Author Topic: Muzzleloading shotguns  (Read 17089 times)

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Muzzleloading shotguns
« on: October 29, 2013, 06:47:03 AM »
Anyone experienced in muzzleloading shotgun use? I just got a caplock double barrel and look for possible loading data. Is there any big difference between ball and shot powder loads? I only shot ball so far.

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2013, 02:49:26 PM »
The shotgun came in my mail today. Not in great shape, yet restorable I guess (and hope). But I was quite shocked though, as I started to clean the barrels and found out one has been loaded the whole time! Fortunately, me and my lady both shoot muzzleloaders, so we have all essential tools for them - including the unloading "corkscrew" and managed to pull out pieces of the old newspaper someone used as plug, piece by piece (I poured water through it first, to make sure). There was a date of 1926 on a piece of the paper. Got a handful of shot and poured out black crap of soaked blackpowder. The dryer grains seemed to be in good shape though, so I bet it would actualy go off if someone fired a fresh cap in the lock.

Offline bdhutier

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1120
  • Karma: 49
  • Defensor libertas
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2013, 03:00:16 PM »
My 12 bore SxS likes an even amount of powder and shot.  I use thick cardboard cutouts (like moving boxes) for the over powder wad, and cereal box cutouts for the over-shot wad.  To cut them out, I use one of these punches, sized a hair larger than the bore:



Pressures are quite low with shot vs. a rifle, so it's going to have to be a stupid large load to over charge it. 

For load data: What's the bore (Gauge), and what's the pressure stamping on the barrel?

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2013, 05:01:55 PM »
It's a 16 gauge, yet there are no other markings on the barrels. Neat idea with the wads.
I want to keep the pressure rather low, as the bore has rusted over the years. Doesn't seem to be dangerously deep rust, but I don't want to stress it too much. And I'll do couple startig shots with "remote control" (aka a piece of cord) anyway.

Offline bdhutier

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1120
  • Karma: 49
  • Defensor libertas
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2013, 05:48:18 PM »
The Lyman manual I have does not have any load data for 16ga, muzzle-loaded.  It does have date for BP shot-shell charges though.  Although they aren't the same, they are going to be very similar. 

16ga, 90g Goex FF, 1oz shot, 1200FPS, 6200PSI

16ga, 90g Goex FF, 1 1/8oz shot, 1150FPS, 6300PSI

This was the closes actual load data I could find.  There's plenty of info posted on various forums and such, but nothing I could find from a manufacturer or anything.  A 16ga is a .663 caliber bore, or 16.83mm.  If you get a punch that's .67 inches, or 17mm, that should do just fine for the wadding.  The main purpose of the wadding is to keep the powder in one place for a good ignition and burn, and to keep the shot from falling out the muzzle!

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2013, 12:27:42 AM »
16ga shotguns are very common in whole Europe, I'd even say they may be the most common shotgun bore here. Their popularity seems to go ever since muzzleloaders, through the Lefauchex system, regular break-action and even goes on in semiautos today.

Thanks for the data, I'll see what else I can find.


Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013, 12:50:27 PM »
The shotgun came in my mail today. Not in great shape, yet restorable I guess (and hope). But I was quite shocked though, as I started to clean the barrels and found out one has been loaded the whole time! Fortunately, me and my lady both shoot muzzleloaders, so we have all essential tools for them - including the unloading "corkscrew" and managed to pull out pieces of the old newspaper someone used as plug, piece by piece (I poured water through it first, to make sure). There was a date of 1926 on a piece of the paper. Got a handful of shot and poured out black crap of soaked blackpowder. The dryer grains seemed to be in good shape though, so I bet it would actualy go off if someone fired a fresh cap in the lock.

If that gun has been loaded since 1926 it has been soaking up moisture and has been rusting internally for nearly 100 years.  The walls of that chamber area MAY BE PAPER THIN.

I would have this gun thoroughly examined and x-rayed before use.

