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.54 Hawken Question

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by ltetmhs, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. ltetmhs

    ltetmhs Well-Known Member

    I just got a new .54 Cabelas Hawken and I was wondering how much powder and what kind it shoots best with. I've only shot it with prb and 70 gr of pyrodex so far, but I plan to do alot of load testing and was wondering if anyone could suggest a good place to start. I figured I could save some time/money (although alot of fun) and ask the experts first. Conicals and/ or balls. Also how much powder is to much?

    I appreciate any help.
  2. nicholst55

    nicholst55 Well-Known Member

    Conical or round ball? Your barrel will tell you. If it's a slow twist, say 1-66" or so, it'll likely only shoot round balls with any accuracy. T/C used a 1-48" twist in theirs, and they typically shoot both reasonably well. Your owner's manual should specify which type of projectile your rifle is suited for.

    The owner's manual should also specify what the maximum powder charge recommended by the manufacturer is. Typically in anything larger than .45 FFg (or 2F) BP or substitute is used, although some guns perform better with FFFg (3F). I don't use substitutes, but as difficult as finding REAL black powder is becoming, I may have to start.

    People who use BP substitutes tell me that Pyrodex is probably the worst one available as far as performance, fouling, and corrosion go. Hodgdon's Triple 7 (or 777) is supposed to be one of the better ones, from what I'm told.

    I shoot 80 grains of 3F in my .54 flintlock for hunting, and 70 grains for plinking, with a patched round ball. I use the same loads in my .54 percussion. You'll likely have to try different patch thicknesses and ball diameters to see what your rifle prefers if you stick with patched round balls. Most anything will work for a patch lubricant, although some work better than others.
  3. ltetmhs

    ltetmhs Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Its a 1:48.

    I had one other question. When I took it to the range the first time, every cap was taking two hits. It went on the second time every time. Do I need to tighten springs(or have a smith do it) Get new caps(I was using CCI) or what? I'm sure the caps were on tight.

  4. Smokin_Gun

    Smokin_Gun Well-Known Member

    You should be using CCI#11 Caps...sounds like you had CCI #10's and they weren't seated down all the way one the cone.

  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Check to make sure your nipples aren't fouled up with soot. That helps ensure ignition.

    With 1:48 it should like patched roundball (PRB) and possibly some shorter conicals and sabots. I would skip the pyro and used FFG, working up from about 60 grains to see what the sweat spot is. You can often improve accuracy with compressed cornmeal between patch and powder.
  6. Chawbaccer

    Chawbaccer Well-Known Member

    A good rule of thumb for a starting load is to use the same amount of powder, in grains, as the caliber of your gun. IE, you have a 54 caliber gun so you would start with about 54 grains of powder. You should be able to shoot conicals or prb in your gun, my experience is that lighter charges give best accuracy out of a 1 in 48 with round balls.
    Your caps are fitting tight to your nipple. You can try pushing them on harder or try other brands but I suggest you chuck your nipple in a drill and give it a slight polishing with a file held against it while running.
  7. mykeal

    mykeal Well-Known Member

    Your FTF, then subsequent successful firing, indicates a cap that's too tight on the nipple; the pyrotechnic material was not seated on the nipple until the hammer drove it down, whereupon the second hammer strike set it off.

    There are 3 corrective actions possible:
    1) See Smoking Gun's post
    2) See Chawbaccer's post
    3) Get smaller nipples (very difficult to do reliably)
  8. Reddbecca

    Reddbecca Well-Known Member

    Capslock or flintlock?

    The owner's manual suggests 55-80 grains of FFg powder, or 50-75 grains of FFFg powder for best accuracy with with round balls. For conical balls it suggests 5-10 grains more.
  9. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

  10. Yo2slick

    Yo2slick Well-Known Member

    I have a .50 T/C Hawken and I shoot 90 gr of Pyrodex with a 385 gr maxi ball. Puts it in the middle everytime. My grandfather and I had the same rifle and shot almost identical with that setup, but his would not shoot sabots to save his life. Atleast none of them hit the paper. :D
  11. frontiergander

    frontiergander Well-Known Member

    +1 on the spitfire nipple! Thats all i use in my percussion rifles.

    I also suggest the CCI #11 Magnum caps.

    Round ball load, try .018 pillow ticking, .530 ball, 70 grains Pyrodex "2f or 3f will be fine, i DO suggest pyrodex P"

    My dad has a cabelas hawken and with 2f, its to course and if the powder gets under the nipple, you got lucky! 2 failed attempts at shooting a deer due to the main charge not going off because of no powder under the nipple.

    No issues with pyrodex P!

    His also shoots excellent groups withthe Aerotip powerbelts in 295,405, 348,270 platinum with 80 grains Pyrodex Select and Pyrodex P. The heavier powerbelts do shoot quite a bit tighter than the lighter ones in his rifle.

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