FINALLY! A stock weapon with a built-in silencer (moderator) and NO $200 Tax stamp or FFL required! You know we just had to get this animal. And we had some fun with it.
In 50 cal with some interesting differences from most black-powder weapons. First off, because of the integrated silencer, called a “moderator”, you use no wading whatsoever as it will collect in and diminish the performance of the moderator over time, a very short time. And one would need a surgeons skills and tools to clean it out, or a vacuum cleaner that would pull out your spouses contact lenses, when she was in the family room 20 feet away. The special 50 cal round is placed right up against the packed black powder charge and in fact it fills in the back of the round, pictured below, to form more of a shaped-charge to send this bullet on its way.
The next interesting feature is the removable Accelerator Breech Plug which makes cleaning the bore and barrel so much easier. A friend posed the question to me “could we exchange the breech plug with a plug chambered in .50 cal and fire a round out of this?” I have some interesting friends. I think we could, from a distance and offered that we try it on one these that HE purchased. Stay tuned for that post.
Back to reality, the instructions say to “clean the bore by inserting and firing some caps, so we did two. The first thing is the barrel from the factory was extremely dirty. Test firing no doubt but not the best QA as who knows how long one will sit on a shelve before being sold. So I did clean it first and then did the two caps and cleaned it again. Yes, I can be anal.
Yes, we used the recommended 209 primers, from Winchester, the triple se7en. We did the first cap with ear protection and then the second without as the report was, well, quite moderated and it was just the cap.
So now we are at the point where we have to actually load this thing and fire it. I love being at that point. But, as complete as all the supplies are, they did not include any type of funnel or powder-horn with which to fill the adjustable powder measure tube so I could fill the powder measure tubes. You see, when it comes to handling black powder I am a neat freak. Yes I could do this with a narrow plastic spoon, sure they exist, or a spice spoon, but those are mostly metal and I live in a dry climate, read low humidity, read static electricity. Plus my personal powder tube is loaded with a different black powder and I want to be pure.
The Loading procedure. We figured this out, bought a great Thompson Powder Flash from Amazon that made loading the Powder Measuring tube simple. Filled the tube to the 100 grains recommended and we were golden.
Smokeless powder….not so much. But much less than my traditional black powder pistols and rifles. I have three very nice ones in custom made display cases not because I need them as art to hang on the wall, but rather because one grows tired of being enveloped in a cloud of black smoke and of the dagger-stares from others around you at the range who were lucky enough to share your experience.
The moderator performed very well. Weapon was not loud and smoke was minimal…..until I opened the breech. It was well contained within the barrel due to the moderator on one end and the breach plug on the other. Removing the breach plug it was like looking down on a mini-tornado. Really cool.
Two shots in succession with no problems. A word to the wise, use the brass loading jag when using the Ball Starter. Moving on, we loaded the second and third shots from the Universal Fast Loaders and they worked.
Again, there was smoke when we opened the breach after the second shot.
One problem was, on loading the third shot, the bullet would not seed down the barrel in spite of their (Hornaday) stating their FPB 50 cal 300 grain bullets “needed no lube – copper jacket eliminates lead fouling and controls expansion” – clearly not our experience. Also, the loading tube crimped when we were forced to clear the weapon of the third shot. The bullet would not slip down the barrel and when we forced it, this was the result:
As you can see two things happened. One, the ramrod pulled out the plastic tip from the bullet because we had not attached the loading jag and the bullet itself was scored from the pressure. The up-side was that the clearing procedure worked as advertised and we were able to repair the brass loading tube, which is kind of delicate.
After the breach plug was removed after the second shot it would not re-seat – thread in more than a single turn. Heat and powder fouling were the culprit here and a quick cleaning fixed the problem. Something that would have caused the Minuteman to lay waste to the weapons manufactures facility. One learns a whole new level of respect for those patriots of long ago who used these weapons to hunt and to fight.
While a fun gun to shoot for the purist and the black-powder enthusiast, it is really shooting-by-steps and that might leave most shooters frustrated or bored.
The inability to reinsert the breach plug after removing it without having to clean it raises a small concern. In normal shooting you would not remove in until you had finished shooting and then would as a part of cleaning the weapon. There is also the slight possibility that removing it allowed it to expand due to the heat it had absorbed and thereby made it necessary to have it cool before it could be reinserted. Further tests are in order, and we always like “further tests.”