I learned the hard way. You Learn the easy way.


December 22, 2010, 12:25 AM
Last day of muzzle loader season in NY. In tree stand 4:10 pm. I have my Lyman Great Plains Rifle, flintlock, .50 caliber, .490 cast, patched round ball, 60 grains Geox FFFg loaded on first day of season. There she was....35 yards away, eating grass. She moves closer. I get my rifle ready on a branch for support. She smells me. She is nosing the air big time, looking for me. I aim for the center of her chest. Easy shot. Pull trigger. Flint sparks. Pan powder goes off and NOTHING. Damn it! She sees the flash. She bolts into the briars. Primed the pan again. I aim for the broadside. Flint sparks, pan goes off, and nothing again! Third time and nothing. I see a white tail bouncing away through the briars and trees.

Problem: Condensation formed from bringing the rifle in and out of warm house to cold and vice versa dampened main powder charge causing the failure of ignition.

Solution: Either fire rifle after each day or keep rifle in garage or other cold area so condensation does not develop and ruin main charge.

Lesson learned the hard way.

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December 22, 2010, 12:28 AM

Yeap, we always leave our rifles out on the deck or in the porch.

If you do bring your rifle inside you need to unload it.


December 22, 2010, 12:32 AM
I got burned because of ignorance and the luckiest doe alive lived for another day. lol

December 22, 2010, 01:42 AM
Jay it sounds like you were in the same feed plot I was hunting in back in the late 80's or so. After the third "attempt" my heart was pumping so loud I think you could hear it in the next county.

December 22, 2010, 02:06 AM
I got burned because of ignorance and the luckiest doe alive lived for another day. lol

My friend missed a doe this year with his shotgun. I asked him if he thought he hit it and he did. We looked for an hour and didn't find any blood. He later told me he dropped his rifle a few days earlier and never sighted it in. We went to the gravel pit and shot it, it was high by over a foot.

Lesson learned, if you drop your gun hard, you'd better shoot it to make sure it's still on.

He said, "At least it didn't happen when I was aimed at a monster buck."

I had to agree and would tell you the same thing!


December 22, 2010, 05:13 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your missed opportunity Jay29.
Doing an advanced search in the BP forum for condensation will bring up some threads that discuss dealing with the same problem.

BP and cold weather hunting


Muzzleloader Hunting Questions


Besides storing the rifle in the cold, some flintlock shooters use a feather or toothpick to plug their vent hole.
And loading more powder and/or using a wool wad might also help to offset the effects of condensation, residual oil or patch lube from migrating into the powder charge too.
I hope that the next time you'll get your deer! :)

December 22, 2010, 06:25 AM
Been there, done that; 3 years ago with my T/C Hawkins 50 flinter. I had shot all summer and was as sure of my flinter as I was of my percussion guns, then the doe showed up at about 40yds and click, flash, she was still there tried to control my adrenlin rush and reprime, flash again was priming for the 3rd time when she left. The worst part was the 3rd prime fired the round that evening when I tried it as I was leaving the stand.:cuss::cuss::cuss:

December 22, 2010, 08:34 PM
Went to the range to try to fire off the loaded flintlock. After the second attempt, she fired. I found the patch and it had globs of unburned wet powder on it.

I suggest everyone keep their hunting blackpowder guns in cold weather areas in a secured COLD place the entire season and never bring them into the heat unless to clean them.

I could have filled the rest of the freezer it this foolishness didn't happen.

December 23, 2010, 10:13 AM
Condensation can only form on a surface that is COLDER than the surrounding air.

Put a cup of hot coffee and a glass of iced tea on the kitchen table. They are both exposed to the same air. Condensation forms on the iced tea, but not on the coffee cup.

So if a barrel is warmer than the surrounding air condensation CANNOT form in it. Anyone who can prove otherwise will win a Nobel Prize for proving that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is wrong.

I don't know why the rifle did not fire, but I question the explanation.

I am not saying it cannot happen, just that after years of using percussion rifles and revolvers in a humid climate, in all weather conditions, it has not happened to me, yet. If condensation is going to form, it would be seen on the outside of a barrel too. Was condensation seen on the outside of the barrel? If a person is convinced that condensation is forming inside a barrel, perhaps the gun should be stored muzzle down.

Not trying to be argumentative at all, I'm just having difficulty picturing how that much condensation could form in the first place, and then get around a supposedly gas-tight patched ball to the powder charge.

December 25, 2010, 02:02 AM
J bar, this is definitely a real problem in cold environments. Here in MI, during hunting season it is usually COLD. after sitting on stand for hours, your gun metal assumes the same temp as the air, then when you bring it into the house, your gun is maybe 50 degrees colder than the air inside your house. So as you said, the condensation occurs on the colder surface, which does include the powder inside your barrel.

December 25, 2010, 08:16 AM
remember to have a touch hole pick, a tapered one is best. and any time you reprime make sure all the old powder grains are gone and use the pick,i use a very small wisk brush thing that you can buy at a muzzle loader supply store. eastbank.

December 25, 2010, 12:36 PM
Condensation can only form on a surface that is COLDER than the surrounding air.

Precisely. Gun is cold from the hunting day - bring it inside the house where the air is warm and moist and the gun barrel cold. Voila! Condensation. Add to that how hydroscopic black powder is, and you can end up with a wet, or damp near the touchhole, charge.

When we hunt, the guns always spend the nite in the truck cab. Charges go off reliably, percussion or flint. Many mornings it can be very damp and foggy around these parts, so I prime my flinter with 2F (same as main charge) as it doesn't tend to goop up from the damp as bad as the 4F. Even in competition, I prime from my main horn, since my focus is to shoot for fun exactly like I'll hunt (and I am nuts enuf that I load it all from the horn, dont use a short start, and wear funny outdated duds when I traipse out in the woods).

December 28, 2010, 06:57 PM
jbar - condensation did form when he rook the barrel out of the cold air and into the warm house. If he stored it muzzle up, the condensation from the exposed bore would have flowed down to the patch, where the patch acted like a wick.

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