View Full Version : 50 cal muzzleloading deer loads/thoughts?

May 28, 2001, 08:00 PM
I just got my first muzzleloader, a hawken style 50 cal. Wow! what a great gun!

anyway, I was wondering what people use for whitetail in this caliber. I'm told my twist (1:48) does not suit sabots, but I really don't expect this to be a problem. I can get up to 1800 fps out of a patched ball (180 gr Hornday ball with 95 "gr" RS) and I can get something like 1500 fps out of a MaxiBall (385 gr Hornady with 90 "gr" RS). Both are plenty accurate for hunting.

I figure either will be very adequate within 50 or 75 yards! Anyway, I was just wondering what peoples' preferences were. How well do balls and conicals expand in game? How well do they penetrate?


May 28, 2001, 11:39 PM
I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that balls and conicals don't expand so much as just kinda flatten. Penetration isn't much of a problem though, and the 50 leaves large holes. I bought an in-line on the advice of my hunting buddies who have owned both traditional and in-line BP's. I told them I wanted it to be as easy as possible. I use saboted 240gr 44mag bullets in front of 150 grains of pyrodex pellets. It also leaves large holes in deer. I can get 3-shot .75 groups at 50 yards with my red dot on it.

May 29, 2001, 09:17 AM
Black powder is normally measured by volume, not weight.

What you gotta do is get it shooting at point of aim. If you're on target at 50 yards you've found the right load. Start at 70 grains by your measure and work up/down to get your groups where they should be. HTH

Forgot to add: 1/48 twist is round ball. The sabot guns use a faster twist.

May 29, 2001, 12:47 PM
I'm not much of a black powder guy, but isn't 1 in 66" for patched balls, 1 in 32" for sabots, and 1 in 48" a compromise twist?

May 30, 2001, 09:38 AM
Nah, you can shoot some sabots just fine. Stick to short sabots and stay away from longer ones like the Barnes sabots. Some sabot guns have twists as fast as 1x21 I shoot either a 320gr .50 maxi-ball or a 240gr Hornady XTP in an MMP sabot for deer hunting. Balls do flatten. Conicals do to some extent, but they really don't have to-they are penetration kings. If they hit a large bone, the deer is really done for.

May 30, 2001, 09:58 AM
I have owned a number of guns with the 1:48 twist. I found that they shoot T/C Maxi Balls, I think they are like 370 grains, far better than anything else. For whitetail deer, almost any powder charge is adequate so go for the most accurate load and I am sure it will be enough. In the animals I have taken with the .50 ML I don't think I got any expansion; just bored a half inch hole through it. The .50 ML will penetrate clear through any deer alive from any angle, that isn't even an issue. I am sure you will be happy with your 1:48 barrel, I was for 20 years, but this year I made an investment that I should have made about 19 years 11 months ago. I bought a Green Mountain Long Range Hunter drop in barrel for my T/C Renegade. It is a 1:28 twist and it drives tacks with those same Maxi bullets. Super accurate.

May 30, 2001, 10:01 AM
I stand corrected. The 1/66 is round ball. I do believe on reflection the T/C rifles have 1/48 and the 370gr MaxiBall will make a serious impression on both ends of the gun! Happy shooting.

