Thompson .54 Renegade hunting load/experience


El Chivato
July 28, 2011, 08:09 PM
I drew for deer in New Mexico this year and it's a blackpowder hunt. I've got a .54 Thompson Renegade and I have some experience shooting blackpowder rifles, but not in hunting with them. I'm looking for load suggestions and reasonable range to target distances. 1:48 twist.


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July 28, 2011, 08:27 PM
100grof pyrodex R/S behind a prelubed 370gr buffallo bullet, Shoots great to 125 Yrds ; )

July 28, 2011, 09:20 PM
100gr of Goex is plenty for deer. I've shot over the back of at least 2 elk at 20 yds to know to zero my .54 Renegade at 50 yds rather than 100 yds.
That, and a .54 cal maxi over 100 grs of ff BP will shoot through a small muley from front to back breaking the shoulder, all the ribs on one side and the hip before denting the bark of a ponderosa pine behind same before it was done.
Not very much meat harvested from that shot.
My renegade shoots about a 6" group at 100 yds, either patched ball or conical so I try to keep my shots inside that.

El Chivato
July 28, 2011, 09:42 PM
My rifle obliterates the patch on a round ball if I have over 60 grains of powder. (.010) Any suggestions on fixing this?
July 28, 2011, 09:53 PM
Go to a bigger ball.

Prairie Dawg
July 28, 2011, 10:09 PM
Get a Green Mountain round ball barrel for your renegade.
1 in 70 twist rate.

Or go the other way and get a 1 in 28 fast twist barrel -- perfect for conicals & sabots.
There's one on ebay now for $100

Yes, then you will have two barrels.
No problemo
Just makes the gun more versatile.

July 28, 2011, 10:33 PM
what kind of powder are you using? Are you using pre-lubed shooting patches? What size ball and patch are you using? How much lube is on the patches? What kind of lube is on the patches? It might seem like i am pressing but in order to help with a load it helps to know and think about every detail. Although i have never shot 1-48 twist barrels i have talked to guys who get excellent accuracy with them and round balls, it is just a matter of trying different angles and systems.

July 28, 2011, 10:41 PM
I just wish I could find a left handed Green Mountain barrel for my Renegade, and one for my New Englander.

El Chivato
July 28, 2011, 10:50 PM
I'm using RS, a .530 ball, T/C Wonderlube. And it is a left handed rifle. (I'm proud of that)

Thinking about using cornmeal on top of the powder...

July 28, 2011, 11:17 PM
Experiment. Your 1/48 barrel may like saboted slugs better than round balls or conicals.

A 250 to 300 grain jacketed hollow point .45 bullet in a snug sabot is plenty for deer. I have a 9 point whitetail on the wall that was taken with a TC Renegade, 54 caliber, using that load.

Also experiment with powder charges from 80 to 120 grains to get the most accurate first shot. 80 grains in a muzzle loader will be like .45/70 when using a saboted slug...the deer won't care.

Clean the plastic sabot residue with one part Ballistol in 10 parts water. Take your time, let it soak a few minutes between shots, and mop out the crud. This will also let your barrel cool so each shot will be a "first" shot from a cold clean barrel.

July 28, 2011, 11:23 PM
o dont worry, you are with a fellow lefty here. I shoot a lyman great plains in 54 in left hand. Anyway, If you are buying pre-lubed patches that are old the fabric can actually deteriorate and shred very easily or you may have a very bad burr in the barrel that is shredding the patch, if neither of those are the problem you could also try a Over powder wad. a good shooting patch should look reusable after it is shot. For me six inch groups at 100 are ablsolutely not acceptable! a good load and rest should break 3 in groups fairly easy. I am no expert but just giving you a few things to look at. It might also help to try different patch material and thickness. My gpr likes .018 pillow ticking patch and plain olive oil lube with a .530 round ball, off sand bags it will stack em. I hope this helps and keep us posted on your progress.:)

July 29, 2011, 12:44 AM
My rifle obliterates the patch on a round ball if I have over 60 grains of powder. (.010) Any suggestions on fixing this?

