Hawkin 50 cal load advice


November 9, 2008, 05:23 PM
I have a Cabela's traditional Hawkin 50 caliber black powder rifle with the 29" barrel and would like some advice on a consistent load. I am actually looking for three loads. The first will be a target load, the second for deer (mule and white tail) and the 3rd for elk.

I have never hunted with a black powder rifle and would like some practical information. I would be using Pyrodex P powder with CCI #11 caps. What I need to know is how much powder and what type/weight bullet should I use.

Thanks for any help you can give me.

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November 9, 2008, 05:26 PM

Pyrodex P powder is intended for Pistols and smaller-caliber rifles.

Pyrodex RS powder is intended for Rifles and Shotguns. That's all I have ever used in my .50 T/C Hawken.

The load depends on the bullet.

For patched round balls, 50-70 grains by volume of Pyrodex RS works pretty well for me. 90 for more velocity. It seems like pushing it to the max recommended load (110 grains for my rifle) makes the groups open up.

November 9, 2008, 05:28 PM
I have the same rifle. I use the following:

-95 grains of Jim Shockey Gold FFg
-0.010 patch
-Traditions round ball
-Remington #10 caps

I found the CCI caps to be too small and I frequently get misfires. I've never had problems with the Remington. The Buffalo Ballets and as accurate as the patch/ball, but I like the latter for nostalgia sake. Mine does not like any of the modern conicals or sabots.

November 9, 2008, 05:33 PM
The CCI caps are probably too small because the gun is made for #11 caps.

That said, if you want really hot caps, get the German ones. If you want really consistent caps, get Remington. If you want cheaper caps to play with at the range, get CCI. Just MHO.

November 9, 2008, 05:38 PM
I have a Lyman Trade Rifle which is similar to your rifle & mine seems to like 70gr. FFFG Goex with a 182gr. .495 Cast Round Ball with a .015 lubed patch.

At 50 yards I would be comfortable taking any animal on the U.S. Continent with the accuracy I've gotten so far with this load.

At 100 yards would probably be a stretch but she shoot pretty well off hand to where more time I think she'd do alright at say 75 yards max.

November 9, 2008, 08:00 PM
I have been shooting black powder pistols and rifles for close to 40 years. You will here some say shoot rb in slow twist 1/60 and bullets in fast under 1/48. As a general rule that right but I have had some guns that didn't know the rule. Here is how I find a load. 1. I either use black powder or 777 pyrodex fowls as bad or worse than bp but is harder to ignite and is not as consistent in my opinion. I use fff bp in flintlocks from 40 to 75 because I can also use it to prime. I use 777 FFF in most of my percussion pistols and rifles a few like FF better. I start load development with the same weight as the caliber 40 cal 40 grains of powder. I increase the load 5 grain at a time till I fine the best load then I back up 2 1/2 grains. After you find that load start again 5 grains at time. Some guns will have a target load and a hunting load. If you are working with rb after you find a load using say a .390 ball on 40 cal. then do the same thing over again with .395. After you have the best loads for each ball then try different patch thickness. Next try different patch lubes. What I am trying to tell you is there are too many variables to say there is a standard load for any gun. I do think slow twist rb rifles or more forgiving than fast twist rifles.

November 10, 2008, 03:45 AM
I use 60gr as a standard charge with a patched round Ball or a .50 cal Maxi Ball works for me to at least 200 yds. (42gr - 70gr) I have use also successfully. 60grs. give me clover Leafs at 100yds. benched.


November 10, 2008, 11:09 AM
Thanks for all of the help so far. I realize there will not be one "ideal" load for each type of shooting.

ArmedBear, thanks for the info on the Pyrodex. I did not realize there were different types, nor had I even heard of Pyrodex RS. Fortunately I will be able to use my stock of P, but can you tell me the difference between the two. I know there is a substantial difference between pistol and rifle smokeless powder, how big is the difference with Pyrodex?

By the end of the month I will have a traditions Kentucky 50 cal flintlock rifle and pistol, can I use the Pyrodex in those? Is there anything wrong with using Pyrodex P in the rifles, or is it just "less ideal?"

Smokin Gun (or anyone else) you recommended the Maxi Ball, where is a good place to get them? Can you get molds to cast your own? Part of my draw towards Blackpowder shooting is the ability to make my own ammo.

Is there a good pre-lubed conical round I can use in the Hawkin? I was told I can not use Sabot rounds in the Hawkin, but that was from the same person who told me to use Pyrodex P.

Thanks again for the help.

