Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you ship?
2. How long does shipping take?
3. What is your return policy?
4. Is there a warranty?
5. Can these be fired with shot?
6. Who is the manufacturer?
7. Are the barrels proofed?
8. Can you build me a pistol in .75 to match my Brown Bess?
9 How about a canoe gun?
10 What kind of Charleville is correct for 1775 New England (I.E. "Battle Road")?
10A So does that mean that a Short Land Bess is more correct for early RevWar impressions?
11. Is the vent hole drilled?
12. Are the frizzens hardened?
13. Do you accept credit cards?
14: What kind of wood is the stock made out of?
15: What are your hours?
16: Can I come pick up my musket in person?
17: OK, this is my first gun, can you teach me to load/shoot/clean it?
18: Will you install my flash guard and sling for me?
19: What is the maximum powder charge I can use in a smoothbore?
20: Can I use a black powder substitute, such as Pyrodex or 777?
21: Can I shoot rocks and nails and other junk out of a blunderbuss?
22: Can I fire double or triple loads out of my blunderbuss to get a bigger bang?
23: My reenacting persona is a guy who fought in the Jacobite uprising, then after a career as a pirate, came to North America with the French to fight against the British in the F&I war, then was a Patriot in the Revolution, and after the war went west as a voyager to be a mountain man. What gun should I get?
24: My wooden ramrod just snapped as I took it out of the thimbles. Is this covered under warranty?
25: Do you have any left handed muskets?
26: Are these functioning muskets that can actually be fired?
27: I have heard that "India guns" are supposed to be wallhangers and blow up. Is this true?
28: Do the nipples on the percussion guns use #11 caps?
29: What is the status of my order?
30: What is the expected delivery date of my gun?
31: Do you have a (insert musket name here) in stock?
32: Can you call me?/What is your number so I can call you?
33: How do I know this is a real company?
34: You sound like a real jerk, are you like this in person?
Q #1: How do you ship?
A: We ship most items using UPS Ground and some smaller items using USPS in the lower 48. For AK, HI, and foreign countries, we ship USPS while keeping within size limits. Oversized packages to overseas countries will sometimes have to go via airfreight. We don't use FedEx at all, so please don't ask.
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Q #2: How long does shipping take?
A: At this time we have a big backlog in the shop, things that need to be prepped (in other words, ALL guns) will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks or even much longer. Read that again and read all of the words this time as they are all important! I did not just say you will get your gun 8 weeks from today, I said it will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks or even much longer.
Usually much longer.
This is all hand made stuff. There is approximately 100-120 man-hours of hand work into EACH gun and there are other people ahead of you in line. There are different wait times for different models. Please do not ask me how long for this, how long for that etc. If you want a particualr pattern, order it, but please understand that you will have to wait your turn.
I cannot predict an accurate estimate of when any particular order will ship, all I can do is let you look yourself up on my work list to see where you are in line. It can be seen here. Sorry about this, but if you want them to work when they get to you, we need to run them through the shop first. A person can only do so much and I spend half of every day answering emails, plus we have walk-in customers, classes to teach, bookkeeping to do and so on. There are no gun elves that make these things while I sleep.
Each gun gets torn down, vented, inspected, anything found at inspection gets fixed, then it is put back together and tested before being packed to ship. This could take half an hour or it could take close to a whole day depending on what is found at inspection.
Small non-gun stuff usually gets shipped once a week when Caleigh packs up a bunch of USPS sized stuff all at once. This means that if you order a belt hook on Tuesday evening, it will probably ship the following Monday when Caleigh works. I don't know what it is about people that order belt hooks only, but probably half of them will order a belt hook on Tuesday night, then by Thursday morning they send me a pissy email complaining that they haven't got it yet and that somehow a belt hook not shipping until Monday is keeping them from going to an event of the weekend. I don't understand belt hook people. Relax, people! It is a HOBBY and you don't need a belt hook to be a reenactor!
We do not have a full time "shipping department", remember that this is a small business and there are often projects on the bench that ahead of yours. First come, first serve, no whining, fighting or cutting in line!
Oftentimes popular items are backordered. That is how it goes with handmade, period correct stuff, it takes time to build. Backorders are held by deposit, and filled on a first come, first serve basis. We are talking about international trade here and there are a lot of variables.
Please don't order something, then send me rude emails telling me that you ordered an item a week ago and still haven't got your package and that by comparison you ordered a sword from some giant mail-order house and it came in less than a week so you have put a stop on your credit card payment. Flintlocks need to be tuned, and mass-produced swords don't. If your life needs to happen that quickly, muzzleloaders are not for you.
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Q #3: What is your return policy?
A: Simple. Don't like it? Send it back UNUSED and UNALTERED for a refund less shipping. If you receive an item and don't like it for whatever reason, you are welcome to send it back within 3 days of the delivery date for a full refund of the purchase price, less shipping, provided that the item is in unused, unmodified condition. Refunds are by check.
Unused means just that. If you have fired the gun, even once, it is now "used" and I can't resell it as a new one and therefore cannot refund the full purchase price.
