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View Full Version : A good load for a .54 cal. Hawken


seadog28
April 19, 2012, 03:44 PM
Hi All! I just purchased anice used .54 cal. Hawken by Hastings of Clay Center Ks and I was looking for some advice on a good load for this rifle. Round ball or conical? Black powder of Pyrodex? I'll probably just punch paper for a while but sure would appreciate any help.

I've built two Kentucky flinters in .45 cal. but it's been 20 years since I messed with muzzle loaders. I feel the need to go back to the basics.

Thanks, seadog28

Hawg Haggen
April 19, 2012, 03:55 PM
The gun will decide what load it likes. I use 90 grains of Pyrodex RS with a .530 round ball and a .010 patch. Mine has a 1:66 twist. A 1:48 is decent with round ball or conical but not best for either. Anything faster will be conical only.

capper
April 19, 2012, 04:30 PM
Hawg is right. Your rifle will decide what it likes. I have a .56 cal T/C Renegade,smoothebore,that I shoot .54 cal rb's thru,and it loves em'. It doesn't care much for conicals,but I get real good groupings @ 100 yds. with the rb's. I use 100 gr Pyrodex RS,with .530 round ball,and .010 patch. Hope this helps.:)

seadog28
April 20, 2012, 04:39 PM
Thanks guys for the info. I am not sure what the rate of twist is for the Hastings barrel, can't seem to find out much info on the hastings Hawkens. I'll report my results as soon as I can get to the range.

Hawg Haggen
April 20, 2012, 04:45 PM
Put a tight fitting patch on your ramrod jag and push it to the bottom of the bore. mark the rod at the muzzle even with the front sight, Pull it out letting it turn with the rifling until you get a half turn. Mark it again and measure between the marks. Multiply X 2 and you will be pretty close to actual twist. Or you can do a quarter turn and multiply X 4.

LAH
April 21, 2012, 03:05 PM
Hawg is right. Your rifle will decide what it likes. I have a .56 cal T/C Renegade,smoothebore,that I shoot .54 cal rb's thru,and it loves em'. It doesn't care much for conicals,but I get real good groupings @ 100 yds. with the rb's. I use 100 gr Pyrodex RS,with .530 round ball,and .010 patch. Hope this helps.

What is considered good groups @ 100 yards with these smoothebores? I have no experience with these.

Hawg Haggen
April 21, 2012, 03:41 PM
A Hawken is not a smooth bore. With a slow twist and a round ball I wouldn't quit till I got at least two inch groups.

LAH
April 21, 2012, 08:59 PM
A Hawken is not a smooth bore

Yes I understand but you said:

I have a .56 cal T/C Renegade,smoothebore,that I shoot .54 cal rb's thru,and it loves em'. It doesn't care much for conicals,but I get real good groupings @ 100 yds. with the rb's. I use 100 gr Pyrodex RS,with .530 round ball,and .010 patch

I was wondering what real good groupings were at 100 yards from the .56 cal T/C Renegade smoothebore?

Sure Shot Mc Gee
April 21, 2012, 09:48 PM
LAH

You might want to check with a guy named Beagle333. He has a 56 smothie too from what I understand.

Hawg Haggen
April 21, 2012, 10:16 PM
My bad. FWIW it was Capper with the smooth bore.

Sure Shot Mc Gee
April 21, 2012, 11:23 PM
.54 cal. Hawken by Hastings of Clay Center Ks
Question: seadog28: Is this the same manufacture that makes Hastings rifled shotgun barrels too? As I've been unable to find hardly any info about your B/P rifles twist rate for some reason?

capper
April 22, 2012, 01:01 AM
LAH,I average 3"-4" groups @ 100 yds.My eyes are not what they used to be,but I put out a 9" paper plate with a 3" orange dot in the center,and 4 out of 5 will land in,or touch that circle,darn near every time. That's good enough for me.I have also spent a lot of time at the range with all of my weapons,so I have gotten to know them quite well. I feel that is probably why I shoot them well.:)

LAH
April 22, 2012, 09:21 AM
Thanks Capper. Never owned a smooth bore rifle but always wanted one. Do you cast your own RBs?

