Dear Mr Rawles,
It is possible that I am simply not an attentive reader of the Survival Blog, so I may have missed this.
However, it seems to me that rather than getting into technically very difficult and potentially very dangerous pursuits involving home-made brass & home-made primers, why not become proficient with a flintlock rifle?
Flintlocks never went completely out of style, and there are many, many excellent makers today.
In the hands of a practiced marksman, a flintlock is certainly the equal of any modern rifle out to 100 or 200 yards, and at the Battle of New Orleans, Kentucky riflemen brought down redcoats at 400 yards or more.
Firing a flintlock requires no fancy chemical primers: just black powder. Black powder is dangerous to make yourself, but it is chemically simpler than percussion primer powder. Round balls are convenient to cast from lead. And flints can be hand-knapped. A good rifle will be nearly 100% in ignition. The only drawback it seems to me is that it is a single shot per barrel per load, but two barrel rifles are not unknown.
All the very best, – Dr. W.A.
JWR Replies: We have covered blackpowder (BP) muzzleloaders on SurvivalBlog, but not nearly to the extent that the subject deserves. Back in February of Aught Six, I posted the following in reply to another letter on blackpowder arms: “I agree that BP guns do have a place in survival planning. However, if someone’s main goal is getting guns that are outside of Federal jurisdiction (with no purchase paperwork required in most locales), from a practical standpoint they are better off buying pre-1899 cartridge guns from the 1890s, such as
the Mausers and the S&W top break revolvers that are sold by dealers such as The Pre-1899 Specialist. If, in contrast, the intent is to have guns that will remain useful in the event of a multi-generational societal collapse, them BP guns make a lot of sense. Lead for bullet/ball casting can be stored in quantity, and even salvaged wheel weights or battery plate lead could be
Black powder and percussion caps could conceivably be “home brewed”–although there are some serious safety considerations.
BP arms have lower velocity and hence less stopping power than modern smokeless powder cartridge guns. However, they can still be fairly reliable stoppers. I would NOT want to be a burglar confronted by a homeowner that is holding a pair of Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers! OBTW, since black powder leaves a hygroscopic residue that is inherently corrosive, I recommend buying stainless steel guns whenever possible. So make that a pair of stainless steel Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers. If you ever envision BP guns being pressed into service for self-defense, then get models that optimize fast follow-up shots and fast reloading.
For example, consider the the Kodiak double rifle. (Up to .72 caliber rifles,. plus 12 and 10 gauge shotgun variants.) Some brands of BP revolvers have cylinders that are relatively quick to change. For those, it makes sense to buy two or three spare cylinders for each gun that can be kept loaded. Of course be sure to have each gun tested with all of the cylinders to make sure that they all function and “register” correctly.