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Old June 14, 2008, 05:55 PM   #1
Sarge
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200-yard "roundball" gun

I drug old Santa Fe out for some 200 yard work today. My back sight is a little loose and until I tighten that up or replace it, I'm not worrying much about zero... so the object was to just get it on paper at 200 yards so we could see how she'd shoot Hornady .54 ball at that distance. The set-up looked like this:



As soon as the first shot landed in the bottom-right corner, I started shooting for groups. I shot with two different patches; one tight and one almost loose. Caps were CCI No. 11 Magnums; charge was 75 grains of Triple Seven, thrown from a flask.

Set trigger was used for all shots except the one at low-left, marked "Flyer-Early!" Duh. That was supposed to be the first shot of the second group, but I 'set' the front trigger before I had the sight picture perfected. "Surprise, Gomer! Big rifle go BOOM right now, when you pull FRONT trigger." When I got done laughing at myself, I ignored that shot and fired three more.



The WAY tight patch resulted in the ball being deformed (flat spot) from driving it into the muzzle. That group is the holes marked '1' and it spans 7 3/4 inches.

Oddly, the loose patch shot to the same POI and considerable better at 6 1/2 inches, discounting the flyer.

All seven shots went into just over 9 inches- not too bad for a old round-ball gun with primitive sights.

Believe I have a shooter here.
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Last edited by Sarge; June 15, 2008 at 05:27 PM. Reason: de gramma!
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Old June 14, 2008, 06:19 PM   #2
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Not bad for round balls.
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Old June 14, 2008, 06:53 PM   #3
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Have you established the 75 grains as your optimum load for this Sante Fe? Assuming you are still using 2F. Very good shooting !!!!

Be Safe
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Old June 14, 2008, 10:13 PM   #4
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That's pretty good shootin there bud, you'd sure keep their heads down with shootin like that.

Makes me want to see what I can do at that range one day.
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Old June 14, 2008, 11:54 PM   #5
Sarge
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Thanks, guys.

Pahoo, I'm just using 75 grains because that's what the current tube on the flask throws.It's certainly shooting better than I can hold it.

I think since it shot pretty well with the looser patch, I'm going to see how loose of a patch I can use, w/o sacrificing accuracy.

Next patching experiment? Blue WalMart shop towels treated with Wonder Lube or cheap vegetable oil. Does that scream CHEAP! or what? I'll post back here with results.
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Old June 15, 2008, 12:31 AM   #6
4V50 Gary
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If you adjusted the sights, your group would qualify you as a Berdan Sharp Shooter.
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Old June 15, 2008, 05:22 AM   #7
FL-Flinter
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Well, well, well....another one who's gonna get flamed for suggesting that patches may not need to be so tight that you need a 3# hammer to drive it down the bore in order to get accuracy.... watch out Sarge, you'll be taking heavy flak from all directions if you mention this topic in the wrong company.

This is something I've harped on for years yet got hammered everytime I suggested that one need not have an extremely tight patch/ball combo to obtain acceptable or even better accuracy.

Think about the concept, a sphere, being the perfect projectile as far as accurate flight is concerned, the more you deform it, the less accurate it will be. (Maybe I missed it but I didn't see what twist rifling you've got in this one - doesn't matter for this topic but I'm curious.) Anyway, if you're trying to stuff a bushel into a peck basket, something has to give somewhere. If you're beating on the ball to get it down, you're deforming the ball out of a ball shape, could be you're pounding the nose down or oblonging the entire projo but nonetheless, you're changing the shape further away from the sphere it's intended to be.

The patch need only be so tight as to provide a positive gas seal, if it's tight enough to seal the gas, it's plenty tight enough to grip the rifling provided the rifling groove depth is sufficient for the patch to grip. The only other issue is that the patch itself is of sufficient strength to withstand both the ingoing and outgoing stresses and of course that the bore is in sound condition that it's not cutting/shredding the patches.

Every barrel is different though and what works in one may not be worth a wad of spit on a forest fire in another one and this is far more prevalent in the medium and shallow groove depth button & broach rifled barrels of production guns. A barrel with 0.004" or shallower grooves isn't going to give the same gripping power or room for patch material as medium depth bore with 0.0065" deep grooves - when you get into a 0.010"+ deep groove single point cut barrel, you have a lot more options and will usually find quite a number of different combinations that work equally well.

