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Thread: Musket cap nipple flash hole size?

  1. #1
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    Musket cap nipple flash hole size?

    Can anyone tell me the size of the flash hole on the inside of a musket cap nipple? The one on my T/C Hawken is very small and I have had some ignition problems with it.

    I am thinking of drilling it out to 0.077 inch. Its the smallest drill bit I have.

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    I don't know the specific size for your average musket nipple flash hole, but the holes at the inside end of a percussion revolver nipple or a percussion cap (not musket cap) rifle nipple, are quite small-- no more than a very small pin hole. Certainly much less than 77 thou-- that's huge.

    I recently replaced my original Pietta revolver nipples with Treso niples which have a smaller hole than the originals, and ignition now seems to be more reliable. Their theory is that the smaller hole results in higher pressure. Go figure.

    The typical nipple has a large chamber just under the cap, with a far smaller hole entering the chamber or barrel at the bottom of the nipple. Which one are you looking at?

    There are several things that can cause misfires. Oil or grease in the flash channel, powder fouling in the flash channel, a charge that's loosely packed, using a black powder substitute instead of real black powder, are just a few.

    Did you clean the entire flash channel and then snap a couple of caps to dry it out before loading? That's standard MO.

    So; your caps are firing, but your charge is not igniting? That is a bit odd. Musket caps are more powerful than even the "magnum" percussion caps.

    I was under the impression that the TC Hawken used a #11 percussion cap rather than a musket cap. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I'm right, you can try a "magnum" cap. Also the Remington caps seem to be pretty powerful. Some experimentation may be in order. There are also some different nipples on the market that are supposed to give you more reliable ignition. As I say I've had good luck with Treso. I forget the names of some of the others, but no doubt someone on here will tell you.

    My caplock rifle is a Lyman (Investarms, Italy) and takes #11 percussion caps. I've found Remington caps (much less powerful than musket caps) give very reliable ignition with the factory nipple with real black powder, but not quite so great when using Pyrodex. The CCI caps fit a bit too tight on this gun and sometimes fail to ignite as some of the hammer energy is spent seating the cap farther onto the nipple, but that's a completely different type of failure.

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    My Hawken originally came with a No. 11 nipple. When I began to get misfires I switched to a musket nipple thinking the extra horsepower might improve ignition. The hole in the musket nipple is very small, perhaps .020. The hole in the original No. 11 nipple is an exact fit for the .077 drill bit.

    I think I am going to drill out the musket nipple and stop using Pyrodex pellets.

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    I just measured a new Spitfire musket cap...and it has a .100 chamber under the cap tapering down to .040 hole.

    My thinking is the Pyrodex Pellets are made for inline guns and are your source of misfires. Use loose powder.....preferrably the Holy Black, and you will be ignition blessed!

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    That sounds like the right answer Bob. Problem is where can I buy some of the Holy Black localy?

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    Yup; the pellets are not intended for use in sidelocks. Loose Pyrodex will be more reliable, but real black is even better in that regard. Some people say to use 5 grains of loose powder behind the pellets. I've tried that and does work OK, but since you have to buy loose powder, carry it along, and put a measured dose of it down the barrel anyway, why bother with the extra step of adding pellets?

    Call all your local gun shops for BP. Otherwise, you can order it on line if you can find a way to use a case of it. I have to drive 45 minutes one way to get it, but since I buy several pounds at a time, I only have to do it twice a year or so. Track of the Wolf sells Goex and Swiss brand BP, but I haven't got enough local people together to justify buying a whole case. If there is a black powder shooting or reinactment club in your area, call them too, and ask where they get their BP.

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    I have already drilled the hole out to 0.077. That is probably to large but the original hole was to small. It couldn't have been more than 0.020.

    I'll get to try it out saturday and I'll let everyone know how it works.

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    The problem with too big a hole is that it is probably going to blow the cap to bits....and maybe even half-cock the hammer when you touch one off. Why do you think they make the hole so small? Are they trying to cause problems with ignition? Of course not! They are trying to keep the cap from being launched as frags. I'd opine against shooting it.

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    Use loose powder.....preferrably the Holy Black, and you will be ignition blessed!
    Good advise, but worthless in these parts. I have searched every way I know to search and there is just one retailer in the state of Louisiana that carries black powder of any marque.

    I've gone to using Pyrodex for all my shooting because good black powder is so hard to find.

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    Rob I know why the hole is small. Its still small just not as small.

    Of course I will start with a small charge and work my way up.

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    Of course; a small increase in diameter makes for a large increase in area. Doubling the diameter, for example, increases the sectional area, and therefore your back-blast, by more than a factor of 4 (Pi x R squared). The original hole size was not determined erroneously, or without prior experience.

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    I took the Hawken to the range sunday with the improved musket cap nipple. It shot great.

    I help teach 4H kids 3P and yesterday was a fun day as a reward for doing so well in the district competition. I let them all shoot my Remington Army and my 3rd Model Dragoon. Many also shot the Hawken. One of our girls fell in love with the Hawken and shot it 12 times.

    After all this shooting it was still easy to load with 60 grains of Pryodex RS, a Lee Improved Mini and a CCI musket cap.

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    72... is that a 0.077 drill bit, or a #77? They're not the same size......
    "What's good for me might not be good for the weak-minded."- Augustus McRae

  14. #14
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    I don't know what number it is. I measured it with my mike as 0.077".

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