Short Starter

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beagle6 posted this 3 weeks ago

I have been shooting traditional muzzleloaders for almost 60 years and have always used a tight patch/ball combination to get best accuracy. At any black powder shoot, I can't remember anyone who didn't do likewise with a round ball rifle. This of course requires a short starter to get things started and yet in my studies of original hunting pouches in museums, books, etc, I can't remember seeing a short starter. Did the "old timers" accept less accuracy or did they know something that has been lost in time?

Comments? 

beagle6

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RicinYakima posted this 3 weeks ago

I spent several years researching flintlock rifles, as they were actually used in the 1750's. There were two type, the Jaeger that used an oversized ball driven down the bore with a mallet, and lead patched ball. They considered the proper size was that a naked ball would fall of its own weight all the way to the back of the barrel. This was because they had no standard patch; chewed piece of thin leather, cloth material or two oak leaves. Muzzles were recessed, forget the proper term, so you thumb started the ball below the crown.  

Manufactured cloth in the US wasn't done until after the Revolution, as it was forbidden in colonial days. They think cloth patches and patch knives didn't come into common use until after the War of 1812. There is no record of ever having short starters taken west for the fur trade rendezvous. 

The earliest I ever found mention of "starters" was when picket bullets for match rifles became popular, post 1845. For classic rifles, the earliest I can find in Dillion's book The Kentucky Rifle published in the 1930's. Since he based everything on what he saw being used in the 1920's and 1930's, he assumed it had always been done that way. 

If you can find the movie "Last of the Mohicans" with Daniel Day-George from 1992. The technical director, Mark Baker, is world renowned for his historical anthropology of the period. You will find great scenes of slam loading with no starters or patch knives.

Hope that is of some use to you. 

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freebullet posted this 3 weeks ago

Thanks for sharing that Ric

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pappymike posted this 3 weeks ago

I have my barrel chamfered to where i start it with my thumb, trim the patch and shove it with my ramrod. It doesn't seem to affect accuracy

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RicinYakima posted this 3 weeks ago

Pappymike, That is the way I do it also. However, I just shoot for fun and not matches. Don't know if the rifle would shoot better with a tight patch or not. 

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R. Dupraz posted this 3 weeks ago

There have been original muzzle loading rifles found where there was evidence of the muzzle being coned. Essentially eliminates the need for a short starter.

It does work with no ill effect on accuracy. Offen an improvement. You might want to pose your question on this web site. 

https://www.americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php

 

R. 

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pappymike posted this 3 weeks ago

Thats the word i was trying to remember, coned. I have a coning tool for mine and it is so nice not needing a short starter. Its  .54 shooting a .535 ball with .018 patching material.

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ray h posted this 3 weeks ago

Read about Simon Kenton and Lewis Wetzel reloading a flintlock at a full run all the while with a bunch of guys wanting to take your hair is hot on your trail. I have enough trouble just standing beside a bench loading, never shot a tight patch even at matches. Used loading block with patched balls but did use a sturdy range rod to seat ball.

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RicinYakima posted this 3 weeks ago

Grew up in that area and not far from Brady's Leap where he jumped across the gorge and the Indians were afraid to follow. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Brady

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beagle6 posted this 3 weeks ago

Thanks everyone ( especially Ric ) for your input.

beagle6

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Maven posted this 3 weeks ago

Two things to mention:  First, people may have used the flat of their belt knife to start the RB.  Second, from what I've read, outside of matches or "frolics" as they were sometimes known, a looser patch and RB combination than we currently favor, may have been the norm.  Black Powder Maniac, who posts some very entertaining videos on the Traditional ML Forum, favors this since he shoots from a pouch and doesn't want to carry a range rod.  I've tried it several times and find I get more than acceptable results + it is a great time saver on trail/woods walks.

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RicinYakima posted this 3 weeks ago

Plus one for Maven. I shoot from the pouch also. 

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