My working with the 12-gauge Model 94 Long Tom 12-gauge shotgun came about in a back-handed way. Last year I requested a Dixie-Pedersoli Scout flintlock 12-gauge shotgun for field testing and had a very brief time with the gun before small-game season closed in February. No turkeys cooperated during turkey season, so I was less than satisfied with my work with the gun. It still needed to kill a turkey or deer or something!
As a muzzleloading smoothbore the Scout is an unusual gun. First it is small and weighs only 5 1/2-pounds – this is very light for a 12-gauge gun. Secondly, it does not have an attached ramrod, or any provision for mounting one – this is not unheard of for muzzleloaders in cased sets designed for use on the target range, but is for hunting guns. The rational behind these features was that this gun was designed for use in Boy Scout shooting programs who wanted a small, no frills, light-weight gun for use on shooting ranges at an affordable prices. O.K., but…. historically muzzleloading guns for training young shooters have been in smaller gauges – like 28 and 32 gauge; not 12-gauge. True, you can load muzzleloaders with whatever charge that you like and 12-gauge components are less expensive than those for other gauges, but what about the recoil?
I was less concerned about breaking clays with the gun than trying to hunt with it. My initial load was 78 grains of Olde Eynsford FFg black powder and 1-ounce of shot which generated enough recoil to set me back half-a-step when I fired it as may be seen in the my videos such as: https://youtu.be/swICAhs5TGU.
For comparison, I shot a 1 1/8 ounce 12-gauge cartridge from the Long Tom, also on the video, with less felt recoil. The single-barreled Long Tom at 6 1/2 pounds is a pound heavier than the Scout and was more comfortable to shoot. For the 2018-19 hunting season I cut back on the Scout’s charge to 70 grains of FFg and salvaged number 6 lead shot from some old Remington shotgun shells that I had bought decades ago in Alaska. This left me with some cut-off 12-gauge primed hulls, which were not unlike the brass cartridges used to prime the .50-caliber Remington Ultimate Muzzleloader rifle. If the brass cases could be used to prime a rifle, could not the cut-off plastic cases be used to prime a shotgun and make a muzzleloader out of it? The answer is that yes, they could and can; if for any reason you wanted to make a muzzleloader out of a drop-barrel 12-gauge, single-shot shotgun or any other 12-gauge gun.
I would not be the first to think of, and do, such a thing. I filled this back in my memory bank to investigate at some stage and saved the cut-off cases as I continued to hunt with the Dixie Scout. I had a functional failure with the lock, which resulted in my returning the gun to Dixie. I then decided to employ the same components in the Stevens to make a muzzleloading shotgun. Using those components, I loaded the Stevens with a cut-off hull containing the primer, 70 grains of Olde Eynsford, a quarter-inch card and a half inch fiber wad. On top of that I put a plastic shot cup containing a scrap of torn plastic-bag material, filled it with 1-ounce of salvaged no. 6 shot and capped it off with a cut-in-half fiber wad. The fiber wad would compress enough to let me load it through the gun’s full choked barrel and expand enough to hold the shot in the gun’s chamber.
Comparing patterns between this load and the original cartridge, they both shot a little beneath the point of aim, but both gave squirrel killing patterns at 25 yards. Surprisingly, the recoil from my black-powder load was a little more pronounced than with the cartridge load, and I decided to stick with the 70 grains of FFg and 1-ounce of shot for my squirrel load. The extra 1/4-ounce of shot that the shotgun shell held resulted in more hits on the paper for the shotshell, but the shape of the pattern and strike of the shot on the paper were very similar. With either load I needed to hold over the squirrel to more nearly center the animal in the pattern.
After I published the video one of my correspondents replied that someone was making an adapter to allow the 12-gauge to be converted into a muzzleloader. This turned out to be a $30 plain or $35 coated 209-primer holding unit that fitted into the chamber just like a 12-gauge shotgun shell, but with a rubber sealing gasket in the front. This is an identical concept to that employed by H&R when they first introduced the Huntsman in 1958 and used a knock-out breech plug that was identical in function, but slightly different in design. I immediately ordered one and will try it out in a future video. It will be interesting to see how they compare.