If you are buying these to resell, take them to an event (reenactment, gun show...whatever) and they don't sell that weekend, that is not our problem. Please use common sense in this regard and don't try to return a gun that is all scratched up and covered with rusty fingerprints because everyone and his brother picked it up and fondled it over the weekend. We don't offer guns "on consignment".
If you are returning it because your wife found out that you bought ANOTHER gun, well, you have bigger problems than I can help you with.
Before returning anything, be sure to contact us first for instructions. We can not be held responsible for unauthorized returns as the security of a box sitting out in front of the shop over a long weekend is beyond our control, nor can we be held responsible for a returned gun that was damaged in shipping.
We were forced to add the 3-day return policy because of a series of people taking advantage of us. They would buy a pistol, carry it on their belt as a part of a Halloween costume, then return it. We aren't in the business of lending you costume props. More recently we had this occur with someone who was only going to one Civil War reenactment and bought a musket, went to the event, didn't actually field, then returned the gun after the event after having a chance to pose with it all weekend.
Hot Hollywood starlets get to do this with big money jewelry and $100,000 dresses so the dressmakers and jewelers can show off their stuff on a hot Hollywood starlet on the red carpet. You don't get to do this with our guns because you aren't a hot Hollywood starlet. On the other hand, if you ARE a hot Hollywood starlet, maybe we'll consider it. Please send pics.
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Q #4: Is there a warranty?
A: Yes. We warranty the locks against breakage under normal operating conditions.
"Normal operating conditions" means not rusted or modified. Your next door neighbor's cousin's brother-in-law who "works on guns" is probably not qualified to repair a flintlock. If there is a problem with a lock, send it to us and we will take care of it.
Springs and frizzen wear are included in the warranty. Frizzens wear out today just as they did in the 18th century. The sparks you see when snapping a flintlock are little bits of frizzen being scraped away by the flint. If the case hardening wears through send it to us and we will reharden it. If there is a problem, communication with us is the way to fix it and keep it from happening again. Grumbling about a problem around a campfire doesn't fix anything.
Lock repairs including return shipping are free of charge for one year from the purchase date. After one year, the repairs are still free, but there is a $10 fee. We had to make this change to our policy because of certain people taking advantage of our generous policy by not maintaining their lock for a whole season and sending in a rusty, skanky, dirty lock for us to "fix" because it was free. This got to be a habit and like many other situations in life, a few bad eggs ruined a good thing for everyone.
For warranty repairs, go to our "repairs" page by clicking the button on the sidebar. Follow the instructions on the page.
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Q #5: Can these be fired with shot?
A: Yes. Many of our customers hunt with these. Others target shoot. Others just shoot blanks in reenactments. The barrels are made of D.O.M. steel just like the "big names". The breechplugs are threaded and tight.
Using a reasonable load is expected of you and beyond our control. Black powder only!!! An owner's manual comes with each gun. If you lost yours, bought the gun used, or your dog ate it, the entire document is available to download as a text document here
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Q #6: Who is the manufacturer?
A: Exactly who is proprietary information. We have most our flintlocks made in India by a company who is in it's third generation and has been in the gun business since 1952 (that is even before Turner Kirkland started Dixie Gun Works). We also deal with several other suppliers in the same area.
There are pros and cons to guns made in India. There is a town in the Western part of the country that is packed full of gunmaking shops, some good and some bad. Through trial and error we have found a few companies who are willing to work with us to produce reproduction flintlocks that fit the time periods we reenact here.
I'll admit that I have seen Indian built guns that are pretty much junk, but I don't sell them. Please don't confuse these with guns that are available from Canadian movie prop companies. While we have provided flintlocks to several prop houses, we have no fantasies about being in the movie business and therefore have different priorities. Our goal is to provide historically accurate weapons and gear to the living history community.
These guns are on static display in several museums around the US, used by the National Park Service in interpretive programs, and are used by yet other museums for musket firing demonstrations daily.
1. With the exception of the barrel, all steel parts are handforged for the ultimate in period correct construction. This makes for some of the strongest locks available. The investment cast parts available elsewhere are not only not historically accurate, but are also prone to casting flaws and cavitation. Hand-forging eliminates these problems.
2. Since the manufacturing techniques are still "old world" instead of "high tech", production runs are smaller, generally 20-25 pieces at a time. This allows smaller numbers of unique patterns to be built at a reasonable cost. This isn't possible in the "high tech" world of CNC manufacturing where large numbers of a pattern need to be made to make it cost effective.
3. Cast brass parts are generally made the old fashioned way with attention paid to historical accuracy, and not manufacturing efficiency. In many cases, molds for brass furniture are made directly from original pieces. Brass parts are mode of real brass, not a goofy bronze alloy like the kit guns or brass plated like certain Italian made guns. All engraving that you see is actual hand chased engraving, it isn't just cast into the part like the Italian stuff.
1. Walnut stock blanks are not available in India at anything like a reasonable price. The stocks on these are made of teak (the Indians call teak and other similar woods "rosewood"). These are pretty woods with prominent grain, but are slightly heavier than walnut. If I were to send raw materials to the shop to have them make walnut stocks, it would probably double the price. The other downside to teak is that it is difficult to work with unless your tools are very sharp (they should be sharp anyway).
