Rain vs. Black Powder


July 27, 2008, 03:20 AM
I've been getting into BP shooting this summer and thus far I've confined my smoke pole outings to very nice, sunny days. I understand that water and powder do not mix well and taste horrible. I have a couple of Pedersoli cap rifles--a Tryon and a Kodiak. Both well used but working. What I'm wondering is if it would be foolish to take these into damp environments while hunting in Alaska, and what measures I can take to protect the charge. Here's what I've gleaned from cruising around and asking, feel free to correct me or add more:

--Obviously, load in a dry environment before going out in the wet

--Put a ring of grease around the base of the nipple, so the cap will rest on the grease and make a tight seal. I have not tried this in bad conditions yet, but I understand the operative part of the cap is on the inside so maybe it will work.

--Alternately, use a very small "O" ring or some tape to seal the base of the cap. Not sure about this one.

--Keep the action covered with a hood of conditioned leather in the rain.

--Coat the inside of the barrel on top of the loaded ball with bore butter, and smear it around the sides of the ball.

--Load with 2F instead of 3F because the larger grains are more resistant to humidity. Also not sure about this one.

I'm also wondering if any of you have had misfire troubles in the field due to moisture.

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July 27, 2008, 07:04 AM
A properly greased patch and a tight fitting ball effectively seals that end. I seal the cap with a bit of nail polish, I don't like to have grease around caps. When carrying afield in the rain I keep the lock works tucked under my arm to keep rain off of it.

July 27, 2008, 10:32 AM
One of the guys on the leverguns forum tried an experiment. He put I believe 10 each of 2 different types percussion caps, and 10 each of 2 different centerfire primers in a cup of water. For a week. He then took them out, blew them off with his breath, and tried them. All worked.

Old period info regarding caps mentioned using a bit of beeswax around the nipple before capping to make a seal. I too would avoid grease. Petroleum products are likely to be more damaging to caps. I would also avoid using petroleum based oil on the gun between uses, or if you leave it loaded, leave it bone dry before loading, snapping a cap isn't going to be as effective at drying the oil from the cap and powder chamber as having a bone dry gun where the powder and cap is. The the patched ball will coat the remaining bore with some lube as a preservative. Using much more oil or grease in the bore could be an obstruction if too much was used. I reload my percussion revolvers after cleaning and they are bone dry, then use a little olive oil in the bore, and they have been fine. They live loaded all the time. I've left them loaded 6 months to a year at a time with no problems.

July 27, 2008, 10:48 AM
with pyrodex ive found that you have to have the barrel completely clean, and do not even try to snap a cap for fouling, that just attracts moisture instantly.
Youll still have to reload every couple days just to ensure dry powder at all times. however you must do your best to ensure the barrel stays one temperature, otherwise the barrel with change temp and condense and get moisture to the powder.

B yond
July 27, 2008, 02:09 PM
I wonder (and I'm just thinking out loud, not suggesting) if a square of very light paper, like cigarette paper, over the nipple but under a tight-fitting cap would be enough to keep moisture out at that end without affecting function.

July 27, 2008, 04:02 PM
Hmm. I would worry that the paper would act as a wick. Maybe if it was wax paper.

July 27, 2008, 04:15 PM
I've never tried it but a small piece of aquarium pump tubing is supposedly the right diameter so that it can be placed around the base of the capped nipple to seal it.

July 27, 2008, 04:22 PM
as far as the cap area, Bees Wax on the nipple "just slightly below the vent area" & then crushed slightly to completely seal the area will keep even the heaviest rain from getting in there, I have also used fingernail polish around the nipple & cap "assembled" & that will work as well but makes getting the cap off of the nipple a little harder than the wax.
You really don't want to have any more bore butter in the barrel than you need to keep corosion down unless you practice shooting your rifle in those conditions because it could also cause your shot to be off & make a good shot BAD.

Traditions sells these rubber condome looking things that goes over the muzzle for wet weather shooting I would give that a try but as long as you have a good fitting bullet in the bore with a good lube for the patch or bullet, then the likelyhood of the powder getting wet in the bore is almost nonexistent unless you get into a torrental {sp} down pour into the muzzle.

Temp differential is a possibility but unless you have no cap on the nipple or a poor fitting bullet I think that this is farce because of all the cartridges that could suffer the same fate but don't because of the air tight container that they are & you can make yourself in your muzzleloader if you properly load the weapon & just follow some basic house cleaning of keeping the only two entry points clean & dry.

Grey Wolf
July 27, 2008, 06:30 PM
1. Buy a wide-brimmed hat.

2. Carry the rifle with the muzzle down.

3. If it's a flinter, prime the pan downwind.

4. Carry dry rags in a dry place.

5. Carry the rifle with the lock covered, not enclosed.


I've shot matches in the rain, sleet and snow shooting percussion and flint.

Hey, if we shoot "primitive" weapons we gotta have "primitive" solutions.

July 27, 2008, 11:58 PM
A condom over the barrel works. They've been around for a year or two.
And you can tell the wife, "Honest Honey, it's for my rifle!!!"

July 28, 2008, 09:10 PM
The one time I've been out on foot hunting in wet weather with BP, we were in snow-covered trees. It was windy at times and that caused the trees to let go and dump large amounts of snow on us several times. Keeping the muzzles down and the locks covered as we walked kept things plenty dry. We took no other precausions against moisture. We had two caplock rifles and they both fired normally after a full day of carry.

The process of loading in wet conditions I would think is where you have to be most careful. That I haven't had to do.

July 28, 2008, 10:50 PM
You can make a Leather Hood Oiled kinda like Buck Skins, and teather it too your triggerguard...was how it was done for Flintlock and Percussion locks, a lock cover. With the Beeswax of coarse in a Heavy NorWester.


July 28, 2008, 11:13 PM
I use a "cows knee" to cover the lock on my flinters. All have waterproof pans that I seal with a little bees wax. Cover the hole in the muzzle with a little duct tape. Never had one NOT fire, but I have had a few hangfires!

Livin in Texas

July 29, 2008, 01:41 AM
You can make a Leather Hood Oiled kinda like Buck Skins, and teather it too your triggerguard.

That's my plan. I've already got the old leather kit out. I just have to track down some heavy scrap. I'm also using a little beeswax around the base of the nipple to ensure a good primer seal. There's another reason for this in my case-the Kodiak has a tendency to toss the left barrel's primer when the right barrel is recoiling. I had been pinching them but the wax seems to keep a good hold of them.

Actually, I've been finding all kinds of uses for this organic beeswax since I picked some up for BP. I applied some to my sling and it grips the shoulder much better. I wonder if it will attract bears?

August 10, 2008, 09:48 PM
I stretch a balloon over my muzzle, not only to keep out moisture in general but to help keep out snow which can turn to ice, or mud, and which can cause a bore obstruction.
I often carry my muzzle up with the help of a rifle butt holster attached to my belt, so snow and freezing rain can fall in, and barrel metal is colder than the air. And if anyone has ever relaxed their muzzle into snow or mud, then they're aware that it can clog up the bore very easily which a muzzle cover can prevent.
Northern winter hunters need to be aware of the pitfalls of hunting in the cold and wet weather elements, and the potential of the bore to freeze, get wet or clogged and how to prepare to help prevent it. ;)

August 10, 2008, 10:19 PM
Weren't you trying to sell that Kodiak? If only I could talk SWMBO into it.

August 10, 2008, 10:38 PM
I did a swap for a different Kodiak in .54, so now I'm set.

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