Sunday, October 22, 2017

No ducks

As a followup to my last post I'm sad to report no ducks were shot.

I carried my 16ga Centare loaded with 1 1/8oz of bismuth #4s and an equal volume of blackpowder. Its maybe a slightly too heavy load but I want to throw a lot of shot.

We got in the bush, got the decoys out and were ready when the sun came up. There were about 10 wood ducks on the pond, Ben tells me wood ducks are about done for the season but it seemed good enough to me. They wandered all around the pond before finally coming about 20 yards in front of me. A drake and a hen right together, I brought up the gun, hit the trigger and "crack!" the cap went off but the gun failed to fire.

I scratched my head over that one, that gun has never failed to fire before.

Thus ended hunting that spot, the ducks were outta there not to return. We decided I ought to try it again to see if it would actually fire. I had to cap it twice more before it went off. Only thing I can think is there must have been some bore butter in the touch hole. I should have capped off before I loaded but I forgot before leaving home and didn't want to do it in the bush. I won't forget that in a hurry.

The rest of the day was a comedy of errors, I was closing in on a group of 6 on another pond that Ben couldn't see, he made a whole bunch of noise and they flew. Then the last spot of the day I got lost and kept flushing ducks when I needed to be quiet.

Ben summed the whole thing up "You'da had that one duck, maybe both of them..."

The speed loaders worked well when I had them in my carry bag. I've got a Vietnam era Army surplus first aid kit bag that keeps my stuff. Later in the day I got tired of carrying it so I put 4 bottles (2 powder, 2 shot) in my pocket, the shot rattled around in the bottle in my pocket and made a bunch of noise. I may make a belt pouch to carry 4 or 6 bottles with straps to hold them in place, it'd cut down on the noise and be convenient...

Friday, October 20, 2017


One of the complaints about muzzle loaders is the time to reload. In practice I've recorded myself getting off a shot every minute while loading "from the pouch". In reality I had the powder flask in my back pocket, the roundball in one shirt pocket and patches in another but you get the idea. For the shotgun its harder. Shooters of yore carried a shot pouch not entirely unlike my powder flask. I'm not at that level yet so I cast around for a way to carry pre-measured shot and powder and ended up buying some speed loaders.

I forgot to take a picture of them so the Amazon link will have to do. While these are geared for rifle shooting I thought they'd work out for the shotgun too and for the most part they do. The reason I got the Thompson Center brand is because I could cut the tubes down to fit my load. I'm shooting 1 1/4 oz of shot and an equal volume (about 3 drams) of powder. This is a heavy load for my 16ga but patterns well and should work on most any birds I'm likely to encounter.

The TC speedloaders will hold about 2 charges but theres no good way to keep the charges separate so I could cut the tube down to hold just one load.

Instead I decided to get creative:

In the foreground my shot dipper, behind it my speed loaders. There 10ml "regent containers", or in common English, little plastic bottles. I like that they have screw on lids which keeps everything contained. I like that they're see-through so. can see whats in them and I like that the plastic takes Sharpie marker like a champ. The ones with the black top are powder, the S marks shot. They are a bit more than twice the size they need to be, 5ml would be perfect but they're less than half the cost total that the speed loaders would be EACH.

Ben wants to go duck hunting tomorrow so currently I've got all 10 bottles loaded with bismuth #4 shot from Rotometals. I'll let you know how it works out.

Again if you follow the links and buy from Amazon it'll help me out by sending a little cash my way but please don't feel like you have to...

Powder flasks

I want to take a couple posts to talk about things I like, I'm going to include Amazon affiliate links and I'll be straight and admit this is a little shilling for Amazon, if you follow the link and buy something I get some cash out of the deal. On the one hand I'm using the blog to maybe encourage you to buy something that I get paid for. On the other hand I promise to only include things I really like.

Actually for today's post I'm going to stretch that slightly, today is a tale of two powder flasks:

On the left the Traditions flask, on the right the same basic flask from CVA.