2. Interchangeability. Since the parts are hand made, they don't always interchange. Replacement parts need to be fitted. The good news is that because of the manufacturing techniques, there is seldom a reason to replace a part.
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Q #7: Are the barrels proofed?
A: No. Here in the US, there are no proof houses. I checked with SAAMI as to their recommendation about proofing. ("Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute", the organization who sets standards for such things)
Here was the response:
"SAAMI is currently working on setting standards for muzzleloading guns.
There is no proof standard at this time... Cartridge guns are proofed at 130% to 140% of
service load pressures. Where and how proofing of muzzleloaders will be done
is not yet set."
What does this mean? It means that here in America, there are no standards to proof barrels to, nor proof houses to do the testing. In countries where there are proof laws and proof houses (like the UK and Germany), these routinely pass proof testing.
If you really, really want a muzzleloader to be proof tested, we can perform that task for a fee of $200. Why so much? Because to do it right it is time consuming. The gun barrel will be measured, test fired with double the service load (far in excess of Italian standards that are only 130% of service load) and measured again. The barrel will be marked with our stamp and you will get a copy of the test report. We keep a copy of the test report on file here.
It is a time consuming process and not as simple as your cousin Bubba just putting a double load in it and setting the gun off by tying a string to the trigger. It involves the gun being totally dismantled, painstakingly measured, loaded, fired, painstakingly measured again after the barrel sits indoors to re-acclimate to room temperature again, cleaned, stamped and reassembled. It pretty much ties me up for the whole afternoon.
To see a video of the whole process which we use, click this youtube link:
Link to video on our proof testing process
The reality is that with the modern seamless steel barrels that are used in replica muzzleloaders, they are much, much stronger than the old mandrel wound and mandrel wrapped barrels that were used in the 18th and 19th century and proof testing is really not unnecessary. With the exception of certain CVA inline deer rifles that had a press-fit breech plug, every single muzzleloader failure I have researched has been the result of user error and somebody not following the directions. Stuff like using the wrong powder, massive overloads, short-ramming the ball etc.
When you buy a new car, you don't ask the dealer to crash test it for you. It makes just as little sense to proof test a new gun when there is no good reason to.
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Q #8: Can you build me a pistol in .75 cal to match my Brown Bess?
A: No. I don't have time to do custom work anymore, and even if I did I would not build something that was historically inaccurate. Pistols were meant for three kinds of troops; horse soldiers, sailors, and highlanders. I don't care what they showed in "The Patriot", infantry soldiers were not issued pistols, and the idea of having a pistol bore to match your musket is not historically accurate for English troops.
British service issue pistols were generally in two sizes: pistol bore (roughly .58) and carbine bore (roughly .65). Never have I seen an original in .75 bore.
Our French pistols are in .69, which matches the French muskets. The French really advanced their gun technology and concepts while the Brits clung to traditions. Look at how each generation of French musket was an improvement over the one before. Each new generation of British musket was really just a cheaper, shorter version of the Brown Bess.
Don't even get me started about so-called "canoe guns".
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Q #9: How about a canoe gun?
A: You knew it was my pet peeve and just had to ask, didn't you?
OK, here are my thoughts on so-called "canoe guns".
They never existed!!!
The idea of a musket being cut back because the muzzle wore through, mushroomed, or was just plain too long is well founded in history, but the idea of a longhunter having a special cut-down musket for use in canoes is just plain BS and a product of someone's imagination in the early 1990's. Think about it. You have a canoe and thus don't have to actually carry your gun unless you are actually firing it, so you could bring along a musket as big as you want.
Market hunters used big, clunky muskets with full sized bores. They loaded up with huge loads, crept up on a flock of birds, and blasted them while sitting on the water, killing or wounding sometime over 100 birds with a single shot. They did NOT use cute little cut down Northwest trade guns from canoes.
There is simply no historical precedent for a "canoe gun". The idea of a "longhunter" carrying a second gun for use in a boat is just silly.
I have an original musket in my collection that has been shortened. It was an Indian gun, complete with brass tacks on the stock. It has been percussioned, restocked, and worn out by long, hard use. It is short, but it is NOT a "canoe gun".
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Q #10: What kind of Charleville is correct for 1775 New England?
A: None. It is well documented that so-called "Charlevilles" were shipped to New England via a straw company set up through Ben Franklin's contacts in France. They arrived in the spring of 1777. The war pretty much left New England around that time. Specifically, the "Battle Road" stuff happened in the spring of 1775, two years before the French muskets arrived in Portsmouth, NH.
When the French muskets did get here, they certainly didn't go to the local town militias. They were intended for the Continental Line troops and would all have had unit markings. I recently got to handle an original 1763 Charleville that has N.H. regimental markings on the barrel. It was different in many ways from the Italian repros.
The French guns in the hands of the militia in the 1775-1777 period would have been earlier military muskets, like the 1717, 1728 or 1754 patterns. There would also have been plenty of fusils and civilian style fowling pieces obtained in trade with Canada in the odd periods when we were not at war with the French. Remember that the New England fowlers were basically copies of mid-century French fowlers.
