New to BP and looking for Educated Opinions


August 2, 2008, 07:58 AM
As the thread title suggests, I am brand new, birthed if you will, into the world of Black Powder. I've had a passing interest in it since I was a child, but all of my shooting experience has been with the passing fad of the metallic cartridge and smokeless powder. While modern rifles are all good and well, and function very nicely, they're just so... impersonal. Load the magazine, rack the bolt, boom boom boom. Its too easy. I love the idea of having to take my time, make sure everything is perfect before I set off with the knowledge that I have but one shot. So, I implore you, those more experienced than I, to help me choose between some gorgeous examples of firearms before I buy something with my hard earned money and find that it was a waste.

So, on to the firearms.

The first choice to make is that of the rifle. The first choice to make is whether I want to have one barrel or two. I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with side by side rifles owing to the hundreds of rounds and stupid numbers of hours I lugged the massive .500 NE loaner gun behind my father on the Big 5 hunts in South Africa. While I never needed to fire that cannon at an animal (my father is an impeccable shot with his .458 Winchester Magnum), I still loved it. So, my first choice of rifle is the Davide-Pedersoli Kodiak Safari Express in either .58 or .72. The only reason I say .58 instead of just the .72 is for the convenience of having the option for conical bullets without having to have a bullet mould made. The second rifle is one, that I am ashamed to say, that caught my eye for nothing other than its beauty. It is the Davide-Pedersoli Bristlen A Morges in .44. I realize that .44 is a deer round at best and something only a fool would take against any larger game (at least, as far as I know, I would love to be proved wrong). Ever since I first saw one in a gun shop, I was in love.

Now, for both of these rifles, I need to know what kind of charge I'm looking at for hunting. The Express would be for hunting larger game and target shooting while the Bristlen would be used mainly for target shooting and the occasional deer or other small game.

Now, any rifle such as the two I have stated above, need a suitable counterpart on the hip (at least in my eyes). I have thus far been unable to even come close to a decision on any sort of revolver, owing to the fact that I've never fired one, and there are hundreds upon hundreds of pages of people claiming that X is better than Y. I did however stumble upon the Davide Pedersoli Howdah pistol. That pistol is one that I would give quite a lot to own, due to the fact that it is a side by side hand canon that conjurs up images of the final scenes from The Ghost and the Darkness (even though that pistol was an over/under). What I need to know about the Howdah, is what kind of charge are we looking at for both the 20 ga. and the .50. I'm leaning towards the double 50, but a combination 20/50 hasn't been ruled out by the jury in my head. I also need to know if the 20 ga. can only be loaded with shot, or if there is a suitable ball that I could use to have the option between ball or shot, with it being a short range smoothbore. Additionally, I would like opinions on what revolver would be a good option for a backup weapon. It needs to have a suitable punch for when situations are bad, and be durable enough that I will be able to (hopefully) teach my eventual children how to shoot.

So, I implore you, denziens of the high road forums, to help me in my quest for a good rifle and pistol to begin shooting with. I am heavilly leaning towards both the side by side rifle and pistol, but I can be talked out of them with good solid logic and a helping of other options.

Today Is Tomorrow

P.S. I am currently deployed to Iraq, and will hopefully have ample capital to begin shooting BP.
P.S.S. Bonus Points for finding out who Today Is Tomorrow is in literature.

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August 2, 2008, 04:27 PM
I too have a soft spot in my heart for the express rifles. That being said my only critic would be that you should not expect them to be tack drivers. The sights are only a guideline and it takes hundreds of rounds for the shooter to become educated in how the rifle shoots.
You might use the search engine for Kodiak. I know one of our members cosmoline by name just recently acquired a Kodiak and we had a lengthy thread going on about shooting it.
As for the Howdah, that to has generated a lot of interest and a lot of posts. I personally would buy the 50/50 rifled cal. Who's to say you couldn't load a shot round in a rifled barrel. I think .50 works out to near 12 ga.
Thank you for your service and be safe and come home.

Jorg Nysgerrig
August 2, 2008, 04:37 PM
I think .50 works out to near 12 ga.

