Author Archives: Larry Pletcher


Meet John House, Builder of Fine Knives and Longrifles . . . By Mark Sage Photography by Ric Lambert, Jan Riser, and H. David Wright Reprinted by permission of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association/ Muzzle Blasts magazine, March 2009. For information on the NMLRA and other black powder topics please visit the website at In Woodbury, Kentucky, near the Green River, is a very neat and efficient shop, reconstructed from an old ... Read More »


SHAWN WEBSTER: Artist and Author . . . By Paul Jones Photography by Ric Lambert Reprinted by permission of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association/ Muzzle Blasts magazine, February 2008. For information on the NMLRA and other black powder topics please visit the website at Much has been written in the past about Shawn Webster, but in recent years there have been some changes although much remains the same in the life of ... Read More »

Flintlock Timing, MuzzleBlasts January 1990

Durs Egg

During the past two years I have had the opportunity to measure the ignition time on a number of different flintlocks. The locks varied from superb original locks to modern day reproduction locks. Some were in mint condition, while others were somewhat used. The equipment that I use to time locks consists of a computer and interface made to scientifically measure time in a high school or college physics lab. It has ... Read More »

Priming Powder Timing

As a retired educator and a student of the flintlock, I am fascinated with what we can learn by applying technology to the field of black powder. This is another in a series of articles that uses a computer interface to experiment with our black powder hobby. The first articles (1990-1992) described experiments timing various flintlocks. Another article (2000) described the timing of touch holes. This article explores the timing of different ... Read More »

Flintlock Timing Part 2, MuzzleBlasts September 1992


Most of the testing and timing of flintlocks completed at this time has been done with modern reproduction locks. Because of their value, original locks should not be subjected to an extensive number of tests. Lock makers of today can’t help wondering how their work compares with the work done during the flint era. The Journal of Historic Armsmaking Technology Vol. IV has attempted to shed some light on this subject. The ... Read More »

Flintlock Timing Part 3, MuzzleBlasts December 1992

Most of us, at one time or another, have wondered what factors cause locks to produce good results. Obviously, there are considerations which we have not been able to measure and maybe can never isolate. In this article, I would like to look at some factors   Photo 1: The flint is just about to begin contact with the frizzen. Two thirds of the mechanical time is complete. which have not yet ... Read More »

New High Speed Video from Friendship 2009

High Speed Lock Timing Friendship 2009 and Olympus Industrial bring you more flintlock videos. The frame rate is 5000 fps. This page will be a work in progress but the videos should work. The taping was done at Gun Makers’ Hall during the Spring Nationals at Friendship. Monday June 15th was the big day. We taped 47 locks with the help of Norman Baumgartner from Olympus Industrial. Thanks Norm for all you do for us. All the ... Read More »

Jim Chambers Discusses Gun Making and the Lock Business

Jim and Mike problem solving

Jim Chambers has been a friend of mine for many years. I stopped in his booth and enjoyed a chat with him. Jim told me about his start in muzzleloading and his work with John Bivins. You’ll enjoy Jim’s story of his interview with John. He also tells about acquiring the Siler lock-making business from Bud Siler. Jim tells how the kit business actually began with ideas as far back as the ... Read More »

Gunmaker Mike Miller Interviewed at Friendship 2006

Mike Miller

Mike Miller Interviewed at Friendship 2006 When I stopped by Mike’s booth there was a lot of activity. Noise from customers and shooting are in the background. As a former investigator, Mike is a far better interviewer than I am. I enjoyed his comments about his start in gunmaking and how he acquired his skills. Mike offered good advice when it comes to a customer planning to have a rifle built. He ... Read More »

Mark Silver Discusses Gun Making

Mark Silver

Mark Silver discusses rifle making during the 2006 Spring Shoot. Friendship – Spring 2006 I stopped by Mark’s booth just before I had to leave Friendship. I thought I had missed him. He’s another long-time friend. I was lucky enough to take one of his classes at the rifle-making Seminar. Mark is another of today’s makers who worked for John Bivins. Mark is on my short list of men whom I consider ... Read More »

Mark Baker Talks About Trekking

Mark Baker

I’m sitting in the back of Mike Miller’s booth at Friendship. There are a bunch of fellows interested in Mike’s guns. You can hear the bench guns at the firing line, but I’m doing the interview anyway. I lucked into a chance to talk with Mark Baker. Widely known in trekking circles, Mark just happened to be there when I walked by. I couldn’t miss this chance. Mention trekking to black powder ... Read More »

Tom Schiffer Discusses all Things Muzzle Loading

Tom Schiffer has been a fixture around Friendship for many years. It’s fun to hear fellows like Tom talk about the “old days” when business was conducted out of the trunks of cars. Tom Schiffer Interview, Friendship 2006 I’m reminded of the fabled gun writer who wrote the book “Hell, I Was There”. Tom truely was there. In the interview Tom talks about his first muzzleloader and his experience firing the first ... Read More »

