View Full Version : Load Size for .54 Hawken?

February 1, 2009, 12:00 AM
Hey Folks, just joined the forum, I just purchased a black powder rifle, I've shot them at the range before but I never owned one. I bought mine used, sao there is no manual. I know my way around a black powder, somewhat, but I don't the charge size appropriate for my gun. Its a
Connecticut Valey Arms .54 Cal Hawken, percussion cap rifle
Made in Spain, if any one has a similar gun please advise.

February 1, 2009, 12:16 AM
Hi and Welcome!

I prefur 3ff cause it seems to guarantee 100% ignition. Use Real Black Powder....some say it's hard to find??? Just call Graf's and it is that easy to find. Order 20lbs and the hazmat is/was free. Even if it's not still free it only comes to $1 a can. You will have enough for a long time and it stores forever if kept dry.

You can plink with your 54 with 25grs....I carry this in mine for snowshoeing so I can shoot at Everything without too much noise. and almost no recoil:D

You will find its "sweet spot" somewhere between 70 and 90grs.

And you can kill about anything that walks on this continent with 120grs.....much more than that and you run the risk of cracking/breaking your stock, it's not as accurate and not much fun to shoot.

February 1, 2009, 12:40 AM
i have a .54cal and 58cal cva mountain rifle. Plus a 50cal cva hawken.

start with 70gr pyrodex RS, .015 patch (pillow ticking) and a .530 round ball.

You may also want to pick up some felt wads to put on top of the powder to protect the patch from burning up.

Fingers McGee
February 1, 2009, 01:00 AM
I have a Pedersoli .54 cal Tryon Rifle. It's current favorite target load out to 100 yds is 60 gr ffg Goex and a Hopes#9 plus lubed .010 Oxyoke lubed patch around a ,535 Hornady swaged round ball. Past 100 yds I bump the powder up to 80 grains with good results. Hunting load is 100gr; but with that powder charge it shoots a larger group than with the lesser charges. All charges ignited by RWS 1075 caps.

Now, having said that, it took me a number of years to settle on those loadings, because, as the rifle wore in, the accurate loading changed from what I started out using. In the time I've had it - about 20 years - I've use various patch thicknesses from .025 down to .010 and ball sizes of .530 and .535. I've used Goex, Lidu, Dragon, and Elephant powders in FFg and FFFG. Some with great success, and one in particular that it didnt like at all. The only thing that hasnt changed over the years is the caps. I've used RWS 1075s since day 1.

Bottom line is that you'll need to try a number of variables to find out what your particular rifle likes. IMHO, a good place to start is a 60 gr ffg Goex, .015 OxYoke lubed patch, and a Horandy .530 swaged roundball, then work you way from there checking accuracy, patch wear, fouling, ease of loading, etc., til you find your rifle's niche.

Have fun, good luck, and make smoke.

February 1, 2009, 05:49 AM
Welcome to the forum.

Wow, quite a spread of answers. So far, Fingers, as usual, has the best one - start with 60 gr ffg, a .530 rb and a .015 lubed patch, or .535 rb with a .010 lubed patch, and experiment. It's a great excuse to get out and go shooting and you'll learn a lot about your gun.

BTW, 25 gr is a good plinking load, but a .54 isn't really a plinking gun. Nonetheless, nothing wrong with shooting a light load when just having some fun. On the other hand, 120 gr is way, way too much for that gun. You will eventually damage the gun with that load - it'll start showing up as a crack in the stock wrist area. I think the absolute maximum is 100 gr for repeated use.

Now, how about some pictures? Here's my CVA Hawken .50 cal, built from a kit in 1978; these pictures are about a year old:


W. C. Quantrill
February 1, 2009, 06:07 AM
Due to the harmonics in a rifle barrel, it will have at least a couple sweet spots, a lower sweet spot and a higher sweet spot. I have never used such a low load as 25 gr, but each to his own. The .45 Colt used 40 grains when it came out as a comparison.

I shoot a real Hawken, not one of the contemporary guns, but typically, there will be an accurate load around 55 to 65 grains and then another in the 90 or so range. You just have to take it out and shoot a couple hundred rounds and see what the barrel likes. This is common, a low and a high sweet spot with an inbetween that wont hit anything.

Like I say, I shoot a real Hawken and my upper sweet spot is 120 gr. That is the load I use for hunting. The rifle also has an accurate load at about 70 grains. That is what I use at rondys to take the pilgrims plunder.
My Favorite .53 Cal Hawken--32" Barrel--I built it in 1985. It is one of 4, with 2 other .54's and a .50.

Hoss Fly
February 1, 2009, 09:18 AM
Gud stuff so far :rolleyes:
I shoot a Lyman GPR in .54 cal
Low end is 60 grains of Pyro RS (thats wat is availible round here)
Upper end seems to be 90 of same
.015 lubed patch
530 Hornady RB


February 1, 2009, 09:54 AM
Hoss, I'm not in the same league with you and the Capt.(but it's coming:D). My Hawken wannabe shoots pretty good with a .530 home cast ball. 020 patch and 90 grs. Haven't had much time to play with it since the barrel upgrade tho. Maybe now that deer season is over I can play more. Got some .015 pillow ticking to try too. On the other hand not real sure I want to get too fond of it since it is going to be a trade in on the new one.:confused:


Hoss Fly
February 1, 2009, 10:10 AM
.(but it's coming

Ya gonna be hard tha live with 'fore long :eek::D:D:D:D

February 1, 2009, 10:18 AM
Ya gonna be hard tha live with 'fore long

Tell that to my wife now! :D

BTW I forwarded you a copy of an email Mike sent me.

Hoss Fly
February 1, 2009, 10:29 AM
BTW I forwarded you a copy of an email Mike sent me.

Just read it - I'm dun gittin jealous :(
I gotta feelin thats gonna be a one of a kind awesum peice of work :cool:

February 1, 2009, 10:35 AM
Oh man I know it will be. Hand forged furniture and that curly maple. Too good for the likes of me.:D

Sorry russianneckred, didn't mean to hijack your topic.

Hoss Fly
February 1, 2009, 11:13 AM
Oh man I know it will be. Hand forged furniture and that curly maple. Too good for the likes of me.

I rekken ya dun paid nuff BP dues to have a guddun :rolleyes::D

Sorry russianneckred, didn't mean to hijack your topic

Yes he did -----------------------

Fingers McGee
February 1, 2009, 12:37 PM
Ok, I guess I'll show off mine too. Here's a couple pictures of the Pedersoli .54 Tryon.


Toeplate, lockplate, patchbox, and wedgeplates are all engraved in the white. Barrel, rib, and thimbles are plum brown.

February 1, 2009, 12:51 PM
Pretty decent lookin Tryon.:cool:

Fingers McGee
February 1, 2009, 01:21 PM
I just noticed from the pictures that it's getting grody from hanging on the wall. Me thinks it needs a good workout and cleaning. :D

February 1, 2009, 01:33 PM
I know the feelin. I was gonna take pics of some of mine the other day and there must have been an inch of dust on them. :D