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Russ Chastain

Top Shot Season 4 Episode 5: Flintlocks, Unpatched Balls, and Half-Cocks.

By March 14, 2012

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Wow. I thought I had some idea of what to expect from this show, but it continues to surprise me.

This week, I was taken aback at the utter lack of sense displayed when they loaded a flintlock pistol with round balls - without patches.

Now, I fully understand that many of my readers may not know anything about muzzleloaders, and may know even less about round balls, but it's not necessarily their business to know. But when you air a TV show on a well-respected channel and purport to be doing things correctly, it is your business to know. And they either didn't know, or they dropped the ball. (Heh, pun not intended, but appreciated. See, the balls kept falling out of the guns because they didn't use patches.)

Anyhow, read on for a full summary and explanation of episode 5. And look down below to vote in this week's Top Shot poll.

Read about Top Shot Season 4, Episode 1
Read about Top Shot Season 4, Episode 2
Read about Top Shot Season 4, Episode 3
Read about Top Shot Season 4, Episode 4
Read about Top Shot Season 4, Episode 5

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Comments

March 16, 2012 at 8:17 am
(1) Gary says:

Russ- I am in total agreement with you! I was yelling at the t.v. because they weren’t using patches! Moronic to say the least. Now that this episode has aired, how many “newbies” out there are thinking that “Hey, maybe all this time I have been doing this wrong! I don’t need that extra step of adding a patch” This so-called expert they had teaching them on the Kentucky Pistol should be totally embarrassed as should the shows producers as well as Colby, the shows host. My question is….there is a member of the red team that is well versed in muzzle loaders and had experience with flintlocks…why didn’t he speak up???? Another question that I have is this…if they weren’t going to use any type of patch around the ball then why didn’t they load as one would load a 44cal BP Navy Revolver or a BP Derringer?
I’m not real sure but I think that I saw a quivering of a lip or two because of the “extra steps” involved. C’mon…Man up! let go of the apron strings and deal with it! After all, anybody can insert a preloaded shell into a firearm and shoot…it takes a “real man(woman) to put it all together in the barrel correctly and then shoot! I am left to believe that some of these people are just shooters(install ammo/aim/pull trigger), they really know nothing about the firearm they are using….this is a damn scary thought! I wouldn’t want them out in the field with me! I was/have always taught that if you are going to use ANY type of weaponry then you had better get to know it on an “intimate” level…not only for your own safety but most of all for the safety of those around you. We all know that guns don’t kill….stupidity does!!!! DUMB IS HOW YOUR BORN/STUPID IS WHAT YOU MAKE YOURSELF Know yourself/Know your weapon/Shoot safely/Have fun!!! Keep up the good work Russ…Enjoy your writing!

March 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm
(2) hunting says:

Thanks Gary!

Chances are, the guy who know about muzzleloading did question it, but through the magic of editing, we never got to know about it. There are many things that happen which they never show us.

I know there was something else behind the decision not to use patches, because I watched the show’s spinoff on the H2 channel, “Top Guns,” and the same guy (Russ Combs) was on there with the very same flintlock – and they loaded the gun with round balls and patches.

But watching the “expert” load the gun was another exercise in frustration. He basically beat on a loading with with a T-handle (which many of us would call a range rod) to drive the ball home, when he could have placed the pistol on a solid surface and shoved it steadily into the bore – which is the way it should always be done.

Bottom line: both shows, with the same host, same guns, and many of the same people, got it wrong. They did it differently each time, but it was wrong in both cases.

Russ Combs should be embarassed about both episodes, IMO. And Colby ought to go hide under a rock for a while,and study firearms terminology. One of the biggest things he needs to learn is that A REVOLVER IS NOT A PISTOL.

March 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm
(3) Charlie DeArmond says:

It’s faster to omit the patch, and quite likely that doing so is at least rumored to be an old combat trick. The event was timed and supposedly some kind of “Pirate Action Shooting,” for lack of an official term.

However, the fact remains that a flintlock pistol would rarely be reloaded in combat. Its original load would include a patch or paper cartridge wad. Once that shot was fired, the combatant would rely solely on an edged weapon, which would most likely already be in hand. Some tough customers carried multiple pistols and that would be primarily because of the impracticality of reloading in the midst of a fight.

The “Kentucky Pistol” would have been just one more of many types of pistols used in colonial and early US American history, and it would have been both a rare and ill-chosen design for use in naval combat, where the best pistols were very much like the robust smoothbore muskets of marine infantryman worldwide.

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