I am not usually a fanatic about these things but I have restored many BP guns in my time and warned more than a few people not to shoot specific examples. 

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2013, 12:26:00 AM »
Good point, I was thinking about having it tested in the official "gun lab" here. Problem is, their method is to overload the gun and see what happens, which may not be the best way to hande an old gun. I get the point, but on the other hand, I would never shoot it loaded like that.
Examining the barrels, they seem rusted on inner surface only, the rust doesn't look too deep.
But the first step before doing anything will be replacing the nipples, which turned out to be quite a problem. The threads are so rusted and baked-in, that I can't move them at all. I tried soaking it in kerosene, but no luck. Ordered some industrial type of thread-loosener, will see how it works. If I fail to remove them, I may yet try to drill them out. If all fails, I'll have a nice wallhanger. That, or weld the nipples close, drill priming holes on sides and downgrade to flintlock :)

Offline bdhutier

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1120
  • Karma: 49
  • Defensor libertas
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2013, 04:39:07 AM »
That's called, "proofing.". Valid, but having the chamber measured by a reliable gunsmith first would be better. 

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2013, 04:57:35 AM »
I don't think I know of a gunsmith that measures chambers on muzzleloaders around here. If it was a single barrel, then the bottom screw could be removed and it would all be easy, but this double barrel seems to be all brass-soldered together, I don't think the bottom could be removed. X-ray could help, but never heard of anyone around doing this on guns. Guess I could ask a friend doctor for X-ray shot, but that's all I can get.
Though, looking down the bores with a thin flashlight, the chamber that was loaded actualy looked better than the one that remained empty. I was quite surprised myself.

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2013, 09:52:15 AM »
Usually when you break a percussion double down there will be a double hook that connects the breech face to the barrels.  That is where the breech-plugs screw into the back of the barrels.

There is always a breech-plug, even if it appears solid, it is there. 

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2013, 11:33:49 AM »
Yes, the double hook surely is there and the barrels do have breech screws, I didn't think they were just drilled out of one piece. What I ment was that it seemed like there was a block of iron with both screws poking out of it, on which the barrel pipes were screwed on, then soldered to each other. Yes, it sounded weird to me, too, but being the first double barrel muzzleloader I have, I had no experience with these. Now when that part went through several chemicals to release the rust-in nipples, the rust and patina has slightly revealed how the breech plugs are made. They are assymetrical, one being mostly rounded and the other one has a large round cutout in it, where the other one fits. Smart.
I still didn't suceed to screw out the nipples, but found a guy who does old caplocks often and he should probably help me out. Gonna meet him this weekend.

Offline bdhutier

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1120
  • Karma: 49
  • Defensor libertas
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2013, 08:06:35 PM »

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2013, 04:00:54 AM »
Here's couple pix from the auction site.






Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2013, 01:30:59 PM »
Ok, handed the barrels to the guy and hope he can fix it for me.

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2014, 09:38:10 AM »
He did!
Just got pics from him.



Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2014, 01:34:18 PM »
Looks like he might have drilled out the old nipple and threaded for new ones.  That is generally the safest fix.  Hopefully he will check the condition of the tubes for you also.

One of the other members mentioned a load of equal powder and shot, and that is good if measured by VOLUME. 

An average charge for any smoothbore of 20/16/12 bore is going to be between 50-70 grains of 2f powder.  If thrown with a dipper the same dipper can measure the proper amount of shot.

Back in the old days they went heavy on the loads, often using 1 3/4 -2 ounces of shot in 16/12ga.  Part of the reason being that they had absolutely ZERO choke (had not been invented yet) and needed the heavy loads for pattern density.

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2014, 04:21:04 PM »
Yes, he got them out, re-drilled and cut the rusted thread and made custom nipples as no usual ones would fit. He can't do much about the bore for me, he's not a gunsmith, just a handy guy with blackpowder knowledge, helping me out. The bores are surely well rusted and will need serious cleaning before I can even try to blow them up.
Any ideas and recipes to clean such long forgotten bores?

