point out that the barrels on either one would
probably be OK, but you might become disenchanted with the locks.......they are not up to the standards of a good american made lock.   If you can't get a gun to go off, you will suddenly become disinterested in the sport.....it's not fun
when it doesn't work.  My suggestion.....don't rush out and buy one without getting some help.  I would strongly recommend that you wait until the last week-end of July, make the trip down to Dixon's gunmakers fair, and find more out
about the sport.  Also, you will find in Dixon's shop, a lot of guns for sale on consignment, made by hobbyist builders, but
mostly using good american parts, and many times at very reasonable prices.       Don

Offline Longknife

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2058
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2009, 05:02:12 PM »
Proff, I second what Don said!!! Save up some cash and get a guality gun at the start. I have seen too many get disgusted with the sport after buying imports and having problems with the locks. There are two real nice guns for sale here in the "for sale " section that will not only serve you well but retain their value in years to come.....Ed
Ed Hamberg

Offline JCKelly

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1434
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2009, 05:20:24 PM »
Pedersoli rifles do go "bang". While I agree w Getz the locks are not up to a Jim Chambers standard, they do work.
I began shooting muzzle loaders when I was 14, with Grampa's single barreled shotgun, then didn't touch black powder for twenty five years until last spring. Bought  a Pedersoli Lewis & Clark commemorative Northwest gun from Cherry's fine guns. Other people's Pedersoli NW guns work fine, but my lock isn't worth a bucket of warm, uh, refuse.
Have a Pedersoli Frontier Delux, or some such, in .45 cal, lock works fine. Shoulder problems led me to a short-barreled Dixie Cub Deluxe, also Pedersoli, in .40. Lock works fine, even though it looks a little weird. Searching for something I could hold got a Dixie (Pedersoli) Jaeger in .54. Lock works fine & incidentally lock is a close copy of a Siler lock, except thinner bolster. Love the Jaeger, comes to shoulder well, and .54 is a good hunting & Indian fighting caliber. US Army used .54 cal for their round ball rifles about 1800 through 1855. US Army has always done a pretty thorough job.  You can get a more authentic custom made Jaeger for $1000-2000 more.
You can buy precast or swaged balls & all other needful accessories from trackofthewolf.com   They ship quickly, reliable to deal with. 
SCLoyalist made you a great list of stuff.
Pedersoli guns can be had from dixiegunworks.com   Dixie is reliable, been in this business since the 1950's.
A custom made rifle will look a lot better than Pedersoli, and in some respects may be easier to shoot. But you will pay another $500--1000 min for that advantage.   
Can't help saying this. Pedersoli barrels are made of a quenched and tempered medium carbon steel, Italian spec C40. Translation--they use somewhat better steel than did Springfield Armory in the .45-70 trapdoor model. I am a metallurgist and more concerned about my bzrrel steel than are most on this forum.
All I hear about Dixon's is that it is the place to go if one is fortunate enough to reside in the Keystone State. I am an ex-pat, here in Michigan.
There is a lot written on muzzle loading shooting, some of our contemporary Ph.D. Authorities (no offense meant, Professor) are great writers but, well, just plain full of it. Find an old copy of "Ballistics and the Muzzle Loading Rifle", by William C. Herring, published by the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association in 1974. Me, I find my out-of-print stuff at abebooks.com

Offline SCLoyalist

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 697
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2009, 05:55:08 PM »
Pa Prof, on another forum, there's an announcement for a 'vous 4th of July weekend in Jefferson Co PA.    If you could get over there, you might get some ideas on a starting gun.  (But, check with them first to see what primitive dress codes might be in force for the event.)   Also, the NMLRA Pennsylvania Territorial is coming up mid-July ( I think it's somewhere around Coatesville or Hamburg.)   There will be muzzleloaders to look at and ask questions about, and maybe even purchase , depending on vendor turnout.

For a first muzzleloader,  rather than buy a new Italian import,  consider a used Thompson Center Hawken.  They're styled more like a New England halfstock, rather than a real Jake and Sam Hawken Plains gun, but they're good guns and you could upgrade later with a drop-in barrel.   Or, start checking gun sales websites and get a feel for what styles and prices used guns are bringing.  Get to a 'vous or shoot with a decent traders' row, and you could pick up a bargain.  You should walk away from a gun showing signs of abuse or neglect, but if you find yourself a used gun with a good, sharp bore, a Siler or L&R lock, and a stock that fits your build with respect to length of pull, drop, and sight placement, you can't go too far wrong.    A few signs of wear just adds 'character.'

