View Full Version : Multiple round balls in a muzzzleloader

January 19, 2011, 07:52 PM
I have been considering the 410 magnum load, that has five 000 pellets loaded in a straight line http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=170759 and it got me wondering if there are any similar loads that have been used in a muzzleloader? Could you, for example load three or four .45 round balls in an inline .45 or would it create pressures that are too dangerous?

January 19, 2011, 08:18 PM
Sadly, I know exactly what you are saying as there are folks who do these kinds of things. Let me say that it could get dicey and for that reason, I certainly do not recomend it. Guess I don't understand what you are trying to accomplish by doing this. :barf:

Not recommended and;
Be Safe /Stay Safe !!!

January 19, 2011, 10:43 PM
The .410 is a smooth bore shotgun. It takes less pressure to get the payload moving because it doesn't have to engrave them. I wouldn't try that with a rifle. Your asking for trouble. It could bulge or split the barrel.

Ideal Tool
January 20, 2011, 02:07 AM
Hello, Delmar. Junkman-01 is right about not using multiple ball in a rifle. Now you are probably going to do some research & come across the old
"Buck & Ball load. this used a regular sized ball with 3 buckshot loaaded over it...BUT they were designed for smoothbores! Devestating against massed troops at close range.

January 20, 2011, 02:43 AM
I think that it's safe to load only 2 balls in some smaller rifle caliber muzzle loaders like the .45 as long as the powder charge is reasonably less than the maximum and the two balls are properly seated by touching together right on top of the powder charge.
I know that I've done it and many others have done it from rifled barrels, including Smokin_Gun with his .50 rifle and 60 grains of powder.


But it's very important to know your gun and its limitations.
Of course anyone who does so does it at their own risk. But the powder charge must be reasonably moderate. I wouldn't do it in a large caliber gun or in a barrel without thick walls.
No one wants to get hurt and overdo it with too much powder or too many balls.
And no one wants to ruin or bulge their barrel.
There's ammo manufacturers that make 2 ball commercial loads too and they're not just made for smoothbores.



January 20, 2011, 06:28 AM
There is a point at which such loads become unsafe. Two things to consider: the total weight (actually, mass) of the projectiles and their location. There's no magic formula to calculate the maximum mass - that depends on many things including the gun configuration, but the location issue is easy - all the mass must be contiguous, that is, touching, and seated on the powder charge.

45-70 Chevron
January 20, 2011, 07:07 AM
This has been tried by several guys that I know and I can be dangerous. Aside from that they all said accuracy goes out the window beyond about 20 yards. My feeling is it would be a waste of time and lead to even go there.

January 20, 2011, 08:05 AM
There was be a 45/70 load, called "three balls guard load" that has three .45 round balls over a small black powder charge, i have tryed it several time in my trapdoor carbine, just for fun, minimum recoil il good up to 50mt as defence load.

January 20, 2011, 10:24 AM
I'll add to the "don't do it warnings".
You can cause excess pressure and have a dangerous situation.
Some will tell you there is a right way and wrong way to load two balls in a muzzle loading rifle. I know what they are talking about but will call one method 'dangerous', the other 'very dangerous'.
Don't experiment.

January 20, 2011, 04:42 PM
The notes of caution are appreciated! I haven't lived this long by trying out every darn thing that pops into my head with out checking out if it had been tried before. I mostly like thinking about possibilities. I was sort of wondering if this has been tried in a smooth bore "cap lock" pistol? I was aware of the buck and ball load and if I ever get my hands on a Howdah pistol I will for sure give that a go.

January 21, 2011, 09:22 AM
There was be a 45/70 load, called "three balls guard load" that has three .45 round balls over a small black powder charge, i have tryed it several time in my trapdoor carbine, just for fun, minimum recoil il good up to 50mt as defence load.

Yup, a multi ball load was very common back in the day. I have several period books that make reference to it.

January 24, 2011, 08:17 PM
I bought a TC Hawken from Dixie in 1982.
Their catalog recommended testing a new rifle with a double load.
So I put in 90 grains powder and two, patched round balls.
Then, like the catalog said, I stuck the rifle in a tire and pulled the trigger with a kite string.
It didn't blow up so I figured I was good to go.

I was intrigued with this load and I tried it four or five times at the range.
At fifty yards, the two balls were dead on, side by side and 2 inches apart.

I figured that would knock hell out of a deer on a lung shot.

But, I figured at 100 yards it might become inaccurate. Plus, obviously you got less foot pounds per ball.
I never tried this load in the woods, never fired it again.

January 25, 2011, 10:39 AM
Warning Labels...OMG!!.... I am reminded that the older generation is Responsible for the required warning labels on EVRYTHING (thanks guys)... and the younger gerneration was raised with these label ON evertything...:barf::barf::D

The old Lyman manual shows quite a bit of testing with the two ball load. Some interesesting in-flight pictures too... these pics show that the balls do deform quite a bit, but still did fairly well at medium range.

