Flint Vs Percussion


December 14, 2006, 04:14 AM
Gday, I just recently bought a caplock. I bought it as I have had a lot of frustration with my flinter. The flintlock is Very irregular in its sparking. The final straw was at an Xmas shoot when I was lucky to get 2 shots which went off first time (luckily I killed the sillouette target both times). Anyhoo I went and got me a caplock mainly as a backup.
I finally got to shoot it today- While I am impressed with the reliability and ease of use etc I must say that it does lack something compared to my Pennsylvania rifle.
So now I have the problem that I love my flinter, unreliable as it is but my reliable caplock just doesn't have the character of my rocklock

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December 14, 2006, 05:11 AM
The only good thing about them is you can always find and knap your own flints for ignition. With the percussion you are dependant on a factory somewhere.

December 14, 2006, 06:12 AM
When my flintlock works it shoots in the rain and upside down- I really think I just need it tuned.

December 14, 2006, 07:22 AM
I see there exits a divide in muzzleloaders just like all firearms formats. :) When I was still looking at muzzleloaders, some of the flint advocates told me that the T/C Pro Hunter is not a muzzleloader. :rolleyes:

While I did purchase a Pro Hunter for deer, I really like the flint muzzleloaders. Yes, I know that one has to be prudent in terms of when and where to hunt. That's okay. For me, there is simply something nostalgic about the flintlock (I think is the proper nomenclature).

I do plan to buy one of the flintlocks some day soon. My question is this for my fellow THR members: is there any reason to use genuine black powder versus Pyrodex? Or, this is all hype?


1911 guy
December 14, 2006, 08:11 AM
There's a growing divide among black powder shooters regarding ignition source. Mainly this is between the sidelock (flint and cap) people and the inline crowd. This is useless and will serve only to further divide the shooting community. I prefer "traditional" BP rifles, but an inline with a sabot over 150gr of BP or Pyrodex has no more range or power than my caplock with the same load. It's just the look of the rifle. I use a round ball over 80gr of black, but if I put a faster twist barrel on my .50 I could shoot sabots just as well as any inline.

As far as the "real" BP versus Pyrodex or other substitutes, I feel it's a toss up. The new concoctions don't offer any advantage other than availability in some areas. I use a flint for squirrels, so anything but Holy Black gives me no bang. I've heard from some that Pyrodex is actually harder to clean than Goex, but I have no firsthand experience with anything other than Goex.

Loyalist Dave
December 14, 2006, 09:23 AM
I have all three types of rifles, in-line, caplock, and flinter. I don't brag about what I bag with the first two, but the flintlock does need practice, and a greater attention to detail to make it consistantly fire. So I figure I can claim "braggin' rights" when I bag a deer with it. It's the most accurate gun I own out to 100 yards, with open sights, #2 is my .308 with a scope, #3 is the inline with a scope.

As for tuning the lock, that means making it's parts move with as little friction as possible, polishing and removing any burrs from internal parts. The metal to metal fit is often improved, making the prime a bit less prone to moisture. The angle of the cock impact on the frizzen should also be checked. That increases the speed or "lock time", which may increase the speed and power of impact of the flint, but does little else for sparking (which is most often the result of a crappy frizzen, though sometimes the cock-angle is poor).

I cannot be certain of the brand of flinter that you displayed in the above photo, but I suspect the lock is cheap, if it's the brand I think it is. Frizzen hardening may help if done by a knowledgable smith, and checkin one's choice of flints (some swear by machine cut flints, but I hate the things.) A blow torch and case hardening in one's basement will probably not help, or if it does it will only help for a short period of time.

Otherwise you may have to retro fit a proper lock, or go to another rifle. T/C, Lyman, and the Pedersoli (large locks) are the only three mass produced flinters that I find reliable. Traditions, small Pedersoli, and CVA are all problematic (again imho). The semi-custom rifle makers all use L&R, Siler, or Chambers locks with excellent results, with Dixie sometimes being good, other times not so good.

So, you might look into an L&R retro fit lock for your rifle. I am retro fitting a T/C "Hawkin" for a friend with a retro lock. The difference in the action of the locks is remarkable.


December 14, 2006, 11:35 AM
sounds like it could be a couple things with the flintlock.

ether the flint needs to be knapped and sharpend to a flat edge. or the frizzen you have isnt hardend properly and needs to be.

my dad loves flintlocks. he had some issues like that this year, all it took was a new flint and it was good.
cap locks are good to. i like cap locks because i cant train myself not to flinch with the flintlock. the poof at the beginning startles me.

Joe Demko
December 14, 2006, 11:44 AM
I own several flintlocks and a couple in-lines. No cap locks. The flintlocks are, far and away, the more romantic pieces with which to hunt and shoot. The in-lines, other than the loading and cleaning routines, are no different from firing a modern rifle. One thing I've seen other guys do to increase sparking from a flintlock is sand the surface of the frizzen to give it a "matte" finish. Seemed to work.