Again, good luck,   SCL


Offline Roger Fisher

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6805
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2009, 07:19:20 PM »
Proff, I second what Don said!!! Save up some cash and get a guality gun at the start. I have seen too many get disgusted with the sport after buying imports and having problems with the locks. There are two real nice guns for sale here in the "for sale " section that will not only serve you well but retain their value in years to come.....Ed
Ok I'll third it!!!  Get hold of that federation book - has a catalog of clubs all over the commonwealth and southern N,.Y.  Whispering Pines west of Blossburg is one  Rondy in 3rd wkend of August and Sheshequin abt 15 or so mi norht of Williamsport. and their June rondy is next weekend........I hit both of these...  Don't buy junk just to have it.  Make the trip down to Chuck Dixon's and not necessary to go to the fair last full wknd in July.  Hit him when he isn't busy.   Many Long rifles there new and used.  He'll set you straight.  (During the fair hit up the tall bald headed guy in the store and tell him I sent you he might knock a dollar off! ;D)  Well $#*! tell Chuck I sent ya - he might not add on too much to the bill ;D)   Yes, don't buy junk and get fed up and quit - Saw that tooo often,.

erdillonjr

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2009, 07:40:59 PM »
I agree with everyone here. Dont buy junk. Dillons flintlocks has a web site and custom guns start at $1700.00. Ed

Leatherbelly

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2009, 08:46:20 PM »
  Pa Prof,
    A lot of good info here from the pros. You've probably got 7 or 8 hundred bucks put together now so just save up a few more hun and you'll get yourself into a good used longrifle. You won't be sorry. I went with the "off shore" type to start and was terribly disappointed but I was hooked never the less. Like Roger Fisher says,don't buy junk. Don Getz is another fellow to listen to.I wish he'd adopt me! So much knowledge on this forum.
  BTW,welcome to ALR. Not everyone here is a lowlife gun builder ;D,there are some excellent shooters here also! :o BTW, I'm just a lowlife,white trash fair to mediocre shooter! hehehe :P ;D

Offline Dale Halterman

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2687
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2009, 09:12:47 PM »
What Roger said. Go to Dixon's, but don't wait for the fair in July. Chuck will be too busy then. Go earlier when he has the time to spend with you. Dixon's is just north of rt 78, maybe 15 miles west of Allentown. There is a link to their website from this site.

He can fix you up with everything you need from his shop.

If you are planning on hunting in PA, check the game regulations. There are caliber limitations, and you must have a flintlock to hunt the late muzzleloader season.

Dale H

Offline Jim Jackson

  • Starting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 23
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2009, 11:13:21 PM »
Between the 2 guns you are looking at the Cabelas one is 600 and the Pedersoli is right at 850.If you looking to spend that money on a foreign gun then why not go for one of the American made ones that Tennessee Valley Muzzleloading has.They use Siler locks and quality barrels so you getting quality parts to begin with and they are going about 850 for a fully completed Southern rifle that is pretty much correct and in whatever caliber you need.That would be the way I would go if I was looking to spend 850 on a gun and if your  feeling like you could assemble one yourself the kits are cheaper than that.
Growing old is mandatory,growing up is optional.

Offline Rich

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 277
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2009, 11:57:04 PM »
I would strongly 2nd looking at Tennessee Valley Muzzleloaders. In my opinion, they are substantially better than the foriegn guns.  Also, until you know what to look for in a used custom, you could make a mistake. It's a little like buying a used homemade car. At TVM, you can call and discuss what your thinking about and get some guidence and trust that the rifle you get will be built right. I also would recommend the clubs and events route, even though if you talk to 20 people you'll get 20 different opinions. Also, when I first started, I was talked out of a flintlock in favor or a cap lock. In retrospect, all of the reasons given to start out with a caplock were wrong. If you want to shoot flint, don't be intimidated or talked out of it. It's no more difficult to shoot than a capper. As far as equipment, you will need an adjustable powder measure because you will have to work up an accurate load and experiment with different amounts of powder. Once you know what the rifle likes, you can switch to a fixed measure in that amount. A cleaning rod with a cleaning jag, a ball pulling screw, and a patch puller. I also use a breach scrapper and a brush for cleaning. In working up a load, you'll experiment in different patch thicknesses so don't buy a big amount until you know what you'll be using. I like real black powder not substitues like pyrodex. (NEVER USE SMOKELESS). Whatever caliber you choose, you'll have a choice of 2 ball sizes. I start out with the smallest size in working up an accurate load. ie: if you have a .50 rifle, your choices will generally be .490 or .495. Once you know what size you like, you can cast your own or buy more than 1 box. A screwdriver that fits the screws on your lock is really needed. I also knap the flint with mine. There are also all kinds of patch lubes out there. I use a spit patch (saliva) others have other opinions, but to start out any of them will be fine. If it doesn't work, try something else. There are a lot of little details and that's why going to a blackpowder club is helpful. 


Offline Rich

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 277
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2009, 12:03:16 AM »
Two more important things. Hearing and eye protection. A few weeks ago I got a chip in my glasses from a piece of flint. First time ever but it did happen.

billd

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2009, 12:24:39 AM »
Welcome Prof,    Mansfield???
If you looking to spend just to the south side of $1000. for a import contact Nate McKenzie, he's a member here, his email is his profile. He makes a decent "made in America" gun at a fair price. One of his guns was on the TOW website recently for $900.  I'm not saying he has more at that price but he usually has one or two for sale at all times.  He has one for sale or trade here right now.  He's in Benton, PA. less than 2 hrs. drive for you.  He's also very knowledgable so he would be able to start you out right, might even teach you how to load and shoot it in his yard.