On display in the "Museum of Our National Heritage" in Lexington, MA are several fowlers and muskets documented as being used on April 19, 1775. There are lots of early French parts in them.
Now some old guys who carried Navy Arms Charlevilles in the Bicentennial will say that their character "could have brought it back from the French and Indian War". Nope. The Charlevilles in question are the 1763 pattern, which were not yet invented by the time the Seven Years War ended, so there certainly weren't a pile of these things brought home as war trophies by Yankee provincials. (no offense meant to the old guys here, they laid the groundwork for the reenacting we enjoy today, thirty years later)
There are tons of Charlevilles and Short Land Brown Bess muskets in the hands of reenactors today basically because that pretty much all that was available for years.
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Q #10A: So does that mean that a Short Land Bess is more correct for early RevWar impressions?
A: Not exactly. The Short Land muskets with 42" barrels, but 1756 Long Land pattern furniture were introduced in 1768. The trouble here in the colonies officially began in April, 1775. The British troops that marched on Lexington and Concord were still carrying Long Lands, you can see a captured one with a 10th Regt. of Foot provenance at the museum mentioned in FAQ #10 above. Just exactly how would all of those Short Lands have found there way into the hands of the militia? It's not bloody likely that any did until the war escalated.
According to DeWitt Bailey's research, the "Short Land" muskets as we know them from looking at Japanese or Italian repros (I.E. with the flat sideplate and 42" barrel) aren't right for Battle Road at all. The brass furniture for the new flat-sideplate type musket wasn't ordered until July of 1775, with the first sets being delivered in November of 1775, the muskets themselves were probably not assembled until 1776. So an off-the-shelf "2nd model" or "Short Land" Japanese or Italian musket is NOT correct for Battle Road if you REALLY care about the details.
To be really correct, New England militia would have a Long Land, an early French musket or a fowler. Mostly fowlers and weird paramilitary "parts guns". Certainly no rifles.
Unlike in the 1970's, there are options for today's reenactors who want to do it right. Settling for a Short Land or a Charleville to do Battle Road isn't your only option anymore when we can be historically correct for the same amount of money or even less if you are comparing a correct musket to an overpriced Italian musket.
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Q #11: Is the vent hole drilled?
A: Yes. A flintlock without a vent hole is a fancy paperweight. We sell muzzleloaders, not paperweights. For paperweights, try an office supply store. For international shipment, we can provide an unvented barrel upon request, sometimes advance notice is needed for an unvented gun though as 99.99% of our customers want them ready to shoot.
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Q #12: Are the frizzens hardend?
A: Yes. Frizzens wear out though, that what the sparks you see when you fire it are: little bits of frizzen. If it wears out, we will reharden it for free.
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Q #13: Do you accept credit cards?
A: Yes, we accept Mastercard, Visa and Discover plus others I have never heard of. Credit card processing is done via a secure 3rd party server. We never even see your credit card numbers!
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Q #14: What kind of wood is the stock made out of?
A: Teak. Walnut stock blanks are not available in India at anything like a reasonable price. The stocks on these are made of teak (the Indians call teak and other similar woods "rosewood"). These are pretty woods with prominent grain, but are slightly heavier than walnut. If I were to send raw materials to the shop to have them make walnut stocks, it would probably double the price. The other downside to teak is that it is difficult to work with unless your tools are very sharp (they should be sharp anyway, but that is a story for another day).
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Q #15: What are your hours?
A: We are open Monday through Thursday, 10AM-7PM Eastern time, On Friday during the school year we run a 4H clubs, so Fridays are 10AM-2PM. Sometimes there are holidays, sometimes I have to go to town for something and have to step out. Sometimes I'm teaching a shooting class. If you are planning a visit, it is a good idea to check with us first in case there is something weird going on or to get directions.
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Q #16: Can I come pick up my musket in person?
A: Yes, if you are in the area please do! Picking stuff up in person saves you the shipping costs, eliminates the risk that UPS will break it, and often gives you the chance to pick your favorite one out of a crate.
We prefer that pickups be made during normal business hours, but can sometimes make alternate arrangements.
Make sure you email for directions. If you use mapquest or yahoo maps and are coming from south of here, it will send you up a road that isn't really a road anymore. Very often, GPS gets people lost too. Yeah, GPS gadgets are great for finding the nearest McDonalds when you are cruising the suburbs, but we are sort of out in the woods here and I've had to go and rescue more that one person whose GPS led them around in circles and they end up in the wrong town.
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Q #17: OK, this is my first gun, can you teach me to load/shoot/clean it?
A: We used to have a 1/2 day class that we offered for free. Because of too many people scheduling the class and not showing up, we had to make the decision to top offering the class until we can come up with a better way of ensuring people will actually show up after we schedule our time around them.
Our sister company offers classes in everything from matchlocks to machine guns and you can see some of them by clicking here.
I am writing this on the afternoon of April 14, 2020 during the COVID19 pandemic and the state of NH has closed nonessential busineses. While we can sell guns since self defense is essential, classes on how to shoot antique weapons geared towards out-of-state visitors is not so any classes will have to wait until the country is open for business again.
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Q #18: Will you install my flash guard and sling for me?
