Hornet's Nest as wad material in muzzleloaders
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Hornet's Nest as wad material in muzzleloaders

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I've seen many references over the years that 'back in the day', Hornet's Nest material was used as an overpowder wad...and it's documented that although it has the look and feel of a light paper product, it does not burn. So while at a family reunion in NY state during the past several days, when I had a chance to bring back a couple of Hornets Nests for my own personal testing and experience I grabbed them.

At a range session this morning I used Hornet's Nest material as an overpowder wad in a .45cal round ball Flintlock...it seated & compressed into a tight wad down on top of the powder, acted as a firewall protecting the patch, improved gas sealing behind the patched ball.....and it does not burn...doesn't even char...found the various clumps of it 10-15 feet out in front of the muzzle.

PS:
As an alternative to hornets nest material they'd use a few green leaves folded into a thick wad and seated...interesting examples of how the settlers lived off the land a couple hundred years ago, using natural items as often as the did...practical, common sense approach to everything ruled the day
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http://www.nchuntandfish.com/forums/showthread.php?t=740

I found this on the North Carlonia hunting sight and remember hearing of this being used as M/L shotgun wadding . It looks as if it can be used in rifles also.
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