November 10, 2008, 12:43 PM
IIRC, The Cabela's Hawken has a 1 in 48 twist? It's made by the Investarms people in Italy and is the same gun as the Lyman Trade rifle(?).

I picked up one for a lefty in the Bargain Cave at our local store a while back at a great price and love it.

I'm sure some folks here will correct me if I'm wrong on that.

With a 1 in 48 twist on the Hawken you can shoot round balls all day long and maxi (minie) balls. But the fancier sabot rounds and Power Belts are probably out of our range.

I also have the Traditions Kentucky rifle you mentioned and with a 1 in 66 twist it's patched round ball shooting only. I have to make myself a "speed" loading board for that one of these days. Seems like a good winter project in the basement.

I've been using Shockey Gold fffg and Goex fffG for my round ball shooting. 75 - 80 grains seems to work for me at the range out to 75 yards.

November 10, 2008, 06:52 PM
You can not use Pyrodex in a flintlock. It is to hard to ignite. I do not know of any substitute for black powder for a flintlock. The F's stand for the size of the grain of powder. The more Fs the smaller the grain. FFFF is used for priming flintlocks mainly. FFF is generally used in guns less than 50 cal. FF in guns over 50. The more Fs the faster it burns.

November 10, 2008, 07:16 PM
If you are going to shoot flintlocks you are going to need flints and a napping tool to dress the flint. Track of the wolf sells about anything you can think of regarding black powder guns. You can buy a little, I mean little, hammer to use to dress the flint while it is still in the cock. While you are buying pick up a good range rod. It will keep you from breaking your wood one and it is easier to use. You will also need a patch worm, patch jag, and a ball puller.
Here is the link I am sure you will find more stuff you will want or need.

November 10, 2008, 11:40 PM
I knew I would get answers here. So when I do get my Kentucky rifle I should just stick with ball rounds and will need to ditch the Pyrodex and get for FFFF for the pan and FF (it will be a 50 cal) for the main charge.

Right now, with my Hawkin I should at least get Pyrodex RS or Goex FFg. Is there a particular round other than the round ball that anyone has had good luck with? I heard from someone they have had good luck with the Hornady Great plains 385 grain bullet with my same rifle. Anyone else have a similar experience or can you tell me why I shouldn't try it? (Possible damage to rifle for instance)

I checked Track of the Wolf and as was expected they have everything I need.... and everything I didn't know I couldn't live without. Thanks for the link.

November 11, 2008, 12:07 AM
Some folks shoot duplex powder loads in their flintlocks. They use black powder to prime the pan and then drop a partial load of about 20 grains of BP into the breech. Then the rest of the powder load consisting of Pyrodex or another substitute powder will be loaded next, then the projectile is rammed as usual. Because the BP is next to the vent, it will reliably ignite the rest of the load of substitute powder.

Also, some folks do use fffg black powder in their pan as the primer and obtain satisfactory ignition, especially if they run out of ffffg or can't find any. There's some ffffg fines in every pound of fffg black powder that can also be screened out, but it should work well as a priming powder just as it is.

I've was told that the Hornady Great Plains is an accurate bullet that will literally make mush out of the internals of a deer. You'll never know how they shoot in your gun until you try them out to see if they are compatible with the rate of twist of your rifling. If they are tight and difficult to start and ram, then a mallet can be used to gently tap them down the bore.
Saboted rounds can be fired from a Hawken with a 1 in 48" twist to stabilize them. These 375 grain Buffalo sabots from Cabela's have received great reviews for their accuracy and performance:



Here's all of their bullet styles to look at:


November 11, 2008, 01:36 AM
Smokin Gun (or anyone else) you recommended the Maxi Ball, where is a good place to get them? Can you get molds to cast your own? Part of my draw towards Blackpowder shooting is the ability to make my own ammo.

Lee Makes the Maxi Ball mold for the boolits I am speapin' of...the speed of reloading and hevier round are good for the Hunt and accurate. I prefer the R.B. for accuracy as far as tight groups or metalic silhouette shootin' go.
I have used both accurately up ta 2oo yds. with ffg Black Powder, sorry but I feel pyrodex is whimpy in comparison to Black Powder. Also inconsist for my standards. Also still use Mooes Milk or Hoppe's No. 9...and .o15" Blue stripped Pillow tickin' in a torn roll and a patch knife wit an antlerhandle I won.

Have fun but do it right dang it...HeeHee!


