I have a chance to pick up an antique muzzle loading single barrel shotgun at what seems to me a reasonable price. I am a complete tyro at this, but a muzzle loader seems like such an interesting machine.
So some questions for you more experienced blackpowder afficianados:
Do you actually use the antiques, or just the reproductions? I don't have a fireplace, so no mantle to hang it over and have no interest in it if I'm not going to shoot it (target, maybe skeet or trap? I'd probably only hunt with it if I was going with other blackpowder hunters)
How can I tell if it is actually safe to fire and won't explode? The barrel looks very thin, but then I've only ever dealt with rifles before. However it does seem the muzzle wall is thinner at the top right than elsewhere.
According to the handwritten stickers all over it I don't need a permit to own or display it but no mention of actually using it. A local sporting supply store gave me a number to call to find out about any permits I'd need.
I know two people locally (well, sorta local) who are into blackpowder shooting, but they are both hard to reach. It may be a few days before I can contact them and even longer to prevail upon them to look the beast over.
49" overall and 33 3/4" barrel. Circa 1870, no name or serial number that I can see. Pretty much all the metal, except for the barrel has engraving. Fairly simple, nothing too fancy. There is what I'm calling a simple 'sunburst' engraved on the top of the barrel
There are a couple of cracks in the stock, but I can't tell if they go into the wood or are just in the finish. (Don't know why I bothered to tell you that. They don't show in this picture )
The bore appears to be 23/32", or 0.71825, a bit small for a 12ga. and a bit large for a 13 ga. It looks like some rust inside the barrel. And there is a bit more where the ramrod guides are welded to the barrel.