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Setting up a percussion side lock

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by DaveP (UK), Jan 21, 2013.

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  1. DaveP (UK)

    DaveP (UK) Member

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    I'm just starting to get serious about fitting together a repro lock, an antique barrel and a slab of walnut.
    I was thinking about how the parts ought to be aligned and how to lay it out when I realised there was something I hadn't even thought about - How was this type of lock managed back in the day.
    I only cap my Le Page when I'm about to address the target, but if I need to, I can lower the hammer to half cock and be safe. However, when percussion side locks were used for self defense or military purposes I imagine they must have been carried around capped and loaded.
    How did they do that?
    At half cock a cap can be dislodged, especially if it is the flanged musket type, and then you're effectively disarmed. On the other hand, it doesn't strike me as at all safe to just lower the hammer onto the cap - one unlucky knock - it could all be over for you!
    What was (or is) considered a safe way to keep this type of gun ready for instant use?
     
  2. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    I've wondered this same thing as my manual specifically states that half cock is not a safety. And as you said the cap could fall off in half cock, though I'd think this would be unlikely if you are conscious of how you are carrying it. My Deerstalker was bought to be primarily a stalking rifle.
     
  3. Rattus58

    Rattus58 Member

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    I use the top hat musket caps on several of my guns and there is little chance of its becoming dislodged while moving around... except maybe under some unusual circumstances.

    Keep contorl of your muzzle and your fingers and remember that you can slip in the woods. Half cock is only that. Would you trust your firearm to cap it and drop it? If you tripped, are you certain your fingers would NEVER find the trigger in your effort to control the muzzle? That's the risk.

    On the other hand, I know of no injuries personally of a gun going off at half cock but if you shoot your muzzleloader a lot, and I make it a personal mission to burn a pound of powder at each session on the range, you are wearing the sear at each and every shot. Inspect your equipment... moreso as it ages.

    The term going off at half cock, came from somewhere... :)

    Be careful and have fun would be my advise, and being prepared... cappers and carriers make quick loading routine... even if you go around uncapped or un primed.

    Aloha... :cool:
     
  4. mykeal

    mykeal Member

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    Half cock is not a safety. Period.

    Hammer down on a cap is actually safer than on half cock with a cap on the nipple. Caps use an impact sensitive material. A hammer falling from half cock will always produce a sufficient impact to set it off. With a lowered hammer, the hammer itself will absorb a great deal of the impact should you drop the gun on it, or drop something on the hammer. it's not guaranteed to be 100% safe, but it's better.
     
  5. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    A bit of leather between the hammer and the cap is often used in hunting. Cocking the hammer causes the leather to fall away and exposes the cap.
     
  6. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    "A bit of leather between the hammer and the cap is often used in hunting. Cocking the hammer causes the leather to fall away and exposes the cap."

    A piece of leather on a leather cord sounds an awesome idea! Thanks!
    Do you think you'd want supple leather or harder leather? Seems it would certainly need to be larger than hammer face so as not to get stuck in the recess.
     
  7. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    Just finished the "safety" device. Works quite well! I just so had some hard leather that was given as proof that the punch I had bought worked well, as well as some thin leather cord. Punch a small hole in it and tied it to the hammer spur. Ain't too pretty, but it works!
    Thanks again!
     
  8. DaveP (UK)

    DaveP (UK) Member

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    "Hammer down on a cap is actually safer than on half cock with a cap on the nipple. Caps use an impact sensitive material. A hammer falling from half cock will always produce a sufficient impact to set it off. With a lowered hammer, the hammer itself will absorb a great deal of the impact should you drop the gun on it, or drop something on the hammer. it's not guaranteed to be 100% safe, but it's better."

    I take your point - but I guess I should have made my question a little clearer - I'm thinking about a pistol in a military context (mid 1800s). A UK cavalry officer might carry one in a saddle holster. The thing about pistols is that when holstered, they do tend to point a little close to home...
    Any one know what they actually did, back in the day?

    I think the idea of using a scrap of leather is excellent for most contempory use. Brilliant!
    Dun'no if I'd be happy with it in a self defence context though, and the pistols I have in mind were essentially "last chance" kit. You really, really wouldn't want that piece of leather to stick...
     
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