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Old March 15, 2014, 04:33 PM   #1
2damnold4this
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Patched round ball accuracy

I'm looking for suggestions on improving accuracy from an old kit gun I was given. It's a .45 caliber Kentucky style rifle with "Spain" marked on the barrel. I replaced the powder drum and nipple on it with one meant for a CVA sidelock but this involved drilling the hole larger and tapping new threads. The bore was a bit rusty and is somewhat pitted.


This is my first try with a patched round ball rifle so I ordered some .445 cast balls and used some patches meant for cleaning .22 caliber rifles that I greased with Crisco. This was loaded over 45 grains of Pyrodex. At twenty five yards, I could only hit a paper plate with it five out of ten shots. I'm used to shooting in the same hole at that range with an inline muzzle loader shooting conicals using open sights, so I don't think it was me.

Any suggestions for a newbie? What can I do to get this thing to shoot as well as my snub nosed .38?
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Old March 15, 2014, 05:03 PM   #2
g.willikers
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You might need thicker patch to ensure a tight fit of patch and ball to the rifling.
Pillow ticking from a fabric store works well.
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Old March 15, 2014, 05:14 PM   #3
Captchee
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as was said , you may need a thicker patch .
since you stated that the bore was pitted . I would collect some of the patches and take a look as to what its doing by reading the patches .. I would also take a look at the crown of the muzzle . Make sure all the rifling come out clean and of the same depth .
Also instead of trying to hit a plate at 25 yards . Place you a big piece of cardboard up around the plate .
Start out building your load by working up a group. Once you get that group you can then move the sights so that the group is on the target .
But you have to get the group first
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Old March 15, 2014, 05:16 PM   #4
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Bump your powder charge up to 70-80 grains and get better patch material. You will have to experiment to get the most accurate powder/ball/patch combo. What works for one gun may or may not work for an identical gun let alone a different one.
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Old March 15, 2014, 06:29 PM   #5
mehavey
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Cleaning-patch material ain't gonna cut it.

Go to the fabric store with your calipers. Head to the pillow ticking section and check
for 100% cotton. Pick up a yard of 0.015" and another yard of 18-20 thousandths.

Cut a strip of each that's five colored-stripes wide.
Try each using saliva as lube, not Crisco or anything else for now.
Drive ball even with the muzzle using short starter, then cut patch flush w/ sharp knife.

Use 60gr FFFg
Patch should be "smoothly-hard" to seat to the powder firmly.
Wipe barrel 2X with a damp (not wet) patch between shots.
One or the other of the ticking materials will work better.

At 25 yards, all shots should "roughly close" to touching each other.
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Old March 15, 2014, 06:49 PM   #6
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I appreciate the advice and I have some questions.

How much effort should it take to seat the ball with a correctly sized patch? I was able to start the ball by pushing it firmly with my thumb. Should it take a tool to start?

How much powder can I safely load?

Will more powder cause the ball to obturate and better engage the rifling?

What do you mean by reading a patch?


Thanks from a newb.
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Old March 15, 2014, 06:52 PM   #7
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I have to agree with the guys that you need better patch material. I have been shooting some drapery material for years with good success...but you definitely need something with a close weave. Given your rough bore, you might need a better lube than spit, but there are many options out there. None of the options are wrong, just different. The suggestion of more powder is probably right also...and you might try some 3f black.
Even with a so so rough barrel, it should shoot a respectable group.
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Old March 15, 2014, 06:55 PM   #8
mehavey
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It should require you "smacking" (or at least using a significant amount of
hard palm pressure on) the short starter to get it started. If thumb
pressure only -- way too loose.

There should then be definite resistance upon using the ramrod. Not so much
as to hammer it, but definite resistive force.

General powder charge is 30-90gr FFFg for the 45s.
Too little and there is no obduration.
Too much and you blow the patch.
60gr is a happy medium to start.

Last edited by mehavey; March 16, 2014 at 07:38 AM.
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Old March 15, 2014, 07:30 PM   #9
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advice

Lots of advice....this topic and "how to clean" get the most responses.
I use round balls that are 0.010" smaller than the bore. For my .50 cals. which are what I shoot mostly, I use patches that are 0.010" thick....that brings the ball/patch combo to .510". I have tried thicker patches but they were way too much trouble to load.
The 0.010" patches hold up nicely against 90 grains of FFg.
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Old March 15, 2014, 07:41 PM   #10
g.willikers
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My most accurate rifle for target matches required a couple of taps with a small wooden hammer to seat the bullet/patch combination below the muzzle.
With 45 grains of ff powder, since fff was always hard to find.
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Old March 16, 2014, 07:45 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the advice. I do have some fffg Goex and I will get some better patch materials to try.
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Old March 16, 2014, 08:02 AM   #12
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Deleted.

