On this day

22 May 1804

På denne dag i 1804 forlot Lewis og Clark-ekspedisjonen St. Charles i Missouri og ekspedisjonen fikk dermed sin offisielle start. Lewis og Clark-ekspedisjonen var en oppdagelsesferd som foregikk fra mai 1804 til september 1806. Ekspedisjonen gikk... Read more ...

22 May 1804

Lewis og Clark-ekspedisjonen begynte
På denne dag i 1804 forlot Lewis og Clark-ekspedisjonen St. Charles i Missouri og ekspedisjonen fikk dermed sin offisielle start. Lewis og Clark-ekspedisjonen var en oppdagelsesferd som foregikk fra mai 1804 til september 1806. Ekspedisjonen gikk til Stillehavet og tilbake, ledet av Meriwether Lewis og William Clark.

Ekspedisjons mål var dels å undersøke om det eksisterte en elv fra Missourielven og til Stillehavet, og dels for å kartlegge det da stort sett ukjente området vest for Mississippielven. De opplysninger som USA hadde om området før ekspedisjonen, var stort sett utilfredsstillende annenhåndsinformasjon fra britiske og spesielt fransk-kanandiske pelsjegere og handelsmenn som i noen generasjoner hadde besøkt området og ganske ofte giftet seg inn i ulike indianerstammer.

Et av hovedmålene for ekspedisjonen var å undersøke om det eksisterte en anvendbar vannvei fra Missourielven til Stillehavet. Svaret ble til manges skuffelse negativt. Man hadde også håpet at Marias River nådde betydelig lengre inn i landet enn hva som var tilfellet, ikke minst for at dette ville gitt grunnlag for ytterligere territoriale krav for USA. Da Lewis oppdaget hvordan dette forholdt seg døpte han den siste leiren ved elvebredden for «Camp Disappointment» (Skuffelsens leir).



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      Exploded View of a Flintlock

    • Exploded View of a Flintlock

      The drawing in this article shows the exploded view of a Danish-Norwegian military flintlock with names on the various parts. Note that he translation of this article is not quite finished.

    Shooting the flintlock musket

    Category: Muzzle-loading
    Published: 5 May 2014 by Øyvind Flatnes.
    Views: 16057
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    Napoleon harangues his troops.

    Napoleon harangues his troops.

    Flintlock muskets.

    Flintlock muskets.

    In the beginning of the 19th century Europe was wrapped in a blanket of white black powder smoke, caused by the conflict that broke out in the wake of the French Revolution in 1789. The conservative old regimes of Europe – with Austria, Prussia and Britain in the forefront – looked with fear and loathing upon the liberal ideas that emerged in France. Determined to put an end to the revolution and reinstate monarchy, the great powers of Europe loaded muskets and cannons and declared war on France. The revolutionary wars raged with varying intensity form 1792 to 1802.

    When Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France in 1799 the war went into the phase known as the Napoleonic Wars. In 1805 Sweden joined the third coalition against Napoleon, while Norway-Denmark was forced to side with Napoleon after the English attach on Copenhagen in 1807.

    The general-issue firearm of the infantry soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars was a smooth-bore muzzle-loading flintlock musket. The soldiers fought in lines, and the muskets were fired simultaneously against enemy formations at close range. The lack of rifling rapidly diminished accuracy at longer ranges. While the far more accurate muzzle-loading rifles were employed successfully by light infantry, rifles were deemed unfit for line infantry due to cumbersome loading procedures and because the average soldier was considered too stupid to load the complicated rifles. The rate of fire was higher with muskets too: A trained infantryman could fire several shots per minute, while a rifle took about a minute to load.

    Danish-Norwegian muskets were 16 bore as a standard, while Swedish muskets were 20mm (.78") until 1811 when the calibre was reduced to 18.55 mm (.73"). English muskets were .75 calibre (19.05 mm) and French were .69 (17.5 mm). The balls were deliberately made considerably smaller to enable easy loading even in a badly fouled musket.

    The muskets were loaded with paper cartridges containing powder charge and ball. The invention of the paper cartridge is often credited to Swedish King Gustavus II Adolphus (1594–1632) who was the first to put paper cartridges to large scale use during the Thirty Year's War. Previously the muskets were loaded with powder from single charge powder bottles and loose balls from a pouch. The paper cartridges enabled faster loading: The soldier bit or tore a hole in the rear portion of thecartridge, poured a small amount of powder on the pan and poured the rest of the charge down the barrel, followed by the ball. Excessive paper was thrown away or used as wadding.

    The video below shows the loading procedure with a blank load, but note the instant ignition. Who said flintlocks were slow?

    There were several types of musket cartridges. As a standard the cartridges contained a single ball, but there were cartridges with two balls, one regular ball and three smaller bullets (buckshot) or just buckshot. The Swedish soldiers that fought in the Napoleonic Wars carried 30 cartridges, of which 20 contained one ball, while the remaining ten contained two musket balls

    Shooting muskets for accuracy

    Today the different black powder associations have several types of smooth-bore musket competitions. MLAIC has completions for replica and original smooth-bore matchlock and flintlock muskets. The competition for the military smooth-bore flintlock musket is called Miquelet. The course of fire is 13 shots from the standing position against a French 200 metre military target in which the ten best shots count. The black is 40cm and the ten ring is 8cm. This is challenging enough with a musket, and rear sights are not allowed. Many countries, including all Scandinavian countries, have competitions for percussion muskets as well.

