How do sabots work? And other bullet general questions...


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JoseM
August 19, 2008, 08:14 AM
I think I'm about to get my T/C Omega and the first thing I'm going to do is buy about 6-8 different types of bullets and take them to the range and see which one my T/C likes the most. (3 or 4 types of bullets in 2 weights each)

And before I start, I want to put out a caveat....I will be using this for hunting...BUT I also like accuracy a lot. i.e. I like going to the range and seeing how small I can make my groups. This is a way of challenging myself so this is where the below questions come from. I understand that each bullet can effectively take down game.

This Omega, as said above, is for hunting and therefore I have been looking at sabots, powerbelts, and true full-size bullets (when I say "looking", I mean reading up on).

As for sabots, If I buy a 50 cal ML, the sabot is usually snug in the barrel and the bullet is about a 45 caliber. So does the bullet never contact the rifling? I can't see how it would...but that means the direction of the bullet after the sabot falls off would depend greatly on the seating of the bullet/sabot. I mean if the sabot's bottom is not completely flat, would the bullet go off target OR at least introduce a wobble? This seems to me like it would create a pretty large error. And if the bullet is seated fully on the sabot but is not snug, then the sabot would have a spin, but not the bullet (or at least not a full spin?) Does none of this happen with sabots?

Second, powerbelts....don't like the cost really, but will try them out. I've read good reviews and bad reviews about the penetration depth for hunting. Any opinions?

Third, true 50 cal...Why don't people use these all the time? Is it just because it's harder to load since it's the full diameter of the bore? Or do people use sabots because they can get more velocity out of a 50 cal barrel and therefore a flatter projectile? I imagine that two bullets (a 50 cal and a 45 cal sabotted bullet) that have the same weight, coming out of the 50 cal barrel, that the 45 cal would have a greater velocity (due to less friction) and better terminal ballistics....am I wrong?

Last question...is it wrong to call BP munition components "ammo". I know it's a pet peeve of mine when people call centerfire ammunition "bullets". I believe it would be incorrect, but wanted to know how ya'll feel about it. It's not a big deal...just curious.

Thank you...

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mykeal
August 19, 2008, 10:36 AM
As for sabots, If I buy a 50 cal ML, the sabot is usually snug in the barrel and the bullet is about a 45 caliber. So does the bullet never contact the rifling?
Yes, the bullet does not contact the rifling.
...if the sabot's bottom is not completely flat, would the bullet go off target OR at least introduce a wobble?
I assume you mean the 'inside' bottom of the sabot, and yes, if it were lack significant orthogonality with respect to the sides of the barrel, then the bullet would indeed wobble.
And if the bullet is seated fully on the sabot but is not snug, then the sabot would have a spin, but not the bullet (or at least not a full spin?)
Yes, if the bullet were loose within the sabot it would not take up the full spin of the sabot.
Does none of this happen with sabots?
I'm sure some of it happens, but rarely. It's not hard to make a flat-bottomed sabot consistently, and they are; it's not hard to tell if the bullet is seated properly, and it's not hard to tell if it's 'loose' within the sabot, so if any of these happen, the shooter likely wasn't paying full attention, in my opinion.
Second, powerbelts....penetration depth for hunting. Any opinions?
I'll let my more learned hunting friends answer that; I've never taken an animal with them.
Third, true 50 cal...Why don't people use these all the time? Is it just because it's harder to load since it's the full diameter of the bore? Or do people use sabots because they can get more velocity out of a 50 cal barrel and therefore a flatter projectile? I imagine that two bullets (a 50 cal and a 45 cal sabotted bullet) that have the same weight, coming out of the 50 cal barrel, that the 45 cal would have a greater velocity (due to less friction) and better terminal ballistics....am I wrong?
People shoot different ammunition for many different reasons, some that make sense and some that don't. There is no one single solution to the question of what to put in the barrel; it depends on many different things. Some care about how easy it is to load. Some want near-perfect ballistics. Some want the most 'whompability'. Some just like to argue. Finally, different guns shoot certain projectiles better than others. If someone wants a single answer to this question, the world of muzzleloading is not for them.

