Round ball size?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by brewer12345, Jan 9, 2022.

  1. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    This spring I will start fooling with one or two 45 caliber percussion rifles. One is a round ball twist, the other is a typical TC 1 in 48 compromise twist. I mostly shoot round ball, but in 45 I suppose the conicals are small enough that I may end up shooting them frequently as well if the rifles like them.

    My question is on round ball size. I generally have just picked a ball that is 10 thousandths smaller than nominal bore and fiddled with patch size and charge until I get accurate loads. Since a 45 RB is illegal to hunt big game in my state, I am taking this as an exercise in pure accuracy target shooting, although I suppose if I get an accurate enough light load this may end up being a viable small game rifle. How does one choose a RB size for optimal accuracy? As a mold packrat, I have picked up .437, .440 and .445 molds. How do you choose which one to work with?
     
  2. hawg

    hawg Member

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    Generally a tighter fitting ball is going to be more accurate. I would just use a .440 ball and play with patch thickness. The one that's going to be the most accurate is the one you have to hammer in.
     
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  3. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    I go with .010 under if it is available.

    I have used either .018 pillow ticking or .012 linen.
     
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  4. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    .440 ball then play with the patch thickness.
     
  5. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    For target grade accuracy, .445 and play with patch thickness. I shoot a 50cal flintlock and run a .495 ball with linen patch.
     
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  6. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd start with .010 undersized and then varying patch thicknesses. Five shot group & clean between patch sizes. Like reloading, you have to figure it out.

    BTW, if you want to be scientific, weigh each ball and separate them by weight.
     
  7. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I've heard this before. Why? What is it about a bigger ball and thinner patch combination that is more inherently accurate than the opposite? Seals the bore better?
     
  8. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    Patch doesn't seal the bore to begin with, it acts as the interface between the ball and rifling. My own preference is .018 canvas duck from Wally World and .010 under bore size ball for my .50s and .36.
     
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  9. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    I use a Thompson-Center .54 Hawken during muzzleloader season. Hornady .530 balls are tighter than a mouse’s ear, very difficult to seat down on the powder. Hornady .520 balls load like a dream. Plenty accurate enough at 100 yards.

    Experiment with a variety of ball sizes. Find out what your gun likes with the patches you use. Every gun is a snowflake, an individual. Get acquainted with your snowflake.
     
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  10. bear166

    bear166 Member

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    Really will depend on your gun what works the best. I mostly shoot .440 balls with a white .010 patch in mine. .015s seem to be slightly more accurate, but are a pain to load after two or three shots. I tried .015 pillow ticking once, and it took me two or three minutes to ram the ball down with a clean bore... I can shoot .010s all day with the .440 ball, so that's what I do. I would trust it for deer at 50 yards, let alone small game.
     
  11. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I like to slug the bore first. This does not have to be difficult: just smash a ball with a mallet until it's a little too big for the bore, then drill a hole into it. Lube it up, drive it into the muzzle, then insert a screw into the hole to pull the ball back out.

    I personally have found many exceptions to the "rule" that a tighter fit is more accurate, so I start with a ball/patch combo which just fits the grooves. In other words, if my groove depth is .450, I would choose a ball of .430 and a .010 patch. Things are rarely quite that neat, of course, but I can usually get within a few thousandths.

    I have found, though, that my results are almost always superior with thin patches, so tend to start with the largest ball and thinnest patch that I can find. I don't have a great explanation for that phenomenon, but it definitely exists.
     
  12. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    I'm a competition shooter so I do experiment quite a bit. I have a theory on why it generally shoots best and it's just my theory but results support it. A larger ball/thinner patch combination works because there is less distance for the ball to obturate on firing to better "fill out" the rifling. Also, a thinner patch has to be the tightest weave you can find like a high thread count linen. Patch lube become critical when doing this. I've found that mink oil seems to give the best results. To keep from contaminating the charge with the patch lube, I use a card wad over the powder before loading the patch and ball.
     
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  13. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    My rule of thumb is that the land diameter should be the bullet diameter plus ONE thickness of patch. To start.
     
  14. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    In my TC 45 I used a .445 ball and Indian Head linen, in 50, .495 and the same, and in my .58 with Numrich deep 7 groove, .570 and pillow ticking. The 45s were a TC and a Tingle. I always patched tight.
     
  15. Thomasss

    Thomasss Member

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    I've been using .440 and flannel cloth. The flannel mikes out at .008. Although it burns through a lot, accuracy has been fantastic. The flannel is also a lot easier to ram down the barrel. I going to try felt pads under patch dipped in bore butter when the weather gets a little nicer,
     
  16. NY Yankee

    NY Yankee Member

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    All of the answers given are good, however this one is the one that means the most. Working up your best load is up to you, your loading technique and the materials you choose. Get a notebook and notate the results of your shooting at the range. Try to do everything the same and change one component at a time. Make notes of the changes. It's easy to forget what you were using and start chasing your tail.
     
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  17. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    Yeah, I take notes after every work up session. In certain cases I have chosen loads that were just a tiny bit less accurate because they were easier to load in the field for a follow up shot.
     
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  18. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    If you're burning through patches that needs to change, either tighter weave on the cloth or put hornets nest paper under the patch. I ve tried it and it does work.
     
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  19. hawg

    hawg Member

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    I use very tight ticking patches for hunting loads, lubed with olive oil and cut at the muzzle. They fray around the edges and scorch a little bit.

    CtzNzqal.jpg
     
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  20. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Another trick is to put two felt wads under the ball. My Jeager will throw patches that look "pretty good" with one wad, but a little bit burnt and appear to be cut at loading. Two wads and they come out so perfect that they could be used again. I mean, they actually could be used again. And no, they are not being cut at the muzzle when loaded. Unless the additional wad is sewing it back together. !!?!!
     
  21. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Them thar patches look pretty good there Hawg. Next shooting session with the Jeager I'll be trying out bear-grease...now that I just happen to have some!
     
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  22. paul harm

    paul harm Member

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    Years back I built a " chunk gun ". The matches were shot at 60 yds, laying on the ground with the barrel resting on a chunk of a log. Bill Large, a famous CG shooter and barrel maker made me a 48"x 1 1/4" 54cal barrel. He also sent a mold that was .535, .005 oversize. You had to use open sights. He told me to use a 3 x 5 menu card on end for the sighter [ what you aimed at, not the bulls eye ]. The back partridge sight was .100 wide - a bit more than what the menu card looked like, and the front sight a bit narrower than the card when sighting at it. This way you had in effect a peep sight only open on the top. I had to beat the ball in. I don't think it was round anymore. Anyways, that gun would lay one on top of the other. Being a pistol shooter at heart I sold the gun to a guy who I saw again about 5 years latter. He said the only reason he didn't win a match was because of him. The gun shot way better than he did.
     
  23. J-Bar

    J-Bar Member

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    Being reluctant to argue with hornets about ownership of their homes for over powder wads, I have used wadded up pieces of paper towel between powder and patched ball. Seems to work fine; I haven’t started any fires and the paper towel is biodegradable. Am I overlooking something?
     
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