A sharp or heavy blow to the external striker handle can fracture parts and cause a malfunction or discharge of the firearm. AN ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE MAY RESULT IN INJURY AND/OR DEATH TO THE SHOOTER OR BYSTANDERS AND DAMAGE TO PROPERTY.
10 Never hand a charged muzzleloading firearm to another person. Once charged, a muzzleloading firearm requires your complete attention. Never charge the firearm and then hand it to another shooter. Equally you should never shoot a muzzleloading firearm that has been charged by someone else. Only the person doing the loading knows whether the firearm has been charged properly. WARNING: Overloads and/or improper loading may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
11 Never lean a charged and primed rifle against a tree, wall or any surface. Once the rifle has been charged it is your responsibility to guard it against accidental bumps.
12 Never store a charged muzzleloading firearm in a home, camp, vehicle or building. WARNING: After use, a muzzleloading firearm should be discharged (fired) into a suitable backstop before returning to the home or camp. Failure to follow this rule may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
13 Never attempt to clean a charged or primed muzzleloading firearm.
14 Use pure lead only when casting round balls, Maxi-Balls® or Maxi-Hunters®. Lead alloys which contain large amounts of antimony or other metals are not suitable for muzzleloading projectiles. Do not use commonly found alloys such as wheel weights or Linotype because they produce hard, oversize projectiles that are difficult to load. WARNING: Improper loading (projectile not seated on powder charge) may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property. See section on "Bullet Molds" in this booklet.
15 Wear protective gear when firing your muzzleloading firearm. Always wear shooting glasses to protect your eyesight from air borne particles and ear protectors to guard against hearing loss due to loud noise when firing your muzzleloader. Protect your arms from flying particles of percussion caps or priming powder by wearing a heavy shirt or jacket with long sleeves. WARNING: When firing, stand well forward of all bystanders to ensure that they are not struck by particles of powder or caps. Failure to follow this rule may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property. Those wearing long hair or beards should use extra caution when firing a flint lock. A flint lock can torch hair.
16 Do not load or prime your muzzleloading firearm directly from a can, horn or flask. A spark from a previous firing may ignite the stream of powder being poured into the gun and cause the container to explode. WARNING: The explosion of powder can, horn or flask may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property. Use a separate pre-calibrated measuring device containing small quantities of powder to load and prime your gun and keep your face, hands and body well away from the muzzle when loading and the pan when priming.
17 Do not smoke while using your muzzleloader. The spark from a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe can ignite Black Powder, Pyrodex, Percussion Caps or Primers. WARNING: Smoking around a charged and/or primed muz-zleloader, percussion caps, priming powder or supply of powder may cause premature firing of the gun or an explosion of the powder can, horn or flask causing serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
18 Keep powder, percussion caps, or primers well away from a firing position or shooting bench. A powder horn, flask, can of powder, box of percussion caps or primers can ignite with deadly force if exposed to sparks or intense heat. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe handling and storage of powder or caps. WARNING: Keep unused caps, primers and powder well away from firearms that are being discharged. Sparks from the discharge of a muzzleloading firearm may cause an unused supply of powder, caps or primers to ignite causing serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
19 Give the firearm your complete concentration. Never cross a fence, jump a ditch or engage in any activity which distracts your attention while holding or carrying a charged and primed muzzleloading firearm.
20 Know the condition of your muzzleloading firearm before charging, priming or firing. Function the striker and trigger of your gun to be sure that the parts are working properly before loading a charge. Be sure the muzzle-loading firearm is properly loaded. Use recommended loads of BLACK POWDER OR PYRODEX ONLY for your specific model and caliber. Mark your ramrod as explained in this booklet and always be certain that the ball, bullet or shot charge is seated properly on the powder charge. Be sure the barrel is clear of obstructions (including excess oil, mud, dirt, snow or any foreign material). WARNING: Failure to observe any of these rules may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
21 Be physically fit and mentally alert when using your muzzleloading firearm. The use of your muzzleloader involves forceful physical actions which require strength and concentration. Never use alcoholic beverages or drugs before or when shooting or handling your muzzleloader. Never use your muzzleloading firearm when you are overly tired. If you use medication or have medical implants, consult your physician before using your muzzleload-ing firearm.