The problem then lies in finding the combination that works in the particular barrel you have. Let's just assume for sake of discussion purposes that the barrel is perfect, no tight/loose spots or areas where the button or broach wandered for whatever reason. Experience and theory tell us that a shallow groove barrel will usually perform best with minimal patch material thickness. The reason for this is because there is less room for the patch material and the thinner the patch, the less likely that it will not load evenly.

When you go to a deep groove single point cut barrel, you will likely find that a 0.535" ball will work fine with a 0.013" - 0.015" thick patch just the same as a 0.530" ball will work fine with a 0.018" - 0.020" patch.

I would suggest you avoid the "Blue WalMart shop towels" simply because they are a paper synthetic blend and with the black powder burning at 3990°F, you can expect to get synthetic deposits in the bore that will be very difficult to clean.
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Old June 15, 2008, 09:10 AM   #8
Sarge
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Thanks, Fl-Flinter,

There won't be any 535's shot through this rifle. Like most of these eye-tallion 54's, mine is really a' 53' anyhow; you'd have to push a .530 ball down the bore even w/o a patch. If you drop a naked .530 on ol' Santa Fe's muzzle, it just sits there on the lands. It does have good, deep rifling though which I consider a big 'plus' in any BP or cast-bullet rifle.

Truth be told, I image those old-time riflemen didn't adopt anything that made the rifle harder or slower to load. I've read plenty that leads me to believe that they often didn't bother with a patch at all, when a hurried 2nd shot was needed.
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Old June 15, 2008, 10:19 AM   #9
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I'd get a powder measure and not load directly from the flask. All it'll take is one glowing ember left in the bore to turn that flask into a grenade. Wal Mart sells pillow ticking pretty cheap.
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Old June 15, 2008, 10:10 PM   #10
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Sarge,

It's more than likely a 13.5mm bore, most from Italy are simply because the common size reamer is easier to obtain (0.5315"). Nothing wrong with it and yes it's quite common for the Italian and some other foreign gun bore to run on the tight side but some run on the loose side too, .62 cal's usually measure out at 0.630" (16mm). Lyman .50 cal's have a 0.502" bore (12.75mm) Of course, none of this really means a hill-o-beans because you're fudging the fit with the patch anyway - the only time it really becomes an issue is when they run a 10mm reamer for a .40 caliber Which leaves the bore at 0.3937" and a 0.390" ball is difficult to get down even with a very thin patch.
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Old June 15, 2008, 11:10 PM   #11
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Hawg,

A powder measure isn't a bad idea and I'll probably get anyhow, just to track accuracy and POI with a little more precision, if nothing else. I loaded straight from a flash for decades but the fact remains that it isn't the best practice. Your point is well taken.

FL,

I appreciate the info on the bore sizes. I dug the mics out today and went to work on the patching I had been using. The troublesome patch (in this rifle at least) mic'ed .020" and the good one mic'ed .010". Fortunately there are plenty of the latter available everywhere, and they're probably the cheapest part of BP shooting. I'll be ordering a bunch of .010 pre-lubed since right now the time is harder to budget than the little dab of money the patches cost. Ball is a different story...time to start hunting a mold or two, and not just for BP shooting, either. Bullets of any kind are crazy-high right now and it's not taken me long to burn 60 ball, while sorting this old gun out.
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Old June 16, 2008, 03:56 AM   #12
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Quote:
I loaded straight from a flash for decades but the fact remains that it isn't the best practice.
Neither is loading six up in a revolver but I've done that for decades too.
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Old June 16, 2008, 11:40 AM   #13
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FL,

You asked earlier about twist and as near as I can tell, it is at least 1:66 or maybe a tad slower.

4V50 Gary- Thanks for the 'Berdan' comment. Now that I see it'll shoot, you can bet I'm going to cut a 200-yard step on that sight elevator. I got the windage pretty well ironed-out yesterday, between T-storms.
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Old June 16, 2008, 11:54 AM   #14
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Windage adjustment , will drive you nuts with a round ball at 200 yards . The round ball being lighter than say a Buffalo bullet or a minnie or any bullets in the 400gr / 500 gr weight will be affected by the wind different every day there is a breeze blowing .
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Old June 17, 2008, 05:21 AM   #15
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1:66 is good, at least it's not too fast.

