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Old December 11, 2012, 04:25 PM   #1
chickenmcnasty
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.50 cal vs .54 cal rifles

Hey all. I'm just starting to look at my first muzzleloader. I want to stay away from inline and have decided on a caplock.
I see most are in 50. I will be using this with the focus on whitetail and open country muley hunts and am wondering if a .54 wouldnt be better for more knockdown/energy at some longer distances i may encounter.
Can anyone shed some light on this?

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Old December 11, 2012, 04:47 PM   #2
robhof
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robhof

I have both, but use my 50 most of the time, and have not had any problems out to 130yds with it. If I were sure I was going out for a record size deer, I may take the 54 for a little extra wallop, but my 50 has a fast twist sabot barrel and the 250 and 300 gr sabot 45's travel flat and pack plenty of knock down power. If you can, try them both and decide which is best for you. The 54 seems to kick harder and isn't as much fun for plinking.
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Old December 11, 2012, 05:19 PM   #3
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54 would be better if Elk or moose were an interest. I have a Lyman GPH 54. Wish I had the 50. Mine likes minie bullets and real black powder!
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Old December 11, 2012, 06:04 PM   #4
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I dont have the ability to shoot both. But i'm not shy of added recoil if it gives benefits downrange. I'm not sure i understand barrel twist and how it relates. It seems most 50's i see are 1:48 but i havent looked much at the .54 too see if it is different.. can you offer any insight into barrel twists and how they differ?

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Old December 11, 2012, 06:05 PM   #5
chickenmcnasty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan View Post
54 would be better if Elk or moose were an interest. I have a Lyman GPH 54. Wish I had the 50. Mine likes minie bullets and real black powder!
What are minie bullets?

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Old December 11, 2012, 07:16 PM   #6
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minie bullets or minie balls were originally used in military rifled muskets. They are conical shape with a hollow base. No patch is used - they are loaded hollow base down directly on the powder. When the gun shoots, the burning powder forms gasses that expell the bullet. In the process, the hollow base expands and "grips" the rifling.

Many of the newer BP rifles utilize a conical type slug and they are often referred to as minies by some folks.

In regards to the 50 versus the 54 - I've had both and both are good calibers. Either would certainly work on deer - if I anticipated bigger game, I'd probably go with the 54. If you cast your own balls, you aren't going to get a whole lot more of 50 caliber one 54 caliber out of a pound of lead - I've never figured it out but I suppose someone on here can tell you. Recoil - you aren't really going to notice a whole lot of difference - a lot of that is going to depend on the charges you would use in each caliber. I don't hunt anymore. I sold my custom Hawken that I made that was in 54 and I don't have the 50 caliber flinter anymore either. And yes, I do regret selling them. If I was going to get one now, I'd probably go with the 50 but that's my age speaking - more of a mental thing in regards to thinking it might be easier on my shoulder/arm - which really, it wouldn't.

Good luck in your quest and let us know what you end up with. Either way you go, have fun - that's what it's all about. As addictive as BP is, chances are you'll eventually end up with a couple of rifles - and don't forget about smaller game either - squirrels, rabbits, etc. 36 caliber is nice for such things!
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Old December 11, 2012, 07:33 PM   #7
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This time, I'll go with the .54

Quote:
I want to stay away from inline and have decided on a caplock.
First off, welcome to the forum and I like the way you think. .....
You are asking some very good questions and in the right place. Keeping in mind, that mass kills, especially when working with RB's, you will get closer to the performance you want, with the .54. Load it with a Honady Plains bullet or Max-Hunter and you have a killing combination.
Quote:
What are minie bullets?
These are classified as Conicals, using no patch or Sabots. Just a bit of lubricant.
Quote:
It seems most 50's i see are 1:48
Sadly, this is true and done so, to "somewhat" cover a range of projectiles. I look at some M/L's and they speak, 1:60 or 66. Definitely RB shooters and then read 1:48. .....
Twist as about stability where a Conical needs faster twist to stabilize and a RB, not so much. Just think about one should throw a football .... "Spin"

