by Greg Ritchie
When I was younger I used to rendezvous. I tried to emulate the eastern long hunter. I was young and learned from my elders. Just to share what I learned and what has worked for me in the past.
I want to talk about the rifles first. Being of German descent, my family arrived in America in the 1730’s and settled in Pennsylvania, kind of drew my interest in that direction. A rifle brought into this country early was the Jaeger, from Germany, specifically from Bavaria as I understand it. It’s root in America was in Pennsylvania. It was a short barreled rifle of large bore, 60 to 70 caliber that was well suited to Bavarian game.
This rifle evolved into the Lancaster rifle. Basically it was a long barreled Jaeger of a smaller caliber, typically about .40 caliber. The Lancaster Rifle was also called the American Rifle, Pennsylvania Rifle, and the Kentucky Rifle.
The Southern Rifle, also called the Tennessee rifle, North Carolina Rifle, Virginia Rifle, Poor Boy Rifle, or Barn Rifle was a Lancaster rifle with iron furniture, it was typically of larger caliber than the Lancaster rifle. I understand for defense In the southern wilderness.
My rifles were the above, the Jaeger I think in 54 caliber, I am not sure, can’t really remember. Traded off long ago for a Kentucky Rifle which was 45 caliber. I later got a Poor Boy Rifle which was ironically in .32 caliber. Not hardly typical, but I took a lot of skwerlz with it -evil creature that they are! I also had a 62 caliber / 20 gauge trade gun. I did have a CVA Frontier 50 caliber that was marketed for hinting in Pennsylvania I believe. Not a replica of anything, but it looked the part! Thus is the extent of my knowledge of "rock lock" rifles. Unfortunately these rifles were lost in the "great fire of ‘99".
You will likely want 4F as a priming powder. Typically 2F for anything 62 caliber and above, 3F for 45 caliber and below. Between the two, you need to see what works best in your rifle. I used 2F in my CVA Frontier. 3F works as a pan powder, and i used it when it was wet outside. 3F doesn’t draw moisture as fast as 4F does. 4F burns faster though and in my opinion makes a better pan powder. I am convinced that 4F will give better performance From a lock time standpoint.
Some controversy here though. I have heard it said that before the “F" designations there were only 2 grades of powder, Cannon and Musket. Others say there was a pan grade as well. One very compelling argument I heard was that the revolutionary war soldiers used powder from their paper cartridges to charge the pan. The rebuttal was it only worked because the flash holes were worn. Personally I do not recall any instances of "flash in the pan" when using 4F as my pan powder, although I do remember it not igniting at all in damp weather. I definitely remember having "flash in the pan" with 3F. I also remember having hang fires.
Another tip I learned. It is typical to use leather to hold your flint. Leather will allow your flint to move when it strikes the frizzen. This is why you see folk knapping their flint often. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be so. Use a sheet of lead to hold your flint. After dropping the hammer a few times the lead will form to the flint and hold it more securely than leather will. Properly adjusted the flint will knap itself when it strikes the frizzen. True of leather as well, but the lead will work basically as long as the flint lives, leather will have to be readjusted from time to time.