2008 CLA Show — ALR noon meeting

Don's Bag

The biggest CLA show ever is now over. While the number of CLA exhibitors grew from years past, the original displays done by the Kentucky Rifle Association made an immense contribution. Following is a collection of photos from a number of sources. We hope you enjoy them. I decided to use a series of slide shows because of the number of photos to be included. I wish to thank those who gave ... Read More »

Reaves Goehring: supplier of fine riflemaking castings

Reaves Goehring

Riflemakers look to Reaves Goehring for the best castings for their flintlocks. His care in providing the correct parts for the various schools of muzzloading makes him widely respected. Reaves tells Tom Curran some of his story. This interview takes place on July 27, 2008, at Dixon’s Gunmaker’s Fair, Kempton, PA, Reaves gives us a bit of background details of his life, and some of the story behind his marvelous longrifle castings. ... Read More »


Jack T. Haugh — Fit & Finish to the Highest Degree . . . By Mel Hankla Photography by Ric Lambert, Mel Hankla, and David Wright Reprinted by permission of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association/ Muzzle Blasts magazine, July, 2008. For information on the NMLRA and other black powder topics please visit the website at Jack Theodore Haugh was born February 1931 in Lincoln Park, Michigan during The Great Depression. He came ... Read More »

Wallace Gusler Chats about Colonial Gun-making

Wallace Gusler

Few men have had as large an effect on the muzzleloading sport as Wallace Gusler. To many he is the man in “the video” who makes a rifle from a skelp of iron, a plank of maple, and a bucket of scrap brass. Wallace Gusler made the video as the first full-time master of the Williamsburg Gun Shop. His influence doesn’t stop there. Since then his research and writing have added to ... Read More »

Riflemaker, Homer Dangler talks with Black Powder Mag

Homer Dangler

One cannot think of flint riflemakers without including Homer Dangler. A maker of muzzleloaders for decades, Homer is widely respected for his work. Home Dangler has been a part of Friendship for many years. He began attending Friendship when I was 10 years old. His booth has been a stop of mine since I began attending in 1977. There are always neat guns to look at and drool over. Although Homer is 82, ... Read More »

David Price talks with Black Powder Mag

David Price makes beautiful guns. His speciality is the Swivel Breech. In the years I have known him, I have had the chance to look at many of his guns. His work is on numerous magazine covers, at Dixons, at Friendship, and as the raffle gun for GunMakers’ Hall.   David is man with the desire and ability of teach others what he knows. His web site,  The Flintlock Shop, has tutorials on ... Read More »

Chuck Dixon Chats with Tom Curran

Chuck Dixon

Tom Curran caught Chuck Dixon in the shop and collected this interview for Black Powder Mag. Even if you know Chuck you are likely to learn more listening to the interview. (Larry Pletcher) I had tried to call ahead to make an appointment to meet Chuck for this interview, but I don’t believe my message got through, judging from Chuck’s reaction when I asked him if he would grant me an interview. ... Read More »

Pan Vent Experiments – An Introduction

The barrel and lock plate are attached to the fixture

Introduction This series of experiments has evolved into one of greater scope than originally intended. Earlier intentions were to examine the ignition qualities when the position of the vent hole varied up or down in relation to the pan. The methods to investigate included a computer timing procedure used to measure times from a barrel stub and lock plate with a pan attached. An L&R plate was chosen because the pan was ... Read More »

Part 1 — Black Powder Ignition Characteristics

Burn pattern on paper

Black powder ignition in a flintlock pan is different than inside the barrel. Here we look at black powder ignition in open air. (Powder on sheets) This phase of testing was suggested to me by Mr. Bill Knight. He has been a valued advisor for many years. I poured a measured amount of black powder on a sheet of paper. The powder was ignited by a red hot copper wire in different ... Read More »

Part 2 — Initial Pan Experiments

Burn marks on a card help us to determine the intensity of the black powder burn in the flintlock pan. This was a preliminary step to help determine how to prime the pan. The card test was designed to determine the intensity of the flame at the vent. An index card was cut and pinched between the lock plate and the barrel. The pan was primed in three different positions. The first ... Read More »

Part 3 — Photography through the Muzzle

Comparing the strength of the black powder burn by looking through the barrel muzzle. Here we see that where the black powder is placed in a flintlock pan is crucial. In this phase I used a digital camera to photograph the fire coming through the vent. The barrel is mounted on a fixture and the camera installed on the tripod. Height was adjusted until the camera looked directly into the muzzle. In ... Read More »

Part 4 — Priming Powder Amount by Weight

Determining the amount of black powder to be used in testing. Since flintlock pans are of different size, I felt that this was a necessary step in our process. In this phase of testing I timed different amounts of priming powder. Ten amounts each of .5 grains, .75 grains, and 1.0 grains of Swiss Null B priming powder were weighed to the nearest tenth of a grain. These were timed in the ... Read More »

Part 5 — Timing Powder locations in Pan

Is it better to bank the black powder priming away from the vent? This piece of conventional flintlock wisdom will be tested. Part 5 of our test series will examine the question about where in the pan provides the best ignition. Conventional wisdom has told us that banking the priming powder away from the vent will produce the fastest ignition. Practically avery black powder shooter has heard this. This theory is based on human ... Read More »