If you want to shoot a muzzle loader a powder flask isn't required per-say but it sure makes life easier. The flask has 2 jobs:
1. Carry the powder
2. Dispense the powder
A powder flask needs to be made from a material that won't spark, both these flasks are brass which won't spark. Back in history powder flasks were often made from horn and in fact you can buy a surprisingly good powder horn on Amazon, I'll cover that in another review.
The thing about a horn is the dispensing part, you pull the plug and pour out the powder. These flasks both have a mechanical shut off for dispensing the powder. Again thats not required but it sure makes life easier...

The body diameter of the two flasks is the same, they are essentially the same length and thus carry just about the same amount of powder. The difference is the valve.


Its hard to see in the picture but the Traditions flask uses a cross bar valve, theres a push button which slides a bar that allows powder through a hole.


The CVA uses a more old school lever that uncovers the hole.

I bought the Traditions first, I think because it had more reviews and there were concerns about the finish on the CVA. The CVA I bought a couple months ago because I'd left the Traditions flask at camp. It turns out that I like the CVA a LOT more. Powder flow is much more regular with the CVA, with the Traditions flask the powder gets stuck, so I need to close the valve, put my finger over the end of the spout, open the valve and give the flask a vigorous shake to dislodge the powder.  Traditions says the spout holds 30 grains so I generally have to repeat the process at least twice to fill my powder measure.
By comparison the CVA rarely sticks the way the Traditions measure does so I can open the valve and flow powder into the measure more easily.

The finish is pretty much the same, I did see a tiny amount of corrosion on the inside of the flask along the seam on the tube but it wiped off with a paper towel. The CVA is slightly (less than a dollar) cheaper than the Traditions flask too so for me this is a no brainer, if you're into muzzleloading and need a flask the CVA is the way to go.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More flintlock fun

I'm trapped in California for two weeks but dreaming of last week when I took the old flintlock to the range:

Three shots from 50 yards. Its a little low but I didn't want to raise the sight too fast and start shooting over. The target looks a little ragged because I didn't get it tight against the backer. The holes through the board look perfect. From the bench I could keep my shots into about a 1.5" circle. Standing that opened up to more like 4". For a primitive biathlon you need to hit a 6" target so I'm right about where I need to be. With more practice I should be even better.

The 3/4" x 3/4" flint I bought was too small, it would spark but not the big shower of sparks that is required for regular ignition. The 7/8" x 3/4" flint required trimming to fit the cock on the gun but sparked well. I fired about 20 shots that day and only had a handful of misfires. I did managed to ruin the big flint.
That night I ordered 3 3/4" x 7/8" English flints and 3 3/4" x 7/8" French flints. This is a little like the Ford/Chevy debate with people singing the praises of each. I also ordered one American sawn agate flint. I'm told the sawn flints are either the greatest thing ever or total junk, it'll be interesting to compare them.

I was shooting 60 grains of 3F blackpowder. I had some left over 2F from hunting season with the 16ga, I pulled my powder every couple days to make sure it was staying dry, it was and it shot fine in the .45 but shot lower than the 3F. I'd read that this would happen, apparently the smaller granules in 3F create more pressure, its interesting when information from the internet turns out to be true...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Pump it up!

I don't think I ever wrote about it but a few years ago I built a sink for Angie.
Actually thats wrong, I took a normal sink and vanity and converted it to be a self contained unit. Theres no plumbing in her office for a sink so she needed something self contained so she could wash her hands. This sink has two 5 gallon buckets inside the vanity with a foot operated "Whale Gusher" pump and a small water heater. Its worked well for a couple years now but recently Angie complained that it wouldn't pump.

Investigation showed that water would start to come out of the bucket but would only move so far before dropping back. I decided this meant a check valve had failed so we ordered a repair kit. I was a little nervous about this, I've never worked on a pump before, what if we'd just wasted money on the kit?

Disassembly was easy, just a few screws and it wasn't long before I found this:

That little flapper is one of two on the inlet side check valve, you can see the little dent in it. You can also see the pump in the background. The little dent was allowing water to slip past it so it wasn't doing its job of preventing the water from going back out the inlet side. The repair kit had four little flappers so I replaced both of the ones on the inlet side. The output side seemed to work fine so I left it alone. Reassembled the pump worked again, SCORE!

