09 October 2009

Hunting Season Mixed Bag

Tapered Paper Cartridges

Those of us who hunt with muzzleloading rifles, whether underhammer or of inferior designs, all have one common concern – a quick and accurate follow-up shot. For some time I have been thinking about and designing a really nice quick-load gadget made of copper tubing and having a nice chain to hold the beautiful turned-wood plug captive while loading my Faeton or New Century rifle.

I was all set to start making a few of these gadgets so I wouldn’t have to carry loose powder and ball into the field. I really like simple and the speed loader seemed like a really good idea that would save me fumbling for my powder flask, measuring powder and inevitably spilling some in the process. Then, of course, getting patch and ball together and ramming onto the powder and finally to futzing with a cap.

Yes sir, my neat little copper tubing speed loader would save me from most of the uncertainty and chance of Murphy's Law while performing a quick reload in the field. I thought I had it all figured out.

Then I got a call from my friend, Bruce…

Now understand that I am not one to abandon a good idea too quickly – especially when it’s MY good idea. But I have to admit that after talking with Bruce I gave up my little copper tube speed-loader idea without a second thought. It was a no-brainer decision.

What Bruce shared with me was another speed-loading gadget – the paper cartridge. Now I know you’re probably thinking that paper cartridges aren’t anything new. In fact, I’d be willing to bet a donut hole that some of you have probably tried making and shooting the traditional paper cartridge at one time or another. I know I have and I was a bit under whelmed with the results in the field.

However, all that said, Bruce shares a rather clever twist to the old concept that deserves a fresh look from those of us who think we’ve seen it all. Bruce shows us how to make and use TAPERED paper cartridges that load in a blink and shoot more accurately than you would ever believe possible. The paper cartridge actually becomes the patch and a cushion wad! I was immensely impressed.

The target seen here, shot at 75 yards, shows a first shot in the bull and the tapered paper cartridge follow-up shot just an inch to the left of the first shot. Can't ask for much better accuracy from a quick follow up shot.

But, rather than steal more of his thunder, I’ll let Bruce tell his story to you. Unfortunately I cannot publish the whole story here directly due to technical difficulties in converting media and posting photos etc. So the whole story has been converted to a PDF file which I will be more than happy to send to you readers if you send a request to me at underhammers@safe-mail.net .

Don't pass up this opportunity. E-mail me now to request Bruce's story and perhaps you could be hunting with this speedy and simple reloading system this season. Believe me when I say that you will be pleasantly surprised when using and shooting these tapered paper cartridges.

Thanks, Bruce, for a most helpful and timely contribution.


Underhammer Fobs

When my love with underhammers was just beginning to blossom I had one bad experience that almost soured the affair. At the time I was still shooting customized versions of the Numrich Arms "Hopkins & Allen" (by now you should know that it isn't really a Hopkins and Allen design - Numrich just used the name) rifle with its typical hammer spur.

The rifle was loaded and I had it shouldered and aimed. Reaching forward to cock the hammer, I wrapped my forefinger around the hammer spur and pulled to bring the hammer to the full-cock position when it unexpectedly slipped from my finger. Luckily the trigger sear snagged the hammer’s half-cock notch (which is what it is supposed to do) and prevented an AD (accidental discharge).

Unfortunately, the very fragile sear at the front nose of the trigger was broken and the half-cock notch in the hammer was rather buggered as well. As you might imagine, that ended an otherwise great day at the range. My wife says that I should try to find the positive in every situation... Because I did create some new vocabulary appropriate for the situation, which, by the way, has served me well in similar situations since, the day was not a complete loss. Perhaps my wife was right. It did, after all, also inspire me to add a loop to the then-emerging Zephyr hammer design for attachment of a fob.

BTW, had it not been for that half-cock notch, my rifle would have fired. Luckily, I was pointed down range at the moment that occurred.

That incident got me to thinking about a means of drawing an under-mounted hammer to the cocked position with more assurance of full and complete engagement of the lockwork with less chance of a repeat of earlier experiences along with the attendant new vocabulary that such events tend to provoke.

 A very simple solution is a Hammer Fob. For those of you who have never had a pocket watch, a fob can be any sort of do-dad that is attached by cord or chain that allows you to easily draw an object from a secure position, like retrieving a pocket watch from your pocket.

