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Shooting reduced loads out of inline muzzleloaders

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Snidely70431, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    I am a target shooter. I do not hunt. I like muzzleloaders for the ritual of capping, loading the powder, seating the projectile, taking a shooting position, sighting, and firing. If I fire a dozen rounds in an hour it is a lot.

    I have several muzzleloaders, but the two I prefer are my CVA Optima V2 .50 stainless and CVA Optima Pro Magnum .50. They are not traditional, not particularly attractive, but infinitely less hassle than sidelock traditionals. Have a misfire? Unscrew the breechblock, dump the propellant, and push the projectile out. End of problem. Fouling? Unscrew the breechblock and run a brush through the bore and you are good to go. Of course, if you LIKE dealing with bullet pullers and immersing your disassembled barrel in hot water....

    The Optima V2 and the Pro Magnum are rated at 150 grains of black powder, and it is recommended to not use a load of less than 50 grains lest a saboted projectile not seat in the lands properly. I wonder if the makers of these firearms took into consideration that 150 grains is more than twice the propellant load of the 45-70 Government, a round that will take any North American game, and was regularly used on 1,000 yard targets. Our local range, the Honey Island Shooting Range, only has targets out to 100 yards.

    Being something of an iconoclast, and cheap into the bargain, I have been playing around with shooting a patched .490 round backed by 25 to 35 grains of BP substitute, Pyrodex or 777. .490 round balls cost $.12 to $.15 each. 209 primers cost $.03 to $.04 each. BP substitutes run $.10 to $.15 for a 35 grain load. Worst case, $.35 per round. Say you are loading and shooting rapidly and get 30 rounds out in an hour. That hour of shooting costs you about the same as a person shooting a 5.56/.223 a single 20-round magazine.

    I was just wondering if anyone reading this thread has been playing around with minimalist muzzleloading loads, and what your experience has been.
     
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  2. Curator

    Curator Member

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    For our local hunter safety program I would often load my 2 .50 caliber inline rifles with 35-50 grains of Pyrodex "P" and patched round ball. Accuracy was excellent and recoil almost non-existent. Of course, we were only shooting at 25 yards, but beginning shooters were very pleased with near-bullseyes to take home. I have also loaded a single 5 grain Pyrodex pellet and sabot plus bullet for similar shooting with very good results.
     
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  3. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    I have loaded down as low as 20 grains (weight) of Pyrodex and 777 with good results. From what I have seen in formulas for determining twist, low weight and low velocities require comparatively fast twist barrels, just as do long bullets and higher velocities.
     
  4. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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    The T/C 32 and 36 caliber Seneca and Cherokee rifles while designed for RB shooting had fast 1-30 twist so you could use light charges of powder and still get excellent accuracy. They were purpose built to shoot light loads. The inline guns have a similar fast twist and with light loads and round balls should work the same way. But you trajectory may be out of your sight adjustment range.
     
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  5. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    You haven't been around traditionalists much then. :confused: You're applying 20th century situations in the 21st century. Infinitely less hassle? In the words of the immortal Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride..., "I don't think that word means what you think it means." In traditionals, have a misfire, apply your CO2 discharger, and don't waste time with unscrewing a breech, dumping the charge then ramming out the sabot, and then replacing the breech. Simply pop out the whole load (flinter or caplock) and start over. Fouling while shooting, simply run a piece of damp baby wipe up and down the bore..., again no stopping to unscrew a breech and replace it. Cleaning..., a few ounces of cold water down the barrel, dump, then damp followed by dry patches, then oil. I have a longrifle and we don't remove the barrel to clean. Wipe off the fouling from the lock, rust preventative and voila. No need to use a bullet puller or a bucket of soapy water. ;) OH and I understand that you're just a target shooter, that's cool, but for the folks who hunt, you can convert a caplock into a sealed system that uses a primer, instead of the exposed cap...and fix reliability problems, IF they exist.

