View Full Version : Ball seating & Ramrods.

February 12, 2012, 07:34 PM
Beagle333 Wrote;
It is important to pay attention to the "fully seated" mark on the rod, instead of just "feeling like" it has stopped.
Darn good question and we all have our way of performing this important task. Thought I'd start a new post and will mainly comment on M/L rifles. However, if anyone want to input on C&B's, kindly do so. .... ;)

It is important to mark your ram-rod. Some safety manuals state to mark the empty condition, light load and max load. Too much match for my taste and we teach to mark the max load you are shooting at that time. I have seen some older rods that have knife scribes pencils and sharpies. Marking the rod confirms your load is in the proper positions. Years ago, I saw some folks, bouncing their rods, at friendship. Never understood what that was telling them and dismissed it as a bad habit. Feel is very important, so feel the seat and eliminate any guess work. If you are starting to drag while loading, then it's past time to clean. ... :eek:

At a recent GunShow, walked up on a dealer selling a nice variety of propellants. Made a claim about not having to clean for 1,000 shots. Fairly obvious that he doesn't shoot. I politely replied that I never treat my M/L's this way. ... ;)

Be Safe !!!

February 12, 2012, 08:03 PM
Once you've loaded the same load a few times you will know when you have too much ramrod sticking out. You wont need a mark.

February 12, 2012, 08:10 PM
In the past, my problem had been forgetting to load the powder before ramming which would lead to a dry ball situation and multiple misfires.
So what I started doing was to always insert a plastic funnel in the muzzle when I place the rifle down after each shot, much like an empty chamber flag.
That signals to me that the rifle is waiting to be charged with powder.
Then immediately after dropping in the powder charge, I remove the funnel and start to load the patched round ball.
I've found that by doing it that way and using the funnel, then even if I get distracted before loading the patch & ball, I'll know that the powder has already been dropped in since the funnel isn't in the muzzle.
And this method also helps to prevents double powder charges, although a mark on the ramrod indicating a single charge of powder may also suffice.
Since doing it this way I haven't forgotten to load the powder like I use to. ;)

February 12, 2012, 08:31 PM
The stainless steel rod I use to load my target rifle eventually marked itself by being polished from use by the nylon muzzle protecter. I once saved myself from shooting an accidental double load because I noticed too much of the polished part of the rod was above the muzzle when I seated the ball.

Someone started talking to me and when he was through, I totally forgot that the rifle was already loaded and so I loaded it again. I probably wouldn't have blown up the gun but it would sure have ruined my score on the target.

I used a bullet puller to remove the ball and poured out the powder and then shot the first load into the bank.

February 12, 2012, 09:05 PM
Bouncing the rod, as you put it, indicates when the bullet is completely seated. If it's not, it doesn't "bounce". If it is, it does.

February 12, 2012, 09:43 PM
I must respectfully disagree. If the rod goes "thunk" and doesn't bounce much, there is a ball in the barrel, if the rod is dropped into the bore and bounces the barrel is empty. With just a little experience you will be able to tell the difference just by the sound. This will only tell if the weapon is empty, it will not tell you if the weapon is properly loaded. Just my experience, yours may vary.

February 12, 2012, 10:02 PM
Since my standard procedure is to wipe the bore with a damp cleaning patch followed by a dry cleaning patch before reloading, when the ramrod stops, I pretty much know the ball is seated, especially with a polished aftermarket target barrel.
Mostly, the ramrod mark is to catch loading errors, not to tell when the ball is seated. If you need that mark to let you know the ball is seated, you are not cleaning your barrel often enough.

February 12, 2012, 11:13 PM

February 13, 2012, 02:16 AM
I've both seen & done the "bouncing rod" numerous times.
In my own personal experience & being right there when others have done it, it DOES indicate when the ball is seated.

Can't say what the rod would do in an empty barrel, I've never "bounced" one in an empty barrel. :)

February 13, 2012, 06:55 AM
In an empty gun, the bounced ramrod will make a distinctive ringing noise and is often used to prove a gun is unloaded to a range officer at some matches.