    Musket models

    The replica class is dominated by French and English muskets. Replicas of the English Brown Bess musket are among the most common, but many swear to French muskets. Italian maker Davide Pedersoli makes excellent copies of both. The Brown Bess musket was also used in Sweden during the Napoleonic Wars, because Sweden bought a shipment of 23,000 muskets after 1808, as well as 6.3 million cartridges and 350,000 flints.

    While most Norwegian muskets are converted to percussion and the surviving flintlock muskets are valued by collectors, it is easy to find Swedish muskets in good shooting condition. There are many models, but the Model 1815 is regarded the best. It was developed towards the end of the flintlock era and has all the characteristics of a good flintlock musket. It even has a primitive cavity sight on the tang and a cavity for the cheek on the butt stock. Because of the sight the 1815 muskets cannot be used for MLAIC shooting, but muskets made after 1838 were equipped with a new easily removable dovetailed sight. Model 1815-38 muskets with removed sights are allowed in MLAIC competitions. Pre-1838 muskets can be used in Nordic competitions as long as the cavity sight is filled with, for example, plastic padding. Removal of the sight by filing it down is of course forbidden, as it will decrease the historical accuracy of the gun.

    Ammunition and loading equipment

    Today's shooters almost universally use the patched roundball for competitive shooting. Compared with paper cartridges, the patched roundball is more accurate because the patch takes up the slack between the ball and the barrel walls, in addition to providing a better gas seal. Many shooters achieve great accuracy with thick patches and undersized balls.

    Balls and patches

    Balls cast with an original military gang mould.

    Balls cast with an original military gang mould.

    Jeff Tanner ball moulds.

    Jeff Tanner ball moulds.

    The balls should be cast of pure lead. For original muskets it may be difficult to get hold of bullet moulds that cast a bullet of correct diameter. Even though the nominal calibre for the Swedish 1815 musket was 18.55mm (.73"), the calibre could vary from 18.25 from 18.6mm (.719 to .732"). The original bullet was 17.5mm (.69") in front of 154 grains of musket grade powder included the priming charge.

    A good advice is to have a mould made by Jeff Tanner in England. His ball moulds are very reasonably prices and he makes it in whichever diameter you want. Although his moulds lack a sprue plate, the sprue is easily cut by a pair of pliers.

    In later years the best shooters have started to dimple the musket balls. This is done by rolling the balls between two files, or two pieces of rough abrasive paper. The idea is to copy the principle of golf balls. Like musket balls, golf balls were originally smooth, but golfers noticed that older nicked and bumped balls seemed to fly farther than smooth new balls. The dimples in the balls serve to induce turbulence in the layer of air next to the ball and reduce drag.

    Patches can be cut from a strong natural fibre, such as linen or cotton. Denim works perfect. Jeff Tanner's wife Chris provides high quality pre-cut patches in different thicknesses and diameters. In my Model 1815, which has a diameter of 18.6mm (.732"), I use a .700" (17.78mm) ball cast of pure lead and a .031" thick 1.75" (44.5 mm) diameter Tanner patch.

    Before use the patches must be lubricated. Some use oils, others grease - for example BoreButter. Saliva or water also work well too.


    It is often recommended to use coarse granulations, such as Fg, P or Swiss #5 in large calibre muskets, but faster black powder granulations often work better as long as you reduce the charge. I have used 55 grains of Swiss #2 (FFFg) in my Model 1815 with good results. Often used in pistols and revolvers, this fine-grained powder burns quick and clean and leaves little fouling which is an advantage in competitions that do not allow wiping between shots. Remember to use light charges, since the pressure increases with fine-grained powder.

    Coarse granulations work well too. I have achieved good accuracy in my .75 calibre Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine with .735" ball and 80–90 grains Wano P. You can also use a .69 calibre ball in .75 calibre muskets as long as you use a thick patch.

    Loading and shooting

    Before you load, make sure the barrel, flash hole, flint, pan and frizzen is wiped dry. To save time, soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars always primed the pan before the main charge and ball was loaded. Due to the safety hazard involved in priming before loading, this is practice is unacceptable today's shooting ranges. Some flintlock muskets work best if a needle is inserted into the flash hole before loading, others do not. However, if you use fine powder in muskets with a large flash hole it is an advantage to use a needle to prevent the powder from being blown out of the hole when the ball is seated.

    The movie shows the loading procedure of a Model 1815 musket with patched roundball (Norwegian language).

    Pour a pre-measured or weighed powder charge down the barrel. A fired patch should not be burnt or torn. To protect the patch, many use a filler, such as semolina or corn meal over the powder. This prevents the hot powder gases from burning holes in the patch.

     Target shot with a Husqvarna Model 1815 standing at 50 metres.

    Target shot with the musket from the film above,
    standing at 50 metres.

    Place a patch over the muzzle and insert a ball into its centre. It is an advantage to use a tight bullet and patch combination, and a ball starter is usually necessary. Use the short end first, and give the starter head a quick rap that forces the ball into the muzzle. Repeat with the long rod. The ball is now calibrated to the bore and can be seated towards the powder with firm stroke. Make sure the ball is seated completely on the powder. Failing to do so can bulge or even burst the barrel.

    Finally, when you are ready to shoot, prime the musket by placing priming powder on the pan - usually Swiss #1 or FFFFg (PPPP).

    Since most smooth-bore muskets lack a rear sight, a little practice is required to get a correct and consistent sight picture. If the musket has bands they can be used as a reference point during aiming.

    But what about accuracy? The last couple of years the world's best musket shooters has been Johan Karlsson of Sweden. Although he has scored 100 points, us mortal souls usually score about 80 to 90 points. The pictured target is shot with the described Model 1815 musket made at Husqvarna and is typical of what can be expected by a smooth-bore flintlock musket and an average shooter.