Flint, Steel and Black Powder

- The Simplicity and Peace of Traditional Muzzleloading -





"WEAPON PLATFORM SYSTEMS! - High speed low drag - tacticool - workspace - economy of effort, economy of motion - getting your gun back in the fight- OPERATOR - rig - gear - load out - sending pills - keymod - M-Lok - Weapon Mounted Lights - IR - neutralize - mitigate - Threat - Sheepdog - 3% - Zombies - hashtag hashtag hashtag...blah blah blah I could go on.

If you have been around the shooting community for any length of time, you have observed the increasing tempo of cool guy terminologies and the plethora of individuals suddenly attaining high speed operator status - even though their day job consists of keyboards and calculators.  Rotund accountants are putting fortunes into Crye clothing, chest rigs and weapon-system-platforms decked out with optics, lights and adjuncts found elsewhere only on Tier 1 teams.  Now before you cut me off at the pass here - understand that I am 100% supportive of the well armed, well trained citizen,  as well as owning and maintaining all of the necessary support equipment to employ modern militarized firearms in order to fully protect and preserve not only the 2nd, but every other Amendment on that Bill of Rights.  Are we clear?  Not all companies or individuals involved in the modern, defense or "tactical" shooting community are guilty of what I term "tactical retardation".  

I am sure she is a nice lady (example only).
There is a phenomena sweeping the modern firearm industry.  It is being driven not by utility, or necessity - instead it is by diseased consumerism with marketing ploys geared towards 13 year old boys seething with pubescent fantasies of babes toting machine guns.  Companies are no longer relying on the solid reputation of a proven resume, reputation, and the word of seasoned operators to market their proven utilitarian weapon or enhancement.  Instead we see the influx of "gun bunny" culture, a MTV style approach to marketing for products that serve zero practical application whatsoever coupled with doomsday fantasies as far fetched as grown men (I use that term "men" loosely) discussing zombies.  Not all companies are guilty of this however.  Colt, Lewis Machine and Tool, Daniel Defense, London Bridge Trading, Trijicon, Safariland are just a few proven companies used by the elite of the elite that seldom if ever at all have stooped to this Cro-Magnon level of marketing.  No, their incredible reputation of quality and service carries their names.  These legit companies have no need to pretend, or pose, because those who know, and are actually paid to employ a black rifle as a job, know these few companies have your back in the real world of dirt, grime, flash bangs and harsh weather. 

Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, SHOT, Magazines, page after page, post after post, we are bombarded with selfies and bedroom photos (taken by boyfriends and spouses) of scantily clad ladies pretending to be gun wielding tactical ninjas.  (I am not attacking women with guns so stop getting triggered).  All of this is vying for your attention, likes and shares to market, gain followers, get more free gear, get paid or even tickets to SHOT.  It is a loud, distracting, soft-core, frenzy geared towards trying to separate you from your dollars via distraction and manipulation.  Not only is it retarded (apologies to those truly mentally challenged) but as a forum friend has often repeated, "Guns attract retards".  Look around.

Author at Pistol-Carbine School 9th Year of SWAT
If you are asking, "Who the F*** are you?" and pounding away at your keyboard with assumptions - I will share a little bit about myself so pause.  I have been involved in tactical shooting, the AR-15, myriad of semi-auto handguns, shotguns and so on since the early 90's (shooting my first CAR15 and  Daewoo in 1986).  Currently, I am a decorated SWAT operator with 10 years on the job to present and no sign of slowing down.  I have trained hard, for a long time, lost much sleep, deployed on many a callout, stalked bad guys and saved lives.  I have passed countless shooting qualification courses with a regular 90% or greater on the MEU(SOC) rifle and pistol qualification as well as the LAPD SWAT qualification prior to the MEU(SOC) adoption by our team.  I have attended numerous courses as well as other training regimens in order to stay up to speed and relevant.  I did not just wake up yesterday, put on a bikini and pose with a couple of firearms for my instagram.  As a matter of fact you will seldom see a posed picture at all on my IG.  

Now that we have all of that background out of the way, and the Cro-Magnon crowd has lost interest in this article, let's move along.  

The rampant marketing, false perception of gear obsolescence, loud in your face "tacticool" culture, industry infighting, and overwhelming ego tripping that seems to permeate this modern firearms industry has often forced me to consider retreating completely by disconnecting and going back to just enjoying my firearms - my way - before this digital age.  The rampant lack of credibility among those claiming or purveying their "expertise" that flows through forums/comment feeds, as booger eaters pound their keyboards with a vengeance defending their pet brands, while espousing their Call of Duty fantasies, preaching of zombie apocalypses, all but drove me to never participate in rational and articulate gun discussions online again. 

Amidst this culture of handicapped chaos, hidden in the shadows of dimly lit forests, and the song bird filled woods of America there exists a culture that is diametrically the opposite of everything previously mentioned.  There exists a calm, a zen, a meditative world of ritual, history, tradition, rhythm and methodology; where art, skill, and craftsmanship are blended into the roots of firearms history.  This is the world of traditional muzzleloaders.  Whether nestled in the folds of the green hills of Appalachia, the hardwood forests of the Northeast or the snow covered Rockies in the West, there is a sanctuary for those of us growing ill with this plastic culture.  No, not the breech loading, black powder, modern firearms with synthetic stocks and optics, whose only purpose is to circumvent a rule in order to hunt a particular district or season with all the advantages of modernity.  We're talking about American Longrifles and fowlers made in the image of those by Isaac Haines, Jacob Dickert, John Bivens, J.P. Beck, Joseph Long, JJ. Henry, Henry Leman to name only a few.  We're talking about Lancaster Rifles, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Jaegers, Trade Guns.  These are the rifles that freed a nation, settled a wild continent, and helped birth the United States.  They are our nations mitochondria. 

