Load for Reproduction 1853 Enfield 3-band musket


April 18, 2012, 12:37 AM
Howdy all,
I've decided it's time to take my reproduction 1853 Enfield rifled musket to the range. I've fired it many times with just black powder for reenactment events and I have fired other 1853s in live fire but never my own. I one was at an event where a guy blew the breech of his musket out during a live fire session so I've been a bit wary of trying it myself but I've always wanted to give it a go. I have some .575 460gr minies, plenty of FFFg powder, and lube. What kind of load would you guys recommend? I've heard 60-70gr of 2F works well, and so I was thinking of about 50gr of 3F. Does that sound reasonable?

Any advice and tips would be appreciated!

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April 18, 2012, 01:27 AM
Have your gun checked in the breach first. Re-enacting is very hard on BP guns. The reason is gas erosion does a great deal of damage to the breach when there is no bullet. Instead of straight wall chamber, the gas erosion eats at the wall of your gun, creating an ovate chamber. If bad enough, the Minie Ball will expand out into the ovate area and grab the walls. Two bad things can happen.

Most common is the skirt of the Minie ball is pulled off and left behind. This might not be realized and later it comes loose at your re-enactment and cause a real casualty.

The other is less common. The minie skirt catches in the ovate area and wedges solid long enough to obstruct the barrel. The breach and or barrel rupture.

There are guns out there that may be suitable for firing blanks but not live rounds even when they are brand new.


Target shooters use loads from 35 to 70 grains of either FFg or FFFg. Keep in that range and you should be okay, but check the weapon first.

Edit: You might want to check out the N-SSA if you want to get into firing your Enfield regularly. They shoot in competition. www.n-ssa.org

April 18, 2012, 02:25 AM
Thanks for the reply, hawkeye74. Would any gunsmith be able to do the check or would it take a specialist of some kind?

I've probably fired it less than 200 times with just powder (and I don't anticipate going to any reenactments with it for a long time) but I think you're right that it's better safe than sorry.

April 18, 2012, 03:14 AM
Any advice and tips would be appreciated!....I've probably fired it less than 200 times with just powder...

You may be able to check and evaluate it yourself.
Or at least learn enough about its condition to decide whether it really needs to be brought to a gunsmith to have a safety check done on it.

Was the gun brand new when you bought it?
Does the gun have any proof marks on the barrel?
What company made it, is it from a reputable maker?
Did you properly clean it each time after firing it?
When you run a tight patch down the bore, is it smooth?
Does the patch maintain the same of level of tightness all of the way down the bore.
Does the bore show any signs of rust, roughness or pitting?

If the bore is still smooth and it was made by a reputable maker, then it should be okay to use for live fire.

Many folks still shoot the original Civil War guns in competition, and the modern steel of reproductions is much stronger than the steel that was used to make the originals.
200 blanks doesn't sound like it has been fired very much.

April 18, 2012, 07:51 AM
Who made the reproduction? That could tell you a lot.

April 18, 2012, 09:30 PM
The reproduction is an ArmiSport which I did purchase new. I'm going to borrowing my brother-in-laws endoscope to get a better look at the bore (there's certainly no visible pitting/rust but I'd like to get a better gander before I consider skipping the gunsmith check-up). The walls of the barrel seem quite straight and rifling is very clean looking. I dropped a minie down the barrel, and went smoothly down (you could hear it compressing air so it went slowly down). It didn't seem to rattle when in the bore as I might image it would if there were a cavity forming from blank firing. It also came out smoothly with a gentle tap from my hand on the barrel.

What other symptoms (so to speak) of a bad bore or other problems should I be looking for? Are there other safety tests I can do to help check it out?

April 18, 2012, 09:50 PM
IMHO there's nothing else that's really necessary.
It's current condition evidently seems to be perfectly safe, just as safe as when it was proof tested. :)

April 18, 2012, 11:23 PM
Armisport is a quality reproduction so that relieves a major concern.

Since it was Purchased new, you are probably good to go. :) Check it with your b-i-l's endoscope:scrutiny:, since you have it available. With the description you made of the bullet going down, I would say you can skip the gunsmith. Articap gave some very good checks also.

Keep it clean and you will slow down the erosion as much as you can. It only takes 2 to 3 years of active re-enactment for erosion to develope. Proper care tends to push it to 4-5.

It does not take a specialist gunsmith but experience is always better. The Best way is to pull the breech plug and measure the diminsions in the breech. If you do this, have him put anti-seize on the BP so that you can annually pull the BP and give your Enfield a thorough cleaning and watch/measure for erosion.

An Armisport can be made to shoot very well, 1"to 2" groups at 100 yards are quite possible if you work at it. Good luck!:):):) Enjoy your Enfield!

April 19, 2012, 04:04 AM
Thanks for all the tips! I will have a look with the endoscope, in part because I think my brother-in-law is anxious to use it (he's big on gadgets so he has a few that don't see much practical use), but I think it will also help me feel a bit more confident that no damage was done from the reenacting. I'm inclined to think not, as I clean my guns rather obsessively and I didn't get a chance to take it to many events (I borrowed one for a number of years and a busy schedule has prevented me from doing too much lately). I'll definitely keep an eye out for those problem signs you all mentioned and I'll lean on the side of caution.

I planned to do a bit of testing in 5gr increments from 50gr to 65gr of 3Fg to see which of those might yield the best results. Does anyone have a favorite pet load for .575 minies of 460gr and 3Fg powder? Haha. I'll let you know what happens. I'm excited to start back in the world of BP shooting, but I suspect it will be yet another firearms addiction (I think a Colt 1860 Army is in the future).

Many thanks, again!

April 19, 2012, 07:32 AM
Don't forget to post some pictures of the enfieldomoscopology

April 19, 2012, 02:34 PM
My friend's son-in-law and his dad shoot competitively in the NSSA. He brought his Enfield over one day to shoot. He was using a minie style bullet with 35 grains of powder. I forgot to ask him if it was 2F or 3F, but he was hitting a 7" gong at 100 meters from the bench. He was swabbing the bore after every shot.

He also had a really neat shooting box, he had an MTM shotgun shell box with 28 gauge trays full of of Dixie Gunworks's speed loaders, the red plastic ones where you pour in your powder and seal it with your bullet or ball.

He also had a Remington reproduction in the same caliber, he used the same loads for both rifles, but they had different hold overs.

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