New Hawken .50 cal


June 12, 2011, 02:34 PM
I have never owned a blackpowder piece, but last night at a going away party for work the guys presented me with a Traditions Hawken Woodsmen side lock, .50 cal, 28" barrel. Beautiful gun, and I would really like to use it for deer this fall. It has what look to be great sights, with an adjustable rear similar to a 1911 target sight. It came with no accessories. I would like to sight it in at the range at 100 yds with the load I will use for deer. A friend recommended a Maxi-Ball, and Pyrodex. He said between 90 and 120 grains on the powder, but I can't recall the bullet weight. #11 caps also, IIRC. I reload for pistol, so am pretty familiar with testing loads, and don't plan on approaching the max for the gun. Can anyone recommend a good load for healthy Kansas whitetails? I also will need to buy accessories, but a powder horn and charge measurer is all I can think of right now besides caps, bullets, and powder. No patches with a Maxi-Ball, right?

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Hocka Louis
June 12, 2011, 03:56 PM
Probably the perfect single one BP rifle to have. Good for u!!!

You'll want a little lube if the bullets aren't pre-lubed. Measure, yes, if u r NOT using Pyrodex Pellets, and no horn -- TC made one in plastic with measuring spouts that I'd highly recommend. Ball starter. 90 grains would be my limit but I bet it handles 120. Blackpowder would be nice in the powder measure. Hot-caps if you stick to Pyrodex. I would buy a 50 cal breech-face scraper. A nipple wrench/pick tool. Black-powder solvent and waffled patches. The right cleaning brush. And...

I would actually replace the ramrod with a plastic cleaning rod right away for actual use and save the wooden one for when it is in the gun-rack over the mantle.

June 12, 2011, 05:29 PM
Here's a thread ( i started with a list of gear that was recommended to me. I have the rifle now but I still haven't shot it because finals are this week :(

Hopefully this weekend I'll actually get out there.

June 12, 2011, 05:34 PM
Ditto on the synthetic ram rod. Your brother will eventually break the wooden one.

June 12, 2011, 05:48 PM
I have a Traditions Hawken Woodsman. The rod that came with mine is synthetic and seems to work ok for both loading and cleaning, although I'd like to get a second one for just cleaning.

The manual says to load it with no more than 100 grains of BP or substitute. I've found success with a .015 patch and .490 ball with 70 grains of BP. 50 grains did fine at 25 yds, but accuracy suffered past that. I only use it for plinking and teaching boy scouts bp shooting.

For cleaning purposes, make sure that you get a fouling scraper to clean the bottom of the barrel, a nipple pick, and cleaning jag. The threads on the rod should be 10-32 on either end. Other accessories to get are a ball/bullet starter spare nipples (#11, 6mm), and a ball/bullet extractor (either screw type or CO2).

They look great and are a neat conversation piece at the range. Enjoy!

June 12, 2011, 07:11 PM
The threads on the rod should be 10-22

Mine are 10-32 might have had a fat finger mistake.

June 12, 2011, 08:41 PM
Can anyone recommend a good load for healthy Kansas whitetails?

Experimenting is often required to to find the best load and projectile.
Some flat based conicals will shoot better loading a wool wad underneath it that acts like a gas check, and some don't.
Start with slightly lower powder charges of about 75 - 80 grains of powder and then increase the charge in 5 - 10 increments to obtain the best accuracy for the desired hunting distance. Load too much powder firing heavy bullets and the shoulder will take a beating. Yet the bullets will penetrate large deer due to their heavy weight.
Besides the TC Maxihunter, there are also some other conical bullets to try including the Hornady FPB mini style bullet, Hornady Great Plains and Buffalo Bullet conicals which are all sold at Cabela's.

June 12, 2011, 11:39 PM
Mine are 10-32 might have had a fat finger mistake.
Yes, that was a fat finger mistake. Thanks for the catch!

June 13, 2011, 12:28 AM
Thanks for all the replies. Looks like I have some shopping to do.

June 13, 2011, 01:16 AM
you certainly dont want to use a 120gr charge! Go to the traditions website and look up the manual for the gun.

June 14, 2011, 04:36 PM
In my built from kit .50 T/C Hawkin I shoot 45 grains of FFFG behind a round ball using a .013" patch for plinking.
For Deer hunting I shoot a home cast 370 grain Maxi-Ball over 90 grains of FFG, a very accurate load in my rifle.
I have over the years dropped 15 deer with this rifle, most in their tracks except one that ran about 20 yards.

