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Why blow in the gun


Aunt Jen

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k

 

I was watching "The Angel and the Badman," with John Wayne, and I noticed at the end, after the marshall shot the two bad guys, he blew in the breach of his rifle, blowing the smoke out the barrell.

 

Why?

 

My first thought was that it would introduce moisture into the works (from his breath).

 

Was the smoke corrosive?

 

Aunt Jen

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No the smoke wasn't corrosive Jen. It stems from cap & ball pistols or rifles. One would blow in the barrel to make sure there were no burning powder embers left so they would not have an accidental ignition when reloading fresh powder in the barrel It was out of habit that folks continued the practice after switching to cartridge guns.

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We have one lady shooter that blows in the barrels of her side by side when she finished a string after ejecting the last hulls. Big style points. :D

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You were right Aunt Jen, its about keeping the fouling soft with moisture from your breath, which actually contains some oils also. Even though it could have been applicable with black powder cartridges, Ill bet the technique quickly disappeared with the repeaters. I do think most diligent SASS members would be quick to call someone for using this old muzzle loader technique at a main match, we think sucking on gun barls to be a safety breech. As to the long range side match fokes, well nobody pays them much attention anyhows. I think they are doing it fer a high since most of them is using smokeless cart anyhows! Testing 1 2 3 anybody there?

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Yup. Helps keep the residue from hardening up . While moisture and BP generally don't play well together, in this case it's a good thing.

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Yep, blowing through a BP barrel keeps fouling softer. Another technique by buffalo hunters was to urinate down the barrel every so often. But they didn't mix the two techniques, I'll bet. :o

 

This is not necessary when shooting in high humidity areas. But, in the dry West, it can make a lot of difference as to how long the BP gun delivers top accuracy when shooting a string of shots.

 

Blowing down a smokeless barrel does nothing except show that you don't understand what and why you are doing it.

 

Good luck, GJ

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From PBS Archives of the West

We had some wild and woolly ideas about how to clean our rifle barrels, I remember. We first drenched them with cold water, succeeded by a dosage of urine, which was well shaken up and allowed to circumnavigate the bore. I suppose the slight ammonical content of this homely but efficient solvent did the trick. We followed this with a thorough drenching of hot water, and wiped the bore dry and finished it off with a rag saturated with graphited tallow. If not cleaned before firing, the rifle shot a few inches higher for the first shot. We generally wiped out clean before firing: cartridges were too expensive to take any chances.

I guess they would get a P after every stage! :lol:

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Forgetting about the practical reasons for blowing in a barrel, I'm reminded of a fellow who used to shoot with us. I always got a kick out of him if for no other reason because he is the only shooter I've ever known that I could point him out to someone who had never met him and ask, "What's his alias?" and they'd always get it right. His alias was Abraham Lincoln and he looked every bit the part. Even without the hat, he looked like Lincoln; tall, lanky, dark hair. The beard topped it off.

 

I'm not being unkind when I say Abe was a slow-as-cold-molasses shooter. He took slow to a whole new level. Add to that, he decided he would shoot gunfighter. Methodical is the best word I can think of to describe his near minute and a half stages. Without fail, when Abe fired his last round, he would blow off the end of his barrel or if shooting pistols, barrels. He'd do so as if he'd just burned the barn down and was essentially saying, "Take that!"

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Long range black powder cartridge shooters (surely there are some around here) do it to 'soften the fouling'.

 

Howdy

 

Yes, when shooting at a match with my Sharps, I always blow a few breaths down the barrel to keep the fouling soft. The idea is not to blow the smoke out, the idea is to blow several long, slow breaths from deep in the lungs. That way the breath will be laden with moisture. The moisture then seeps into the fouling and helps keep it soft. With modern lubes like SPG, fouling stays pretty soft anyway, but it can still tend to get a bit crusty up by the muzzle. Most long range bullets do not carry anywhere near as much lube as the Big Lube bullets, so you have to do something to keep the fouling soft. I have a friend who is quite methodical about it, timing how long a breath he blows, to maximize his consistency. But I have never needed to buy a blow tube. Pretty easy to make with an extra 45-70 empty and some plastic tubing.

 

Oh well, since we're talking BP lore anyway......the buffalo hunters did not pee down the barrel. They peed on their barrels to cool them off. Those guys would sit on a hillside and shoot all day until they either ran out of buffalo or ran out of ammo, which ever came first. After a while, the barrels would get too hot to hold. Remember, BP burns a lot hotter than Smokeless and the barrels heat up more. Even with a fore end on the barrel, at some point you're going to have to grasp the barrel, and that's when you burn your hand. If you're camped out on the prairie for weeks at a time, you're not going to waste precious water pouring it on your barrel to cool it off. So you use 'used' water. You're out on the prairie, nobody around but other men who smell just as bad as you do. What's the big deal?

