Anyone here use a musket?

Either for hunting or for some other reason such as re-enacting battles?

If so, is there any danger that they might cause harm to me by misfiring?

Also where might I get a musket? I am not into hunting, I am a history buff. I assume my local gun stores don’t sell them. Gun shows might have them.

Order one online. AFAIK, black powder muzzleloaders are not regulated by the usual gun laws, and can be shipped directly to you.

You can get muskets from just about all wars up through the Civil War, and usually for either side of the conflict.

Cabela’s is a good, if slightly expensive place to start.

As for the safety, I’d be willing to bet that a modern-day replica is vastly safer than a period original- better metallurgy, better manufacturing and better testing techniques all add up, even if the gun’s exactly the same design.

  1. I use both flint and cap for everything - target, hunting, events and teaching. I burn about 25-35 pounds of powder a year so that puts me a little on the “heavy” side of shooting.

  2. Not if you keep it to your shoulder and pointed in a same direction when it does misfire; at least for a good slow ten count. Its possible to cook off a round on loading but its pretty rare even when we’re popping them at the rate of 3-6 a minute. If you are going to cook its just as you throw the powder. Which is why we never load directly from the horn of flask. I haven’t had a bullet take off as I was ramming it but I have seen three horns blow as people were loading from those cute little measuring spouts that can be mounted on them. None of the cases was what I would call real pretty.

  3. Don’t assume. If you want it mainly as a prop for history you can get fairly cheap ones from the Discriminating General. I wouldn’t hunt with one of theirs but for blanks now and then and just having they aren’t bad. Another option is hanging around some bigger events and buying a used one off a blanket. I would need a rough location for you but there are places all around the country where you can see 1000+ men-at-arms on a given weekend. Thjose places make for a great sutlers row to shop.

One more thing ---- even if you have no intention to hunt, consider taking a basic hunter safety class. Every state I know of offers them in one form or another and they are usually free. Basic black powder is part of the course and some states even offer advanced courses for nothing but black powder.

You asked about misfires and I answered but there are a hundred ways your musket can hurt you without trying hard. In flinters its usually the flint. When the hammer falls the flint actually cuts the frizzen - those sparks are little pieces of red hot steel. If it cuts steel your skin isn’t much of a challenge for it. I brushed my thumb across my flint by accident trying to come to “salute arms”. The flint cut into my thumb, hit the bone and slid around it, and came halfway out the other side. I basically de-boned my thumb. It turned out fine and gave me a lovely scar I’m proud of but I wouldn’t recommend others do it if they can avoid it.

(This was during a parade. When it happened I wrapped a neck-stock around it but I still left a blood trail even a city boy could track. As I was coming through the reviewing stand the announcer said “Look - they even have simulated wounds”. I never had the heart to tell him how wrong he was.)

Dixie Gun Works has a variety of muskets, as well as clothing and accouterments.

I live near Raleigh NC

Sig Sauer…

Typically, the word “musket” is used to refer to a military-pattern piece. Are you interested specifically in military arms or were you using the word to refer to muzzleloading long guns in general?

fully aware what a musket “typically” is … maybe your not aware what a sig is… :smack:

I was addressing the OP. Thanks for correcting my ignorance, though. As a quick search will show, guns scare me and I am nearly completely ignorant on the topic.

Other users here have answered the OP quite well, so I just have an anecdote - a friend of mine in Colorado was hunting with his 50 cal. muzzle loader…he decided it would be a good idea to sit in a tree stand while hunting. Long story short he blew himself out of the tree stand and broke his leg … and missed the buck.

Be careful, don’t fire from trees.

I am interested in military type guns. As I mentioned I do not hunt or have any plans to hunt.

2 weeks ago I saw the Guilford Courthouse battle re-enactment but I was interested before I saw that.

I regularly shoot a replica 1853 Enfield caplock rifle-musket (.58 cal) and a replica 1756 long land pattern British musket which is a smooth bore flintlock (.75 cal).

Some things you need to be aware of:

A smooth bore musket always fires curve balls. The ball is going to randomly hit one side of the barrel or the other on the way out. It will go straight for maybe 50 to 75 yards. After that, which way it goes is going to be anyone’s guess. It used to be said that you could stand 200 yards away from a single musketeer and not fear being shot by him. There are generally two sizes of round balls available for any given caliber of musket. The tighter fitting one (closer to the bore size of the barrel) will be a bit more accurate, but will also be harder to load after the barrel starts to get fouled by powder. If you are hunting where you’ll only take a few shots with plenty of time for cleaning the barrel in between, you’ll want the tighter fitting ball. If you are plunking at targets you’ll want the looser fitting ball or you’ll spend a lot more time cleaning the barrel so that it doesn’t get too hard to load.

Rifles are more accurate, and can fire either a round ball or a Minie ball, which despite its name isn’t a ball at all. The Minie ball is actually a conical bullet with an expanding skirt. The expanding skirt means that you can make the round small enough that it can fit down the barrel even after you’ve fired a few shots, and when fired the skirt will expand and grip the rifling and give the round a good spin, which makes it more stable in flight and more accurate. A rifle with a round ball is accurate to about 200 yards. You can double that with a Minie ball.

Smaller caliber muskets like Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles will usually fire round balls. Minie balls are typically only available in military calibers, like .58 for Springfield and Enflield muskets.

