Ideal Projectile


May 18, 2013, 11:21 AM
I have a blued Lyman's .50 cal percussion Deerstalker, which has the 1:48" twist with deep grooves (.502X.520"). I realize the 1:48" twist is often referred to as a compromise twist. I see Lyman's states the 370 grn Maxi is designed for this twist.

My understanding is that the twist rate is ideal for a certain length/weight. If 1:60-77" is ideal for a lightweight RB, and 1:20-36" is ideal for a heavy conical/sabot, it seems as though 1:48" would likely be ideal for a medium length/weight bullet/conical.

Does anyone have experience to confirm or disprove this?

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May 18, 2013, 02:43 PM
Well.... yeah, pretty much, if you bear in mind that every rifle barrel is a law unto itself. You're going to have to get some of the 370s and give them a whirl. Me being me, I'd also try some TC Maxis/Maxi Hunters, Buffalo Bullet slugs, REALs.... spendy, but informative and fun! No amount of ink will take the place of powder smoke if you're trying to wring out a rifle. Besides, Lyman is trying to get you to buy those 370s, right?

I had a TC Hawken with the standard-issue 1:48 twist, and it always preferred round balls. My brother's Renegade would produce 100-yard "snuff can" groups with Maxi-Balls until he was too sore to shoot.

I guess the real question is whether you will be hunting with your rifle. Plenty of deer have fallen to round balls; if your rifle likes them, the limiting factor will be how well you shoot. I have killed all my deer and elk with them, but that was when I was trying to prove what a whiz-bang projectile a round ball really was; I have modified my position over time. If my rifle shot 3" groups with conicals, and 2" groups with balls, I'd hunt with the conicals in order take advantage of their greater energy on target.

May 18, 2013, 02:46 PM
I have the best luck with the patched round ball, accuracy wise, in my Deerstalker. The rifling is cut deep for use with a patch. I have read many good reports of the R.E.A.L. slugs working well in the Deerstalker but the round ball worked best for me.

May 18, 2013, 03:03 PM
It's difficult to say with a 1:48. My .50 T/C Hawken shoots my cast maxiballs (~340 gr.) real well at 100 yards .. about 3-4" groups .. so I never really considered even trying RBs. My .50 Sile Hawken carbine has a 1:24" twist and shoots the same maxiballs in a sub 2" group. It also is lights out with cast .452 saboted bullets (~1.5").
If I were you, I'd try a REAL type first because they're generally a little shorter than a maxiball and they might be the ticket. Short bullets like slow twists and long bullets like fast twists as a rule.

May 18, 2013, 04:19 PM
I bought this Deerstalker as a deer stalking rifle. The intent was something light and handy for walking around all weekend with. After reading so much about PRB doing so well I decided to use them. I'm still breaking in my rifle with the Pyrodex I was given with my handgun, but it's given me reasonable groups at 50 yds without having worked on accuracy.

But I have considered giving either conicals and/or sabots a go. And with that I figured it made sense to use a .458" sabot and use the cast bullets for my Old Army in it. I like multi use things...

I do eventually intend on a rifle with a Malcolm style scope for hunting fields and such, which would be a slug gun. Beyond 100 yds that RB just doesn't fight the wind well enough for me to judge the hold.

Another reason I asked about a moderate weight projectile is from what I've read a heavy conical often doesn't expand much, and almost certainly goes through and through (no problem with that), whereas a RB at reasonable ranges will expand quite large, and will often be found just under the hide on the off side if it didn't go through.

This made me ponder if a lighter and faster conical wouldn't be fast enough to expand better and still have a better BC for longer ranges, as well as a high enough SD to get full penetration.

I have .459" 230 grn cast bullets that weren't sized to work in my Old Army, and I'm not sure what to do with them. I'm going to try loading them backwards like a wadcutter as I've heard some people do in their cap n ball. If it doesn't work well I'll order some .458" sabots and shoot 'em from my rifle.

May 18, 2013, 04:24 PM
As for full bore conicals I've figured that the REAL is likely the best to choose from as it's more aerodynamic looking, and I figure there's less chance (none?) for it to move off of the charge.

But I have also considered many of the aerodynamic modern bullets such as SSTs, FPB, FTX, etc. as they are certainly better at resisting wind and gravity. Maybve I could squeeze in 200 yds...

Loyalist Dave
May 19, 2013, 07:52 AM
Well the secret to accurate muzzleloader shooting is bullet fit, be it patched round ball, conical, or sabot. Unfortunately it's unpredictable.

I have two TC Hawkens, and one likes TC Maxi-balls, and the other likes TC Maxi-hunters, yet both are 1:48 twist barrels from the same company. I had a Pedersoli flintlock long rifle with a 1:48 twist, and it shot patched round ball well, but it also liked TC Maxi-hunters, and Hornady HB-HP conicals.

I have found that with the sabots that I tried (there are so many variation out on the market) that none of them worked in any of my 1:48 rifles. They seem to be made for twist rates of 1:28 or faster. Yet, there are so many out there on the market it may simply be I didn't have the right one for my rifles.

My TC New Englander shot TC Maxi-hunters well, but was more accurate with a .530 patched round ball. Now since both were equally effective at whitetails at 100 yards or less, I opted for the patched round ball..., it was easier on my shoulder, and cheaper to shoot as I cast my own bullets.

So bottom line you have to experiment. Lee makes molds for three different styles of black powder conicals plus round balls, Lyman makes molds for 3 different black powder conicals as well as round balls, Hornady sells two different types of lead conicals, Buffalo Arms Co sells "ball-ets", and I haven't mentioned any of the CVA Power Belts (a kind of hybrid conical with an attached plastic skirt) not to mention the dozens of different sabot types and brands out there.


May 19, 2013, 10:05 AM
I have a .50 cal percussion rifle by CVA. It has a 1/48 twist. My intent in buying it was to shoot a patched ball out of the "compromise" barrel.
Long story short.
It will in no way shoot a patched ball. Several different diameter of ball, thickness of patch, variety of lube, powder charge and brands of powder resulted in extremely poor performance.
A box of maxiballs and it shoots cloverleafs at 50 yards all day long. Increasing the powder charge raises the impact point but has no effect on the group size.

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