May 30, 2001, 12:14 PM
TaxPhd hit the nail on the head. Something around a 1:28 twist is designed for shooting conical bullets/Maxi-Balls and sabots. The 1:66 twist is generally considered THE twist for round balls. The 1:48 twist is a comprimise so that you can shoot either with decent results. It usually doesn't knock your socks off with either, but it is perfectly adequate for hunting accuracy at black powder ranges. If you decide that you are going to exclusively shoot one or the other, down the road you might want to get a new barrel with a twist designed to optimize that load. I pretty much use my black powder rifles for hunting, and I think the heavy bullets are the way to go for hunting. I bought my new barrel before a bull elk hunt since I wanted to shoot the heviest bullet I could for max penetration. Unfortunatly I found that it would not stablize the 460 grain bullets I was trying to shoot. It would drive tacks at 25 yards, I would move back to 50 and couldnt' keep it on paper. I gradually started at 25 and moved back and at about 40 yards, things fell apart. I tried the lighter 370s (or whatever they are) and they were mucho accurate. About as well as I can shoot with iron sights at 100 yards. Plenty of game has been taken for many years with round balls and I think they are fine for whitetail deer. You will get higher velocity and a flatter shooting load with round balls (as opposed to bullets, sabots are of course higher velocity yet and flatter yet). I just decided to stick with the maxis since I occasionally apply for elk and I would rather just stick to one thing. Black Powder is a heck of a lot of fun. I always wish I spent more time shooting my BP guns. It just takes so much gear and time to do it. One bad rap that BP guns have that I think is crap is cleaning. Using boiling water, I can clean my muzzle loaders a heck of a lot faster than I can my conventional rifles. Once you boil the water, the barrel is clean in a minute or two. I then do it again with clean water and lube the heck out of the barrel. One other pointer that has worked for me; try out T/C Bore Butter as a lube. I found it to be everything they say it is. It allows you to fire a lot more rounds before swabbing out the bore, and cleans up real easy. That was one of the greatest things I found in my black powder shooting career. I have a muzzle loader just for whitetail hunting; a Remington 700ML with a Burris 2-8 scope. In that rifle I shoot pyrodex pellets and sabots. A lot of Western states don't allow scopes during ML seasons and some don't allow sabots or pellets. So, I use my T/Cs for out west. I come from Ohio and still go back every couple years to hunt whitetails on my parent's property. There, as far as I can tell, you can use any ML you want. I haven't hunted with it yet since I missed last years hunt, but I intend to try it out this year. My experience is that the in-line is a real pain to clean. On mine it blows fouling all over the scope and scope mounts. And fouling gets inside the bolt. I shot it a couple times without disassembling the bolt and had corrosion. Luckily I have a stainless gun and after I cleaned it up, there is just discoloration, but I wouldn't buy another one.

June 1, 2001, 06:52 PM

You should have bought a Knight in-line. Piece of cake to clean, no boiling water, no water at all. Bolt comes a part easily for cleaning. It takes me about 15 minutes to get it thoroughly cleaned and reassembled. Accurate as heck, I zeroed mine at 165 yards. Black powder is VERY corrosive and will rust your gun if you don't clean it after every shooting session, no matter what type of gun you use.

June 3, 2001, 12:16 PM
CD1 True, I shouldn't judge all in-lines by the one I have. But knowing what I do know, I just don't see much advantage in them for ME. If I lived somewhere where I could use all the modern features (scope, pyrodex pellets, sabots) it might be a different story, but for the blackpowder hunting I can do here, the regular old sidelock is just fine for me.
Sure, black powder is corrosive to any gun, that is a given. The question then is, how easy is it to remove. My experience is that with a side lock, you don't have anything to take apart etc. You know you got every inch of it because there is no where for it to hide. I have tried a lot of different methods of cleaning BP firearms and found that for ME, the simpliest and most thorough way is to use boiling water. For years I used a black powder solvent and it worked fine, but I much prefer the boiling water.

June 3, 2001, 04:44 PM

I had an old TC blackpowder gun, used to clean it in tub with hot water, man did the wife hate that. I would occasionally leave fail to wash the residue from the tub...then I was in hot water. The Knight helps me stay in the garage and out of trouble :)

June 3, 2001, 09:00 PM
I fully understand. I clean mine in a bucket to avoid that problem. I honestly find it a lot easier although I use solvent at the range between shots, and I try to get most of the fouling out at the range before I get home. Using this method, I find my blackpowder guns easier to clean than my modern guns. Whatever works for you, I think both methods work fine and have done both myself. Just make sure you clean it some way or you will open your safe to find a block of rust within a couple days.

June 5, 2001, 10:35 PM
I'm a traditionalist here: 80-100 grains of FFg with a patched round ball outta my T/C Hawken.