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More Blunderbuss: the Second United States Blunderbuss Championship

posted Jan 9, 2013, 9:59 AM by Peter Lucas   [ updated Jan 9, 2013, 1:07 PM ]


     It is time to get ready for the Second United States Blunderbuss Championship which will be held at the NMLRA Western National Shoot, February 26 through March 3, 2013.  The Blunderbuss Championship consist of 15 shots at three different types of targets. Five rounds are fired at paper target at a range of approximately 20 yards. The next five shots are fired at a 8 inch gong from a bouncing buggy steat. The final five shots are at flying clay birds.  A more complete description of the event can be found at an earlier Article tiled The United States Blunderbuss Championships

    Last year, I built blunderbuss using a kit from Pecatonica River Supply for the first blunderbuss championship.  Over the last year, I have been tinkering loads for the gun.  The blunderbuss produces some surprisingly good patterns from the 20 inch barrel with light bird shot charges.  With a little practice, I have started breaking a few birds from stations 3, 4 and 5 on the skeet range with the blunderbuss.   The bird shot load which I have settled on is as follows:

    Gun: 11 Gauge Blunderbuss with 20 inch barrel. Patterns shot at 20 yards.

  •     68 Grains (2 1/2 Drams) Goex Renactor Powder.
  •     2 Nitro Cards
  •     .95 ounces of Reclaimed Shot
  •     1 over shot card

    Here is a sample of the patterns:

 Pellet  Counts
inner 10" 79
10-20" 113
20-30" 50
Total 269
 Pellet Counts
inner 10" 26
10-20" 95
20-30" 130
Total 306
  Pellet Counts
inner 10" 79
10-20" 132
20-30" 53
Total 292
 Pellet Counts
Inner 10"  97
10-20" 139
20-30" 87
Total  355

(nice doughnut hole)
 Pellet Counts
inner 10" 23
10-20" 124
20-30" 114
Total 305
 Pellet Counts
inner 10" 105        
10-20" 142
20-30" 77
Total 340
 Pellet Counts
inner 10" 87
10-20" 176
20-30" 70
Total 349
 Pellet Counts
inner 10"  81
10-20" 132
20-30" 66
Total 291
 Pellet Counts
inner 10" 110
10-20" 139
20-30" 84
Total 361

Statistical Analysis

   For 2013 there are some are some rule changes for the Blunderbuss competition.  The primary rule change relates to the legal projectiles. For 2013, the first five shots at the paper target requires single round balls.  The second shots from the buggy seat requires 3/0 buck shot or larger.  Any sized shot can be used for the final five shots at clay targets.  Also the gun should look like a blunderbuss, this is to prevent sawed off shotguns.

    Last year, bird shot was legal when shooting from the buggy seat.  This year, I would need to work up a buckshot load using 000 buckshot.  Triple 0 buck is approximately .35 inches in diameter and it the largest buckshot which is widely available.  The standard load for a modern 2 3/4 inch 12 gauge shell is 8 pellets.  The 3 inch magnum 12 shells have only 10


    According to the period book: The Royal Mail: Its Curiosities and Romance by James Wilson Hyde  (W. Blackwood and Sons, 1885) the standard charge for blunderbuss' used by the Royal Mail was "ten or twelve shot the size of a pea."  While less than scientific, the 35 caliber, 000 buckshot is approximately pea sized.  I figured that a load of 12 pellets would be a good place to start.  To put the this load into perspective, 000 Buckshot weighs approximately 70 grains per pellet.  Consequently, a load of 12 pellets would approach 2 ounces of lead.  If an equal volume of powder and shot was used, the powder charge would be approximately 135 grains of black powder. This would be a stout load indeed.  It would also be highly effective in close range combat (the purpose for which the gun was intended).   Since this is just a target competition, I decided to back the load down to 2.5 drams (68 grains) of black powder.  The specific load which I tested is as follows:

  •   68 Grains (2 1/2 Drams) Goex Renactor Powder.
  •     2 Nitro Cards
  •     12 Pellets of Hornaday 000 Buckshot
  •     1 over shot card

    Testing was done at 15 yards (there were no holes for the target stands at 20 yards).  Here are the buckshot patterns


    The patterning results were better than I had expected. All 12 pellets were consistently delivered into a 18 inch circle.  So, it looks like I am ready for the Second United State Blunderbuss Championship down in Carefree, Arizona. Get yourself a blunderbuss and come join in the fun!