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Thread: "It Finally Happened to Me"

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


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    "It Finally Happened to Me"

    ~ Excerpt from Mike Nesbitt's column in the November/December 2013 Muzzleloader Magazine

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Well, it finally happened to me. While at the Free Trapper's November Turkey shoot last year (2012), I took my first shot with "Tacky Too", my .54 caliber flintlock Leman styled rifle, just as a fouling shot. The bore was oily and I knew that, so the fouling shot was necessary. I poked a good hole in the powder through the flash-hole and that powder simply felt soggy. Then the pan was primed to the top, and as much FFFFg as possible was poked or shaken through the flash-hole in order to get as much fire as possible inside the barrel. That shot still had slow ignition, just as I expected. Then, while preparing to load for the next shot which was going to be fired for score, the powder had just begun to pour from my powder measure and into the bore when it was touched off by a lingering spark down inside the barrel. That powder charge, only 50 grains of FFg, blew the powder measure out of my hand and left me with some very numb and sooty fingers. Yes, I quickly checked and counted those fingers! All of which were still present and accounted for, quite thankfully! Then the numbness began to wear thin and I quickly submerged my blackened and aching hand in the cool of the rainwater barrel. That cleaned some of the soot off my fingers and it allowed me to begin feeling normal again.

    My powder measure, one of the old treasured ones from Doc Haddaway, was blown more than a few yards away but I was able to find it. Other than being very sooty, like my hand, there was no damage to the powder measure. However, the blast at the muzzle of my rifle was enough to send that powder measure far enough that I know how lucky a guy can be to not have my fingers directly in front of the gun's muzzle.

    The experience allows me to testify that there is certainly a chance of having a lingering spark present in the gun's barrel that can be "hot" enough to ignite the next powder charge. Why it happened this time, and I'm just guessing, is because my gun's bore was left rather oily after being fired and cleaned during the previous week on a rainy day. The oil was wiped down the bore just after cleaning the gun. My thought is that some of the powder in my first powder charge absorbed some of that oil and did not burn completely when the shot was fired but remained in the bore, allowing a "slow spark" to remain after firing my first shot.

    Just let me say that a premature ignition can certainly happen. I had never seen or witnessed such a thing in over 40 years of shooting muzzleloaders but, I will say it again: it finally happened to me.

    As I look back on it, there was at least one warning sign which I completely ignored and this is being mentioned just to give you all of the details from my recent experience Right after that first shot was fired, the hangfire because of the oily bore, my gun's muzzle was pouring out smoke that was a slightly different color and thicker than the usual wisps of white smoke from a "just fired" muzzleloader. That smoke had a yellowish tinge to it and I plainly remember seeing it. That should have warned me that something might still be burning down the barrel, but it didn't.

    I might be ridiculed for admitting that the next charge of powder was poured into the barrel while the bore was still smoking and that will be a ridicule that I accept because I deserve it. But let me ask, how many of you have never added powder for the next shot while the barrel still contained or emitted a little smoke? We shoot guns that make a lot of smoke and we tend to get used to it or relaxed about it. Yes, I deserve that bit of ridicule and I will allow a black powder shooter "who is without sin to cast the first stone."


    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    THIS IS WHY WE "BLOW DOWN THE BARREL" IMMEDIATELY AFTER EVERY SHOT IS TAKEN. It is a SAFETY MEASURE. Cup your hand 'round the muzzle and blow into it. When smoke stops pouring out the touch hole or nipple, the barrel is safe to accept the next powder charge. Further reading on this matter - http://bwanabob.info/page2.html

    Before 1992 the NMLRA considered blowing down the barrel as a normal part of the shooting process. Then that changed and was considered unsafe and forbidden at any NMLRA club affiliated shooting events. Most clubs and matches follow that dictum, unfortunately. To get around that nonsense, I carry and use a foot long length of neoprene tubing to accomplish blowing down the barrel.
    The only government I trust is the .45-70 ....

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    That could have been very bad. It is good that he related his experience so others can learn from it.