Beagle333
April 22, 2012, 10:25 AM
I have a .56 smoothie. :D It is quite fun!! I can't help with data on the 100 yard groups. My range here is only 50 yards, but I can't tell a difference in rifling vs. no rifling at that distance. Several others have told me that it matters more when you get past 70 yards, but I can't personally verify that.
I have been using 70 grains of Pyrodex P (because it's what I have) with a .550 round ball.

seadog28
April 22, 2012, 11:49 AM
Yes, Sure Shot the gun was made by the shotgun barrel maker. As I understand it they were supposed to do a run of 1000 especially for Cabelas but only wound up making 250. I think that was back in the late 90's. It is a very high quality rifle with browned furniture and barrel and a curly maple stock. It is in the original hawken style. Looks are good but if it doesn't shoot it's only wood and metal.

Hawg Haggen
April 22, 2012, 12:30 PM
Got pics?

Sure Shot Mc Gee
April 22, 2012, 12:54 PM
It is a very high quality rifle Well we got one piece of the puzzle solved. Is it a cap or flinter? Your original post doesn't say. I don't know for sure Seadog28. Maybe Haug Haggen does. On a flintlock. If one were to pull its vent liner. Could a bright light show its bore condition providing it has a pretty clean breech area not needing to be scraped? Otherwise a simple drop down its barrel type of bore light is required. It sure would be nice to try it out._:)

capper
April 22, 2012, 02:57 PM
No LAH, I don't cast my own rb's.(not yet anyway) Someday, I would like to try my hand at it.

Hawg Haggen
April 22, 2012, 03:47 PM
If it's a rendition of a true Hawken it's percussion. There's only one original Hawken flinter known to exist and none referred to historically. Not to my knowledge anyway. There probably were a few more but given the low production numbers of the percussion's I doubt it would have more than a handful if that many.

Rifleman1776
April 23, 2012, 08:41 AM
I average 3"-4" groups @ 100 yds.My eyes are not what they used to be

Capper, that is top notch championship shooting. I'll bet you are the record holder for every big match coast to coast. What were your groups when your eyes were good? Must have been one hole.
Is that bench rest or offhand shooting you are talking about?
I know even the bench rest guys with the big guns often don't group like that.
Is your house big enough to hold all your trophies?

capper
April 23, 2012, 08:50 AM
Ok Rifleman 1776. Maybe my memory is fading like my eyes.Groupings are in actuallity, more in the 6"-9" range. I get better accuracy with my T/C Encore,209/50,w/320gr. maxi-ball.MY bad.:o

Hawg Haggen
April 23, 2012, 09:54 AM
Capper, that is top notch championship shooting. I'll bet you are the record holder for every big match coast to coast. What were your groups when your eyes were good? Must have been one hole.
Is that bench rest or offhand shooting you are talking about?
I know even the bench rest guys with the big guns often don't group like that.
Is your house big enough to hold all your trophies?


http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y269/rebel727/funnies/whitekitty.jpg


I can do better than that with my Hawken benched and I dang sure ain't no competitor.

capper
April 23, 2012, 12:59 PM
I'm sure you can Hawg. Some people just don't put the time in @ the range,and actually quite suck at shooting.I actually am quite good with ALL of my weapons.I'm not a championship shooter,but I can hold my own pretty darn well.I guess some people have nothing better to do,than sit around and critisize other people. Pretty sad. Oh well, I know what I can,and can't do.No need to explain it to anybody,and that's all I have to say about that.Any more negative comments will be ignored.I know who my friends are.

bdhuntr
April 23, 2012, 01:21 PM
My most accurate load out of my Traditions Deerhunter .54 (not a true Hawken, but close enough) is 90 grains FFg Goex and a 425 grain Hornady Great Plains conical, or (better yet) a 425 grain Buffalo Bullet. The sights are crude on this rifle, but I can normally get about a 5" group at 75 yards, which is about as far as I will shoot with it.

