Oct 6, 2011

Flintlock Frizzen Bounce

In the Sept/Oct 2011 issue of Muzzleloader magazine, there's an interesting article about frizzen bounce. When a frizzen bounces (the author claims most do) the heel of the frizzen can hit the top of the flint and cause flints to go bad sooner than they should in some cases. You can test for this by putting masking tape over the top of the flint, from the top flint jaw to the sharp edge of the flint. They dry fire and look for a line that indents the masking tape. If you see a line in the tape, your frizzen is bouncing back and the heel of the frizzen is striking on top of the flint. The author of the article says to prevent flint damage, extend the leather that holds the flint in the jaws, so the leather goes a little past the line in the making tape, or in some cases clear down to the sharp edge of the flint. This cushions the blow of the frizzen heel when it hits on top of the flint.

I tested this on my Brown Bess, and sure enough my frizzen is bouncing too, I saw a line in the tape where the heel of the frizzen hit the flint about 1/8 of an inch back from the sharp edge. I haven't tried yet to extend the leather holding the flint so the leather goes down nearly to the sharp edge - but I'm going to do that soon and see what happens. In my case it may not be affecting my flints much, because Brown Bess flints are so thick and strong. Plus the frizzen is hitting my flint about 1/8" back from the edge where it's still fairly thick, and it may not be hitting very hard.

Anyhow, you might want to test your gun too. I guess nobody really knew much about it happening until some slow motion pictures showed it happening a few years ago - at least that's what the author said. And now we can prove it by looking for that line in the tape on top of the flint. If there's a line, the frizzen is bouncing and in worse case (for some guns) it's whacking and chipping the flint every shot - which can lead to short flint life - at least that's the theory.

Here's some more info about frizzen bounce and some interesting links to slow motion videos of flintlocks being fired at this link: http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?action=printpage;topic=14676.0