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2014, 04:55:48 PM »
UPDATE: I work on restoring that shotgun to a (hopefuly) shootable condition. I will have the barrels proofed then. Managed to fully disassemble and clean both locks without damaging the old screws, also tuned them to hit the new nipples properly (had to place washers under the hammers, different thickness on each), may need to re-quench or replace the mainspring on one, feels a bit weak. I'll get some caps on Monday and see if they ignite. Need to make a ramrod yet, but won't spend time making one before I'm sure the gun is usable. I'll use rod from some of my other muzzleloaders meanwhile.
Cleaned and blued most outer metal parts except barrel (mainly just testing my blueing skills). Once I know the barrels will hold, I'll do some more work on the stock yet. The wood was damaged near the buttplate and was poorly repaired by filling in the past. I'll either do a proper filling job on it, or even cut the damaged piece off and replace with a new block of wood. If barrels crush closer to muzzle while testing, but chambers would be fine, I may also cut the whole thing down to a caplock lupara, so no need to hurry with the stock now.
I managed to clean the bores quite well in the end. What seemed like super heavy rusting was mainly baked-on layer of dust, gunk, powder residue, years of dust and dirt and such. A drill-powered dowel with fine sandpaper removed it easily (plus bore scrubs, brushes and lots of patches) and the bores look surprisingly well now, though surely not perfect. If it wasn't damascus, I would feel quite safe firing it, but with that irregular metal structure I'm not sure.

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #19 on: March 19, 2014, 10:34:20 AM »
Often with Damascus the weld pattern is softer than the steel ribbon that forms the base of the barrel.  The softer weld material rusts while the barrel base does not.  Sometimes it works through as a pinhole flaw that is barely perceptible in a regular bore inspection.

The "dark spots" may be more than just "dark spots".

Sometimes they hold and sometimes they blow.

As a range safety officer I once had to pull a shooter off the line at a National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association championship event  because his shotgun was puffing smoke out the sides of the barrel through rusted through pinhole flaws.  He had been shooting it like that for years and was very irritated that I felt his gun was unsafe.

Be careful with that shotgun.


Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2014, 05:25:51 AM »
There was some development meanwhile. Been studying quite a bit about safety of these old barrels, tracking the old proof marks and worrying whether or not shall I shoot it. Then I got a good offer for new Pedersoli 12ga caplock and at the same time another guy got interested to buy the old one from me. I think I'll let that happen....the original one isn't really worth keeping to me when unsure if it's safe. It's not of any significant collector's value, so I'll let him have it and help me paying the new one. With new, strong and safe caplock double, I'll be able to do some more interesting survival type loads with improvised shot and such. Will also be able to use the same ball ammunition I cast for my wheellock.

Offline bcksknr

  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2148
  • Karma: 313
  • Child of the Cold War
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2014, 05:49:59 AM »
     I would urge extreme caution when dealing with Damascus steel barrels, especially old ones. Although you may be reluctant to risk blowing it up during the proofing test, better to have it happen at that point. If you don't feel comfortable proofing it, disable it and hang it on the wall.

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2014, 05:51:55 PM »
As I said, it's getting sold, so - not my problem anymore.

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 378
  • Karma: 18
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #23 on: March 21, 2014, 09:23:14 AM »
Are u referring to the SxS cap-lock that Pedersoli makes?

Their smoothbore or the rifle?

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2014, 06:20:59 PM »
Yes, SxS caplock, smoothbore. I'm trying to get enough money for it now, will be selling some stuff.

Offline Knecht

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1177
  • Karma: 50
  • Czech emissary at TSP forum
Re: Muzzleloading shotguns
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2014, 06:41:02 PM »
Ok it's home now. I really like this muzzleloader, will likely become a favourite item in my preparedness gear.