First Time Traditional Rifle Purchase Questions


January 1, 2013, 12:43 PM
I have the urge to buy something and have decided on a traditional rifle. I will use it for target shooting and possible hunting. I am leaning, so far, on a Pedersoli Rocky Mountain Hawken that Cabela's has on sale for $1030.

Question - for the Hawken caliber, which is more accurate the .50 (1 in 48 twist) or the .54 (1 in 65 twist)? After some research, I've seen some comment that "compromise" twists like the 1 in 48 should be avoided, why is that? Also, I've seen comments that the .54 was traditional for a Hawken; any truth to that?

I also see that Pedersoli makes this rifle (called the Missouri River Hawken) in .50 with 1 in 24 twist. Any comments on if it would be more accurate than the above calibers/twists?



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January 1, 2013, 02:36 PM
The 1/48 twist is a compromise 'twixt the slower round ball twist of 1/60 or so, and a conical twist. Like all compromises you lose a bit one way or the other. My old T/C Hawken with the 1/48 shoots the T/C Maxi-Ball very well, and a round ball pretty good, and modern saboted bullets, well let's just say the only safe place to stand is directly behind me. No telling which way they will fly.

As far as the rifles you're looking at I don't have any experience with them, but I've heard they're pretty good rifles. At $1000+ they oughtta be.

January 1, 2013, 04:33 PM
re: which caliber is more traditional - calibers weren't really standardized the way we think of them, so I wouldn't get overly fussy about that. .50 and .54 aren't vastly different but obviously .54 gives you a bit more room for error when shooting something and the .50 will be a little cheaper to run. But they're definitely in the same basic category versus, say, a .36.

If I had a thousand dollars to spend and wanted to get a rifle to do target and possibly deer hunting with patched round ball I'd go here: first off. Always worth seeing what they have in stock. Sure enough there's a couple of pretty rifles in .50-.54 caliber around that price point. There's also the Great Plains rifle for half that - fine rifle, not as attractive as it could be. One way around that is to get it in kit form and do the finishing yourself.

But anyway, take a quick look at these and see what you think.

January 1, 2013, 05:02 PM
I should also say that I have a couple of Pedersolis and like them - just wanted to make sure you knew about the other options.

January 1, 2013, 06:38 PM
EljaySL - thanks! I will take a look and appreciate the recommendation.


January 1, 2013, 10:49 PM
My .54 caliber TC Hawken was my "gateway drug" to the world of ML firearms; I still own it and it has fed me well, everything from elk on down to squirrels and rabbits. The difference between .50 and .54 is mostly conversation, but I have never regretted picking a .54 ( I reflexively want to reach for the bigger club ;) ). I DO regret never having picked up a TC Renegade. Both rifles are capable being anything you want them to be if you are OK with buying accessory barrels.

Insofar as rifling twists, the 1:48 is not really bad at all. The Hawken brothers rifled everything they built in 1:48. Mine was always plenty accurate with both Maxi-Hunters and patched round balls. When that barrel eventually wore out (beware the fiberglass ramrod!) I replaced it with a Green Mountain barrel with 1:66 rifling, and it will keep all its rounds on a Copenhagen lid at 100 yards until I'm tired of shooting.

For the money you want to spend, try Track of the Wolf, Pecatonica River Longrifles, or keep a sharp lookout on Gunbroker. You never know when something truly wonderful will fall through the cracks.

January 2, 2013, 12:23 AM
Happy to help. There's a ton of options in that thousand dollar range. Just depends on what floats your boat, and how long you're willing to wait. That's a good sale at Cabela's so if nothing at the other sites mentioned speaks to you, you'll probably want to move on it. If it weren't for the sale I'd advise checking in at ToW for a couple of weeks to get a sense of items coming and going - they have pretty good turnover.

January 2, 2013, 02:48 AM

January 2, 2013, 07:40 AM
What's nice about shooting round balls with a medium twist is that they can shoot reasonably accurate without needing to load near maximum powder charges. On the other hand, the slow twist barrels often need near maximum powder charges to obtain their best accuracy.
There are also different types or styles of rifling so not all 1 in 48" barrels will shoot round balls the same.
And that's probably one reason why so many folks think that the 1 in 48" twist barrels aren't as accurate because they're not all the same. Or because they desire to shoot heavy hunting RB loads from a 1 in 48" or because they want precision target accuracy from a barrel that doesn't have the best type of rifling for target work.
Many target guns have fast twist rifling and are intended for shooting conicals. The 1 in 24" twist can easily shoot conicals accurately out to 200 -300 yards if a person can use the sights well enough.
Apples can't really be compared to oranges.
Folks buy specific models with specific purposes in mind. In other words, the .54 is primarily for shooting heavy charges with round balls, the fast twist Hawken is for shooting conicals and the medium twist is to be able to shoot both.
I'm not sure what accuracy has to with it as long as the gun fulfills its intended purpose.
If the fast twist .50 can shoot saboted bullets or bore size conicals out to 3 times the distance of the others, then the person chooses beforehand to not shoot .50 or .54 patched round balls.
Folks choose which projectile to shoot based on their intended purpose for the gun and based on their needs such as whether it's for medium or long range hunting, for medium or large game, recreation/plinking, target shooting at short, medium or long range, target shooting for competition or just informal target shooting mostly for fun. Silhouette shooting or a woods walk doesn't usually require 1 inch accuracy at 100 yards or the use of heavy powder charges.
An inch or 3 of accuracy difference at 100 yards doesn't usually matter much unless someone has a specific purpose to fulfill or are aware of a need prior to purchasing a gun. Many folks don't even have eyes that good or can shoot an open sighted rifle with that kind of precision, especially offhand.

January 2, 2013, 07:19 PM
Cabelas has the Kentucky linked for $50 more finished instead of kit.

January 2, 2013, 07:39 PM
That's a heck of a deal. The OP would have four hundred dollars left for powder and ball and a powder horn, etc.....

Loyalist Dave
January 8, 2013, 08:25 AM
Quite frankly, I'd say it would be a better buy to get a Lyman Great Plains Rifle ( in either caliber, than the Pedersoli which normally costs twice as much. I have several friends who have started to dabble in traditional rifles, and they all have Lymans, and do very well at matches and when getting venison.


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