Blackpowder Flintlocks For The Survivalist

Blackpowder Flintlocks For The Survivalist

Blackpowder post1

Anyone know the significance of this rifle

While growing up, I was fascinated with the era between the French and Indian War, and the Civil War. I’m a fan of all types of historic blackpowder firearms, but at that time, I was enamored with the breechloading 1859 Sharps Berdan rifle. In comparison to today’s rifles, it was the M14 DMR of it’s era.

 

Blackpowder post16

1859 .54 caliber Sharps Berdan Rifle

OK, enough of the childhood nostalgia. So JC, why is a flintlock blackpowder firearm important in your survivalist preps? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, we know that your ammo storage for your cartridge firearms is not limitless, right? Second, if you’re going to be hunting for your food as well as trapping it (you do have your supply of conibear traps and snares acquired, right?), which would you rather use for that hunting firearm?  One that uses ammo that will eventually run out, or one that has the ability to scrounge all the items needed to reload it?

Blackpowder post2

I’m a big fan of carbines, but this just isn”t practical for a SHTF hunting scenario

In this post we are going to talk about flintlock firearms. What about percussion firearms JC? Well, considering that the only difference between the needed items for percussion and cartridge firearms is a percussion cap or a primer (the original cartridge firearms used black powder, that’s what the last number in 30/30, 45/70, 44/40, etc. means, That’s the blackpowder charge weight in grains), and the addition or subtraction of a brass cartridge, it doesn’t have the versatility of a flintlock.

Flints (the ignition source) are able to be found in nature, something that can’t be said about percussion caps or primers. Blackpowder (and substitutes) can be made at home if you do your homework. Yes, I know you can reactivate primers (percussion caps usually blow apart), but the process is too much to put effort into for a hunting gun, considering that flintlock firearms are available.

 

First, let’s look at how the flintlock system works, and what the major parts do in that system. The primary parts are the hammer with flint attached, the frizzen that the flint/hammer combination strikes to create the shower of sparks, and the pan which holds the blackpowder that is ignited by the sparks created by contact between the flint and frizzen. That spark goes through a flash hole touching off the charge in the barrel behind the ball. I’m not going to get into minute details about the ignition system, but suffice it to say that it works well.

Blackpowder post Flintlock_ignition_animation

Next, we’ll talk about the system that holds the bullet. There are two types of of barrels, smoothbore and rifled. The flintlock rifles at the top of the post are a .69 caliber smoothbore along with the .66 caliber Paget carbine. Along with being a breech loading system, the Sharps Berdan rifle pictured is a rifle .54 caliber percussion system. The flintlock firearms I use are rifled, but I have a friend who uses a 62. caliber (20 gauge) Trade Gun to hunt everything from squirrel to deer.

Blackpowder post Flintlock_ignition_movie

The advantage of smoothbores is the same as modern shotguns. The variety of loads that can be fired from a shotgun is hard to beat. In this case, you can load shot (small, medium game), Ball (big game, and defense if needed), or buck and ball (generally for defense). As I said, they are like a shotgun in their versatility, but the downside to a smoothbore shotgun is accuracy at range, and it applies in this case as well. Smoothbores also take longer to foul than rifled barrels, which in turn fouling makes it harder to load  (this is one of the reasons most military arms were muskets back then)

Blackpowder post20

Note the muzzle end of this guys rifle in “Jeremiah Johnson”. It is a combo gun, which has a rifled barrel on the left and a smoothbore shotgun on the right.

When it comes to rifled barrel flintlocks, your long range accuracy is only limited by your mastery of the system (they call it a “flinchlock” for a reason), shooting capability, the type of bullet/load you use (patch thickness, the ball or conical bullet’s  concentricity, etc.), the type of action (set trigger or not), and the sights (buckhorn or peep) you use. The primary benefit of a rifled flintlock is placing a bullet accurately on target at distance.

Blackpowder post14

Lyman .50 caliber Plains Rifle (left handed), and a Pedersoli .50 caliber Kentucky pistol.

On to the point of this post. I have used flintlock firearms for well over 25 years now, and although they have their quirks, if you take the time to learn the “in’s and out’s”, I believe they will do what you need them to do in a SHTF survival situation. I’m a big fan of .50 calibers. First, I like the Fifty cal. because it is big enough to get the job done on large game (round ball is 188 grains in weight), when smaller calibers start to fizzle out (it’s like comparing a 12 and 20 gauge). Second, when it comes to cleaning supplies, you can use a number of the brushes, patches, etc. that you will find as surplus for military .50 cal weapons.

