View Full Version : Wanting to get into muzzle loading

September 11, 2010, 05:51 PM
I am looking into getting a muzzle loader, and am looking for a recommendation.
I've tried looking on websites and reading reviews, but I would like to see what TFL members recommend.

Another question I have is how much does it cost on average to shoot say x amount of shots? The one thing that I always try and research before I make a purchase is the cost of shooting, and because I don't know anyone locally who has one, I present the question to you guys. I don't like buying things that I can't afford to shoot. :)


September 11, 2010, 06:23 PM
Percussion caps cost about $4 to $5 per 100. 209 shotshell primers cost about that much also if you go the modern in-line route.

Black powder can be had for about $15 to $24 per pound. One pound = 7000 grains so if you load 70 grains of powder, you will get about 100 shots out of a pound.

Traditional patched round ball guns are the way to go if you just want to target shoot and plink economically. With a .36, you can use 000 buckshot, which can be bought in 5 pound boxes, for ammo and patching material does not have to be purchased from gun stores.

The smaller the bore, the less they cost to shoot.

Leave the modern .50-.54 caliber inline saboted bullet guns to the people who want to hunt deer during the muzzleloading only season unless that's what you actually want to do. They are NOT economical to shoot.

September 11, 2010, 06:44 PM
Assume you get a typical hunting 50-cal: a typical high end cost per shot might be around $1.60 (2 ea 50 gr Pyrodex pellets [$0.50] + 209 muzzleloader primer [$0.08] + typical .50-caliber sabot $1.00). This compares to about $2 to $3+ a round for premium .30-'60 ammo. Of course, if you shoot loose powder and home-cast bullets or balls you costs will fall below $0.50 per round. YMMV

September 11, 2010, 06:52 PM
Great advice from B.L.E. Perhaps you can ask particular questions. On the one hand, it sounds like you want to shoot in-lines and then again, PRB in a sidelock. May I also recommend a book by Sam Fadala that Lyman is putting out. There are a many souces of great information. Also, CVA just came out with a new CD that you can buy for about $7.00. Again, if you have a particualr question, please ask. I Teach M/L's and teh NMLRA has certified instructors as well. When I shoot for fun, it costs pennies when compared to centerfire.

Be Safe !!!

September 11, 2010, 10:54 PM
Nilsson Schmillson.

Seriously, I loved your work on Midnight Cowboy! Great song!
What have you been doing for the past 41 years?

September 12, 2010, 04:16 AM
The cost to shoot .50 caliber patched round balls with a side lock muzzle loader using factory components is about .38 - .40 cents per round.

Balls cost about .12 cents each @ $12 per box.
Shooting patches cost about .03 cents each @ $3 per 100.
Percussion caps cost about .06 cents each @ $6 per hundred.
Powder cost about .17 cents per shot (60 grains per shot @ $20 per pound).
Total: About .38 cents per shot

Because of the higher prices at some retailers the cost will probably be slightly higher at .40+ cents per round.
But beside the price of the gun, there's also quite a few shooting and cleaning accessories that would need to be purchased which can easily cost $50 - $100 more than the price of the gun and ammo, depending on the prices and which accessories are selected.
These items may include a flask, capper, powder measure, nipple wrench, possibles bag, ramrod accessories (cleaning brush, jag, patch worm, fouling scraper, ball puller), Bore Butter, nipple pick, powder pour spout etc...

The savings of shooting a muzzle loader is realized when one compares the number of shots fired during an average range session verses say shooting centerfire pistol ammo.
A person might shoot 30 -35 round balls in a couple of hours or so, while most people will shoot a box of centerfire pistol ammo in 20 minutes to 1/2 an hour.
The savings of shooting a muzzle loader is even greater when shooting the smaller calibers like .45 and .36 because the round balls are cheaper and less powder is used.

September 12, 2010, 06:08 AM
i hope you can buy your supplies local or else you have to pay a hazmat fee on that powder,and that adds to the price per shot

September 12, 2010, 06:30 AM
Shooting a .50 caliber flintlock - a Lyman GPR.
Round balls - cast my own - cost: $0.00
Tom Fuller flints - about 1.80 each - good for, let's say, 30 shots = 0.06 per shot
Patches - pillow ticking from the fabric store - buy two yards and make your own patches - maybe one cent each.
So... we are up to seven cents a shot.
Powder - BP in bulk (ten pounds will be 16.90 complete per pound) - 90 grains per shot = twenty two cents per bang.
Total = 29 cents a shot. Get more shots per flint? Use less powder? Cost goes down. Buy RBs? Cost goes up.
I am fortunate to have a store of pure lead that I did not have to purchase. My casting equipment has long since paid for itself.

