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Thread: Is it worth learning to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle?

  1. #1

    Is it worth learning to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle?

    We're talking Civil War style where you have to dump black powder down the barrell, pack it, and then stuff a mini-bullet down there with the ramrod. These weapons appear to me to be obsolete, but I wonder if it might be great to own one to understand shooting from a historical perspective. I have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. He fought for the Union at Fredericksburg.

  2. #2
    I have never shot one, but they are interesting to me too. Look cool too.

    They are not small bullets. A .30-06 cartridge is typically in the 130-200 gram (5-7 oz) range and a little less than a third of an inch in diameter. The smallest lead ball legally allowed for "big game" in many states is .45, almost one half inch diam, and recommended or smallest legal is .50 cal, and they go up to .69 or larger. That is a relatively huge projectile traveling 1300-1800 fps. A .30-06 bullet travels roughly twice that speed. They deliver about the same energy to the target. I don't know why state regulations require such large BP ammo unless it's the similarity in hitting power at point of impact. Also, a slightly off-target .50 cal black powder projectile would more likely put the prey down immediately than a .30-06 that similarly misses and makes you walk a long way to retrieve your game.

    There are many discussions and arguments on discussion boards over which is "better" (surprise, surprise), but smashed limbs have historically usually been as mortal as torso and head wounds. A .69 cal percussion rifle was common in the CW. That is a big bullet.

    A lot of technicalities with black powder but nothing hard to grasp. I tend to forget what I read about BP as soon as I read it, but that's because I don't have any interest in taking it to the field or even the range. I have never even chatted about what I've read with anyone. I think it would be a great hobby and sport, but that said, at the end of the day, after the fat lady has sung, the best thing about black powder to a lazy person such as myself is that they make modern firearms look wonderful.

    I'm LOL as I type this.

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