February 13, 2012, 08:23 AM
First - all guns are always loaded. Bouncing a ramrod off the breech face doesn't prove it's unloaded - it just means the gun can leave the line pointed in a safe direction and be secured in it's case. Yes, I know the rod will react differently to loaded and unloaded conditions. The point is the first sentence in this paragraph.

Second - ramrods are not all the same. A light hickory rod will react differently to bouncing than a heavy solid brass rod. The key is to get to know what YOUR rod will do in a specific situation (seated, short, AND empty) in YOUR gun. IMHO, one really should know that.

February 13, 2012, 09:03 AM
Last time i had the sidelock pistol out, a couple of weeks ago, i took the wrong rod with me. Not having that knife mark was worrisome to me. Of course, it doesn't hold the charge a rifle does, usually only 25 grains or so.

February 14, 2012, 02:10 PM
To each their own but I want more assurance of the 'right', seated charge than the sound of a bouncing ramrod. Over the years, if there's a mistake to be made, I've made it.:o
Loaded projectiles with no powder.
Loaded double projectiles...no powder.
Loaded with a double charge(of powder).
Loaded and not fully seated load....
...All only to be caught by a marked ramrod.

On loading the double projectiles...Fun pulling the second loaded projectile out using the ball puller.:rolleyes:
Pulling the nipple and putting a charge down the channel many times was enough to clear bbl of first loaded projectile.

My preference is to mark the range rod for an empty bbl. Then preferred hunting load as usually this is the max. load I'll be shooting. I'll then mark for a target load.

The rod I use for hunting has an empty and hunting load mark.


February 14, 2012, 03:02 PM
I guess I need to follow up on this by saying that I "mostly" load/seat by feel and confirm by a marked rod. This is especially true during my range time and while teaching. I can't relate "the feel", to others but can relate or confirm to others by the mark. It's really not rocket science. How does one quantify a rod bounce? is a 4" bounce enough or should I go for a 5" bounce. A good firm and consistent pressure can be felt and obviously consistent. ..... ;)

We all know that a PRB is very forgiving but conicals are not and bouncing a rod doesn't help either. :cool:

One thing I've learned on M/L's; There is always a preferred and personal way in performing different tasks. Keep on bouncing if you will and you will but there "might" be, a better way. .... ;)

Be Safe !!!

February 14, 2012, 07:52 PM
This is me 20 years ago. You don't see me bouncing my ramrod!! What I am
doing is putting 30 lbs of pressure on the powder. Used to have a little gauge
to tell mw when I hit 30 lbs. but after lots of pratcice I can tell 30 lbs.

Lee McNelly
February 15, 2012, 02:20 AM
When a gent is loading wait till he shots then ask or interrupt

February 15, 2012, 10:05 AM
Agree on the seating by 'feel of pressure' method. As we know, the amount of pressure is usually part of the fun of working up the load for a particular rifle and bullet type. Once the amount of seating pressure is found that the rifle with that load prefers, applying that same pressure from load to load is the key to repetitive accurate shots.

I.E. When I'm shooting PRB in my sidelocks, they usually prefer more seating pressure then if shooting the inlines with either Powerbelts or sabot'd type bullets.
Seems as though when shooting the inlines with the Powerbelts or sabots, they only require to run the load down till it stops for best accuracy. To much seating pressure results in fliers.

Those that are better informed, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this have to do with not applying to much seating pressure as to deform the 'cup' on the sabot type rounds?

February 15, 2012, 02:06 PM
I think that it mostly depends on the powder being used since there's not much room for the cup to deform inside the tight bore.
And some powders like American Pioneer do require a lot of compression to get good velocity and accuracy.
There's so many variables.
But maybe that's why powder pellets can sometimes be more accurate than shooting loose powder, because the powder compression is performed by machines in advance and not when seating the bullet with the ramrod.

February 15, 2012, 05:22 PM
Thanks arcticap.

Makes sense about the pellets being pre-compressed.

I shoot loose AP with PRB in both my sidelocks. Shoot loose AP with Powerbelts in one inline and Hornady SST sabots in two other inlines.

If I try to apply the same seating pressure to the inlines as I do to the sidelocks, the consistent accuracy goes South very fast in the inlines.