September 29, 2011, 10:39 PM
Thanks to all for the help and info! I bagged my first Kansas whitetail (a doe) last weekend with my Hawken. I used a 320 grain MaxiBall over 80 grains of Pyrodex. Sitting shot from 33 yards, and now she is in the freezer. Pulled the trigger about 20 minutes into legal shooting hours, before the sun was even up. Had a great time. I am definitely hooked on BP, and plan on sticking to the sidelock for hunting.

September 29, 2011, 10:50 PM
i should probably warn you, now that you have one gun you will get more, and more, and more. it's really addictive! :D

September 29, 2011, 11:41 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of muzzleloading and congratulations on your first ML deer.
I may sound like a broken record to the rest of the clan but I always recommend to sidelock shooters and especially hunters to convert their gun to
musket caps. Musket caps are hotter and larger than #11's resulting in more reliable ignition and they are a lot easier to handle. The nipple for your gun is readily available
and even Walmart carries musket caps.

September 30, 2011, 08:45 PM
Is the nipple the only part I need to swap out? Can you send a link to the new nipple and caps? Thanks.

September 30, 2011, 09:06 PM
Traditions guns have 6 x 1mm nipple threads. Here are the musket cap conversion nipples that Dixie carries:

It's a good idea to also buy a 6 X 1mm #11 replacement nipple for future use:

Buying musket caps through the mail usually incurs a hazmat fee. However if Dixie has them in stock they will usually ship one tin without a hazmat fee. But you'll need to ask if they have any since their website doesn't list them.
Musket caps are sold at some Walmarts that stock muzzle loading supplies, or try a local gun shop.

September 30, 2011, 10:43 PM
Thanks. That looks like an easy mod.

September 30, 2011, 11:43 PM
keep in mind Dixie will only send one tin at a time. my papa and i bought two from them and they only sent one. but you could buy in bulk from Cabelas, it works with number 11s I've ordered.

September 30, 2011, 11:51 PM
also, give light loads a shot (no pun intended) they are fun! my .50 rifle likes .454s, and a really thick patch like denim from an old pair of jeans, just make sure that they are cotton. i use pillow ticking, it seems to work well too! i use 22-35 grains of FFFG and that sucker shoots real flat! i use the .454s i cast from hard lead, it's how i utilize the hard lead that i can't use for Minnie balls or in my revolver. seems to work just fine as far as i can tell. just make sure to use a thick patch, it's kinda like shooting .22s or a pellet gun, no recoil. it would be perfect for letting the wife shoot, or your kid if you have one (supervised of course) or maybe even squirrel hunting!

October 2, 2011, 10:13 PM
How heavy are those .454 balls? I think the powder measure I have only goes down to 50 grains, but I will check. Thanks.

October 2, 2011, 11:27 PM
i used my hard lead and cast a couple dozen, and they are a little lighter than the pure lead ones. but they don't seem to "drift" off target. they are still plenty heavy. for powder if your measure doesn't go less than 50, i would say that an empty .38 special case of FFFG would work just fine to measure the powder. I'll go measure that and get back to you on how much it holds.

October 2, 2011, 11:36 PM
okay, so i can't find my powder measure. but at risk of sounding like a chef, a quarter teaspoon seems to be about what i use. and it seems to work well, it's 20-something grains and shoots well. keep in mind it's kinda like shooting .22s.

October 3, 2011, 04:40 PM
My Traditions .50 does really well with 70 gr. of 2 f Goex, or 60 gr. of 2f Triple Seven, and a patched .490 pure lead ball.Inherited it from my dad. I DO love that gun!

October 4, 2011, 05:28 AM
i would say that an empty .38 special case of FFFG would work just fine to measure the powder. I'll go measure that and get back to you on how much it holds.

Here's a list of some cartridge case capacities in grains:

Cartridge Grains
.22 LR = 5
.320 ACP = 7
.380 ACP = 10
.30 cal Carbine = 20
.38 Special = 23
.357 Mag = 27
.45 Auto = 26
.44 Colt = 35
.45 Colt = 41
.38-40 = 40
.30-30 = 42
.30-06 = 70
.45-70 = 83

9mm – 13.3
40 S&W – 19.3

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