December 14, 2006, 11:47 AM
I've always liked Pyrodex, but I found it difficult to ignite in a flintlock. I solved the problem by going to a duplex load.

I now load 15 gr. of FFFFg powder first, then drop the Pyrodex charge on top. The 4F at the base causes the charge to ignite faster and easier.

It's a simple trick. Reloading takes a bit longer, but misfires and hangfire are far less frequent.

With 4F in the pan and 4F/Pyrodex in the bore you should be all set.

December 14, 2006, 12:50 PM
As posted above, Lock tuning is important. Make sure the internals are clean and well oiled. Mainspring should be very robust. Frizzen temper is vital.

Also, you might want to Google up an article or 2 on Case Hardening, very informative stuff. There is a product called "Kasenit" that can be found online.

"Track of the Wolf" has some very good info on that, along with information on the process. Well worth reading.

December 14, 2006, 06:34 PM
In another topic on THR something like this was discussed before.
I have saved the topic (in AmericanLongrifles.com) in which this was mentioned there since I have some hardening to do myself on my original model 1777. A soft frizzen will not throw good sparks. If that is the problem hardening can be done, basicly in two ways as far as I understood.
With Kasenite or a simular product which is poured on top of the frizzen (where the flint hits) and then heating it up with a torch on the other side of the frizzen. This is the simple way.
The other is old fashioned and is the way it was done way back when. It involves a open fire, a tin can, charcoal etc.
Read it, it's mighty interesting. http://americanlongrifles.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=4963&whichpage=1&SearchTerms=Casenite

.38 Special
December 14, 2006, 10:41 PM
Vairochana --

That looks a lot like a Pedersoli gun. Is it? If so, it should be a decent gun that just needs a thing or two. I know this will scrape some noses, but IMO "tuning the lock" is mostly nonsense. As far as hardening the frizzen, well, yeah, some older (used) frizzens will benefit, but a newer gun -- especially if it is a Pedersoli -- does not need it.

I started to write a whole big long piece on flinters, and then remembered a Ross Seyfried article that is, IMO, the single best thing that's been written for flinters in the last hundred years. In a single stroke he pulls the rug out from under decades of foolishness and old wive's tales.


December 15, 2006, 01:14 PM
thats a good artical. but his issue wasent with lack of spark like the origonal poster. his was with slow ignition of the charge.

the OP is having issues with a lack of sparks. which in my mind ether means the flint isnt hitting the frizzen with enough of an edge, or the flint has got steel under the tip and isnt napping itself properly when fired (good flints should keep a good sharp edge like a grinding wheel. when one part dlls it chips off leaving a new sharp edge) lack of surface area hitting the frizzen and lack of sharp edges will certainly cause very few sparks.

December 16, 2006, 07:11 AM
my point wasn't so much about the sparking issues I have had with my rocklock- It was more to do with the different feel i get shooting the caplock compared to the flint- The caplock seems more like a centrefire- I get more satisfaction from my flint despite the problems I am having

.38 Special
December 16, 2006, 01:27 PM
The flinters are my favorite guns. Part of the satisfaction, IMO, is making them work in the face of the commonly held opinion that they are unreliable. Spending a few hours at the range with a flinter and never having so much as a hangfire is a deeply satisfying response to the guy at the next bench with his capgun who began the day with some stupid comment about your flinter.

I have found perhaps three critically important factors that must go into managing the flinlock:

1) The flint and frizzen must be absolutely dry. I use brake cleaner or denatured alcohol.

2) The flint must be sharp and even across the face, and must meet the frizzen no lower than halfway down the face, with even contact across the face.

3) The touch hole must be large and thin. Seyfried's advice about drilling and thinning has been the single most important factor in flintlock reliability, in my experience.

Have fun!

December 16, 2006, 01:36 PM
I'm with you there. So are all others on the BP forum I guess.
Efficient shooting is best done with a modern smokeless cartrige gun. If not army's all over the world would still be using flintlocks. The fun in BP shooting is it's inefficiency. You get all kinds of extra things for free like misfires, very slow loading procedures, smoke, fire, fowling up, grease and extreme cleaning times afterwards. You can wonder, read, talk, learn and fiddle around with it forever it seemes.
My personal preference is absolutely flintlocks because of the extremely simple and understandable system about which can be discussed so much. If it shoots the feel cannot be compared to a cartridge gun which will simply discharge every time you pull he trigger. Jawn...
The best of all are true antique's, in which you get a giant piece of history included of people that once lived that seeme to come a bit alive when just looking at it. When firing a shot every now and then from an original flintlock... i'ts better than good and it don't even matter much to me if the target is missed.

December 16, 2006, 02:34 PM
In my experience, most folks have difficulty with flinters due to one of two problems:

1) Using the wrong powder. I have never had success with the substitutes in flintlocks, they only work with "Holy Black". Additionally, you need FFFFg in the pan.

