Thompson Center hawken rusty barrel potential problems

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Jun 13, 2007
Seattle, Washington
I bought a used T/C hawken off the net. After having the hardest issue of getting the thing to fire (and one gunsmith cleaning fee) finally got it to the range about 10 times and shot about 200 rounds through it. Luckily I'm part of a muzzleloader club so I've learned a lot through the folks there.

First issue: While ramming the ball down, about halfway it gets incredibly difficult to ram down. I think it is rather rusty down there or extremely out of spec. Of course past internet advise is to buy a green mountain prefit barrel but they seem to not sell them anymore. I have tried .10 patches and they do go down easier but it is still difficult. I'm especially comparing my difficulty with getting the ball seated properly with my other club members who are 30 years older than me with no difficult seating their hawkens. My barrel is around .505 at the muzzle and the balls i'm using are .490 by my calipers

How would you solve this? I did read about bore shine lapping compound and do some trial and error. I'd rather not have to buy a $250 barrel to fix a $400 brand new rifle. The accuracy is iffy iffy already but i haven't shot it enough to find its preferred load.

Another thing i had bouncing around my head was just have a smith bore out the rifling and have a "inexpensive" fowler to play around with. Ugh, stupid rifle. I can answer questions later tonight, I work nights and sleep in the afternoon.
Sounds like its time to lap the bore with valve grinding compound to smooth out the ruff spots. Then the more you shoot it the better it will get.
I had a similar problem with a Uberti Santa Fe Hawken in that after a few shots it would be hard to get the ball down the last 5 inches to the powder. I switched to wet patches lubed with Ballistol and water and I got a stronger ramrod made out of solid brass. These two things made a huge difference. After several shots it can still be a little bit hard to get the ball to go the last half inch but it's not nearly as hard as it was before. I also have the rod marked with tape so I know for sure when the ball is properly seated.
As for accuracy, I also have a .50 caliber T/C Hawken and it shoots better with a .495 ball than it does with a .490 ball. From what I have read these T/C's have shallow rifling so a tighter ball/patch combo usually works better.
Sounds like its time to lap the bore with valve grinding compound to smooth out the ruff spots. Then the more you shoot it the better it will get.
This is the best chance for a successful ending to this all-too-common story. Work the lapping compound many more strokes in the roughest section of the barrel.

I have a .45 cal. with essentially the same problem. However, even after 100 strokes of JB bore paste later followed by lapping with valve grinding compound and fire lapping with patches impregnated with abrasive paste, my gun's bore isn't much better.
In the future, only buy a used muzzleloader after close in-person inspection.
When you run a snug cleaning patch down the clean unfired bore, how does it feel?

When shooting, are you cleaning between shots? Some tight bores are just pure hell to reload on when dirty. TC's are very well known to be tight. In fact, The one I had was so tight, it was almost impossible to load a powerbelt!
Dry patch feels like speed bumps were installed and always come out with a light copperry rings but not black crud.

I use a .010 patch already I don't think they make smaller.

And I sadly already use a range rod and clean between targets which is four or five shots.

Thanks for the replies
You may be able to get it to shoot decently - is it worth the effort? If the bore has a constriction, plus pitting, I'd give serious consideration to your idea of a smoothbored barrel (least expense) or a rebore to a larger caliber (more expensive than smoothboring, cheaper than a new barrel). If you wanted to stay with .50 you could have that barrel relined.
Safti Paste bore shiner on a tight patch. The way I've saved a few TCs with rusty/lightly pitted bores and one fire/smoke damaged Savage 17.
On the TC guns, be sure you have a ball screw or worm. Then run a patch down the bore and leave it at the bottom. Put a tight fitting patch on a cleaning jag, coat it well with the bore shine paste and give it about fifty full length strokes. A quick wipe down with solvent and repeat. You'll find it gets easier as you go. If there are tight spots, make shorter strokes at those points. When you are done, be sure to pull the patch out which will have captured some of the crud you wiped loose.
You will be amazed. (I think what I have is BA safeti paste from Brownells.
I own and shoot a .50 caliber T/C Hawken. You might try this and see if it helps.

An old timer told me to spit on the patch and place it on the muzzle wet side down. This will help to clear the bore of carbon before each shot. This practice is for range use only for obvious reasons.
O.K. snug patch. A proper jag and patch combination shouldn't either get stuck or have the patch slip off.
I used to shoot up a keg a year, most of the time swabbing between shots and never stuck a jag. Had a couple snap back in from suction, however.
I resurrected a Renegade barrel with the JB Saftipaste a few years back. It was rough enough to cause patches to fray. Slick now.
If it were me, I would run a bore light down the barrel to see just what the problem is before trying any "fixes"...just my opinion.
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