Last question...is it wrong to call BP munition components "ammo"... not a big deal...just curious.

Generally 'ammo' refers to the entire ignition train, which would include the flint or percussion cap in the case of muzzleloading arms. We don't usually use the term at all, but prefer to talk about the specific components as applicable: "I need to get some balls", or "Where do you get your powder?". The various components are usually procured and maintained separately, as opposed to smokeless ammunition in which all the parts are contained in one package, hence they're referred to separately.

Omnivore
August 19, 2008, 06:07 PM
I imagine that two bullets (a 50 cal and a 45 cal sabotted bullet) that have the same weight, coming out of the 50 cal barrel, that the 45 cal would have a greater velocity (due to less friction) and better terminal ballistics....am I wrong?

If they have the same weight, there will be no appreciable difference in muzzle velocity. A 45 cal bullet of the same weight will necessarily be longer, and so it could have a much better BC (Ballistic Coefficient) i. e. less resistance in the air than it's 50 caliber counterpart. That means two things: Better (flatter) trajectory and more retained energy at the target, both of those because the bullet will not slow down as much in flight. The terminal effects will be more a matter of bullet design, but generally a larger diameter bullet will produce more trauma, and penetrate less, than a smaller one of equal weight.

We're usually not considering 45 vs. 50 cal bullets of the same weight however, so yes, the 45s are usually lighter and therefore faster, at least within the short ranges usually associated with hunting.

Personally I don't understand the big attraction of sabots, except for one thing-- It allows you to use modern, jacked hollowpoints and softpoints, which would be impossible to load in a rifle if they were full-bore sized. Here where I hunt it's a non-issue, as both jackets and sabots are illegal for BP season.

Otherwise, if one wants a .45 projectile, one can use a .45 barrel.

JoseM
August 19, 2008, 06:18 PM
Mykeal....thank you. That was pretty comprehensive. I do have a follow up. What's the advantages/disadvantages of a full bore sized bullet? I know you "could" have a higher weight bullet than a smaller, but don't they just increase the length of the bullet to make it heavier in a 45 cal? And then doesn't it actually fly a bit "true-er"?

From someone that doesn't know a thing about this subject (i.e. me), I think the only advantage of having a 50 cal. bullet is that you don't need an extra piece in the ignition train (i.e. the sabot). The disadvantage being that it would be slower and harder to load.

Thank you again for your post.

JoseM
August 19, 2008, 06:22 PM
Omnivore...I started writing my last post before you posted yours. So you partially answered my last one. Thank you.

Smokin_Gun
August 19, 2008, 10:51 PM
I kinda look at a sabot as launching a smaller caliber solid metal projectile held with a larger piece of plastic from a rifled barrel by means of a 3 foot explosive flame behind it all.
I tried one once:barf:
Plastic and fire???:confused:

And that's only how I look at it.

SG

Mark whiz
August 20, 2008, 12:26 AM
JoseM:

I have hunted with Powerbelts (the jacketed ballistic tipped one) and have to say I was not totally impressed. I used them on wild boar and got zero expansion on the game - but then again I punched a full .50 cal hole all the way thru him and dropped him in his tracks. I've heard wonderful stories about them and I've heard many like mine too.................I figure it's a crap-shoot.
Personally, I've settled in on using plain lead sabots from Precision Rifle of Canada - these things are 100% dead accurate and expand completely on game, best of both worlds I think.

As to why most people don't shoot the full caliber conical bullets out of modern muzzleloaders it's mostly a matter of design. The Conicals are really designed for the "older" style cap locks and flintlocks with slower twisted barrels. You can shoot them out of your Omega, but you need to shoot HEAVY bullets (400 to 500gr) with a medium powder load to get any sort of acceptable accuracy. The No-Excuses 460gr conical is a GREAT bullet to use - I load it with 85gr of 2fg777 powder in my Knight and would gladly hunt with it on shots out to 75 yards.

