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View Full Version : first time muzzle stuffer tips


tahunua001
January 30, 2012, 06:17 AM
hello all.
I've been haunting the handgun, rifle, and hunting forums here for a while now and have just recently been thinking about getting a muzzle loader for a bit of fun plinking around the house. my dad had a pair of hawken muzzle loaders that he put together long ago and hung above the mantle but to tell the truth I don't know what kind of firing condition they would be in after 20 years of sitting around without any maintenance. I was thinking about trying to fix one of them up but my older brother has been saying that he wants to get them working so he can start hunting with them so I think I'll let him get some good use out of them(if it's even possible at this point).

I see a number of places selling the traditions hawkens do it yourself kits for around $300 and just had a few questions.

1. is assembly pretty straight forward or is there a lot of sanding and fitting you have to do to get the stock to fit the receiver?

2. are you supposed to stain, lacquer, or oil the stocks?

3. what would be the longest practical range for these?

4. with most centerfire long arms firing soft lead is frowned upon because it fouls the barrel, can I expect to have to de-foul after shooting a number of mini balls or round balls? are there tips and tricks to avoid this(besides shooting factory jacket rounds)

I am looking at this particular setup because I like the idea of building a gun from scratch and being able to take it out and show it off at all the family get-together/shoot-em-ups. also if I ever decide that I do want to hunt with it, my states muzzle stuffer season rules are VERY strict so I am restricted to very traditional setups(no electronic ignitions, breach loaders etc...).

mykeal
January 30, 2012, 06:47 AM
Welcome to the dark side.

1. is assembly pretty straight forward or is there a lot of sanding and fitting you have to do to get the stock to fit the receiver?

Traditions kits are pretty straightforward. 95% of the work will be in finishing the wood and metal. It may be necessary to do some minor inletting but it will not be an issue. That said, if you do need to do any carving be sure to use very sharp tools. Dull tools screw up more work than poor skills.

2. are you supposed to stain, lacquer, or oil the stocks?

That's personal choice. It depends on the wood you get. However, with the inexpensive Traditions kits I recommend you plan to stain and finish with tung oil, Tru-Oil or boiled linseed oil. And plan on several coats of oil, at least 6. You'll be tempted to stop after 2 or 3, but it's a labor of love so be patient and keep going and you will be rewarded.

3. what would be the longest practical range for these?

100 yards. Some say you can shoot conicals to 150 yards with the Traditions barrels but I think that's a stretch. Round balls are limited to 100 yards, period.

4. with most centerfire long arms firing soft lead is frowned upon because it fouls the barrel, can I expect to have to de-foul after shooting a number of mini balls or round balls? are there tips and tricks to avoid this(besides shooting factory jacket rounds)

Lead ONLY! Don't use jacketed bullets in a muzzleloader. If you shoot round balls they will be patched so the lead will never touch the barrel. If you shoot conicals they need to be lead so they expand to engage the rifling. Black powder velocities are significantly lower and leading is not an issue.

B.L.E.
January 30, 2012, 07:15 AM
The traditional patched round ball slows down like a ping-pong ball in flight.

From Lyman's Black Powder Handbook:

.495 roundball, ballistic coefficient .070

muzzle velocity = 1700 fps.
25 yards = 1470
50 yards = 1273
75 yards = 1102
100 yards = 995
200 yards = 734

five mph crosswind drift
25 yards = .30"
50 yards = 1.24"
75 yards = 2.95"
100 yards = 5.39"
200 yards= 21.2"

These bullets slow down and drift like balloons in crosswinds. Just like with bowhunting, hunting with a traditional muzzleloader is all about dealing with the limits of your equipment.

mykeal
January 30, 2012, 10:52 AM
ping pong balls and balloons?

Bit of hyperbole, maybe? There's a bit more involved than shape.

Pahoo
January 30, 2012, 11:18 AM
mykeal
Has Pretty much addressed your concerns and the only things that I would on the kits is to note whether or not the barrels come blued, as you might be hard-pressed to finish the barrel. Another trick I used when assembling kits, is to first assemble them to a working condition, disassemble, then fit and finish. ... ;)

Now, getting back to the wall-hangers; There are those that are asking to be shot. Don't give up on them as I suspect there is a lot of life, left in them. My priority would be to work with these, get my feet wetter, then proceed with whatever else you have in mind. ... ;)

I recently picked up a .36 wall hanger and not she shines!! .... :)

Be Safe !!!

kwhi43@kc.rr.com
January 30, 2012, 11:35 AM
Those boys that shoot at Friendship in the 200 yd round ball matches will
find that interesing that round balls stop shooting at 100 yds. Can't wait to
tell them, they are waisting their time:D

mykeal
January 30, 2012, 01:46 PM
There certainly are people, and guns, that will shoot round balls accurately well beyond 100 yards. Sadly, a Traditions Hawken, as fine as it is, is not one of them. The Lyman handbook presents a set of average performances under average circumstances, which is not the case at Friendship. The handbook's numbers are routinely exceeded there.

Jbar4Ranch
January 30, 2012, 02:04 PM
The OP's question was:

3. what would be the longest practical range for these?

Perusing the answers to the post, I don't seen anyone who said round balls stop shooting at 100 yds.

