Muzzle Blasts Online
August/September 1998      Volume 3, Number 4
Past Issues Index
Short Starts


This column, which appears on an irregular basis as material is received, is a forum for members to request help, share ideas, and find answers and useful tips. Send your queries and suggestions to the Editor at NMLRA headquarters.

Christian Payant writes us from Québec with some interesting news for BEAR HUNTERS: "I would like to inform readers about our special black bear hunting and activities in the Provincial Parks in Québec. We organize special limited hunts for black bear in Provincial Parks in conjunction with the provincial biologist. We hunt specific areas to harvest a certain number of bears per area. I am the hunt coordinator for those hunts. Also as a fervent black powder shooter and hunter, I am specializing in muzzleloading black bear hunting. Also as a member of NMLRA and a Golden Guardian I offer a 10% discount for every fellow member of NMLRA who sends their member number. This hunt is a very high quality organization. All lodging is on and organized by the Provincial Parks Department. I hope members will benefit from this offer." Contact Christian Payant at C.P. 135 St.-Rémy, Québec JOL 2LO, Canada (Phone: 514-454-7269; Fax: 514-4554-7978)

In earlier "Short Starts" columns we have reported on hard cases for firearms that aren't recognizable as gun cases. Americase has introduced a new product for 1998. The "Incognito" is like a duffel bag on wheels. One compartment houses any standard gun case up to 38" X 14" X 6 ", and another holds clothing and accessories, making it possible to carry everything in a single package. This case has heavy-duty wheels for ease in moving. For information, contact Americase at 1-800-972-2737.

Our country is blessed with countless museums and historic sites that continually give the present of our past. Not all are muzzleloading specific, but many conduct events and present displays that help us understand life in the old days. One such institution is the Fort Bend Museum in Richmond, Texas. The museum publishes a calendar of their varied events; these include, among others, the Fiestas Patrias Celebration (Sept. 12), a celebration honoring Mexican heritage, and Texian Market Days (Oct. 24 and 25, at George Ranch Historical Park), a living history festival devoted to Texas history. For more information or a schedule, contact The Fort Bend Museum Association, P.O. Drawer 460, Richmond, TX 77406-0460.

At the recent NRA annual convention I chatted with Niles Burkett of Austin and Halleck. Now maybe I should admit that I don't own a modern muzzleloader of any kind. My biggest objections (aside from my devotion to history and tradition) are that most in-lines are unattractive and poorly balanced in comparison to any good sidelock long rifle. Well, I can not escape the reaction that Austin and Halleck's curly-maple-stocked in-lines are esthetically beautiful and well balanced. They are heavy enough to hang well, yet they seem to balance and carry properly. That was a revelation to me. The company is also introducing traditional sidelock rifles in percussion and flint that will be available in September and October, respectively. The flinter I examined looked very promising, the more so because it's intended to be priced reasonably. I was very favorably impressed by the beauty and quality of these guns.--E. A. Bye

In a similar vein, you should check out the Museum of the Mountain Man (P.O. Box 909, Pinedale, WY 82941). The 15,000 sq. ft. museum offers exhibits on the fur trade, western exploration, and early settlement of western Wyoming. It's located in the heart of the original rendezvous country, too. Write or e-mail (museummtman@wyoming.com) for additional information.

A short while ago I received a box of gun care products from Shooter's Choice (Venco Industries, Inc., 16770 Hilltop Park Place, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023). They include Black Powder Cleaning Gel, a syringe of All-Weather High-tech Grease, Quick-Scrub III Cleaner and Degreaser, FP-10 Lubricant Elite, Rust Prevent, and Shooter's Choice Bore Cleaner and Conditioner. I'm the type of person who normally uses the same cleaning solution for all purposes (the mixture of rubbing alcohol, Murphy's Oil Soap, and hydrogen peroxide I first discovered in the pages of this magazine some years ago), but it didn't take me long to identify favorite uses for each of these products. For example, I recently had to solder a front sight onto a smoothbore barrel, which I subsequently wanted to protect from rust inside and out. One coat of Rust Prevent--a slightly viscous, clinging compound with a delightful vanilla-like odor--has provided perfect protection, even after a day of shooting in falling snow. I now plan to use it on all my antique guns to keep them free of unseen rusting. The Black Powder Cleaning Gel has become my favorite for cleaning my Trapdoor Springfield, and the High-tech Grease syringe is exactly right for applying a dab of grease on the foot of a flintlock's frizzen. I often prefer the self-reliance of home-made stuff, but I'll gladly admit the superiority of these products!

