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Muzzleloading Shotguns



Last in our series on Muzzleloading guns are the shotguns. Yes it is true, muzzleloaders used to all be smooth bore guns. With the development of rifling inside the barrels, the smooth bore guns are only used for shot and not bullets. That being said, there is still a place for blackpowder shotguns in modern hunting.

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to meet many people in the outdoor world. Some have truly impressed me with their accomplishments. One such is Hovey Smith of Georgia. Hovey is as knowledgeable about black powder guns as anyone alive. And in a recent conversation he shared with me some of his hunts with black powder shotguns. Annually, Hovey travels to Louisiana hunting waterfowl with his trusty Muzzleloading 12 gauge double. Routinely getting his daily limit. As he said, after two shots, “I reload just like everyone else, it just take me a bit longer.” He also uses his flintlock shotgun double for waterfowl and turkey hunts. In fact, Hovey has gotten permits for several years to hunt swans in the eastern region of North Carolina and has been successful each trip with his flintlock. If you have never hunted swans, you would not get the full scope of this accomplishment, but shooting steel shot from a primitive Muzzleloading shotgun with enough force to kill a twenty pound bird is quite the accomplishment.

All of this is to point out that Muzzleloader hunting is not limited to rifles. There are a host of animals that can be hunted with a Muzzleloading shotgun. For example, all small game and game birds can be hunted with a muzzleloader. It adds to the challenge to fire up the flintlock on a flushing bob white. Smoke bellows across the fields as man and dog search through the fog to see if the old quail escaped or fell dead amongst the pillage of smoke.

Some modern companies have also jumped into the shotgun foray.  CVA, Traditions, and TC all have some versions of Muzzleloading shotguns. 12 and 20 gauges dominate and for good reason. Other gauges would be difficult to load and control.

Loading shot is very different than loading a single projectile. After the powder charge is loaded, a wad (sometimes of paper or plastic) is placed on top of the muzzle and shot is poured into the wad to the desired height. This is inserted into the muzzle just past the opening and then an additional wad, usually of wool or felt is placed on top of the shot to prevent it from spilling prior to being shot. All of this is then slid down the barrel and set against the powder charge.

Muzzleloading shotguns are a lot of fun to shoot. Once you get the hang of loading them, they are quick and simple. Whether chasing squirrels through southern oaks, or scattering shot across a dove field, having an old style shotgun in your hands adds to the excitement and the joy of being afield.