The Historical Black Powder Review

In the past few years, a number of high quality reproduction black powder firearms have come onto the market. These are fully operational, and the finer examples are exact copies of their historical ancestors.

Almost exact copies. What these reproductions do not have is the very high price of an original, nor the fragile 18th or 19th century metallurgy that makes discharging an original example extremely unwise.

To the amateur historian, these firearms add an element of experience and realism to historical research. For the most part, the reproductions feature the same characteristics as the original weapons, so one can experience their actual operation. This can, on occasion, dispel a few myths that have sprung up around some of the more notable firearms.

The current inventory in my gun safe:

Kentucky Rifle
Ferguson Rifle
Whitworth Rifle
LeMat Revolver

Black powder firearms in general are a change of pace. They're slow to load, and finicky in operation. The flintlocks in particular can be tempermental. A properly primed flintlock produces almost instant ignition. Improperly primed, which is to say too much powder in the pan, and you get the delay.

And black powder guns must be cleaned, thoroughly, and without delay. Black powder firearms are messy. They blow residue all over the place. One of the byproducts of black powder combustion is sulfur dioxide, which becomes sulfuric acid when combined with water. Leave a black powder firearm uncleaned, and when moisture condenses on the metal, acid is formed and they rust like crazy, one of the reasons so many antiques have horridly pitted bores. Clean them immediately after firing.

The repro firearms one can purchase today are quite accurate in both historical detail and operating characteristics. Perhaps the most attractive detail is the price: far below what you would pay for an original that one would be well advised not to take out and fire. For example, a clean, reasonably unflawed original Whitworth rifle sells for around $10k or so, more if it can be proven to have been CSA issued. The reproduction sells for around $800, plus another $200 if you're lucky enough to find the Romano bullet mold. A clean original LeMat brings $40k+, if you can find one at all. Navy Arms will sell you the reproduction for $500 - they're on sale right now.

My .22 target rifles

I've been exploring the world of 3P and benchrest (sort of) shooting lately. The 22 pages include a bullet test I ran not too long ago.

Talk black powder to me.

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