Generations Firearm Training

Some Safety Rules

The single biggest difference in muzzle loading as opposed to breach loaders is the safety rules. I mean, I don’t have to tell someone not to wrap their lips around the muzzle of a 1911 and blow. I don’t have to tell someone loading a .357 not to smoke while handling explosives. Not to mention not having your head in front of the barrel while loading the thing.

Let’s start with some safety rules then we will get into a little history.

  1. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. This is up while loading and moving to and from the firing line. Make sure your muzzle points up and not at an angle when people are in front of you
  2. Never blow down the barrel. If you feel you must, use a flexible hose so your head is never over the muzzle
  3. Only load in a designated area.
  4. Powder must be completely capped when not pouring
  5. No loading from a flask or can. A powder measure of some type must be used.
  6. Smoking is permitted only in designated areas.
  7. Never prime or cap until on the firing line.
  8. Always wear eye and ear protection.
  9. Never mix powders
  10. Only use black powder or black powder substitutes.

Some History

Keep in mind the majority of the population in history was uneducated. The major participants in science and literature were monks or “men of the cloth”. Their employers were frequently rulers and pleasing their rulers was pretty important if they wanted to continue to live.
Black powder was invented somewhere in the 1100-1200s AD in China. The monks were looking for an aphrodisiac in the service of their emperor. If I recall history correctly, this guy had about one hundred wives. Perhaps aspirin would have been a better invention. While it was first used in fireworks, it didn’t take long, for it to be used in hand canons in the 1200s AD. In 1242 AD there was a published book in England by Roger Bacon on the composition of black powder. It appears Berthold Schwartz of Germany started its use in canons and as an explosive in the early 1300s AD. He is also thought to have invented the first firearm in Europe.
Match locks were the first hand held firearms after hand canons. The match or wick was clamped in the lock and when the trigger was pulled fell forward into the pan. These weren’t very efficient and were for short distances. Remember during this time long bows are still the main tool for hunting and swords and bows are still the main tool for defense. These were used between the 15th and the early 17th centuries.

The wheel lock was next and had a relatively short life span. It was complicated and expensive. The spring was wound prior to firing. The jaws held a piece of iron pyrite and when the trigger was pulled the wheel spun and showered sparks into the pan. These were the firearms used by the Three Musketeers.

The flintlock was next around the middle of the 17th century and had a very lucrative life span. It used a simpler leaf spring and a piece of flint was held in the jaws. When the trigger is pulled the cock falls forward and showers the pan with sparks. This was the primary firearm used in the Revolutionary War. This is also where the United States Marine Corps began its full time job of fighting for freedom while keeping seaman alive so they could have a sea going taxi service.

The percussion lock was next. It had a short life span since breach loaders were right behind. The percussion lock used a copper cup with fulminate of mercury as the ignition source. The cap and drum replaced the flash pan and a hammer replaced the jaws and cock of the flintlock. This was the primary firearm used in the Civil War.

The last and most disdainful to traditional muzzle loader shooters is the inline. The inline is a straight line ignition system as opposed to its predecessors that are considered side locks. It may use musket caps or percussion caps, however most use 209 shotgun primers. These were designed primarily to be used in muzzle loader only hunting throughout the country. They generally shoot a copper jacketed, hollow point bullet. There are very few social shooting events involving these. And the skill set to use one is closer to center fire breach loaders then muzzle loaders.

Search for:

Sign up for our mailing list.

Recent Posts