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In case you have doubts about hunting with a traditional muzzleloader...

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by brewer12345, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I spent much of the past week hunting a river bottom trying to fill an antlerless deer tag that was muzzleloader only. I had an easy shot at a broadside doe at 40 yards (tops) a week ago, but she ran off about a second before I could line up the shot. Spent a whole bunch of hours trying to get close enough to seal the deal with the many deer I saw all week and finally connected this morning. This was not what I would consider an ideal shot. The deer was 60 yards away partially obscured by the grass and looking over its shoulder at me, but I took the shot because I wasn't sure I would get another one.

    The .530 round ball hit the 100 or so pound button buck in the right rear quarter. Even though I was using an accurate load for this rifle, it chronoed at a modest 1350 or so FPS this summer. That said, the ball broke the heavy leg bone, clipped a kidney, a bunch of blood vessels and the lungs. The ball broke a rib and came to rest just under the front left shoulder blade. So by my count, the 230 grain round ball went through almost 3 feet of deer and despite a very poor shot placement the deer was done and down within 75 yards of where it was hit. The pic of the ball is attached (flattened), but it still weighs 223.3 grains.

    Hunt with confidence within reasonable ranges with your muzzleloader. If my short barrel sidelock with what many would consider an anemic load will go through 3 feet of deer, whatever you have will make meat.
     

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  2. Sim Carstairs

    Sim Carstairs Member

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    Great post! I’ve deer hunted with a flintlock rifle for many years and they are very reliable and accurate weapons. I would not want shot with one!
     
  3. Steve S.

    Steve S. Member

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    Many decades ago, I attended muzzle loader hunts that were well attended with original equipment. In-lines and such were unheard of, this was BP stuff from yesteryear. The dead deer I would see returning to camp were mostly passthroughs by calibers larger than today’s common .50 - they were shot big and hard, I would say that the wound channels were brutal. These rifles were/are very effective and lots of fun for those that like the effort and the challenge. To doubt their ability for a clean kill by a skilled marksman is naive.
     
  4. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    I have been hunting with traditional side lock muzzle loaders (Both flint & Percussion in 50-58 caliber) for 30 years. I can't put a number on the deer I have shot, but it is quite a few. To date, I have only recovered one ball and that was from a 180# dressed 9 point buck. That ball entered the center of the chest on a straight on shot at 35 yards, traveled thru the lungs and ended up lodged in the hip joint of the deer. Traditional side locks with open sights will do the job every time if you place your shot well and limit your shots to 100 yards or less. I know many will say that you can shoot farther, but for me with my ageing eyes I limit myself to 75 yards and under, and only if I have a clear shot.
     
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  5. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I much prefer to have a closer, clearer shot for this sort of thing, but time was running out on my tag and this was the shot I could get. Second deer in two years with this rifle and load, both in the same spot.

    I took a picture of the enormous entry wound, but wasn't sure if posting it would upset someone.
     
  6. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    I dont think it would upset anyone on this forum...especially us black powder guys. Buuuuut i can only speak to my opinion. If say show us...at worst the moderator would just remove it.
     
  7. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    OK, in that case, see attached. My finger there for reference is just barely not touching the meat.
     

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  8. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    That is what I've come to expect.
     
  9. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    I would not consider a .530 ball traveling at 1350 fps to be anemic. What powder and charge did you use?
     
  10. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    110 grains of black mz with an over powder wad. I greatly prefer round ball to conicals and this is what the rifle likes with round ball.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
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  11. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    Congratulations on your deer harvest.

    Did you ever have ignition problems with Black MZ due to its large granulation?
    Did you ever try magnum percussion caps or any another solution using that powder?
     
  12. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I have one rifle that will not fire with black mz for love not money. All the rest do so with alacrity with plain old Remington #11 caps.
     
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  13. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    The roundball is effective all out of proportion to its size. Are there really people who think that they will not do the job? It seems to me that almost all of the complaints regarding the roundball (and the guns which shoot them) have to do with range. People want to shoot game from hundreds of yards away, and believe that a scoped rifle firing a pistol bullet in a sabot is the way to do it.

    So far it has not come up, but if a fellow tried to convince me that a .45 pistol bullet is more effective in game than is a .530 roundball, I think I'd have a hard time not laughing at him.
     
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  14. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    Interestingly enough, my buddy made a similar shot a week before on a smaller deer using an inline firing a 270 grain conical. It was a closer shot, but a more direct hit to the rear bone. The wound channel was smaller, it did not go through as much deer, and it failed to exit.
     
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  15. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    I have seen this on small game as well, a round ball will penetrate almost entirely through where a conical will not.
     
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  16. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    There's something called sectional density which asserts that a bullet of the same weight as a round ball will penetrate greater as long as all of the other factors are equal such as composition, velocity etc...
    That's not to down grade the round ball at all, but it has to do with science.

