The below article is a review by the Norwegian Arms and Armour Society and published in their membership magazine MTM in March 2014. The below text is translated from Norwegian. Read the original review here (pdf).

New book: From Musket to Metallic Cartridge

The book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge was published right before Christmas. This book is authored by Øyvind Flatnes, a very well-known player in the Norwegian black powder community, perhaps particularly as owner and administrator of the website Flatnes is a historian by profession, and holds a Master's Degree in Medieval History. This has most certainly been an excellent platform for writing books on black powder firearms and black powder shooting. Incidentally, it is nice to see that a number of Norwegian Arms and Armour Society members are thanked especially for contributing with guns for the photographs of the book.

Many MTM readers will probably know Flatnes' previous book (in Norwegian) Vakre våpen, svart krutt, which was published in 2005. That book was the first of its kind in Norway, and obviously because it was a bible for black powder shooters it quickly sold out.

The new book, From Musket to Metallic Cartridge, is a considerably extended version of the previous book; it goes broader and deeper into all parts of the subject. It is written in (very good) English, obviously to reach out to an international audience. There are certainly other books in English that cover similar subjects, but this book covers it all in an exemplary fashion. The book is evidently based on many years of experience as a black powder shooter.

The wealth of useful information for shooters is just as interesting for collectors. Here is an example on how a paper cartridge for an 18 bore chamber-loading rifle is being made.The book has 20 chapters, and is built up chronologically, meaning that we follow the development from the earliest black powder guns to the firearms that ended the black powder era (for example the Jarmann and cartridge revolvers such as Colt and Nagant).

The first chapter is a treatise of the technical development of black powder and black powder firearms from the Middle Ages until about 1900. It describes the making of black powder, granulations and in a thorough way the characteristics of modern black powder. This is followed by a walkthrough of the different lock mechanisms that were invented to facilitate controlled ignition. The matchlock, wheellock, flintlock, snaphaunce lock, percussion lock and finally are described in a clearly set out and straightforward fashion.

Example of a double page spread. The photographs are generally very good, just about all of which are in colour.Chapter 2 deals with the use of black powder firearms in combat over the course of 500 years. This is an interesting chapter, with stories from battles both in Europe and from the war of 1807–1814 in Norway. It is good that the tactics are described. Tactics and combat tactics influenced the development of firearms and vice versa. Smooth-bore muskets were fired collectively by entire units, thus producing a hail of bullets towards the opponents. Rifled guns were generally used by jaegers (light infantry) and sharpshooters for more aimed fire, for example, from the flanks. As a result, the firearms were constructed differently.

The next chapter is dedicated to the practical use of the different ignition systems for black powder firearms. In my opinion this is one of the most interesting chapters in the entire book. Here the reader gets a description of all the tricks of the trade used to get the different locks or ignition systems to fire reliably during shooting. Much of the information we find here was probably common knowledge among soldiers, officers and shooters when the different types of firearms were in use, but for many of today's shooters and collectors this is probably a big eye-opener. For me understanding how the guns worked is an important aspect of collecting, and in this regard the information in this chapter is very valuable.

The following chapters deal with the shooting of different types of firearms (independent of ignition system). There are chapters about:

The last chapters deals with the loading of black powder cartridges, shotgun shells, shooting, bullet casting, hunting with black powder firearms (several beautiful Norwegian hunting rifles are pictured) and finally a little information about the black powder community (MLAIC and so on).

The book has 240 pages in total; the format is approximately 19 x 25 cm (slightly smaller than A4) and costs 299 NOK plus postage (which is very reasonable for a book such as this).


The book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge is a very valuable book, both for black powder shooters and collectors. The book is very well written, beautifully illustrated (great colour pictures), it covers all one can think about within this field, and provide very useful information about the use of black powder firearms for collectors. Øyvind Flatnes deserves a big honour for an excellent job with the book. The book is highly recommended. Go get it now!


Get the Book Now!

The book is available from Amazon (both as hardcover and Kindle edition) or directly from the publisher Crowood Press (hardcover or ePub ebook). Another good option is The Book Depository, which offer free shipping worldwide.

You can also get an autographed hardcover copy from author Øyvind Flatnes or from a bookstore in your country.