BP Pistols & Rifles Ballistic Performance


August 17, 2008, 03:40 PM
Howdy, folks.
I'm interested to know how various black powder guns with both lead ball minnie balls perform ballistically. Cap and ball revolvers, .50 and .58 caliber muzzle loaders (pistol and rifle), shotguns, and whatnot. Anyone have any descriptions or pictures to help me figure this out?

If you enjoyed reading about "BP Pistols & Rifles Ballistic Performance" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
August 17, 2008, 03:46 PM
Don't know. But I hear a black powder 10ga shotgun loaded with a single lead round really packs a walup. It's about a 77 caliber equivalent, I think.

August 17, 2008, 05:57 PM
I shot a 125 lb. deer last year with an 1858 Remington replica with a 7 1/2 inch barrel loaded with a round ball and about 45 grains of Pyrodex.
Broke a rib on entry, went through both lungs and broke a rib on exit. The exit break was nearly an inch in diameter, I suppose that could be due to the bone shattering or the ball flattening on the entry.
Distance was about 25 yards.

The Lone Haranguer
August 17, 2008, 06:42 PM
I will have to go off memory on this one. Some time ago in Handguns magazine gelatin testing was done on some black powder handguns. IIRC, the .36-cal., 79-gr. round ball, fired from a Colt 1851 Navy replica, made a cavity in the gelatin comparable to a .380 ACP JHP. The .44-caliber, 141-gr. round ball, fired from a Colt Walker replica, was the equivalent of a .357 Mag. 158-gr. JHP. There were some others, but I don't remember them.

August 17, 2008, 07:04 PM
So do the Lead Balls deform/expand at all?

August 17, 2008, 10:30 PM
yes they will expand, or more so flatten.

August 17, 2008, 11:15 PM
Here's an odd ball experiment I did a few weeks ago with a Ruger Old Army and the insert plate from a Second Chance cop vest.
The roundball (.457) was trapped inside the Kevlar pocket. 35 grs of BP at 50 yards (yep, 50 yards not feet)

sideview of dent in plate

August 17, 2008, 11:19 PM
The Lone Haranguer :

Boy, that sure don't say much for modern bullets does it?

August 17, 2008, 11:31 PM
As far as a chronographed velocity goes, this was taken from 9' from my chrono today with my Pietta '58 NMA with a 5.5" barrel .44 caliber.

Bullet = .457 143 grain Cast Round Ball.
Powder = Goex FFFg black powder.
Primer = Remington #11
5-1/2” Barrel Average Ballistics.
40gr. Volume 39gr. Weight = 984 fps. 307 ft. Lbs.
35gr. Volume 34gr. Weight = 868 fps. 239 ft. lbs.
30gr. Volume 29gr. Weight = 752 fps. 180 ft. lbs.

As far as expantion goes:
Each ball recovered weighed 135gr. - 141gr. the Ball that was extracted from a cylinder weighed 143gr.

August 18, 2008, 12:35 AM
Fat slug + soft lead + fair velocity = splat!

I was far more impressed with the low tech .44 round balls being fired into newspaper and plastic jugs than I had been with the standard fare LRN/FMJ .38 special. I'm not arguing against an honest .38 from a more reliable platform. If you're only looking at the end result of mangled lead and ugly holes then it was easy enough for this amateur to see that old technology is a good dose of medicine.

August 18, 2008, 12:56 AM
Voodoo's numbers jibe with mine. From a 7" barrel Colt .44, round ball, 28 grains FFFG, I get an average 841 FPS.

My 50 cal BP rifle, with 110 grains FF (a very hot load for this rifle) and a patched ball from a 24" barrel, I get just over 1900 FPS. I consider 100 yards, maybe a little more, to be my practical hunting limit with this load. A longer barrel, say around 36", will get better velocity, but a moderate increase in velocity with that dismal BC of the round ball will buy you very little extra range. The exterior ballistics of round balls are terrible, but the terminal effects are pretty good, as the soft lead hits hard and flattens. The BC is zero point zero-something, so range is very limited compared to modern projectiles.

Minnie balls, and other conicals, improve things a lot, but the heavier bullet comes out slower, making for a very ached trajectory. So go to a smaller bore and avoid the really massive projectile (we're getting closer to a modern load here). A long 40 or 45 cal rifle bullet with a more modern shape, pushed through a long-ish barrel, would be the thing for longer distance muzzle-loader shooting-- you get a superior BC in a projectile weight that can be driven to a higher velocity. A .50 bore using sabots can do pretty much the same thing.

'Course a 750 grain 50 cal bullet could have a great BC, but you have practical limits on pressure and recoil, carry weight, etc..