A: No. This isn't rocket science. If you expect to be able to operate a flintlock, there needs to be a presumption that you can operate a screwdriver. There are clear, illustrated instructions on how to mount your flashguard and sling here.
Besides, I hate flashguards. They are goofy looking, ruin the looks of a lock, are not authentic at all, make it harder to clean the lock properly, and make it hard to pick the vent. They also make it awkward to prime the pan, so reenactors dump waaaay too much powder in the pan resulting in giant fireballs that engulf the lock and your face when you touch it off. They serve no practical purpose, but somebody decided back in the 1960's that if you didn't have a flashguard, a flintlock might...wait for it...make SPARKS, and sparks are scary. They convinced people that if you didn't have a silly little piece of brass on your lock that spotted owls will die, locusts will eat the crops and old ladies will fall down whole flights of stairs.
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Q #19: What is the maximum powder charge I can use in a smoothbore?
A: Everyone asks what the maximum powder charge is, but they never ask what the correct powder charge is. The CORRECT charge for a .75 caliber musket is 75 grains of FFg. The CORRECT charge for a .69 caliber pistol is 35 grains of FFg. Each gun comes shipped with an owner's manual and on the cover of it will be the actual bore diameter, the recommended powder charge and recommended ball diameter. All of the guns we sell should be using FFg powder, not FFFg. FFFg is for smallbore guns .50 caliber and under.
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Q #20: Can I use a black powder substitute, such as Pyrodex or 777?
A: Not in a flintlock. Flintlocks do not produce a hot enough spark to reliably ignite black powder substitutes so you need to use real black powder. In my neck of the woods, black powder is around $18 for a one pound can, retail. We do not sell powder. The substitutes will work in percussion guns as the spark generated by a cap is hotter and is directly fired into the waiting powder.
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Q #21: Can I shoot rocks and nails and other junk out of a blunderbuss?
A: No, that is just Hollywood nonsense. There were largebore blunderbuss-like guns called langridge guns that were intended for firing that sort of stuff. Langridge guns had a chamber, much like a mortar, and were designed with abuse like that in mind. A blunderbuss is basically just a short musket out of which you are supposed to fire a single round ball or loose shot, not debris. The flared muzzle of a blunderbuss is there to make loading easier, it has nothing to do with dispersing shot in a wider pattern.
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Q #22: Can I fire double or triple loads out of my blunderbuss to get a bigger bang?
A: No, that would be an accident waiting to happen. A blunderbuss is like any other gun in that you have to use the correct load. There are plenty of youtube videos of morons double and triple loading their guns. Just because other people do stupid things doesn't mean that you should. It is especially important not to overload brass barreled guns because the brass can get "work hardened" and become brittle. Please follow the load recommendations that are written on your manual.
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Q #23: My reenacting persona is a guy who fought in the Jacobite uprising, then after a career as a pirate, came to North America with the French to fight against the British in the F&I war, then was a Patriot in the Revolution, and after the war went west as a voyager to be a mountain man. What gun should I get?
A: Instead of a gun, I would suggest that you get books. If you are going to be a reenactor, you owe it to the public you will be speaking to AND your fellow reenactors to make an effort to do things well. Part of that means being able to answer questions about your persona and gear.
People contact me almost daily and expect me to do their homework for them. I just don't do it anymore. One of the reasons is that I just don't have time. Another is that people generally don't want advice, they end up picking what they think looks the coolest regardless of whether it fits the character they have chosen or not, so why should I waste my time? I've even been told by people that they don't care if the musket they picked isn't correct for their time period because they just like the look of it. If they just like the look of it and don't care if it is correct, why did they waste my time by asking me what IS correct? People baffle me sometimes.
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Q #24: My wooden ramrod just snapped as I took it out of the thimbles. Is this covered under warranty?
A: No, it isn't. Wooden ramrods never "just snap" as they are taken out of the thimbles. They snap when you BEND THEM TOO MUCH as you take them out of the thimbles. In 35+ years of playing with muzzle loaders, I have NEVER, ever, broken a wooden rammer. Every time someone (usually a first-time black powder shooter) has made the claim of "it just snapped" they precede it with "it was the strangest thing". No, it wasn't strange...if you bend wood too far, it breaks. Nothing strange there. We have no control over how these things are handled and cannot guarantee wood. One guy in Texas even gave me a bunch of drama because he dropped his pistol broke the stock. Rammers aren't designed to be bent, and guns are not designed to be dropped.
Another thing that happens to rammers is that pirate reenactors throw them in the ocean. I gotta say, I've never thrown a rammer in the ocean either. Apparently, they draw the pistol out of their sash with a big flourish and the rammer gets catapulted out across the water in a picturesque manner. Sorry, but throwing stuff into the ocean isn't covered under warranty either.
That being said, we generally keep a one-size-fits-all pistol rammer in stock that you can cut down to fit your gun, but you'll have to pay for it. For wooden musket rammers, it is probably best to get a hickory replacement rammer blank from Track of the Wolf, The Log Cabin Shoppe, Dixon's Muzzleloading or Dixie Gun Works and fit it to your gun. Hickory is quite flexible and you can season it by soaking in kerosene to make it even more flexible. Musket rammer blanks come in 48" lengths, so if you manage to break the 51" long rammer in a Cookson Fowler, your options are limited. For that, we recommend getting an atlatl dart shaft from Thunderbird Atlatl and sanding it down to fit. Where there is a will, there is a way.
