Re: A few Flintlock Questions
It usually does affect accuracy. Muzzleloading accuracy is about consistency in absolutely everything about loading. Measure the powder the same, use the same patch lube, use the same patching, turn the weave of the patch the same way each time, use the same size ball each time, prime the flint pan the same each time. With all the effort that goes in to keeping everything the same, why would you expect that an increasingly dirty fouled bore would shoot the same each time? Your first cold shot while hunting will be from a clean bore. At the range you want everything to be the same from shot to shot. You can keep the fouling consistent from shot to shot, if you swab the bore between shots. a wet patch followed by two dry.
Tow other things affect the amount of fouling, that is how tight the patch ball combination is and how much powder is used in the main charge. When black powder burns under low pressure, the fouling increases alot. So if you have a loose patch ball combination fouling increases. Also if a significant portion of the powder is still burning when the ball exits the muzzle, again, that remaining powder burns with little or no pressure (other than standard atmospheric pressure) and the fouling increases.
The effects of fouling on accuracy can very greatly just based on the humidity in the air that day. Some patch lubes are able to soften fouling during loading and thereby lessen the effects of the fouling. But any patch that wet with lube also holds the possibility of carrying enough wet lube to soak into the powder charge and varying the pressure behind the ball.
Some target shooters claim they get accuracy without swabbing between shots. In such cases they invariably are shooting round bottom groove barrels and shooting very minimal powder charges and also shooting in such succession shot after shot that patch lube doesn't get time to soak into the powder charge.
My best results for range consistent accuracy have always been with swabbing the bore between shots. Obviously if you are hunting and need that follow up shot, generally you don't need fine target accuracy and don't have the time to bother swabbing.