March 28, 2006

Gone in a bang.

Well I’m sure you are all sick and tired of my work updates. Unless that is the only reason you still come here, and then I’m sorry, I’m going to stray.

As you may recall a couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to a re-enacting trade fair. The main item I was looking for was a flintlock rifle for Boopie. I wanted to get a used one so that if he messed it up I wouldn’t be too upset. Since I knew I was going to be looking at used rifles, I grabbed my bore light (A light you slide down the muzzle of a rifle to make sure the inside of the barrel is not messed up.) before leaving. The bore light I have is supposed to fit .45 caliber rifles if I take the locking ring off.

While walking around at Kalamazoo, I found the perfect rifle for him. .45 caliber, flintlock, and the owner was only asking $200.00. Pulling out my trusty bore light I slide it into the barrel…. And it gets stuck about 5 inches down. I turned the rifle on the side knocked on it, tried pounding on the barrel, it would not move. Since I hadn’t found a better rifle I decided to purchase it, it helped that my bore light was stuck in the barrel. The guy was telling me how to get it out, which was a long convoluted method. I figured I’d just push some black powder through the touchhole and slowly blow it out. I’m talking a very small and light charge. There would be more powder in the pan than in the barrel.

The guy assured me that the rifle was clean and that he had used it numerous times. He swore up and down that he cleaned it at least once a month. From the 5 inches of the barrel I could see, it looked clean. I carried the rifle around for a while, and then decided to take it to the van so I would stop knocking things over on tables with it as I walked around. While I was out at the van, I turned the rifle muzzle side down and whacked it my steel toed boots a couple of times to see if the light would come out, it didn’t.

When we got home on Sunday I took the rifle out back to get the light out and really check it out. (I had bought a much smaller bore light). I poured a liberal amount of gun oil down the barrel and let is soak while I grabbed some other items. I decided to try knocking the light out first before blowing it out. I grabbed a chunk of 2 X 8 scrap, set it on the driveway and dropped the rifle muzzle down on it a couple of times. The third time the bore light slid right out. Then I slide the new smaller light down the barrel. Yep, it was pretty clean, a little surface rust but nothing bad. It took two wet patches and a dry before the barrel was perfect.

But there was still something wrong with it. When I was swabbing the barrel there was no sound of air bellowing through the touchhole. I cleaned the touchhole out with a pick and still nothing. When I poured cleaning solution down the barrel, nothing came out. Unfortunately bore lights don’t let you see the breach. I figured it was gummed up pretty bad. I had purchased Boopie a field rod and the tips for it as well. Much to my chagrin I had accidentally bought a breach scraper for a .50 call, not a .45. To see how gummed up the breach was I put the ball puller on the end of the field rod and ran it down the barrel. I could feel the grime at the bottom. I twisted a couple of times and I felt the bullet puller bite.

This can’t be right, breaches are not that soft. Pulling out the rod, I look at the ball puller. Sure enough there is metal shaving on it. What the hell? I put the rod back down the barrel and start twisting it. It bites again and keeps digging. Two thoughts cross my mine. The first is “That breach is screwed!” the second was, “ Wait, this thing can’t be loaded can it?” Using the rod puller I just purchased, I pulled the rod out after I had sunk it as far as I could go. Sure enough there is a .45 caliber round ball with patch on the end of my rod. There is unburned black powder on the patch.

That damn thing was loaded! Fully farking loaded! To say I was pissed would be like saying the sun has a mild glow. It’s near impossible for a flintlock to go off with out powder in the pan, nearly impossible. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I had dry fired it a good doze times to test the lock and frizzen. I even did it in front of the guy. He also heard me say I was going to blow the light out, and didn’t say anything.

I can picture what would have happened. There I am in the back yard, I’m pushing about 5 grains worth of 4F powder through the touchhole. Gently I tap the side of the rifle so it is near breach. I pour powder in the pan, point the rifle at an upward angle and from the hip pull the trigger. Instead of a small pop and a brass light flying 5 feet, there is a large bang and somewhere in the city a lead ball takes out a family pet or member. Either that or the obstruction in the barrel (the bore light) causes the barrel to explode in my hands.

