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 Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg

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Buck Conner
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PostSubject: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   May 30th 2017, 6:49 pm

SUBJECTConing a barrel (my way)...

This procedure, in the present day is known as "coning". ie a "coned" muzzle. It was known in the 19th century  as "relieving", ie; a "relieved" muzzle and also as "funneling", ie a "funneled" muzzle. There is very little historical data written about this as the gunsmiths' apprentice was taught the "hands on" method and not from a text book.

When these "hand taught" barrels makers passed on all their secrets died with them.   I have examined many original m-loading barrels and there is definately a "funneling" at the muzzle. Some historians thought this "funneling" might be ram rod wear but that does not appear to be the case.  One of the most interesting quotes on this subject is that of the famous Bill Large (now deceased). Bill was one of the founding Fathers of the NMLRA and one of the earliest 20th century barrel makers  who helped pioneer the resurection of the m-loading rifle. Bill Large barrels are coveted today. 


In a letter to John Baird who wrote "HAWKEN RIFLES, THE MOUNTAIN MANS CHOICE". Bill stated that he had re-bored and rifled 25 to 30 original Hawken barrels!!!!---- He also stated---"all were belled and showed signs of the funneling tool commonly used by most gunsmiths, as a request of the owner, to permit easy and fast reloading"""".

I just ordered one, have several friends that have them and swear by this method.

http://americanlongrifles.org/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=lelor25lf4ecthf4l82g32k0c6&topic=4375.msg40866#msg40866

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   June 7th 2017, 9:10 pm

I received my "Coning Tool" by Ed Hamberg today, he does nice work, can't wait to try this on several rifles.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 10th 2018, 10:33 pm

Hey Buck,

How did the coning tool go?

I'm very interested to hear more on this subject! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 13th 2018, 10:51 am

I have a Missouri plains rifle built 35 years ago by a mate in my old Adelaide Black Powder club. Iron mounted with a coned muzzle. It is a .50 and I use a .490 with a thick patch and 90 grains of FFFg. The rifle loads easily. I think he did it ver carefully with a file, I remember a lot of discussion about how to crown a patch ball rifle at the time and was most intrigued by this particular method. My .72 classic English "FBG "hunting rifle seems to have the same coning, unless it is ramrod wear , I am pretty certain it is not as ramrod wear seems to be generally located in only one part of the muzzle.  Both rifles you can seat the ball on the patch just below the muzzle with the heel of your patch knife.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 13th 2018, 10:58 am

I've read good and bad about coning. Rice barrels will void your warranty if you do it to one of his barrels.

What I do is take some 320grit and with my thumb sand down the crown of the muzzle smooth. Just press the 320 with your thumb on the crown and turn it. It seems to load a bit easier and prevents cut patches.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 16th 2018, 2:52 pm

I have read a fair bit about funnelling vs crowning and certainly some ver knowledgeable people are not to keen on the former. Maybe its a bit of luck whether it works or not. I guess the normal style of crowning definitely works so that might be the better way to go.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 16th 2018, 3:27 pm

In the present day "coning" is not as deep going down the barrel like "funneling" is from what I have been told by Doc White and a few others that are always testing everything to get the most out of their products.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 16th 2018, 3:52 pm

Here's what the crown looks like when done sanding. It really does make loading a lot easier.


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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 17th 2018, 4:47 am

@Buck Conner wrote:
SUBJECTConing a barrel (my way)...
I just ordered one, have several friends that have them and swear by this method.

I have several  (50, 54 and 58 caliber) that are caliber-specific, rather than "one size fits all" like Hamberg's.  They were made quite a few years ago by an individual whose name escapes me at the moment.  The biggest difference is that they are a noticeably slower taper, resulting in a longer "funnel" than what I'm seeing here. My maker doesn't sell them any more, as far as I know.

All I can tell you is that they most certainly make loading easier.  I've done something over a couple of dozen barrels on my own guns and those of friends.  I'm yet to see one lose any accuracy as a result. No worse, but also no better.

