Not sure how many hickory ramrods I've busted but it's been more than enough. And although I've only put the rod through my hand once, I never want to repeat that again.
Have often wondered about using an oak dowel rod in place of hickory, I suspect it's not PC/HC but that's not really any concern to me. Has anybody ever tried this as an option? And if so, how did it work out?
Last time I replaced a ramrod, I built a steel rod with brass ends. But that was for a smooth bore and I don't suppose it's a good idea for a rifle.
Any input is appreciated....
You might try to locate a straight grained piece of white oak however I think red oak will make a good skewer.
I've been thinking about giving these guys a try. Should be near unbreakable and yet look like any other ramrod. http://www.periodramrod.com/
I've broken two ramrods that I can remember.
The first was a tiny .32 caliber rod that split when I was ramming a tight ball down the bore.
The other one was for my .50 caliber. Being somewhat of a clumsy oaf, I was in a hurry to reload after making a shot at a deer and in my haste I stumbled over the long rod and broke it.
When I did that I was far into the back woods. Making a run to the nearest gun store was not an option. So, I found a straight sapling and whittled out a ramrod. I don't know what kind of tree it was. I whittled a hole through the rod near the end so that I could run a bit of patch through it for cleaning my rifle bore and be able to pull the cleaning patch back out. The green wood warped somewhat over the next few days, but it worked well enough to keep me hunting for the rest of that week.
I've made plenty of ramrods using hardware store dowels - whatever kind of wood they are. They have worked just fine for me.
Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
While hickory is considered 'authentic', so is seriously injuring yourself. Good hickory rods are sometimes difficulty to find. Safe handling methods are crucial but as you pointed out, forgetfullness happens. I use mostly Delrin rods that are not breakable. For ronny and demonstration I will use hickory. Safety is paramount.
Evidently, I've been lucky, in forty years or so of shootin' these contraptions, I've never broken a ramrod (knock on wood). Hope I never do. How many times, have I stabbed myself with a screwdriver? Lord knows.
Any chance that evened out the bad karma?
It's not the first time, I've protected my hair, in just such a manner.
I've broken two that I can recall; neither was hickory.
*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
Hickory simply is the best wood for ramrods (well, there might be some exotic wood that could be better, who knows). But, you need a STRAIGHT grained hickory rod.
Most of the sad excuses for ramrods sold now are ramin wood. Even if it is straight grained, it is worse than useless. It breaks VERY easily.
I would think that straight grained sugar maple (with ZERO curl) would make a satisfactory ramrod. Ash might be good, IF you could get minimal porous layers. White oak may work ok too.... it just has to be straight. Grain running from one end to the other.
Yes, that was the case with the cheap smoothbore rod I replaced with steel. The maker bought those cheapies (which were even under sized at that) and included them with his so-called "Historically Correct Reproductions".
Thanks for your input.
If you make your own ram rod, split the billet/staff out while the wood is green,,the split will follow the natural grain of the wood.Then rough form the rod oversized and let it dry,,then size it and put a finish/preservative on the rod and it shouldnt split.
Sheepish confession here: After splitting a hickory ramrod while loading, and nearly impaling my hand, I have gone to using a synthetic rod for range use, and I save the wooden rod for looks and juried events. I know, I know, it's not PC, but neither are the antibiotics they fill you with after you stab yourself with a stick.
"Any day you wake up on the right side of the dirt is a good day"
Hey Dave, To answer your question, no I have never tried oak in place of hickory for a ramrod. This got me thinking about the strength of both woods mentioned. I looked up the compressive strength of both species on the Nick Engler's Workshop Companion site and found that they are quite similar. That is white oak and hickory, not red oak. I am by all means no expert, but I think the key here is the straightness of the grain (near 0% runout). Going to the local hardware outfit and trying to find an acceptable piece would seem to be like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack. I believe Walking Crow has a good answer here in making your own. A very interesting subject. Please let us know how things work out.
Oh, one thing I forgot, Ramin might be good for noodles but not for ramrods. LOL!
The main thing with a piece of wood used as a ramrod is the straightness of the grain. A rived or split piece as the basis for starting a ramrod is preferable over a sawn or turned piece...
In the lengths and sizes we are talking here the wood does not need to be green to split or drive out a ramrod blank that then can be scraped round and that should be harder to break..
Unless you live in the east when you buy Hickory at thelumber store it can be either Hickory or Pecan they both come from the same bin....
These folks sell the Virtually Indestructible Ramrod - a steel lined wooden ramrod.....
aka Chuck Burrows
Yeah Chuck, I've seen those. Might have to go for one of them. Thanks.
Here I come late to this thread. I've broken a couple o' wiping sticks when the patch decided to glue itself into the barrel of my trade gun. So I made a spare, which prevented any further breakage. (Of course) That worked so well at preventing breakage that I decided to make spares for my rifles. Now, I always heard that you get better performance from a ramrod if you soak it in kerosene for a month or so first. So I did. Then, while the first was drying and the second was soaking, I got this brilliant idea from a friend who soaks his wooden arrows in "penetrating Swedish oil" to add weight and make them more durable. So when the second rod came out of the kerosene, I put the first in to soak in oil. Now the second is in the oil and the first is dry. I like the results. I can put a 4 - 6" bend in the rod by pulling on the ends without breaking, or even worrying about breaking. I can't wait to finish the rod and dry driving a ball down the tube.
So that's my personal recommendation at this point: a month or two in kerosene followed by a month in the oil.
And that's all I have to say about that.
This almost got me…(photo 1)…and IMO nothing is worth an injury just for some silly PC/HC thing about a ramrod…since I use all brass furniture I switched all ramrods to brass…and range rods are either brass or hard anodized aluminum (photo 2).
Flintlock Rifles & Smoothbores
Hunt Like The Settlers
Dave go ahead and make a steel or brass rod for your rifle.Just use a bore protector.
Roundball uses nylon ones..see picture..
brass works too.
Those "indestructible" rods might be just the thing for a wood rod. Currently I'm considering brass (either solid or rolled) for durability. I don't need HC/PC; safety and durability are more important.
*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
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