Blackpowder post powder types

Here are the different blackpowder granule sizes. Note that the .50 caliber is the only caliber where it is recommended to use FFg or FFFg

Third, the .50 caliber is what I call the “transitional” blackpowder caliber when it comes to what size powder you use in a given caliber (I also use FFFg in the pan). This gives you more versatility with what you can use after SHTF. I have used Conical type (aka Maxi balls) bullets through my muzzleloaders that had the correct rifling twist for it, and I wasn’t all that impressed. I also don’t want to plan on using conicals because they usually weigh double and use twice as much lead as a round ball does (not as efficient). I have and have used conicals from this mould.  

Blackpowder post rifle charge chart

These are some basic load guidelines

When considering twist rates, generally there are three that I’ve used in rifles. 1-66″ is for roundball, and does very well with them, but sucks with anything else. 1-48″, which does acceptably with both round ball and conicals. and 1-32″, which is designed for modern bullets and higher velocities (1-18″ is a rifling twist for pistols). I personally use the 1-66″ twist. Although the 1-48″ seems to be the best for versatility, I don’t plan on using conicals, and if I had gotten hold of some, I’d recast one conical into two round balls. 

Blackpowder post loads

I will briefly discuss sights for the flintlock. I am a huge fan of the peep sight, but on both of my flintlocks, I have open sights. The Lyman Plains Rifle has an adjustable buckhorn rear/blade front sights, and the pistol has standard fixed notch/blade type sights. I use these guns for hunting and have found that open sights do much better for low light (seems like the majority of my shots are at dusk) than peep sight, it’s that simple, but your mileage may vary.

Blackpowder post4Blackpowder post5

One of the best things to have on a rifle of this type is a set trigger. Shooting at 50 to 100 meters with the standard trigger is do-able, but using the set trigger makes that offhand shot (when you have the time) a lot more accurate, and what’s not to love about accuracy. I recommend that if the rifle you are looking at getting is available with a set trigger, it is a “no brainer”. The last thing I will say about something that you need in a flintlock rifle is a subdued finish. If you look at the rifle above, you will notice that it blends in. This is one of the reason I’m a big fan of Lyman products.

Blackpowder post6

This is a Pedersoli Kentucky Flintlock in .50 caliber. The patch knife is home made from a file, deer antler and fake sinew.

Anything a pistol can do, a rifle can do better except for two things, be concealable, or in this case, be convenient to carry. Is this pistol a deer killer? No, this one is not, at least not yet anyway, but I have a friend that has taken deer with his (all he hunts with are pistols). it is relatively accurate up to 50 meters (off a good rest, hits minute of deer vitals), and has the most comfortable grip ever designed.

Blackpowder post11

“Possibles Bag” Left to Right: Tin cup, flint and steel fire starter (bottom), .50 cal ball mould, 25x monocular, Tin has extra flints, and an extra rifle frizzen. Deer antler with extra fake sinew thread and needle, magnifying glass, scissors, patch knife (bottom), ball starter, and large fixed blade knife.

Next, let’s talk about accessories. What do you need for your flintlock firearm? I use to be into re-enacting, and going to “Rendezvous”, so I have more than what is absolutely necessary of the “Old style” gear. You will need something to carry your roundballs and patches, something to carry your black powder, and something to carry maintenance equipment.

Blackpowder post9

Belt pouch has another flint and steel fire starter (redundancy), pre cut rifle patches, and a round ball holder.

For the roundballs and patches, my old style kit has them in a belt pouch so the are on you even if your “possibles” bag isn’t. For the black powder, my old style kit uses a powder horn with horn measure (remember, I use FFFg powder for the pan and the barrel).

Blackpowder post7

Last but not least is the powder horn with matching powder measure. The coyote pelt is actually a hat from my “rendezvous” days.

Blackpowder post8

The powder measure is just dremeled out till it hold the quantity of powder you need for a load.

When I talk about maintenance equipment, there are a number of thing you will need. Tools for taking your firearm apart (either a multi-tool, or something specific for the task). You will need a cleaning jag, a patch puller and a ball puller. Most ram rods will have a threaded end to accept these accessories, and if they don’t, get a military cleaning rod, and a 10/32 adapter. You will need a pick for your flash hole I have an old style one, but I usually use a big safety pin, and I can just pin it in the bag.

