View Full Version : Backpowder Shotgun

April 9, 2002, 03:44 PM
AKA- What to do when you run out of round balls and still have powder & primers left ;)

Firearm: CVA Apollo .50 cal Black Powder Inline Muzzleloading rifle
Propellant: Pyrodex RS

First the range report. I've shot this rifle @ 100 yds many times before. With round balls it groups 3-5" at that distance, and 2-3" with various conicals & sabots. Yesterday I had to use the 50 yd range. Performance was comparable to previous 100 yd results, if you divide them by 2 (for ½ the distance).

While a B/P rifle is capable of very good accuracy, shot after shot on the range, it still mystifies me how one can depend on it in the field. Following is the summary of my first 8 shots, .490 patched round ball on top of 80 gr Pyrodex RS. The first "fowling shot" was high/left almost a foot, the next few were only 4-6" H/L, then it settled down to a 1&1/2-2" bullseye group thereafter.

Pact MkIV Chrony @ 5' from muzzle:
1204 fps
1555 fps
1499.8 fps
1605 fps
1629 fps
1632 fps
1624 fps
1650 fps
1682 fps (90 gr load)

Averages for 3 shot strings with various conicals and sabots, all using 80 gr Pyrodex RS:

T/C Breakaway Sabot 240gr JHP
1517 fps (1-1/4" group 5-6" high)

Buffalo 375gr Boattail (long pointy all-lead hollowpoint w/plastic sabot)
1244 fps (1"group 1" high)

Buffalo 270gr Maxi-Ball-et
1276 fps (3/4" group 3" high)

Buffalo 385gr Hollow Base (Knurled lead hollow point bullet)
1332 fps (This bullet was all over the target. One was a foot high/left, one was a foot high/right, & the last was a foot low/left)

Ok, so on to the "fun" stuff :)
Just had to see what a .50 cal rifled shotgun could do ;)
All of the BP shotgun instructions I've seen say equal measures of shot & powder, maybe that's where my pattern went, but probably it "went" due to the rifling in the barrel. 80gr Pyrodex RS, with a 50gr measure of 7-1/2 shot (which weighed 320gr. Couldn't bring myself to dump an 80gr measure of shot in there, which weighs almost 500 gr). I probably should have went with a 50gr measure of powder under the lighter shot load. At any rate, a rifled barrel really doesn't make a good shotgun :(

First shot was 80gr powder, felt overpowder wad, 50gr measure 7-1/2 shot, with another felt wad holding it down. I taped 2 peices of printer paper side by side & shot @ the 20 yardline. This produced 2 tiny holes on the white paper, with a perfect doughnut of shot pattern one foot wide around the paper. This would certainly scare the daylights out of a cottontail, but probably wouldn't hurt him. I do pretty good at scaring game without using this tactic ;)

For the second shot, I seated a plastic sabot (looks just like a shotshell cup) over 80gr powder charge, and dumped in the 50gr measure of shot, over which was placed a felt wad. This did much better @ 20 yards (I count 28 holes on the 2 sheets of paper, with most of the shot falling within the previously described "doughnut"), nowhere near the density required to hunt anything, but probably good for dispersing sparrows at barnyard distances.

But I really really really wanted a BP shotgun! Oh well, guess I'll hafta go shopping ;)

Oh yeah, I've asked here about loading this rifle "blank" for noise making purposes before. Someone did answer, but kinda vaguely. I loaded 20gr powder topped with a felt wad & couldn't tell the difference by sound from a primer alone. 40gr powder produced about the equal to a .22 magnum rimfire (sharp stingy sound). 60gr had some report, probably enough to fill any need for noise alone. 80gr.... dang, out of primers :(

April 10, 2002, 10:20 AM
fastforty - thanks for the report. I've wondered about shooting "blanks", but have just not gotten around to trying it. Guess I need to take a trip to the range (I really needed another reason to go).


April 12, 2002, 08:09 AM
Thanx for the detailed report FastForty!

I'm was hoping to get my .58 caliber musket to shoot like a 24 gauge shotgun at some squirrels this fall, but your results don't paint a very promising picture. My rifle's twist is slow (1-in-72") so I'm still going to test it.

I experienced the same "doughnut" shaped patterns when I fired some buckshot loads through a REM 870 rifled deer barrel. Darned centrifugal force!!!

Don't know what to say about your round ball & conical groups.
All my muzzleloaders have been very consistant as long as I load careful and don't let the fouling build up too much.

April 13, 2002, 02:50 AM
I have read before that one cannot get a decent spread pattern out of a rifled barrel.

My advise is to get a shotgun, fowling piece, or musket.

Some of the inlines have interchangeable barrels where one can have rifle barrels in various calibers and a 12ga shotgun barrel.