The easiest thing is to just not break your rammer. Don't just grab the end of the rammer and shove: reach up 12" at a time and push the ball down in short motions. That way, the rammer won't flex to the side and have a chance to snap.
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Q #25: Do you have any left handed muskets?
There are only a couple of known left-handed guns that are known to have existed in the flintlock era. I don't mean a couple of types of guns, I mean a couple of individual guns. There is the archaeological remains of ONE French fusil, there is a painting of ONE left handed English gun and that might even have been an error by the artist. This means there really isn't any solid historic precedence for a "production" left handed gun, and there certainly wasn't any such thing as a left handed military musket since the military was all about drill and everyone doing the same thing, the same way, at the same time.
Historically, left handed folks were discouraged from being left handed. Even in my mother's generation she was "broken" of being a lefty by having her knuckles whacked with a ruler by the teachers when she tried to write lefty.
As a southpaw myself, I understand all of the mechanics of this and have given it all a lot of thought. There is really no legitimate reason to have a specially made "left handed' flintlock unless it is of the late sporting type (like a London fowler from the 1820's or certain longrifles) that has a raised cheek piece. The lock being on the side closer to your nose won't make any difference at all when shooting the gun.
Afraid of sparks? Well, flintlocks spit sparks, it is just what they do. Pigs smell bad, goats will eat your flowers, Harleys are loud and flintlocks spit sparks...this is the natural order of things. You just deal with it and a right handed gun spits just as many sparks as a left handed gun. If sparks are a problem, you are using too much priming.
If you held a musket right handed, then had someone measure the distance between the tip of your nose and the pan, then did the same thing holding it left handed, you will find a difference of less than an inch. Think about this: if people living in the flintlock era thought you couldn't shoot a flinter with the lock on the inside, they wouldn't have developed double barreled shotguns because those have a lock on BOTH sides.
If you are concerned that your eye will be distracted because you can see the frizzen and cock in your field of vision, that won't be a problem because if you are aiming along the barrel, you have to learn to ignore them just like you would if you were shooting it right-handed. It's just a flintlock thing. The only drawback to shooting a flintlock left handed is that people will look at you and think that you are doing something odd and possibly make some comment about it, but that happens no matter what us lefties do anyway.
IF we were to someday ignore the historic facts and put a left handed gun into production to play into the idea that left handed people are somehow handicapped and need a special gun made for them, it would be a French fusil because the ONLY example of an actual left-handed gun that research has turned up in the 18th century here in America. Don't email me and ask me about this...if we ever decide to do this, it WILL be posted here on our website.
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Q #26: Are these functioning muskets that can actually be fired?
A: Sigh...of course they are. I have to answer this dumb question several times a day.
What would be the point otherwise? Who would put 100+ hours of forging, polishing, engraving, carving and sanding a fake toy gun? This is one of those questions that baffles me and insults me a little. Still, there are a certain percentage of people who will read this and STILL send me a stupid email asking if they are real guns that can be fired. Do you walk into a restaurant and ask if those steaks them folks over there are eating are real meat? Do you walk into a car dealership and ask if that uber-macho minivan with factory hubcaps can actually be driven? Of course not, unless you work for Alan Funt (people under age 30 aren't expected to know who Alan Funt is, ask your parents). So what in the world possesses people to keep asking me if guns are real?
For the people who STILL don't grasp that these are real guns, I'll reply once and for all: YES, THEY ARE REAL GUNS CAPABLE OF BEING FIRED. That percentage of people mentioned above will STILL write or call to ask anyway, "just to confirm". I don't know how they manage to find their way out of the bathroom.
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Q #27: I have heard that "India guns" are supposed to be wallhangers and blow up. Is this true?
A: When I was a kid, everyone "knew" that if you watched color TV from closer than 25', it would "ruin your eyes". Also, if you sat in the front row of the movie theater, it would "ruin your eyes". Now that I think about it, I was even told that wearing rubber boots indoors all day at school instead of changing into your sneakers would "ruin your eyes". Now, I never sat in the front row at the movies and we didn't have a color TV, but on several occasions I wore my big green rubber boots all day as school. This must be why I wear glasses today, right?
This is the same bizarre logic that rumor mongers use when they decide that a gun is safe or unsafe. They are usually either clueless people who want to seem intelligent by sharing some titillating but completely false factoid with you or maybe they are just plain malicious liars.
ANY muzzleloading gun will blow up if it is loaded wrong. Our guns come with instruction manuals and the recommended powder charge, ball size etc for that particular gun. That's all we can do to keep you from doing something stupid and putting insane charges in it. If you disregard the instructions and use the wrong powder or the wrong load, there is no way we can stop you. A muzzleloader is different from a modern gun in that it requires you to think. Some people just don't think.
