Black Powder Guns

Black powder guns can make an interesting supplement to the survival arsenal because of their very simple ammunition requirements. These guns often do not require any products of modern industrial society to deliver full performance. Ammunition can be made from scrap lead with simple tools and limited resources and it is even possible for the wily survivor to manufacture black powder. Ignition systems come in three types, fuse, flint and cap. Fuse ignited black powder guns are uncommon and usually replicas of Spanish colonial weapons of the early 1600s or are replicas of artillery pieces. Fuses are usually commercially produced and cannot be easily manufactured without special equipment. Fuse ignited guns are not recommended for survival purposes, although they make interesting collectibles. The two most common ignition systems are cap and flint. Flint ignition systems are used only in single shot guns and are not as dependable as caps, but they almost never wear out or need replacement (only the flints need periodic replacement). Flintlock guns do not fire when wet and are vulnerable accidental discharge if exposed to flame or embers (like from cigarette ashes or campfire sparks). Flintlocks may also not fire when upside down or tipped too far to one side. The advantage of flintlocks lies in simple logistics, they only need lead, powder and cloth to be fully serviceable, meaning that they can be kept in service under the most primitive conditions. Replica Kentucky long rifles are accurate to 200 yards and are capable of delivering considerable power due to their heavy, large caliber projectiles. This makes them suitable for hunting and low intensity combat. Flintlock rifles are unlikely to be regulated by restrictive legislation and can be purchased by mail in most parts of the country. Black Powder guns are often so inexpensive new that they are not sold for much less when they are sold used, unless you can find them at garage sales or flea markets.

Cap ignited guns represent a technological advancement in black powder guns. They use a primer-like cap to fire the powder and are far more reliable than flintlocks. Caps are manufactured commercially but are cheap and easy to stock up on. Caps can be made in primitive facilities from common materials and simple chemicals. Replica cap and ball revolvers are cheap, often of high quality and are not legally restricted in most parts of the U.S. This ensures their popularity among certain segments of the shooting public, particularly ex-felons who do not wish to break the federal laws but still want to enjoy shooting sports. Cap and ball revolvers are available in some rather potent calibers, like .44 and .38 which can fire conventional bullets or traditional (for black powder guns) round lead balls. They are very slow to reload by modern standards but a person can buy three good black powder revolvers for the price of one decent 9mm automatic. Special maintenance and accessory kits are needed if the owner wishes to use black powder guns on a regular basis. These kits are available from the manufacturers and sellers of black powder firearms.

Modernized black powder rifles are available through several mail order firms and gunshops. They typically have modern sights and utilize modern steel production methods to ensure safety and quality. Most manufactures offer versions that are made from synthetic polymers and stainless steel which makes them nearly impervious to foul weather and limited maintenance. Newer designs use an in-line cap ignition system that is more reliable and accurate than those found in older designs. Telescopic sight mounts are available for most modern black powder rifles to enhance accuracy, although most will only shoot accurately to around 200 yards. These rifles are frequently used by hunters who take advantage of longer hunting seasons and relaxed regulations given to those who use "primitive weapons" for hunting rather than conventional modern firearms. Guns of this type might be useful in scenario one situations where some personal financial hardship requires the survivor to hunt wild game to supplement stored food reserves and/or food stamps or similar government subsidies. The survivor can take advantage of the longer legal hunting season to obtain fresh meat for the table, even if the expensive game meat is traded to the butcher for cheaper ground beef. Venison (deer meat) can cost $8.00 per pound while hamburger can be as low as $1.00. A little math can determine if it is worth while to spend money on a hunting license and deer tag to bag an animal with 50-80 pounds of good meat that can be traded for a whole winterís worth of ground beef.

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