September 12, 2010, 07:03 AM
It will cost a lil bit to get set up with everything you need but once you do it's cheap. If it was me I'd get a Lyman Great Plains rifle in .54 with a round ball twist.

Doc Hoy
September 12, 2010, 07:23 AM
I think the first thing to determine is what aspect of muzzle loading interests you.

There are many opportunities:

History - As you are well aware, many of the BP firearms we are speaking of are based at least loosely on historical prototypes which envoke the lifestyle of the period to the extent that the shooter desires. I like to shoot bp revolvers partly because of the history but I have no interest to take it to the next level and do re-enacting.

Purity - There is a certain traditional bond that you realize when you are pouring powder, pressing a ball (which you may have cast yourself) capping the chamber or clamping the flint. It is in the background of nearly everything we do in muzzle loading. (I hope others don't mind that I include cap and ball revolvers in the world of muzzle loading.)

Hunting - In this case you have several subcategories based upon what you are going to hunt. If you are already a hunter (which I am not) you can answer these questions.

Ballistic exploration - Bp shooting adds a new dimension to ballistic comprehension and the quest for ballistic consistency because each shot is unique after a fashion.

Regard for the beauty of the design of the firearms - I can not remember where I read it and it was a long time ago but at a conference of mechanical engineers, the Colt 1860 revolver won a longitudinal design competition because of the overall appearance and function of the pistol. Another winner was the gasoline powdered push mower. The 65 Corvette was not among the winners, nor was the Harley Davidson Sportster. Few objects engender as much admiration and devotion as the civil war era bp revolvers. I think the Covrvette and the Sportster do but the engineers disagreed. I assume they are smarter than I am.

So the answers to your questions will be slightly different depending upon which if these aspects really drives your desire to enter the world.

September 12, 2010, 08:35 AM
Few objects engender as much admiration and devotion as the civil war era bp revolvers. I think the Covrvette and the Sportster do but the engineers disagreed.

Sporster? Nah.

September 12, 2010, 08:53 AM
Doc Hoy nailed it. Decide what you want to do. Muzzle loading is really two categories these days. Modern, plastic stocked inlines :barf: and traditional. Cost of shooting can be determined by going to Wal-Mart or a gun shop and looking at price tags.

September 12, 2010, 10:10 AM
Well I don't plan to hunt with it, more for plinking and the historical significance.

September 12, 2010, 10:46 AM
Doc Hoy nailed it. Decide what you want to do. Muzzle loading is really two categories these days. Modern, plastic stocked inlines and traditional.

There's also what you might call the hybrid category, traditionally styled sidelock rifles with barrels that are rifled one turn per 28 inches or so for shooting modern jacketed bullets in sabots.

Doc Hoy
September 12, 2010, 11:01 AM
You made a good point BLE.

For many of us it would be difficult to identify the most important aspect. I guess for some the draw is the fact that there are many different aspects. So your use of the word, "hybrid" is spot on.

September 13, 2010, 06:14 PM
more for plinking and the historical significance.
Buy a flintlock, .36 caliber.
000 Buckshot is cheap at five pounds for $24 or so. Thirty or forty grains of powder per load. You could shoot all afternoon for a couple or three dollars.

September 13, 2010, 07:11 PM
A 5 pound box of 000 buckshot would be about 540 shots figuring the balls to be .350 diameter which works out to them weighing about 64 grains each.
That's about 4.6 cents per shot for the balls.

September 15, 2010, 01:40 PM
I spent a measly $150 for a closeout model sidelock pistol from Traditions thanks to some advice received from one of the more senior members in this area of the forum (thanks :) ). I probably spent almost $100 at the local Gander Mountain store getting powder & round ball shot & a rod (that i didn't really need) & a powder measure & some other odds and ends. I could've shopped better on the accessories.

I got my $250's worth of fun back the first two times i went plinking, IMO. This lil pistol isn't the most accurate thing in the world, but it is unbelievably fun. Everybody i hang out with is waiting in line to give it a supervised try. The smoke & sparks that came out of that first late afternoon shot were AWESOME! The last time i went plinking, i had my XD45, CZ-75b, GP-100, and the sidelock BP pistol; everyone present, including me wanted to plink with the sidelock the most. The ladies present were happy with the comparatively smooth recoil and commented on it. At least two of my buddies have offered to buy a pound of powder and some shot for a chance to try this thing.

I have been window-shopping BP revolvers since that first shot. Check the Special Offers section on the Traditions website; they may have something you like on sale.

edit* The cleaning process will seem really weird, but works just fine, IME.