Firing the M1842 .69 Cal Springfield Smoothbore

Aug 17, 2014
Hello All,

In a few days i plan on taking out my Armisport 1842 .69 Caliber Smoothbore to the range for some target practice. I have at my disposal FFFg powder, .69 caliber ball (actually .678) and some buckshot size .283. I would like to fire the gun with buck and ball in it. How many grains of FFFg powder should i use, and how many buckshot should i use? Any advice, or help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Jan 27, 2015
San Antonio, Texas
For modern FFFg powder, I'd really not go too far beyond 80 grains. The "service load" for smoothbores was more like FFg or even Fg, at 110 grains, so with the finer powder you should go down a bit. Be sure to take your range rod, plenty of cleaning patches, and some black powder solvent, or plenty of your own spit! You'll want to swab between ten or more shots as it gets fouled.

A .678 ball is a mighty tight fit... You may need to lube it a bit... Or spit on it before you seat it atop your powder charge. The three buckshot will spread out quite a bit, so be careful not to break any target frames with strays.

The service load is a single lead roundball and three buckshot. Of course you could make buckshot loads with 8 to 12 or even 15 buckshot if you so choose. Some of the smooth-bore equipped Federals at Gettysburg broke open their buck and ball issue cartridges and contrived some extemporized buckshot loads. U.S. Sentries often loaded with buckshot because it was potentially easier to "unload" if an officer or NCO insisted the firelock could not simply be fired to "unload" it. Good luck and all best!

For squeezing a bit more accuracy out of your smooth bore, you could always use a cloth patch and a lead ball, for a tighter fit. a wet patch might suffice. Other people do all kinds of outlandish things... Wrap the ball with a lubricant and tinfoil, or roughen the ball with rasp files and then coat several times with a lubricant, etc. etc. In my opinion, it beats golf!

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