Since you are concerned with a high level of accuracy, I would highly suggest you use loose powder instead of the pellets and that you keep your bullets heavy and your powder load moderate. My rifle's sweet spot has me using 80gr of 2fg 777 powder with 300gr sabot bullets, 90gr of 3fg 777 powder with 350gr sabot bullets, and 100gr of 3fg 777 with 400gr sabots.

A very consistent plinking bullet is the 300gr Hornady XTPMag sabot. It is relatively cheap and flies very consistently with that 80gr 2fg777 charge - cutting sub-2" groups at 100yds all day long for me. It is my standard for accuracy - any bullet/powder combination that can't keep up with that, gets sent to the bottom of the ammo can and used on slow days when I just want to make smoke. :D Oh, the newer Hornady 300gr SST sabots offer even better accuracy, but at a higher price. One thing I can't say about these is how they react on game - I've not hunted with these jacketed bullets to date.

And another thing about the XTPMags.............you can buy the bullets in boxes of 50 from reloading suppliers and packages of MMP sabots too and usually end up paying less than what Hornady charges for the packaged boxes of 20. Just get the .45cal (.452) XTP Mags and black 50 cal sabots for 45cal bullets and not the standard .45cal XTPs and green sabots - I've found that the Mags tend to fly better (tighter fit in the barrel in my opinion).

As far as the "ammo" question goes - I prefer to talk in reference to bullets (projectiles) or Loads for the powder/bullet combination. The main thing is that you ALWAYS use the word "Nipple" when posting about muzzleloading/black powder arms......................... everyone likes nipples.

Hope this helps guide you in the right direction.

JoseM
August 20, 2008, 07:41 AM
The main thing is that you ALWAYS use the word "Nipple" when posting about muzzleloading/black powder arms......................... everyone likes nipples.

:D Thanks, that made me laugh first thing in the morning!

*Edited* Thanks for the recommendation. Graf & Sons has the bullets for $13.99/50 and the sabots for $6.39/50 (with a C&R license), so that comes to $0.41/shot. They come packaged together at $8.79/20 or $0.44/shot. Not a huge savings, but still a savings.

arcticap
August 20, 2008, 12:52 PM
One reason why many inline shooters don't shoot bore size conicals is because the depth of the rifling is often shallower. The rifling depth is made to shoot sabots. Maybe not in every rifle but for many. That doesn't mean that they won't some conicals well, but sabots generally load much tighter and seal the bore better on ignition, and the spin is more consistently imparted on to them.
Some sabots can interfere with consistent accuracy by not releasing from the bullet at the same time, every time. That's why the tightness, design, construction of any sabot and the method of loading all of the works can be critical to obtaining the best results.
A great combination will usually always shoot as expected, but even then one never knows what went wrong to not allow the bullet to fly true on a particular shot.
Sometimes it's nothing more than a gut feeling about which combination of components are the right ones to use.
While there's a lot of science involved, a lot of the testing and results are not done scientificly because of all of the human variables involved with loading all of the components and actually shooting them.
Even though ammo is often thought of as being assembled rounds, I think that bullets and sabots are ammo. One online definition of ammunition used this as an example:

An object used as a missile in offense or defense: Rocks were my only ammunition against the bear.

