Guide to buying a Muzzle Loading Black Powder Musket or Rifle
There is a huge variety of different muzzle loading muskets and rifles available, and considering where to begin when looking to buy one can be difficult. Here are some things you may wish to consider when first buying a muzzle loading rifle or musket.
Which Make of Black Powder Musket or Rifle Is the Best?
This depends entirely on what kind of shooting the shooter wishes to do. As with Black Powder pistols, the stand out maker is Pedersoli, who produce a swathe of different styles of gun to suit every style of shooting, from high quality Kentucky rifles to exceptional shooting Whitworth rifles. Ardesa should also be considered, their range of muzzle loading rifles and muskets are also of very high quality, and they also offer a range of in-line muzzle loading rifles unique to the Ardesa brand. Shooters more interested in shooting historical guns, particularly military pattern muskets such as the Brown Bess, or Charleville might consider our range of Indian guns. These are priced more competitively than similar guns, and are made in India using traditional methods and are faithful to the original, perfect for re-enactors or historical enthusiasts.
What Variation Do I Need for a Black Powder Musket or Rifle?
Firstly, this depends on whether you want a rifle, or musket/shotgun. Shotguns, and smoothbore guns such as muskets with a barrel over 24’’ long are held on a shotgun certificate, so no additional variation is required.
For rifles, be it muzzle loading or Black Powder breech loading, the variation will depend on the calibre. For a muzzle loading rifle, of say, .45, a variation will read ‘muzzle loading rifle, calibre .45’.
How Much Should I Be Looking to Pay for a Muzzle Loading Musket or Rifle?
I would advise firstly setting a budget for a gun, bearing in mind there are also a number of accessories you may wish to purchase, along with shot and powder, should you not already have it. Next, decide what kind of gun you would ideally like to buy, and whether you would like a musket or a rifle. Our Indian produced reproduction muskets vary between £400-£700, so are the most reasonably priced muzzle loading guns we offer, and are ideal for re-enactors or those with an interest in historical military arms. For target shooters, Ardesa or Pedersoli would be preferable, Ardesa rifles are in the same range as our Indian reproduction guns, and are excellent and durable guns for the price. For competitions, or more serious target shooting, Pedersoli are the highest quality guns we offer. They are CNC machined to very close tolerances. Prices for Pedersoli manufactured guns starts at around £600.
Which Calibre Muzzle Loading Musket or Rifle Should I Buy?
This depends entirely upon what kind of shooting you plan to do. If you intend on doing casual target shooting, then any calibre will suffice, a muzzle loading Kentucky rifle in .45, for example, would be the ideal start, and would be a perfectly good shooter, with the correct load, out to about 200 yards. For more serious target shooting, at more extended ranges, a .451 Whitworth or Volunteer would be much better suited, the Whitworth is capable of shooting in excess of 1000 yards. Guns such as the Kentucky rifle are available in several calibres; .32, .45, and .50. Given the amount of different calibres original Kentucky rifles are offered in (stemming from the practise of re-machining the bore to a larger calibre when the rifling became too worn), so all can be used in ‘spirit of the original’ competitions, and are a matter of preference on the shooter’s part
Is a Musket, or a Rifle, Better?
Generally speaking, a rifle is better, hence why it supplanted the musket in the mid-19th century. For competition use, unless it is a musket competition, the shooter using a musket would only needlessly handicap himself against those shooting with rifles. Target shooting should not be discounted with muskets however, they are still capable of decent accuracy when shot and loaded correctly, however their shortfalls compared to rifles are profound.
It is worth remembering that though muskets may not generally be as accurate as rifles, they can also be used as a shotgun, at birds or clays. This, therefore lends the musket a versatility the rifle does not have, though I should point out that using a musket in this capacity is something of a challenge!
What Load Should I Use for My Muzzle Loading Gun?
Naturally, this depends on what gun you have! Detailed loading information can be found for all of our guns from the manufacturers, please see our other blog for Pedersoli loading data. Remember, data for muzzle loading guns is provided for Black Powder only, so the shooter wishing to use Pyrodex or other smokeless propellants must take extra care to find the correct and safe charges.
Manufacturer’s data also generally covers lead ball size, though this can vary, so please do read my other blog for a more in depth guide.
Other blogs to consider: