Muzzleloaders For Survival

Readers’ Questions: Muzzleloaders For Survival

My question is about the usefulness of muzzleloaders for the survivalist. What do you think, are they a good idea if so what do you suggest for someone living in Northern Idaho?

Micheal
in Idaho

Micheal, muzzleloading rifles defiantly have a place in the survival arsenal, however I don’t think they should be your first priority when building that arsenal.

Get your other firearms and ammo first, then and only then should you consider a muzzleloading rifle.

With that being said, they do offer several advantages over modern weapons, such as the casting your own lead balls and making your own propellent from natural materials.  

The next question is flintlock or percussion. Percussion caps would be difficult to make in the home workshop, but can be done.

However, flintlock or matchlock would be better “end of the world” alternatives.

As for caliber I suggest .50 or larger. — M.D. Creekmore

Comments

  1. OK, I will probably be the only one to say it, but this kind of format and especially these kinds of questions eliminate a lot of us from participating in the blog.
    I know I am no expert on anything and would be hard pressed to answer questions about any subject. I especially wouldn’t presume to give anyone advice about anything. That is your forte. You are an expert. I am not. Simple questions like where to buy something or some such I would try to answer, but not anything else.
    I don’t know M.D. maybe this will work but right now it is a little disapointing to me. Good luck anyway. Farmgal knows more than most so it will probably work for her anyway.

    • Judith,

      Don’t worry – we will try this for a few days and see how it works, if it turns out to be a flop with readers we can and will make the needed changes.

      • OhioPrepper says:

        MD & Judith,
        I’m assuming you can still slip in a few questions in what did you do to prep topic.
        The one point I think MD has made with this new format is that folks should give a little more background. Questions like “What alternatives are there for emergency heat in my home?” Will have a much different answer for someone on a postage stamp lot in town vs. 10 acres in the boonies.

      • Tomthetinker says:

        Well…… hum! Taking a look at the replies on many other subjects posted …. this one is no diff. except for the Saturday special of “What did you do to prep this week?” I come in to listen more often than to ‘reply’. I ‘do’ black powder but I’ll take any info upgrade I find in here.

        • TTT, I think you have something there. Maybe it is time to shut up and listen for a change.

    • axelsteve says:

      Well as far as I am concerned. I would not screw with a muzzelloader unless you know what you are doing such as someone who uses one to extend the hunting season pre wtshtf. I would also use a modern one not a 1784 model with a 4 foot barell.I see a legitamit use for them, I do not think they are registered for one thing. One less gun for the guncommies to know you have. n Well that is my 2 cents for this evening. Steve

  2. I have a C.S. Richmond and I don’t feel undergunned one bit. Slow to load but it show am accurate. ;-)

    If everything else failsyoucould create yourn own Blackpowder.!!

  3. M. D.
    I am all for muzzleloaders for survival. I would reccommend flint lock as with a little study you could make and knap your own flints as well as make your own powder. My choice would also be in 54 cal or larger and maybe something you could change barrels to a smooth bore for bird hunting.

  4. People used them for a long time to put food on the table. Their accuracy is not all that good past about 100 yards unless you are using the slug version. Powder is easy enough to make as M.D. stated but the problem is making sure you keep the powder dry in a rain storm. I would never use it for defense because it takes to long to reload it. It would make a great hunting weapon though.

  5. I’ll echo MD on this, and here’s why:

    Muzzleloaders may have a place in a long term scenario where conventional ammunition is no longer available, but are not practical in most short term situations. They’ll also be the last ones legislated out of our hands, should it come to that.

    I’m getting one for the extended hunting season, and because I think they’re neat. I’m not considering it part of my preps, just an extra.

    For a versatile arsenal, the best advice I’ve gotten was:
    Shotgun, .22LR rifle, Centerfire rifle, combat pistol.

    Most advise a semiautomatic rifle as a primary longarm with a bolt action as a secondary or hunting only rifle. Accuracy is contingent on your skill: if you’re not going to practice often and you’re not a crack shot to begin with, don’t focus on long range accuracy when choosing a gun. Get something adequate within your means and get familiar with it.

    A simple SKS in good condition that you can maintain and shoot well up to 100 yards is way better than a souped up AR that shoots way beyond the novice’s skill and requires extensive knowledge to properly maintain.

