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#614645 05/09/22 09:57 PM
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Owenjj3 Offline OP
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I recently picked up an 11 bore percussion muzzleloader In fine original condition.She was declared fit for service by a reputable ‘Smith. The gun was described as a “lightweight” on the build sheet, “thin in the hand” and weighs in today at the specified 7 lbs. 2 oz. when she left the shop in 1851 With non-rebounding hammers.Nearly all information about muzzleloader hunting involves rifle hunting for large game. I’m planning on taking this antique out bird hunting this fall. I’ll probably do another post about working up loads and getting input once I’ve had some time at the pattern plate to try her out.

For those of you who hunt with a muzzleloader double shotgun, what is the correct procedure:Do you walk with the gun At half or un- cocked and capped off, Or wait to cock and/or Cap once the dog goes on point? Is it possible to be ready for the inevitable “snap shot”? I am trying to envision what I will experience in the field as I practice on the range.


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Get a copy of V. M. Starr's writings on m/l shotgunning. It's timeless.

Carry it capped, but at half cock. Make sure your caps are a gentle "slip fit" on your nipples, and squeeze the caps a tiny bit to flatten them just a little before putting them on the nipples. That way, they won't fall off of you tip the gun over sideways. Have the thumb across both hammers as you approach a point, and you can sweep both hammers back to full cock, with one move, as you begin the gun mount.


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Stanton's advice is excellent. Starr is a great starting point.

I hunt birds and train flushing dogs using a cap lock SxS. Having the caps fall off has not been a problem for me. Once the gun is loaded it really isn't that different from shooting a side by side. The half cock position was designed to be very safe, and it seems to work well, it is also faster to reach full cock from it and you won't accidentally end up on half cock on the shot.

Perhaps because most Spaniel flushes are pretty much snap shots, I have not been successful with cocking both triggers at once. I hunt with my thump on the right hammer and my trigger finger on the side of the guard. At flush, the response is about like pushing the safety forward as you mount the gun. (If the dog is clearly working a bird fairly close I do cock both barrels.) Since loading is fairly time consuming, having that second barrel ready for a follow up flush has often proved to very helpful, much more than two shots on one flush. Most often on woodcock, or preserve birds, sometimes on grouse. The bird will often be obscured by the cloud of smoke, so you may well not be able to make a quick second shot anyway.

Real black powder makes a huge difference for wing shooting. The substitutes lag, and the lag isn't consistent. Obtaining caps and powder is it's own challenge these days. I backed into muzzleloading fowling, but it is a lot of fun.

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I shoot a Berreta Commemorative MZL O/U and hunt like Lorne and not worry about getting both hammers back at the same time, even in the duck blind it seems there is usually plenty of time to cock the second barrel if needed. Reloading laying on the side of a flooded beaver dam can be a real challenge, I was able to kill a limit of wood ducks though .

Last edited by oskar; 05/10/22 10:55 AM.

After the first shot the rest are just noise.
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Owenjj3 Offline OP
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Excellent tips. I will look for the book, Stan. When upland hunting, is there a consensus about whether to carry the ramrod in the loops under the barrels or somewhere else? I purchased a new hickory ramrod so as to not damage the original ebony example. The gun is a good bit lighter without the rod and it would be nicer to carry that way.


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Originally Posted by Lorne
Real black powder makes a huge difference for wing shooting.

I'll take your word for that, Lorne. I've been shooting muzzleloaders of all kinds since about 1983 and have never shot anything but real black powder, and never will. So, I have nothing to compare it to.

It's worked well enough for me to kill a limit of doves, on occasions. One time a buddy and I were both shooting m/l side-by-sides on a shoot at his father's place. Mine was an original Powell 16 ga., and his was a modern 12 ga. replica. We were the only ones there using m/l(s), and were the first two people to limit out. That was cool.


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Starr jug-choked my lightweight Dewson 10 bore in 1968. Originally brought out west by the cook at Teddy Roosevelt's ranch according to the old railroad engineer I bought it from. Supposedly used to shoot passenger pigeons in New York.

I 'proofed' the gun by wedging it in an old tire with a string on the trigger. Used 6dr Fg and 2 oz lead 8's. After that I used recommended loads.