Last edited by kwhi43@kc.rr.com; March 16, 2014 at 08:58 AM.
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Old March 16, 2014, 08:39 AM   #13
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Minute of paper plate at 25 yards? Besides cleaning the bore, check the muzzle for dings and dents.

BTW, two weeks ago I pulled the breechplug off of a Spanish gun I bought as a kit. My crescent wrench was too small so I took a Mauser action wrench to it. No resistance from the plug against that heaver Mauser wrench. That allowed me to clean the bore through and through. I also tossed the breechplug into the ultrasonic cleaner to soften and remove the fouling. It looks much better now. The barrel was then whacked against a piece of wood (it was always bent) to straighten it and then, along with a rib, tinned for future soldering.
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Old March 16, 2014, 08:41 AM   #14
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I have gotten my best accuracy with lightly oiled patches. I don't rely on the patch to clean the bore for me, wiping the bore with damp cleaning patches between shots instead, usually one damp patch followed by a dry patch to dry the bore. The dry cleaning patch becomes the wet patch for the next shot.
I soak my shooting patches with a solution of Ballistol and water, allowing the water to evaporate leaving behind a thin coating of Ballistol. This method of lubing patches insures uniformity. Overlubed patches won't give you the best accuracy.

How much accuracy should you expect? One hole groups at 25 yards. Tight cloverleaf clusters at 50 yards, holes cutting into each other if you can aim that well and wait for good wind conditions to shoot. At 100 yards, it becomes a wind reading game.
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Old March 16, 2014, 08:55 AM   #15
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the twist should be ok as long as its not one of those funky threaded type twists . it should be a 1-48 or a 1-60 .
for a 45 even a 1-48 isnt any real issue . In fact allot of the better barrel makers today cut the smaller bores in a 1-48 - 1-56 twist

im still thinking allot of the issue is that the patch material isnt holding up . but again one would have to actually look at the patches to know for sure .
looking at the fired patch will also tell you if the pitted rifling is causing an issue that tearing the patch .
as was also mentioned , the lube choice maybe causing a problem as the bore has been stated to be pitted and its a square rifled barrel .
that combined with the patch material and the patches my be burning up .

myself i no longer use a lube , just spit patching . but im also shooting a forged iron barrel with radius rifling .
The other issue may also be the trigger . . The rifle in question is known for trigger pulls from hell and its common for folks to end up pull the gun right . This would show up in a target with a larger back ground so one could see where the group , if there is one at this point , is actually at.

Doing what kwhi43 suggested wouldn’t be a bad idea . It could only help . Especially if the pitting is tearing the patches.

As to how tight the patch ball combo should be . Well that’s something you will have to work out . Loading by thumb normally takes a coned muzzle or a drastically undersized ball . Having that undersized ball doesn’t necessarily mean poor groups anymore then having to hammer the ball would mean tight groups . There are complications with both .
Most commonly though folks go a .010 - .018 thickness patch with a .005 - .010 under caliber ball . Thus a quick slap of a ball starter should start the ball and allow you to run it home easily in a clean bore .
Later , once you get the rifle to group you can try tighter fitting loads . Those maybe helpful if your shooting a lot of paper especially for string..

Right now , if your not already doing it , I would be shooting from a bench rest .
Use a large background to find the group
Learn to read your patches and start working a load
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Old March 16, 2014, 10:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
Right now , if your not already doing it , I would be shooting from a bench rest .
Use a large background to find the group
I'll get a big piece of cardboard to shoot at next time but looking at the dirt bank the plate was on, the "group" was more of a large pattern that exceeded the size of the plate with the center being near the top edge of the plate. The trigger is poor but most all of the shots felt good. I had no problem with my cheap 20 year old CVA inline putting all of it's shots into one hole at that range despite having more recoil, a bad trigger and a slow lock time.




You are probably right about the patch material being inadequate as I don't think any survived shooting. I'll get better material and try again.