You have two choices for the firing mechanism, flintlock or caplock. Flintlock is older, and is just a piece of flint that strikes the steel frizzen, making a spark that ignites powder in the pan. This causes fire to go through the hole into the barrel and ignites the main charge. There’s a bit of a delay between the pan going off and the main charge going off, and you also get a lot more flash and smoke in your face. In reality the delay isn’t that big (though it is just long enough that some people flinch and miss their target) and the flash and smoke really isn’t that bad, but when it’s right there in your face it takes a little getting used to. Flintlocks are much more prone to misfires. If it’s damp out, they won’t fire. If you don’t take care of your flint, they won’t fire. They are a bit picky, but if you maintain your musket and your flint well, they are fairly reliable (except when it’s wet out).

A misfire isn’t harmful or anything. It’s just annoying when you pull the trigger and all you get is a click. The important thing is to stand still for a good 30 seconds with the musket still pointing at the target, because you could have a small spark that will go off when you’re not expecting it. If nothing happens, just pull back the cock and try again.

Caplocks are a lot more reliable and a lot more immune to weather. Instead of flint, you have a percussion cap sitting over the musket’s nipple, which leads to a hole in the side of the barrel. The hammer comes down and smacks the cap, and it makes flame that goes into the barrel and ignites the main charge. If a caplock gets stubborn and won’t fire, you can unscrew the nipple and put a tiny amount of powder under it, which will usually get the main charge to go. If all else fails, they do make stuck ball removers which screw into the barrel where the nipple goes and can force out a non-firing load.

Worst case, you pour water down the barrel (to make sure the powder won’t go off) and use a ball puller on the end of your ramrod to get out a stuck round.

Cleaning muskets is a pain in the ass. I kinda enjoy it (it’s part of the whole experience) but the cleaning is what stops a lot of people from getting into black powder weapons. Unlike a modern weapon, you have to clean a musket every time you use it. Black powder absorbs water out of the air and combines it with sulfur in the powder to create sulfuric acid. If you don’t clean your musket properly, the acid will eat out the inside of the barrel and ruin it.

You’ve got basically two types of muskets available, military and non-military types. Your military types are things like the Springfield and Enfield muskets. Your non-military types are things like Pennsylvania or Kentucky rifles.

I live near Gettysburg, and they have many shops selling muskets (mostly Civil War era reproduction caplocks).

Dixie Gun Works (already mentioned) is another source for muskets.

I got my flintlock from Middlesex Village Trading Company. My experience with them is just one single musket, but it’s of good quality and they are generally less expensive than Dixie Gun Works. I went with them though because they were the only ones selling the early (longer) model British infantry musket. Dixie and the other places only sell the later version, which is shorter. They have a much smaller selection than Dixie, but their muskets are a bit more unique. They have Spanish muskets and fowlers and guns that you don’t see at the other places.

Track of the Wolf is another vendor. I’ve only ever ordered ammunition and accessories from them so can’t speak to the quality of their muskets. From what I’ve seen on their web site they sell mostly real antiques, but they do have reproductions from time to time.

This was true when I lived in California. In Washington, they have to be bought through a dealer. Since most dealers have a limited selection of muzzleloaders (if any at all), one may have to order the gun and have it delivered to the dealer – who will charge $25 for his trouble. The last muzzleloader I bought was an Uberti Remington 1858 New Army. Fortunately there’s an Uberti dealer (still a limited selection though) 50 miles away from me who had one in stock.


  1. When I was in L.A. I bought five Uberti Colts directly from Uberti and they were delivered to my apartment. They even gave me a ‘dealer discount’ since I bought so many. Uberti no longer sell directly.

  2. Be sure to check your state laws. I think Cabella’s has an ‘If you live in these states:’ note on their muzzleloaders.


I know someone near Fayetteville. If this goes past the “thinking” stage let me know via PM and I’ll give you his e-mail address and send him a “bona-fides” as the 1812ers call it.

I know what you’re saying ---- but my .75 belt pistol (basically a 6 inch barreled 10 or 11 gauge) sure makes itself known with a coach-load or buck&ball.

Taking a wild guess its possible he had a load that would kill game and cook it at the same time. Usually I load somewhere around 1 grain by measure per caliber. My Bess I usually use 75 grains of 2FG, my .62 Tulle 60 grains of 2Fg. At that I can hold either one out one-handed like a pistol and shoot it without problem. My one buddy though uses 100 grains of 3Fg in his .45. That even nudges me back a little and I am not a small person.

Not knowing your primary interest/era or interest or anything else, I would recommend a Charleyville flinter as a good place to start. The DGs are good and so are the ones Turner Kirkland designed for Dixie Gun Works. The Charley has an advantage over a Bess in that you can easily remove the barrel for cleaning; its banded on and not pinned.

Even if hunting doesn’t interest you, consider learning how to fire live rounds. There are some re-enactors who I know who have never fired ANYTHING. They think of their muskets as some sort of prop or toy. It isn’t; even the blank loads can kill someone. Once you actually put some lead downrange, blow up some milk jugs and bust up some pine boards, it all becomes more real and makes for a better owner and user.
I love GEEKS response (and I’m wondering if we’ve ever shot at or around each other) but I will debate one small point “Smaller caliber muskets like Pennsylvania and Kentucky rifles will usually fire round balls. Minie balls are typically only available in military calibers, like .58 for Springfield and Enflield muskets.”

Usually in my mind I separate civilian rifles from military muskets but these days you can get all kinds of projectiles for almost anything. From sabots and Powerbelts, from “Buffalo Bullets” to Lee “ashcans” (full wad cutters). Much of it is designed more for the modern in-line actions but depending on your rifling they can work fairly well even in traditional guns. And most can be had anywhere from .32 to .58 or more.