Author Archives: Larry Pletcher

Part 6 — High and Low Vent Experiments

high vent position

Low vs High Vent Test Phase . . . . Where should the vent be positioned for best black powder ignition? Again, conventional flintlock wisdom is tested. Up until this phase of the experiments the vent hole has been located level with the top of the pan. In those trials other variables were being examined. In this phase, the location of the ventis the variable. The lock plate has been adjusted to place the ... Read More »

Pan Vent Experiments – Continued

Examining flame entering vent

In my earlier article called “Pan Vent Experiments”, I examined powder placement in the pan and timed vent locations. I found that pan placement was far more forgiving that we thought. I found that a vent covered with prime did NOT slow ignition as we once thought. In fact priming powder located as close as possible to the barrel was the fastest way to prime. In this photo article, I will look ... Read More »


SMILIN’ JOE SEABOLT CONTEMPORARY KNIFE AND RIFLE MAKER by Sharon Cunningham©2008 Photographs by H. David Wright and Jan Riser Reprinted with permission from Muzzleloader magazine, November-December 2008. For more information on this and other black powder topics visit the web site Joseph Edman Seabolt, native Cincinnatian, is a journeyman electrician by trade, and a blacksmith courtesy of Steve Marshall of Goodlettsville, Tennessee. His knife making is the product of the teachings of both ... Read More »

More High Speed Video from Friendship

High Speed Video of a flintlock in color

This is the complete flintlock video library of the high speed film done at Friendship during the spring of 2007. Earlier articles contained highlights – like the original Manton supplied by Jim Chambers. Finally they are all together. Now we can watch black powder ignite! The video links in thie article are more of the film we did at Friendship. As in earlier video, the frame rate is 5000 frames per second. ... Read More »

Load Compression and Accuracy

We attempt to measure the effect of seating pressure on black powder ignition in both percussion and flintlock rifles. – Larry Pletcher and Steve Chapman The purpose of these compression tests was to find out how flint and percussion rifles would react to changes in compression as the ball was seated on the powder. My personal method has been to use firm and consistent pressure whether I was shooting a percussion or ... Read More »

Dixon’s 2007 Gunmakers’ Fair

David Price's swivel breeches are breath-taking

Dixon’s is the Mecca for all things relating to black powder and muzzleloading. Some of the most beautiful flintlocks in the world find their way here to be judged and displayed. This was my first trip to Dixon’s Gunmakers’ Fair. While I could only spend one day, I certainly was not disappointed. It was all I had heard and more. It was drizzling on the short drive heading from Allentown to Dixon’s, ... Read More »

Slow Motion at Gun Makers’ Hall

Slow Motion Crew

Are you interested in watching an original J. Manton flintlock in slow motion? How about a wheel lock? BlackPowderMag was able to do just that at Friendship this spring. With help from blackpowder riflemaker, David Price, and Grant Ferguson from Olympus, we filmed 30+ flintlocks at 5000 frames/second. History was made at Gun Makers’ Hall during the Spring Nationals at Friendship this year. and Olympus Industrial collaborated on a slow motion ... Read More »

First Try with Slow Motion Flintlock Video

Camera setup

It’s finally ready! Flintlocks with multiple variables at 5000 frames/second. This movie will run at GunMakers’ Hall this spring. Here’s your chance to see it early. See if you can see individual blackpowder grains ignite. The accumulation of my high speed flintlock videos is finally finished. Because of over all size the movie is in two parts. Part A includes experiments with my old faithful large Siler lock using chipped English flints, ... Read More »

L C Rice Discusses Barrels and Locks

Many shooters go to LC Rice to get a barrel. He and Liston make some of the best. I went to him for flintlock tuning. He tunes some of the best. . . LC Rice Interview at Friendship – Spring 2006 LC Rice has to be one of the most knowledgable and entertaining characters at Friendship. Listen to his story about he and Liston beginning the L&R Lock Company and their eventual ... Read More »

Lead vs Leather Flint Attachment Study

Leather Test

A flintlock needs a secure method of attaching the flint. There is spirited disagreement on the best way to do this. Whether to use lead or leather is the subject of this study. Perhaps this study will help your flintlock to ignite black powder more quickly. Because of the recent discussions about attaching flints with both lead and leather, I decided to see if I could use photographs to study the problem. ... Read More »