    We all at times do things that can have nasty consequences.
    Maker of Silver Boolits for Werewolf hunting

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    The above reminded me of an incident involving a powder horn. Fifty or more years ago a shooter in our area had his powder horn explode when he touched off his flintlock rifle. He was wearing it on his right side like most shooters do. How a spark got in and ignited the remaining powder no one knew for sure. His right arm and side were badly burned. I took note and moved my horn and bag to my left side as I'm a right handed shooter. Like the above it might be only a one-in-a-million chance but it could and apparently does happen.
    BIG OR SMALL I LIKE THEM ALL, 577 TO 22 HORNET.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    About 14 + years ago A friend of mine had his rifle discharge while ramming 5he ball. This is the only occurrence of this happening that I know of.
    QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES?

  5. #5
    Before 1992 the NMLRA considered blowing down the barrel as a normal part of the shooting process. Then that changed and was considered unsafe and forbidden at any NMLRA club affiliated shooting events. Most clubs and matches follow that dictum, unfortunately. To get around that nonsense, I carry and use a foot long length of neoprene tubing to accomplish blowing down the barrel.
    And that's why I don't shoot there any more.

  6. #6
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

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    It's a hell of a lot more dangerous to not blow down a barrel, than doing so. Lawyers. Bah!
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  7. #7
    Boolit Man
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    This is also why you never pour directly down the barrel from your horn! Always use some type of measure.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Murphy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mongo40 View Post
    This is also why you never pour directly down the barrel from your horn! Always use some type of measure.
    Exactly! Those brass powder containers with spouts that can be changed out look cool. Until you wake up and realize you're holding a potential bomb in your hand.

    Hope things went well on your side of the state during this cold snap.


    Murphy
    If I should depart this life while defending those who cannot defend themselves, then I have died the most honorable of deaths. Marc R. Murphy '2006'.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mongo40 View Post
    This is also why you never pour directly down the barrel from your horn! Always use some type of measure.
    I see this statement a lot, how would a person measure the drop ? who pours an unknown amount freely from a flask. Many times (if the incident actually happened) other factors are at play as is the case in the original post, I have used a metal flask and horn with measure spout with a valve to close off spout from flask for years and it too was permitted at shoots years ago along with blowing down the barrel, the hobby and sport of black powder shooting is in danger of fading away in part because people think it's too dangerous because black powder is an explosive (not), guns blow up if you don't seat the ball (not true), your powder flask if used as it was intended will blow up in your hands (no), what a bunch of bull.
    Modern smokeless powder has more energy than any black powder and it's just listed as powder, it's use blows up black powder guns more than any other cause.
    The measure in the original post may have traveled as it did because the holder threw it (involuntary motion ) like putting your hand on a hot surface, as I stated above with regard to other factors, normally the time from shot to loading gives time for any smoldering to be done with, if you have a contaminated bore or are trying to speed shoot you may get unlucky and have a small Roman candle, odds are if you are using a horn the base cap will come off before pressure is high and most flasks made today will split the seams before ever being a hand grenade, the brass cylinder type have a valve and the measure of powder is in the spout and closed from the rest of the powder (bet if a sign of a flash started the thing would be flung), I know somebody is going to make a point that the flame can get past the valve , well it may but people around the forums hate Pattern breach stating the channel/antechamber is too restrictive for positive ignition , the flask valves are designed to be a no flash valve if kept clean.
    Anyway, the hobby/sport is fading away, many gun store don't stock powder because of restrictions and lack of demand, recycling old horror stories just drives the point, some post stories that are not true just to be part of a thread, you know how it goes,
    " well a friend of my brother's uncle's nephew was looking at a container of black powder, can't remember what brand, anyway, he was looking at it so hard it blew up". We need to support the sport, not keep repeating half truth and wives tales . My 2 cents.
    Last edited by Caswell Ranch; 02-23-2021 at 11:05 AM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I am a believer in blowing down the barrel , seems to load easier , I believe also it does make sure there is no smoldering ember , Load from a flask or a measure I have done both and I do so after blowing down the barrel , I have dry balled a gun and stuck a ramrod while cleaning and I have trickled powder in and shot it out , works for me if not for you I dont care . I shoot alone a lot of time I hunt alone almost all the time , I also drive in the woods at night and in snow and windy weather and am not to concerned .