There's a big difference between practical hunting ranges and match ranges. Personally, I'd prefer to keep round balls inside of 50 yards when hunting, but for matches, sure, 200 yards doable. If you have the right rifle, enough practice, and know the range is 200 yards, not 186 or 211, sure, you can compete at those ranges. With a 125 yard zero, a .50 cal round ball leaving the muzzle at 1800 fps will drop nearly 14" at 175 yards, nearly 24" at 200 yards, and right at 28" at 215 yards.
Trying to harvest an elk at 200 yards with a round ball would be nuts though. I once thought I was a pretty damn good shot... until I shot an NMLRA match at Friendship. IIRC, it was 220 yards, not 200...?

Kind of like someone asking the practical speed of a car, getting a reply of "75 mph", and you coming back with, "Those boys that drive the 500 mile races at Indianapolis will find that interesting that cars stop driving at 75mph - I can't wait to tell them they are wasting their time!"

Pahoo
January 30, 2012, 03:05 PM
I understood what the OP was asking and the spirit in which it was presented. A practical response was presented. I guess I'm real big into the word. .... ;)

3. what would be the longest practical range for these?
If a student asked me this question, during on of our M/L classes, I'd give this same answer and go from there ... ;)

It's been a few years since I shot at Friendship and doubt that the OP even knows what or where it is. Most of the time, whether hunting or target, I stay under 100yds. and that is practical for me. ... ;)

My long range RB shooter, starts work at 100yds. and at our range, we only have a max of 200yds.

Be Safe !!!

B.L.E.
January 30, 2012, 07:40 PM
Those boys that shoot at Friendship in the 200 yd round ball matches willfind that interesing that round balls stop shooting at 100 yds. Can't wait to tell them, they are waisting their time

The guys at Brady TX that shoot in the TMLRA matches also shoot 200 yard matches, but, those targets are exactly 200 yards away, each competitor puts up a whole row of wind flags down range, and the ball only needs to punch a hole in a paper target, not kill a deer, so it matters little if the residual velocity is only about 800 fps.

smith357
January 31, 2012, 12:02 AM
Before you buy a Traditions kit gun you may want to brouse the used market. traditional muzzle loaders are dirt cheap on the used market, everyone want's them new fangled inline jobs. Used T/C Hawkens are $2-300 and Lyman GPRs are often in the $300 range round these parts. I just saw a Miroku made Johnathan Browning .50 cal Hawken at the last gun show for $350. I picked up a .54 caliber Jebidiah Smith Santa Fe Hawken for $300 that was like new.

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/smith357/armory/SantaFeHawken.jpg

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y266/smith357/armory/SantaFeHawkena.jpg

tahunua001
January 31, 2012, 12:13 AM
I am actually thinking about going the used route since I'm not really looking at any serious shooting in the mean time.

Jbar4Ranch
January 31, 2012, 12:13 AM
There's a seller on gunbroker with the username SHOOTNHUNT who has been selling a bunch of Lyman Great Plains Rifles and Great Plains Hunters for $350 & $15 shipping - I bought one myself. The twist rate won't be on the gun, but if it says "Great Plains Rifle" on the barrel, it has a round ball twist of 1:66, and if it says "Great Plains Hunter", it has a 1:32 twist for conicals.

tahunua001
January 31, 2012, 12:19 AM
so explain to me the twist rates, if I'm looking at a 50 or 54 cal rifle what would be the standard weight for balls and miniballs? what are the best twist rates per weight and what is the standard powder charge?

Jbar4Ranch
January 31, 2012, 12:32 AM
A .50 cal round ball will weigh around 175 grains and normally measure .490". A .54 cal round ball weighs around 225 grains and typically measures .530". A slow twist, such as 1:60, will usually work better with round balls, while a fast twist of 1:28 or 1:32 will usually work better with conicals. Many manufacturers use a compromise 1:48 twist, which is supposed to work more or less equally well for both, which is not to say it will work optimally with either. For many years, the standard heavy hunting load in .50 cal was 90 grains, and in .54 cal it was 110 grains. With the invention of pellets, 100 grains is now pretty standard in .50 cal. A conical bullet's weight is governed by its length, and can be in excess of 400 grains. Conicals can also be in the form of sub-caliber bullets in a plastic sabot for increased velocity and range.

mykeal
January 31, 2012, 06:43 AM
The length of the projectile determines the best twist rate (or vice versa), not the weight, although for pure lead weight and length are obviously related. The longer the projectile the faster the twist rate that's needed to stabilize the round. Tailoring the loading can affect the results also - round balls can stabilize in a fast twist barrel if low powder charges are used, for instance.

Jbar4Ranch's post summarizes the 'standard' numbers, although variations are common.

Jbar4Ranch
January 31, 2012, 10:27 AM
People think the art of muzzleloading is simple and archaic, but tailoring a load is every bit as complex as with a modern cartridge gun.

kwhi43@kc.rr.com
January 31, 2012, 12:38 PM
Well By Golly you know Mykeal, Your right!;)

mykeal
January 31, 2012, 04:22 PM
Not my fault. Didn't happen on my watch.

tahunua001
January 31, 2012, 05:55 PM
Jbar4Ranch's post summarizes the 'standard' numbers, although variations are common.

I figured as much, but I figured I can add a little powder here, try a heavier bullet there, I'm just looking for a good baseline to start with.