Pecatonica’s Dick Greensides Discusses Muzzle Loaders

Dick Greensides

After shopping at Pecatonica for many years, it was fun to sit down and chat with Dick Greensides. I didn’t know until the interview that Dick grew up just a few miles of my home. Dick Greensides Friendship – Spring 2006 Dick Greensides is another regular at Friendship. He started coming as a shooter, and his hobby became a vocation. Dick brought a few stocks to Friendship and grew the business until ... Read More »

Billy Watson talks about knife-making

Billy Watson

Billy Watson has been coming to friendship for many years. Billy simply makes great knives. Billy Watson on Knife Making – Friendship Spring 2006 Billy Watson’s booth is a favorite stop of mine. He had made two of the knives I carry. I’m sure there will be others I can’t resist. While I have two of his folders, Billy does all kinds of knives. The selection is best early in the week before ... Read More »

Cleaning Your New Rifle

Well, you’ve done it. You had your first shooting session with your new rifle. You are smart enough to watch the old timer down the bench clean his rifle and he mentions that you shouldn’t forget to clean yours. One of the first things a new shooter is told is to clean the gun after shooting is over. That is good advice, and today we will talk about cleaning your rifle after ... Read More »

Wayne Dunlap discusses wood with BPM

Wayne Dunlap

Need a beautiful piece of maple, walnut, etc for your next muzzloading project? You can’t do better than Wayne Dunlap. Wayne Dunlap Wood Supplier at Friendship – Spring 2006 One cannot mention gun stocks at Friendship without mentioning Wayne Dunlap. Wayne brings a great selection of stock blanks to Friendship. Wayne is the kind of fellow you can learn a bunch from if you listen instead of talk. I learned a lot ... Read More »

Bill Keeler talks Tomahawks


Whether you need edged tools for trekking or a museum quality replica of Little Turtle’s tomahawk, your single stop should be Bill Keeler. Beaver Bill makes about anything with a cutting edge. Bill Keeler on Tomahawks at Friendship 2006 Beaver Bill’s booth is always one of my stops at Friendship. My chat with Bill covers his many years in muzzleloading. He speaks about his museum quality edged weapons. One of my favorites ... Read More »

High Speed Video of a Flintlock

High Speed Video of a Flintlock gun being fired

The high speed flint video project is done. BPM, working with Grant Ferguson from Olympus, captured video of a flintlock using different grades of black powder as well as flint configurations. The process was more complicated than I expected. We got some decent stuff with lighting our biggest problem. The higher the frame rate the more light is necessary. With over 3000 watts of halagons going, we still were limited in the ... Read More »

Dan Kindig Interview

Dan Kindig, past president and long time Friendship attendee, discusses the old days. Dan Kindig has been a fixture for years. His booth hasn’t moved since I first came in 1977. Dan Kindig Interview from Friendship – Spring 2006   Dan was a lot of fun to speak with. His Friendship experiences go back to his visits as a young boy when his father came. He has many stories about the early days. ... Read More »

Black Powder Photography

patched ball separation

Black Powder Photography — editor, Larry Pletcher (The title photo was taken in January 2014 using the same methodology, but with a close-up lens.) For some time I have wanted to take a high speed photo of a patched ball from a flintlock muzzleloader shedding its patch. This article documents the six month process of my attempts. Included are all the mistakes I made and what I learned about black powder as ... Read More »

Conner Prairie Traditional Arts and Arms Making Workshop

folding knife parts

The Conner Prairie 17th Annual Traditional Arts and Arms Making Workshop is history. Flintlock fans came from California to New England to learn from a core of talented instructors. A majority of the students come back year after year. Take a look at what you missed and what is in store for next year. If you shoot black powder, you’ll want to see this. I had heard about the Conner Prairie classes ... Read More »

Choosing a Wooden Ramrod

Examine the grain when selecting a wooden ramrod…… When I choose a ramrod I look for one in which the grain in the wood doesn’t run out the side. Good rods are made from split blanks; made this way the grain should follow the length of the rod without running out the side. Don’t be afraid to sort through a bunch to find a good one. A good straight-grained hickory rod will last ... Read More »