Reenactors are the worst, there seems to be a mindset where they think it is OK to put lots of powder or the wrong powder to make some mythical "bigger bang". Real muskets firing real bullets do not make big bangs, the sound of a musket firing with a ball is more like a loud cough. Let's not let the facts get in the way of a childish desire to make a musket sound like a cannon though, right? Safety be damned, it's only a blank, right? Wrong.
I got so sick of answering this question that I wrote a whole article about it, complete with photographs. Specifically, the article explores the safety and authenticity of Indian vs Italian replica Civil War guns as compared to originals.
Please read the article by clicking here.
If you don't want to take the time to educate yourself by reading the article, I'll sum it up for you here in just a few sentences:
There is no safety issue with Indian made muskets. They are not "wallhangers", nor will they "blow up" if loaded, maintained and handled properly and are not any different from any other musket in that regard. In decades of studying weapons, I have learned of muskets from ALL sources (originals, Italian, Spanish and Indian) that have been destroyed or "blown up". Every single modern made replica musket accident involving a barrel failure has been proven to be an operator error with the exception of an Italian made Armi Sport Enfield whose breech blew apart.
If you are a reenactor, you should be studying facts, not rumors. The fact is that these muskets are perfectly safe.
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Q #28: Do the nipples on the percussion guns use #11 caps?
A: No. Historically #11 caps were for the tiny nipples found on revolver cylinders. Military muskets used musket caps. Musket caps are larger than #11 caps, sometimes they have little flanges and are called "top hat musket caps". Most modern manufactured military muskets (in other words, the mass produced Italian guns that 'campaigners' send out to be 'defarbed') come with nipples that ARE NOT HISTORICALLY CORRECT. They sometimes use metric threads and the cone portion of the nipple is short, fat and cylindrical shaped. Again, this is NOT historically correct.
The nipples on all of our caplock muskets and pistols use a musket cap. They are historically correct Parker-Hale type nipples. The cone is taller and tapered. This is how the original guns were too! The idea behind the tall, tapered cone is that it allows you to still use it when it starts to mushroom over time from use. It is a GOOD thing. In the old days people didn't replace parts at the drop of a hat like we do in today's throw-away society, they made things last longer and fixed them when they broke. The design of these is deliberate and meets those requirements.
If a modern nipple as found on the Italian mass produced guns gets a little buggered up, it needs to be replaced. If the historically correct nipple as found on our caplock muskets gets a little buggered up, you can just keep shooting it. If it gets a lot buggered up (for instance, if you break the rule about NOT DRY FIRING CAPLOCKS and mushroom the nipple) all it takes is a few strokes of a file or stone and your nipple is back in action.
What does this mean to the shooter? It means that when the nipple is in new condition, you will probably have to pinch the cap as you put it on. It is that simple. If, for whatever reason, you can't handle this simple concept and feel the need to put a NON HISTORICALLY CORRECT modern style nipple on the gun, just buy an aftermarket one. The thread pitch is 5/16-18. If you don't know what that means, you probably shouldn't be screwing with it because if you try and force the wrong sized threads into a tapped hole you will damage the threads.
One guy bought some Enfields from us years ago and couldn't grasp this concept. He thought he knew what he was doing (just ask him, he'll tell you that he knows what he is doing...you know the type) and went to extreme measures to change the nipples to who-knows-what thread size. He drilled out the bolsters and tapped them to the new thread pitch. Guess what the genius did? He drilled down far enough that he made a hole in the bottom of the bolster, underneath the woodline. Upon firing said gun, the resulting jet of flame and pressurized hot gasses that shot out of the hole he drilled in the bolster blew a big chunk of the stock off forward of the lock. He did this to five muskets (or was it seven?) and when we wouldn't refund the money for muskets he ruined through his own dumbassery, he went around talking trash about our muskets on the internet. It would have been nice if he had included the part about his being an idiot and drilling out the bottoms of the bolsters, but people like that never like to let the truth get in the way especially if the truth is that they aren't bright enough to be trusted with power tools and guns.
I'm going to summarize this because I know somebody is reading this and STILL not getting it.
The nipples that come on these muskets use a musket cap.
They do not look like the nipples on your friend's Armi-Sport because they are historically correct and are not supposed to look like the one on your friend's Armi-Sport. Please don't compare these to Italian mass produced guns, compare them to originals.
You may have to pinch the musket cap when putting it on the nipple.
If you want to use an aftermarket nipple on our percussion muskets, order nipples with 5/16-18 threads.
Do not attempt to use anything other than a 5/16-18 threaded nipple.
Our caplock Howdah pistols use a musket cap as well, but they do not use a 5/16-18 nipple.
I do not understand why this is so tough for people to grasp. If you have the skills and knowledge to operate a muzzleloading firearm, it is no big stretch of the imagination that you should be able skill and knowledge to pinch a musket cap when putting it on a nipple. Our forefathers did it. They were not as technically advanced as we are. They didn't know how to make microwave popcorn or operate a flush toilet. They thought hot air balloons and telegraphs were impressive (really, they ARE impressive)! If you are reading this, it is prima facie evidence that you are able to operate either a computer or some sort of smartphone. If you are smart enough to use a microwave to make popcorn, flush the toilet without fearing the resulting events to be witchcraft, or operate a computer well enough to get to this page, you bloody well ought to be able to figure out how to pinch a musket cap to fit a nipple at least as well as they did in 1861. It is not rocket science.