I wanted to tell you about this because its easy to lose your mojo and forget that you have limitless potential. I see a lot of people who "can't" do things because they won't try and that really bothers me. If I try and fail, whats the worst thing that could happen? In this case we'd buy a new pump, no big deal. Thats mostly true of life, no big deal, it didn't work, try something else...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


I don't think I've ever talked about guns on here before other than tangentially when I refer to hunting.
I've been around guns pretty much my whole life. In Maine its super easy to own a gun if you don't have a criminal record. In Massachusetts not so much, its actually not all that hard but I've never bothered to get a gun license since I could always go to Maine.
Well last year I realized 2 important facts:
#1. Because I' m a Mass resident my hunting license here is cheap and if I get an antlerless deer permit (I haven't) I could potentially shoot two deer here.
#2. In Mass if the gun loads from the front its not a firearm and therefore doesn't require a license.

So near the end of last year I bought myself a muzzle loading shotgun. Its been pretty fun, took me awhile to get used to loading but I carried it during turkey season with no problems other than my inability to find any turkeys.

I'll write more about it later. I took it to camp with us for 4th of July and forgot it there so its time to turn my attention to something more rifley:

The barrel is marked "T. Mansfield INC .450 CAL" with no other marks that I can find. Its a flintlock which makes shooting it a little more interesting but it shoots pretty well. Dad and I fired it a bunch right after Thanksgiving but I hadn't brought it home until the end of May.

This week I decided to pull it out and install a new flint:

The one on it is pooched, I could possibly sharpen it and get a few more shots but flints are like $2 each.

I didn't know exactly what to order, the one in the foreground is what came on the rifle, the middle is 3/4"x3/4", the rear one is 3/4"x7/8". In testing the one in the rear is really too big it doesn't fit into the lock hardly at all its so tall. The one in the middle fits the lock well but its really too short. As an experiment I installed it "upside down" which is to say with the beveled edge facing down and it sparked way better than it did the other way. Upside down the leading edge strikes the frizzen much higher which is why it sparks better.

Since I left much of my blackpowder gear at camp I haven't been doing any shooting but now that I know I've got a working flint I'll try to get out to the range.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Valerian - Movie Review

We don't see a whole lot of movies any more and since the volume is low I try to keep the quality high. Last night on a whim we saw "Valerian" and boy I wish I hadn't...

The trailer looks pretty good:

Its a Luc Besson movie, he did "The Fifth Element" which I'm a big fan of and I'd hoped this movie would be similar. In a way it was, this isn't "science fiction" since that would require some kind of real science. The film ignores science and physics almost completely. Gravity exists pretty much everywhere, all the time as does, apparently anyway, air.

Dane DeHaan isn't an actor I'd seen before but his portrayal of Agent Valerian is one of a spoiled man-child. He's at once a super tough fighter and suddenly a limp noodle. Cara Delevigne's Sergeant Laureline may have set the cause of women's rights back 15 years. My friend rightly pointed out "She never did anything useful in the whole film." Thats not 100% true, she saved Valerian's life exactly once, then she immediately got kidnapped apparently forgetting that in the previous scene we'd seen her with a gun. She plays the helpless maiden to the hilt, sergeants around the world will cover their eyes in shame.

Rhianna makes a completely unnecessary but appearance only to be killed off within minutes of her introduction. Its especially sad because hers was one of the best characters in the film, of course the character is ruined in a completely pointless and sappy death scene...

With plot holes you could fly a 747 through and lead actors that look and sound like petulant teenagers I'm stunned by how positive the reviews online are with most reviewers commenting on how good it looked. I can't disagree more with that, the imagery is overly busy with no common look or theme to be found anywhere. I see that this was all based on a comic, while the movie thoroughly sucked I'm interested in reading the source material and feel bad for the author who's vision was implemented so poorly.