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Old May 7, 2013, 08:30 AM   #1
Rifleman1776
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Sharps won't shoot

I'm posting this for a friend lacking in computer skills.
He has a heavy barreled Pedersoli Sharps in 45-70. Very little use until a couple days ago.
Friend is a very experienced shooter and gunsmith. He regularly wins at other types of matches. I believe shooter screw-up is not part of the equation.
At a benchrest black powder cartridge match recently, all targets at 100 yards, he was not able to get the Sharps to print decently at all. Many of the hits on paper showed tumbling. Ten targets, ten shots each, all but one looked like shotgun hits. Many of the holes were outside the scoring rings at the edge of the 30" targets. One target did have about 5 hits in the ten rings, the rest were all over the place.
He was using 405 gr. hard lead cast bullets he cast and loaded himself with real bp.
He did report the barrel has very shallow grooves but was smooth when observed and a patch run down the bore.
I'm not experienced with this type of gun or shooting. But, it does cause me to recall a Marlin lever rifle I once had that simply would not shoot cast bullets. If the were not jacketed they were all over the county. That rifle had the infamous 'micro groove' rifling.
Any input to help my friend would be appreciated.

Last edited by Rifleman1776; May 7, 2013 at 03:20 PM.
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:27 AM   #2
Rigmarol
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If your friend is an experienced caster then this probably doesn't apply as he should already know it;

He should slug is barrel to determine it's diameter then add .002 to get the diameter his bullets should be sized to.

Then he needs to be sure his lube is not failing him. Lot's of home recipies for lube, tallow based seems very popular.

Keyholing has happened to me in my .45-70 sharps shooting the .405gn bullet. And I was barely able to hit the target backer board at 100yards. I feel your friend's frustration.

I moved to a heavier bullet, a lube wad under the bullet over both Black Powder and 777 and dramatically improved my own results.

So, it may be sizing and lube, or it may need a heavier bullet.

Good luck.

Last edited by Rigmarol; May 7, 2013 at 12:50 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:27 AM   #3
Doc Hoy
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Because of his experience.....

....which exceeds mine by about ten miles, I am reluctant to even mention these things, but then not knowing what I am talking about never impeded me from speaking.

I wonder about the sizing of the bullets coupled with the way in which the bullets were dropped.

I don't know where that rifle slugs out. But with microgroove rifling, the size of the bullet in comparison with the actual bore dimensions might be critical.

Also....(And this is also because I am ignorant) is it possible that softer bullets might be better in that rifle?

Your friend obviously knows more about it than I do, so he will be able to quickly eliminate these factors from consideration.
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:30 AM   #4
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If the bullets are tumbleing it may fouling matainence.. But more than likely, his bullets are too hard...this was the cause of tumbeling in my 45-120.

This is most likely the case, because a soft(er) bullet will obturate..and they seem to be able to handle more fouling..

Anealing cases will sometimes cut a groups size in half or better....but that is not causing the tumble.
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Last edited by freedom475; May 7, 2013 at 04:50 PM.
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:48 AM   #5
Noz
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The Spencer is a lever action rifle that loads thru the butt.
My recollection says that the "new" ones are only in 45 Colt.
The old one were 56-50s.

I just looked at Taylor's page and the "new" Spencers by Pedersoli are 56-50 or 45 Colt.
So whatever the 45-70 is it is not a Spencer.
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:21 PM   #6
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My mistake. Brain fart. It is a Sharps Quigley model.
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
My mistake. Brain fart. It is a Sharps Quigley model.
Exactly what I have.
Keep us informed please.
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Old May 7, 2013, 04:44 PM   #8
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I would try pure lead. Bp does not need hard lead no matter the powder charge
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Old May 7, 2013, 04:59 PM   #9
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Check the crown for fouling or damage. Also the 405 is too short for that rifle. The lyman postel 535 should work better. I have 2 c-sharps in 45-70 and I gave up on the 405 yrs ago. Another problem would be the lube, should be useing spg or lyman black powder gold, don't use any petroleum products.
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Old May 7, 2013, 06:42 PM   #10
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So many things to deal with.
Hard cast is not the best, but pure lead is mostly for paper patched bullets.
20:1 lead:tin is good, antimonial lead can be made to work but keep it simple.
Bullet diameter should be groove diameter at least, better a thou or two over, best at throat diameter.
He needs black powder lube, there are homebrews, but SPG and DGL are good to buy.
405 gr is light but should not tumble regardless. A lot of silhouette shooters will use a lighter bullet for the 200 meter chickens.

