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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, everyone!
I'm looking for some information from those with knowledge, and I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this post.

I'm trying to find some details about the sort of (non-lethal) mistakes a beginner might possibly make with a flintlock musket.

I'm writing a historical novel and I have a scene in which some soldiers are chatting while doing some fairly routine task; for example, perhaps they're cleaning the guns they've just used for drilling. I'd like my scene to show which of the soldiers have more/less experience, so I want to have the younger soldier make an error which another more experienced guy has to fix for him.

I've read in various places that it's important to half-cock the gun before starting to disassemble it for cleaning. What exactly would happen if you don't do that? Any chance of anything amusing happening such as a spring popping out or something snapping down on your finger?

If it makes any difference, the setting is 1830 in what is today Northern Italy, and the gun would be an India Pattern.

Thank you again for reading, and thanks very much for any input you can share.

-Meg
 

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Welcome to the Forum

Glad to see you here. I moved your post to the proper area to get more responses. Take care. All the best...
Gil
 

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If the lock is going to be removed from the stock as part of the cleaning process (something that is not always done), placing it on half cock makes it easier to take the lock out of the stock. On some locks, an uncocked condition positions the mainspring and/or other internal lock parts (such as the tumbler or arm of the sear) very close to the wood of the stock mortise, making it more difficult to wiggle the lock free. Regardless of how it is removed - cocked or uncocked - the internals of the lock would remain in place with no springs or other parts popping out.

Though the lock is occasionally removed for thorough cleaning and lubrication, typical field cleaning of a musket would not involve removal of the lock, just wiping down the exterior surfaces.

However, if your character did remove the lock from his musket it may not work properly if he over tightens the bolt holding the lock in the stock. Such over tightening can pull the lock internals against the wood on the inside of the lock mortise, preventing the necessary free movement. In such a case, it may be possible to cock the gun but nothing would happen when the trigger is pulled. It would just stay cocked. So it would be important to check its function before going into battle.

"Son, now that you got it clean and back together you might want to check and make sure everything works the way it should."
"Hey, my lock is broke. The cock won't fall when I pull the trigger."
"You dumb greenhorn. You done tightened the bolt too much when you put the lock back in the stock. You're going to look pretty silly in the next battle, waiving that thing around like a club instead of shooting it. Loosen the lock bolt a bit."
 

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Another welcome to the shooters forum.

For ease of your readers understanding, maybe include not cleaning the flash hole or not using hot enough water to evaporate moisture from the barrel. Both could cause problems and would be an easy mistake for a novice to make.
 

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And a welcome from north Florida! When you finish your book, I'd like to read it! It's refreshing for an author to get their facts straight when describing a technical issue such as disassembly and cleaning of a Brown Bess! Good luck on your endeavor!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply! This is an enormous help. I feel much more able to describe what would actually happen in the scene now.

If I ever finish this darn book I promise to let you know about it!

-Meg
 

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They are pretty simple creatures.

Not having the flash hole open, not keeping flints in good shape, and not keeping your powder dry are probably the big three problems created by inexperienced users/soldiers....

In any case, the bayonet was probably as important on the battlefield as flinging round balls from a smooth bore, in those times.
 

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I'm trying to find some details about the sort of (non-lethal) mistakes a beginner might possibly make with a flintlock musket.
Another common mistake (with any era muzzle loader) was leaving the ramrod in the barrel after seating the ball/bullet and sending it end over end downrange!
 

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Forgetting to pore the powder charge before the ball is rammed home happens also. Can be a real pain to get the ball out
 
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