View Full Version : Opinon from experinced muzzle loader shooters sought ?

Grahame Collins
27th Jul 2015, 07:37 PM
I seek opinion specifically relating to muzzle loader and pulling a round ball.

After seeing someone nearly ruin a range rod trying to pull a double patched ball caught in built up barrel fouling, I have thought about a new way to achieve it with less chance of damaging a rod.

Typically range rods are made up from 6mm stainless rod. Sometimes they don't fare too well when some 125 Kilo gorilla tries to help another shooter with a jammed ball.

Generally what happens when it goes pear shaped, is that the ball and patch gets caught on barrel fouling if the ball is double patched.

The said gorilla, in ignorance and unable to pull the ball, hooks the rod handle in the roof beam of the shooting bay and hangs his weight on the rifle. Range rods get bent from this mis-treatment.

I thought there had to be an easier and safer way.

My thoughts are on making an 8mm diameter rod and using a type coach screw threaded to 10/32 UNF ( thats a standard cleaning rod thread) used for jags and brushes.

With a screw centering collar made from a flash machining plastic and the coach screw is less like to strip from the ball. The opposite end at the handle with be tapped to take a 400mm length of rod that takes a 2 kilo slide hammer cast from lead. What happens then is that slide hammer does its thing and pulls ball.The coarse pitched type 17 coach screw is less likely to strip through the lead ball. The force is axial to that of the barrel and should pull the ball with relative ease.


What are your thoughts on the method and materials?

Non muzzle loader readers, please note that safety precautions are observed ie" percussion cap removed ,nipple removed and powder charge is oiled so the rifle can't accidentally discharge and shoot the gorilla.

Opinion will be appreciated.


27th Jul 2015, 08:56 PM

haven't done any ML for a while so this may be old hat, but I did make a rod tool such as you suggest out of brass rod and brazed a long self tapping metal screw into the end which I cut and trimmed to a short stubby length to try and pierce the lead pill - preferred the self tapper as the flutes cut more into the lead to hold it than a normal UNF. In those days I was only casting lead so hardness didn't matter but doubt it would be any good for a 20 or 30 to one brew. You then tried to screw the short stub thread into the ball but as you rightly suggest, the patches would invariably get mixed up and it was a nightmare. I often thought of getting a left handed thread tool inside a domed fitting to try and pierce the ball centrally - but it's not a problem screwing onto the ball, it's trying to initially move it by rotating it before trying to withdraw it....I know what a PITA it can be - might I suggest you have a look at one of the dedicated forums and post there such as www.castboolits.gunload.com (http://www.castboolits.gunload.com) - there are some knowledgeable folk there and I'm sure they'll have the answer......good luck whatever method you choose

27th Jul 2015, 11:26 PM
not a muzzle loader but have a passing interest in muzzle loading naval canon

does the ball and patch get stuck during loading or on firing?
I understand that the tools used with a naval canon included a screw for extracting the ball if the canon wouldn't fire -- typically because the power became wet. Can see no reason why a similar tool wouldn't work with a muzzle loading rifle.

a quick google came up with ...

Grahame Collins
28th Jul 2015, 12:02 AM
Cannons are swabbed after each shot to prevent left over embers from igniting the powder. I would imagine it was easy to misjudge the amount of "wet" to swab out with.

There is no patch in a cannon load as with a cap and ball m/loader rifle. The cloth patch acts as a gasket between ball and rifling.

Multiple shots with out cleaning between shots allow black powder fouling to build up which is further " hardened" by every subsequent shot.

If you clean with a "slighty" moist patch between shots, it provides excellent accuracy and minimises stuck ball and patch episodes on loading.

Mainly it is new comers that suffer from from stuck balls.

Causes are
A dirty bore
A double patch ball - pre damped patches can stick to each other and loaded if care is not taken
Patch used too thick.
Dry balling - loading a patched ball but forgetting the powder

If you spot a middle aged guy in a haberdashery store with a micrometer measuring cloth thickness - he is likely a muzzleloader.