Powder charge should be compressed, a little for Swiss, a lot for Goex. I don't know the recommendations for other brands, but some for sure. Done with a compression die, not by cramming a soft lead bullet down with the seating die.
Powder should be settled by loading through a long drop tube even before compression.
The Goex recommendation was to fill the case full of loose powder, and weigh that amount. When loaded with drop tube and compression die so the bullet can be seated al the way down on the wad, with no air space but not squashing the bullet, he has a good starting place. Weigh your loads or use a GOOD measure. Those brass muzzleloader thingies are not accurate enough.
He needs a hard card wad over the powder, I use Walters veg fiber.

Real black is best. I knew one guy who got good accuracy with Pyrodex. One.
Other fakes are not allowed by NRA and not worth fooling with anyhow.

Brass should be sized, expanded, and flared to avoid scraping the lead bullet. Some shooters put on a bit of crimp, I don't.
Starline brass needs annealing before use and it can help others.

The old recommendation for magnum primers with black is out of date. CCI BR or Federal Match are good, there is some use of pistol primers.

Accuracy with BPCR requires fouling control. A blow tube into the chamber throat and four or five breaths through it between shots will keep fouling soft.
Or wipe between shots, a damp patch and a dry patch between shots is a starting place.
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Old May 7, 2013, 08:18 PM   #11
4V50 Gary
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Let's start with simple steps

First thing I'd check is the muzzle. How's the crown?

Next is the barrel. Is it screwed on tightly to the receiver?

How about the sights? Any movement?
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Old May 7, 2013, 08:26 PM   #12
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45-70

I had a Pedersoli Gemmer Sharps, with factory ammo it shot great. I tried the 405gr cast bullets, I forget now the load but it was with smokeless powder, and I had bullets that would tumble too. I had a problem with the crimp sometimes. I never tried blackpowder loads.
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Old May 7, 2013, 08:59 PM   #13
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There are some great suggestions here...but things like lube, primers, annealing, bullet weight/size, powder charge, etc is what you change to "tweak" a load.

If you are tumbleing bullets...they are too hard.

Even if they are too small, they will bump-up with black powder..."if" they are soft enough.
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Old May 7, 2013, 09:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Check the crown for fouling or damage. Also the 405 is too short for that rifle. The lyman postel 535 should work better. I have 2 c-sharps in 45-70 and I gave up on the 405 yrs ago. Another problem would be the lube, should be useing spg or lyman black powder gold, don't use any petroleum products.
I had two Pedersoli Sharps rifles and they both shot 405g bullets great. With very low velocity loads they would tumble. Bumping up the charge made a huge difference in accuracy. I've had groups under an inch with mine on occasion. Typically they would be just over an inch off bags from a bench.
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Old May 8, 2013, 09:41 PM   #15
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I've had groups with my Uberti/Pedersoli Sharps at 500 yards so small people roll their eyes and walk away when I tell them about it. Ironically, it shoots better than my Shiloh. I use a 535 grain Postell over lightly compressed Swiss 1.5 touched off with a Federal 215 primer and a blow tube between shots.

freedom475 - I picked up a .45-120 a couple years ago, and haven't done anything with it yet other than fireform 60 cases. What are you using in yours?
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Old May 8, 2013, 11:01 PM   #16
freedom475
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I sold my 120 a while ago...When I first started with it I tried a lot of things.... It was very frustrating!!