Mark Wagner (419 E. 5th St. North, Newton, IA 50208; 515-792-5028) has written a book entitled Hand Rifling a Muzzleloading Rifle Barrel at Home. This is clearly a labor of love. I have never hand rifled a barrel, but I've always been fascinated by the process, and I believe I could do it with the aid of this book. The illustrations and photos are clear and the text seems complete and is a good read. Contact Mark for additional information or to order the book.

By the time you read this, Cabela's will have opened a new retail store in Owatonna, Minnesota. This is the largest fishing, hunting, and outdoor gear store in the Midwest; it will also serve as an educational facility for outdoor-related topics. This store will no doubt become a Mecca for shooters, hunters, campers, and fishing aficionados. Cabela's has been well known for many years in black powder circles as a supplier of muzzleloading firearms and accessories and a supporter of the NMLRA.

The monthly publication Hunter Education Instructor has recently celebrated its silver anniversary. It serves the needs of volunteer hunter education instructors across the U.S. and Canada. It also devotes attention to 4-H Shooting Sports and NRA firearms safety instructors. Annual subscriptions are a bargain at $6; for more information, contact HEI, P.O. Box 19000, Seattle, WA 98109 (206-624-3845).

Here's a good hint that Mark Wagner (see reference to his book in the third paragraph of this article) sent us by e-mail: For years I have used patch cutters made from rotary hole saws that have been ground flat and then re-sharpened. I read the article by Charlee Presley on the Ozark Patch Cutter and then last month's Letter to the Editor by Ronald V. O'Kelly on using commercial hole saws. As Mr. O'Kelly states in his letter, it is possible to find the correct diameter hole saw for just about any size patch. I use a drill press to cut patches with a flat piece of wood below the folded cloth. One additional help to cutting good patches is to have a good method to hold the cloth in place during cutting. A piece of plexiglass with various holes cut in it a bit larger than each hole saw works nicely. This method is much safer than holding down the cloth by hand.

Member Wolfgang Wieczorek of Herbrechtingen, Germany recently wrote (in German) to describe how he ordered parts from Track of the Wolf and with little guidance but his own good instincts managed to craft a couple of beautiful American flintlock long guns. In fact, his projects turned out so good that the German gun magazine Vizier published an article on him, complete with beautiful photos of his rifles. I think that many of us would be surprised and impressed if we knew how dedicated and skillful some of our overseas members are--no mean task, considering how far they are from most sources here in the U.S.

Richard J. Napoli, organizer of the 1999 World Long Range Blackpowder Championship, wrote us with information on next year's competition. Interested shooters are invited to try out for the U.S. team. For more information, contact Richard at 516 Larchwood Ave., Upper Darby, PA 19082 (610-352-0457); or team captain Tom Matack, 1011 Skimmer Ave., Painesville, OH 44077. The U.S. is the current champion, having won the 1997 championship in South Africa.

Techno-junkies will be interested to learn of a computer software package known as TOPOGUIDE. It allows us to use the U.S.G.S. topographical maps of the entire US on our PCs. With this program we can display and draw on topographical maps, measure distances, and track our outdoor experiences. This is available from the Hanta Yo Company in Gaithersburg, MD, which can be reached toll-free by calling 888-HANTA YO (888-426-8296).

Dan Cistulli (1665 Farmington Ave., Unionville, CT 06085) is starting a black powder program at his gun club (Metacon Gun Club, Simsbury, CT) and would appreciate any information on how to put on shoots, including tomahawk and knife and primitive archery. Please contact him with your ideas!

Leave 'em Laughing Dept. Chuck Hamsa sent us the following news item about a novel use for a specialized black powder cannon. It also confirms the proverbial genius of rocket scientists:

Scientists at NASA developed a black powder cannon specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airlines, military jets, and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.

The idea was to simulate the frequent collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields. British engineers heard about this specially designed cannon. They were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains, so a chicken cannon was promptly transferred to England.

The British engineers marveled at the black powder cannon but questioned its ability to propel a dead chicken at the required velocity. Nevertheless, tests went on as scheduled.

When the engineers fired the cannon, the chicken hurtled out of the barrel, crashed through the shatter-proof windshield, splintered the control console, snapped the engineer's backrest in two, and embedded itself in the back wall of the cab.