Competition shooting range basics

Your first time shooting at a National Shoot in Friendship should be a highlight. If you are inexperienced, it would be good to introduce yourself to the Range officer. He is interested in your safety as well as everyone else. His suggestions will assist you. Developing safe habits as you practice are strongly recommended. Here are some examples: The muzzle of your firearm should be pointed up and be higher than your ... Read More »

Filing on a Front Sight

Raising a front sight lowers where the bullet will hit. . . “I filed and filed on my front sight and it still shoots high.”  This line was an inside joke at our muzzleloading range years ago.  The rule of thumb should be to move the front sight the opposite direct you wish to move the bullet’s impact.  Raising a front sight lowers where the bullet will hit.  Lowering the front raises the ... Read More »

Adjusting windage on a front sight

Move the front sight the opposite direction you want to move the impact. . . Adjusting windage on a front sight uses the same thinking process as in the tip above. Moving a front sight left moves the impact to the right. Care should be used as you drift your sights, front or back. Hopefully your sights are movable with a modest blow. A brass drift pin is ideal. If your sight moves ... Read More »

Dry-firing a percussion firearm

Dry-firing a percussion firearm. . . . Care should be used in dry-firing a percussion firearm. If the hammer is dropped on an empty nipple, the nipple is very likely to upset and develop an oversized rim. Caps may no longer fit properly. (The only exception to this that I know of is the Ruger Old Army, whose hammer is stopped just short of the empty nipple.) A common sign of this is ... Read More »

Using a Wooden Ramrod

Your ramrod is a safety tool …….. One of the first tricks that I was taught years ago was marking my ramrod. Place your ramrod into the barrel. We want the ramrod tip resting on the breech plug, with the barrel empty. Make a scratch mark on the ramrod even with the muzzle. I lay a sharp knife across the muzzle and rotate the ramrod against the blade. I want a visible mark ... Read More »

Is Black Powder Calling You?

Shooting black powder is addictive.  While there are many kinds of shooting to be enjoyed in America, shooting black powder, especially in a good flintlock, is my favorite.  To many like me, hunting with a black powder gun, whether it be a rifle, shotgun or pistol, adds immensely to the sport. No matter what type of hunting we do, we all enjoy the chance to be out opening day.  I like getting ... Read More »

The Eight O’clock Turtle

I didn’t meet the eight o’clock turtle until the 2014 Spring Shoot. He was probably there for years, but I never looked for him.  He seems to live under the bridge at the entrance to the NMLRA grounds.  I saw him first on Saturday morning at 8:00 am.  (Wait, he may be a she. I don’t know, but from here on the eight o’clock turtle will be a he. ) He was ... Read More »

Mike Brooks Discusses Smoothbores

Mike Brooks

As Mike and I began this conversation, we realized that we had attended the same rifle-building seminar at Bowling Green. I was involved in timing flintlocks, and he was into tuning them. It was kind of fun to compare notes again. As you will realize as you listen, Mike loves to build fowlers. His last count was over 200 made. I like his approach to his relationship with the customer. I think ... Read More »

Lee Larkin talks about Horn Making

Lee Larkin - Horner

BPM interviews horn-maker Lee Larkin. Friendship – Spring 2006   I met Lee at his horn-making cabin in the Primitive area on Monday morning. My conversation with Lee was especially fun because I learned so much. He filled in a lot of blanks in my horn education. His information about Robert Rogers’ horn at Fort Ticonderoga was particularly interesting. Lee is a member of the “Honorable Company of Horners” Read More »

Lancaster Trip

Kevin and Larry beside Samuel Pletcher's Grave stone

Lancaster County — The Search for Samuel and Henry Pletcher Our search begins with tracking down a rumor that the name “Pletcher” was carved in a wall at Valley Forge. We stop at the Mennonite Historical Society. Valley Forge – Tuesday, May 26 Our first day began with a drive from Lancaster to Valley Forge to look for a “Pletcher” reported to be carved in a wall there. We wondered if it ... Read More »