The 500gr bullets I had cast from WW's, with a full case of Goex 2ff, tumbled supper bad if the bore was fouled at all. You could hear them tumbleing through the air...it was a really eirie sound

I tried about everything and found that a 550gr 20:1 SPG lubed bullet shot very well. But it was more work to load and expensive since I bought the 550's comercially...and the 120 will eat a lot of powder.

Since I wasn't competeing with it, and just wanted it to shoot without a lot of fuss, I found a load I could shoot all day and never even worry about the fouling.

The load was 70gr 2ff Goex lit-off by a 10gr Unique kicker, a thin cardboard wad (punched from a Hornady bullet box) pushed down on the powder with a wood dowel, and a stack of felt wads to the base of the bullet. This combination seemed to shoot anything well. I even used 1000's of the very hard-cast 500gr LaserCast slugs with the crayon lube with good success. This load would go into 1" at 100 off the bench and printed around 12" on the steel buffalo at 500yrds off the x-sticks.

I let a friend shoot it off the bench one time at 100yrds. (with the Laser Cast 500gr). His first shot was about 1/2" outside of the bull...he shot two more shots and everyone started teasing him because they all thought he was missing the target completely because throught the scope you could see that there was still only one hole in the target.

I reached over and gave the windage knob a litte turn on the Venier and his next shot drilled the blue thumb tack that I had stuck in the center of the X...Little shards of blue plastic were stuck in the target backer.

But the big Quigley rifle was just to heavy for packing and hunting, so I went back to the old 45-70 Billy Dixon...and have been really happy with it.


I Just now got in from shooting it... With 68gr 2ff Kik, compressed .285", a.030 gasket wad, and a 30:1 535gr.Postell seated to the last lube groove in a Rem case, 4 breaths. It just put 5 shots through the 300yrd target, off the bench, that measured 1 3/4"tall by 2 1/2" wide.....But the load totally fell apart at 820yrds..so i guess more shooting is in order.

The Sharps it the most fun you can have!




This is my 700yrd target...yeah only one hole...but the sight setting looks good! You can't really see the white Ram but it is at 887...and there is a few antelope just to the right of the Sharps forend on the knoll.
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Last edited by freedom475; May 8, 2013 at 11:15 PM.
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Old May 9, 2013, 05:53 PM   #17
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I love Montana. Were your pictures taken anywhere near the Centennials?
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Old May 16, 2013, 09:11 AM   #18
freedom475
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^^^^^Ha, you are pretty darn close....it is about 35 miles north of the Centennial.
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Old May 16, 2013, 09:29 AM   #19
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Shot a Creedmor match a while back. 800, 900, & 1000.

Figured I need as much velocity as possible, plus I used hard bullets and heavy crimp.

Yeap, my bullets whissled through the air, sounded like a buzz saw.

I was shooting with some national champion BPCR shooters who got me lined up.

At their request I switched to soft pure lead, got my velocity between 1100 and 1200 and stop crimping the bullets. These guys seat the bullets by had just before they are loaded in the gun.

It made a huge difference. Like a whole new rifle.
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Old May 16, 2013, 10:31 AM   #20
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Couple other things that really helped with my accuracy was to switch to Large Pistol primers, to Anneal the cases, and to only neck size a little ...I watched my groups go from 10"+/- at 300yds to less then 3" with just this simple change.

I have found that by useing unsized, fire formed 45-70 cases and raising the powder charge to 74gr 2f KIK compressed .3, behind the 535Postel, that the load holds together better at longer 800yrd+ ranges. I am sure that the velocity increase has played a large role in keeping things stable past 500yds.
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Old May 18, 2013, 05:31 PM   #21
reinert
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R1776,

What Jim Watson said; good info there. Also, make sure you don't have a leading issue. Just a very few shots leaving lead in the bore will totally destroy accuracy. Shiloh Creek Bore Solvent works very well at removing lead. Tight cotton patches, using the proper jag, well-wetted with the solvent, will let you know quickly if leading is a concern in your rifle. Use a bore guide, too. I've literally used a rubber hammer to drive the rod through the bore to get the lead out.

