Great Plains & Buffalo Bullet Advice?

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Oct 6, 2007
Crackerville, Florida
I've got an old .50 Lyman Deerstalker with a peep sight, and have been having great fun working up the best load for it. I finally settled on a .495 patched ball pushed by 70gr. of Goex 2f black. Pretty good accuracy and mild recoil.
Anyway, lately I've been reading forum posts and watching YouTube videos of guys hunting with Hornady Great Plains Bullets. These guys were talking about knockdown power and mushrooming, etc.
Well, today I stopped into a gun shop in a distant town and found Great Plains 385gr and Buffalo 350gr bullets. So I bought a box of each to experiment with.
Idaholewis says he likes to put a .54 caliber wad over his powder when shooting .50 caliber conicals. I've got wads.
I've heard opinions saying yes to wads behind conicals and no to wads behind conicals. Who should I believe?
What's the minimum amount of black powder to get decent performance out of these rather heavy conicals?
2f or 3f? I'd like to hear all opinions on this, because I'll be hunting soon and I'd like to have a hard-hitting round.
Believe your rifle, anything else is just a suggestion. I’ve had rifles that shot those bullets well. Some liked the wads, others didn’t seem to care.

WRT the powder, again, let the rifle make the call. Under .55 caliber I usually start with fffg, work up until I see the accuracy and velocity I’m looking for and then I may try ffg depending on the results I get from the fffg.
Who should I believe?


What results you get are what count. Conicals can simplify a loading procedure, and can be quite accurate. Yet....there are a few things to know about conicals in general, when it comes to muzzle loading, that one doesn't normally learn...
Conicals were invented for quick reloads of Military Rifled Muskets in combat. They were not invented nor adopted because there was a problem with the patched, round ball. For most hunting situations, they are not an improvement.
In 1867 John Forsyth published The Sporting Rifle and Its Projectiles. He was hunting everything from deer up to Elephants, and he did not like the performance of conical bullets at all.
Ignore any ideas about a "quick follow up shot" unless you have a SxS muzzle loading rifle..., so don't choose a conical for that reason, and those that do are simply misleading themselves (imho).
Conicals because of the increase in mass, increase energy on paper, but that is modern hunting ammunition thinking. What harvests the deer when it comes to lead projectiles flying at black powder speeds..., the damage done by the actual bullet path through the animal. The deer or elk or even moose, don't know they are any "deader" when hit with a .54 conical rather than a .530 round ball. ;)
That increase in mass = an increase in recoil. If you gain nothing from it, then why punish one's shoulder, and quite often the advocate of the conical is simply not confident in the round ball due to lack of knowledge.
Conicals did become popular for long range muzzle loading competitions (220 yards was quite common for targets, not hunting). You should know these competitions used rifles with special concial bullets, that were paper or linen patched, fired from rifles with choked or tapered bores.... quite different from the conicals we shoot today, which are closer to the Minnie ball and the rifled musket.
Conicals do tend to perform better past 100 yards as they tend to have a better ballistic coefficient. For most shooters you need to be out around 150 yards from the target or farther for that to "count". I hunt at 100 yards or less.

Some rifles really shoot conicals well, and some folks like them because of that accuracy. Once you get a load and you harvest a deer with that same load, you have confidence with it. So you don't want to start "fixing what isn't broken", and thus a lot of people swear by their load with a conical bullet. You like what you're used to and what with what you have been successful.

Thanks for the responses! I wanted opinions, and I got them! ;)
I guess I've entered this flirtation with conicals because my first muzzleloader hunt this year will be for wild hogs here in Florida. These animals are pretty tough and area I'll be hunting in is nothing but thick palmettoes. If a wounded hog leads me into that stuff, I'll be in for quite an ordeal. :uhoh:
That's mainly why I'm hoping for as much knockdown power as I can get.
Here's a photo of a hog from the same area. Luckily, it was a brain shot with the prb.
Here's a photo of a hog from the same area. Luckily, it was a brain shot with the prb.

Not really sure "luckily" is correct. :scrutiny:

Now if you were going for an exotic, like one of those Russian boars, with a really thick layer to punch through, yeah you might want as much punch in terminal impact as you could buy. That would be understandable....I don't think it matters much to a feral pig.....

On the other hand one could simply cast a round ball out of wheel weight, and using a different thickness patch, have a projectile that will do quite well at penetration, and have a much higher MV than the heaviest conical using the same load. And after all, a .490 hole from a round ball that doesn't deform much vs. a .550 hole from a soft lead round ball that does...the animal probably isn't going to know the difference. :thumbup:

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