Black powder guns don’t use cartridges—you pour a measured amount of the powder (never smokeless powder) directly into the breech or chamber, seat a projectile and possibly a wad on top of it, and fire it with a separate ignition component. Most black long powder guns are single-shots, but there are double-barreled black powder shotguns and six-shooter percussion (cap and ball) revolvers.
Muzzleloaders are black powder guns you load through the muzzle, or the far end of the barrel. A modern inline muzzleloader rifle ignites the powder or powder pellet(s) using a primer at the rear of the breech (in line with the barrel). Inlines work well with modern, jacketed bullets in sabots. An old-fashioned sidelock percussion gun fires the black powder typically using a percussion cap on an offset nipple. They’re made to shoot cast lead balls and hollow-based lead bullets called Minié balls. So are flintlock guns, based on the centuries-old ignition method of sparks from a flint.
Major black powder gun manufacturers include Traditions Firearms, CVA, Lyman, Mossberg, and Thompson/Center. Bullet makers include Hornady, Federal, Barnes, and Harvester Muzzleloading. Black powder, black powder substitutes, and pellet manufacturers include Hodgdon (including IMR Legendary Powders and Goex), American Pioneer Powder, Blackhorn, and Alliant.
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