Leaving a Charge



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  • Leaving a Charge

    Thought other muzzleloaders might be interested in this.

    It's common for ML'ers to leave their powder charge and bullet in the gun overnight after removing the cap. I have never had any problem with this in dry air, but always been a little suspicious when humidity runs high.

    I decided to check it out, so every time it has been wet I charged up a conventional sidelock with loose powder (Pyro RS) and patched ball, and an inline (#11 rather than Musket or #209) with Pyro pellets and sabot bullet, then carried them inside and out a few times for temperature changes to increase the odds of condensation.

    It's taken a while to get the right weather for tests, but I did this for a single overnight and tried firing, then for two nights, and finally for three nights.

    Both fired fine after one night. The next time around (2 nights) the loose Pyro fired fine, but the pellets took three tries before the #11 cap finally set off the charge. The final time (after 3 nights), the loose Pyro fired on the second cap but was a little slow to ignit, and I never got the pellets to ignite even after half a dozen caps.

    I'm not going to worry about my charges overnight any more, but I guess I'll be packing the CO2 discharger on longer hunts.
    Last edited by BrownBear; 10-18-2006, 09:49. Reason: typo
    "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
    Merle Haggard

  • #2
    Thanks BB...

    I don't know a lot about muzzleloading and picking up tidbits here and there. I did a similar test a while back and what I found (in addition to what you have already stated) was that different caps produced different results.

    Forgive my ignorance...what's a co2 discharger?



    • #3
      I think I've been lucky BNR. We only have access to the CCI caps, and I've never had problems with them.

      The CO2 discharger is a cool little device that loads with a small (12 gram?) CO2 cartridge and has a trigger and a small nozzle on it. You can get different types of nozzles to fit specific ignition types- #11, musket or #209 or flint. You remove the cap, stick the nozzle into the nipple or whatever, and press the trigger. They're small enough to fit in a pocket, but don't. It's too easy to accidentally push the trigger and lose your CO2.

      There's a quick whoosh and the ball and charge go shooting out the barrel- hard enough in fact, that you want to be careful where the barrel is pointed. One CO2 cartridge is enough for a half dozen or so discharges, depending.

      Sure beats using a bullet puller, etc, or firing to empty a muzzleloader. Once you've used one, you can hardly live without it.
      Last edited by BrownBear; 10-19-2006, 06:31. Reason: typo
      "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
      Merle Haggard


      • #4
        Recapping misfires

        One thing to be aware of --- after firing a cap (or primer) and the charge not igniting, you should reseat the bullet and powder charge. The force of the cap (or primer) going off can move the bullet & powder down the barrel, creating a potentailly dangerous gap. I would think that this would get even more precarious if you fired off 2 or 3 caps/primers without the charge going off -- moving the ball & charge a little farther each time.
        In God We Trust.


        • #5
          Absolutely right Forestar, and my bad for leaving out this step. Movement wasn't noticeable with the loose powder, though I reseat anyway. Every time I had a misfire with the pellets on the inline however, the sabot/bullet moved 2 or more inches down the bore. Really makes me nervous about what's going on with a hangfire!
          "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
          Merle Haggard


          • #6
            In my opinion its best to fire your gun in the morning, heres why; if that charge is gaining moisture overnight then your losing bullet velosity and your shot will be low. In a place with lots of rain like Kodiak or SE you might be lucky if your gun fires at all. A balloon over the end of the barrel and a magazine/cap cover helps.
            Alaska Wildrose Charters and Cabins


            • #7

              For those using caplocks i've seen little rubber caps that you can put on the nipple but for those of us that shoot sparktossers a simple toothpick thats been rubbed with a little oil and inserted into the flashhole will keep your load dry for as long as you leave it there, I've even hunted in rain with this set up as I just wait till I need to shoot to prime the pan. I've left my sootburner loaded this way between seasons and it always fired, how do you think they did it in the olden days?..............
              I once held the yardstick of anothers perfection, I threw it down and carved my own................


              • #8

                In a wet clime, moisture will absolutely mess with your charge if you leave it overnight. We learned this the hard way when I first started black powder hunting in Washington. After numerous hang fires and no fires, our policy became, shoot the load out of your gun at the end of the day, then start the new day out by firing a cap or two off to dry any condensation that may have formed in the barrel. We eliminated most problems with that change. It doesn't have to be raining for you to have a problem, Extreme temerature changes will do it on nice days. Say temps in the 60's and 70's during the day, getting down in the 30's at night. The cold metal will attract moisture from the air, just like windows will on your house.

                Muzzleloading can be challenging enough as it is without leaving your powder to chance. If you finally got that chance at a good shot at a nice animal, it really sucks when your gun won't go off.
                An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
                - Jef Mallett


                • #9
                  Back in the 50's I had a chance to talk to a couple of old timers who grew up using MLs simply because they were all that was available for youngsters and ammo was expensive.

                  Under the guideance of their parents and grandparents who had used MLs when there was no alternative, they didn't charge the barrel till they felt the need was close at hand. Rather than waste good powder or caps at the end of the day, they used a bullet puller, then dumped the load back into their horns. Loose powder was then blown out of the barrel via the nipple, then an oiled patch was run down the bore. Dinged bullets were saved for later recasting.

                  Calf's knees were used to protect the action on wet days and a wad of oiled cloth was stuffed into the bore.
                  "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                  Merle Haggard


                  • #10
                    CO 2 discharger lesson

                    I too use the CO 2 discharger.

                    Once I unseated the bullet in the afternoon in this method. When I "busted a cap" the next morning to dry out the bore, I got a real surprise. The CO 2 had cut a channel through the loose powder and unseated the bullet but had not forced out all of the powder.

                    Lesson: Unload in an area where you can see the bullet and powder, check the bore by using the ramrod after dislodging the bullet and always, always have the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

                    Good hunting to all,


                    • #11
                      Amen to that! And if you haven't used a CO2 discharger before, be really careful where you have the gun pointed. A PRB comes out with enough range and velocity to hurt someone.
                      "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                      Merle Haggard


                      • #12
                        Hello Brown Bear

                        As I am brand new to this forum I hope I get this right.
                        I read with some interest about the C O2 unit to blow a dry ball or misfire out of the barrel. Who sells this item? Sounds much easier than pulling a ball.



                        • #13
                          I got mine a Sportsman's in Anchorage if I recall, but I've seen them elsewhere too. They can't be mailed because of the CO2 cartridge included in the packaging, but it's a small matter to remove it.

                          An update on leaving the charge. One of my hunting pards loaded his gun (50 cal, 80 grains Pyrodex P behind a PRB) on Nov 1 and left it. Had his chance for a nice buck today and popped 4 caps without lighting the charge before the buck simply walked off into the trees. Was he ever glad I had along the CO2 discharger when I ran into him later! We got the mess sorted out and he went back for a rematch. Didn't find the buck, but he just called me to say he's skinning out a fat doe right now.
                          "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                          Merle Haggard


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