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Q #29: What is the status of my order?
A: Just like it is clearly stated on the Terms & Conditions page that you read when you placed the order, I do not give out status reports or updates. I just don't have time for that. The ONLY way to get information about the status of your order is to look yourself up on the work list. Any known information about any particular order will be listed there.
Instructions on how to interpret the list are at the top of the page. I try to update it weekly but keep in mind that it is posted publicly only as a courtesy to you and I am under no obligation to update it on any schedule.
Click here to see it.
Please do not email me and ask for updates and status reports. The ONLY reply you will get is me telling you to look yourself up on the list.
Our phone number is not listed on the website, and it is for a reason. As stated elsewhere, I cannot hear well enough to talk on the phone. See FAQ #32. Please do not be "that guy" who thinks he is all clever and searches out my house number on the internet to call and ask for order status. Those calls will not be returned. The ONLY information that will ever be available is right there on the list!
This is the policy for a reason. Half of my work day was being taken up with answering emails from people who felt compelled to check on order status every few days. Many of them were not even bright enough to tell me what their names were or what their order number was, so MORE time had to be wasted going back and forth via email to get this info from them in order to look them up. Something had to be done differently and making the work list available to you is the only efficient option.
I felt compelled to write this FAQ question right now because I just had to reply to three different emails from people asking for the status of their order and not one of them had the sense enough to even tell me what name the order was under or the invoice number and got tired of typing the same damn answer over and over again. Serioulsy, I don't know how some people manage to eat without stabbing themselves in the eye with a fork.
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Q #30: What is the expected delivery date of my gun?
A: I cannot speculate on delivery dates with any degree of accuracy. This is all hand made stuff with a supply chain that reaches literally halfway around the world and much of it is beyond my control. Some models of gun are only made in a batch once or twice a year because they are low production items. Others can ONLY be manufactured certain times of year due to atmospheric conditions (I.E. traditional rust bluing requres enough humidity to produce rust etc). You want handmade stuff that is built using historically correct methods? That is the tradeoff.
The ONLY way to get info on order status is to look yourself up on the work list and make a guess. See #29 above.
You will get an emailed notice from UPS when your order ships. That is the only notice that gets sent out.
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Q #31: Do you have a (insert musket name here) in stock?
A: Probably not. Please do not email me asking about what is in stock. Generally, there are no guns sitting around collecting dust & waiting to be ordered. Demand far outstrips supply. This is all hand made stuff and once the guns get here they need to be torn down and reworked to make them safe and reliable. This all takes time.
The only way to get a particular musket is to order it and patiently wait your turn. You lived this long without one, you can wait a little longer.
Use the time while you are waiting to research your personna some more so you don't end up having conversations like #23 above. Maybe look up the NMLRA or NRA black powder safety classes in you area.
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Q 32: Can you call me?/What is your number so I can call you?
A: No. A lifetime of doing stupid things like shooting without hearing protection, industrial noise, artillery, motorcycles and cars with open headers has ruined my hearing. My good ear hears at 30% of normal. I cannot hear many (most) consonants because the upper end of hearing frequency is not there.
The phone number has not been listed on this website for years and it is not on any company documents any more either. Please don't be "that guy" who searches on the web to find my home number and call anyway. It doesn't make you seem clever, it makes you "that guy". I will not return phone messages. End of story. Getting old sucks, try to avoid it.
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Q 33: How do I know this is a real company?
A: Come on now, use your head for more than just a hatrack...if I were trying to scam you, wouldn't I be more smooth and polished? This is as real as it gets: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Don't get me wrong, this is no slick, modern, high-tech place with a receptionist, a customer lounge and fake plants in the lobby. In fact, there is no lobby. The plant outside the door is a bush that I don't want to trim neatly because there are birds nesting in it and I don't want to disturb them. Customer lounge...well, there is an assortment of random shop stools etc that I can take the stuff off of for you to sit while we talk guns, and depending on the time of year I'll probably offer you a dozen eggs to take home with you because the chickens sometimes lay more than we can eat.
There is nothing slick and high tech about this place. There are project cars sitting around outside, the driveway is dirt, we are on a dirt road off of a dirt road, halfway up a mountian.
In the workshop, disorder is the norm. At any given time there are probably half a dozen guns taken apart in various stages of construction/reconstruction. There isn't a whole lot of room in there, but there is pretty much any tool I'd need crammed in there...some modern, some antique, some home made. I guess after 35+ years of gunsmithing, you ccumulate a lot of stuff.
In addition to the tools, there are more reference books than I have shelves for. This really is a life's labor of love for me. Seriously, if you don't trust that, don't order because this is as real as it gets.
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Q 34: You sound like a real jerk, are you like this in person?
A: No. I am much more profane and offensive in person. Babies and animals like me though, so I'm not too worried about it because they are the true judges of character. In person you are more likely to "get" my sense of humor. Believe it or not, I'm actually a nice guy...just a bit eccentric.
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