I'm going to second Hawg's comment on the powder measure too, when you start punching paper at those distances, you need accurate measurements. Another thing, get rid of that fake powder and burn the real thing!

Sundance,

Weight isn't the cause of windage issues at long ranges with PRB's, it projectile shape. While a perfect sphere will fly strait without requiring any twist on it to remain stable, it has a considerable drag ratio that causes the rapid velocity losses. The drag works both ways slowing the forward velocity as well as allowing cross winds to work on it rather easily. Take a 0.535" round ball, it weighs roughly 231 grains, that same weight arranged into a conical bullet shape has much less surface area for crosswinds to work on and thus has a lower loss ratio. Windage issues can be somewhat countered by increasing velocity but they will still be evident when you're stretching the range.
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Old June 17, 2008, 05:51 AM   #16
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Thanks Sarge, thanks alot! after reading about your fifle and looking at the pics Im falling deeper into the black powder hole!


Rich
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Old June 17, 2008, 10:00 AM   #17
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Flinter / try a 40cal PRB and a 54cal PRB at 200 yards on the same day and see if ball weight isn`t affected by a wind drift differently ..and they are both round .
Shooting the 45/70 BPR with lighter 300 gr bullets will be affected more by wind drift than the much heavyer 500 gr bullet..and both bullets the same shape .
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Old June 17, 2008, 10:20 AM   #18
Sarge
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Glad you enjoyed it, new4me. You can click on the highlighted 'Santa Fe' in the opening post, for the back-story on the gun.

I am inclined to agree with Sundance on the issue of projectile weight. My brother & his wife shot BP matches pretty regular for a number of years and they will both tell you that 54's trounced the smaller guns during matches on breezy days.

Flinter, I am down to my last flask of 777 and may well replace it with Goex FF; but 777 obviously shoots well and you can shoot for hours w/o the barrel fouling up to the point that it loads hard- and cleanup is a breeze. Neither of us should be surprised if my 'lazy streak' wins out in the end.
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Old June 18, 2008, 06:51 AM   #19
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Sundance,

I see I really didn't write out my thoughts clearly or completely.... Yes, you're correct that a .54 will usually smoke a smaller caliber on a breezy day at long range and yes, that is all about projo weight - no disagreement from me on that.

What I was trying to say and didn't get around to it is .... you can't change the weight of a round ball for a given bore - well, okay you can by changing the alloy but assuming we're doing apples to apples the alloy is almost pure lead. Yes, the more mass the ball has, the less the likely crosswind will change its flight path but the potential for it's path to be changed remains the same as for a smaller diameter ball. Velocity plays a major roll too because the longer the ball is in the air, the more time the wind has to work upon it - also if the ball remains supersonic through the flight, wind will be much less a factor. Thus, weight alone is not the sole determining factor.

We can't compare round ball to conical bullets since the weight of a round ball for a given bore size cannot be increased. You are correct, a 300gr bullet in the .45-70 will dance around on the wind but there is a two-fold issue with that. First issue is that the bullet is too short for its diameter which makes it very susceptible to yaw and with yaw usually comes the corkscrew flight path. Even though it can remain supersonic for the duration of the flight, crosswinds can have more of an effect on it not only because of its lower mass but also because of the increased drag created by the yaw.

If you were to compare two 300gr bullets of different diameter, you would see that neither will react the same to the same crosswind. Say a 0.458" diameter 300gr bullet is blown 10" right at 200 yards by the crosswind yet a 300 grain bullet fired at the same velocity from a 0.338" will only drift 1" right in the same crosswind. The difference comes in that conical bullets need to be of a minimum length for their caliber in order to fly correctly with or without any crosswind, thermal currents or headwind.
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Old June 18, 2008, 07:20 AM   #20
Raider2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FL-Flinter
Sundance,

I see I really didn't write out my thoughts clearly or completely.... Yes, you're correct that a .54 will usually smoke a smaller caliber on a breezy day at long range and yes, that is all about projo weight - no disagreement from me on that.

What I was trying to say and didn't get around to it is .... you can't change the weight of a round ball for a given bore - well, okay you can by changing the alloy but assuming we're doing apples to apples the alloy is almost pure lead. Yes, the more mass the ball has, the less the likely crosswind will change its flight path but the potential for it's path to be changed remains the same as for a smaller diameter ball. Velocity plays a major roll too because the longer the ball is in the air, the more time the wind has to work upon it - also if the ball remains supersonic through the flight, wind will be much less a factor. Thus, weight alone is not the sole determining factor.