2) Using too much powder in the pan. This is NOT a case of "if a little is good then a lot is better". No more than a third of a pan full, not right up against the touch hole, and not covering the touch hole. If you get any sparking at all this should work.

December 16, 2006, 05:46 PM
What Sistema1927 said,very good information.Yes,tuning a lock,correct lock geometry,quality flints are all musts.I only shoot the Holy Black and accept no substitutes.The replica powders are not good choices for a flinter.
If you have a hard time in your area locating real BP and can only get replica powder then a cap lock would be a better choice.
Once you get hooked by your caplock then buy the flinter and start having 25lbs of the real deal sent to your house.
I like both systems but favor the flinters.

December 16, 2006, 09:55 PM
Shoot al least 2K rounds you will not notice the flintlock. Second the L&R locks on my flints are way faster tan TC or Pedersoli caplocks.

December 17, 2006, 02:28 PM
Actually, there's no need to use FFFG for priming. A number of people, myself included just prime with what we shoot. It goes off just as fast, and the courser powder doesn't pick up moisture as fast, so it tends to be a little more reliable in the field. One less thing to worry about also.

December 17, 2006, 03:56 PM
Wow do I wish I had read this before purchasing my Encore Pro Hunter in 209 X 50!

Desiring to experience the day-gone style of hunting, I went and purchased a T/C Pro Hunter. At the range, it dawned on me, heck, all I'm doing is reloading at the range! That's truly about the only difference! And, with a red dot sight on it, groups in the MOA range are not only feasible, they fairly darned easy! At 50 yards, I could barely see where the bullets all passed through the exact same hole. It was actually a tremendous disappointment. Believe it or not, I didn't even take it deer hunting today (last day of the season).

I am looking for the "real deal". Popping that primer in the hole just doesn't cut it for me. I seriously suspect that the only experience for me that I spark that passion for the old-days-gone-by is going to be the flintlock. I am sure that I will experience some disappointments, some no-fires, etc, but the Pro Hunter is just too simplistic.

I was going to save the flint lock for squirrel season, and well, it seems time to go buy it. Thanks for the information here. By the way, what caliber for squirrel, .32 or .36?

Any information you can give will be appreciated! I will do some searches in addition. please include any information regarding which firearm manufacturer you like as well. The .32 and .36 calibers seem difficult to locate.


4v50 Gary
December 17, 2006, 04:29 PM
Plink made an interesting comment regarding FFFF powder as a primer. Colonial Williamsburg did some time lapse photography using locks with different powders. They learned that the sparks actually bounce out of the pan more with finer grain powder. The larger grain tends to trap the sparks, thereby igniting faster. Granted, it's a micro-second or so difference, but that's what they learned. After watching the film (shown to us by Gary Brumfield of Colonial Williamsburg), I prime exclusively with whatever powder I'm shooting with (2FF).

December 17, 2006, 04:45 PM
I used to do Revolutionary War re-enacting years ago, when I lived in Philadelphia. I was using a flintlock, of course, but black powder was hard to come by. I found that I had fewer ignition problems with Pyrodex if I ground some to a finer granulation (using a wooden spoon on a hard plastic surface!) and kept it in a pan priming flask for just that purpose. Unfortunately, I also found out the hard way that Pyrodex fouling is even more corrosive than black, and I had problems with my gun rusting even after a careful cleaning and oiling. I'll never use that stuff again!

.38 Special
December 17, 2006, 05:15 PM
I was going to save the flint lock for squirrel season, and well, it seems time to go buy it. Thanks for the information here. By the way, what caliber for squirrel, .32 or .36?

Any information you can give will be appreciated! I will do some searches in addition. please include any information regarding which firearm manufacturer you like as well. The .32 and .36 calibers seem difficult to locate.
I personally like the .36 very much. An argument can be made for the .32 as a more efficient/more shots per dollar caliber, however. Both work very well for small game. Components for the .32 are slightly less available in my experience.

I think Pedersoli's flinters are quite good values for the money. The only modification I make to mine is enlarging and thinning the flash hole, which has always resulted in absolute reliability.

December 18, 2006, 12:27 AM
.40 for small game and targets is fantastic. I have even killed an 11 point buck with my .40 rock lock. Note: I do not hunt deer with it anymore it really is not enough gun

December 18, 2006, 05:45 AM
one of the few good things about gun laws in Australia is there there is really no problem getting real Black Powder. I have never even seen the substitutes here (except 777 which I tried as a primer).
I have been using FFg to prime now and really see no difference. The trick for a quick flash really is to use as little as possible.
I have a bit of a sense of achievement tonite also- I picked up a likely looking rock on the way to work today-got home tis arvo gave it a few well guessed wacks and now I have my first home made flint- throws good sparks too:)

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