Whatchya Think?


Mark Benningfield
December 27, 2002, 02:14 AM
Hello All.

Well, I'm thinking of getting a percussion-cap Hawken rifle. Now, is there any appreciable difference between the .50 cal. and the .54? I can't really see that a .54 would drop a deer any better than a .50. Any thoughts? Thanks.

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December 27, 2002, 02:37 AM
Mark, you posted this thread twice. I deleted the duplicate thread - there were no replies on it. Just letting you know... :D

December 27, 2002, 09:23 AM
One thought is to check out the availability of bullets in your area. Not only bullets but also the Pyrodex Pellets (if you plan on using these).

Which caliber has a wider selection that is carried locally and is easier accessable for you.

Just a logistics thought.

4v50 Gary
December 27, 2002, 05:40 PM
Bigger is better - for sheer mass to kill something, that's true but it takes more powder and lead. BTW, shot placement is everything. Better to hit with a small ball in the brain and a large ball in a non-lethal zone.

December 29, 2002, 10:32 PM
The handbook that came with my lyman lists the maximum loads for all guns manufactured by investarm. The hawken may be different but this gives you a starting point.

for .45 rifle (.440 round ball with 80 grains FF or 55 FFF)
(265 grain maxi ball, 60grs FF or 50 grs FFF)

for .50 rifle (.490 round ball, 90 grs FF or 70 grs FFF)
(370 gr maxi ball, 80grs FF or 60 grs FFF)

for .54 rifle (.530 round ball, 100grs FF or 80 grs FFF)
(405 gr maxi ball, 90 grs FF or 70 grs FFF)

So judging by that, the .54 can take a good bit heavier load than the .50. And while I'm just getting started into black powder, from what I've seen the difference in cost is pretty much negligable.
I'm no big hunter either, but it seems like since your using a soft projectile (ball or maxi ball) your relying more on it packing a lot of punch than you are on penetration, so the heavier load is definitely the way to go. You can't rely on velocity cause the thing will flatten out big time when it hits. Hitting the right spot is the most important thing though.

The flip side is if your gonna use sabots. They all seem to be in the same range of 250 grains or so and are designed to perform like a modern bullet giving a good compromise between penetration and expansion. So if your planning on them, its more a matter of whats more eaily found, .50 or .54. The bullet inside it is going to be the same either way.

Hope that helps, and that the experienced guys will correct me if I'm wrong.

Mike Irwin
December 30, 2002, 01:43 PM
.50's better for deer, has a bit flatter trajectory.

.54's better for elk and bear, at the cost of heavier recoil.

I know quite a few people who hunt deer with .45s.

January 2, 2003, 03:59 PM
I rec'd a Lyman .50 Flintlock Trade rifle, and they specs are the same as you list for your rifle.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the instructions are.....well....a bit skimpy? The docs say "...open the frizzen and fill the pan depression with priming charge..." or words to that effect, but with no graphic or further instructions on how to open the frizzen. This is my first flinty, and I would rather not do anything REALLY stupid with it, so advice or link to graphics and docs greatly appreciated.

I bought a jug of "RS" Pyrodex, but what is the grade to use for the priming charge?

January 2, 2003, 05:01 PM
Can't help you much on the flintlock since I've never shot one. Seems to be good info on it spread out through different posts here though.
Had to laugh when I read your post though. I'm building a lyman plains rifle, percussion in .54. It came with the same instructions you got, NO instructions on how things fit together :confused: Not really very difficult to figure out since the stock is rough milled. Pretty much like a puzzle, grab something from the bag of parts an find where it fits into the stock :D

January 3, 2003, 03:30 PM
I sent an e-mail inquiry to Hodgdons, makers of Pyrodex and Triple Seven BP replacemnts. Hodgdon's indicated that in the Flintlocks, use only the granulated Pyrodex, not the pellets.

Copy & Paste from Hodgdon's e-mail below

We don’t recommend Pyrodex pellets in a flint lock at all.If you want to use Pyrodex loose powder in your flint lock, you need to use the RS grade and then use FFFFg in the pan, and put 5 grains of FFFFg down the barrel before you load the Pyrodex.
Pyrodex P will not work in the pan at all.
If you have any other questions please feel free to contact us any time.
Good Shooting,
Phil Hodgdon

January 3, 2003, 05:57 PM
Thats good to know. My rifle is percussion, so I don't have to worry about that yet. I might build more though cause this is kind of fun.

I guess since you already have the pyrodex, this doesn't help much, but it wouldn't be my first choice of black powder substitutes. Triple seven and clean shot are non corrosive, so while you'll still want to clean the bore well after shooting you have a little more leeway. Pyrodex on the other hand is supposedly very corrosive, they had a display at the log cabin shop where I bought my kit. It had a steel plate where they had spread 20 grains of pyrodex and 20 grains of goex or something like that, and then left it in a humid spot for some amount of time. The pyrodex side was completely rusted over and pitted very badly. The other side was in bad shape but not nearly as bad as the pyrodex side. Good care of your rifle will prevent that, but being able to clean as soon as its convenient without worrying sounds like a better option to me. You never know when something will come up and how long it will be before you get back to what you were doing ( or in my case till you remember what you were doing)

January 3, 2003, 08:14 PM
I use FFFF for the pan charge and FFF for the main charge in my flintlock rifles. I NEVER use any sort of "blackpowder substitute" as they will not reliably ignite in a flinter unless some BP is used. Why mess with the substitute and BP when you can just use straight BP, which always works?

Also, only fill the pan to about 1/2 full as a full (or overfull) pan can keep the frizzen from closing fully, thus reducing ignition reliability.

Another hint...keep a clean, dry cotton rag with your flinter and every few shots wipe the frizzen face down. The BP leaves dirty deposits on it which can prevent sparking.

Oh yeah, keep the jaws on your hammer tight (but not too tight) on the flint. A leather (or sheet-lead) patch fitting around the top, rear, and bottom of the flint must be used to help secure it.

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