We can't compare round ball to conical bullets since the weight of a round ball for a given bore size cannot be increased. You are correct, a 300gr bullet in the .45-70 will dance around on the wind but there is a two-fold issue with that. First issue is that the bullet is too short for its diameter which makes it very susceptible to yaw and with yaw usually comes the corkscrew flight path. Even though it can remain supersonic for the duration of the flight, crosswinds can have more of an effect on it not only because of its lower mass but also because of the increased drag created by the yaw.

If you were to compare two 300gr bullets of different diameter, you would see that neither will react the same to the same crosswind. Say a 0.458" diameter 300gr bullet is blown 10" right at 200 yards by the crosswind yet a 300 grain bullet fired at the same velocity from a 0.338" will only drift 1" right in the same crosswind. The difference comes in that conical bullets need to be of a minimum length for their caliber in order to fly correctly with or without any crosswind, thermal currents or headwind.
Very well written my friend & I will add what is in the Lyman Black Powder book...

A Round Ball is like a Bumble Bee, round & aerodynamically incorrect in all ways for flight but the Bumble Bee doesn't know that it can't fly it just does, just like the Round Ball doesn't know it can't fly but it does with limitations.
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Old June 18, 2008, 07:26 AM   #21
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The June edition of Muzzle Blasts lists the results of Rick Weber's long range muzzle loader match at the Oak Ridge Sportsmen's Association range in Oak Ridge, TN.

Rick mentions in the body of the report that almost all of the shooters were shooting .45 cal rounds with 70 to 90 grains of 2f. He did not say of they were round balls or conicals. The matches are held at 300, 600 and 1000 yards. Fourteen of the top twenty finishers shot Pedersoli Gibbs rifles, which are only available in .40 and .45 caliber.
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Old June 18, 2008, 08:17 AM   #22
Jim Watson
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Quote:
Fourteen of the top twenty finishers shot Pedersoli Gibbs rifles, which are only available in .40 and .45 caliber.
Those are fast twist bullet guns, successors to the Whitworth.
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Old June 18, 2008, 09:21 PM   #23
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Quote:
Fourteen of the top twenty finishers shot Pedersoli Gibbs rifles, which are only available in .40 and .45 caliber.
I reccon it's time I send one of my bullet rifles out there.
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Old June 22, 2008, 10:25 PM   #24
Sarge
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Just a quick note to the thread...

Since the rifle had shown a preference for 0.010 patches, I picked up 100 'Ox Yoke' prelubed with '1000 Plus'...at six cents apiece they should do all they advertise and mow your lawn too. I was expecting good things since they loaded easy, looked to be the right thickness, etc.

I have been cutting a 200-yard step on the sight elevator and wanted to check it for zero today. I loaded carefully, seated uniformly and paid particular attention to sight picture, clean break and all the stuff that makes little groups instead of big ones. Shooting on a backer as shown in the first post, shots were literally all over the paper. I thought it was me so I shot another string with the same results. My groups looked like a riot gun patterned with 00 buck at 35 yards. I usually shoot way better than that at 200, even with irons; but I thought maybe I was just having a bad day.

Finally it occurred to me that the only thing different was the patches. I grabbed 3 of the 0.020's I was shooting in post #1, and ripped off 3 shots with the sun setting in the trees behind my backstop. Those 3 rounds went into 10 inches- not the best group I've fired with this rifle but way better than I was getting with the Ox Yokes- which are probably great patches. The resident .50 may shoot them just fine.

But the fact is that ol' Santa Fe don't like them- not even a little bit. It just goes to show that little changes can make big accuracy difference- for the better or worse.
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Old June 24, 2008, 10:44 PM   #25
FL-Flinter
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0.010" difference in patch thickness is a considerable change - when working target loads, a 0.002" thickness change and sometimes just a 10 point difference in thread count of the patch material is enough to screw up the works.

What kind of sights do you have on that rifle? I should actually specify what's the width of the front sight and does its shape mate/contrast with the rear? Reason for asking is that the front sight width/shape can give you alot of sighting error as the range gets longer as can when the front & rear don't compliment each other according to your eye.
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