Black powder and muzzleloading firearms are fun. They give you a sense of the frontier days and the old west. In many states, there's also an extra hunting season for those willing to use these "out of date" weapons.
By the way, muzzleloading weapons are still evolving. Many use a "209"(shotgun shell-type) primer for ignition, and a few are even designed to fire modern smokeless powder (NEVER mix or substitute modern smokeless powder for black powder/pyrodex!). Because of my work schedule (and hunting seasons), I hunt more with these weapons than anything else. I use the modern, more reliable muzzleloaders because I can't afford to come home empty-handed!
Black powder firearms are particularly susceptible to rust and corrosion. It takes a bit more time and effort to clean a Muzzleloader/black powder gun, but for me the extra effort is well worth the reward.
NOTE: I'm pressed for time, but I'll try to add a few more pics to this ible soon.
Step 1: Disassembly
First and most importantly!!!! MAKE SURE your gun is UNLOADED!! Do not ever work on a loaded weapon! I had one friend that shot himself in the toe, and another who SHOT HIS EAR OFF, while working on loaded muzzleloaders.
Begin disassembly. Tear it down as far as you can. You may need a manual or diagram. Don't do anything that you can't undo!
1)Remove the barrel.
2)Remove the breechplug (if possible), and primer-nipple.
3)If it's really dirty/rusted, remove stock and trigger assembly.
Step 2: Clean Nipple And/or Breechplug
With the breechplug and/or nipple removed, clean it. Use a "nipple pick" or a needle to make sure there is no fouling in the tiny orifice. If it is fouled/plugged, you will have poor ignition or a total misfire. I soak a piece of thread in oil, and run it back and forth through the orifice to prevent future fouling.
Step 3: Cleaning and Protecting Your Barrel
This is the important part! It can be done with the weapon assembles or disassembled. Just make sure it's not loaded! It is most easily accomplished with the breechplug removed, if that's possible.
1) Apply a powder solvent to the barrel and allow to sit. Read (and follow!)instructions to your particular type of solvent.
2) Run patches through your barrel repeatedly. When they come out clean, move to next step.
3) Use a brass or copper brush to remove any final fouling, rust, or carbon. (This can be done before the solvent step, but follow instructions for the products you use!)
4) Coat a patch with a lubricant/protectant, and LIGHTLY coat the inside of your barrel.
Step 4: Reassembly and Final Touches
Reassemble your weapon (In reverse order of disassembly). Lightly coat all exposed metal with gun or sewing machine oil. Now you are ready to hunt or target practice. Be careful. Follow all steps to safe gun handling. Firearm safety is of utmost importance. Have fun!