November 11, 2008, 04:28 PM
I shoot a built from kit T/C .50 cal. Hawkin.
An accurate target load in my rifle is a home cast .50 round ball/ .013" patch over 45 grs. FFG.
For deer hunting my load is a 375 grain Maxi- Ball over 90 grains of the same FFG.
I have killed 11 deer with this rifle, all dropped in their tracks except one.
That buck ran about 20 -30 yards.

November 11, 2008, 06:29 PM
cabelas traditional hawken will have a 1:48 twist. Thats a twist meant for round balls and conicals. There are A LOT of conicals out on the market for you to pick out blindly and give a go in the rifle. My dad has the sporterized hawken and he prefers powerbelts in it.

Another option would be to order a .54cal slow twist barrel from GM and order it in .54cal and that will be perfect for deer/elk/moose. Anything in North America.

For a starter load, try 70gr Pyrodex P .015 patch and a .490 round ball. Be sure to turn the rifle over and give it a few firm smacks with the palm of your hand to shift the powder under the nipple.

November 14, 2008, 07:07 PM
Thanks again for all of the help, I have learned quite a bit from your information. Looks like I will try a couple of conical rounds for the Hawkin, but otherwise I will stick with the round ball.

Thanks again for the help.

November 16, 2008, 09:18 PM
SE-Okla.shooter is right on the money about flinters.. Flinters have been my game for better than 28 years and i wouldn't trade a tea spoon of Black for a pound of pyrodex..

I use a deer tine to sharpen my flints.

Each long gun has it's own 'Shootin Bag' N' Horn. The tools particular to each gun live in the shooting bag.

The one pistol I have shares the same round ball as my .62 cal Nor' West Gun, so I only use that pistol when I use the long gun that is it's match. That Shootin' bag has deer antler measures for both guns.

In a rifle the twist is measured out, and then the projectile is used to match that bore's rifling.

Twists varies and some companys offer different rates of twist in the same model of guns.

I don't believe in moddified twists guns, said to be able to shoot both conical and round ball. I see it as you buy a slow twist gun for round ball and a fast twist gun for conicals.

Some middle of the road twist to shoot both kinds is just a poor choice. But that is how I see things.

I don't own a long gun that shoots caps, but have 2 six shooters that do. These never see any pyrodex either.

I see that as if my flinters can't set the stuff off, then the Black is just faster, and to me better.

30 years ago when the Golden Powder first came out and before the inventor blew himself to bits, I tried it and didn't like it then and then I had guns like yours now.. I had TC Hawkens and the like back then, and I didn't like these new fangled powda's in em then..

Back then my elk load would have been 120 grains under a maxi ball made by TC. That loading was as stiff as anyone needs to kill elk.

Anything over that is a fools folly.

Back then target loads for paper were 40 grains of FFg (2 F) Hunting loads were around 60 grains FFg for deer, and in New Hampshire where all shots are usually pretty close in the thick woods.

In a general way the faster you push a ball the more off aim it flies..

So a lesser charge placed well is a better game getter, than a fast off target charge will ever be..

Too much powder does 2 things..

1 It adds to recoil by no more than added weight to the load.

2 A point comes where the bore is too short to burn the powder in the bore, and burning the powder out of the bore is pointless.

3 If you push a soft lead bullet too fast it shears from the rifling and the result is exceedingly poor accuracy and a leaded bore.

One way to find how much powder a given gun can burn, is to place a old white bed sheet on the ground somewhere ahead of the muzzel.

Then you start to load from say 50 grains of FFg and inspect the sheet after each shot, and add 10 grains to the next load, to where the point comes you find unburnt powda..

When you find that point drop back 10 grains and try it more on targets too see if you can hit a group.

November 17, 2008, 09:45 PM
Pyrodex P will work great in your 50 cal. I use Goex 3f, and Pyro P in all my sidelocks. Remember when using 3f to use about 10 grains less than when using 2f. Because of the smaller grain you will get a faster burn.

I use it in my 62 cal. smooth bore also.

For hunting Elk with the 50, I would work up a good Conical load.
I use a Lyman 425 gr Shocker bullet for Elk. That big chunk of lead will do a number on The BIG deer, and in my opinion you need the big solid nose bullet like it, or perhaps a Maxi hunter for penetration on a big animal like Elk.

You will need to find the sweet spot for your rifle.
My Cabelas 50 cal investarms likes 75 grains of P or 3f goex behind a 490 RB
I use a 018 patch. Your rifle might like a different combo. That's the fun of shooting smokepoles.......Gives you a good excuse to go to the range often:)

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