    Nope, they are all designed to come close to mimicking a modern rifle round while infringing on the old "primitive" muzzle loading hunting seasons, to increase available deer hunting time while at the same time helping to reduce deer overpopulation in some states. No consideration for the recreational, target shooter. Usually when they have open sights, they are crude affairs, more like using the top of a 2x4 as a front sight post. This is because they expect you to use a scope.

    Yes of course, i use them all the time.
    You're an iconoclast that is using traditional loads, very similar to mine, though more expensive. Btw you could be shooting a flintlock rifle at targets for as little as .20 cents a round, using real black powder.
    It's a lot of fun, you should go "all the way", and try it sometime. ;)

    LD
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2018
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  6. drobs

    drobs Member

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    Tomato stake is what comes to my mind.
     
  7. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    I use 50 gr ffg and a rb in my Traditions inline. Any over that and I got buckshot patterns.
     
  8. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    Several years ago I did an article for the Backwoodsman on a Bobcat - know it's not an Inline - and I was able to shoot 375 round balls using about 20 grains of 777 or pyrodex by using more than one greased patch. Shot pretty well out to about 25 yards.
     
  9. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    Long ago, when one could buy BP just about anywhere, I handloaded 45-70's and 44-40's with BP, and they were fun to shoot. Nowadays, I cannot find anywhere that sells it. One guy I know drives to Missouri to buy it at in excess of $30 per can for Goex. I have even threatened to make it, just have not done it.
     
  10. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    Good luck finding real BP in South Louisiana. As far as primitive hunting, in Louisiana,
    During the primitive-arms seasons, hunters may use rifles or pistols of at least .44 caliber or shotguns no larger than 10 gauge, all of which must load exclusively from the muzzle or cap and ball cylinder, use black powder or approved substitute only, take a ball or bullet projectile only, including saboted bullets, including primitive firearms known as 'in-line' primitive firearms.

    Also legal are single-shot, breech-loading rifles of at least .35 caliber having an exposed hammer that uses metallic cartridges loaded either with black powder or modern smokeless powder.

    Hence, muzzleloaders are a drug on the market.
     
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  11. damoc

    damoc Member

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    Out of a .50 cal hawken replica I often shoot a double patch .454 ball with 35 grains real BP It works fine for plinking or small game hunting.If i needed larger game hunting I would just use double the BP with a hard seated .54 round ball.To me hard seated means ramming the ball or bullet all the way down the barrel with no wad to speak of
    Yes that's pretty hard to seat..
     
  12. rdstrain49

    rdstrain49 Member

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    Sidnely, the only real limit on how light can you go regarding powder charge is you MUST have contact between projectile and propellant. Even a very light load can cause irreparable damage to a BP weapon if there is an air gap in the load. It matters not one bit if the propellant is real black powder or one of the many substitutes, there must be no space between powder and projectile, none.
     
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  13. robhof

    robhof Member

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    Now I understand why my friends 50 cal. B/p CVA inline pistol shot so great at 25' with prb's, and reduced charge, it was a real tac driver and the manual specified sabots for best accuracy, it's also rated for 150 grains, but I explained that with a mere 14" barrel only about 75 grains would burn in the barrel, as I have verified with a Hawkins rifle over snow, with A 22" barrel, 90 grains ejects unburned 3f powder onto the snow, so any additional powder is a waste.
     
  14. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    Really? Why does this not happen when a cartridge is light loaded?
     
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  15. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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  16. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    OK, that is one theory. Why does it not happen in a light loaded cartridge? I found other theories, one being that the powder is unevenly distributed and causes a shock wave to be directed towards the wall, "like a shaped charge". Being an old Army demolition guy I know about shaped charges, and that is not how they work.
     
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  17. alsaqr

    alsaqr Member

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    1. Cartridges are different. IMO: It's a matter of distance.
    2. The old black powder cartridges were filled with powder, usually compressed.
    3. When the cartridge was not totally filled spacers were often used. The .45/55 round for the US Army cavalry carbine used spacers.
    4. Years ago I did some experimenting. The muzzleloaders were not badly damaged unless the distance between the powder and ball exceeded a few inches.
    5. A very few smokeless powder Savage muzzleloaders have been destroyed by failure to seat the projectile on the powder.

