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Old February 4, 2013, 04:45 PM   #1
chewie146
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Join Date: October 25, 2010
Location: New Mexico
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Oh Boy: Lots of BP Questions.

Hello all,

I have decided to switch to BP this year, as I'm sick and tired of all the ammo panic, and have decided to go with traditional hunts only. I only have one BP weapon, an old TC Hawken .50 that my dad built for me years ago. I have some questions about BP hunting, as I haven't shot the thing since I was 12 or 13. I'm 29 now. Yeah, yeah, I've neglected the poor thing, but it's been clean and oiled for all these years and begging for a chance for a comeback. So, here it goes:
  1. How many shots can usually be fired using Pyrodex RS and a patched RB before cleaning is necessary?
  2. Is lube necessary on all patches, regardless of charge weight?
  3. Are cast round balls that much worse than swaged?
  4. What are your cheapest sources of round balls and other ML components?
  5. How long can my rifle sit loaded and still be reliable, provided it is kept dry?
  6. Is there a way to find black powder cheaply, as nobody around here sells it?
  7. Do harder alloys make acceptable round balls, if I'm casting my own?
  8. Do Lee molds provide enough life to be worth the $20?

Well, if you've made it this far, thanks for your time.
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Old February 4, 2013, 04:53 PM   #2
Hawg
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1-depends on your patch/lube/ball combo. Some swab after three shots, some after every shot. I hardly ever do unless it gets hard to load.

2-yes patch lube is necessary.

3-nope, cast balls are just fine.

4-I make my own balls and shop around for the best prices on other stuff.

5-Forever and a day.

6-Online in bulk from Powder Inc. or Grafs. etc.

7-Not for a rifled barrel. Harder alloys do not shrink as much when cooling as pure lead does. Therefore they will be bigger and harder to load.

8-Yes, they will last a lifetime if taken care of. I have one that's over 40 years old that still makes good balls.
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Old February 4, 2013, 04:57 PM   #3
deerslayer303
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I'll try to answer some of your questions.
I quick swab the bore after every couple of shots, I can only fire about 4 times before it starts to get hard to load. Plus swabbing keeps accuracy up. Yes lube is necessary on the patch. Folks here say a home cast round ball is just as accurate as a store bought swagged one. For a source for supplies, try trackofthewolf.com, there are others but I like TOW. If your barrel is clean and dry that rifle can sit loaded virtually FOREVER and still be ok to fire, provided it is kept dry. After you load a charge, patch and ball, you can swab the bore with bore butter to keep it lubed while sitting. www.powderinc.com sells and ships as little a 5lbs of powder to your door. You MOST DEFINITELY need to use PURE lead for ML use when casting. And a Lee mold is a great product I like them. Take care of it according to the instructions and it will last you a long time.
Hope this helps.
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Old February 4, 2013, 04:59 PM   #4
deerslayer303
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Here is another source for powder, they have a cheaper brand "Diamondback" that I'm itching to try.

http://www.addictedtoblackpowder.com/index.html
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Old February 4, 2013, 05:02 PM   #5
Hawg
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I dunno how good Diamonback is. Its made in the old Elephant powder plant in Brazil. Elephant powder wasn't much good. Hopefully this isn't the same stuff remarketed.
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Old February 4, 2013, 05:26 PM   #6
maillemaker
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Quote:
How many shots can usually be fired using Pyrodex RS and a patched RB before cleaning is necessary?
It depends on what kind of bullet you are shooting. A round ball with a patch may not carry as much lube as an RCBS Hodgdon N-SSA Skrimisher bullet with a large grease groove. I find a noticeable difference in the number of shots I can fire using a "traditional" Minnie ball with small grease grooves vs. the Skirmisher bullet. However, even with traditional Minnies I can shoot at least 12-15 times without cleaning. This is typical in a N-SSA course of team shooting fire.

Quote:
Is lube necessary on all patches, regardless of charge weight?
Well, no, but your fouling will build up much faster and harder without lube. Lube keeps the fouling soft(er).

Quote:
Are cast round balls that much worse than swaged?
Lots of people shoot very good competition scores using cast round balls, even out of a smoothbore!

Quote:
What are your cheapest sources of round balls and other ML components?
I cast my own bullets/balls, but the cheapest place I've found for powder and primers is Back Creek Gun Shop in Winchester, VA.

http://www.blackpowderva.com/

It's half the price per pound of Goex that I pay here in town. Whenever we have people go to the National competition, I have them pick me up a big supply.

Quote:
How long can my rifle sit loaded and still be reliable, provided it is kept dry?
Indefinitely. There have been accounts of BP firearms found loaded after long periods of time and still functional.

