Flintlocks - lead or leather?


4v50 Gary
January 17, 2003, 10:10 PM
What do you prefer to clamp your flint in with? I prefer lead (heavy metals are your friends).

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ed dixon
January 17, 2003, 11:24 PM
I've only ever used leather. Tend to replace it when it starts looking dirty, which is infrequently and probably way before it's actually worn out.

January 17, 2003, 11:55 PM
Okay, I'm probably stamping "ignorant" across my forehead with this, but I've never seen anyone use lead and have never heard of it either. I've only ever seen or heard leather. Is using lead a common practice?

Mike Irwin
January 18, 2003, 02:08 AM
Using lead used to be a fairly common practice. Leather is more common these days.

About 10 years ago I took my TC Renegade to a friend's, but I couldn't find the stinking leather for the flint, and he couldn't find anything suitable around the house.

We were just about ready to hang it up in disgust when I remembered that musket flints were often head in with pieces of sheet lead.

So I took a .50 cal. ball, beat it flat on an anvil, and used it instead.

I've never gone back to leather. The lead held the flint more securely than any piece of leather I've ever used.

Additionally, you can simply wash the lead off when you clean the gun. With a piece of leather, you have to remove it from the gun or the powder residue that gets impregnated into the leather can cause the cock jaws to rust like crazy.

January 18, 2003, 02:28 AM
I have only used leather myself. But I am going to have to try this out.

Thanks for the tip.

January 18, 2003, 10:17 AM
Mike Irwin is right on the money. I work at a company that imports primarily muzzleloaders. We use only lead in our test flintlocks. It's definitely more secure than leather, which helps with spark. Ditto on the absorbing qualities of the leather -- I can't tell you how many warranty returns we get from shooters whose jaw screw has rusted into place when using leather.


Mike Weber
January 18, 2003, 11:27 AM
The lead holds the flint in place more securely with less slippage. The leather works but not as well, to avoid the rusting problem use only vegetable tanned leather, chrome or acid tanned leather promotes rust.

4v50 Gary
January 18, 2003, 12:01 PM
Hey Mike (CTgunteacher): what company do you work for? Oh, never mind. Saw it in your profile. Welcome aboard.

January 18, 2003, 05:02 PM
I have used both, but prefer sheet-lead.

January 19, 2003, 05:56 PM
I have always been told that "brass" was more comman than lead.?

Mike Irwin
January 19, 2003, 10:54 PM
Brass MAY have been used, but I doubt that it would have been used much.

Part of lead's charm in this role is its ability, under pressure, to mold to both the flint surface and the jaws. Brass is a bit too hard for this, and would likely promote flint slippage.

Brass, being an alloy of harder metals, was probably also quite a bit more expensive than lead.

Jim K
January 21, 2003, 12:41 AM
I have heard of lead being used, but have seen a fair number of flintlocks that had not been used since they were in common use and never saw lead, only leather.


January 21, 2003, 10:29 AM
I guess lead may be a "high tech" solution to the old gripping problem that was formerly handled by leather?

January 21, 2003, 06:38 PM
I imagine that lead was only available for use as projectiles in the past. Using lead to hold the flint is probably a relatively recent innovation.

Mike Irwin
January 22, 2003, 01:32 PM
"I imagine that lead was only available for use as projectiles in the past."

Say what?

Lead is lead. The lead that is used to cast a round ball is the same as lead used to hold a flint in place.

Note how I obtained "sheet lead" for my rifle -- I flattened a round ball.

January 22, 2003, 03:05 PM
Big hammer = Round Ball = Sheet Lead :D

Actually, Mike, he may have meant that the expense of lead prohibited using it like that when leather would make do. The price of lead was one reason the bores of the PA/KY rifles were small (~ .40) compared to the Jaeger rifles they descended from.

January 22, 2003, 04:15 PM
Use whatever makes the flint stable at impact with the frizzen. Personally, I use either a piece of thin braintanned elk hide or red felt. Both hold very well.
If you want fast lock time, why would you want to add mass and throw weight to the hammer? This is not to say that it wasn't done, but....

R Walker
Director, NMLRA
Flint Shooter

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