Sure Shot Mc Gee
April 23, 2012, 02:58 PM
Well Sir's I shoot like I golf. "Many holes in one!!":cool:__ Anybody got the Nickers to beat that one? I am waiting.:D

capper
April 23, 2012, 03:05 PM
No nickers on this end Sureshot!!:o

Sure Shot Mc Gee
April 23, 2012, 03:24 PM
Your probably not quite old enough to remember Nickers capper. Old Ben Hogan sported a pair every time He was seen on the golf course. I even had a pair when I was a very little tike. How about you Hawg? You remember those days?:)

bighead46
April 23, 2012, 03:27 PM
Seadog28: I offer some advice. On a patched round ball the patch, and not the ball, contacts the bore. You therefore should not have any lead fouling. On a conical the argument is that fouling only occurs at the higher velocities but when ever I shoot conicals I get bluish streaks in the cleaning jags that indicates lead fouling. In any event, start out with patched round balls. A thicker patch may be harder to seat but often yields better accuracy.
On the powder, the substitutes are just as corrosive as black powder. Black powder ignites better and ought to be used whenever possible.
A very few hunters put a lubed wad over the powder and then put in the patched round ball. This is usually unnecessary but in a few cases the accuracy might improve. Generally you put the PRB over the powder and seat it firmly on the powder.
Regular caps are okay. Caps and nipples vary and you need a good fit. In some instances the cap may seem firmly on the nipple but might be a little too small. The first drop of the hammer just pushes the cap firmly against the nipple and the next hammer drop fires the gun.
If you swab between shots- or whenever you swab, the cleaning jag may push residue in the bore downward and plug up the hole from the nipple. SO... whenever you swab point the muzzle at some grass or sand and fire a cap to clear the flash hole. If the flash hole is cleared the blast of the cap will move the grass or sand a bit.- Then reload.
If you ever get a misfire lay the gun on a bench- the muzzle pointed down range and wait 2 or 3 minutes. If you have a CO2 dispenser you can blow out the charge and ball. If you don't you can often remove the nipple- put a few grains of powder into the drum, replace the nipple and try again- this will often fire the gun although it may have a slight delay or hangfire- hold the gun on target a while to be sure.
If the accuracy of the round ball isn't that great- try reducing the powder charge- that sometimes helps.:cool:

Hawg Haggen
April 23, 2012, 04:45 PM
I even had a pair when I was a very little tike. How about you Hawg? You remember those days?

No, just what I saw on tv movies. My dad never was into golf. They still make them tho.:eek:


http://www.golfknickers.com/category_s/57.htm?gclid=CO7TgpT4y68CFQW0nQodzi2KaQ

Hawg Haggen
April 23, 2012, 04:47 PM
My most accurate load out of my Traditions Deerhunter .54 (not a true Hawken, but close enough) is 90 grains FFg Goex and a 425 grain Hornady Great Plains conical, or (better yet) a 425 grain Buffalo Bullet. The sights are crude on this rifle, but I can normally get about a 5" group at 75 yards, which is about as far as I will shoot with it.

It will do a lot better than that.

seadog28
April 23, 2012, 06:03 PM
I'll get some pictures up later this week. Thanks for advice big head. I am anxious to get out to the range.

seadog28
April 26, 2012, 05:45 PM
I had a few minutes so I thought I would post a few pictures of the Hastings Hawken. The only info I found was that it was offered in the 1994 Cabela's catalog. Any info on the Hastings Hawken would be appreciated. Thanks!

mykeal
April 26, 2012, 09:21 PM
Nice looking gun. Thanks for the photos.