    These two pages explain it.

    https://www.chuckhawks.com/sd.htm

    SD is important because it has a significant effect on penetration. Other things being equal (like impact velocity, bullet design and expansion, etc.) the higher the SD number, the better the bullet's penetration. In other words, a skinny bullet of a given weight tends to penetrate better than a fat bullet of the same weight, because it concentrates the same force on a smaller area of the target. For example, if other factors are equal, a 150 grain .270 bullet will penetrate better than a 150 grain .35 caliber bullet.

    https://www.chuckhawks.com/sd_muzzleloading_projectiles.htm

    Dr. Martin Fackler has documented the better wounding of longer, heavier bullets. The FBI Quantico study has done the same, showing that longer bullets produce greater wounds and have greater lethality. The longer, heaver bullets naturally have greater sectional densities as well. Along with the better sectional density for a specific bullet design comes less velocity erosion with the automatically higher ballistic coefficient, and perhaps more important to the muzzleloading hunter, less wind drift.
     
  17. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    Arcticap, the math and real world clearly agree with what you posted. Personally, I do not really want complete penetration. The ball this year that expanded and went through most but not all of the deer was perfect as it dumped all of its energy into the critter. Obviously if that had happened in the first 3 inches of penetration, I would not be too happy.
     
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  18. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    It's hard to believe that a 230 grain .45 bullet could match the performance of the .54 round ball.
    Even the article said that the higher SD bullets only "tend" to penetrate better.
    When a projectile hits bone and then bounces around inside of an animal, then there's no predicting how it will perform.
    If one projectile holds together and the other one breaks apart, then perhaps that can turn sectional density upside down and render it meaningless.
    On the other hand, we can't always favoritize round balls for every situation.
    But the .54 is a very large caliber that shoots a lethal ball that's hard to beat.
     
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  19. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I'd probably tell you that 54 is overkill for a whitetail doe, frankly. Wouldn't be my first choice, but I would be surprised if a 45ACP would not kill such an animal at reasonable distances, especially with a broadside shot.
     
  20. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    A hunter needs to be loaded for the largest deer in the woods.
    They can't predict what they will have a shot at.

    A friend once told me how he shot three deer with one bullet from a .38-55.
    The deer were standing shoulder to shoulder broadside with the 3rd one being a fawn of the year, and the bullet just passed right through to the fawn and downed them all.
    Private land hunters were issued 2 tags and he was hunting with others.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  21. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    Agreed. Either that or being disciplined enough to pass on shots on big deer that are too big for what you are carrying.
     
  22. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    I feel my .50 is on the big side for medium game. A .45 does plenty well with many even using a .40 cal for deer. Yeah, I think of the .54 as certainly being big for medium game, more than needed for sure. Sure wouldn’t stop me from using it though
     
  23. frontiergander

    frontiergander Member

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    One thing I've learned when handing someone a traditional muzzleloader is how goofy they act as soon as they take hold of it. Laughing, acting a fool about how the heck can i kill an animal with this!! You're crazy!! HAHAHHA... Then they are impatient at the loading process. Teach them about the double set triggers and they get even goofier until they pull it and their eyes bug out about the smooth crisp hair trigger.

    The patched round ball is a big game slaying machine. You can hand someone a 3006 or a 300 mag and watch them shoot all over the place, simply because they can not shoot due to laziness at wanting to learn. Doesn't matter if its a round ball, conical, sabot, centerfire. If you are lazy, don't understand the concept, you are not going to have positive results.
    Mule deer entrance with a .490 round ball
    P1040871.jpg
    Elk entrance with .490 round ball
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    P1040944.jpg
    Hog entrance with .490 round ball
    IMG-8592.jpg
    Another hog entrance with .490 round ball
    IMG_6791.jpg
    roundball2.jpg
    mule deer entrance and internal damage
    20190916_153537.jpg
    20190916_160858.jpg
     
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  24. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    I have scored with a front-stuffer, and the damage done by an “anemic” load is always impressive. A few years ago, my 300 gr buffalo bullet .50 slammed a young buck at 20 yards and with a slightly downward and angling towards direction it shredded the entire chest cavity with bone fragments after it hit a rib. That buck stumbled against a tree and then fell over looking around trying to figure out what had just happened. Dead within a minute, probably more like 30 seconds. I shot all of my buffalo bullets and wish they were still made, but I never found the end of its penetration because it was always a pass through. I always wanted one to be just under the skin opposite side like most modern rifles, but that was mainly to see what the bullet looked like after such a violent impact. If I make meat a couple other ways I will try to put a deer down with my tc hawken 45 this year, but it’s in line behind the 6.8, the 7-30waters, and 12 ga slug. Now that I’m hunting thick woods, slugs make sense and I have not connected with a slug yet aside from a couple coyotes running in a pack and I blasted through the pack hitting at least 2.
     
  25. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Been using a ml since about 1968. First deer was with a Zouve 58 and an "illegal" minie ball. Rb. Only back then. Dropped in its tracks and there was a circle of blood 3' in diameter on the other side in the snow. Probably under 1100 fps.
     
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