"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." - Aldo Leopold

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What to do with a Blackpowder Shotgun?

My buddy Vo gifted me a muzzleloading shotgun - I’m officially a double-barreled .458 away from having it all.

He won it in a raffle a few years back. Vo is not a hunter. Unless he goes with me and that has been a very long time. After feeling guilty for not attending my wedding last June, he decided it would make a fine gift for us – or me, I suppose. He didn’t know what to do with it.

Not sure I know what to do with it. The gun rests in the corner of my nook like an alien weapon stumbled upon by humans in a Sci-Fi flick; I’m vaguely aware of its intentions, but have little idea how to make it work or define its exact purpose.

Well, let’s start from the beginning. The shotgun is a Knight TK2000 12-gauge. Vo was unaware of my Mossy Oak affiliations or he would not have given it to me replete in its Realtree-clad barrel and stock. I guess that’s not a big deal – best of my knowledge there are no Hatfield-McCoy blood feuds between the two companies, so I accepted it with open arms.

Besides, neither camo organization manufactured the shotgun; Knight was responsible for that. I’ve owned a .50-caliber Knight Disc Rifle since 2004 and absolutely love it. Maybe too many were donated for auction purposes or, like me, folks were satisfied with their first Knight purchase and did not buy upgrades, but sadly the company went into bankruptcy in 2009. But all glory was restored when the Knight line was resurrected in 2010.

The TK2000 utilizes a musket cap nipple in the breech plug. If I discover an upgrade to 209 shotgun primers, I will swap it out. Instead of a closed bolt system like my Disc rifle, this is a simple inline system where the bolt slams into the primer – a Streetsweeper it is not. No matter what, I’m guessing it kicks like hell.

Since we’re talking about a frontstuffer, obviously the shot is dumped down the barrel on top of some form of propellant. This is where my knowledge really waters down. Despite the vast amount of hunting and firearm literature I consume, I know very little about muzzleloading shotguns and will definitely need help with all considerations pertaining to how much shot, how much powder, and what wads to stuff down that barrel. And how to keep the shot from rolling out if I tip the barrel down!

(I’d offer my guesses on how to properly load it, but I’d inevitably wind up making a joke involving wads of chewing gum and condoms and get sued after some reader lost a few fingers for taking me seriously.)

The next big trick is how and when to use it. This is a hunting rig, not one of my many WWII rifles that just sit around collecting dust. The shotgun balances well, is camo-ed, and is fitted with fiber optic sights. No questioning its aesthetic suitability in the field.

Turkey hunting is the obvious answer, but let’s come back to that. Cole has suggested taking it on a duck hunt – you know, just to see what would happen. I think this would irritate others when that early-morning flock of teal disappears in the gray-blue smoke of my first shot. Each year we have a moorhen tournament and the Knight would certainly up the challenge quotient for that event. But water and blackpowder don’t mix well.

My other problem with waterfowling is the lead shot. This thing has a pretty tight choke on it, and to load up enough steel to down a duck, I’m scared it’d peel the muzzle open like a firearm in Elmer Fudd’s safe. I suppose I could use Tungsten or another malleable non-toxic shot – but that’s getting into cash for a novelty.

So turkey. Gonna have to put it on paper to determine that. Knight claims it will punch an 85% shot density in a 30” circle at 40 yards. But, having been around the block, I’m wary of such claims. And, I’m not exactly concerned with 30” circles when firing at a tom. We need pellets in the head/neck area.

Plus, turkey hunting is tough and frustrating enough with a normal shotgun. All I need is a bad primer to ruin a hunt and that would be the end of that experiment. I’d feel a whole lot easier with a closed bolt arrangement for those ultra-foggy Spring mornings in the latter end of Osceola season. (I can practically hear the flint and frizzen primitive blackpowder crowd banging their collective heads against a table. Hmmm....it is drilled and tapped for scope mounts...)

I do suppose, after some range time and fine-tuning, it will find the turkey woods one day. I like a new quest and the quirk of doing something as esoteric as shooting a tom with a blackpowder shotgun.

It’s a project and one I’m seriously looking forward to. If anyone has any suggestions – tips that won’t blow MY face off – please feel free share.

7 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

Quit analyzing the situation and just go out and have a little fun. The oracle has spoken!

Ian Nance said...

Message received. Zero distortion!

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

Small boat anchor?

I agree hunting turkeys in Florida is hard enough without adding the distraction of a freaking smoke pole to the mix!

Bobby Nations said...

Bob Spencer has a number of stories that cover some 30 odd years of hunting using a smoothbore flintlock (aka blackpowder shotgun). They are all available on his "Black Powder Notebook" page at http://home.insightbb.com/~bspen/. My favorites are his stories about rabbit hunting and dove huntnig. Yep, doves, with a blackpowder shotgun. :-)

Ian Nance said...

Bobby - thanks for the heds-up on the website. It is a neat one. I'm afraid he wouldn't care much for my inline shotgun with fiber optics...

Trey said...

Neat looking gun, but I honestly would have no use for it. They made shells and a gun that will shoot them for a reason!!

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

I've got to agree with Trey, maybe I'd see how much a gun shop would offer you in trade to put towards something you'd be more inclined to use.