    There were cases where 155mm howitzers blew up when fired with reduced charges. That was later replicated in tests.
     
  18. robhof

    robhof Member

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    I've loaded B/P cartridges and for light loads, I either load the bullet deeper or use a wad/filler to take up the space, but never leave a gap with B/p even in cartridges, that's the way I was taught 50+ yrs ago and I still have all my fingers and both eyes.
     
  19. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    Thanks for the reply. To show you how backwards I am, I did not know about the existence of the CO2 load discharger. I have a nice inline made in Italy that I have been loathe to use because the breech block absolutely refuses to come out and I did not want to take a chance of ruining it by putting something in it I could not get out.
     
  20. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    They are not telling you to use 150, they're saying you can. Most of us stay around 100. Fifty with a "cheapshot" sabot or maxi or REAL or even a prb would be a"plinking load but probably won't be as accurate as the mid load.
     
  21. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Member

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    Snidely70431,
    I am in the same mindset as you. I wanted to ease my way into muzzleloading at minimal cost and complexity. I bought a used Optima Pro for $175 and started out by shooting my case Lee TL452-230-TC's with a T/C yellow sabot with Blackhorn 209 and a Federal 209A primer. I got decent accuracy out to 100 yards (3"). It felt and made as much smoke as shooting my Remington 788 in .308 Winchester, but the cost was quite a bit more per shot. To reduce costs, I experimented with Lee REAL bullets, cast roundballs and a cast Minieball projectile. I don't need to vaporize a deer with 150g equivalent BP so I use as little as 70g by volume.

    By far, the least expensive powder I've found has been Alliant BlackMZ. Sportsmans Warehouse was selling them at $10 for a 1 pound jug so I bought all they had and now have probably more than I'll ever shoot. The powder meters terribly (like cat litter) but if shot by weight with premeasured charges, it is quite accurate. I now shoot mostly the Lee REAL bullet lubed with 2:1 Beeswax:Vaseline and an overpowder cardboard disk under it. I make the disks out of cereal boxes punched out with a sharpened piece of pipe. It took a little time to sharpen the pipe and a little time to punch out the cards, but the cost is essentially zero and you can make a lot of cards that will last a very long time.

    70 grains (by volume) is about the minimum charge of this powder. I've worked down to 50g, but the shots get really smokey and it just feels like the ignition is inconsistent. At 25-50 yards, it probably doesn't matter but at 100 yards, the groups get pretty wild.

    If I were to hunt with it, I wouldn't mind using Blackhorn 209, a sabot and a good hollowpoint 45 caliber bullet, but the cost is too high for range plinking.

    It's a lot of fun shooting this gun at the range for a few hours at a time. I probably shoot about 6 shot in a 20 minute session compared to 50 rifle or 100-150 handgun shots in the same time.

    Since then I found an Optima V2 for $150 and have been shooting it too, but quite honestly it is so close to the Optima Pro that they are pretty much the same gun.

    Maybe one day I'll get a caplock or better yet a flintlock, but with the high cost of these guns, it may be a long time.
     
  22. drobs

    drobs Member

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    You ought buy some real Black Powder from Graf's. They will ship it straight to your door. Easy peasy.
    https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/category/categoryId/3501

    Graf's adds $20 for hazmat and $7 handling/shipping to the total order. 10lbs is a good round number to make the hazmat worthwhile.
    Their private label Scheutzen at $15.99 a pound is the best deal around.


    Missouri's BP season is similar to yours. Ours is the Alternative Methods season which allows rifle caliber pistols, pistol caliber pistols, BP - rifle/pistol, crossbows, and Atlatl (spear chucking) for deer.
    You can hunt with an AR or AK pistol if you want to.
     
  23. whughett

    whughett Member

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    What no sharp rocks. :)
     
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  24. AABEN

    AABEN Member

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    I liked using pistole powder in my long guns shot as good and used less powder.
     
  25. Snidely70431

    Snidely70431 Member

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    Thank you for the link to BP.
     
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