What You Learned
A muzzleloading firearm is any firearm that is loaded from the muzzle.
- In Washington, the two most popular types are the in-line and the caplock (percussion lock) muzzleloaders.
- Other types of muzzleloading firearms are the flintlock, matchlock, and wheel lock.
Older muzzleloading firearms should not be fired unless they have been inspected and approved by a qualified gunsmith. One of these is the Damascus-barreled shotgun.
Never use smokeless powder in a muzzleloading firearm. Only use either black powder or an approved black powder substitute. Black powder and black powder substitutes ignite very easily.
- Store powder in the original container and away from sparks, heat, and static electricity.
- Make sure no one around you is smoking.
Use a marked ramrod to see if a muzzleloading firearm is loaded. Then follow the steps for loading.
Accessories for muzzleloading firearms include a bullet starter, bullet puller, patch puller, black powder, shot pouch, powder measure, flask, sabots, patches, wads, percussion caps and capper, pick, flints, and pan primer.
A muzzleloading rifle is loaded when it contains powder and a ball or bullet and it is capped or primed. Follow all firearm safety rules plus these additional rules when you are shooting or hunting with a muzzleloading firearm.
- After firing, wipe the bore with a patch to remove sparks before loading the next powder charge.
- Use a powder measure to pour powder into the barrel.
- If a hangfire occurs, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction for at least 30 seconds.
Thoroughly clean your muzzleloading firearm after each shooting session.
Here are some more safety tips to follow when using muzzleloading firearms.
- Select the correct powder for your gun.
- Store percussion caps and powder separately and in a cool, dry place.
- Never look into the barrel of a muzzleloading firearm.
- Never pour powder into a barrel using a powder can, flask, or horn.
- Be sure to seat the ball, bullet, or wad and shot directly on top of the powder charge.
Here are some of the Washington laws and regulations that apply to anyone who hunts with a muzzleloading firearm.
- Muzzleloading firearms must be wheel lock, matchlock, flintlock, or percussion lock. Percussion caps must be exposed to the weather. Telescopic sights are not allowed.
- Muzzleloading firearms used to hunt deer must be at least .40 caliber. Size #1 or larger buckshot may be used in a smoothbore that is .60 caliber or larger.
- Muzzleloading firearms used to hunt all other big game must be .45 caliber or larger.
- While hunting big game during any muzzleloading season, only one barrel of a double-barrel muzzleloading firearm may be loaded.
- Muzzleloading handguns used to hunt big game must be .45 caliber or larger, have a barrel length of at least eight inches, and be capable of being loaded with at least 45 grains of powder.
Washington has specific muzzleloader seasons for hunting deer and elk. Check the annual Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for open seasons, dates, units, and requirements for special applications.