10 Essentials You’ll Want to Keep in Your Possibles Bag (Getting Started with Muzzleloading)
Modern in-line muzzleloaders have solved some of the problems of sidelocks of the past. They are more reliable in a wider range of conditions (including the rain), and they are consistent and accurate. Some hunters also find in-lines to be easier to use and less intimidating than traditional sidelocks (like flintlocks) which will not perform well with modern black powder substitutes.
But despite the fact that technological advances have pushed modern muzzleloading into the future, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry these 10 essentials in your possibles bag when you’re in the field. Because, with a smoke pole – you don’t know what could possibly happen.
Be better prepared with these muzzleloading mandatories.
1. The obvious (patches, round balls or bullets, primers, and powder)
No explanation is needed here – you can’t shoot without these.
2. A spare folding ramrod
Most modern muzzleloaders come with either fiberglass, aluminum, or carbon fiber ramrods that are almost failure–proof, unlike the breakage-prone wooden ramrods of yesteryear.
But the keyword here is almost. If you don’t have a spare ramrod in the field you might literally find yourself up a creek, and that is not a good place to be. Get a spare folding ramrod and stash it in the possibles bag.
3. A muzzleloader bullet starter
You know how hard it can be to start a ball or bullet at the muzzle; you just can’t use your ramrod for it. We recommend the nylon muzzleloader bullet starter available online at AnarchyOutdoors.com.
It is lightweight and stronger than a traditional wooden bullet or ball starter, and the softer nylon is less likely to damage muzzle crowning and bore rifling than the harder brass jags used by other ball starters.
4. Cleaning jags, brushes, and loading jags
Keep at least two of each of the following: a slotted cleaning jag for patches, bronze brushes of an appropriate size for your gun, and loading jags. A breech scraper is also a good idea for clearing fouling off the breech.
5. Plenty of patches
Keep more patches than you think you need. Sometimes, fouling gets so thick after 5 or 10 shots that it’s almost impossible to seat the next ball or bullet. Good practice is to scrub out your bore with a pass or two of a brush or mop after every single shot.
You don’t need to get it sparkling, but you also want to get as much of that fouling out of the way as possible to facilitate loading.
6. A pick for cleaning the vent
This is more of an accessory for sidelock shooters, but the vent at the breech of an inline muzzleloader can become obstructed, too. If snapping caps won’t clear it, use a pick instead.
7. A powder measure and funnel
Developing extremely precise, consistent loads is probably the main secret to accuracy in muzzleloading. It’s also the safest way to load.
Never “guess”; always carry a powder measure so you can precisely decant your charges, and use a funnel so you never lose a single grain when loading.
8. A de-priming tool (appropriate for your rifle and the caps it uses)
You can usually de-prime by hand, but sometimes those 209 primers get pretty wedged in the breech. A de-priming tool in an appropriate size and shape for the primers your muzzleloader uses can save you time and effort in the field.
9. A speed loader
Speed loaders are not a necessity, but they allow you to store your pre-measured powder charge or pellet, wad, patch or sabot, and bullet or ball in sequence so they can easily and efficiently be loaded in the field. Which can save you time and trouble in the field.
10. A ball puller or CO2 discharger (preferably the latter)
Finally, a ball puller or CO2 discharger is an important muzzleloading accessory, for those rare but unpleasant failures to fire. We recommend a CO2 discharger because they are more effective and easier to use than ball pullers – and also potentially safer.