I am friends with a Ballistics tech with major powder Co.... He did lots of destruction testing... his basic answer to me was that they were not able to break the muzzleloaders using REAL black powder (yes even 4ffff) and LEAD projectiles.... Testing was more like 240grains of Black and 6 PRBs:eek:... They even short started them:eek:... (not mid barrel.. but and inch or two off the charge).. With modern Inlines, fancy sabots and powder substitutes... well all bets are off.. (and so might your arm be blown off:D) if you screw around.

January 25, 2011, 10:53 AM
freedom475, that reminds me of a math question that showed up a few days ago in my wife's crazy math class that she's taking in college. The gist of it was that there were three people of different weights whose combined weight exceeded the capacity of the elevator, so you were supposed to figure out how to get all three to the top floor. She asked me what I thought. I told her that the engineers would have designed in at least a 50% safety margin, so all three should get on and go up. And if the elevator failed, the Otis brake would engage and they'd still be safe.

She didn't like that.

January 25, 2011, 12:36 PM
I don't understand the argument.
A conical bullet weighs nearly 2x the weight of a roundball and in some cases more than that. The muzzle loading rifles handle them quite nicely. A round ball that weighs, pick a number, 150 grs with 3 #4 buck pellets rammed nicely with an over shot wad so that they don't escape and cause a barrel obstruction should be of no more danger than a conical of the same weight. The "buck and ball" loading has been around for a LONG time. I have never seen anyone claim any extreme effectiveness for the load. It was apparently a defensive load rather than offensive/hunting load.

Let's don't get excited and run in circles unless necessary.

:eek:Rifleman 1776 just sent me a PM with a method of getting hurt with the 2 ball load. I would never thought of what he suggested. If there is a way to screw something up, someone will find it.
With that knowledge, I'm forced to put myself in the camp of don't do it!:eek:

January 27, 2011, 04:16 PM
Why would you ever want to take that chance. You could destroy or seriously weaken the firearm. Or get hurt real bad and for what. A well placed shot with a single projectile,that's hunting.

Ben Towe
January 28, 2011, 12:26 AM
Noz, care to share this info that changed your mind with the rest of us? I have always found the double ball and the buck-n-ball loads intriguing though I've never tried them.

Jim Watson
January 28, 2011, 09:24 AM
I've read of frontiersmen double shotting their Hawkens.
They thought the gain in lead on target when facing a bear was worth any wear and tear on the gun.

January 28, 2011, 09:45 AM
When you are dealing with smokeless it is an entirely different game. Smokeless pressures can spike. You would need to think of the total mass.

I would also think you don't want the balls to impacting each other in the bore. Might be creating a temporary bore obstruction.

Blackpowder used buck and ball, no problem, however, blackpowder is very low pressure.

January 28, 2011, 09:49 AM
OK. Here's the formula for a problem. Load normally with a patched ball. Load another patched ball on top of the first.
The problem is the patched balls should be an airtight fit. It is possible that the air between the two balls would compress and not allow the second ball to seat properly. Thus creating the dreaded air gap and allowing the possibility of a ringed barrel or a burst gun.

A round ball loaded with out a patch with a patched ball on top of it should be alright.
a patched round ball with an unpatched ball on top of it with a paper wad to hold it in place.

January 28, 2011, 10:10 AM
Why would you ever want to take that chance. You could destroy or seriously weaken the firearm. Or get hurt real bad and for what. A well placed shot with a single projectile,that's hunting.

bushrod2, said the wise words above.

However, my experience says the "It ain't blowed up yet" crowd will ignore all words of wisdom.
I have read too many articles, with pictures, of results of stupid blow-ups in Muzzle Blasts and American Rifleman for me to ignore.
Do what you want, just don't stand near me when you are doing it. I'll be happy to call 911.......from a distance.

January 28, 2011, 11:14 AM
"It ain't blowed up yet"

And its corollary, "Hold my beer."

January 28, 2011, 12:53 PM
In threads about the subject on the Muzzle Loading Forum, it's mentioned that one safe loading method for the 2 balls is once started ~1/2 inch apart, to then proceed to ram the two balls at the same time so that air will escape through the powder and the nipple as usually happens when loading only one ball.
Also mentioned is that some air probably escapes through the rifling grooves even when loading one patched ball at a time since no extra ramming resistance is usually encountered when doing it that way. If air was being trapped then someone would be able to notice extra resistance on the way down when the 2nd ball is being rammed.
If there was any question about the depth of the 2nd ball then the ramrod can be marked for the proper seating depth to check that the load is properly seated.
It's important that the balls are in contact on top of the powder when they're loaded. They will flatten out a little bit upon ignition where they are in contact throughout their travel through the bore together until exiting the barrel.
The accuracy of such loads have been shown to sometimes be outstanding.
It was also suggested to load with at least 20% less than the maximum amount of powder.
Recognizing that it's normally safe to shoot 2 ball loads when properly loaded is one reason why Remington makes the loads shown above. :)

January 28, 2011, 06:55 PM
When I loaded two patched round balls in my TC Hawken I had no problem seating the second ball.
The air got out somewhere, no problem.

Ben Towe
January 29, 2011, 01:29 AM
It would take an extremely tight seal to be completely air tight. If nothing else, air will bleed through the cloth patch.