  6. From what I have seen of the various gunpowder making methods, it would be extremely hard to do as an at home practise. One of Colonial America’s early industrial efforts was to have home grown powder mills. Almost all of them failed, and they had a history of burning down/blowing up.

    Good flint is not found everywhere. It was a pretty common neolithic trade item.

    I think you would be better off investing in bow or crossbow technology. That is an area that you could easily self-sustain in.

    • I totally blanked on the bow. Far superior to the muzzleloader in most respects:

      Rate of fire is higher, it can be nearly silent, arrows can (sometimes, at least) be reused, and lighter weight. No dangerous propellant processing or storage, no lead to be smelted, etc.

      Good call.

    • Jarhead03 says:

      I agree with you Russell. I have hunted once with a friends muzzle loader and have fired maybe 30 rounds in a life time. I do not deny its stopping power or worth if SHTF and all other ammo has been exhausted.

      On that note like Russell said with tools like the bow and arrow, cross bow, sling shot and high power air rifle are effective close range weapons, quieter or silent and quicker to reload.

      On a realistic note. The weapon in your hand with proper training is better than no weapon at all.

    • A note on the flint, if you have correctly tempered metal you don’t need to worry about “good flint.” It’s the metal that counts, not the rock it’s struck against. (There’s a few blacksmiths in my extendeds.)

  7. Starting from square one, what is the intended use of the muzzleloader? As M.D. said, one can cast lead balls (or whatever shape) and make propellant. Of course, .30-06 bullets can be cast and mated with blackpowder if you have the brass case and a primer. The velocity and range wouldn’t be the same as modern materials but would work. For this example, a muzzleloader wouldn’t be an advantage.

    Double barreled shotguns being the exception, there is one shot available and then the reload process. And that is assuming that the powder has been kept dry, especially in the frizzen of a flintlock. For this reason it will be many, many years before a muzzleloader could be a defensive weapon.

    For hunting the one shot still applies but that one shot will be heard for miles in a post SHTF world. Then you have a heavy deer to carry out while lugging an equally heavy .50 cal + powder + balls + patches. Maybe with a .45 acp backup ??? Vulnerable.

    As M.D. also suggested, get your other firearms and ammo first. If you already have muzzleloaders get proficient in loading and accurate in shooting, for sure. If the question relates to what to use when the cartridges of the world run out, I’d suggest getting skilled with a bow. Not compound bow.

  8. OhioPrepper says:

    A muzzle loading rifle or shotgun could make a good backup gun in a pinch, but since properly stored modern cartridge ammunition has virtually infinite shelf life, you would probably be making a better investment by laying back a large supply of it.
    That being said, black powder can be manufactured and bullets can be molded, although as MD already stated, percussion caps could be tough to make, so a flintlock is probably your best bet for firearm selection. Along with the various molds and spare gun parts you’ll need to have practiced with the gun and know how to carbon harden the frizzen, and how to knap, install and adjust the flints. You’ll also need a store of soft lead, and depending on where you live a store of sulfer. Where I live I am lucky enough to have sulfur in well water in many places. That BTW is luck for making black powder, but not for making potable water. The charcoal can be manufactured, generally from a soft wood like willow, and the saltpeter can be collected from animal waste, with hog being an excellent source.
    There is a good description of this in the Foxfire books, specifically in Foxfire #5. Everyone should have at least the first 5 or 6 volumes of these classic books.
    Here’s the excerpt from Foxfire #5: http://www.dangerouslaboratories.org/foxfire5.html

    • richard Muszynski says:

      Greetings. to make your own percussion caps is no big thing. they have a small hand operated die set that you use to form the caps out of strips cut out of soda or beer cans. then you simply insert ordinary toy caps into the little caps you formed from the soda cans. if you check the discussion here is limited to only muzzle loaders for some reason. they evolved from there to breech loaders. ever see the movie Zolo Dawn? those rifles in it were black powder but not muzzle loaders. many modern era cartridges started out as black powder as well. example would be like the .30/30 which as the name tells you a .30 caliber bullet and 30 grains of powder. .44/40 pistol and rifle cartridge was a .44 caliber bullet and 40 grains of black powder. the .45/70 was a buffalo round of a .45 caliber bullet and 70 grains of black powder. almost any cartridge that has a caliber then slash and another number was originally a black powder lead. for any of them all you need are new primers. you can make your own black powder and bullets. and note the old black powder plants blew up. yes. but are you considering making commercial amounts of black powder? big difference.

