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Help getting started

1975 Views 9 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Benning Boy
So I see these smooth bore boot pistols and I think "Excellent Christmas gifts, and I should probably get one for myself".

I know nothing of the black powder world, and I'm having a rough time googling anything useful.

How do I get started, what do I need, and how do I ensure that I don't blow myself up?

I realize this is pretty broad, but as extensive as my firearms background is, I've never fiddled with BP, and it makes me nervous.

Thanks in advance.
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As you said thats pretty broad, what exactly do you want to know?

How do I get started
If you can't find what your looking for online try looking on the internet for books about black powder shooting. You can also go to a local book store and see if they have any books about black powder guns in thier hunting and gun hobby collection. Once you read more about it and you get the gun you want read the owners manual cover to cover.

how do I ensure that I don't blow myself up? I realize this is pretty broad, but as extensive as my firearms background is, I've never fiddled with BP, and it makes me nervous.
People have this idea that black powder is like dynamite. One wrong move and you'll blow yourself up. Its no more dangerous then modern gun powder. You can just as easily injure yourself with modern gun powder or have a round blow up in your face from a gun mechanical malfunction. Black powder is pretty stable. If you drop it-it isn't going to blow up. If you hit it with a hammer againg it isn't going to blow up. As long as you don't do anything stupid you'l be fine.

Don't smoke while using blackpowder
Keep black powder away from sparks and flames
Store in a dry place
Keep your black powder dry at all times

There's so much more I can get into but I have to leave now, I'll be back later to post more info about blackpowder.
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Is this similar to what your looking at? This is a picture of a repro 19th century screw on barrel boot pistol.

I'm imagining I have to determine the powder charge (how???), add a patch(lube?), ball, mash it all down, and add a primer (how does it stay in place?). The pistols I'm looking at are .36 cal.
You would measure out the black powder charge with a powder flask. They sell them at Civil War re-enacting sutlers. This is one Sutler that sells the powder flask Scroll down to the end of the page. The one you want to look at is the Tubular Brass powder flask WITH spout. Make sure you get the right size measuring spout to go with the flask. If your using a musket you'll want a 60 grain spout for a .36 cal pistol you'll want the 15 grain spout. You can also look at The Regimental Quatermaster in Gettysburg PA.They have alot of gun supplies for black powder muskets and pistols. Everything I'm about to write is assuming the gun you might get is similar to the picture I posted above. My guess is you would have to use a .010 or .015 patch. For a percussion cap pistol the caps are made to snuggly fit onto the nipple. They should stay on once you place them on to the nipple. They're not perfect though and sometimes they fall off. If thats the case give the caps a little squeeze befor placing them on the nipple and they should fit tighter.

I'm looking at this as a potential hobby, and an alternative to my regular range time, as I need to conserve ammo. Does getting started have to be expensive? What is the bare minimum I need as far as gear?
It shouldn't be too bad but I guess that opinion depends on the person. To me what your looking at is pretty cheap compared to what I spent to get into Civil War re-enacting and black powder shooting. I've spent over 1,000 dollars in gear for my uniform, musket, and all the leather gear. As far as gear goes besides the gun the things you should look at getting is:

1) a Pistol cleaning kit (at the Civil War site above they sell the whole kit for about $18) Again you can also look at Regimental Quatermaster and Dixie Gun Works.
2) Pistol nipple wrench
3) Hoppes #9 gun oil
4) Spray can of ballistol
5) Cans of black powder
6) Percussion caps
7) Powder flask with correct size spout

Thats all I can think of right now if I think of more I'll post them.

One last thought, I was at a range with my EBR, and a guy shows up with a "modern" muzzleloader rifle and a buddy. The guy was sighting in for deer season, I assume. Anyway, he'd squeeze off a couple of shots, and then (I assume) swab out his barrel. This got to be such a task that he had to hold the rifle while his buddy tried desperately to remove the rod. Essentially a crew served weapon:). What gives there?
Well when it comes to black powder rifles you have to clean out the bore after every few shots to remove black powder residue and lead debris. That makes ramming easier and gives better accuracy. It sounds like his ram rod got stuck, probably on the rifling inside the barrel. I've had it happen to me a few times. Usually though I can get it unstuck by myself. I've never had a case where it took 3 to four guys to pull a stuck ram rod out of the barrel. At the most it might take one other person to help out if the ram rod is really stuck but that doesn't seem to happen very often. I wasn't there and I don't know what gun they were using so I can't really say what was going on and why they were having such problems. That is more of a rifle problem though and it shouldn't be to much of a problem for a pistol shooter.
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Black powder is an old propellant, formed from a blend of natural ingredients: sulfur, potassium nitrate, and charcoal. These powder grains burn as fast as they can as for long as they can. Their grain size controls the burn rate. FFFF black powder is very fine and because of that it is very easy to ignite; that is why the common application is as pan powder for flintlocks. The "F" designation is just the screen size used in manufacture and the resultant grain size (coarseness). So to put it simply each "F" stands for the coarseness of the grains. The more "F"'s the finer the granulation. 1F is the most coarse and 4F has the finest grain size. For a pistol you would want to use 3F blackpowder.

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