Statewide Flintlock
Inside the Outdoors, December
24, 2010

Enthusiasts who enjoy using flintlock weapons will have the opportunity to harvest both antlered and antlerless deer nearly three weeks, beginning Dec 27 and ending Jan. 15, 2011.

I thought it would be educational for those who may not know anything about these guns to highlight some of the information about its history and usage today.

According to en.wikipedia.org, “Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. The term may also apply to the mechanist itself. Introduced at the beginning of the 17th century, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the doglock, matchlock and wheellock mechanisms. It continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap, and later, cartridge-based systems in the early-to-mid 19th century. Although long superseded by modern firearms, flintlock weapons have enjoyed some popularity with black powder shooting enthusiasts.”

Now, I always thought flintlocks were only rifles, but I learned through this website that they “may be any type of small arm: long gun or pistol, smoothbore or rifle, muzzleloader of breechloader.”

“Flintlock pistols were used as self-defense weapons and for dueling, and as a military arm,” it said. “Their effective range was very short, and they were frequently used as an adjunct to the sword or cutlass. Pistols were usually smoothbore although some rifled pistols were produced.”

Next, we have the muskets. I thought this was interesting.

“Flintlock muskets were the mainstay of European armies between armies between 1660 and 1840. A musket was a muzzle-loading smoothbore long gun that was loaded with a round lead ball, but it could also be loaded with ball, or a mixture of ball with several large shot (called buck and ball), and had an effective range of about 75 to 100 meters.” A meter is 39.37 inches which one could say is equivalent to a little over one yard in length.

Imagine this. “Military flintlock muskets tended to weigh approximately ten pounds, as heavier weapons were found to be too cumbersome. They were usually designed to be fitted with a bayonet.”

And so we now have the rifles. As the website pointed out, “Some flintlocks were rifled. The spiral grooves of rifling made rifles more accurate and give a long effect ranges – but on a muzzle-loading weapon they take more time to load due to the tight-fitting ball, and after repeated shots black powder tended to foul the barrels. Rifled flintlocks did see some military use by sharpshooters, but most rifled flintlocks were used for hunting.”

As a result, “ In the United States, modifications to small game rifles originally designed in Europe led to the long rifle (Pennsylvania Rifle” or “Kentucky Rifle,) which due to their long barrels were exceptionally accurate for their time (the late 18th century), with an effective range of approximately 250 meters. Since Pennsylvania/Kentucky rifles were used primarily for hunting, they tended to fire smaller calibers in the range of .32 to .45 being common.” Thus, “the long hunting rifles like the Pennsylvania/Kentucky rifles were unique to the United States.”

Just a few tidbits before I wind this up.

“As a result of the flintlock’s long active life,” the website said, “it has left lasting marks on the language and on drill and parade. Terms such as: ‘lock, stock and barrel,’ ‘going off half-cocked’ and ‘flash in the pan’ remain current in the English language.

And there, my friends is the rest of the story.

If any of you flintlock hunters would like to share your story on how you harvested a deer this year, please free to do so by calling me at 724-539-8850 or email me at peevee73@verizon.net. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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If you are going to be out in the cold this winter, hunting, hiking, or participating in winter sports here are a few suggestions. First, wear something on your head. Remember, the majority of your body heat escapes from the top of your head. Second, if you think just by wearing long underwear you will be warm, don’t count on it. You have to move about so that the material will hold the heat in, and third, dress in layers. If you get too hot, you can just take one layer off, but if you are cold, you may get chilled resulting in some sort of illness, such as the common cold, for instance. You can take it from here.

Stay warm. You will enjoy the season so much more if you are comfortable.

Merry Christmas to you and your family


- Paul J. Volkmann
You can contact me by email