Flintlock Rifles, “What to Look For”

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FLINTLOCK RIFLES, “What to Look For”

by Darryl CHOY

Originally published 9/1999

It is not uncommon for a HHAA member to consider acquiring an original if not a reproduction Muzzleloader.  Occasionally the temptation may include the “grand-daddy” of all modern firearns, the Flintlock rifles/pistols. The following are the basic things to consider when examining a flintlock:

  1. Just a reminder, Flints are very sharp and be sure the weapon does not have a load down the barrel! Be careful!!!
  2. Pull the hammer back to full cock – should be smooth and stiff.
  3. Lower the hammer slowly – spring tension should be all the way to the bottom.
  4. With hammer at 1/2 cock – close the frizzen & hold up to the light. The frizzen and pan cover should cover the pan without any gaps.
  5. Push the frizzen forward It should be relatively hard to push at first then it should jump away and fully expose the pan.
  6. Closed frizzen – it should snap close.
  7. The hammer jaw -large enough to hold a flint with top and bottom leather or lead padding.
  8. Jaw screw – large enough to accommodate different flint sizes.
  9. Cock the hammer, lower frizzen and trip the lock. It should throw white-hot sparks in to the pan. The flint should not hang up on the frizzen jaw and the frizzen should fully open to expose the pan. This should all happen very quickly!
  10. Touch hole should be at least 1/16″ better 3/32″ diameter and just ahead of the breech plug. The touch hole should not below at the bottom of the pan, but rather centered and level with the pan height. Hold lock to eye level with the pan open. The touch hole should be at or near to the top of the pan.
  11. Little or no gap should exist between the barrel and the pan.

Do not do a full-on check of the lock without the Owner’s permission. Don’t “expert” a 200-yr old piece to pass these tests, however, all modern shooting reproductions should. Even if you don’t want to own a flintlock weapon, you can look knowledgeable at the next gun show by following the above tests For those of you who want more specific detailed information – the HHAA Flintlock Guru is Earl Matsuoka. Ask him about the flintlock that he tuned to shoot upside down!!! And read his outstanding series on Flintlocks that appeared in prior HHAA newsletters.

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