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BP terminology and muzzleloading pistols

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Dr. Fresh, Sep 17, 2008.

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  1. Dr. Fresh

    Dr. Fresh Member

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    I'm currently writing a short story for a class, and the main character is going to use a pair of dueling pistols as weapons. The story takes place today. Now, I've never owned or used a BP weapon, and I would like to use the proper descriptors and terms in my story.

    So, questions:

    What are some common dueling pistols (repros OK) that one would be likely to come across today? Pictures or websites with pictures would be nice, since I need to know what the specific pistol looks like.

    What are the steps to loading the pistol?

    What are the terms used by BP shooters to refer to the parts of the weapon? Is the hammer referred to as a "cock" or a "hammer?" Etc etc..

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    There wasn't a specific pistol because dueling involved different codes in each country and even swords could be used, determined by those dueling. Mostly used were smoothbore flintlocks, and there were famous makers.

    Good luck with your project. :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duelling_pistol

    http://duellingpistols.com/famousmakers.htm

    Here's famous Wogdon pistols:

    http://www.gggodwin.com/duelingpistols.htm

    Here's a modern replica by Pedersoli:

    http://davide-pedersoli.com/default.aspx?item=ArmiCategoriaDettaglio&CategoriaId=55&lang=en

    Parts of a flintlock and how they work:

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/flintlock.htm/printable
    (Scroll down to see the links to the action videos)

    http://guns.wikia.com/wiki/Flintlock

    Some more brief background about dueling and the guns used:

    http://www.napoleon-series.org/reviews/general/c_dueling.html

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=377140
     
  3. Dr. Fresh

    Dr. Fresh Member

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    Thanks!
     
  4. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    OK, let me walk you through this....with some questions.

    Why is your character using duelling pistols? I'm not being snide here, just trying to understand the motivation. Is he fighting a duel? Or using them as VERY unusual sidearms?

    The loading process works as follows:
    1. Measure powder, pour down barrel.
    2. Put bullet and patch over muzzle, hit with mallet and short starter to get them into the muzzle of the barrel.
    3. Ram home with ramrod.
    4. Cock hammer.
    5. Prime. With percussion pistols, put a cap on the nipple. With flintlocks, put priming powder in the pan and close the frizzen.
    6. Set the trigger. Most duellers have very light triggers that are "set" by pushing forward...they will go off with about 8 ounces of pressure once set.
    7. Aim and fire. A good flintlock has an effective range of around 35 yards, maybe more. Rifled percussion guns will reach well beyond 75 yards IF you shoot well enough.
     
  5. Dr. Fresh

    Dr. Fresh Member

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    Thanks for the info, that will definitely come in handy. As to why he's using dueling pistols, I just wanted to be different. Obviously they aren't going to be very effective against modern arms, but I feel they fit his personality.
     
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Percussion guns have hammers.
    Flintlocks have cocks.

    One set of dueling conventions forbade the use of "hair triggers" as the single set trigger was then known. Also no adjustable sights or rifled barrels, one was not supposed to take deadly aim at his opponent, and nothing over .50 calibre so as to give him a better chance of surviving a wound.

    Naturally these conventions were honored more in the breach than in the observation. And there were other conventions that were more concerned with the procedure than the hardware.

    If you are not going to shoot a muzzleloader immediately, as in a set duel, best get the hammer back down to half cock for reasonably safe carry.

    There was a series of traditional mystery novels in which the hero was a contemporary Scottish gunsmith. Due to strict British gun control, when he felt the need of a personal weapon, he usually had to select a muzzleloader.

    There is a lot on duelers and the duels they were used in at:
    http://duellingpistols.com/
     
  7. Dr. Fresh

    Dr. Fresh Member

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    Thanks. I'm thinking of making them percussion guns, but I'm not sure yet.

    What are the ballistics like? What are the chances of surviving a .50 ball? Would it penetrate the rib cage?
     
  8. Smokin_Gun

    Smokin_Gun Member

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    "The Smokin' Gun"

    And if ya run into me for a duel it'll be a Showdown with an 1858 Remington .44 cal. six shooter of the Cap & ball nature.
    Last thing you'll ever see is a Smokin' Gun... :cool::

    SG
     
  9. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Never, ever carry a loaded sidelock pistol in half cock. It is not a safe carry position.
     
  10. Voodoochile

    Voodoochile Member

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    That depends on the load of powder that was used & I'm not at home where my Lyman manual is but yes a .50 ball can penetrate the ribcage & even exit the back!

    for information purposes.
    .22 CB Cap (Conical Ball Cap) has a 30gr. bullet propelled at approximatly 700 fps. 32 ft. lbs. & if shot at a person at a range of say 50 yards or less can penetrate & kill.
     
  11. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Please inform me and advise the OP, then. What IS the best condition to carry a percussion pistol in? Hammer down on the cap? Do they typically have a quarter cock like a SAA?
     
  12. Acorn Mush

    Acorn Mush Member

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    Quote:
    Please inform me and advise the OP, then. What IS the best condition to carry a percussion pistol in? Hammer down on the cap? Do they typically have a quarter cock like a SAA?
    ________________________________________________________

    No BP pistol I have ever seen had a quarter-cock position.

    Absolutely DO NOT carry a percussion pistol loaded with the hammer down on a live cap! An unexpected bump on the hammer could cause it to fire. Nor is it a real good idea to carry one with the hammer at half-cock, because the only thing between you and an accidental discharge is the thin tip of the sear. Sear tips have been known to break. I had one bend one time. Fortunately there was no discharge but it sure got my attention, and real quick too!

    Some English lockmakers incorporated sliding safeties on their better locks. The safety engaged a large squared notch in the hammer behind the hammer screw and provided very positive retention of the hammer. The physical size of the safety bar and its corresponding notch provided much greater strength for the job of preventing an accidental discharge.

    If a person believes they have to carry a loaded and capped pistol, please rely on some other provision for safety than the half-cock. One idea is to use a neoprene faucet washer over the capped nipple and lower the hammer onto the washer. It is easily removed when a shot is to be taken. Above all, be careful.
     
  13. theotherwaldo

    theotherwaldo Member

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    I'd suggest that you read up on Andrew Jackson and Abe Lincoln, two of our duelling presidents who had very different styles.

    Wikipedia on Jackson:
    On Lincoln:
     
  14. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    OK. If you are going with percussion, there's a good sampling at http://horstheld.com/0-duel.htm

    Now, some reasons why the character might use these...

    First, they might be a family heirloom - one that has never failed the user ("Three generations have used these in nineteen duels. Sent eight opponents to the doctor, eleven to the undertaker. They'll do.")

    Second, they might be all that is handy. Getting cartridge guns legally in some states can be a time-consuming process.

    Third, he might be in a formal duel. Rare, but I know of duels being fought in Latin America in the mid-1980s. Yes, mid-1980s. And I haven't made a real study of the subject.

    Finally, the character might use them as a deliberate statement of supreme confidence in his skill. I wouldn't do it (and I shoot these guns quite competitively), but it could be done.
     
  15. Dr. Fresh

    Dr. Fresh Member

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    Wow, great info here. Thanks guys.


    The character really only uses them because he's kind of a psycho. I haven't written much of it yet, but he's on a quest for vengeance and he's crazy. He has a Winchester 1894 as well which he will use, but he will favor the dueling pistols. Call it a twisted sense of honor if you will. We'll see how the story shapes up and how he acquires the pistols.
     
  16. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Sounds like family heirloom is the way to go, then.
     
  17. Dr. Fresh

    Dr. Fresh Member

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    Good plan.
     
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