scrat
August 20, 2008, 01:18 PM
I have used sabots and i have used full lead bullets. I can tell you a couple of things. First try to get a bunch of tips. As when you go to seat and ram the bullet in either a sabot or full lead. A wrong tip will distort the bullet. I have had a lot of luck with sabots. What i learned quick with sabots is that it really didnt matter on the bullet. I was getting some really good accuracy right out of the box. So then i purchased the plastic sabot parts only. You can get them from cabelas, midway or even ebay for that matter. When i did this i started shooting my own bullets. in both .44 and .45. (note you have to be carefull on this as they do make 2 types of sabots that will shoot both). The worst one i shot was a 228 grain round nose lead in .45. It always distorted the nose and i just never seemed to get the accuracy. For target shooting, shooting wad cutters has always been a favorite as it cuts perfect round holes. When you get different bullets your going to have to do some shooting. You cant just load up and shoot a few at a time. you need to put several rounds of each through the gun. Why because you need to try different powder loads as well as types. Then every few rounds you should run a patch down the bore with warm water or even windex. This will remove a lot of the fouling. Some rifles you wont even be able to load another bullet unless you run a patch down the bore. This will also help on improving your accuracy.

scrat
August 20, 2008, 01:36 PM
Ok lead bullets full.

i have shot only two different types of lead. Hornady 385 grain bullets and lee R.E.A.L 320 grain. The hornady i purchased from my local gun shop and shot two boxes of them. on the loading they are a little hard to load. however i found i was getting some very impressive accuracy. My rifle seemed to like around 90 grains of Goex. So i knew i was onto something as i got tired really quick of having to order sabots and get bullets to shoot. Just seemed like that was not going to happen. So i ordered the lee r.e.a.l mold. If you do not know about this bulet i can tell you its really good. What the deal is is this. its a conical bullet.
Rifling . Engraved . At . Loading. - The driving bands are large enough to adequately engage the rifling when pushed into the muzzle, and thin enough to withstand maximum charges without stripping or gas cutting.

Unique Cleaning Action - You can shoot all day without cleaning your rifle between shots! When inserted into the muzzle, tiny scraping edges are swagged forward on each driving band. These perfect fitting scrapers remove the fouling from the previous shot.

Easier, Faster to Load - It's easy to load straight and true, easier and faster than a round ball with patch. Easily stabilized with very light charges, the R. E. A. L. bullet also retains accuracy with maximum loads. Each band is generously tapered to the rear with an angle close to that of a lathe center, so as to center the bullet against the rifle bands. When pushed in, the bullet automatically centers in the bore.

More Accurate - The bevel base of the R. E. A. L. bullet contributes to greater accuracy. When the bullet exits the bore, the gas escapes equally around the perimeter of the base. The uniform bevel is resistant to nicks that would permit gas to escape prematurely and cause a jet effect on one side of the bullet.


Now with this i have found that i have to swab a lot less in between shots. i use lube 2000 or bore butter when shooting. I have great accuracy with 90 grains goex. Hits steel at 100 yards all the time. Now since i originally purchased the hornady 385 grain bullets. i kept the plastic boxes. As they held the pre lubed bullets in there own spots. So now i just cast my own bullets lube them then put them in the holders. So when i go to the range they are lubed up and ready to go.

For hunting. I am a huge shooting advocate. I am at the range several times a month have been for well over 25 years. However i just have never shot an animal. I have often thought about going hunting. However i just dont have the meens. I mean if i were to shoot an animal where the heck would i put all the meat i dont have a freezer or anything and i really never had the need. So for me its just target shooting. HOWEVER

I talked to a guy at the range a few weeks ago. He too used the R.E.A.L bullets to go shooting and hunting. Dont remember what may be wild bore. Any how the only thing that i truly remember is what he said about the bullets. He like my holder but said it wasnt practical when hunting. He said that he kept a leather pouch on his belt buckle. Inside the leather pouch he kept 4 pre lubed bullets. He would lube them then put them in those rubber finger tips. The ones that news paper places would use. He said he would get them at office depot. Sounds like a good idea. When he would go to load them he just took out a rubber finger tip. put it to the barrel and load it. As soon as he got the bullet in the barrel he would put the finger tip back in the pouch to reuse and then ram down the bullet. Anyhow sounds like a heck of an idea.

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