Actually, 12 ga would be closer to .72 cal than .50.

One concern I'd have about one of the doubles would be the hunting regulations where you're going to end up. Some states restrict muzzlerloading seasons to single shot/single barrel rifles. If you are planning to try for a special season, you might want to check the regs before investing the cash.

August 3, 2008, 02:05 AM
Thanks everyone for the replies.

I'm interested about the hunting regulations in the states. I've only hunted overseas before, so everything stateside is new to me. I'll have to find out what the regulations are in Colorado, as that's where I'm stationed at the moment. Hopefully I'll have some time between the end of the deployment and the training that always comes afterwards to gear up and go hunt.

I'm going to poke around the forums some more and see how much info there is on the Howdah. I love how it looks so much, but I'm extremely curious as to how powerful it can truly be.


August 3, 2008, 05:09 AM
BP regs vary a great deal from state to state. Some are arcane, others very lax. Some states have a very large BP season, others (like mine) have almost no special BP hunts. Some have been taken over by modern BP in-lines, but I've heard this trend may be getting curtailed. You have the right idea going traditional.

I've been messing with the Kodiaks for a few months now. I started with a .50 but have swapped it for a .54. Keep in mind that there's a confusing variety of them. Cabelas markets one version and there's a different version from other sellers. These variations are all made by Pedersoli and are all good, but the non-Cabelas ones have a straight stock and are of higher quality from what I've seen. Cost is similar, and getting really high with the dollar/Euro issues. There's also old/new versions. The older ones were all in 1:48 from what I've seen. Pedersoli switched to a faster rate on the newer .50's and .54's to focus on conicals. Their current .58's and 72's are slower twist for roundballs. Regulation of the barrels is tricky. You have to find the particular load that works best for the rifle. This is generally not the suggested factory load, but some magic combination of projectile and powder. You just have to work at it to find it.

One weakness of the design is the single key. On all the used examples I've seen and shot it gets loose very easily and depends on an easy-to-misplace spacer to stay in place. Some shimming will fix that problem though.

Although I started with the Kodiak I'd actually recommend against it as a starter BP rifle. Among other things, it's heavier than most NA hunting rifles, though maybe that wouldn't matter as much to you. And it's tough to find a sling that will fit the absurdly small swivels. It's better as a more advanced rifle or project gun. There's also the dangers of double charging and having a bullet come off the load. If you go that route make sure to budget a couple of weekends range time to laboriously load, fire and chart a wide spectrum of loads and projectiles. In some cases folks have had to resort to hand-casting or custom casting to get good regulation. Search the threads here for more discussions of this.

You're right to look for Pedersolis though. Their firearms are tighter and better made than any other commercial BP firearm. To get better you'd need to go custom. The Morges is beyond cool, but not much of a hunting piece. It's slow to load and ponderous to wield. I would suggest instead a different Pedersoli such as a Tryon or their Hawken. They make field grade versions of these that are real, solid hunting arms with fantastic accuracy. I've got a .54 Tryon I absolutely love that's as accurate as any smokeless hunting rifle. Next summer I plan to secure a flinter musket, which is considered the sine quo non of bp shooting among the traditionalist elite.

August 3, 2008, 06:49 AM
Thanks for the info on the Kodiak, Cosmoline. Just about all double rifles are picky about the charges you put through them to get it to regulate nicely, but that's half the fun of a BP double (and it gives me an excuse to drive to the range, research). I'll take a look at the other rifles and see if anything particularly catches my eye. I'm not going for fancy, I need a rifle that will stand up to having the snot kicked out of it and big charges thrown downrange (within the safe limits). I enjoy my recoil quite a bit more than I should, but oh well.

Anyway, thanks for the info again, I'm off for yet more research!


September 26, 2008, 09:07 PM
Have a Bristen Morges myself. A cool rifle but very heavy at 17 lbs, would not to carry it very long.

September 26, 2008, 09:10 PM
Have a Bristen Morges myself. A cool rifle but very heavy at 17 lbs, would not to carry it very long. It is a target rifle but could certainly be used to hunt but there are better rifles for that purpose.


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