Anyway, I used it mostly for waterfowl hunting and a bit of sharptail grouse hunting and trapshooting. I even used wasps nests for wadding as Starr recommended and they did work fine. Also chewed up my overshot cards a bit to keep the bore a bit moist while pushing the fouling down on top of the powder. My worst problem with patterning came from brittle fiber filler wads. Tried soaking them in glycerin, but didn't get any testing done.

Never learned to sweep both hammers back at the same time. But in a boat or on a shore blind or dryland pass I had time to be ready with both hammers cocked. I usually dispensed with the original ramrod when hunting and made one from a birch dowel. Impossible to use MLs when out in chest waders, but can be done in shallow water while in hip boots by lifting one leg up a bit. With water splashing around, I kept both powder and shot in vials in my pockets.

Good luck with your percussion double....they are a blast!

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Originally Posted by Owenjj3
Excellent tips. I will look for the book, Stan. When upland hunting, is there a consensus about whether to carry the ramrod in the loops under the barrels or somewhere else? I purchased a new hickory ramrod so as to not damage the original ebony example. The gun is a good bit lighter without the rod and it would be nicer to carry that way.

If the original is important enough to not risk losing, or damaging, I'd make me up another that will fit in the pipes under the barrels, and use it when hunting. You can buy the bell shaped end for it from Track Of The Wolf. And, I'd carry it under the barrels where it belongs. Only a few ounces in weight.

I made a loading rod for dove shooting many years ago. Since you're on a stand when shooting doves it works very well. Also nice for shooting a round of skeet, or trap. It's a piece of conduit that I "funneled" on the top, and cut and hammered into a point on the other end. I push it into the ground at my stand and drop the loading rod into it. The loading rod is a hickory rod with a "bell" wad pusher on one end and an old solid brass door knob on the other. When walking, as in quail hunting, I just use the ramrod under the barrels.

I have pics of it I could send you by email but, until I find another free photo hosting site (jpgbox doesn't work for me anymore), I can't post them here.


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I've never heard of anyone complaining about the weight of a ramrod. It's really nothing. And yes, carry it under the barrels where it belongs. On many old guns the hammers are a bit heavy and hard to cock, especially both at once. I hunt behind pointing dogs so getting them both cocked isn't usually a problem. The normal carry is capped at half cock. Many times you aren't going to get a quick second shot off - it's one of the problems hunting with a SxS muzzleloader.
What you carry makes a difference. A capper, maybe from Ted Cash, a powder horn and shot bag, maybe from Track of the Wolf or Dixie Gun works. A leather shot or powder bag with a adjustable spout for powder and shot are available and nice to use, but aren't cheap. Then you'll need wads and a way to carry them - usually a possibles bag. You'll need over powder cards [ .125 thick ], cushion wads, 1/2" thick, and then over shot cards about .028 thick. Stick to the thin OS cards so the card won't ruin your pattern. When reloading you can put a cushion wad in your mouth so as to wet it. That will clean the bore when going down. After seating the OP card, throw the ramrod down the bore a couple of time till it bounces back out. This makes sure the wad is down tight on the powder. Many times the OP card will want to come back up when you first push it down because of all the trapped air you're trying to compress. Try and have a big, almost bore size end on one end of your ramrod. With a small end, the wads will want to go sideways on you. If you're not ready at this time to invest in a nice powder or shot bag you could always buy some of those plastic containers meant for premeasured loads and carry them in a shoulder bag. Most BP shotguns loads are equal amounts by volume, of shot and powder. A 1 1/8oz load of shot would be about 82grs of 2F. You could also presoak the cushion wads in water with some dish soap and put them in a plastic baggy. There are many ways of doing it. You'll just have to find what works for you. Take your gun out to a range and see what it takes to shoot and reload a MLing shotgun. And, if you want to be real, real safe, you'll uncap the unfired barrel before you reload the one you shot. You might not want to be looking down a loaded barrel - the other one.
I almost forgot. When loading with wooden ramrods, you'll want to keep one hand fairly close to the muzzle so the ramrod doesn't flex too much when trying to push a wad or load down. It's hard to explain - two hands are used, one about a foot up, and the other near the top. Good luck, have fun, and let us know how it went.

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Paul Harm has a lot of good info here.

I would add the Ted Cash oval shaped capper is really nice, you just fill it about 1/2 to 2/3 full, jiggle it a little bit and all but about one cap will right themselves into the correct orientation, then close it and be sure it is fully latched. The in-line capper that I had before (not a Ted Cash) was not playing on my team.

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