Blackpowder post12

When it comes to modern era kit, this is it. A military surplus canvas buttpack with shoulder strap for the “Possibles” bag, and an East German 4 mag AK pouch for my belt pouch.

Blackpowder post13

I keep my accessory kit handy in case i have a bad charge and have to pull a bullet. The powder flask with measure is behind that. and the balls (and percussion caps if using an In-Line) are in the left side pouches.

For my modern blackpowder kit (whether In-Line or Flintlock), I use a US surplus buttpack for the “Possibles” bag. The advantage to this instead of the old version gas mask bag I showed in this post is the buttpack will conveniently carry a poncho underneath for easy access in inclement weather. The leather “Old style” belt pouch is replaced with a East German surplus 4 AK mag pouch. This pouch has four inside divided compartments to hold different things, and keep them separate.

I replace the powder horn with a brass powder flask which has a powder measure attached to the end that is sized to my load. My accessories kit is kept in a US surplus cleaning kit pouch, and I have the adapters to use the cleaning and maintenance equipment with a GI issue cleaning rod.

There are some things you need to square away regarding your blackpowder guns. First, you need to practice a lot to get the steps down pat, so when you need to perform them, it is second nature. This site shows the basics of loading your flintlock. Second, know your firearm’s specs and understand it. Here is the Lyman guide for using blackpowder guns. Third, PRACTICE!

Blackpowder post17

Some disadvantages to blackpowder firearms. First, they let everyone know exactly where you are due to a huge smoke cloud. Second, due to that smoke cloud, it makes it hard to see after you’ve fired. Third, they are slow to reload (especially if you haven’t practiced!). Fourth, THEY ARE UNFORGIVING IF YOU DO NOT CLEAN THEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Blackpowder is hygroscopic, and will bugger up your barrel in no time if you don’t clean it. You should already be fastidious in cleaning weapons and tools. Blackpowder guns require that in spades.

These are just my thoughts on the use of the blackpowder flintlock firearms system in a SHTF scenario. There are a number of good resources out there to get you on you way in that hobby, and if you’ll note, I didn’t give you my load data. That’s for a reason.  Blackpowder guns are picky, and what works in mine won’t necessarily work in yours. Do you research, and have fun. It’s a cool hobby to get into. This guy has some good advice on using flintlocks, that will get you on you way. Hell, even Ex-Felons can own one of these because it’s not considered a firearm, and is legal for them to own.

Blackpowder post18

By the way, the rifle at the beginning of the post was a 1795 Springfield. Anyone know the significance of that rifle to an Infantryman?

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
Because They Deserve Today

Because They Deserve Today

Today (the last Monday in May) is the day the Nation memorializes those of us who have died in active military service. Although we automatically think about those who died in combat, we also need to remember those who died preparing for combat that never came (the Cold War, etc.). Their basic service was no less than the guys who died while on the battlefield (you generally don’t pick and choose when or where you are sent), and their commitment had already been shown by voluntarily enlisting.

This was brought home to me while my unit prepared for it’s first Iraq deployment in 2005. While in training there was a vehicle accident, and one of our Company’s newest soldiers (out of Basic Training for a month and a half, and 18 years old) was ejected from a vehicle and the humvee rolled over him. This event hit my Squad especially hard, as that guy’s best friend (since they were 5 years old and also the guy who went through Basic with him) was the newest member of my Squad.

As a surrogate parent (as a Squad Leader, that’s what you are to soldiers that are that young), what do you say to a guy who has never experienced needless loss? You don’t say anything, you listen (and that’s also what you do with an older Vet who is reliving his loss). The only thing I did that night was try to get him to talk about the good memories he had of his friend, help him to realize that those memories are forever, and give him a shoulder to cry on.

On Memorial Day, I remember the Brothers I have lost. I remember why they were my Brothers, and I remember that regardless of how we try and rationalize why we should not have lost them at the moment that we did, God has a plan in everything that happens. Remember our Honored Dead who died in the service of our great Nation. It wasn’t what it once was, but it is still one of the freest and greatest places on earth, and it is our responsibility to keep it that way and continue to make it better.