I have a 45/90 that I shot "as cast" bullets in it when I got it, and it leaded so badly, that after 3 shots, my accuracy at 50 yds. was like a shotgun pattern (7-8 inches off the bench). Those bullets were right at .459" out of the mould. When I sized them down to .458", the gun started performing, and very well I might add, and NO LEADING; problem solved. That bullet is a Buffalo Arms, Creedmoor, 540 grainer.

I also have a 45/70 Shiloh Sharps, and I use only black powder in it for the charge (my 45/90 gets only black, too). I don't have to size the bullets in that one, and it shoots wonderfully. What I use for a load in that one is:

Fire-formed WW cases (case length is 2.95"), CCI BR-II primers, Lyman Postell bullet "as cast" using a 20:1 lead/tin alloy, 68 grns. of GOEX 2fg black powder. Though I can't remember the compression measurement, the bullet is seated out of the cartridge case to where it engages the rifling about half-way through that first driving band on the bullet when the breech is closed. I use a .030" veggie wad over the powder, and a newsprint disc over that, which the base of the bullet rests against. I also use a newsprint disc over the primer on the inside of the case. Be sure to use a good lube on the bullet, too. On this load, one grease groove is exposed on the loaded cartridge. Oh, yeah, cases after fire-forming are neck-sized only. I use a Redding neck-sizer, and a Buffalo Arms custom expander plug. I size only as much as the bullet seats in the case.

Your O.A.L. using this load in your rifle will determine how much compression you'd use (get a compression plug; don't use the bullet to compress the load), and, with the bullet engaged in the rifling as before mentioned, your O.A.L. will be determined for your rifle. Good blow-tubing is also a must with black powder loads.

Hope this helps a bit, and good luck with working up a load for your Sharps!

reinert

P.S. I also use a Lyman mould (457193) that casts a bullet @ 410 grns. using the 20:1 alloy. It also shoots very well in my 45/70, and I've used it for hunting with excellent results.
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Old June 2, 2013, 04:47 AM   #22
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I own two Shiloh Sharps variations and both shoot great. I had an experience once with a Pedersoli that soured me about the brand. I obtained a used by unfired 45/90 that looked just beautiful. It should have just adorned a wall somewhere, because it sure wasn't built to shoot. I loaded up my normal black powder loads and some smokeless just for fun. From a bench I started at 25 yards and found a good solid 8 inch group with either loads. I went home, cleaned the rifle and slugged the barrel...and this is where the surprise came in...it slugged 452 !! That's right, 45 Colt diamater. How something like this gets out of the factory amazes me, but I have probably been more than mildly critical of some of the imports quality over the years. I did own a Pedersoli full stock muzzleloader once that shot acceptable groups once....not great, but acceptable. I have shot many muzzleloaders over the years and watch some of the guys with Pedersoli's tinkering with them on the shooting lines at the matches trying to get them to shoot...and there may be exceptions, but as a rule they just don't compete with good stuff. They do look nice though......
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Old June 2, 2013, 03:16 PM   #23
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I don't have a Sharps . . . but I have to tell you guys that I've sure learned a lot following this thread! Some very interesting information!

And freedom475 . . . the only thing prettier than that Sharps in your photo is the fantastic landscape behind it! I could sit and look at that all day long!
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Old June 2, 2013, 05:12 PM   #24
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Quote:
And freedom475 . . . the only thing prettier than that Sharps in your photo is the fantastic landscape behind it! I could sit and look at that all day long!
Amen to that. I'm thinkin wallpaper.
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