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>> Blackpowder Shooting And Cleaning: A Different View :: By Bill Marney Sr. (Hilljack) on 2002-03-26
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As far as shooting and not wiping goes I’m not doing anything amazing as far as I’m concerned, but it works for me…I’ll give you some back ground on how this came about, so humor an Ol’Fart…About 3 years ago I was in the same predicament as what you guys are…well I was working in Pennsylvania and visiting with Bill Knight and doing a bunch of talking to Chuck Dixon in the evenings….Well, the subject came up and we began evaluating the process I was doing and it boiled down to using patch lubes that were very greasy or waxy and the problem of putting too much on…At the same time I began shooting with a gentleman by the name of Michael (Hawk) Pierce and when I told him the same story he laughed and said get away from the greasy kids stuff, and he gave me a bottle of his concoction (Grizz)…But he also told me it would not happen over night and I would gradually get the junk out of my barrel…

Well, off on a journey, after you shoot a bunch of the patches with greasy kids stuff, your barrel begins to fill up with unburned by products, now you will have problems with second day rusting, after cleaning…Fouling will adhere to the bore and you will have problems loading…When you get done for the day shooting and clean your barrel oil it and put it away, all is finished, not really…Most people use hot water and soap, I believe this is a cause of some problems with rusting, first metal is porous and these small cracks and craters tend to hold what ever you’re putting in there, bore butter, water, and oil…Well when you put your hot water in the barrel everything expands, so do the pores of the metal, and the moisture is in the barrel beyond the surface, we wipe the bore dry and oil it down, but what have we done, is just sealed a layer of water in the barrel…Now we are getting ready for problems, pitting, rust, and new places to hold combustion by-products…

Now this brings us to the next part…Most of us have a bore light and check our barrels, or check one for some one else, looking for pitting or odd marks…What do we see? A bright shiny surface. Now back to the porous metal…During the process of shooting, we are actually doing a micro burnishing job on the inside of the barrel each time we shoot, so basically smoothing the tops of these craters and cracks over, eliminating pockets for holding the crud and moisture from cleaning…That’s why once you begin into this method you have to stay to the regiment long enough to get the process going and once you do I think you will be very happy with the results…

During one of my discussions with Chuck Dixon, at his shop, he gave me a paper that really made a great deal of sense…He had described a muzzleloader as a combustion engine and just like a combustion engine you can put all sorts of different gas in it but the function is still the same (ball in barrel=piston) (patch on ball=rings) (barrel=cylinder) (powder=gas or fuel)(lube on patch=oil in engine). Now if we have any one of these out of proper function, what do we have, a poorly running engine or muzzleloader…And just like an engine that has been run with dirty oil or an oil that is non-detergent, we get sludge build up, the rings go (Barrel pitting), lose performance (Blown patches, Poor Groups), foul plugs (Dirty Bore), does this sound familiar? If we over fuel the engine, we foul it out, it runs poorly and we are really unhappy…One of the most common problems most people do is over lube their patches, and this has an immediate effect…Fouling adheres to the bore…

Making sure you have the right patch and ball combination is the most important…now for shooting a match, I prefer using a clear, light lube and at this time I’m using a product called “Grizz” by Michael Pierce, but you could use Leigh High Valley, light mixture of Murphy’s Oil Soap, Ballistol, I’ve only used the Grizz and the Valley Lube, but the others should work…I put a small amount on a precut patch and load as normal, don’t soak the patch. If your patch is the size of a quarter, make a small circle of lube the size of a dime, and let it wick out…

Now for hunting, most of the lighter lubes won’t work for a hunting load, now here is where you go back to the Bore Butter, I know what you are thinking, here is the turning point, but finish reading first…I make my bore butter from Crisco, Olive oil, and Bees wax…Two of the three are vegetable products and have no animal fats or salts and bees wax last for ever without degradation…You use only enough bees wax to stiffen the mixture for you area…Mixture is 75% Crisco, 15% Olive oil, and the remainder bees wax…Once that has been done, take your patching material and place it in a plastic bag, heat your Bore Butter in the Microwave or a double boiler, then, once the butter has turned to liquid, open the bag and put about two tablespoon into the bag and work into the patching…Let it set and firm up…Now take your patching out of the bag and place on a bed of paper towels, heat in the microwave for about 1 minute, remove and pat dry with a second bunch of paper towels, your patching will seem dry but if you rub your fingers together tightly on it they will become slick, this amount of lube is really pretty good and won’t plug your barrel up, it will normally shoot to the same point of impact, and normally when you’re hunting you’re not going to be shooting a bunch of times…

Here we go…one problem with bore butters or lubes that are greasy, is they are not water soluble, so when you clean are you getting all of it out, probably not…I prefer to use Murphy’s Oil Soap, Distilled Water, and Isopropyl Alcohol…It is cheap and the ingredients can be procured anywhere…

1 qt Murphy’s 1 qt Alcohol 2 qt. Distilled water

Murphy’s as a lubricant in the solution and heavy carrier…Alcohol as a surfactant, breaks through layers…Distilled water, no impurities, and that’s just me and my way of thinking, you can use tap water also…

When I clean my rifles, I plug the nipple or vent hole, squirt several tablespoons down the barrel and shake and pour, you’ll be surprise at what will come out…I put about the same amount back into the bore and place a patch that has been wetted with the solution on the muzzle, and put the ram rod on it, remove the tooth pick and piston the solution out the nipple or vent, and repeat it with rapid strokes, and then wipe the barrel clear of what moisture I can…Then I wet a patch with Ballistol and swab the bore down…And then set the barrel upside down on a towel for about 10 minutes, wipe the bore again…turn it upside down until the next day and put away…And I have come back 2 or 3 months later and swabbed the bore and it was still fresh and clean…The whole process takes me less than 10 minutes per rifle…Also scrub the lock and oil it…

I like Ballistol because it will not harm any part of the weapon and will neutralize any acidic residue, and I have had exceptional results from it…But, you can use what ever you like or works for you…

When I’m shooting I do absolutely nothing different than any of you, I just think I look at what is going on in the process…Now I’m not saying that cleaning or wiping between shots won’t help, it could be that small practice is what separates a few points and a win, but it hasn’t really shown me that it did any harm…but that’s is an individual preference…

Here again, Chuck Dixon really burned a thought into my head…What ever or how ever you load that ball down the barrel, it is like a memory bank in a computer, it reverses the steps to get out, meaning the less you can disrupt that ball, or should I say the less steps you must go through to load, the more likely the repeatability of success on the shot…And I try to hold on to that thought…

But I haven’t sat down and written it out before to share it with others…The reason is two fold…First many people would say “this is nothing new and who is he trying to fool”, well I’m not trying to do anything to anyone…Please if you do try, make sure that you give it a real try, not some now and some later, because it won’t work…You need to shoot about 2 or 3 sessions in a row, and then evaluate what is going on, and at the end try shooting and loading and see what progress you have made….Secondly, there are many shooters out there with much more experience than I do and I have a great respect for them and their knowledge, so this is where, when some one asks I will from now on send this out…

I know there will be time when people say it doesn’t work and then, other times people will love it…So be it…Thanks for reading my thoughts and opinions…

Bill Marney Sr. (Hilljack)

I would like to thank the following people, for the time they spent with me and sharing some wonderful knowledge and times:

Bill Knight
Chuck Dixon
Michael “Hawk” Pierce
Joe Williams

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