Quit making excuses about how the last generations allowed our nation to get this screwed up, and just figure out how you can make it better. It starts with your family, neighborhood and community. Honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice by being the proper example to those who feel entitled to what others have (that is a learned mindset, and volunteering for the military is the exact opposite). You can talk all you want, but unless they have a visible example to emulate, the only thing they can “see” is talk (that’s what politician’s do). Enjoy your time today with family and friends, and remember those who gave us this freedom and opportunity.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.
The Riotgun And The Bayonet

The Riotgun And The Bayonet

iraq-pic3

I was asked a while back if I thought a semi auto rifle like the AR or AK was a good “Anti riot” gun. My response was that although either of those rifles would do fine, I was a bigger fan of the 12 gauge shotgun, specifically one designed with an extended magazine, rifle sights, and is designed to mount a bayonet.

The individual started laughing and said “I don’t see myself doing a bayonet charge, Sarge.” To which I replied, “Do you know of any other firearm that is designed for close in defense, can fire non lethal ammo like rubber balls, pepper dust, or pepper balls in the same repeatable way you can with lethal ammo, can accurately hit and drop a man sized target at 100 meters, and can immediately and effectively disable a vehicle engine with accurate hits?” His answer was “No.”.

Is the shotgun the “be all end all” of fight stoppers? No. Is the shotgun the most versatile weapon available to the average consumer that might get caught in a riot situation? Yes. I have an old friend that had a guy come at him with a knife, and from about 20 feet away, his partner shot the guy in the center of the chest with a full power, 9 pellet, buckshot load. The guy survived the hit.

Three 590’s. Top-590A1 with MagPul stock set, Aimpro Tactical Rear ghosring/rail and Holosun solar red dot. Center- My original 590 bought in 1988. Bottom- 590 Shockwave.

The shotgun isn’t necessarily a “Death Dealer”, but it generally is a “Fight Stopper”. Do you think that shooting a rioter from 50 meters would be justified in a court of law? Probably not. Do you think you would be justified firing a “Pepper round” in that direction to redirect those individuals from coming in your direction? Maybe, maybe not, but you can show your intent to not shoot to kill someone unless absolutely necessary was there.

The pump shotgun can cycle all the less lethal ammo I know of at the same speed as a full power buckshot load, and that’s something that a semi auto shotgun cannot do. Are semi auto shotguns a bad choice? No, but the caveat is that you will have to hand cycle those less lethal rounds through your gun until it’s time to use the lethal option.

There is also something funny about a bad guy hearing that distinct click-clack of a pump shotgun’s action being cycled and it involuntarily causing their rear orifice to slam shut upon realizing what it is. I’ve seen grown men stop in there tracks, then turn and run away when hearing that sound. Let me tell you something, when you’re the guy it is covering, it is an awesome sound of relief.

bayonet-post9

There are a number of good anti personnel buckshot loads out there. Everything from #4Buckshot (.24 caliber) to OOBuckshot (.33 caliber) and OOOBuckshot (.36 caliber) in either 2 3/4 inch standard or low recoil (usually has 8 or 9 OOBuck pellets instead of 9-12 OOBuck pellets in the standard load) or 3 inch magnum (up to 15 OOBuck  or 10 OOOBuck pellets). The #4 Buck has between 34 and 41 pellets in the load depending on if it’s a 2 3/4 or 3″ Magnum shell. OOBuck, OOOBuck and #4 Buck tend to be the most popular sizes of buckshot used, and most law enforcement and military ammo is OOBuck or slugs.

Aimpro Tactical Ghost ring aperture and rail with a Holosun solar red dot attached with a quick detach mount. Red dot zeroed at 50 meters, Ghost ring at 25 meters.

But JC, why would I need to have slugs available for a shotgun in a riot situation? Well, although I have practiced privately and professionally shooting a hostage drill scenario with buckshot, I would much rather take it with an accurate slug. I also would want to be able to fire slugs instead of buckshot at a car that was getting ready to ram a makeshift barricade in my neighborhood or my dwelling. In my riotguns (bead or ghostring sights), I use Brenneke slugs of both the 2 3/4 and 3 inch variety. Below is some ballistic info for both.

The black slug on the left is the Black Magic Magnum and weighs 1 3/8 oz. The lead slug/yellow wad on the right is the Brenneke K.O. and weighs 1 oz.

