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Thread: Trouble getting Muzzle loading shotgun to reliably fire

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy kaiser's Avatar
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    Trouble getting Muzzle loading shotgun to reliably fire

    I recently bought a Pedersoli SXS muzzle loading shotgun kit and finished it (it was already fitted, but needed the stock and metal finished). The locks, hammers, and nipples all worked as advertised; so I fired a few caps on the nipples and proceeded to load. The right barrel fired first time with a slight delay, but the left barrel failed to fire several times with several brands of #11 caps. I then pulled the overshot card, dumped the shot, pulled the wads, and dumped the powder. I then took the nipple off, cleaned it, fired some more caps (to make sure it was cleared), and reloaded (powder charge, 2 waxed wads, shot, overshot card). It fired after 2 tries, but was almost a "hang-fire". I loaded it up again the same way, and it would not fire. I then, fired the right barrel and swapped nipples with the left (making sure the nipples were clear) - still, no ignition. After many more tries to fire the left barrel, I finally pulled the load and cleaned the bores before putting it up. I was using Pyrodex RS for my powder, which works in all my other black powder rifles and shotguns. Any helpful suggestions will be appreciated? I can get my hands on some black powder, if it works better in this type of gun, but it's not readily available in our area. Thanks

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    try changing out the nipples with new or try to enlarge the hole a bit and see if that helps. when you pull the nipple can you see into the barrel or is it blocked, may have to use a bore light.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  3. #3
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    To establish if it is the channel to the powder try popping a few caps with the gun unloaded. They could be damp, or if they are too tight a fit on the nipple, part of the hammer's energy could be wasted in driving it home until the composition reaches the nipple. The rim of the nipple should contact the hammer face all the way around. I don't know how likely contact in one place only is to cause poor ignition, but it may speed up nipple erosion. Also has the Pyrodex been exposed to a humid atmosphere? From what I hear of its composition, it may absorb moisture more than regular smokeless.

    If the caps are popping regularly and don't sound weak, the way through nipple and breechblock is the culprit. In that case try pushing a piece of tubing over the nipple and seeing if you can blow through it. Or pour boiling water into the barrel (no bad thing if Pyrodex has been used) and see if it comes out in as steady a stream as with other percussion firearms.

  4. #4
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    Pyrodex is not as easy as BP to ignite. If there is any constriction in the channel between cap and chamber can make it impossible. Clean out the channel. You may want to get a new and/or oversized nipple. Track of the Wolf and the Possibles Shop both have several options, as may others.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    Pyrodex needs a hotter ignition to go off. I'd use the real black. It also sounds like there is a bit of dirt or flashing holding up the spark. Keep looking.
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  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy kaiser's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great suggestions, one and all; I ‘ll try them all until I get reliable and consistent ignition. Kaiser

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    You say you bought it but it was already fitted. Is that meaning you bought it used? Either way it could need a real good cleaning in the breech area. I would not enlarge the nipple holes. That could just make matters worse. Remove the nipples and clean that area good, through to the breech if you can. See if you get any oil or gunk out of that area. Buy some new better nipples. Factory nipples are often not the best. Something like Spitfire or Hotshot nipples help improve ignition because they are funnel shaped and help concentrate the fire from the nipple. Swab with alcohol followed by a dry patch before you load and shoot. After you clean and oil your gun, store it muzzle down for at least a couple days that way excess oil will not puddle up in the breech. I don't know if your gun has a patient breech or not but it does, it's a smaller than your bore area and often can be difficult to clean for some folks but not if you do it right.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    You could try dropping 2-5 gr of FFFF Black powder down first. Are you smacking the side of the locks after you put in the powder and before you load wads and shot??

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Hold the unloaded gun with the muzzle pointed down a few inches from some leaves, grass, or anything that moves very easily. Put a cap on the nipple and fire it. It should blow the leaves vigorously.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tasbay View Post
    You could try dropping 2-5 gr of FFFF Black powder down first. Are you smacking the side of the locks after you put in the powder and before you load wads and shot??
    yes!! -- smacking the side of the locks -----but get rid of the pyrodex and use black in it

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatume View Post
    Hold the unloaded gun with the muzzle pointed down a few inches from some leaves, grass, or anything that moves very easily. Put a cap on the nipple and fire it. It should blow the leaves vigorously.
    this too !!!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I would run a nipple pick through the nipple and into the charge after loading. Make sure cap is seated firmly. Check hammer contact nipple so impact is across entire nipple, using some type of spotting compound. If cap fires every time, it is the channel to the powder that needs fixed. See how water runs through, with AND WITHOUT nipples in place.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I'd try venting the nipples. A small hole opposite the touch hole will prevent any air lock. Worked for me. Super fast ignition.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    Those guns have a pretty long narrow flash hole through the breech and must be dry to function. I swab all oil out and then fire off a 1/2 charge in each tube to make sure they are really dry before hunting. I also use real black as it ignites easier. When you load the powder holt the barrel up and tap on the side of the gun to make sure the powder settles under the nipple.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Do not wipe out prior to loading,first snap off a few caps noting if the blast disturbs Grass or ripped paper as suggested by previous advisers.Remove nipples and trickle in some crushed powder replace the nipples,load the barrels and fire the Shotgun.If it comes necessary to wipe out do it after loading to keep moisture away from the ignition area.You will probably find now that your efforts have dislodged any obstruction or moisture that might impede ignition.Good Luck.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    You mentioned you "finished the metal" so did this include blue of the barrel and breech areas? If so there might be a rust build up in the flash channel as I did once years ago when assembling a TC Hawken kit. I had plugged the nipple holes but they weeped and blue solution got inside the breech area of the barrel and I had to get rid of some "rust" particles and other junk. That is what caused me to buy a Harbor Freight Bore Scope which are usually on special so I could look inside the whole barrel interior! I also use extra long (AR15 type) pipe cleaners into the threaded area and into the breech of a rifle to insure there is no oil. If they come out dirty, cut off the end, repeat until clean. The idea of snapping some caps is a standard advice for all percussion rifles when getting ready to shoot. Afterwards wipe the barrel with a dry patch and it should have a slight carbon build up?
    John

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    If possible remove nipples and the clean out screw find a drill that just fits the hole and use it as a scrapper to remove any build up in the thru hole. sometimes chips and other crud are left in the holes. next is using the shank of the drill compare depth of the hole from right side to left side to make sure the hole is completely thru and not just a small opening. A drill might have slipped or chipped when originally drilling this hole and left a restriction.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    ^^^^^^^^, confirmation of what should be there first a good start as stated above. Also a welding tip cleaner set can be a real help at times and fits nice in a Possibles bag or the shooting box.

  19. #19
    Boolit Bub
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    Pyrodex P works better than RS in just about any gun, especially if the gun has a narrow powder chamber which doesn't allow the large RS powder granules to flow into it.

    Magnum caps may also help but really shouldn't be any more necessary than installing performance nipples. However all 3 may be necessary including switching to Pyrodex P.

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy kaiser's Avatar
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    I got some black powder (FFg) today and tried a coupe of "half charges" in the Pedersoli. It fired without a problem! I went ahead and ordered a couple of "Hot Shot" nipples from "Track of the Wolf" anyway with the hopes they will help ignite Pyrodex, or any of the other substitutes, when I can't get "black". In the mean time, I'll just keep shooting the "real stuff" in this gun (it also patterns nicely at 30 yards). Most of my other black powder long guns are Thompson Center (Hawkin, Seneca, Renagade, etc.) and all would shoot Pyrodex. I guess it goes to show you, guns are about as individual as people. Thanks for the help.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check