I Just Purchased a Brown Bess - Now What?
I am not new to firing weapons. I regulary fire M1A, SKS, and Mosin Nagant rifles. I am new to black powder shooting.
I now have a Dixie Gun Works (Japanese) Brown Bess Second Land Pattern. I know nothing about shooting black powder. Can somebody please direct me to any references that will tell me how to determine powder loads, ball size, how to wrap paper cartridges, and anything else I need to know to fire this weapon? Cleaning information would also be helpful. I am not a reenactor but would like for the weapon to be reasonably historically accurate. I plan on shooting this weapon just for fun.
I am also interested in adding sling swivels and a sling. I have seen white and brown leather slings of different widths. Which one would have been more appropriate for Americans during the Revolutionary War? Where is a good place for look for slings and sling swivels?
What other equipment should I have and where would be a good place to look for it?
Thanks for any help and advice you can give.
Whoo! WAY too much to put in a single answer! First, would find a good book- perhaps one of these- Amazon.com: muzzleloader: Books
and would check for fellow BP enthusiast at any local ranges- or re-enactors in your area.
Yours should be a smoothbore- you will be shooting patched round ball. Use ONLY black powder, or a legit BP substitute. Ones like pyrodex ARE a bit harder to ignite than true black powder.
Clean up- hot water and dish detergent. Get your own bottle of Dawn so you lady does not fuss at you.
Accesories- yes, one or two wheelbarrow fulls. Touch hole pick, bullet puller, worm (retrieving a patch that went down the barrel, powder measure. GOOD EYE PROTECTION IS A GOTTA HAVE.
Rolling cartridges can be fun, but wait a bit, and hand feed for the start. I use a dowel close to bore diameter, roll around that. Cartridges have been rolled out of every paper you can think of including newspaper. I use double-wider cigarette papers.
There are 2 kinds of BP shooters- those that HAVE screwed up, and loaded a ball with no powder, and those that WILL at some future time. Accept it when the time comes, learn to use bullet puller. :p
2 points and I'll shut up- when loading, do not get body/hands in the line of the bore. NEVER attempt to fire a muzzleloader if the ball is not ALL the way seated on the powder charge.
Some ideas in no particular order.
National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association has a great book on how to.
For cartridge rolling, cartridge boxes & c. Sketch Book '76 from Astrigal Press.
Find a Revwar or F&I unit. They are a wealth of info. Check the Continental Line and/or British Brigade.
Your 'bess' will shoot high due to lack of fall at the wrist. Pretend you're shooting a shot gun.
I use auto body masking paper for my cartridges. It has a good 'feel' to it
The ball dia should be about .72". The cartridge paper will act as your patch.
We load 90 gr., prime with 10 gr. and pour the rest down the barrel.
Be certain to seat the ball on the charge!
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