Experiments & Tests

Experiments and tests from Larry’s Lab.
Myth busting for the Black Powder community.

Flint Elk Rifle — Part 2

When I wrote “Flint Elk Rifle” in 2016, I explained the water test that Rick had done in Colorado. Back in Indiana Steve Chapman and I thought through a number of things we wanted to learn in our water test. Our main goal was to compare penetration and expansion of the ball. Our thinking was that with a ball as large as .58” more expansion wasn’t necessary and might limit the ability ... Read More »

Flint Elk Rifle

The history of this rifle began years ago when my friend Rick Shellenberger in Colorado cleaned out an old muzzleloading shop. Among other items, he brought home 2 Sharon .58 caliber rifle barrels. Both were rifled at 1 turn in 72 inches. These barrels have eight lands and grooves. Rick kept one barrel and gave the other one to me. Back in Indiana, years passed until I began collecting parts to complete ... Read More »

Two Hole Vent Test

This test is a long time coming.  A couple years ago at CLA, Steve Chapman and I were looking over a flint gun made by Allan Sandy. The vent Allan used had two smaller holes located horizontally.  Allan said the vent was internally coned but used two .052″ holes.  Allan said he didn’t know whether it was faster or slower than a normal vent. My reply was that I could time it. ... Read More »

Projects to Come

Siler lock igniting Swiss Null B

This is an informal list of future project ideas.  Nothing cast in stone here; just a place to keep notes on ideas. 1. Vent shape experiments — this will include an exterior tool made by Tom Snyder,  a friend who also makes an interior vent coning tool, as well as other tools for the gun maker. 2. A before and after test of Jim Chambers‘ late Ketland lock. We’ll time various combinations ... Read More »

Flintlock Lube Test

In choosing to do this experiment, I will look only at how the lubes affect lock speeds. Others have examined a lubes resistance to rust formation. Many lubes have been suggested. I will try to choose those that are widely used or represent a group of lubricants. The text here is in progress. It’s kind of like diary entries showing all the problems associated with a test of this kind. I’ll straighten ... Read More »

Filled Vent Test – Is it Slower?

Test fixture with pistol ready for trial

Filling a flintlock touch hole with priming powder causes a slower ignition. The pan fire has to burn through instead of flash through the vent. Is this “fuse effect” true? Can the difference be measured? Are the “hang fires” experienced by black powder shooters caused by something else? Reporting the answers to these questions is the purpose in this article. The purpose of this test was to see if there was a ... Read More »

ITX Non-Lead Field Test for Accuracy

Do you live in a lead-free hunting zone? Are there alternatives for the traditional muzzleloading hunter? BlackPowderMag examines one possibility. Recently I received a quantity of ITX non-lead balls made to be fired in a muzzleloading rifle. The maker is Continuous Metal Technologies Inc located in Ridgeway PA. Brad Clinton is the contact person. The company produces non-lead projectiles for hunting applications. If, for a variety of reasons, hunting with lead becomes ... 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 »

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 »

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 »