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Another Tuesday, another episode of Top Shot. And despite the near painfully boring run so far there have indeed been a few interesting firearms. This week brings yet another gun that is legitimately interesting and challenging.

Kentucky Flintlock Pistol

This handgun was a common sight in 18th and early 19th century America. Based on the same mechanism as the flintlock rifles of the day, this handgun proved to be an accurate companion to many soldiers, providing a spare firearm to use in case they couldn’t reload their musket in time to fend off the next attacker.

The flintlock provides a distinct challenge for the shooters on three fronts: aiming, follow through and reloading.

Aiming any handgun is difficult, but aiming one as un-ergonomic and front heavy as this is a definite challenge. The weight and length of the barrel means that the shooter must use more force and more grip to keep it on target, and by using more muscle strength they run the risk of having the muzzle wobble all over the place as well as tiring themselves out before they even take the shot. The trick is to get the gun on target and fire fast before you have a chance to become exhausted.

Once you pull that trigger you still need to keep the gun on target. Much like the open bolt on the BAR from a few episodes back, even after you pull the trigger there’s a brief pause before the gun actually goes off. During that time the shooter needs to keep the gun on target or else the shot will swing wide and miss.

Finally, reloading a flintlock handgun is significantly different from reloading a modern handgun. Specifically, it’s much slower and less consistent. Even if it’s done quickly, the very nature of loose gunpowder means that no two shots will have precisely the sameĀ amountĀ of powder burning behind them or the same seating depth, factors which decrease accuracy tremendously.

The real challenge with flintlocks isn’t shooting them. The challenge is keeping them loaded.

H&K USP Tactical .45

The USP is one of those iconic guns that H&K makes — nothing else looks or feels quite like it. The slide release, the safety / decocker, and even the rail under the barrel have a distinctive utilitarian styling to them that is very, very German.

But, just like the S&W M&P last week, it’s a modern handgun in a competition on what claims to be a channel about history. Is it a nifty gun? Sure is. But there’s no challenge to the firearm. It’s just like any modern firearm – point and shoot.

What drew me to Top Shot was that competitors not only had to be good with modern firearms, but they had to be able to adapt to new firearms as the competition progressed. This is another instance where the emphasis is more about the gimmicks of the stage than the firearm itself, and while it may be interesting to watch here on my couch, it isn’t as challenging for the shooters as it could be.

Then again, I may have caught RF’s crotchety old man disease…

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  1. For me, the USP’s claim to fame is that it was the Collateral gun. If Top Shot ever felt like replicating the briefcase scene, that would be worth watching.

  2. I am from des moines ia. Last yr a guy with a permit to carry was confronted by two guys. Luckily he called 911 before he had to use it. The prosacution att. Was a democrat so he prosecuted him because he did not like the right to carry law. He was accuited be a jury of his peers after spending 112 days in jail. It should have not even have gone to trail because of the 911best call showed he had the right to use force…

  3. I have been shooting blackpowder firearms for over 50 years. I have a flintlock pistol similar to the one shown, about .60 calibre, smoothbore.

    Rather than seat the undersized round ball directly on the powder (the ball is undersized to be able to load in a badly fouled pistol – black powder fouling is substantial!), I was taught and always used a bee’s wax or Crisco lubricated cotton or linen cloth patch wrapped around the ball, and seated on the powder charge.

    The patched ball provided for better obturation, and better accuracy from the smoothbore because the ball does not rattle or roll in the barrel when discharged!

    Millions of these pistols were carried in combat or by gentlemen for centuries muzzle down without the patched ball falling out!

    Their black powder expert needed a lesson in proper loading technique.

    • I didn’t watch the episode, but I’m guessing they weren’t using minie balls either?

    • After watching the one “shooter” pulling the trigger on an un-cocked gun, complaining about the trigger pull for almost 5 minutes, I couldn’t take it anymore- had to shut it off– Top Shot?

      Pot Shot

    • I found this odd as well. I’ve always used cloth patches with round balls– much more consistent, with the noteworthy benefit of keeping the ball in the flippin’ barrel.

      I don’t shoot black powder as much as I used to, but in all the years I have, I’ve never seen anyone load a ball directly onto powder like that.

  4. I noticed that the USP didn’t have the thread protector installed on the threaded muzzle. Anyone else find that slightly odd?

  5. The HK USP-T does not come with a thread protector. I bought an aftermarket thread protector from TROS for $18.

  6. Nick, Good summary on the flintlock. In series 1-4 there are 2 guys dressed in black that do the slow motion and demonstration shots. Those guys can shoot anything. Who are those guys?

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