Yea, not a happy man at all. If I had a way to contact the guy that I bought the rifle from I would have, but I have nothing on him.

Just a reminder it is my turn to be interviewed at Basil’s Blog. The deadline for my questions is 04/02/06. That just under two weeks away. If you have any, you can send them to Basil at basil dot interviews AT Subject: Questions for Contagion of Miasmatic review. Or you could just click the link.

Posted by Contagion in Re-enacting life. at March 28, 2006 06:49 PM | TrackBack

Holy shit!!!

Posted by: That 1 Guy at March 28, 2006 07:01 PM

The guy probably didn't know it was loaded... probably hadn't done anything to it for a while and either forgot or someone else loaded it and he never knew.

I'll tell you what happened to my dad once. He had some WW2 pistols he brought back from overseas. He was showing them to one of his friends - and the moron picked it up and was aiming at stuff around the room... my dad grabbed the gun and looked inside - yep one bullet was chambered... the only one in the gun. Sheesh - we kids were standing in the room!!! My dad didn't know it was loaded... needless to say he was pissed as hell that the guy had picked it up. I never saw him show them to anyone else ever again.

Posted by: Teresa at March 28, 2006 08:56 PM

That's the kind of thing that will piss you clean off. Or blow your head clean off.

Posted by: og at March 28, 2006 08:58 PM

All I can say is WOW, WHAT A MORON!

Posted by: Carmen at March 29, 2006 06:52 AM

Good to hear there were no injuries! Of course, that IS the first thing you're supposed to check when you pick up a least I always do...

Posted by: Ogre at March 29, 2006 09:03 AM

Glad nobody got hurt. Don't know much about black powder guns so my question would be how can you readily check the breach?

Posted by: spurs at March 29, 2006 12:27 PM

Holy crap, that could have been catastrophic!! I am so thankful nothing happened!

Posted by: Richmond at March 29, 2006 03:45 PM

Unfortunately with Flintlocks the only way to really check is to make sure there is no powder in the pan and take the owners word for it.

If you are familiar with the weapon you can try the ram rod to see how far down the muzzle it goes to verifiy that it is unloaded. However if you've never dealt with that particular firearm you may not know where on the ram rod the end of an empty barrel should go to, especially if you have a replacement ram rod.

Posted by: Contagion at March 29, 2006 06:09 PM

Actually it's pretty easy. Put the butt of the rifle on the floor with the barrel pointing straight up, take the ramrod (or a range rod) and drop it down the barrel.
If you hear a sharp "clink" and the rod bounces back a bit, it's empty (rod is hitting the hard steel of the breech). If it just hits with a dull noise and stays put it hit either a ball, powder, or both.

It's not 100%, but if you err it will be on the side of caution (IE: you think the barrel is loaded but it isn't, not that it isn't but you have a loaded gun).

God, what a dumbass. I check my rifle like this whenever I leave the range and whenever I load it into my car. EVERY TIME. (And ever since the infamous "baby wipe/flare gun" incident, I do the pistols too heheh).

I hope you run into that fucker next year.

Posted by: Graumagus at March 30, 2006 03:09 AM

I did that. It came with a wooden replacement rods with no brass tip, it bounced just well, but there was no noise what so ever. Even with a brass tip it doesn't always make a nice sound, that is why you guys use my metal rod to do a safety check.

Posted by: Contagion at March 30, 2006 04:57 PM

Damn! Glad you didn't get blown up by that dipshit's carelessness. Damn!

Posted by: Wes at April 2, 2006 06:39 PM

Read about your experience at the Kalamazoo Living History Show. If you want the name of the dealer that sold you the muzzleloader, please email me the dealer's location. I have a list of the dealers by location and description of what they sold. If you know the dealers location, I may be able to help you locate the dealer that sold you the gun. I believe it important that he know the gun was loaded.

This is a very dangerous situation and is something that needs to be addressed before someone is hurt. An accident like this would really hurt our sport.

Security is of the utmost importance to the club. I know they take every precaution to insure a safe environment for you and others attending the show.

Posted by: Dr. Harvey Wallbanger at April 22, 2006 08:44 AM