What should I be looking for when reading the patches?
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Old March 16, 2014, 10:15 AM   #17
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If the patch looks like you could use it over again, that is what you want.

What you don't want is holes burned in it. An excessively loose or thin patch will have holes burned in it where the rifling grooves are from the blowby.
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Old March 16, 2014, 10:33 AM   #18
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Reading patches

Captchee is presenting a good point on reading a patch. It's a good practice and I ready Poly-patches, sabots as well as cloth patches. It's a way of reading the performance of your patch and in the end, it's effect on the flight of your RB. PRB's are very forgiving but there are always limits and pitted bores is one of them. ....

Each pit is basically a cavity with very rough/sharp edges. Those edges cut into your patches on loading as well as firing. Eventually the pits will pack up with lead and so it goes. When I read my patches and see cutting or any kind of damage. I proceed to determine the cause. Might add that one common cause, is "new" rifling; again, sharp edges.

Not much you can do about the pits but a buddy of mine goes in the smooth's out some of the rough edges with a wire brush with good but not perfect results. ....

Be Safe !!!
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Old March 16, 2014, 11:00 AM   #19
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Good advise given.

A few more thoughts:

Being used when you got it and not knowing what was shot out of it before, did you boil your barrel out with dish soap(or something comparable) and hot water when you cleaned it or just swab the barrel?

You probably know this already but worth mentioning...

...far as the difference in loading most inlines versus PBR, as has been said, the PBR will load harder. Use a ball starter and a range rod for loading. Snapping one of the wood rods while loading and running it through your hand makes for a bad outing.



Far as seating pressure goes, seat the ball firmly. No pounding necessary.

Using our big cardboard target and shooting from a bench, once you get your patch situation ironed out and are somewhat grouping, just like trying to find the ultimate charge in an inline shooting loose powder, increase your charge in 5grn. increments till your groups shrink in size. Your rifle will tell ya what charge it likes per the ball/patch thickness you're shooting.

Forgot to add...some rb's have a casting teat(for lack of a better word) on them. If yours has these small protrusions, when you load face that teat out and centered straight up. Then as was stated earlier, using your starter, start your ball till the ball is flush with the top of bore, trim patch, again using your starter, run ball down then finish running ball the rest of the way with your range rod.

When I shot all rb's, I had two starters. One had a very short rr in the starter handle that was cut to length as to start
the ball enough to trim my patch. I'd then switch to the other starter, then the range rod.
Have watched several shooters that just used a block of wood that they had taken about a 1/2" drill bit and barely countersunk a divot in for the ball. Laying it on the ball, striking it with their hand and sinking the ball
flush with the end of the bore. Then switching to their regular starter.
Worked real well.

Last edited by shortwave; March 16, 2014 at 02:54 PM.
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Old March 16, 2014, 02:00 PM   #20
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Yup a Short Starter as Shortwave commented will defiantly help in its reloading. But .445 balls are tight in rifling even with .0010 patching. And being your barrel is in fair condition. There will be a challenge for its shooter to reload. That's pretty much to be expected in such circumstance's as far as I know. And that's where a Short Starter really comes in handy to have along.
I like my little 45 Hawken its a sweet shooting rifle once I got it dialed in on accuracy. No sharp recoil. Just a gentle rearward push is all that's felt as you already know. In the past when I used Gorex Black. I found Gorex easier to reload with verses Pyrodex. You would think it would be the other way around concerning powders but it isn't. At that time I also shot .445 with .0010 patching over 75-78 grs of Gorex 2-FF. These days I scale weigh my charges. As I make my own black and have been for about a year. So my homemade require a little different way of measuring. Anyhow stick with shooting patched ball. You'll grow fond of doing so over time.
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Old March 16, 2014, 10:59 PM   #21
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Everybody has their own preferences for patching material - but as mentioned, it needs to be a tight weave cotton and or linen - "au natural" as they say as far as fibers.

Just be aware that pillow ticking will run different thickness as will most fabrics from different "runs". You might also want to look at some of the denims . . .

I don't know how others do theirs, but I have always washed my patching material before doing anything to it to removing the "sizing" that all materials have applied to them to make them look "nice and pretty" on the bolt - i.e. flat and no wrinkles.