The patch is probably too thin. Use at least a .015 patch and if that shreds then try loading a wool wad underneath it.

I'm looking for load suggestions and reasonable range to target distances. 1:48 twist.

A Renegade should shoot a round ball accurately out to at least 75 yards with a heavy deer hunting load. You'll need to experiment with the powder charge.

July 31, 2011, 06:05 PM
Maybe I've been lucky, but I've never had a TC 1:48 barrel that wouldn't give me at least 3" at 100 yards. My best results seem to come with 2F black, .530 swaged balls, thick ticking patches (at least .018), and a decent grease patch lube.

You might want to invest in a can of Kroil and clean the heck out of the bore. Kroil will creep under any kind of fouling and allow it to be scrubbed out.

July 31, 2011, 06:32 PM
How do you lube Maxi-Balls?

July 31, 2011, 08:03 PM
One way is to simply apply the [soft] lube to the bullet grooves using your finger so that they look like the ones in the photo.

July 31, 2011, 09:04 PM
Thanks! Previously I've only used round ball with patch.

El Chivato
July 31, 2011, 11:30 PM
The patches I've been using are only .010. I do have some .015 and .018s. If the weather is good next weekend, I will be trying them. I'm fairly sure my problem is in patch thickness as has been mentioned. I'll let you all know, and I will keep reading this thread...!

August 1, 2011, 10:21 AM
If you are still shredding patches with the heavier fabric you can try 1/2 a square of toilet paper as an over powder wad. It protects your powder from being contaminated by your patch lube as well.

El Chivato
August 1, 2011, 03:50 PM
I like the idea of protecting the powder charge from patch lube. I have used the felt/wool wads in the past on some other situations (revolvers/ my .45 rifle) and they work great, if you shoot it right away. Think I'm gonna try a .018 patch, some cornmeal and the ball/patch combo. Like I said though, its gonna be next weekend... I'll just keep reading!
August 1, 2011, 04:15 PM
.018 thick Teflon coated patching will solve all your problems. You load it dry.
Everything will stay dry. Load it and in 10 years your rifle will still fire.

El Chivato
August 1, 2011, 08:09 PM
Where do you get that?

August 1, 2011, 08:50 PM
The answer to your question is in the thread below.
Note that if using teflon patches, the barrel should be swabbed in between every shot.

George Mabry
August 1, 2011, 09:20 PM
A .010 patch is definitely too small for a .530 ball. I tried a .010 with a .535 ball and got excellent groups but the patches were still being shredded and burned. I tried pillow ticking but found that #40 cotton drill worked the best in my Renegade. You can find cotton drill at JoAnns under the utility cloth rack. I can't remember exactly what it miked out at but it was at least .015

August 1, 2011, 11:34 PM
I have sucessfully harvested 2 large whitetail doe deer ( both over 200 lbs. ) here in Iowa with my late 1970's era .54 Renegade using a .010 lubed patch around a Lee cast .530 round ball, on a charge of 80 grains of Pyrodex RS, and using cci musket caps for the musket nipple I replaced the original nipple with. Both deer were taken under 100 yards. Both required only 1 shot.

El Chivato
August 7, 2011, 04:13 PM
Test Results
.015 Patch
.530 Hornady Round ball
R/S Powder.

The patch/ball combo loaded really easy, once it was started. With 80 grains of powder, the patches have a nice round black mark and it shot pretty well at 50 yds. (1.5" group)

Went to 90 then 100 grains, and the group still wasn't bad. But at 100 yds I had some nasty vertical stringing. The patches were being blown apart again with 90 grains +.

