Unloading your muzzle loading gun

When you have to pull your bullet from the bore?

  1. The gun misfired, and a new cap or new priming does not solve the problem.
  2. When you were not able to ram the bullet properly on powder.
  3. When you – think – you loaded your gun without powder.

If any of the above mentioned events occurred, you will have to use the complete procedure without missing any parts to safely remove the projectile from the bore.

What is the completely safe process of pulling the projectile?

I. Neutralizing the charge

Tools needed:

  • Hypodermic syringe filled with water
  • Nipple wrench
  1. If your gun misfired hold the barrel in safe position for at least 30 seconds as slow ignition can still happen.
  2. Reprime, recap the gun and try to fire the load again. If this does not work, prepare for the unloading of the rifle.
  3. Do not leave the firing line until the charge is neutralized.
  4. Always hold the barrel in safe direction, meaning the bore should point to the bullet stop.
  5. Put the hammer into safety rest.
  6. Remove cap from the nipple, and remove priming powder from the pan.
  7. Use a hypodermic syringe to soak the powder charge through the touch hole or through the nipple.
  8. When the charge cannot take any more water, your charge is neutralized.

If you skip this part, you endanger your or your shooting mates’ health and probably life. If you do not neutralize the charge before pulling the ball, and smouldering particles are present near the nipple or touch hole the air sucked into the bore will ignite the main charge and fire the projectile including the heavy ramrod.

II. Pulling the ball

Tools needed:

  • Good quality nipple wrench
  • Good quality screw driver
  • Bullet puller – sometimes larger sizes are needed also
  • Cleaning jag matching your calibre
  • Strong, preferably metal ramrod. For this purpose I prefer an M5 threaded shaft with proper handle, sleeved in a brass tube to protect the bore. I also add a free floating weight to the rod to be able to hammer the bullet out in little steps.
  1. Only leave the shooting stand if the powder in neutralized with water. The hammer must be in the safety position and the barrel must always point into a safe direction, preferably up in the air.
  2. Choose a safe place for unloading where nobody will disturb you and the bore can still point into a safe direction. The best area is a part of the shooting range with a bullet stop nearby.
  3. When you handle your gun always treat it as it was still fully loaded. Never point the barrel into any unsafe directions.
  4. Clean your bore with a few wet patches. Dry your bore with a few dry patches, run an oiled patch through the bore. Removing the fouling will facilitate pulling the ball.
  5. Replace your jag on the ramrod with the smallest diameter bullet puller you have. The diameter of the brass base of the pulling screw must match your bore size so you will not harm the rifling during the process. If the bullet puller’s diameter is too small, the screw will probably not engage the centre of the bullet, but can damage the rifling.
  6. You will need significant force to pull the ball. While handling the ramrod always make sure that any part of your body is not in front of the muzzle and no one is in the direction of the bore. A great help in this process are the tubular weight I mentioned among the required tools and an additional handle to have a better hold on the ramrod.

III. Finish the process with cleaning your gun.

Balázs Németh, 2019.