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Old December 11, 2012, 07:34 PM   #8
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I used a .50 for many years but now I use a .54, I wish now I'd made the switch 30 years ago. 1:48 is a good median twist for round balls and conicals but isn't ideal for either. A round ball needs a slow twist around 1:60. A conical ideally needs a faster twist around 1:32 or faster.
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Old December 11, 2012, 09:23 PM   #9
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I shoot a 45 hawken most of the time. But I also have a 54 hawken. The only difference I see between each are their measure of recoil. The recoil from my 45 feels like a gentle push felt in a 410 shotgun. On the other hand the recoil off a 54 feels more like a bruising 12 gauge. As far as bullet weight. Many times I can get by using my 45 on deer size animals. After all its ball does weigh in at whole 127 grs. But<~~> now and then a big enough deer comes along that requires something special with a little more wallop and a substantially larger ball than that 45 of mine. A 54s ball is near 230 grs. and can (near) achieve the speed of a 30-30.
A 50 cal I consider is the happy medium between the 45 and its much larger brother the 54 (the way I see it.) So anyone who has the 50-cal can harvest most North American large game animals with a well placed shot. The one item the 50 cal has over the others. Is ammo availability. Much better section for the 50-cal over the other calibers hands down. So chose wisely. After all you have to shoot it._

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Old December 11, 2012, 09:35 PM   #10
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Don't Scrimp!

Just get a .58!!! Walk tall and throw a BIG ROCK!!! Seriously If I were you and from the plans that you have a .54 would be your best bet. My GPR is in .54 and she is a gentle soul at around 60grs for range plinking. But for hunting duty you can turn up the juice.
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Old December 11, 2012, 10:39 PM   #11
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Out west you will enjoy the larger caliber. You wouldnt feel comfortable shooting an elk with a 177 grain round ball.

The 54 is great.

Im building a 58cal cva hawken right now for my new hunting rifle.
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Old December 11, 2012, 10:47 PM   #12
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Bigger ball for bigger game. Short of that, shot placement is everything. A small ball in the right place will do more than a big ball that doesn't hit anything vital.
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Old December 12, 2012, 10:35 AM   #13
chickenmcnasty
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Thank you all for the information. This is really an awesome forum with some great folks.
Is there any recommendations as to a good starter in .54? Also, what other accesories will i need to pickup?

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Old December 12, 2012, 02:01 PM   #14
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I started with a CVA .45 Kentucky in 1975. It was fine for small critters, not very much good on deer. I stepped up to a .50 CVA Mountain rifle which my Dad bought from Coast To Coast in 1977. The load for it was 100 grains FFG Goex BP pushing a Poly-Patch and round ball. It took several deer.
I no longer use the .50 cal. rifles. Now I deer hunt only with the .54 Hawken and Mountain rifles. My pet load is 100 grains FFFG Goex BP and either the 348 or 405 grain Powerbelt bullet, depending on terrain. I've not had to track any wounded game since I started with the .54. Impact is much greater than the .50.
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Old December 12, 2012, 02:52 PM   #15
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Would you recommend the kentucky or hawken style for deer hunting? Any distinct advantages that one has over the other, or is it more personal pref?

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Old December 12, 2012, 03:11 PM   #16
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This time, I'll go with the .54 Half Stock

Trying to read between the lines on your direction, I'd say to stick with a Half-Stock, as opposed to a full. The main reason is weight and a longer barrel can be more cumbersome. Don't get me wrong, there are some really dedicated folks out there, that wouldn't have anything other than a Full-Stock, rock crusher. I just don't feel you would be ready for that, with all due respect. ....

As far as a recommendation on a new one, I'd say go with a Lyman Great Plaines, Trade or Stalker. ...

