A Loaded Muzzle Loader
“I didn’t know it was loaded”
“I didn’t know it was loaded” is the stock expression used by those who are rudely awakened by an explosion when they pull the trigger of a any loaded firearm. Muzzle loading firearms seem to be even more prevalent in this due to the lack of observation of the chamber. They seem to be always presumed empty.
An old muzzle loader is more likely to be loaded than would at first be thought. One reason lies in its slowness of loading. This resulted in many muzzle loaders being kept loaded habitually, as the only way of keeping them ready for use. Another reason lies in the difficulty of unloading, which caused many users to put off that tedious operation and finally forget it.
It was usual to leave the cap (or priming charge, depending on the type of ignition) off …