Development History Of The Modern In-line Muzzle Loading Rifle

The original builder of modern in-line muzzle loaders tells his tale.

by Irven F. Palmer, Jr

I recently visited the local Cabelas’s store in Lacey, Washington near where I live and saw several hot new products in muzzle loading technology, including several new in-line muzzle loaders. Reading various sporting firearms magazines, I also have noted a few articles about modern examples of muzzle loading firearms that are so common now in sporting goods shops all over the country. Given this popularity, I thought readers might like to know the history behind the development of the first modern looking in-line type of muzzle loading rifle.

I have been a muzzle loading shooter and hunter for over 50 years. I became interested in muzzle loading for hunting and competitive shooting way back in 1950. My older brother Howard and I used to shoot several different model percussion cap firearms, both of pistol and rifle types. He participated in some Civil War reenactments sponsored by the Multnomah Muzzle- Loading Rifle Club of Oregon. It was great fun to watch all those muzzle loading firearms and cannons in action with all that black powder smoke drifting across the battle field.

Our home was in Thurston County near Olympia, Washington at the time. Howard, our younger brothers and I had built a 100 yard firing range complete with a nice bench rest where we would shoot all different types of rifles including the various muzzle loading types. Firing those muzzle loading rifles hundreds of times using an excellent bench rest never produced a hundred yard group less than about four or five inches. That got me thinking. Was it the long arc eccentric hammer drop, or perhaps the crude open sights that produced those large groups?

Read more in our October 2013 issue. Back issues are available.

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