Beckum Outdoors
Tips For Using A Flintlock

Tips on Shooting Flintlocks
  1. Always use black powder, no substitutes or smokeless powder.
  2. Never assume the gun is not loaded.
  3. Make sure everyone is behind you on the target range.
  4. Load your gun from a powder measure, not from a horn or flask.
  5. Know what is around your target area, even when hunting.
  6. If someone is teaching you to load and shoot a flintlock, ask questions. No question is a dumb one.
  7. Always make sure the ball is pushed all the way down the barrel. If you can't push all the way down, remove it with a ball puller or the new Co2 cartridges. This is very important.
  8. Use only round balls in a flintlock, that's what they were designed to use.
  9. Never smoke or drink alcoholic beverages before or during the use of your flintlock.
  10. Work up a load for your flintlock, start with a powder charge equal to 1 grain per caliber (.50 caliber = 50 grains).
  11. In most cases you can use much less powder than a maximum load without sacrificing any significant muzzle velocity. Flintlock rifles cannot compete with modern weapons in terms of velocity or energy at impact and extremely heavy powder charges do not increase effective range more than a few feet. For most purposes there is no need to shoot maximum loads, best accuracy is achieved with loads considerably below maximum.
  12. Pour a pre-measured amount of black powder down the bore, take the greased patch and center over the muzzle. Place the lead round ball on the center of the patch and push slightly until flush with the muzzle of the gun. Trim off any excess patch material. Push ball several inches into the bore of the gun with a short starter. Now take the ram rod and seat the ball firmly against the powder.
  13. Do not at any time lean over or look down into the bore.
  14. Priming the pan with a sharp flint in the jaws of the hammer, bring to half-cock, place about 1/3 of the pan full with F F F F g black powder, and close the striker or frizzen. Bring to full cock, aim and fire. If there is a misfire, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and wait a safe amount of time to insure it is definitely not going to fire. Do not reload the gun until the initially loaded charge has been fired or removed.
  15. Brian Beckum's recommended Hunting Loads for Whitetail Deer.
          .45 Cal. 60 to 70 Grains
          .50 Cal. 70 to 80 Grains
          .54 Cal. 70 to 80 Grains
          .58 Cal. 70 to 80 Grains
          .62 or 20 ga. 70 to 80 Grains
  16. Brian Beckum's recommended maximum loads
          .32, .36, .40 Max load, do not exceed 70 Grains F F G
          .45, .50, .54, .58, .62 Max load, do not exceed 90 grains F F G
  17. This is only a guide to help you get started. Brian Beckum or Beckum Outdoors shall not be liable for any loss, or damage, direct or consequential, arising from the use or misuse of any of the directions above or below mentioned.
Brian Beckum's Personal Techniques for Hunting with Flintlock
  1. After you have loaded your gun, run a pick through the touchhole to clear any powder from pan to main powder charge. This keeps it from acting like a fuse, creating a delay.
  2. During hunting season, don't use a heavy oil to protect the bore, use WD-40 and wipe clean. This will leave a protective film and it will also dry out.
  3. Before loading, use a Co2 discharger to clear touchhole and breach of rifle.
  4. Learn how to knap flint with an antler or copper rod. This works much better than the little knapping hammers that most use. The antler or copper will grip the flint much better than steel. It's very simple, place a heavy leather pad in your palm and place flint edge toward you holding the back edge of flint with your fingers. Push flakes off the edge with the sharpened antler until you are satisfied with edge.
  5. In the south where I live, it's very hot, damp, and humid. When we have these conditions I simply change my priming powder every 30 minutes or every hour, just to make sure I get a flash in the pan, if you are unsure about your flintlock going off.
  6. Also, I roll up a piece of leather and fix it just so to keep moisture out when I'm not hunting. Put it against the touchhole very close and drop the hammer down to hold it in place with frizzen in the open position this also keeps the rifle from accidentally getting a spark from somewhere and going off. You can also use a cow's knee, (protective cover for the whole lock area).
  7. Keep special attention to your flint (tightness in lock) and that it scrapes across the whole surface area of frizzen.
  8. I don't worry about the muzzle to much except if I'm in a total down pour then I do like the soldiers used to do and point the muzzle down and flip rifle with trigger guard up and secure lock under your arm pit.
  9. When hunting in blind or tree, etc., try to keep powder in pan away from touchhole, this aides in a faster ignition, remember the fuse effect. If you use these few and simple techniques, you won't have any problem in the woods this year, unless you have an inferior weapon. Anyway, Good Luck! And may you make many Sulfurous Clouds of Smoke.
Brian K. Beckum