 

But as for blowing smoke out of the barrel today, purely done just because one feels like it, or because it looks cool. No practical value at all.

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if you pour fresh black powder into a cannon or muzzel loader rifle, that still has hot burning embers

 

yikes

 

blowing is to put out the remaining hot spots

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if you pour fresh black powder into a cannon or muzzel loader rifle, that still has hot burning embers

 

yikes

 

blowing is to put out the remaining hot spots

 

Howdy Again

 

How the heck are you going to blow down the bore of a muzzle loader? It's closed at one end. Besides, blowing more oxygen in would only fan the fire if there wuz still glowing embers inside. I sure never blew down the barrel of my flinter in my muzzle loading days.

 

I watched some re-enactors loading a Civil War 3 inch Ordnance gun last year. They sure as heck were not blowing down the barrel. They used a soaking wet mop to soak down the bore and put out any glowing embers before they rammed in the powder charge and projectile. The powder charge was a full pound or powder. Pretty neat every time it went off.

 

By the way, about 25 years ago or so one of our local Rev war re-enactor groups had an accident and one man lost his hand. I don't think blowing down the bore would have helped.

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How the heck are you going to blow down the bore of a muzzle loader? It's closed at one end.

 

Or a cap and ball pistol?

 

 

Besides, blowing more oxygen in would only fan the fire if there wuz still glowing embers inside.

 

Yep.

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Wouldnt use it for a plainsman style match but always use a blow tube for long range especially when sjooting off a bench for accuracy. Depending on humidity I'll use between three and five breaths. My pedersoli does not like one style of 500 grain bullet seated out long, with a little shorter COL and the blowtube I can get it to shoot so teh fouling I'm dealing with is at the chamber end.

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Many of those old techniques were developed after several hundred years of observation, trial and error following the development of black powder firearms. I'm sure there were a few unsoefisticated old geezers who didnt understand the why-fore of the techniques but just new that they were taught that way and it worked, so when the change from bp to smokeless literally happened in less than a generation some probably didn't realize that they were supposed to change also??? From what little I have read on the subject we actually have a very different set of techniques in use for shooting black powder than what the early shooters used. Not very romantic but I would bet on our top buffler match shooters (with their modern techniques and concoctions) any day over the best marksmen of the 1700s or 1800s. Ballistol tops urine ever time and I dawn't have to listen to yall snicker while I'm loading either! (She couldn't help it Lil Bill, she just snickered when she saw what a little........)

 

I still can not imagine to many ranges that would let someone point his six shooter up his nose fer a quick blow, nostalgic or not, without having protesters line up to send him home.

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Part of the standard ML cannon drill is to use a leather thumb vent stall to cover the touch whole when ramming down the powder charge. this was to reduce the chance that an ember remaining from the last shot would be fanned into life from the draught up through the touch hole caused by the piston effect of ramming home the charge if not done said ember might be driven down in to the charge when using the pricker prior to inserting either fuse or pull match in to the vent or said smoldering remnant could set off the charge while ramming it or ramming the ball or top wadding causing said loader to lose a hand... arm... or worse :blink:

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Part of the standard ML cannon drill is to use a leather thumb vent stall to cover the touch whole when ramming down the powder charge. this was to reduce the chance that an ember remaining from the last shot would be fanned into life from the draught up through the touch hole caused by the piston effect of ramming home the charge if not done said ember might be driven down in to the charge when using the pricker prior to inserting either fuse or pull match in to the vent or said smoldering remnant could set off the charge while ramming it or ramming the ball or top wadding causing said loader to lose a hand... arm... or worse :blink:

 

 

Good idea to brush the vent too, to make sure there isn't an ember waiting there. There was a charge that prematured last year, I think in one of the Carolinas, rammer lost most of one hand, guy on the vent got burned some. I've never heard if there was a cause found. Witnesses said that the vent was stopped when the bore was sponged and when the charge was rammed. Part of me suspects that the rammer put some umph into it, the cartridge broke open, and an ember in the vent fell onto the exposed powder. Hard to tell.

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This thread......are ya ready....BLOWS :lol:

 

http://i275.photobucket.com/albums/jj281/pagnew/Happilymarriedcouple.jpg

 

sorry - just couldn't help myself :P

 

GG ~ :FlagAm:

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