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Author Topic: "It Finally Happened to Me"  (Read 186 times)

Online Rob DiStefano

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"It Finally Happened to Me"
« on: February 22, 2021, 08:02:13 AM »
"It Finally Happened to Me"

~ Excerpt from Mike Nesbitt's column in the November/December 2013 Muzzleloader Magazine

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Well, it finally happened to me. While at the Free Trapper's November Turkey shoot last year (2012), I took my first shot with "Tacky Too", my .54 caliber flintlock Leman styled rifle, just as a fouling shot.  The bore was oily and I knew that, so the fouling shot was necessary.  I poked a good hole in the powder through the flash-hole and that powder simply felt soggy.  Then the pan was primed to the top, and as much FFFFg as possible was poked or shaken through the flash-hole in order to get as much fire as possible inside the barrel. That shot still had slow ignition, just as I expected.  Then, while preparing to load for the next shot which was going to be fired for score, the powder had just begun to pour from my powder measure and into the bore when it was touched off by a lingering spark down inside the barrel.  That powder charge, only 50 grains of FFg, blew the powder measure out of my hand and left me with some very numb and sooty fingers.  Yes, I quickly checked and counted those fingers!  All of which were still present and accounted for, quite thankfully!  Then the numbness began to wear thin and I quickly submerged my blackened and aching hand in the cool of the rainwater barrel.  That cleaned some of the soot off my fingers and it allowed me to begin feeling normal again.

My powder measure, one of the old treasured ones from Doc Haddaway, was blown more than a few yards away but I was able to find it.  Other than being very sooty, like my hand, there was no damage to the powder measure. However, the blast at the muzzle of my rifle was enough to send that powder measure far enough that I know how lucky a guy can be to not have my fingers directly in front of the gun's muzzle.

The experience allows me to testify that there is certainly a chance of having a lingering spark present in the gun's barrel that can be "hot" enough to ignite the next powder charge.  Why it happened this time, and I'm just guessing, is because my gun's bore was left rather oily after being fired and cleaned during the previous week on a rainy day.  The oil was wiped down the bore just after cleaning the gun.  My thought is that some of the powder in my first powder charge absorbed some of that oil and did not burn completely when the shot was fired but remained in the bore, allowing a "slow spark" to remain after firing my first shot.

Just let me say that a premature ignition can certainly happen.  I had never seen or witnessed such a thing in over 40 years of shooting muzzleloaders but, I will say it again: it finally happened to me.

As I look back on it, there was at least one warning sign which I completely ignored and this is being mentioned just to give you all of the details from my recent experience.  Right after that first shot was fired, the hangfire because of the oily bore, my gun's muzzle was pouring out smoke that was a slightly different color and thicker than the usual wisps of white smoke from a "just fired" muzzleloader.  That smoke had a yellowish tinge to it and I plainly remember seeing it.  That should have warned me that something might still be burning down the barrel, but it didn't.

I might be ridiculed for admitting that the next charge of powder was poured into the barrel while the bore was still smoking and that will be a ridicule that I accept because I deserve it.  But let me ask, how many of you have never added powder for the next shot while the barrel still contained or emitted a little smoke?  We shoot guns that make a lot of smoke and we tend to get used to it or relaxed about it.  Yes, I deserve that bit of ridicule and I will allow a black powder shooter "who is without sin to cast the first stone."


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THIS IS WHY WE "BLOW DOWN THE BARREL" IMMEDIATELY AFTER EVERY SHOT IS TAKEN.  It is a SAFETY MEASURE.  Cup your hand 'round the muzzle and blow into it.  When smoke stops pouring out the touch hole or nipple, the barrel is safe to accept the next powder charge. Further reading on this matter - http://bwanabob.info/page2.html 

The NMLRA considers this practice to be unsafe!  Most clubs and matches follow that dictum, unfortunately.  To get around that nonsense, I carry and use a foot long length of neoprene tubing to accomplish blowing down the barrel.
Trad Gang ~ Buffalo Rifles ~ TMA ~ NRA ~ NRA RSO ~ GOA ~ VCDL

Online doc nock

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 09:50:00 AM »
Nice of you to share that tidbit, Rob...

Awfully glad Nesbitt wasn't injured more then his pride some... nasty biz

Online goingoldskool

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 06:49:10 PM »
Goes to show how fast things can go south!

Offline N.Y. Yankee

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2021, 08:59:06 AM »
WOW! Thanks for posting that Rob! I find it totally plausible that an ember may remain in the barrel. It could happen to anyone. It reinforces the rules, never pour from the can or flask and never put face or body parts over the muzzle.

Questions though. Why the "oily bore"? Did you not swab out the bore prior to loading? What conditions brought about that situation?
Elk don't know how many feet a horse has!

Online Rob DiStefano

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2021, 09:17:53 AM »
WOW! Thanks for posting that Rob! I find it totally plausible that an ember may remain in the barrel. It could happen to anyone. It reinforces the rules, never pour from the can or flask and never put face or body parts over the muzzle.

Questions though. Why the "oily bore"? Did you not swab out the bore prior to loading? What conditions brought about that situation?

That wasn't me, that was Mike Nesbitt.  Yes, he should have swabbed out the bore because he knew of the oil issue.  That would have been better than blowing down the bbl. 

Most of us want a trad sidelock that we can load and shoot repeatedly without the need for fouling control, which saves times with running a patch or two down the tube. 

Further more, those with offshore built trad muzzleloaders need to attend to those patent breech plugs.  This means that if you swab the bore with patched jag after a shot is taken, you will be pushing bp residue into the patent breech ante-chamber and this could/will restrict ignition on the next load.  I can expand more on this if need be, but suffice to say, patent breech plugs will always require extra work, even if it's only about after shoot barrel cleaning.

SO ... don't  wipe, BLOW.

Trad Gang ~ Buffalo Rifles ~ TMA ~ NRA ~ NRA RSO ~ GOA ~ VCDL

Online doc nock

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Re: "It Finally Happened to Me"
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2021, 09:52:26 AM »
yup, Rob, Ole mike said he KNEW he done bad but didn't listen to those tiny voices... :(:(

HE was most fortunate...

Good clarification to an important issue...

IME, only hunting, NO woods walks... I only ever GOT 1 shot, but it doesn't take a lot of time to swap out a patched jag for a patch wrapped smaller Caliber brush to do the ante chamber on my GPR...