I kinda have a rule of thumb for which barrels to cone and which not to cone. Some guns demand an incredibly tight patch to shoot well.  We're talking having to use a mallet to get the patched ball started. Ain't no way in heck I'm going to carry a mallet into the field for
[size=13] loading. Guys can pound away with mallets all they want on the range, but they're not going to talk me into it for practical field shooting.

Those are the barrels that I choose to cone.
[/size] The long taper on the ones I have result in loading that doesn't even require a short starter. Just choke up real close to the tip on your ram rod and start the ball.  Meanwhile I get the same accuracy as if I was using a mallet. Dunno if the shorter taper on the Hamberg's will let you get away with leaving the mallet and the short starter at home, but it's a worthy goal.

Works for me and for the friends whose barrels I've coned.  Goodenuff for me and nuffsed.
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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 17th 2018, 6:36 am

Bear Claw wrote:
What I do is take some 320grit and with my thumb sand down the crown of the muzzle smooth. Just press the 320 with your thumb on the crown and turn it. It seems to load a bit easier and prevents cut patches.

I've kust given it a go on my rifle, it really showed up the factory imperfections.

I'll let you know how it loads when i go to the range on Thursday with my favorite reprobate heelerau....  Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 17th 2018, 7:27 am

ive tried coning the muzzle more that a common sense 45 degree slight bevel. accuracy went into the toilet with the coning. good enough for hunting but not for target. i use a round ball only 5 thousands under bore diam. that tight. i use tight weave linen patches. that makes it tighter. i carry a very small rubber mallet and a good starter. a few taps and the ball is in to 1/8 below the muzzle. then i cut off with a straight razor. i think some shooters want it too easy to load a muzzleloader. ive watched those videos where they are really poor with their loading. they are only shooting 25 yards at the most. when have i ever got a 25 yard shot on anything here. i would put my guns away for good if they dont hit what i aim at at any reasonable range. whats the point of shooting them if they are not tack drivers. coning is for fast loading and up close shooting, not for serious accuracy and loading the right way.
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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 8:03 am

Sounds like your coning job got off a little slanting the cone rather the having the same amount of tapper on all sides. I used to shoot serious competition and good enough to try out (invited) for the 1989 USA Muzzleloading Team for the International Muzzleloading Championship event that year. I placed in several of the shoots with rifle, not so good with pistol but at least I was involved. Most were shooting very mild to no cone at all (looked like the barrel was cut off smooth at the muzzle - no wire edge just a clean cut), now you see the muzzle tapers all over the place with shooters trying different ideas. Seems everyone has their own idea on what's right or wrong for them. 

Everyone has an pinion on something, just like assholes, we all have one.  Shocked   Sleep

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 8:41 am

Weren't they using false muzzles? That's not practical for a hunting gun.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 9:03 am

Bear Claw wrote:
Weren't they using false muzzles? That's not practical for a hunting gun.

Some of the matches wouldn't allow the false muzzles, saw them more on the bench guns than the offhand guns.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 9:53 am

I had an idea hit me one night. I took a spare 12g loading jag for a shotgun, flipped it around and cut a slot in the flat end for a screw driver bit and then used valve lapping compound on it to slightly cone the muzzle of a muzzleloader that i worked on that was very crude and blunt ended.
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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 10:10 am

Smoothing out the two sharp edges from the factory crown does help a lot. If you don't want to go for a full coning.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 1:36 pm

I saw a Lyman GP yesterday in a store in Roosevelt UT on the rack, when checking the muzzle it had a wire edge on the outside of the barrel like it was never been finished. That edge could cut some looking at it, told the owner of the store, he removed it and took it to the back for some work.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 18th 2018, 1:46 pm

Yeah, my new Deerstalker had a pretty sharp edge before I smoothed it out. I'm sure it would have cut patches and been harder to load.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 24th 2018, 12:38 pm

Go to a gun show now and you'll see many muzzleloaders that have that issue Pete. What happened to that old program called quality control ???  Rolling Eyes

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 24th 2018, 1:02 pm

I know Investarms/Lyman doesn't have it anymore. I'll never buy another one unless it's an old one.

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PostSubject: Re: Coning a barrel (my way) by Ed Hamberg   February 24th 2018, 3:23 pm

That's sad for all involved whether a store owner or one making the purchase.

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