Beagle333
April 26, 2012, 09:51 PM
Wow, that's really nice! :D

seadog28
May 2, 2012, 05:26 PM
Howdy! Getting the itch to get the Hawken replica out. I am wondering what gives the best performance with a patched .54 cal. RB? Goex or Pyrodex or is it a matter of personal preference and performance. I did quite a bit of shooting with two Kentucky "flinters" I built 20 years ago, but that was all BP. Percussion is a new game to me and with only a 35" barrel. That's 7" shorter than either of Long Rifles. Thanks for the advice.

Hawg Haggen
May 2, 2012, 07:44 PM
I would prefer Goex but Pyrodex is good.

Sure Shot Mc Gee
May 3, 2012, 10:22 PM
seadog28 said: Goex or Pyrodex or is it a matter of personal preference and performance.
As I see it. It now depends on which powder {Gorex or Pyrodex} is available in your local area. I have used both in 2FF loose and have never incurred a problem in using either brand. That being said, Good luck with your decision Sir.

BDM 9MM
May 5, 2012, 04:34 PM
Seadog:

My favorite rendevzous rifle is a Santa Fe Hawken that I shot out and had to re-barrel. The new barrel is .54 Cal, 35" green mountain. I use this rife for rendezvous and use one load - 70 grains Goex 2F, .015 cotton patch, .526 pure lead ball and a handmade lube. I have the gun zeroed for 50 yds so it shoots about about flat 0-50 yds and about 1 1/4" low at 75 yds. Very few rendezvous have trail walk target set in excess of 80 yards.

As other have stated the hunt for a good load that works IN YOUR GUN is the fun part of shooting black powder. For a .54 I would start with 60 grains Goex 2F, .530 lead ball, .015 - shoot three, five shot groups at a 1" black circle at 25 yards (your not shooting for score but the best grouping) - record your results. Increase the load by 5 grains (leave all other componets as is) and shoot three more groups - record your results. Do this all the way up to 100 grains. For a .54 cal you will most likely see your rifle qroup well around 65-70 grains and then around 90-95 grains. Once you have found what powder charge your rifle likes try different balls with those two powder charges .535, .530, .526. And last using the best powder charge and best ball size change the patch thickness .020, .018 & .015 I do not like to use below .015 due to patch blowout.

Remember to only change one componet at a time and record all of your results. If you go to a shoot and shoot the trail walk with 5 other good shooters, all shooting the same caliber, you will likely find them all shooting different loads.

A good source for muzzleloading trajectories is the fine work by B.E. Spencer. His web site is insightbb.com

Best of luck in your search! Dan

seadog28
May 6, 2012, 01:14 PM
Thanks BDM 9MM. Like you said finding out what load works best is all half the fun! It took several trips to the range when I was working up a load for my .45 cal. Kentucky for the 100 yard distance. 3 1/2 in. groups was about the tightest I could put togther from a rest. I can't find any preformance data on the Hastings made barrel so I am anxious to see how the rifle performs. The worst part of the whole deal is the hour and twenty minute drive to the range. Not many choices when you live around Chicago.

Enjoy the remainder of the weekend!!

WALKERsD210
June 25, 2012, 09:08 PM
I have one that I've had for a while, its been over a year since I shot mine and then only 3 round. Wish I could remember the load I used but best I remember it was around 90-95 g of BP with .530 rb. As for looking for more information I have bounced off walls every where but I did find one listed on a Gun Sale type web site, the price that I saw in the bids was around $1100 or so. The seller listed that it was made exclusively for Cabela's with only 250 completed, and they listed around $1299 in the mid 90's.

B.L.E.
June 26, 2012, 10:37 PM
I have shot sub 2 inch groups at 100 yards with a 1 in 48 twist "compromise" barrel using patched round balls, however, the wind has to calm and the light has to be steady. On a cloudy day, when you shoot in the cloud's shadow, your point of impact will be different than when shooting in direct sunlight, and even a gentle crosswind can drift a roundball several inches at 100 yards.

Keep this in mind before you blame the load or barrel when you are attempting to shoot a 2 inch group at 100 yards.

The benchrest shooters put up a row of wind flags downrange and watch them and wait until the wind conditions are ideal before shooting.