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Fire Starting Failure

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Pete Bog:
   I seem to remember reading somewhere, a few years ago, that fire could be started by pulling the lead out of a shell, pouring the gunpowder into the tinder and then light it by firing the gun into the tinder pile. Supposedly the spark from the primer would light it off and the burning gunpowder would get your fire going.
   Yesterday my son and I tried it. We used a .22 rifle and 9mm pistol. We tried several different distances from the gunpowder infused tinder bundle and all results were the same. Complete and utter failure. :shrug:.
   We did not try black powder. That is not part of our normal EDC.
   Has anyone else tried this?  And if you succeeded, what was your method?

I think you would have been better off using a rock against the barrel for a spark. It works in the movies though.

I did this once with a .22 LR. No weapon. just poured the powder then put the shell on a rock and smashed it with another rock. No telling if it would have made a fire because I didn't have one set up.

If have heard of people doing this with a muzzle loading flint lock and black powder.  I cannot imagine that firing the .22 would allow the primer ignition flame to reach the powder unless the barrel were very short.  A hot spark from a flint and steel might.  I do not know what kind of powder is in a .22 rimfire shell.

I have heard of, but never tried, this working with a shotgun shell.  You dump the shot, pour the powder where you want it.  Put a cotton ball in the shell and then fire the primer with the barrel pointed at and nearly touching the ground.  Do not put it directly on the powder.  The cotton ball is supposed to be on fire when it lands and you quickly place it on the powder.  If you point the barrel directly at the powder the air from the primer ignition will blow the powder away.  Might be worth trying this. 

What I have done with rifle powder is this.  In a firearm safety course my son and I took about 35 years ago the instructor had us take IMR 4831 powder, mix it with fingernail polish remover, and make a paste.  We formed the paste into little 1" long strips and let it dry.  A good hot spark from a flint and steel would ignite it.  It burned for awhile and hot enough to ignite the tinder.  It is generally stated that you can only use 4831 as other powders can cause problems. 

Pete Bog:
   It's only going to warm up to 13*F (-10*C) tomorrow, but I'll give the shotgun trick a try and let you know how it went.

It's easiest with an unloaded flintlock.....put some of your favorite spark-catching material in the pan, close the frizzen, pull the trigger and......BINGO, you have a glowing ember to ease into your tinder nest to blow into a flame. 8)

In the old days, they would not unload the rifle......they'd just blow the priming powder out of the pan and stick a feather or small sharpened stick into the touch hole before sparking the lock into the material in the pan.  I was in an early settler's cabin one time that had several bullet holes in the wall to the left of the open fireplace hearth.....didn't use a big enough feather, I guess. :shrug:  :doh: :lol:

With a modern rifle or shotgun.....I used a shotgun. Remove the wads, projectile and powder from the cartridge, shred some threads off the hem of your handkerchief and push a loose wad of it down on top of the primer.  Fire the piece straight up into the air and watch where the smoking wad lands.  Grab it and stick it in your tinder nest.....blow for effect. :camp:

Whether you utilize the powder in the tinder nest or not is your call, but beware.....it flairs up intensely and you risk losing your eyebrows! :shocked:

I've tried both these methods and they work.....most of the time. ;D


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