    Insurance keeps a lot of places from stocking black powder along with the restrictive fire ordinances and powder magazine / storage well it is not as deadly as those movies portrayed , and people today seem to need big brother telling them what is safe and permissible , been shooting black for about 45 years , in that time I have done different things to see what works for me , and why some things happen , chain fires , lubes , cleaning , loads , powder granulations , so I know what works for me , what I believe and what I do not when people say it and best thing is to try things for yourself , as to internet or tavern talk take it with a large grain of salt see what works for you its not really rocket science .

    And when experience tells me what causes what and what works stick with it or take the youtube guru version if you want your choice .

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    I have four, 20 pound tanks of propane for my grills and heaters in my garage. You want to talk about an explosive possibility!

  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by FLINTNFIRE View Post
    I am a believer in blowing down the barrel , seems to load easier ....
    Yes, because yer keeping the black powder residue soft, same as blow tubing for BPCR.
    The only government I trust is the .45-70 ....

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post
    Yes, because yer keeping the black powder residue soft, same as blow tubing for BPCR.
    I fired a foul shot at a rendezvous match in Queensland (off to the side and back to the crowd) blew down the muzzle and was about to turn back to the loading area ---range officer taps me on the shoulder "first and last warning, do it again and instant removal from the range - pack yr tent and go home" ----so this guy is normally LOUD but my warning was delivered quietly ----I talked to him later in the day "whats the issue with it ? " Mate its in the rules but my big issue is people are here with cameras, if a picture of you with yr barrel in yr gob gets in the papers - and it will - we are all dead - you have no idea the ruckus would be raised and all by people dont know $hite from a brick. Lawyers and do gooders !!!!!

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I was taught to blow down the barrel until no smoke comes out of the nipple or flash hole. Never been to a shoot where it wasn't allowed and wasn't practiced though I haven't been to a muzzleloader shoot in many years now. If I were to go to one where I couldn't blow directly down the barrel I would be using the rubber hose idea. I do not believe it is safe to be pouring powder into the bore unless you are sure there is no fire down there and if there is smoke there could be something smouldering.

    And what indian joe said about lawyers!!

    Longbow

  15. #15
    Boolit Bub nightwolf1974's Avatar
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    You're lucky! But look on it as a reminder. EVERY shooter has had some type of experience that reminds them to slow down and pay attention.
    My father and uncle call me an "old maid" because I take so long to reload a BP gun. I measure the powder out of the flask or can, close the flask or put the top back on the can, move the can or flask back several feet, pour the charge into the chamber or barrel, then wad the chamber (revolvers), then seat my ball, and repeat(revolvers). Not only do I enjoy the process, but it's safe that way.
    wear your scars with pride, a scarless man hasn't felt the hardship of life......

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I use the rubber hose idea. I started using one when the kids were shooting. Hammering into them that a muzzle is NEVER pointed at someone. Would look silly if I then stuck my face in front of the rifle.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post
    Yes, because yer keeping the black powder residue soft, same as blow tubing for BPCR.
    I know that , part of the reason I do it .

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I gotta wonder if this problem would likely more from a fowling shot rather than a normal load wear you shoot a round. Just kinda thinking but I think the pressure from shooting a projectile would make the powder burn better and more completely plus the projectile leaving the bore would cause a suction that would pull out most the powder also. From what I have been reading about it(on another board also) it seems to usually happen after firing a fouling shot or reenactors that fire blank shots.
    Aim small, miss small!

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by mooman76 View Post
    I gotta wonder if this problem would likely more from a fowling shot rather than a normal load wear you shoot a round. Just kinda thinking but I think the pressure from shooting a projectile would make the powder burn better and more completely plus the projectile leaving the bore would cause a suction that would pull out most the powder also. From what I have been reading about it(on another board also) it seems to usually happen after firing a fouling shot or reenactors that fire blank shots.
    There is no suction from a fired anything, that's not how it works(burning powder, expanding gas volume), now the reenactors having the contaminated burning ember bore problem, I can see that.

  20. #20
    Scary incident but a good reminder of the inherent danger in this hobby that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

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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