J.P. Beck Rifle
My father still has the impeccable replica Hawken (.54 cal) made by Ithaca with a Green Mountain barrel, that I grew up shooting.  I remember nearly every time we would shoot this smoke belching relic of a bygone, late fur trade, frontier era.  Something was soothing about the loading and firing process.  There was a sweet simplicity in the powder, patch and ball - all seated with a ramrod stick - all carried in a folded and sewn moose hide bag sitting on ones hip underneath a horn of powder.  Also noted, was the focus on fundamentals of marksmanship and being a rifleman.  You had one shot - no second chances.  Each time I experienced this process, this ritual, each time I heard the concussion and witnessed the plume of hanging smoke, I yearned for more, only to move on and again join the fast paced modern world, neglecting the call of sulfur, salt-peter and charcoal.  Over the years, I went through the call several times, ignoring my desire to jump into muzzleloading myself.  

English Rifle With Durs Egg Lock
Last year, while at a rendezvous with the family, I met up with an older acquaintance, who that day happened to have stepped out of 1814.  Wearing moccasins, a dirty white colonial shirt, a tobacco pouch and clay pipe adorning his neck, holding an English style Flintlock rifle that was beautiful in every way, he kindly urged me to shoot it, making it clear, "Ah - with blackpowder it's different, we love when someone shoots our gun.  You'll always be asked to shoot someones rifle here!" It was as if he was tricking me with some ancient magic.  I clutched the beautiful hand polished walnut, starring at the octagon to sixteen sides, wedding banded to round barrel, the engraved Durs Egg lock with a small piece of flint clutched in the jaws of the cock.  This rifle was beauty.  There was no aluminum, no phosphated finish, no pic rail, no plastic, no "trying to be so hardcore it looked stupid roll marks", no comic book characters engraved, nothing at all but sheer craftsmanship and the simple, organic beauty of checkered, polished walnut, engraved steel, and hand fitting that made one believe this was the work of Dwarves.  Purely authentic, original.  

I shouldered the rifle, feeling the way it fell into my arms as if it belonged there.  The rifle held, floating as if it defied gravity, lightly pointing naturally, still and even it held, in a way unlike any modern firearm.  With the pan primed, the cock cocked, I sighted down the barrel, blurring the world other then the sheen of silver off the front sight glowing between the rear buckhorns.  With an ease of pressure on my trigger finger there was zero creep or travel, just a SNAP! as if a small glass rod had broke.  In an instant - the cock released falling forward and striking the frizzen, sending a shower of sparks into the pan, igniting the small prime of powder in a flash, which then travelled through the touch hole into the main charge.  Click - flash -BOOM! Flash, sparks, smoke puffing in multiple directions - a .54 caliber 224 grain lead ball was sent hurling down range carrying over 1,500 ft/lbs of energy.  The ritualistic loading process was then begun.  Charge, patch, ball, ram, prime.  I was done.  Hooked.  I was ready to sell, trade, do whatever necessary in order to have one of these master gun builders (there are many still) build me a rifle such as this.  There is an indescribable calm that comes with the methodical loading ritual of these fine firearms.  As described earlier, a meditative, zen like state is achieved when interacting with these finely fashioned pieces of steel and wood. 

A Channel Members .50 Cal "Poor Boy"
For the last year, I have tapped into the resource of these older experienced gentlemen - many being part of the AMM (American Mountain Men).  I have read, searched, read some more, and sold some high end rifles in order to set forth on this journey.  We shoot monthly, meet monthly, and the group could not be more humble and welcoming to young newcomers.  Saturating this new found hobby, is history, a mandatory exposure to history.  Also surrounding this hobby are tasks like, making your own powder horn should you desire, or hunting pouch.  You can get in as deep as you like.  It is not as high speed as pretending you are on SEAL team 6 and running round screaming hut hut hut; however with it comes a peace and solitude, a welcome vacation from the world of modern tactical tupperware and flashy, "You are not cool unless you buy this!" advertising.  In place of one ups and topper stories, egos and compensations you will find hot kettles of pork and beans over a campfire next to pots of boiling cowboy coffee on the second Saturday of every month regardless of weather, where men of all walks gather, some in historic attire, others in a Filson vest and Carhartts, to walk through the woods, laugh, and throw out some lead and smoke.  There is always enough food, and a welcoming smile.  This is a muzzleloaders club.  

I still enjoy employing my modern firearms for work, as they are a necessary tool.  Ever notice how various Athletes choose to play golf as way to relax - even though golf is, well a sport?  This is like that - it is golf for shooters.  Traditional muzzleloading is a vacation from the norm a reprieve from modern chaos.  I invite you to try it.  Sell one of your 10 AR variants, one of your zombie apocalypse helmets, a chest rig you don't use and give this a try.  

Already, friends, some of whom are highly experienced, skilled tactical operators are expressing serious interest in attending the shoots, acquiring a rifle and joining me as I pursue a pure and natural return to the roots of our ancestors - to the last time a rock was incorporated into our weapon system platforms.  Ssh don't tell the gun bunnies we don't want them here, we're all married anyway.

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"There is an indescribable calm that comes with the methodical loading ritual of these fine firearms... ....a meditative, zen like state is achieved when interacting with these finely fashioned pieces of steel and wood. ... Traditional muzzleloading is a vacation from the norm a reprieve from modern chaos."