Muzzleloading Murphy's Guide to Why
"Muzzleloading Murphy" is our nimrod inline muzzleloader that we all know and love. Sadly, for Murphy, he always has problems year after year. "Something's wrong with my muzzleloader!" Murphy cries, almost every year. With every hunt, something seems to go wrong, and it is always that gol' durn gun that has the gremlins. It is the "Muzzleloading Murphy's Law," and Murphy fights it every year, poor old sod.
Murphy never reads an owner's manual, and has never called the manufacturer for advice. "Hey, it works for me," Murphy mumbles. "I've never had a problem, and I've been muzzleloading all my life!" We can only hope that Murphy has done something other than muzzleload all his life; but then again maybe Murphy really can't spell, balance a checkbook, or address an envelope. Hopefully he has gained some knowledge, some education, and some skills beyond the "all Murphy's life" muzzleloading experience he claims. We will probably never know, though; all we do know is that Murphy seems to have a lot of problems.
Murphy's inline doesn't seem to shoot like it did last year. What Murphy has never understood is that flash holes erode. Once a flash hole opens up, in as little as 100 shots of Triple Se7en according to Hodgdon's own tests, internal ballistics change, and so do exterior ballistics. The amount of erosion is contingent on pressure and heat. Those three pellet loads Murphy now uses eat away at his breechplug like his old load of 90 grains by volume of Goex never did. Murphy never measured a new breechplug, and he never measured an old one, so he will never know.
Smart muzzleloaders know never to trust their hunt to suspect equipment, and realize that breech plugs are designed to be replaced. While Murphy gets ever more perplexed, the prepared muzzleloader replaces his breechplug on a regular basis.
Murphy never could be bothered to shoot through a chronograph. Velocity changes are invisible to ol' Murphy. It either goes bang or it doesn't for the Murphster; pass/fail logic is the only logic he knows. Murphy thinks that hygroscopicity is some thing like perpetual motion: he knows his bugle bleeds in dry air, humid is rain, but can't really tell much in between.
Poor Murphy. He should have learned by now that if it "cleans up with ordinary tap water," it absolutely must be water-soluble and suck moisture. Those half-empty jugs of Pyrodex and last year's T7 pellets have lost their potency, and are now prone to misfires. Murphy doesn't chrono, so he can't tell. Opened cans of Pyro and left-over partial pellet packs should be disposed of. If you want "new" performance, and "new" reliability, you need to start with fresh product not exposed to air, much less garage or basement air. Not Murphy, he "never had any problem." Few people do, until they finally do.
Murphy feels his sabots are too tight. Forget that Murphy does not know what his bore size is, does not know what diameter his bullets are, or who made his sabots and when. Heck, they are just sabots, and they don't shoot good anymore.
UV light weakens sabots, but that didn't stop Murphy from keeping a stash on the dash of his truck. They shouldn't work well. Murphy never learned why, though. It was always a "gun problem" or just bad luck. That his hat fits too tight never was enough evidence for the Murphinator to believe that perhaps his head was too big for said hat. "Bad hat," Murphy grumbled. "Bad hat, bad bullet, bad sabot."
Murphy always wanted to cheat the system a bit. He never understood that you need to unload your muzzleloader at the end of every day. Heck, Murphy "knows" he can leave it loaded for a month, and it went bang. He did once. Cold or hot, dry or raining, Murphy knew it was one of those. Maybe it went bang that time, but with no chronograph, Murphy still does not know the reduction in muzzle velocity, and never will. Murphy maybe got by with no pitting, no rust, and a bang last time, but he has no idea how close he came to ruining his gun. After all, to really know the limit, you have to surpass it. Next misfire, next rusted barrel, it will be "bad gun" all over again.
A loaded muzzleloader is just as foolhardy as any other loaded gun out of your direct control. Even when Murphy buddy accidentally double-loaded his muzzleloader, it didn't phase Murphy. Murphy cousin, Max, kept his muzzleloader in a shed. It wasn't until a bit too late that he learned how quickly mud-wasps can build temporary housing.
There's a lot we can learn from Muzzleloading Murphy. Education, observation, or just watching the Murphster tinkle on the electric fence for us. Either way, the results can be electrifying.
Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.