How do I load my Muzzle Loader?
Tuesday, May 10, 2005 (23:29:57)

Posted by DallanC

Loading a muzzle loader is a relatively simple process. The first step is to gather the nessasary components (some unneeded depending on projectile type): Gun, powder, projectile, patch, cap, powder measure, bullet lubricant, ramrod, and short starter.

First, safely inspect the rifle and make sure it is already unloaded. An easy trick to determine if a rifle is loaded or not is to place the ramrod into the unloaded barrel and to mark with a pen or marker where it exits the barrel. A loaded gun can then be determined by placing the ramrod into the barrel and seeing if the mark on the ramrod lines up with the barrels crown. If the line is above the crown then there must be something already in the barrel.

Next prepare your powder charge. Muzzle Loaders use either Black Powder or Black Powder substitutes like Pyrodex. Using smokeless powder in a muzzle loader will destroy the rifle and probibly cause serious injury or death! Black Powder or a substitute requires measurement by VOLUME not by Weight. This is because not all powders weight the same amount. They are manufactured however, to take up the same amount of volume. Set your powder measure to the amount you desire (example: 80 grains) and carefully fill it up with powder. Next carefully pour the contents of the measure, into the barrel of the muzzle loader.

Now prepare your projectile. There are 3 basic types: conicals, roundballs and Sabots which we will describe how to load here.

Conicals come either pre-lubed or not. If your conicals are not lubed, apply a coating of bullet lubricant to the flat sides of the conical. Lubricant is not needed on the base of the conical nor the front. Take your lubricated conical and place it squarely over the crown of your barrel. Skip down to the section on starting the projectile.

Round Balls require a lubricated cloth patch. Patches come either pre-lubed or not. If not, saturate your patch with lubricant. Place the patch evenly over the barrels crown. Push a roundball into the exact center of the patch (which should also be the exact center of the barrel as well) with your thumb. Skip down to the section on starting the projectile.

Sabots are usually plastic and resemble a shotgun wad. It acts as a carrier for a smaller caliber bullet such as a jacketed handgun bullet. Push the bullet into the "fingers" of the Sabot until the flat base of the bullet is flush against the bottom of the sabot. This will usually push the fingers outward from the bullet which is normal. Next, carefully start the sabot into the barrels crown keeping the bullet facing upwards. Press the sabot unto the barrel with your thumb until the Sabots "fingers" are pressed against the bullet, holding it in place.

Starting the projectile is usually done with a short starter but can be done just as well with the main ramrod. Push the projectile into the barrel carefully keeping it aligned with the barrels bore (conicals/sabots). Once you have pushed it as far as possible with the short started, switch to your main ramrod. Push the projectile the rest of the way down the barrel with a steady motion. Once you feel the projectile contact the powder, apply more pressure to seat the bullet tightly against the powder. Generally, tight pressure from the projectile against the powder will result in better ignition. Hodgdon who makes Pyrodex recommends a minimum of 40lbs of pressure for best ignition and accuracy.

Finally, point your muzzle loader in a safe direction and pull back the hammer to the half-*****ed position. Place a cap snugly on the nipple. That's it! Your muzzle loader is now loaded and ready to fire. Take aim at your target, pull the hammer to the fully *****ed position and shoot!

It should be noted that with each shot, the powder burns and leaves a residue on the barrel wall. Each projectile will appear to be harder and harder to load and accuracy will deminish. At this point the firearm must be cleaned. For utmost accuracy with some muzzle loader, cleaning between shots is mandatory.

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