My suggestion would be to take your micrometer to the fabric store . . . check several bolts and materials and select several that might work for you - then buy a 1/4 yard of each of them. Mark down the bolt #/lot # so you know what they are and them try them. If you find one that works best . . then go back and buy a few yards (or more) to have on hand.

Every rifle is different . I have had a number of 'em - everybody has their own preferences on patch lubes. On several of my rifles, a spit patch worked better - others preferred a lubed patch. I usually run a spit patch down between shots as well. Personally, I don't like the idea of hammering a patched ball down a bore but some folks do. I have watched a number of folks compete over the years and some prefer a very tight combination requiring much more effort to get the patch and ball down the barrel than what you would want to do "in the field" - but hey, from their scores, it obviously works for them. I have always had good luck with a ball .010 smaller - i.e. - 45 caliber - .440 ball. If I'm loading and shooting, especially in the field and out of a pouch, I want something I start in the bore with a short starter and then push home with the ramrod easily. Keep trying different patch thicknesses and different loads - it will take a while but you'll find the sweet spot for your particular rifle. Good luck!
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Old March 17, 2014, 03:16 AM   #22
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OP,once youhave your pillow ticking in strips,you can apply whatever you will use for lube,evenly,then roll it up and put it in an old 35 mm film can.The lube will become very uniform with a little time.

You lay the patch material across the bore,seat the ball flush with the muzzle,then slice off the excess patch material with a sharp patch knife.Then use your short starter,and push the ball home.

Another option to experiment with,an outfit called Ox-Yoke makes pre-cut round ball patched..You can get them lubed or not for your 45 cal.They sell different thicknesses.,.010 and .015,as I recall.

be sure you always tamp down on the powder charge with the ball.Any air gap between powderand ball can do damage.

If you can find it,I'dgo fffg black.Try Grafs.Theywill combine black andsmokeless,so buddy up and make your hazmat fee worthwhile.

Home cast pure lead round balls,sprue trimmed and loaded up,will shoot fine,but you can try Speer round balls,the don't come better.Swaged.

You might look at your nipple.It only takes a dry fire to damage one.I used to get a cross drilled one called a Hot Shot.Not that you need one,but a good,fresh nipple will insure uniform ignition.

Charge,between "enough and too much".Not enough will cost accuracy,too much will not burn efficiently and foul your barrel.It will be much harder toseat the ball after a few shots.With te right charge,8 or 10 shotswithout cleaning should be possible,maybe more.

Shooting,bench or offhand,no matter,makesure your position and hold are consistent.Lots of drop in the stock,long bore time,how you absorb the dynamics of recoil will show up on the target.

For the same reason,follow through!.From the time the trigger breaks till the ball leaves the muzzle is a long time .Keep focused on your sight alignment for a full second after recoil.One thousand one...If you are looking to see where the ball hit,you are messing up.
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Old March 17, 2014, 06:37 AM   #23
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"How much accuracy should you expect?"
Pretty fair accuracy.
This three shot target was shot for a bench rest match. 100 yards, PRB (.490" w. a 0.010 patch) 90 grs of FFg.

This one shot target was another match.....same load. (A one shot match shot with a partner at iirc 50 yards. Offhand.)
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Old March 17, 2014, 02:30 PM   #24
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Will second what darkgael posted on expectation of accuracy once you figure out what your rifle likes.

One of my fav. rifles is a 50cal. T/C Hawkins. If I do my part and be consistent in my loading procedures, it will match the 100yd targets darkgael posted all day long. Ironically, my load is identical to his.

The reason it is one of my favs. is I've been shooting it for probably 35yrs. and have several thous. rds downrange and know what it wants. Nothing special about the rifle. Just spent the time with it to try and squeeze the best I can out of it. And FWIW, still try different things with it from time to time trying to squeeze it some more.
IMO, That's what makes bp shooting so fun.

The secret is finding the load the rifle wants.... and, just as important... the loading sequence(including whether your bbl likes shooting on a fouled or clean bbl., dry or lubed, whether it likes a more loose or more firm seating pressure etc.). Then, once these things are found out, be as consistent as possible in your loading technique's giving the rifle what it wants.

Last edited by shortwave; March 17, 2014 at 02:36 PM.
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Old March 17, 2014, 04:37 PM   #25
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Five shots at 100 yds round ball 45 caliber Hawken rifle from sand bags.
90 grs Goex FF.




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