Making Muzzleloaders Shoot More Consistently

Consistent placement of black powder, propellants, projectiles are very important to hunters and competitive shooters, but sometime elusive. Lets take a look at some easy, but necessary steps to cleaning up those bullet groups.

Many ponder over which is best, Pyrodex or one of the other synthetic propellants, or black powder. Test results have proven, time and time again, that either work well. The synthetics allow more shots between cleaning, and are normally easier to clean up; but as far as where the bullet hits, there is no difference.

Typical traditional muzzleloader (.50 Hawkin), possible bag, and powder horn.

Because of the consistency and quality, the propellants available today would have brought tears of joy to Daniel Boone. However, in order for the modern shooter to get the best results from these products, the measurement of propellants must be exact. Always use a good powder measure.

Patches For Round Balls
Next to examine are patches. When shooting round balls it is necessary to wrap the balls in lubricated patches, which are available in different thickness. For example, when shooting a .50-caliber rifle, use a .490-inch round ball, and a minimum .015-inch thick patch. That makes the combined patch and ball larger than the bore, but the larger size is necessary in order to seal over the propellant, and not allow power-eating, blow by of gasses, when fired.

The speed of rifling of your barrel is important in picking the most effective projectile for a specific gun. A 1:66 rifling will shoot a patched, round ball best. A rifling of 1:48 will handle equally well bullets, or patched, round balls. A barrel with a rifling of 1:22 will shoot sabot bullets best. Your bullet selection should start with the projectile your rifle is designed to best handle.

When in doubt measure the patch thickness. The patch and ball combination should be at least .005-inch larger than the ID of the barrel.

Another important factor, is the amount of pressure placed upon the projectile when seating it on top of the powder charge. This should be 35 pounds, optimum. If too much pressure is put on the bullet it will become distorted and shoot poorly. Too little pressure will cause inconsistent groups. More important than the actual amount of pressure, is consistency of pressure. If the amount of pressure placed upon the projectile seating it upon the propellant varies from shot to shot, the shot placement on the target will vary with each shot. Consistency is absolutely necessary, for consistent shot placement.

Remember as you go forth this season with your charcoal burner, your success will depend on not only how you squeeze the trigger, but also loading consistency.

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