  9. Muzzleloaders for Survival = NO

    It doesn’t make fiscal sense. The percussion caps cost more than big box .22 LR rounds. For $400 you could have more than 10,000 .22’s or about 10,000 percussion caps, and then you’d still have to worry about the powder and lead, and slow reload times. Plus the cost of a muzzle loader itself could get you another 10,000 .22 LR rounds. If you didn’t want to go with 10,000 .22 rounds, the money for the percussion caps and muzzleloader would buy about 1500 .223 rounds.

    If he really wants to go self sufficient, consider some basic reloading equipment and 10,000 primers and enough powder to load them for just a little more than that muzzleloader with percussion caps.

    Muzzleloaders are fun, but not survival ready. If someone insists on getting a black powder weapon, I would get a revolver first, at least then you’ve got some follow-on shots and they’re a lot of fun to shoot, and they’re not regulated in some gun-hating cities/states.

    As far as a muzzleloader with flint, forget-about-it, if everything is that far gone, you’d be better off with a bow and arrow and a sword/machete.

    • richard Muszynski says:

      greetings. wonder. have you ever shot a bow? it is not something you simply pick up and in a few minutes you are the master of it. takes constant practice and time to make a good bow shot. and takes a good bow. commercial or home made. compound bows are used because you don’t have to have arms like a gorilla to shoot them for any length of time. but still takes time to master. best bet would be more along the line of a cross bow. no where near the training or practice is needed to hunt with it. and black powder rifles can be gotten brand new for about $100 and sometimes less at Wal Marts.

      • Richard – Yes, I have shot a bow and hunted with a bow. And I own a muzzle loader and have hunted with it. But for any kind of post apocalyptic adventures, I plan on having 10,000 .22 LR rounds (@ $350 or about the same as an equal number of percussion caps), and enough primers (@ $260) and powder (@ $260) to make another 10,000 large caliber rounds. I already have the ammo re-loading equipment and die that I use now for recreational shooting, and I’ll still have my bow and muzzle loader with about 500 percussion caps and powder that I use now for fun, but if I go through all 20,000 modern rounds (plus whatever I capture from asshats), I think we’re all in deep shit, and I’ll need a sword/machete to make it through to the other side.

        • richard Muszynski says:

          greetings. You miss my point. but i attribute that to my not being a social person but a loner. i too am a fan of the .22 LR and have many bricks stacked up. plus subsonic versions as well for when quiet is needed for wet work. with the bow my intent was to say that it is not of much use unless one is specifically trained to shoot it. you cannot pick one up and go out and get food with it if you are not already a bow shooter. and if you are then there is no discussion, you are already sold on them. I still prefer my Oneida compound mainly because i am old and shooting a 80 pound draw long bow is just beyond my old shoulders. I started shooting the bow with a old 50 pound Herter fiberglass. many years ago. with the spending the survival money on more .22 LR instead of getting a $10 tap a cap and a bunch of toy cap gun caps is not registering for me. the .22 is useful. but for large game or someone wearing a bullet proof vest it just doesn’t cut it. a muzzle loader loaded with flechettes does though. and the old transition firearm that used a roll of primers on the side instead of percussion nipples, those are where the toy caps idea came from. I was trained to understand that no one lasts forever. i strongly doubt anyone could last long enough in a survival condition to use up your 20,000 rounds of high power. might i suggest getting a copy of Shot gun news? check in the reloading section at the back. you can get surplus gun powder there in 8 pound kegs at a fantastic discount compared to buy it in 1 lb containers. by a case of 4 i believe it is, and they pay for the hazardous shipping charge of at present about $12 a 8 pound keg, so a great deal. live long and prosper.