As said earlier, I suggested having the ability to mount a bayonet on your riotgun. But JC, that seems kinda ridiculous. Maybe, or maybe not. If multiple bad guys are coming through your front door, wouldn’t it be nice to not only have a blunt trauma capability (buttstroke), but a lethal force ability beyond just the shotgun shells in the magazine of the riotgun? So now we’ll talk about the Mossberg M590 nine-shot shotgun.

bayonet-post6

This Stoner bayonet attaches to the sheath via a hole in the blade that lines up with a pivot point that protrudes at the bottom of the sheath.

bayonet-post4

The wire cutter in the fully closed cutting position.

bayonet-post3

The saw on the blade is actually more practical than the average survival knife saw.

bayonet-post5

The sheath the Stoner bayonet has, incorporates a quick release belt attachment

 

I bought my first M590 back in ’88, and other than having to square up the angle on the end of action bars from doing a lot of shooting, I have never had any issues with any of the M590’s I own, even after many thousands of rounds fired through them. I also carried a M590 (18.5″ barrel, 6-shot) along with my M4 in Iraq, and never had a malfunction or concern about trusting my life to it.

Why am I a big fan of the M590? First, it has been the military issue shotgun for almost 30 years, and has seen a lot of use without much in the way of complaints. Second, I’m a lefty, and the safety is completely ambidextrous. This type of feature is a big deal, and not just to lefty’s. You should train to fire your long guns off of each shoulder, and having a safety that is able to be manipulated with either hand can be very helpful.

Accessories for my riotguns are generally pretty spartan. I won’t have a defense shotgun without a sidesaddle if it’s available for it. There are a number of different types of sidesaddles available now, but I can tell you that I have had one on mine for over 20 years, and it still works well. Next up is a light. I use the same light I use on all my long guns, and that is the Surefire G2 light with this pressure switch. I use a clamp designed to hold the light to the magazine tube.

One of my M590’s (pictured) has a Magpul stock and forearm. A Spec Ops shotshell pouch is attached to the side of the buttstock and holds 12 rounds of buckshot. I carry 6 slugs in the Sidesaddle. I would recommend that if you carry less lethal ammo for your riotgun, that you carry them (and only them) in that location. When you think about it, if you are carrying lethal ammo in the Sidesaddle, you have 21 rounds of buckshot, and 6 rounds of slugs, and that’s just on the gun.

bayonet-post11

Finally, the bayonet. A Mossberg M590 will take any standard M16 bayonet. The bayonet I usually use is one I’ve had for decades. Some will recognize it as a bayonet designed by Gene Stoner for his rifles. It has the wire cutter device and a small tooth saw that is actually much better for that type of cutting than some of the other knife blade spine saws out there.

Do you need a Mossberg M590 with a bayonet? No. There are plenty of well made shotguns out there that will do well in that roll, but very few have the ability to attach a bayonet in it’s stock configuration. The Mossberg M590 is a good value for the money, and is one of the best deals on the market.

What about a rifle with a bayonet? Well, they are available, but unless you get something like an M1A with a standard stock configuration, performing the battery of arms for a bayonet drill with something like an AR15 requires you to relocate your firing hand from the pistol grip to the wrist of the buttstock. A standard M1A is a great rifle, and would perform as well or better than most other rifles in this role. The primary disadvantage of a rifle like a standard M1A is it’s size. In this case however, the M1A’s size might be a huge asset.

bayonet-post2

Top is an M590. Bottom is a Match M1A. Both work very well with a bayonet attached, and make great blunt force weapons (buttstock) using the manual of arms for use of the bayonet. The scope on the M1A has a QD/ZH SEI mount, so taking it off and returning it to zero is not a problem.

Considering the situations that have presented themselves over the last few years, if you have not thought about how to handle things like a riot in your neighborhood, you are lacking in a realistic perspective for preparedness. When they want what you have, all they have to do is wait for something to happen to give them the “excuse” (it doesn’t have to be right or make sense to us, they just need the media or liberals to forward it as “righteous”, correct?).

A lot of guys will try to make out that “Old School” doesn’t work simply because it’s “Old School”. Riots ARE “Old School”, and discounting techniques or equipment because they are not “High Speed” is ridiculous, and the sign someone fixated on what’s popular, not what’s useful. Right or wrong, Robert Roger’s Standing Orders are just as valid in context today as they were when he wrote them in the 1750’s. Keep that in mind when you are evaluating equipment and techniques for defending yourself and your loved ones.

JCD,

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.