Grahame Collins
28th Jul 2015, 10:47 AM
but it's not a problem screwing onto the ball, it's trying to initially move it by rotating it before trying to withdraw it....I know what a PITA it can be -

The standard ball screws are to small and have a shallow pitch groove. The one in the pic is bigger. As far as the rotation - for following the rifling- I am building the rod with thrust bearing in the handle. I am not sure it it will stand up to the slide hammer impacts but don't see them as being all that much .It just needs to move the ball a tiny bit . Note the front of the screw it will self drill into the ball- Its on another range rod at the time photo was taken.

Also a pic of what a muzzle loader can do when it is shot clean. This is 54 cal at 25 meters. A string of 4 in the ten and one in the nine. (did not wipe the bore before I loaded that shot.)

28th Jul 2015, 01:52 PM
Grahame, that's about the thread shape of the screw I used but not as deep in the point..some old tools I have seen use a small cork screw type attachment but I think you'd run damaging the barrel because of it flexing and additionally with what hardness you cast.

I often thought the larger flaring of the screw may dig in deeper to get a firmer purchase but in experience found it made no difference because it wasn't so much the ball getting stuck but rather the patch as you said blocking anything from moving so half the time you never knew what you were in and just hoped it was tight enough....I think the most common mistake I made was in using excessive force first up to try and move the pill once I thought the screw had bit, it invariably tore out....so I don't know if your slide hammer idea would work any better ....can see where the idea of a threaded type pull of the rod causing a gradual force to extract it is probably the way to go or definitely worth a try but I never made anything like that or have seen similar used....don't think it would be too hard but then I was always loath to use steel rods as extraction tools in the bore anyway.

I read somewhere once about a process involving some form of solvent to dissolve any non metallic product first and allow easier extractions with the normal extraction screw bit but no doubt that was time restrictive and messy and not something you could do on at the bench....will see if I can find the link for you...sorry but have no other suggestions for you......good luck

30th Jul 2015, 02:47 PM
Grahame, have attached a couple of piccies to show the two different styles of worms that I was familiar with...I tried the make the second type single screw type but could never get any benefit over the earlier double cork screw type - these are available from Track of The Wold in the US but you'd no doubt be aware of them already...sorry haven't been much help

Grahame Collins
30th Jul 2015, 04:52 PM

Thanks so much for the pics pardner.

The long taper screw certainly looks like it has some promise. The corkscrew ones are lost patch removal tools and none work very well. As it happens I talked with a friend with a lot of Black powder firearm gunsmithing experience .

He showed me some patch pullers made from stainless steel fish hooks that mount on a piece of brass that work extremely well.

For pulling a ball he recommended pre drilling the ball and said the ball will come out real easy once drilled.It was essential ,he said, to have a insert to center the drill into the very middle of the ball.
There is nothing to it, in adding a small tap size drill to the kit. Hopefully I may have the opportunity to test it out on the week end as I am possibly going to the range. There always someone with a stuck ball,

I did a bit of searching on the American ML forums and found there was a tool called a - wait for it - Kadooty .

The Kadooty performed two functions- Firstly to tamp the powder load down to a consistent height and secondly to remove a jammed ball. Pictures showed a lost of rods that screw together and a sliding hammer - AKA a fairly small lump of brass maybe 25MM diameter.

It only stuck around a few years as there almost no mention of it now. As far as ordering over seas now I could n't be bothered as a relatively low priced item escalates in price once its had a boat ride to Australia. The way things are going we will have to make our own percussion caps as they are in very short suppy.

Thanks for the effort in digging up those pics.


30th Jul 2015, 10:34 PM
All these gadgets were standard fittings on a 'Sergeant's Tool' for the British Enfield 185x series of rifled muzzleloaders. There was a screw on tool with a spike, one with a fairly blunt, coarse threaded left hand screw and a two pronged screw - these all unscrewed from the ends of the 'Y' shaped tool and screwed onto the regular cleaning rod. The tool also included screwdrivers to fit all the screws, a main spring vice and a nipple prick. Dixie Gunworks may or may not still stock them.