How Long Does It Take to Reload a Musket?

Historically, it took an average of 20 seconds to load and fire a smoothbore blackpowder musket. Load times for muskets varied by weapon type, the use of prepared cartridges, and the training of the individual shooter.

Loading a musket was a multiple-step process. Often bullets and powder were packaged into greased paper cartridges, which also served as the patch placed between the shot and the powder. To load the musket, a cartridge was torn open by biting and tearing off the tip. The powder was poured into the barrel, the cartridge was reversed, and the lead ball was rammed paper-end first into the barrel with the ramrod. The exterior pan was primed with fine black powder, the firearm was cocked, and the frizzen closed. Only then could the shooter could aim and fire.