Gonna get some Cotton Drill, and try that. I think the Patch/ball combo. is still a little too easy to load so some improvement can be made there. If I am having trouble with blown patches (escaping gas) than I can imagine a problem with vertical stringing. Agreed? Any more ideas? Different powder?

The ramrod is marked at 100 grains of powder by the original owner and the rifle was well taken care of. I believe he knew what he was doing. I would like to get it to work at 100 grains myself, but if I can't get good groups with it then what is my effective range on a deer with 80 grains? 100 yrds, or is that pushing it?

August 7, 2011, 05:13 PM
The .54's effective hunting range is basically limited only by your accuracy. Heavy hunting loads with the 1 in 48" could suffer stringing with or without the patch shredding. You made a lot of progress. Maybe the previous owner was using another powder or patch & ball load.
From this point it's recommended to only switch one variable at a time when testing out new loads. There's ball, patch, powder, wad, lubricant and not too much else. Remember that the barrel temperature can vary from season to season and that when hunting it's the first shot out of a cold clean barrel that counts the most, and not the size of the groups or whether the patches get shredded or not. :)

El Chivato
August 7, 2011, 10:03 PM
I measured the I.D. of the barrel. It is .550. (Groove to Groove) A .530 ball with a .020 Patch would then be .570 creating .020 crush. Like I said, the .010 patches were way to small and this next step I took (.015) seemed to work, up to a point. I agree, more work needs to be done, but I believe I'm on the right path. Hopefully shooting again next weekend.

August 8, 2011, 09:27 PM
90 gr. RS behind two pre-lubed bore buttons and a .535 roundball with an .018 pre-lubed pillow ticking patch. Shoots like a laser in my .54 Hawken and in a .54 GPR. However, both are slow twist with cut rifling; so you may have to back off that powder charge to 75 or 80 grs. to get them to shoot well in your 1:48, button rifled barrel.

Almost as good are the lighter weight Power Belt bullets. For deer, I'd stick with a 295 gr. Power Belt over 90 gr. RS. They'll be easier and quicker to load than roundball, but they're not cheap. I don't use bore buttons with Power Belts.

Although I took a nice buck with a 350 gr. Maxi-Hunter, they and the Maxi-Ball are at the bottom of the list as far as I'm concerned. Accuracy is way too inconsistent.

I like to get a BP rifle working at 75 yards from a seated field rest (not bench) position - elbow of supporting arm on knee or thigh. Once it's dropping them in a consistent 2" to 2.5" group at 75 yards, I then plan my hunt around shots of less than 50 yards. So far this approach has worked like a charm over several seasons.

Actually, the RB load is capable of 1.5" groups at 100 yards with iron sights, if loaded carefully. However, I've always been sceptical of how much power remains at that range when shooting RB.

El Chivato
August 14, 2011, 03:31 PM
Frustrating day at the range.

I went to a .020 patch, same box of .530 round balls and RS powder. I used between 80 and 100 grains of powder and was lucky to hit a 2' square piece of wood at 100 yds.

This is confusing me. It will damn near cloverleaf at 50 yards. I'm thinking about trying some "great plains" bullets from Hornady.

I weighed some sample projectiles. Interesting. They were not very consistent. I'm thinking air pockets in the balls which could cause them to spin off course down the way. Opinions?

P.S. I got some "Muzzleloader Originals" brands patches, and they were pretty shotty. They look like "Ox yoke" brand but they are different. These patches were crap, the weave was very loose and were no where near advertised thickness. Luckily, I had some good .020 patches stashed.

I'm beginning to think that this is going to be an under 100 yd. situation. My next option I believe will be to go to a different projectile. If it turns out that I cannot group at 100 with anything, I will use the heaviest most accurate combination.

El Chivato
August 20, 2011, 05:11 PM
Much better

425 grain Great Plains bullet, 105 grains RS. This is doing a 3 in group at 100 yards. If I had a scope on the rifle, I could probably do better. I still have time before the hunt, so I am going to experiment with Select and see how that does.

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