  10. MD –
    I just wanted to provide feedback on the format since I know you said that you were experimenting and wanted to know of the response. I think that the new format is an interesting idea, but perhaps adding more questions, all at once or even throughout the day might better capture reader interest. I’m a lurker (hoping to learn more and become more involved) that checks in several times a day to read the comments as they get added – because I agree with others here that that comments are a really valuable part of this blog. But as Judith mentioned above, if the question topic of the day continually doesn’t interest me, then my attention will wane. I think someone (yesterday perhaps) commented that they thought having a couple days of questions and a couple days of articles a week would provide a nice variety. I agree with that, and I also suspect that if you’re getting a bit burned out, or having a tough time coming up with article topics, that this would be a good compromise.

    Overall, I find your blog really enjoyable and informative and love the community feel of it. I really think it appeals to longtime preppers and newbies alike. My favorite article every week without question is “what did you do to prep this week?”

    Thanks for being a very valuable part of my day.

  11. Knockdown power vs. reload time for a smoothbore musket and crossbow : the musket would win everytime. In order to get real poundage from a crossbow without modern day technology the cocking system complete with harness and/or crank would take longer than a fusilier would need to bite off the end of his prepared round and either ram or jog the round home. Napoleonic era line soldiers were known to send out as many as 15 rounds a minute at times. Any crossbow able to be cocked and fired that fast would have very minimal poundage.

    If using a modern day crossbow I believe simple wooden arrows would fly apart under the stress of that many foot pounds.

    Moisture is also just as deadly, if not more so, to bows and crossbows using natural materials as it would be to a musket user. In fact the act of keeping the bows and strings dry and then actually stringing them for use can take a very long time with some of the heavy poundage bows and crossbows.

    In the end either method would be one shot then close for hand to hand combat. Yet I can’t help but recall accounts written about warriors who continued to fight wearing simple cloth armor with dozens of arrows stuck in them fired from simple short bows. The stopping power would be nothing compared to a musket ball.

    • richard Muszynski says:

      greetings. i thought the question was for hunting and survival. i have never know a deer or moose to change and need a hail of bullets to stop it. and the stress? our modern crossbows are not a faint shadow of the bows used in the middle ages which were commonly rated at more near the 300 ft pound range then the 150 foot pound range of modern cross bows. I have seen numberous plans to make old style crossbows using cut sections of automobile leaf springs for the bow that were pretty near the 300 pound range in power. and if you were shooting people with a crossbow you could guarantee that none of them you hit would continue like a brave warrior attacking you with cross bow quarrels sticking out of them.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      Bows and Cross Bows do not have “knock down power”. They use sharp broad heads which cause large bleeding wounds, which is why most states that allow them have a minimum draw weight and a minimum blade size. Shoot at an assailant and he’ll most likely die by bleeding out, after he’s worked you over.

      • richard Muszynski says:

        of course he will die by bleeding out. that is what the arrow or quarrel does. causes massive bleeding. Check military histories and you will find that many men shot with high power rifles still managed to reach their killer and clean his clock as well. were people shot by machine guns in WW2 that still got far enough to throw a grenade in, even though they had been hit in the body a number of times. and most rifles do not have knock down power, not at close range. the bullet just goes through, especially with full metal jackets. does not knock you down. that is a completely hollywood fantasy.

        • OhioPrepper says:

          Don’t you just love it when someone contradicts themselves in the same thread.
          “and if you were shooting people with a crossbow you could guarantee that none of them you hit would continue like a brave warrior attacking you with cross bow quarrels sticking out of them.”
          Followed up with
          “of course he will die by bleeding out. that is what the arrow or quarrel does. causes massive bleeding.”
          Jeeze Richard – please make up your mind. You can’t have it both ways.

          • richard Muszynski says:

            Greetings. glad i gave you a laugh at my expense. you did bother to read the post i replied to, of course. and you read the post saying that in middle ages warfare there were incidents of people wearing cloth vests with arrows sticking out of them attacking. the part with people shot with a reasonable power cross bow quarrel would not have quarrels sticking out of them and attacking. cross bow would go right either inside or all the way out the back. quilted multi layer vest as they wore then against arrows would not have worked. ok so you skipped that post. then of course they bleed to death. there is no knock down with a edged weapon. you cause massive bleeding and they die. does that bother you? in the context of the post i was replying to, which would be in middle ages warfare. they would not be toe to toe when the archers opened up on the enemy. but a bow shot away. and in that instance it would not matter if they ran a few more paces before falling over on their faces to continue to bleed out to die. Sorry i did not repeat the entire post i was answering to so you would not get confused. was not a contradiction. just a opportunity to correct my english and logical progression. have fun.

