View Full Version : muzzleloader for hunting squirrel anyone?

December 16, 2007, 12:40 AM
NJ has a muzzleloading rifle squirrel season. no larger than .36 cal. what would be a good rifle to use for this? and should it be .36 cal? i was thinking of going with a sidelock in percussion. it would obviously have to be very accurate. do they make a conical bullet that small or smaller ? or would i be better off using a patched ball?

December 16, 2007, 10:35 AM
Well, with a .32 caliber you could buy a bag of single-ought buckshot and have a lifetime or near-lifetime supply of round ball. There are several .32s, as well as .36s, available, but I have no experience with either myself.

Update 12/18... 0 buck is 0.32, and is about 9 pellets per oz., 144 per lb., 720 per 5 lb ($15.89 @ Midway), or 3600 pellets per 25 lb (though I don't see a 25 lb bag for sale). Or you can get 0.310 or .315 Hornady round ball for $7.09/hundred.

I know there are some .32s (flintlock and percussion) available from Dixie Gun Works; though one is custom and over $1000, others are more reasonable. There are also some kit guns (flint and percussion) for less, and one is discounted to $395 right now. www.dixiegunworks.com

December 16, 2007, 05:05 PM
Love hunting "Tree Rats" with my .32 T.C. Cherokee and you bet it's a traditional M/L. Sadly your choices are limited these days as more and more, manufacturers are going to .50 or .54. I think that one of your best bets would be a Crockett by Traditions or one of their .36's. They also make a model called a Tennessee and have contacted them about issuing this in a .36 and why not .32. It's length and weight would be ideal. Also remember that you can get these smaller caliber barrels from Green Mountain but quite costly on tope of whatever new M/L you might buy. Again, you don't have that many choices in a new M/L. Good luck and be safe.

December 17, 2007, 09:27 PM
This is an interesting thread. I haven't seen a small caliber ML in years. IIRC the last one I saw was a T/C Seneca years ago. I have been thinking of trying my hand with my .50 and 44 sabots and a .433 RB over 50 to 60 grains of Pyrodex. I haven't had time to work with it yet, but the idea is there. Rest assured that the 32 or 36 RB will do the job; you just have to experiment. And like has been posted; if you buy a bag of 00 or 000 buckshot you will have to buy stock in Hanes for patching material. CB.

December 17, 2007, 10:46 PM
I had the little .36 CVA Squirrel Rifle and loved it. Once I figures out why the stock seemed so screwy. I could never get it to line up easily for horizontal shooting. Then I happened to lift the muzzle up to tree level and BINGO. Cheek weld, line-of-sight, trigger placement...everything was just right.

Hmmmmm...maybe that is why they call it a "Squirrel" rifle, eh? :D


December 18, 2007, 01:49 PM
Cabela's used to sell their Hatfield muzzleloaders in 32 caliber (don't know if they still do or not), and 32 caliber is the classic "squirrel rifle" caliber. Sounds like a great time! Too bad most people only shoot a muzzleloader during deer season.

December 22, 2007, 02:55 PM
I've been wondering the same thing. A bunch of years ago, a lady friend of mine gave me this, and I've never shot it. One of these days, I guess I'll have to learn something about it. Would 000 buckshot be too big with a patch? Or 00 too small?

Thompson/Center Seneca. 36 Cal.


I understand they're sort of hard to find these days.

December 22, 2007, 09:39 PM
Would 000 buckshot be too big with a patch? Or 00 too small?

00 is 0.34", so it would likely be to small, while 000 is 0.36" and should work. I noticed, though, that Hornady makes .36 caliber round ball in 0.350", 0.360", and 0.375", so what will actually work best for your rifle is an open question.

December 22, 2007, 10:17 PM
The .375 is pistol stuff. The .350 and .360 are for the rifles. The best fit I found was the .350 with a .12 patch. The .360 would fit snugly without a patch, but not tightly enough to fully engrave the rifling. I have used 9mm lead slugs with a thin patch and a wad underneath at the range. Works fairly well, but not as accurate as RB.


December 23, 2007, 11:13 AM
Thanks for the info. I lost the manual for a long time ago. I guess I can get one from Thompson. They probably have one on their website.

I'll have to give it a try soon.

December 23, 2007, 05:11 PM
I understand they're sort of hard to find these days.

CajunBass, I am a T.C. fan and one day If I live long enough, I will have a Saneca .36 to keep my .45 company. It took me 20years to find my .45. These Senecas are very desireable and hope yours is still in good shape. This would be a great rifle for squirrels but please take care not to scratch it.

December 23, 2007, 08:41 PM
Never been fired to the best of my knowledge. The lady who gave it to me may have fired it a few times. Except for some patina on the brass, I'd say it looks like new.

As for scratching it? It's a rifle. If I ever use it, and it gets scratched, so be it. It's not for sale anyway so I'm not worried about losing a few bucks off it's value. A very special lady gave it to me, and things like that can't be sold. (No, not special in that way.) One day, one of my boys will have it.

December 24, 2007, 12:23 AM
I use a Tennessee Rifle in .40 for squirrels using a .390 round ball and .12 cotton pillow ticking for patches. The rifle is a semi custom made by Jack Gardner of Tennesse Valley Manufacturing in Corinth and very accurate. I went with the .40 cal because of the fouling issue with black powder. Since you are restricted by law to no larger a caliber than .36, I would go with that. A .32 caliber rifle will foul very quickly after just a few shots and you will have problems ramming a ball down the barrel using the tiny little ramrod of a .32 rifle.

I would use caliber specific round balls instead of using buckshot. Remember your ball needs to be .10 to .05 smaller than the bore, and you have to also allow for the patching material as well.