For round ball, you get better exterior ballistics by increasing the bore size. Revolutionary War era muskets were often in excess of 70 caliber. A good rifle of the period, with a good marksman, could supposedly hit a man-sized target "easily" at 300+ yards. There are BP competitions at up to 1K yards.

August 18, 2008, 05:06 AM
Well mine isn't that far off of yours in comparrison.

Your .44 shooting a .454 ball out of a 7" barrel at an average velocity of 841 FPS. with 28gr. of FFFG.
My .44 shooting a .457 ball out of a 5.5" barrel at an average velocity of 752 FPS. with 30gr. of FFFG.

About 90 FPS slower than yours which is about right for the difference in barrel length & slight differences in powder charges.

August 18, 2008, 03:08 PM
heres a thread i posted hope it helps you



August 18, 2008, 04:43 PM
Wow...I really should get into BP. What's holding me back? Oh yeah, a place to shoot it. I just didn't think they were that powerful.

August 18, 2008, 04:52 PM
they are!, yes there is a fun factor in them but remember a hundred years ago cowboys depended there lives upon them.plus with the new guns,powder,bullets,etc.... there probably more powerful then ever.glad you liked the post.


August 18, 2008, 07:02 PM
Voodoo; I may be using the word "jibe" incorrectly. I used it to mean "agree". Your numbers agree with mine.

OK, so I looked it up to be sure:
"Be in accord; to conform or agree with somebody or something or with one another." So says Bill Gates (MS Word).

August 18, 2008, 07:17 PM
If you are also interested in rifle cartridges~ The 45/110 shooting a 550 grain bullet is capable of great accuracy at extended ranges. 1000 yard competitions are sometimes held..

Using traditional sights, the accuracy at 200 to 300 yards is often amazing...


August 18, 2008, 08:10 PM
Sorry bud, it was me who didn't understand the use of the word "jibe,"
I'm used to someone saying..

That don't jibe with me & I assumed that was what you were saying, well you know what a.s.s.u.m.e. stands for.

Right. ;)

August 18, 2008, 08:14 PM
I have chronoed a 50cal PRB from my 44" Longrifle at 2100fps!! This was a 100gr charge of Goex 2fg with flint ignition. Have taken a lot of deer, turkey, and hogs with this rifle and load. :D

Livin in Texas

August 18, 2008, 09:30 PM
Oneshooter; I totally believe it. Your .50 bore is a full 20 inches longer than my Deerstalker's.

August 18, 2008, 10:10 PM
I would like to know how much velocity I loose thru the touch hole! My 62cal Hawken uses a 445gr PRB with a 120gr charge of Goex 2fg, haven't chronoed it yet. I do know that it will push the ball through a 1200lb cow Elk and break the shoulder on the far side, at 80 yards!!:D :evil:
Again, it is a rocker.

Livin in Texas

August 18, 2008, 11:11 PM
I shot a 125 lb. deer last year with an 1858 Remington replica with a 7 1/2 inch barrel loaded with a round ball and about 45 grains of Pyrodex.

I thought their capacity was 35 grains or something like that. :confused:

August 18, 2008, 11:37 PM
i think it is 40gr. at least from all of the research i did it was 40. maybe it was a typo....?:confused:
well anyways i know it will still pack a punch.:what:

August 19, 2008, 04:54 AM
I've squeezed 42gr. of FFFG into my old Pietta '58 but that was also with ball over the powder & grease over the ball & the ball nearly scraping on the barrel.

August 19, 2008, 04:09 PM
heh you find a 1200# cow elk call me i want a picture!:D

August 19, 2008, 04:14 PM
Just guessing on the weight, got 520# of meat from her. VERY good eating!! Was hunting in New Mexico.

Livin in Texas

August 19, 2008, 04:25 PM
heh wouldn't be the first time a texan shot a moose and called it an elk!

just razzing ya:evil:

it's hard to judge weight from just meat load. some of us are better at boning em out than others. when your busting your back they always seem heavier than they are. i shot a cow once thought she was at least 5000 lbs. after 6 trips up and down 500 vertical feet she didn't get no lighter thats for sure!

August 19, 2008, 04:33 PM
The weight was probably right but the description had one too many words in it...:evil::p

August 19, 2008, 04:40 PM
! lol:what:

August 25, 2008, 05:03 PM
Was 45 grains of powder with a wonder wad and round ball. The original cylinder was step bored and would only hold about 35 grains. I ordered a second Pietta cylinder from Cabela's and it was straight bored and would hold 50 grains of Pyrodex. I backed down to 45 since I already had a spout that would drop 45.

If you enjoyed reading about "BP Pistols & Rifles Ballistic Performance" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!