            • richard Muszynski says:

              greetings. ohio prepper. i also note you are putting my replies to two different posts together to make jest of me. i will have to remember that and keep a record of every reply you make so i can point at you for any variance in your reply. but no. not worth it. we are all survivalists here i assume and infighting would be of not use to anyone. so just have your laugh.

        • Jarhead03 says:

          Everyone forgets shot placement. Regardless of arrow, ball shot, cone shot etc. Anything can kill, the 7th Cav can attest to arrows vs bullets although many suiox had Henry repeating rifles vs Sharps rifles. I used to say in the Marine Corps “there is no such thing as overkill! Bullet dead is the same as hand grenade dead, same as blade dead and same as bomb dead”.

          The only difference is the implementation and delivery of said death. The weapon you have on you is better than the weapon you don’t! If you are comfortable with a muzzle loader go for it!

          If I did that I would have two rifles and two pistols chambered for the same caliber so you don’t have to worry about the mixing shot.

          Maybe its just me who thinks this way lol.

          • No I think this way as well and it is one of our sayings as well, You are just as dead from an arrow as a grenade, so keep your eyes open.

            There is going to be a fellow join us who is into re-enacting and is very proficient with the flint lock and BP, has his own arsenal with some to spare! We will get along just fine :)

            He also hunts regularly with the FL and BP, I will find out the caliblres and find some hand guns in matching caliblres as well to supplement them. Hunting Rabbits is fun with BP. Along with what can take you down, we are also looking at finding a Canadian Supplier to the higher end higher powered Air Rifles, silent and 1000 ftpds, they could be used in conjunction from a military stand point, with flanking manoeuvres by the silent air rifles.

            Maybe we can find or make the Air Rifles fire the same ammo, so only carry for example .32 or .45 cal keeps it simpler and less complicated, just pick up the bag of shot and go.

  12. I’d like to suggest Northstarwest “trade”, it’s available in different calibers and barrel lengths, including 20 Ga. 55 Caliber. Another thing is it’s smoothbore so it can shoot patched ball or with a patch card shot for upland game and no messed up patterns because you were shooting a rifled bore with shot.

    Something to think about.

    • richard Muszynski says:

      greetings and they are supposed to be good to about 100 yards. well within any reasonable hunting range other then going after mountain goats or antelope out west.

  13. GoneWithTheWind says:

    A muzzle loader does have a few advantages.
    It is exempt from many/most gun laws.
    A bow and arrow is nice but there was a reason people gravitated towards a black powder rifle. They can reach out further and have more power to put down larger animals.
    If you look for it you can easily find a technique to make your own percussion caps using aluminum from a coke can.

  14. Tomthetinker says:

    MD sir: I’ll place my money on properly stored factory ammo and a couple of quality recurve or simple long bows. Did I already tell ya I have a sword already?…. well a short one.. two short ones really. and two rather nice ‘hog’ hunting spears. No insult intended here… I hunted wild pigs in Hawaii for two years (and we.. always.. took a 308 as back up) Here is a question about the issue… “What.. is the self life of commercial black powder and or pyrodex?”… kept cool and dry of course. I used up the last of ten cans of BP and it took me 7 years to do it. Still took the same 85grs. it took when I bought the stuff.

    • OhioPrepper says:

      We have a lot of history with Black Powder and it can start to go a little unstable after 20-30 years or so depending on storage conditions. Commercially produced smokeless powder like Pyrodex has only been around for a little more than 100 years and so far it looks like it will last indefinitely when properly stored, as in the proverbial cool and dry. I’ve shot 30-06 ammunition that was produced in the 1940s and it worked as well as new production.

    • richard Muszynski says:

      greetings. they have had antique black powder rifles and muskets from the revolutionary war that have turned up at auctions still loaded from the day they were put away. pull the trigger with the flint in place and they still fire as they would have when originally loaded. so over 200 years storage life. and counting.

      • OhioPrepper says:

        “pull the trigger with the flint in place and they still fire” if you’re lucky, or blow up in your face if your not. But you’re right, a lot of those old antique rifiles and shotguns hanging above the mantel were and in some cases still are loaded. All they need is a cap or some 4F powder in the pan to make things dangerous.

