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Could Flintlock Have Been Improved Upon?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by fiddleharp, Dec 9, 2009.

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  1. fiddleharp

    fiddleharp Member

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    Yesterday, I watched a PBS TV show about the life and times of Andrew Jackson. They had some 1812 and Indian War re-enactors firing flintlocks. There were close-up camera shots on the faces of the shooters the moment they pulled the trigger.
    Every one of these men shut their eyes!
    Now, that can't be good for marksmanship, can it? :eek:
    Let's go back a couple of centuries. Having gunpowder flash a few inches in front of your face could not have been a pleasant experience, even if you were Daniel Boone. There were probably a lot of one-eyed guys running around.
    Now, let's say the arrival of the percussion cap had been delayed or never happened at all. Would some smart gunsmith have come up with an in-line, hidden pan firing system for flintlock rifle?
    It seems to me that this would have been a problem folks would wish to solve. Did they?
     
  2. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    they are reenactors,not hunters or men who used them to defend them selfs. eastbank.
     
  3. 7X57chilmau

    7X57chilmau Member

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    Decent flintlock shooters don't close their eyes.....

    If a succeeding technology had not evolved, likely it would have been improved upon... That's what people do!

    J
     
  4. wittzo

    wittzo Member

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    That's one reason they developed underhammer guns. The flash is under the rifle and it should lead to more intricate and accurate sights, since the lock is out of the way.

    The guys back in the old days were also men's men. They got amputations without even an aspirin..
     
  5. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    kwhi43@kc.rr.com Member

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    If you shut your eyes, you never will see the flash!. Simple
     
  6. Oldnamvet

    Oldnamvet Member

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    Most of the reenactors put waaayyy too much powder in the pan. A properly tuned lock only needs a little bit for very quick ignition.
     
  7. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The flintlock as developed by the world wars of the 18th century was the perfect balance of existing technology. It was very reliable, easy to maintain, and required only rocks and powder to function. That's why the system dominated small arms for 150 years or more. Until more modern industrial factories could be developed to churn out primers there would have been little point in a major alteration. Even then I've found flinters to be equal or superior to caplocks. It wasn't until the self contained, self-primed metallic cartridges developed that the flintlock was really surpassed.

    Besides, the flash isn't really a problem. As noted, if properly loaded with a flashole in the proper place there is no need to pour more than a little bit of powder in the pan, and no need to shut your eyes before pulling the trigger.

    I've never minded it. In the winter it helps warm my cheeks. It is actually pleasant. It's not the same as a smokeless powder's high octane pressure blast. It's more like a lick of flame from a campfire. The business of shooting with eyes closed is done by some reenactors. I'm not sure if they're worried about safety because they have no glasses or if the soldiers of the period did it that way. Either way there was a monumental difference between the line-firing of muskets in battle and the precision shooting of a long hunter. I don't think Boone would have been closing his eyes and pulling the trigger.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  8. Zeke/PA

    Zeke/PA Member

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    I agree with eastbank.
    These gentleman are re-enactors and NOT hunters and certainly not precision shooters.
     
  9. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    Wittzo got it right. There were a few underhammer flintlocks, as well as in-line flintlocks of the Werder (I think) design.

    And it takes practice to learn to shoot a flint pistol well.
     
  10. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    Flint pistols are easier than rifles. My first flintlock was a rifle and there was some serious retraining involved in learning to shoot it as compared to a centerfire rifle. The skillset, for me, was much more similar with pistols.
     
  11. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    I don't know about the lock, but for military use the Minie ball would have been an improvement. The technology of the flintlock era would have allowed the development of the Minie ball if some one had thought of it. (Does Minie have one n or two?)
     
  12. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

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    I could see a clear plexiglass ''blast shield'' just aft of the lock on a ''bull pup'' flintlock...of course, I have been reading a lot of Harry Turtledove's novels,lately...
     
  13. Guy de Loimbard

    Guy de Loimbard Member

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    I have only ever shot a flintlock once, but I didn't even think to close both eyes. I did not have a problem with the flash, and I am a lefty.
     
  14. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    One 'n' in Minie.
     
  15. Curator

    Curator Member

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    Most reenactors are usually smart enough to close their eyes when shooting flintlocks (or percussion too for that matter) in order to protect their vision. This isn't 1812 and their lives do not depend on their marksmanship. At the gun range or hunting all would have eye protection and keep both eyes open. I supervise living history demonstrations at the museum where I work, and I train my reenactors to close their eyes when pulling the trigger. Anyone here ever get a flint chip or a burning powder grain in the eye? I would much rather have a bit of brass cap removed from an eye lid than my eyeball!
     
  16. Nicodemus38

    Nicodemus38 Member

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    the only way to actually improve the flintlock mechanism would be to develop a material to replace the flint so that it always gives 100 percent ignition. otherwise, there isnt anything to do to it.
     
  17. trickshot

    trickshot Member

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    Like others have said, your supposed to keep your eye open if you want to shoot accurately. The flash has never bothered me at all.

    Joseph Manton made some flint locks that were self priming and waterproof, and that was an improvement. His locks were also said to be faster.
     
  18. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't see a flash. I see the front sight.

    Many soldiers were not taught to aim. Why should they? With linear warfare, you didn't need to aim since the opponent who fought you also stood in densely packed masses. If you didn't hit the man in front, there was one on his left or his right or even behind him.

    It was only during the French & Indian War and not the concurrent Seven Years War (of which the F&I is part of) that soldiers were taught to aim at their mark. They had to since the elusive red man were too ignorant (actually, too smart) to fight in the orderly European manner.

    Markmen then and now, concentrated on the sight picture. That much hasn't changed since the bow and arrow.

    BTW, all this is discussed in Chapter 1 of the book.
     
  19. kwhi43@kc.rr.com

    kwhi43@kc.rr.com Member

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    We only see the front sight

    mimframes.jpg
     
  20. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    That what I want a DA rapid fire flint lock pistol:D

    It tool a little practice but I learn to watch sights and I no longer bother by flash in pan Sort of like a lefty doesn't see the brass flying by when shooting a AR or a M-14
     
  21. Stophel

    Stophel Member

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    It's a modern reenactorism. Military reenactors are often instructed to turn their heads away from the gun when firing!!! Somehow, somewhere, somebody came up with this idea, and it got passed around and accepted as "authentic". It ain't.

    I NEVER notice the flash in the pan from shooting. ;)
     
  22. DrLaw

    DrLaw Member

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    As for me, I don't notice the flash or the smoke from the pan, as the smoke from the front totally obliterates what I was looking at just a split second before, the target and sights. :evil:

    Of course, I do wear shooting glasses for safety's sake. :)

    Actually, I found it real easy to keep my eyes open and concentrate on the sights and target. You get tunnel vision and block out what is happening just in front of your face. Really!

    The Doc is out now. :cool:
     
  23. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

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    Unless said reenactors get to wear eye protection, it is not right to bust their balls for closing their eyes and/or turning their heads. Flintlocks have all kinds of potential for eye injury.
     
  24. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    A valid point.
     
  25. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    That's not a problem unique to BP arms. I've had a lot more shrapnel tossed back at me from smokeless firearms than flintlocks. Some of it with enough power to bury into skin. Eye protection is a must for any shooting.
     
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