Horrified, the Britons notified NASA of the disastrous results of the experiment. They were astounded at the power of black powder. They included the windshield's specifications and begged our scientists for suggestions.

NASA's response:

"Thaw the chicken."

A short while ago I received a box of gun care products from Shooter's Choice (Venco Industries, Inc., 16770 Hilltop Park Place, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023). They include Black Powder Cleaning Gel, a syringe of All-Weather High-tech Grease, Quick-Scrub III Cleaner and Degreaser, FP-10 Lubricant Elite, Rust Prevent, and Shooter's Choice Bore Cleaner and Conditioner. I'm the type of person who normally uses the same cleaning solution for all purposes (the mixture of rubbing alcohol, Murphy's Oil Soap, and hydrogen peroxide I first discovered in the pages of this magazine some years ago), but it didn't take me long to identify favorite uses for each of these products. For example, I recently had to solder a front sight onto a smoothbore barrel, which I subsequently wanted to protect from rust inside and out. One coat of Rust Prevent--a slightly viscous, clinging compound with a delightful vanilla-like odor--has provided perfect protection, even after a day of shooting in falling snow. I now plan to use it on all my antique guns to keep them free of unseen rusting. The Black Powder Cleaning Gel has become my favorite for cleaning my Trapdoor Springfield, and the High-tech Grease syringe is exactly right for applying a dab of grease on the foot of a flintlock's frizzen. I often prefer the self-reliance of home-made stuff, but I'll gladly admit the superiority of these products!

Mark Wagner (419 E. 5th St. North, Newton, IA 50208; 515-792-5028) has written a book entitled Hand Rifling a Muzzleloading Rifle Barrel at Home. This is clearly a labor of love. I have never hand rifled a barrel, but I've always been fascinated by the process, and I believe I could do it with the aid of this book. The illustrations and photos are clear and the text seems complete and is a good read. Contact Mark for additional information or to order the book.

By the time you read this, Cabela's will have opened a new retail store in Owatonna, Minnesota. This is the largest fishing, hunting, and outdoor gear store in the Midwest; it will also serve as an educational facility for outdoor-related topics. This store will no doubt become a Mecca for shooters, hunters, campers, and fishing aficionados. Cabela's has been well known for many years in black powder circles as a supplier of muzzleloading firearms and accessories and a supporter of the NMLRA.

The monthly publication Hunter Education Instructor has recently celebrated its silver anniversary. It serves the needs of volunteer hunter education instructors across the U.S. and Canada. It also devotes attention to 4-H Shooting Sports and NRA firearms safety instructors. Annual subscriptions are a bargain at $6; for more information, contact HEI, P.O. Box 19000, Seattle, WA 98109 (206-624-3845).

Here's a good hint that Mark Wagner (see reference to his book in the third paragraph of this article) sent us by e-mail: For years I have used patch cutters made from rotary hole saws that have been ground flat and then re-sharpened. I read the article by Charlee Presley on the Ozark Patch Cutter and then last month's Letter to the Editor by Ronald V. O'Kelly on using commercial hole saws. As Mr. O'Kelly states in his letter, it is possible to find the correct diameter hole saw for just about any size patch. I use a drill press to cut patches with a flat piece of wood below the folded cloth. One additional help to cutting good patches is to have a good method to hold the cloth in place during cutting. A piece of plexiglass with various holes cut in it a bit larger than each hole saw works nicely. This method is much safer than holding down the cloth by hand.

Member Wolfgang Wieczorek of Herbrechtingen, Germany recently wrote (in German) to describe how he ordered parts from Track of the Wolf and with little guidance but his own good instincts managed to craft a couple of beautiful American flintlock long guns. In fact, his projects turned out so good that the German gun magazine Vizier published an article on him, complete with beautiful photos of his rifles. I think that many of us would be surprised and impressed if we knew how dedicated and skillful some of our overseas members are--no mean task, considering how far they are from most sources here in the U.S.

Richard J. Napoli, organizer of the 1999 World Long Range Blackpowder Championship, wrote us with information on next year's competition. Interested shooters are invited to try out for the U.S. team. For more information, contact Richard at 516 Larchwood Ave., Upper Darby, PA 19082 (610-352-0457); or team captain Tom Matack, 1011 Skimmer Ave., Painesville, OH 44077. The U.S. is the current champion, having won the 1997 championship in South Africa.


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