        • richard Muszynski says:

          greetings. of course they didn’t have very good metal in the old days. and blown up rifles or muskets were not that uncommon. I would assume that one would have checked to see if the bore was clear before pulling the trigger of course. if one does not know enough to check that then all bets are off on them.

  15. SrvivlSally says:

    I don’t see much difference between a reader’s question and your own information. Don’t forget that many people have enjoyed being included and they appreciate being asked for their opinion. I would like to add that your site is unique and should be THE role model for others. Aside from the minor change and no inclusion of your readers, the eotw gun specifics are good to know.

  16. If I was a felon (and couldn’t legally purchase firearms) I would rather have black powder guns than no gun at all. I would prefer to have a brace of black powder pistols for self defense than a crossbow. I’m thinking of 2 or 3 single action colt navy revolvers. Yes that would be 10 – 20lbs heavier than a glock 17 to achieve the same amount of firepower but better than one shot from a crossbow.

    Maybe its just my childhood fantasies of being an outlaw though:)

    I think the bow/crossbow ammo would last longer as its re-usable? (only ever shot hay bales at scout camp, not sure what happens when you hit a deer ribcage) and quieter too.

    I am not a felon, but I am poor so I just load up on ammo for my old pump shotgun bird shot, slugs and buck shot.

    Of course as a fan of all weapons ancient to modern I would rather just have 3 of everything!

    • richard Muszynski says:

      greetings. did you know that shotguns are another of the weapons that started out as black powder? check a box of shotguns shells and they list the gauge, and the dram equivelent or the amount of black powder they are the same as. you can also reloud your shotgun shells with black powder and home made wads and shot or slug. all you need is a simple lee loader and a supply of shotgun shell primers which sell in boxes of 1,000. For a Pistol try a Ruger old army i believe the model is. it is black powder .44 caliber but built on a Ruger black hawk frame and action with coil springs. and available in stainless steel as well. look a lot like a Colt Frontiersman or peace maker.

  17. Civilization would have to disappear before black powder would be the weapon of choice – Primers are not so difficult to make that a decent chemist couldn’t turn them out in a kitchen laboratory.

    The little metal cups may be hard to come by, and may need to be recycled, but the primer compound has been around in one form or another for more than 150 years, and while the chemicals are nasty, I don’t think they are out of reach for a small-town.

    I saw an article where the guy used strike-anywhere matches to recharge a rifle primer. While a muzzle loader is better than no gun at all, it is so inferior to a modern weapon that it is just silly to buy one for the end of the world. Before we reached that level, we would need to go through and use up all the factory ammo, all the reloaded ammo, all the reloading components, all the kitchen matches, and all the chemicals that could be substituted for primer compound – lead styphnate, fulminate of mercury, etc. Anybody who thinks they are going to live that long is an optimist. Anybody who lives that long and doesn’t get a chance to pick up or build a muzzle loader along the way is just not trying.

    So in my humble opinion, save your money for ammo, and plan on picking up a muzzle loader from the corpse of someone who was foolish enough to rely on one.

    Unless, of course, you just want one for the hell of it.

  18. Hi Guy,

    You recommended in this article that if one was to include a muzzle loader as part of their survival arsenal that it should be fifty caliber, or larger. Although that is a good suggestion, I would like to modify what you’ve recommended by bringing all the readers to this truth. Back in the day, when muzzle-loaders were all that were available for self defense, and putting meat on the table that 99.5% of all firearms held by the people were .45 caliber. Our forebearers brought home for consumption all animals in North America with .45 cal. firearms. It wasn’t until much later in our history that calibers of .50 and larger were considered and made for use.

    The modern muzzle loader and the real McCoy antique in good functioning order are and were very accurate rifles. Bullet placement is the critical parameter now, just as it was then. If you place your shot into a vital place on the animal you’re intending to bring home to eat, then you’ll be successful; and, if you don’t then you won’t. The size of the bullet is only of significance when considering Bison sized animals and the great Elk.

    • richard Muszynski says:

      greetings. the muzzle loader most colonists hunted with were modeled on the Brown Bess British Army musket. which is smooth bored and not rifled. rifles came along later after the revolution. our military in the revolution was still armed with the smooth bore muzzle loaders either Brown Bess or Charleyville from France. they were .56 to .58 in caliber and some up to .62. that is also what the civil war was fought with.

