Ball bearing loaded in a sabot and other muzzleloader myths?


October 23, 2006, 08:14 PM
Time to ask about some muzzleloader stories I have heard and see if there is any truth to them.

I have heard the story that you can load a steel ball bearing into a plastic sabot and shoot it out of a muzzleloader. Supposedly a fun way to shoot up old appliances since the ball does not deform and goes straight through.

Another is that certian sabots are the right size that you can shoot regular 45 cal pistol and rifle bullets in them. I think this would be really handy to have.

Yet another is that you can use the super slow (and cheap) surplus H870 smokeless powder in the Savage 10MLII muzzleloader. Supposedly you can load a large charge of powder (Since you are not limited by case capacity.) and get good performance. I have heard a variety of supposedly safe loads. I really don't see a problem of the gun blowing up using this powder, but I don't know how consistent it would be.

These may sound dumb, but I have always wondered them. Feel free to add your muzzle loader legends/myths. yea, I know that by trying any of these I will do so at my own risk. (Probably won't do them, but I still want to know.)

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October 24, 2006, 12:23 AM
Actually, those are all true as far as I know, as long as you have the right sabot.

Savage loads are varied, but you can contact them for safe loads. You can't just load huge amounts and expect good results (or anything but a missing gun), but there are surprising results with moderate (by Savage lists) loads.

October 24, 2006, 07:22 AM
I'm sure you could fit a steel ball in a sabot, but I doubt it would be very accurate. The rifling twist would make all the difference on that one.

The sabots got started by using pistol bullets. You can definately still do so. The fast twist guns are pretty accurate with them, but there really isn't any advantage to it, and it's a lot more expensive per shot.

The only safe loads for the Savage are the ones the factory recommends. I would definately stick to them. Slow powders usually have a lower pressure threshold to detonation. A heavy overcharge might just get into that pressure range. A powder detonation is VERY destructive and dangerous. It essentially turns the barrel into a pipebomb.

Loyalist Dave
October 24, 2006, 07:24 AM
Yes to all of the above. The size of the ball bearing would be the key. Heck if it was the correct size you could shoot glass marbles. As for going through the appliances, the steel is much lighter than a lead projectile of the same size, so would give one higher velocity. BUT might not stay stabilized over a long distance, as faster twist rates found in sabot guns tend to favor the long projectiles over the round ones. You can never tell for sure though until you try!

I purposely looked for and ordered sabots that would accept .452 diameter bullets for use in my .50, as I also shoot .45 ACP and .45 Colt, and the bullets for reloading (that I have several hundred of from 180 grain to 250 grain) are all that diameter. Thought it'd be the best way to find the best load. AFTER I have found the right bullet weight/sabot and powder combination, then I will get a mold to make those bullets out of pure lead. The handgun bullets I have are very hard, and as such where I hunt sorta defeat the purpose, as they really won't deform. (the deer here are good sized, but there isn't anything bigger, so max deformation is what I have found to work best.) The same bullet in all lead instead of an alloy of wheel weights or linotype, will deform nicely, dropping the deer nicely.


October 24, 2006, 02:40 PM
The steel bearing thing sounds like it would work, so long as the diameter was right.

As for sabots to shoot plain pistol bullets, yeah, that's definitely true, no doubt about it. I have used lots of sabots for shooting .430" pistol bullets in my .50-caliber Encore. (Reloading .44 Magnum means I usually have a few bullets of that size lying around.) They actually shoot pretty well, and I have no doubt that the 240gr hollow points will work well for deer hunting, as the velocity is about the same between a 6" handgun and a 20" muzzleloader using 90gr of Goex.

Another one of my favorite myths is that blackpowder will "flash rust" your barrel. My friends predicted doom and gloom on me for using Goex in my Encore. Funny thing is, it shoots better and has not pitted my barrel even when I don't clean it for a couple of hours. Too bad they can't say the same about their rifles shot with 777 and Pyrodex! :p (It's all about how you clean and what you clean with, I suspect.)

Edited: All a TC Shockwave or Hornady SST is is a dolled-up pistol bullet. I'm not convinced that the plastic tips really give any ballistic advantage, but they're definitely a marketing and sales boost. ;)

October 24, 2006, 07:36 PM
The term "flash rust" wasn't so much about shooting black powder, but about the thin layer of rust that can form after cleaning the barrel in hot water. The heat can cause the rusting process to happen quickly if you don't get the barrel perfectly dry. A lot of folks pour rubbing alcohol in their barrel immediately after cleaning, to displace and dry the water. Others have found that using warm water as opposed to hot, eliminates flash rusting. Personally, I clean in a Ballistol and water mix, then finish with a final cleaning with straight Ballistol. This prevents water related flash rusting also, and since I use the mix as patch lube, I always have it on hand anyway.

October 24, 2006, 09:32 PM
Odd marbles and plastic beads just tend to shatter from the sudden kick in the rump from ignition.

But the other things work...although you really have to be careful to get a tough sabot for hard objects (just like shotshells had to go to thicker/tougher shot cuts for steel shot).

Freedom in theSkies
October 26, 2006, 01:22 AM
During the Northwest rebellion in Western Canada in the 1870s' the Metis troops under the command of Louis Riel were reported to have pulled nails from boards as well as other iron bits and pices to load their muskets to fire at the Northwest Mounted Police (forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and Canadian Militia.
Not sure that the accuracy was all that great though. They got their butts kicked...
Personally, I would not try making my own Powder or primers. With a good vacuum sealer, you could prolong the life of any supplies that you can buy commercially.
The thought of creating an unintentional IED just makes me cringe...

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