Good luck and;
Be Safe !!!
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Old December 12, 2012, 04:01 PM   #17
chickenmcnasty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pahoo View Post
Trying to read between the lines on your direction, I'd say to stick with a Half-Stock, as opposed to a full. The main reason is weight and a longer barrel can be more cumbersome. Don't get me wrong, there are some really dedicated folks out there, that wouldn't have anything other than a Full-Stock, rock crusher. I just don't feel you would be ready for that, with all due respect. ....

As far as a recommendation on a new one, I'd say go with a Lyman Great Plaines, Trade or Stalker. ...

Good luck and;
Be Safe !!!
Is there any big advantages in maximum range between the two?
And i certainly won't get offended by any suggestion on what you think i may be ready for. I am very new too this and definately trust the expert opinions on the matter over my own delusions

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Old December 12, 2012, 04:18 PM   #18
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.54 balls and bullets cost more.

.54 rifles recoil more

Placement being everything, and Practice=Placement, you are going to get get more practice with a .50.

Quote:
A conical ideally needs a faster twist around 1:32 or faster.
Depends upon the length of the conical, don't it?

Very long projectiles need to be spun faster to keep them flying point forward.

Shorter projectiles, not as much.

Round balls, hardly at all.

My 1:48" .50 capgun does just fine (4" at 100 off sticks) with both Great Plains 385gr conicals or 370gr Maxiballs ...... I can't hold to that with my 1:66" .45 rocksmasher and .440 patched roundball .... glacial locktime and that damned flash in front of my face......

eta: the .45 is far more pleasant for target shooting, as well as bing challenging to operate successfully. It does not make for a good blood trail on a deer though.....
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Old December 12, 2012, 04:56 PM   #19
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The advantage in range between models often has to do with it having adjustable sights that allow it to be easily sighted in for the different points of impact along the trajectory path of the projectile.
Fixed sights aren't very easy to adjust for various distances and projectiles.
Dixie sells the Investarms .54 Hawken that's from the same maker as the Lyman guns.
It has a 1 in 48" twist, ~29" barrel, double triggers, an adjustable rear sight and a Monte Carlo cheekpiece. It's a very comfortable gun that's an exact clone of the Cabela's .50 Hawken.

http://www.dixiegunworks.com/product...0a4525addfbda3
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Old December 12, 2012, 05:51 PM   #20
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Look at the Lyman Great Plains Hunter. It has a 1:32 twist. I think it can be had 1:66 also.

A 1:32 is good for conicals like the classic Minie and Maxie bullets.
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Old December 12, 2012, 08:06 PM   #21
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Quote:
Dixie sells the Investarms .54 Hawken that's from the same maker as the Lyman guns.
It has a 1 in 48" twist, ~29" barrel, double triggers, an adjustable rear sight and a Monte Carlo cheekpiece. It's a very comfortable gun that's an exact clone of the Cabela's .50 Hawken.
Look at a Cabela's Hawken. It has the Investarms logo on it.
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Old December 12, 2012, 08:50 PM   #22
chickenmcnasty
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They seem pretty nice. They also have a 50 cal pedersoli kentucky on sale for $450. So im not sure how that compares.

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Old December 12, 2012, 10:02 PM   #23
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Hawg Haggen: Did you get another chance to go out hunting after you took that doe? (at a time in the recent past you were considering too) How's that doe's steak? (I'll bet she's a tasty one. Yes in~dee~dy)_
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Old December 12, 2012, 10:21 PM   #24
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Longrifle or Hawkins?

The longer barrel of the longrifle gives you a longer sight radius for more precise aiming.

However, its been found (Wallace Gusler told me this and that the Germans got it right the first time with their jager rifle) that 32" was about the most effective barrel length for a smokepole. Hence the extra length of the longrifle really wasn't all that practical. So, I would lead toward a shorter 32 inch barrel gun over a longrifle. It would be handier in the woods and less prone to breakage (because it is thicker).
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Old December 12, 2012, 10:39 PM   #25
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i know our cabelas hawken loves the s&w 500 bullets ive casted in the past. Those drop at 454 grains to! 70gr pyrodex RS and a lubed veg wad, tack driver at 100 yards.
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