Dixon's has several on consignment sale at all times.  I've seen used ones go for $600.  Just make sure you run a patch down the bore first if you buy a used one. Feeling for rough spots.

If you decide on a factory gun make sure you get the correct barrel.  Twist rate is different for roundballs and conicals.

Bill
« Last Edit: June 14, 2009, 12:27:46 AM by billd »

Pennsylvania Professor

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2009, 01:21:40 AM »
Thanks to everyone who has answered so far--your responses have really made me rethink my initial impulse to settle for one of the foreign-born rifles. I am amazed at your hospitality as well as the wealth of knowledge on this site and really appreciate the detail that some have put into their answers. My gratitude for the warm welcome--I hope someday to reciprocate over a cold beer or two.

I'm going to print this informative thread up for slow digestion. But so far, you've convinced me to take a look at some of the local events and solicit advice from some of the gunmakers before making the leap. I took a look at the Tennessee Valley site and am impressed with their craftsmanship; some beautiful pieces there. I'm also going to take a ride down and speak with Mr. Dixon when I have the time. Now that it's been pointed out, I think I can see the difference between the locks and overall quality between the domestic and foreign guns. It seems prudent to save up the extra money to get a fine rifle, rather than get a mass produced one now and wish I had waited a bit down the road.

Sam Fadala's Black Powder Handbook has been my bedside reading for the past week. It's great how much information he packed into the book. The overall effect has been to show me how much I have to learn; but it has improved my ability to understand the basic concepts and terminology. He's an entertaining writer, to boot.

Mr. BillD, yes sir Mansfield.



« Last Edit: June 14, 2009, 01:26:55 AM by Pennsylvania Professor »

Offline Z. Buck

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 654
  • Fabricati Diem Pvnc
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2009, 05:51:44 AM »
PA Prof, i live right in Morris, i am a alumni of MU, my brother still attends, if you need some help, PM me, and i can meet you sometime and show you the ropes, i am very traditional (perhaps primitive is a better word) in my approach to shooting, and certainly not an expert, but can get you through the basics, good to have you on board, Zack
« Last Edit: June 14, 2009, 04:41:59 PM by Zack Buck »
I Make Inflammatory Statements

Be Prepared

Offline hanshi

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5316
  • My passion is longrifles!
    • martialartsusa.com
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2009, 07:25:47 AM »
I've had considerable experience with TVM and consider their guns a much better dollar value than even the best imported guns.  The price of imported guns has gone up drastically in the past few years making these custom guns a fantastic bargain.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

northwoodsdave

  • Guest
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2009, 05:04:38 PM »
Zack makes a good point.  If you are interested in primitive shooting, I'd get the most basic kit you can: gun, ball, powder and patches, along with a cleaning jag, some cleaning patches and some bore cleaner and oil.. You'll also need a powder measure and some extra flints.

Then take your new gun  out and shoot it, disassemble it and thoroughly clean it.  You will quickly learn what might be useful and (like many primitive shooters before you) will also learn that the fancy tools are not always necessary. For instance, a good pin punch to remove the barrel can also be a finish nail with the point ground flat.  You can get a fancy hose that screws into the vent of your gun, or just use a toothpick to close it while you pour warm water down into the barrel.

Living in an area where poverty often saw these guns being used well into the last century, you see (and hear) some interesting stuff.  Hunting was often not a rich man's sport, but the only way to put meat on the table.  Learning to make do with the bare essentials was an economic necessity.

You may not want to go this direction, and that's fine.  It's just an option I think you can learn a lot from.

Dave



Offline Nate McKenzie

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1019
  • Luzerne Co. PA
    • Nathan McKenzie Gunmaker
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #23 on: June 15, 2009, 12:16:34 AM »
Pa. Prof. Sounds like I,m not too far from you. I'm a retired school teacher and gun maker into primitive shooting especially Rev War era. I'd be glad to spend a day with you and show you how to load, fire, and clean a muzzle loader. Send me a PM or give me a call at  570.864.2728  Nate McKenzie.

Offline stuart cee dub

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 461
Re: What do I need to buy to get started?
« Reply #24 on: June 15, 2009, 01:01:15 AM »
Great thread.
One of the reasons TVM might be a good route is the lock is everything on a flintlock.
And you can get a good lock on a TVM that is tuneable and quick.

I was at a shoot a few weeks ago where  the new guy had a'' new'' out of the box (but 20 yrs old) thompson center flinter than was really fast .Some people have all the luck .You just don't find those that often , they are no longer made to boot. Some just don't work that way after extensive tuning.
I would rather have the most  simple rifle with the best lock and the second best barrel I could afford (in a barn gun) than the best Italian import. The imports will last you a year or two until you either get smarter or grow so frustrated you pick something else to do.

One of my best shooting buddy's is convinced that old  cva's(imported ,low cost entry level guns no longer made) are great guns .He shoots the their old caplock really well. He found a flinter at a garage sale NIB and put it together recently .After some considerable  frustration with the lock he replaced it with an RPL which is a decent american lock .
While the barrel and two piece build of a cva may not be much to write home about by putting a decent lock on it he made it into a shooter he is confident to take hunting .
Lesson ....The lock made it work.