      • OhioPrepper says:

        Actually both wars were also fought with the Kentucky (or Pennsylvania) Long Rifle. Mostly in the south and west during the revolution, and by both sides in the civil war. Nearly all of the southern boys and most of the yanks that came from rural communities brought the gun they had been using to put food on the table.

        • richard Muszynski says:

          greetings. but at the beginning of the civil war they were only rifles brought by the troops and not issue items. same in the revolutionary war. you had a kentucky or tennesse rifle you brought it with you, they did not give it to you to use. everybody else had muskets.

  19. Muzzle loaders are fun. They’ve been around since firearms were invented. In-line muzzle loaders are the new ‘in’ thing with black powder- and most use a shotgun primer as ignition. Early American rifles weren’t rifles, but smoothbores, and calibers were whatever the ‘smith felt like making them so there was no ‘standard’ bore until one got into military arms.
    For survival purposes, I’d go with at least a .50 caliber since plainsmen found them a bit more reliable at downing big western game- animals larger than white tail deer. (.45 caliber is a bare minimum for hunting in many states, so that should tell you something.)
    Accoutrements required for shooting BP will be an extra load to carry. Powder horn, patching/wads/sabots, primer powder/caps, patch knife, bullet pouch, bullet mold… almost endless.
    There’s a reason repeating rifles and pistols were invented. Funny thing about those repeaters: most were based on black powder charges. Calibers like 44-40, 32-20, 30-30… the numbers are based on caliber and BP grains used. So, crazy as I am, my thinking is that if I’m going to use a BP weapon for survival, and since I’m going to need all the extra ‘stuff’ for shooting it, why not stock up on black powder and primers and other reloading supplies- including bullet mold- for a more modern repeating rifle or revolver- such as a 30-30 or 44-40?
    Go to any Cowboy/SASS competition or meet and you’ll see hundreds of black powder weapons being used- all modern designs.
    Shy III

  20. I think muzzle loaders have a place in preps. You can make everything to fire it yourself. The people talking about bows unless you are already an archer this is not a pick up and go hunting or defense technique.Muzzle loader just like any other gun point n pull. Folks are to caught in 30 rd mags. One well aimed shot still works.

    China
    III

  21. I’m kind of surprised that there is not more archery people on this blog than what I see. We cant discharge firearms in the town limits where I live, but I hunt rabbits and squirrels in my own backyard with my long bow. I love traditional archery. Its been around for thousands of years, doesnt that say something? And best of all, its silent. Admittedly, it takes a lot of work to get good. As far as guns are concerned, I would think we are better off spending our money on conventional guns/ammo.

  22. Hello I am a Canadian and have a different perspective.
    Ex military so familiar with most modern weapons (infantry) I can appreciate most forms of defensive and offensive weapons that are out there.

    Black Powder/Flint Lock will be in my set up eventually, as an alternative. Please note there are 3 things that I consider why this not good for defence.
    noise
    learning curve
    distance (learning curve)

    This would be a good choice to teach someone with, I agree and if the world fell totally down back to the 1800’s to early 1900’s level I can see it being used more. I like them, but will have lots of 22 rounds and up for defensive and offensive actions. In Canada there is less concerns with people blasting away at anything or at each other, though that might change in the WTHSHTF, but for the most part there is less problems here, North of the big Cities in Canada and North of the border as well, fact sorry.

    While in an IPSC competition in Germany, we heard massive Ka-booms, which we could hear over very long distances. Knowing that they were black-powder drew us all closer. The 70 cal and 50 cal were mighty loud and had steep learning curves for most. With the fact that most people will not actually be able to handle any calibre larger than 50 cal due to the kick back and shoulder problems, using the stand or metal bracing pole to shoot them will also cause great issue and learning curves. There are smaller more practical Black Powder and Flint Lock calibres which are much more useful for hunting and teaching.

    Prior to the military I had experience with black powder and flintlocks and although I do like them. A pistol and a select few long guns would be in my long term set up as well, though they are really not for defence at all, we have forever past that point.

