How To Get A Stuck Ball Out Of Your Muzzle Loading Gun
Getting a ball stuck in your muzzle loading gun is a real pain in the proverbial. Freeing it off is not usually too difficult, though it can require some special tools and patience. Read on for a bit of help should you ever find yourself (or your balls) stuck.
None of these methods should be attempted if the gun is loaded with any charge.
If the gun is loaded, attempt to seat the ball on the powder, and shoot out the projectile. If you must hammer the projectile onto the powder, then do so.
Muzzle Loading Revolvers
If, for example, you’ve forgotten to charge the cylinder, removing the ball is easy. You will struggle to remove the ball from the forward end of the cylinder, so take the nipple out, shake out any powder that you’ve loaded until the chamber is uncharged. Insert a strong rod (such as a short cleaning rod) into the nipple aperture until it’s touching the ball or wad, and bang the rod onto a table or similar. As the ball is lead, you won’t damage the threads of your rod. The ball will pop out without any argument. Due to the way muzzle loading revolvers are loaded, the ball should be a snug fit in the cylinder, but will offer little resistance.
Should your ball be stuck in the barrel, this is a slightly more difficult problem, though the solution is largely the same. Strictly speaking, a ball stuck in the barrel should be dislodged in the same direction as it would’ve gone had the gun discharged correctly, which is possible only with Colt open frame style revolvers, as the barrel assembly can be removed altogether from the gun. In either case, take your sturdy short cleaning rod (a Pedersoli steel rod works best), with a brass jag attached. Put the rod into the barrel against the ball, and starting with lighter hits, persuade the ball to move. With Colt open frame revolvers, do this from the breech to the muzzle. With Remington Model 1858 NMA guns, this must be done from the muzzle to the breech. Be careful in either case not to damage the forcing cone or crown of the gun. Once you’ve got the ball out, check the barrel for any damage, internally and externally.
Single Shot Muzzle Loading Pistols
This is where it gets a little more fun, as you cannot access the breech in order to push the ball out manually. Flintlock or percussion, you’ll therefore need to remove the barrel, and secure it in a vice or similar, with suitable padding on the jaws to protect the finish.
Depending where in the barrel the ball is stuck, dictates which method will work best. This can be ascertained by inserting a rod into the bore until it comes into contact with the obstruction, marking with your thumb against the muzzle, removing the rod and offering it up to the outside of the barrel.
For a ball stuck at the breech, for example if you forgot to charge it, try the following steps. Remove the nipple, and using the correct attachment, attach a C02 bullet puller to the nipple aperture. When the device is activated, it will pierce a 12g capsule of C02, and the resultant pressure will force the ball from the barrel. Be aware it does this pretty quickly, and with a lot of force, so orient the barrel in a safe direction and keep well clear of the muzzle. This method will also work with flintlock pistols with a removable vent hole.
Flintlock Pistols & Long Guns
For flintlock pistols without a removable vent hole, there are a few different methods to try (which also work on other single barrel muzzle loaders). Firstly, take a cleaning rod, and fit a ball pulling attachment of the right calibre (this will centralise the screw on the ball). Second, with the barrel secured strongly in a vice, insert rod and puller into the bore up to the ball, and give the end of the rod a couple of reasonable hits on the exposed end, then screw the rod into the ball, giving it some encouragement with a mallet if necessary. You will then (with some difficulty) be able to pull the ball from the barrel.
The easiest method I find is to stick the exposed end of the rod into a drill chuck, and using short blasts of power, the ball will free itself, and you can then withdraw whilst turning the drill at a low rpm. This is a rather aggressive solution, as the torque from the drill essentially ‘strips’ the rifling from the ball, and the continued motion prevents it from binding again. The barrel should be cleaned and de leaded after this procedure, as traces of lead will remain in the grooves.
Note that the C02 Bullet Puller mentioned previously should work if the projectile is lodged close to the breech, but may not work should the bullet be stuck closer towards the muzzle, so a belt and braces approach is best when trying to free long guns.
If none of these methods work, give us a call on 01132 569 163 01132 565 167, and we’ll be able to help further with the particulars of your problem.
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