Boom Time Every Time: Will Your Muzzleloader Fire?


When that big buck finally shows… will your muzzleloader fire? A multitude of problems can arise when hunting with a muzzleloader, and you’ll never forget your chance to close the deal on a great deer and hearing a sickening “click.” Even with today’s easy-to-clean in-line rifles, a drop of oil or a particle of fouling can clog the fire channel of the breech plug and cause a misfire. Many hunters recommend firing a cap or two before loading the rifle, yet how do you know that the fire channel will be clear for the next shot? There’s an answer, and it’s one you’ll embrace.

Muzzleloader Maintenance 006First, make sure your rifle is empty by removing the breech plug and cleaning it thoroughly. When finished, look through the fire channel of the breech plug. If you can’t see a distinct round circle of light, clean it again. Thumb tighten the breech plug according to your owner’s manual. Next, take a clean white patch and push it down the barrel until the ramrod rests against the patch on the front of the breech plug. Load a shotgun primer, point the rifle in a safe direction, and pull the trigger. The percussion of the cap will jump the ramrod six inches to a foot. Remove the rod and patch and you should have a distinct hole in the patch. If not, you have an obstruction, and the rifle will probably not fire. The bigger the hole in the patch, the more spark you’re putting to the charge.

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.