The muzzle loader is a simple gun that uses black powder or Pyrodex as a propellant. It utilizes technology that dates beyond the civil war.
The muzzle loader will fire a variety of projectiles from balls to hollow points. Muzzle loaders are cheap to use because they don’t require brass and are not expensive to buy. Their effective range is about 10-150 yards.
Muzzle loader season occurs during modern rifle season, but has a couple dates before the majority of hunters go, giving you a unique advantage. The muzzle loader is an overall convenient, cheap, and useful firearm that is a must-have for any outdoorsman’s arsenal.
To fire a muzzle loader you will need the following: powder, the projectile, the wad, and the primer. The most popular two actions are bolt action and break action.
Loading a Bolt Action Muzzle Loader
To load a bolt action muzzle loader, you must first open the bolt. Then add the measured powder down the barrel. Next you insert the bullet into the muzzle. If your bullet has a sleeve, you don’t need a wad, but if you are using a ball you will need a wad.
The wad is a small patch of cloth in which the bullet is wrapped. Once the bullet is started, you must force it down all the way down the barrel with the ram rod. After the powder and the projectile have been loaded, insert the primer into the receiver and close the bolt. You are now ready to fire.
Loading a Break Action Muzzle Loader
The break action is similar, except you must cock back the hammer because it is external. The muzzle loader must be treated using the same safety rules as any other gun. After you have fired the gun, reload using the same technique as before. Every time the weapon is fired, fouling builds up inside the barrel and makes the bullet harder to ram down. When the bullet is too hard to force down the barrel, it is time to clean the gun.
How to Clean a Muzzle Loader
Cleaning the muzzle loader is quite simple because there is very little surface area that is exposed to the explosion. Black powder is very corrosive and must be cleaned as soon as possible.
Cleaning a Bolt Action Muzzle Loader
On the bolt action muzzle loader, you must first remove the action according to the manufacturer’s instructions, insert a metal edge into the slot in the firing pin and pull revealing a slot into which you must slide a coin, as pictured below.
The entire firing mechanism will then slide out easily and should be cleaned thoroughly with a metal brush and a powder solvent.
Run a brush and a rag down the barrel and clean the bore. Make sure to remove all leftover residues using the solvent. Then reassemble the firing assembly, reinsert the bolt, and you are done.
Cleaning a Break Action Muzzle Loader
The break action is much easier to clean. First remove the bore plug and clean it thoroughly using powder solvent. Run a bore cleaner and a rag down the barrel to remove fouling. It is imperative that all residues are removed.
Clean the bore hole with a small piece of wire and reassemble the gun. Make sure to run clean rags down the barrel until they come out clean. You have now completed thoroughly cleaning your firearm. Be sure to add a small amount of lube to the threads on the bore plug before storage to prevent it from seizing up and making it difficult to remove.
Be sure to clean you black powder rifle often to maintain you guns functionality and beauty. Because great care was taken on maintenance, the gun will remain reliable whenever it is needed.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 07, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.