Understanding Modern In-Line Muzzleloader Basics Ahead of Hunting Season - NSSF Let's Go Hunting

Understanding Modern In-Line Muzzleloader Basics Ahead of Hunting Season

Have you ever considered heading afield during muzzleloader hunting season?

“Muzzleloader” is the term given to early firearms because they are loaded from the muzzle — powder, wadding and projectiles — rather having a cartridge to insert into the chamber. Muzzleloaders were common firearms during the Revolutionary War, and while these arms are often seen as collector’s items, they can still be used today for sporting purposes.

If you are an experienced hunter, muzzleloader hunting is a great way to test your skills. But there are some safety issues you’ll have to be aware of when loading and unloading a muzzleloader. Watch the video below to better understand safe muzzleloader handling practices.

Modern In-Line Muzzleloading Safety

Muzzleloaders can be fun, but they take a different skill set to operate than modern firearms, and several rules must be followed to ensure safe operation. Give muzzleloaders a try, just make sure you do so safely.

Hang-Fire Situations

Sometimes a muzzleloader will not fire immediately when the trigger is pulled. This is known as a “hang-fire” and correcting it requires caution because the gun might fire sometime after the cap or flint created the initial sparks. To correct a hang-fire:

  • Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, preferably downrange.
  • Don’t take it anywhere that it could injure someone or damage property if it fires.
  • After waiting a minute or so, unload the muzzle using a ball discharger.

Powders for Muzzleloaders

True blackpowder and synthetic substitutes such as Pyrodex® are the only propellents you should use in a muzzleloader. Do not use modern-day smokeless powders in black powder firearms. Smokeless powders can cause serious injury if used in muzzleloaders.

Blackpowder is made of potassium nitrate (saltpeter), sulfur, and charcoal. When ignited, it causes a dense cloud of white smoke. It comes in four sizes or granulations.

Cleaning a Muzzleloader

Firing a muzzleloader leaves a corrosive residue inside the barrel that causes pitting and reduces accuracy if left there. The buildup of residue, called “fouling,” also makes loading difficult.

To avoid fouling, swab the barrel with a moist patch after each shot. The patches or cleaning rags used to wipe the barrel must be the correct size and should be made of cotton or approved synthetic materials. Follow the recommendations of retailers who sell muzzleloaders or those who regularly use muzzleloaders.

Thoroughly clean a muzzleloader after each shooting session. Black powder residue can damage the barrel if left overnight.

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