22 At their very best, tree stands are potentially hazardous. Even with good equipment, safety depends upon the age, health, dexterity and sound judgement of the user. If you feel that you must use a tree stand, purchase a top quality brand only and follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter. WARNING: Never climb to or descend from a tree stand with a primed muzzleloading firearm. Never raise or lower a primed muzzleloading firearm to or from a tree stand. Failure to follow this rule may cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
23 Respect the muzzleloading firearm. Used properly your muzzleloader will give you years of pleasure. Used improperly, carelessly or abused, your muzzleloading firearm is a dangerous instrument and is capable of causing serious injury, death or property damage. Always treat your muzzleloader as if it were loaded. Do not drop your muzzleloader or allow it to be struck a blow. Dropping or striking it may cause movement and/or damage to internal parts in such a manner as to cause an accidental discharge. If the gun is dropped it should be examined. WITH THE FIREARM UNPRIMED slide your ramrod into the bore to ensure that the barrel is not obstructed. Check your ramrod mark to be certain that the projectile is seated firmly on the powder charge. Check the firearm for external damage. Check the firing mechanism to be sure that hammer and trigger are functioning properly.
24 Use extreme care in the selection and/or use of accessories, implements or components. Thompson/Center muzzleloaders are manufactured to a controlled tolerance and are intended for use with accessories and implements of Thompson/Center brand only. For example, Thompson/Center mold dimensions are carefully calculated to produce cast (pure lead) round balls, Maxi-Balls® or Maxi-Hunters® of a proper size and hardness which are consistent with the specific caliber requirements of our product line. Patch material bearing the T/C brand is of the proper size and thickness for the caliber and round balls specified in this booklet and in our catalog. The reader is warned against the use of any unauthorized accessories, implements or components which are not of our manufacture and over which we have no control. Before purchasing or using accessories, implements or components, the reader must assure himself that such items are safe to use with Thompson/Center firearms. Responsibility for the safe use of such items rests totally with their manufacturer and/or dealer selling these products. If you are unsure as to the safety or compatibility of accessory items to use with our firearms, write to us at the address shown on page 8.
25 The reader is warned against custom alterations and conversions. Thompson/Center does not endorse or recommend any type of alteration other than those performed by the Thompson/Center Custom Shop. Replacement nipples, replacement barrels, priming devices or any other unit not of Thompson/Center manufacture and used as a replacement part or attachment to a Thompson/Center firearm is potentially dangerous. Responsibility for such devices rests totally with the manufacturer of the device and/or with the dealer selling the device or the person or persons installing it.
26 Use Thompson/Center scope mounts only. The Thompson/Center Catalog lists a series of scopes and mounts which are designed specifically for use with our firearms. These mounts make use of existing screw holes. Those who desire a scope sight should make use of Thompson/Center mounts. WARNING: Do not drill additional holes in the barrel as this could weaken the barrel structure leading to a rupture. A ruptured barrel can cause serious injury and/or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage to property.
27 Follow Kit instructions carefully (where applicable). A copy of this booklet is included with all Thompson/Center factory finished muzzleloaders - both kit and finished models. Readers who purchase kits must realize that Thompson/Center Arms Co., Inc. has no control over the final finishing and assembly of kit products. The kit builder must follow instructions to the letter. Alteration of factory parts, the drilling of additional holes in the barrel, excessive heat and/or removal of excess quantities of metal from the barrel can weaken the firearm or cause it to malfunction.
The foregoing general rules and cautions are printed to contribute to your safety when using Thompson/Center muzzleloading firearms. These rules must be read, understood and adhered to. The remainder of this book is equally important. It contains information which is essential to the proper use and care of your muzzleloading firearm. Do not attempt to load or fire your muzzleloading firearm until you have read this booklet in its entirety. If, after reading this booklet, you still have questions concerning the safe use of your Thompson/Center firearm, write or call our Customer Service Department at:
Thompson/Center Arms Co., Inc.
P.O. Box 5002 Rochester, New Hampshire 03866 Telephone: 1-603-332-2333
Know your Fire Hawk muzzleloading firearm before attempting to use it. This booklet will help you to become familiar with the various terms associated specifically with this type of firearm. The diagram on this page points out the more commonly mentioned parts associated with the Fire Hawk.
Was this article helpful?