Last October I acquired a really nice .45 caliber flintlock.
Though manufactured in 1989 the poor thing was yet unfired. Hunting season delayed my first session with the gun. But the season is over and the weather Saturday was perfect for shooting. It's a virgin no more.
Having no idea where it would hit with the factory sights, I set a target up at fifteen yards and took a half dozen quick shots. Here's the result.Well that was neat!
I was using a 6 o'clock hold on the bull and the group hit 1.5" above the POA. I could tell right off the gun likes that 65 grain load. It makes a nice crack when you pull the trigger. With the .016 patch the ball entered the bore with just a light slap of the short starter and was easily pushed home with the rod. Recovered patches looked fine. Just a delightful load to shoot.
So I drifted the front sight a bit to the left to bring POI closer to POA and set a target out at 50 yards. I took a shot at the 50 yard target using the same 6 o'clock hold on the bull.
Surely a load that hits 1.5" high at 15 yards will hit fairly close to the bull at 50 yards.....right? Well that's what I figured. But I was wrong. There was not a mark on the 8.5" x 11" target. Nor were there any holes in the backer board to the left, right, or below the target. Clearly the shot had gone above the target.
I then mounted the unscathed target on the backer board "upside down" so to have more paper between the top of the target and the 6 o'clock spot on the bull, and took five shots.
This is what I got (the five shots circled in black).
"Oh Poo" you say?
Well I say, Yeah, OK. But it could have been worse.
The vertical dispersion of 1.5" is perfectly acceptable to me at 50 yards with these tiny little sights. The horizontal dispersion of 5" is clearly not acceptable. But that is the fault of the shooter, not the gun. I had a truly horrible time using the buckhorn/blade sights at 50 yards.
Wanting to see how high a front sight would be needed to bring the group down to the POA, I added and extra 1/8" to the height of the sight using the masking tape method (see picture below) and took three more shots. Those are the three circled in red on the above target.
I was hoping to do quite a bit of shooting at 50 and 75 yards in this range session. Clearly, that is not going to happen until I do something about the sights - possibly replace both front and rear with something I can see.
At this point I figured I may as well try a five shot group at 25 yards - a distance at which the sights might work for me. Here's that target.
All right, now I'm feeling better. Sure, it's only 25 yards, and it's not a "one hole" group. But it still made me feel better.
So with both time and powder on my hands and not being set up to do the kind of distance shooting I wanted, I figured I may as well break out the chronograph and do a velocity study.
I did that - shooting three shots each with loads ranging from 50 grains to 80 grains. Here's the result.
Now a word about the gun's function. I fired 40 shots in this session.
- The set trigger functioned perfectly throughout the session.
- I had a "klatch" with no fire to the pan somewhere around shot fifteen. The flint had loosened slightly. A quarter turn of the [censored] screw and things were fine until another klatch somewhere around shot twenty-five. I wiped the face of the frizzen and flint with a clean patch and had no other klatches.
- I had one flash in the pan about halfway through the session. I re-primed the pan and it flashed again. Inspection proved the touch hole was blocked by a piece of carbon. After that was cleared with a paper clip I had no other flashes in the pan. Except for that one time, I did not pick or clean the touch hole between shots during the session.
- I started the session with a new black English flint, secured with lead. It was a bit narrow and short for the lock, so I placed a small twig behind it to move it forward in the [censored] jaws. Ignition was good, but it did not seem to be as fast as with my Lyman flintlocks. That may have been a factor of the narrow flint not getting as much spark as a well fitting flint would. I did knap it a tiny bit near the end of the session after a "poof-bang" ignition. Here's what the flint looked like after the 40-shot session.
So that's my report of the Hatfield's virgin outing. I hope you enjoyed the report as much as I enjoyed the session.