Sidelock Rifle Muzzleloading: Sidelock muzzleloading is usually done with the use of black powder for a reliable propellant charge such as Elephant, Goex or Swiss Black Powder.
Muzzleloading is the term used to describe the sport, or pastime of firing muzzle-loading guns or muzzleloaders. Sidelock muzzleloading in this case will apply to sidelock muzzle-loading rifles. It usually involves the use of loose black powder as the propellant (i.e. gun powder), a projectile, as well as a separate method of ignition or priming the rifle. The powder and projectile are always loaded from the muzzle end of the rifle barrel.
The Flintlock was developed in France around 1612. The genius behind the flintlock was that the pan containing the priming charge was always closed and therefore more protected from the elements until the hammer containing the flint would fall, opening it, creating sparks and igniting it. The small flash fire created in the pan would ignite the main charge in the barrel via a flash-hole.
The Percussion Cap ignition system was patented in 1799 by Joshua Shaw in Philadelphia, and then further developed in 1805 by the Reverend John Forsyth of Aberdeenshire. The key to this system is the explosive cap which is placed on top of a nipple that is attached to the main powder charge in the barrel. When the cap is struck by the hammer, the flames from the exploding cap go down the nipple, into the gun barrel, and ignite the powder inside the barrel
Note: It was the Nineteenth Century that the most radical innovations were brought about to firearms and the rifle. Perfection of the percussion caplock, departure from the round ball to the bullet, the addition of rifle scopes on rifles which increased the range of accuracy for rifles.
Sidelock Rifle Caliber Selection:
On the rifle muzzleloading page we had a common sense caliber selection chart for hunting purposes, here we will examine that a little closer with a ballistics test between 2 identical 28 inch barrel 19th century configured muzzle-loading rifles in calibers .45 and .50 with 1 in 48" rifling twist as these are the two most common calibers used for hunting.
Testing Note: Both rifles charged with the same modest volume of FFg black powder, primed with CCI percussion caps, bullets Lyman Maxi, sight height was 1.0" bore center to front post top center, sight-in was 0 at 75 yards to get the best hunting trajectory for both rifles.
Because of the slower twist in the barrel, lower velocity and shooting a solid lead maxi bullet, less bullet energy is needed for full penetration of both lungs of a game animal on broadside shots, the modest loads that I have selected perform quite well at 100 yards. When working with this type of bullet, slower bullet speeds actually increase bullet penetration because of very little bullet upset.
(.45 Caliber), Forty five caliber bore diameter muzzle-loading rifles are a good choice for Antelope, Black Bear, Black-Tailed Deer, Hogs, Javelina, Mule Deer & White-Tailed Deer, however, only broadside shots should be taken.
|.45 Caliber, Sidelock, Caplock Muzzleloader / Bullet Weight 245 Grains:|
Bullet Muzzle Velocity: 1,761 Feet Per Second.
Bullet Muzzle Energy: 1,687 Foot Pounds.
|Range||25 yds.||50 yds.||75 yds.||100 yds.||150 yds.|
||- 2.3 ||- 12.4
(Light To Medium Recoiling Rifle With Bullets Under 250 Grain)
(.50 Caliber), Fifty caliber bore diameter muzzle-loading rifles are a good choice for medium to large game such as Elk Caribou & Sheep, however, only broadside shots should be taken.
|.50 Caliber, Sidelock, Caplock Muzzleloader / Bullet Weight 370 Grains:|
Bullet Muzzle Velocity: 1,401 Feet Per Second.
Bullet Muzzle Energy: 1,612 Foot Pounds.
|Range||25 yds.||50 yds.||75 yds.||100 yds.||150 yds.|
||- 3.1 ||- 15.7|
(Medium To Heavy Recoiling Rifle With Bullets Over 250 Grain)
Note: This is very important, when selecting a bullet for hunting with these slower twist barrels including roundball shooters with even slower twist barrels, bullet speed is critical, to fast at short distance and you will lose penetration to slow at long distance and again you will lose penetration. For very short distance, a 70 grain powder charge may be all you need, you have to work that out for yourself and your imparticular muzzleloader.
One of my pet 45 caliber longrifles has a full buck horn rear sight, very accurate, loaded with Goex FFFg black powder shooting a patched .445 diameter Hornady roundball at 125 yards it will on a broadside shot give complete pass through performance everytime on White-Tailed Deer. Accuracy for that roundball rifle is quite good as it will keep all shots at 125 yards within 1 1/2 inches.
Sidelock Rifle Loading Sequence:
The sequence of loading your muzzleloader after checking to make sure there are no obstructions in the barrel is to do the following:
1. Charging With Gunpowder:
Pouring in loose volume measured powder, gunpowder used is typically black powder or black powder substitutes like Pyrodex, I prefer black powder because it has a very long shelf life unlike substitute powders if exposed to air to long will loose their power over time, black powder does not have that problem.
Safety Rule: Always pour your powder from its container into a flask, use the flask to pour your powder into a powder measure and then use the powder measure to pour the powder down the barrel.
Safety Rule: Always wear cotton clothing when working with black powder as this will reduce static electricity, reducing the risk of an accidental ignition of black powder, black powder ignites fairly easy.
2. Projectile Loading Or Bullet Loading:
Only one at a time is loaded.
a. Patched round balls, the patch is wrapped around the base of the ball, the purpose of which is to grip the rifling and impart spin to the loose fitting ball.
b. Pre-Lubed bullets, no wad is used as the projectile has a hollow base or gas rings which expands to grip the rifling and is already lubed, however using a wad at the base of the bullet does in some cases increase accuracy.
3. Seating The Charge:
This is accomplished with a tool called a "ramrod", it is used to push the items down the barrel and then seated firmly together against the breech, at this point the muzzle-loading rifle has been charged with powder and bullet and not fully loaded.
Accuracy Tip: Always use a slow, steady, even and firm pressure on the ramrod to seat the bullet against the wad and powder charge.
Priming the sidelock rifle muzzleloader, completes the loading process.
a. The sidelock percussion cap rifle is now primed by placing the hammer in half-cock position which exposes the nipple and a cap is placed on the nipple.
b. The sidelock flintlock rifle is now primed by placing the hammer in half-cock position which exposes the frizzen pan which is now charged with priming powder.
5. The Sidelock Muzzle-Loading Rifle Is Now Fully Loaded:
Accuracy Tip: After each shot fired, run one moistened patch down the barrel followed by one dry patch to maintain maximum accuracy while on the rifle range.