From what I have read, unburned black powder is not terribly hygroscopic. BP fouling, on the other hand, is said to be.

Quote:
Is there a way to find black powder cheaply, as nobody around here sells it?
See source above.

Quote:
Do harder alloys make acceptable round balls, if I'm casting my own?
I've heard of people using harder lead for round balls for smoothbores, but most that I have read has suggested pure lead for BP arms.

I buy my pure lead from rotometals.com. I shoot into a "bullet bucket" bullet trap I made using a 5-gallon pail full of chipped rubber mulch with some sheet metal in the bottom, and I salvage most of my target shooting lead.

Quote:
Do Lee molds provide enough life to be worth the $20?
They are a good value for the money, especially their round ball molds. But the aluminum does tend to gall under wear. I have had galling under the sprue plate and it was suggested to rub the plate with graphite to lubricate it. I've also had galling with the core pin on Minnie ball molds, but I now use a steel RCBS mold for my Minnie balls.

Steve
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Old February 4, 2013, 05:56 PM   #7
10851Man
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And to think I switched back to BP to fight 'enemy combatants' on domestic soil....
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Old February 4, 2013, 07:32 PM   #8
Roshi
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Keep it dry

When hunting I used a nipple that had an o-ring around the base and a brass cover to shield the cap. I also put tape over the bore to keep the rain out.

Enjoy your rifle!
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Old February 4, 2013, 07:50 PM   #9
Hawg
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Quote:
When hunting I used a nipple that had an o-ring around the base and a brass cover to shield the cap. I also put tape over the bore to keep the rain out.
All I ever did was use a good fitting cap.
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Old February 4, 2013, 08:43 PM   #10
DD4lifeusmc
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back to the past with your hunting

(mine is under each question asked)
you wrote
Hello all,

I have decided to switch to BP this year, as I'm sick and tired of all the ammo panic, and have decided to go with traditional hunts only. I only have one BP weapon, an old TC Hawken .50 that my dad built for me years ago. I have some questions about BP hunting, as I haven't shot the thing since I was 12 or 13. I'm 29 now. Yeah, yeah, I've neglected the poor thing, but it's been clean and oiled for all these years and begging for a chance for a comeback. So, here it goes:
WELL YOU ALREADY GOT THE ANSWERS YOU NEEDED, BUT HERE'S MINE
1 How many shots can usually be fired using Pyrodex RS and a patched RB before
cleaning is necessary?
It will depend on you, your gun, hunting conditions and accuracy.
While sighting in you will find out when the time is right. Accuracy will
likely fall off and it will get too hard to push the ball home.
Before you fire the first shot sighting in, pop a couple caps first, to clean
any residual oil from the nipple, drum, chamber area.

2 Is lube necessary on all patches, regardless of charge weight?
Not absolutely if you forget or run out, but it is best.

3 Are cast round balls that much worse than swaged?
Depends on quality of each. Cast has been around a lot longer. Nothing wrong with
them.

4 What are your cheapest sources of round balls and other ML components?
Depends on the area you live in. If buying online, remember there is normally
freight added in. And hazmat fees

5 How long can my rifle sit loaded and still be reliable, provided it is kept dry?
Varies on a lot of conditions. like humidity heat cold and where stored.
Personally if I am going to load and leave set more than a month or so,
I make a paper cartridge load it whole, Helps reduce moisture
absorbtion.

6 Is there a way to find black powder cheaply, as nobody around here sells it?
Not really. Several places sell it on the internet, but by the time you pay
freight and the hazmat fee, it's not cheap. Maybe go together with several
people and buy max allowed for shipping. Or find a shooting club that shoots
BP.

7 Do harder alloys make acceptable round balls, if I'm casting my own?
In true black powder you want pure soft lead or no more than 20% alloy.
The steel in the barrels won't handle the abuse, and you will get more
leading making cleaning harder and affecting accuracy.

8 Do Lee molds provide enough life to be worth the $20?
As in anything you get what you pay for. But yes if you take care of them
they will last a long time. Keep them clean, lubed per directions.


Well, if you've made it this far, thanks for your time.

And as an add on here. You may want an extra unbreakable ramrod just in case.
If you don't have one, a round knob type ball starter and a palm saver.
makes starting a ball easier and ramming home too.

Last edited by DD4lifeusmc; February 4, 2013 at 08:52 PM.
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Old February 5, 2013, 08:54 AM   #11
chewie146
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Join Date: October 25, 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 853
Thanks for the replies, all. I think I'll stick with Pyrodex RS for now, as it's available at the wal-mart and Sportsmans in the area. I've got all the basic accessories, such as the round ball starter, a good ramrod, etc. I'm just basically trying to get a stock of ammo and relearn all those lessons I pushed out of my head.
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