Here are two examples of how to affix a simple leather lace having a knot for the fob. I used Zephyr hammers for our demonstration. The hammer on the left shows how to loop the leather over the shank of a typical type of (under) hammer and knotting it. Then a few more wraps of leather lace tied close up to the hammer shank will keep the fob from pulling off the hammer when it is cocked. The hammer on the right shows how the Zephyr hammer easily accepts the fob with just a loop through the hammer curl and a simple knot to secure it.

Affixing a fob to a hammer allows you to simply grab hold of the fob and give it a good tug to cock the hammer. Obviously these are very simple examples, but you get the general idea. Right?
The fob itself can be very basic, such as a few strands of leather lace with a knot, as seen on the Zephyr hammers, or perhaps with a trinket or a piece of trade silver attached. Or,  it could be rather ornate such as the optional fine chain tassel as seen in these photos of my new, concealed-hammer New Century underhammer rifle.

If you're hunting during the typical big-game season and your fingers are cold, stiff, wet, or all of those, you will surely appreciate a hammer fob or tassel.  It will certainly make cocking the hammer easier and safer.

Clicking on any of the photos will enlarge them for a closer look at the details. Clicking on the "Back" button will return you to the text.

Well, there you have it, simple and neat. Did I mention that I really appreciate simple solutions?


Press’n Seal® clean up?

Here’s another mixed bag tip that is sure to save you mess and fuss and preserve the finish on your favorite smokepole and, perhaps, your marriage, too, if you’re hitched to an obsessive neatnik.

Cleaning up after shooting my muzzleloading or blackpowder cartridge guns has never been the warm and fuzzy part of the whole shooting experience for me. In fact, to be absolutely truthful about it, I’ve even tried thinking up ways to be able to put off the cleaning as long as possible before there might be damage to the bore of my rifle.

It seems that no matter how careful I was, keeping that dirty, smelly, foul and corrosive water off the wood of my rifle was always a challenge during the bore-cleaning process. I like to use a nipple replacement which is actually another form of nipple to which you attach a plastic hose. Your cleaning jag or mop, if tightly fitted to the bore, will allow you to draw water from a bucket into the bore of your rifle. This is a simple means to clean your rifle and is intended to keep the mess to a minimum.

I’m sure most of you readers are quite familiar with the process. If not, you can visit Track of the Wolf as well as most other muzzleloading suppliers and check out their wares and give the gadget and the process a try.

Even when taking all the necessary precaution, I still managed to get that nasty water on the forearm of my rifle. Then my wife introduced me to Press’n Seal® plastic wrap and my life became a much happier place.

Available at most any supermarket, this stuff sticks to metal, wood, and itself amazingly well and can be used to wrap your rifle barrel and forearm, or the complete rifle if you’re really messy. This stuff is not like the early plastic wrap that gave you fits trying to manage it once off the roll. The Press'n Seal product actually behaves quite well and is rather obedient to your commands.

Wrapping with the plastic film will render your rifle's wood protected – at least within the context of normal cleaning. Probably won’t keep it absolutely dry if you’re one of those who takes his rifle into the shower with him. But, we really don’t want to go there…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop here and you can take a look at the graphic and imitate if you haven’t figured it out by now. And, if you need a closer look, just click on the pic and then click your "Back" button to return to the text.

Hope that's helpful. Made clean-up a lot easier for me. Of course, if you're shooting a Forsyth barrel, clean up is a snap, anyway. Be that as it may, I haven't given up my search for something that will safely allow me to put off cleaning for another day.

So, the next time you're faced with the mess and drudgery of cleaning your muzzleloader, as they say,  "Don't get mad, get Glad."

Works for me.

1 comment:

b-strick said...


Great idea on the Press'n Seal, have you thought about using it for rain protection? You could wrap under the hammer and around the barrel and stock. Make it wide as possible and cock and shoot right threw it. I have always thought that plastic wrap and rubber bands would work good, but this looks much better!


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About Me

Roger Renner

Hi. I've been a student, admirer, and designer/builder of underhammer guns for over 30 years. In that span I've built over 200 semi-custom underhammers exploring the possibilities from the ordinary to the exotic. In 1996 I founded Pacific Rifle Company to explore the market's interest in a high-quality underhammer rifle. Thankfully, that interest was, and still is, there. I sold PRC in 2006 but continue to craft high-end underhammers as I am truly afflicted with underhammeritis - which can be contagious!