    Teaching someone to shoot firearms with alternate weapons and tools is a very good idea, in the beggining. Then onto the 22’s, pistol and long guns, then upwards in calibres for teaching people with firearms in safety and training. The dynamics of the shot vs shell casings makes hunting with them much different as well. The modern bullet is a drilling type of round, while for the most part the black powder / flint lock is a round projectile. 50 cal and up are for Deer and larger game, if you hit a rabbit with a 50 cal round you will only have fur balls left over, unless you hit them in the head only. The kinetic force of the round ball is akin to hitting the rabbit with a brick from a air powered device. Even hitting a rabbit or gopher (ground hog) with a modern drilling round, pretty much makes the animal disappear. All good if hunting as rodents and selling the tails to the farmer in exchange for $1 each, but not so good if you want to eat them.

    I love bows and cross bows, again, excellent and in my thinking a necessary part of the survival outfit. Silent Deadly and very good selections for lots of reasons, cons though are; learning curve and skill. Another learning curve for the bow is the strength required to actually properly fire the weapon. Rapid fire is possible as is in Black Powder/Flint Lock with lots of practice.

    Bows and cross bows are also excellent to teach before actually teaching regular rifles if you are starting to teach with Adults or Teens. The breathing control and brain control is necessary in the new student before moving onto the larger calibres. Unfortunately in this day and age, even 30yr olds are immature, so as part of my Team/Family/Organization using Black Powder or Bows/crossbows is going to be used to teach maturity to new members is required! Too much molly codling, TV and Games makes them slow to grasp concepts like it is not like HALO in the real world and yes, there is no reset if you kill someone coming at you or in your group. In Situations like the WTSHTF there is going to be only ONE chance, no reset, no try again, just learn or die. Weapon handling, any weapon at all, needs to be taught to people before any situation, or there will be serious consequences to themselves or others around them. This goes for a pocketknife up to any other type of weapon or tool including hatches, axes or any projectile weapon.

    For untrained people in a defensive situation, you could hand them a Crossbow and they could hit someone, it has a very quick learning curve, or hand them a shotgun, point and shoot which is very intuitive. With the right head on it or shot, people or animals do not go very far at all, crossbow or shotgun. Yes you can also hand them a M16 or the like, and remember you might get shot as well! A person looking into the business end of a Crossbow or a Shotgun, takes notice! They get the Oww, this is not good feeling, and do not really see the shakiness of the person holding the weapon. (Shotgun one of my fav weapons for Defence, offence or hunting, love them especially the Model 1200 Defender)

    Little kids and teenagers love black powder and bows and arrows, they are in our blood, use that as the draw to teach them how to be better people, preppers and members of a defensive survivalist group. In tern they will learn to be better contributing members of your group and society as a whole. With knowledge comes responsibility, respect and knowledge. (Hopefully adults in a WTHSTF situation will be like that as well!)

  23. Annie Nonymous says:

    While we’re on the subject… in modern survival situations, we’ve replaced the noble flint for firemaking with the ferrocerum rod, as it produces a more consistant and “heavy” group of sparks…

    Has anyone experiemtned with using a piece of firesteel in place of a flint in a flintlock? Would it work, would it be too fragile (doesn’t seem likely as flint is pretty fragile), could you nap it like you do flint to make an appropriate, um, well… flint?

    Also, one of the keys to shooting BP that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the maintenance required of a BP firearm. While modern arms with modern powder can stand to be neglected between shooting sets, a failure to thoroughly clean and re-oil a PB arm daily could result in a very sad firearm… I saw a BP rifle (.54 cal) that had some serious internal rust issues after it had been (allegedly) sitting uncleaned for under a week… while I love the smell of burning sulfur and the clouds of smoke, it comes with the responsibility of due dilligance to keep your straight shooting pride and joy both straight shooting and a pride and joy.

    Finally… I am fortunate to have been handed down my grandfathers “goose gun”… a monstrous side by side percussion 8 gauge behemoth, that dates back to HIS ancestors… I have yet to shoot this beautiful piece of american craftsmanship (cracked stock from a “light” load of smokeless decades back relegated it to a mantle hanger for now) but am studying some of the finer points of gunsmithing and stockmaking, with the hopes of bringing “bertha” back to life…

    In closing… I don’t have anything against BP as a fallback position, but it is like any other arm – if you do not become proficient with it, and practice, practice, practice, it is not going to help you when the SHTF.

    Annie