.451 Volunteer bullets, before and after


August 29, 2006, 05:03 PM
I have been interested in the Whitworth rifle for some time but when I actually got around to buying, I selected a .451 Volunteer instead. I am still amazed at the way these rifles work. You load a bullet that is under bore size and the power generated when the powder blows "bumps up" the bullet so it fills the bore and takes the rifling. No hollow base, no patch, no sabot.

I wanted to recover a fired bullet so the other day I lined up a bunch of milk jugs (13) on an inclined 2X6. The jugs were touching and the lowest one was against the ground. I fired downward through the jugs with an 80 grain charge of Goex. The bullet penetrated all 13 jugs and buried in the dirt about 10 inches. I dug it up and, sure enough, it had rifling engraved on it for most of it's length. The front of the bullet which shows no engraving was expanded, I think, by the impact with the dirt and is larger in diameter because of that. I think if I had been able to recover one without any deformation the rifling would have extended the entire length of the sides, stopping where the nose tapers off.

Also interesting, to me anyway, is how much shorter the fired bullet has become. Both bullets pictured are cast from the same mold. By looking at the grease grooves with the bases even, you can see how much shorter the area of the grooves is on the fired bullet.

The only down side of using one of these rifles for hunting is that, from a clean bore, the bullet only remains seated as long as the rifle barrel is pointed level or upward. I am experimenting with various methods to keep it against the powder charge but, so far, everything which works to hold the bullet also messes up the accuracy. If anyone has any ideas I'm interested.


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August 29, 2006, 05:37 PM
Steve, Try that rifle at longer ranges...I heard they shoot great. I have ctg. guns, but havent owned many muzzleloading bullet guns! :scrutiny:

August 29, 2006, 06:25 PM
Thas called SLUMPIN cause BOOM, black powder more explodes. Bumpin tha bullet up. Ya tried wads under that slug yet?

Tha BOSS mann uses hay bales fer stoppin bullets, dont hurt em much and when ya burns tha hay later ya gets yer lead back.

August 29, 2006, 08:35 PM
I have something called a "butt buddy" rifle butt holster. It's made of leather and is not too dissimiliar to a shallow carpenter's pouch (I once bought a price marking gun holster because of it's resemblence too, but haven't used it). Anyway, one can carry their gun verticle with one hand by nestling the rifle butt in the holster and using it for support while traveling through the woods. It's very comfortable and you can save your arm strength for making that all important hunting shot. Plus, the slug will stay seated. I can maneuver through thick brush and laurel thickets with this aid, never tilting the gun below being horizontal with ground level. Although I don't shoot rifles as long as yours. :D
Let me know if it's something you are interested in seeing, since I could take a picture and you could make something similiar for yourself.
A similiar item is made for archery bows also, a bow holster.

August 29, 2006, 08:44 PM
Frosty, I'm getting about 4 inch groups at 200 yards with it. I really don't have a good place to shoot beyond 300 yards, but I haven't tried 300 yet. I shot up all the bullets I had cast the last time I took it out it and shot at 200. I can't go again until I get around to casting more.

Yep, Manyirons, I've been trying just about everything. I've used wonder wads, another brand that I can't remember right now, home made felt wads, both lubed and dry, and thin card wads cut from the back of a legal pad. I've also tried it without any at all. It seems to prefer just a thin card wad between the powder and bullet. I'm not done messing around with it, though. I had poor accuracy with everything until I free floated the stock ahead of the rear barrel band. Now, nothing touches the barrel between the rear band and the very tip of the stock where I have a leather shim bearing a little upward pressure there. It made a world of difference in the groups.


November 30, 2010, 07:02 PM
Hi Steve,
I just bought a Volunteer rifle. Thanks for posting the pics. I've read that the bullets "obturate" but I didn't think that they would be so uniformly inpressed by the rifling. Would you mind telling me what bullet mould you use and weather or not the bullets were die-sized? Thanks, Gary.

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