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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »