View Full Version : New Muzzleloader.. advice sought.

May 28, 2001, 08:09 PM
I just bought my first muzzleloader, a 50 caliber "sporterized hawken" from Cabelas (I think it's made by Interarms or something like that, bit I'm not near the paperwork).

Anyway, after having a great time firing about 40 rounds through it yesterday and this morning, I'm wondering a few things:

1. What's the proper use of the powder solvent chemicals? Each time I used it, I could never clean all the gunk out of the breach, so the next shot was a squib (this happened twice). Cleaning with a cup of hot water was seemed just as easy and less error-prone!

2. how well do those little plastic tubes for "speed loading" work? I can see how they might be nice for hunting.

3. How much difference would I notice in velocity consistentcy if i switched from Pyrodex RS to RS Select? I'd imagine that the greatest source of error is my ramming, not the powder.

4. How much variation is there in different cap brands? I was using CCI #11's. For modern reloading, we pay close attention to the primer brand.. how much does it matter here?

5. My twist is 1:48. I've been told that this won't work with sabots. Is this true? Balls and conicals work great so far.

6. What general tips do you have, i.e., "Don't ever do <this>" or "If <this> happens, do <that>."

I'm definately hooked!


May 28, 2001, 10:11 PM
Just checked.. it's made by "investarm s.p.a." an italian company.

4V50 Gary
May 29, 2001, 12:43 AM
Welcome buckskinner.

Regarding cleaning

Go to Napa auto or a welding supplier and pick up water soluable machine oil. Mix about one part of this whitish oil with about five parts water. Instant "Moosemilk" (formulas will vary).

For field cleaning, saturate a patch and push it into your bore. You may want to trickle a little down your barrel too. Be sure to cover the nipple with a bit of rubber to keep it from leaking out (secure with hammer). Let soak for about 10-15 minutes. Now withdraw patch and with fresh patch, begin scrubbing. It comes out pretty clean after a while. Afterwards, when the patches comes out clean, wipe down with dry patches and then lube with oiled patch.

For home, I cheat and use the CVA Pump (available from Natchez Shooters' Supply or Midway). It's a water pump to which a clear plastic hose is attached. You remove the barrel from the stock, stuff the hose up until it reaches the breach, cover the nipple with a drainage hose (included), turn out the pump & it'll pump the dirt right out. Be sure to wipe dry both inside and out and oil.

Oh, be sure to wipe down the barrel the day after you clean it. Metal is porous and some dirt will surface after it is left cleaned and oiled overnight. So, wipe down and reoil. When you get to the range, before you shoot and fire off a cap or two to ensure that the nipple is clear (you'll see a slight puff of smoke if it is).

Regarding don'ts

I'm sure you know never to load directly from your powder flask or horn. It's like asking for a handgrenade to go off in your hands. Always use a powder measure and pour from the measure.

Never blow down the barrel to moisten the fouling. It can ignite embers and when you begin to load, whoosh! If you must blow, get a plastic tube from a fish store or auto parts store, drill out a piece of wood to stuff the tube into and carve the wood to fit inside the muzzle.

No smoking around blackpowder guns. The other safety rules of muzzle control and finger placement still apply.

Regarding ramrod usage

Even pressure each and every time. You can get inconsistent groups by compressing your powder differently every time. Try to make it even.

Regarding speed loading tubes

I've got them for both 45 cal & 50 cal, but haven''t ever used 'em. Not that they're bad, but it's just that I'm getting more traditional (and even to the extent that I'm now making powder horns). I think a paper cartridge (use zig zag cigarette paper) is just as easy and can be stored in an "Altoid" tin.

Other matters

Can't help you with sabots & conicals. That's getting modern. OK, so I admit having some CW type Minie rifles including a Perdesoli Sharps Infantry Rifle which shoots a conical.

Attend each and every Rendezvous you can. You'll meet other buckskinners and they're about the friendliest crowd you'll find on the range. I'm always learning from one of those guys.

Happy Shooting.

May 30, 2001, 09:24 AM
caps Don't buy CVS caps. They have trouble with Pyrodex. RWS is considered to be one of the better caps. Remington and CCI are also pretty good. Basically they work or they don't-reliability is key here. I don't worry about it as much as I do for primers when reloading.
projectiles 1x48 will work with sabots, but they can be expensive and aren't really fun after awhile. I use MMP plastic sabots and use my own 240gr LSW .44cal bullets for use as a cheap sabot load. They shoot to the same POA as the 240gr Hornady XTP's I load for hunting. Conicals are great! If I can suggest this, get into casting if you don't already. Given the high cost of conicals, I have already "paid" for my equipment by casting my own conicals. I don't even cast for anything else, but I have still already recouped my costs! (This is more a testament to the high expense of conicals). Mine are so cheap to shoot that I don't really even load much roundball anymore.
don'ts Don't ever foul a barrel badly, then try to ram down a tightly patched roundball. Unless you like swearing. Oh, and resist the urge to push "just a bit harder" on any wooden ramrods.

May 30, 2001, 10:37 AM
Ditto on CVS caps, don't.

At the range I use a shotgun rod with a twelve gauge brush. Push it down the bbl every few shots, tip down the bbl and watch a handful of crud pour out. It makes loading easier.

Clean gun by dismounting from stock, assuming it has wedges that hold it in and a hooked breech. Pull nipple. Immerse breech in bucket of hot soapy water. Pump using ramrod with jag and patch. Change to clean hot water and pump again. drain bbl. It should be hot enough to evaporate quickly, if not, heat oven to 250 or so and stick breech in for a couple minutes. The temp will rise throughout the whole bbl but breech is where the dead end is. Lube after dry with your favorite lube like CLP on a clean patch. You should also pull your lock and trigger from time to time and clean as an incredible amount of corrosive filth gets in there from the BP/pyrodex.


June 4, 2001, 08:33 AM
Here's what I have found after doing a lot of BP shooting. Don't use any petroleum based chemicals on any surfaces that come in contact with BP residue. Use only hot soapy water or products made specifically for BP. Change that No. 11 nipple to a musket nipple. Musket caps cost a little more but are much hotter. Hotter means more reliable ignition. Contrary to many's opinions, BP guns are much easier to clean and maintain than SP guns if done properly. But, you have to clean them after each shooting session.

I make my own patches for roundballs from pillow ticking. You can get a couple of yards from WallyWorld for about 3 bucks. I also use 100% cotton flannel cleaning patches ( For BP and SP). A couple of yards of this is available for about 3 bucks too. I use Bore Butter for RB patch lube and for a little lube on the nipple threads. It also works well to wipe the entire gun down with and provides a bit of water proofing while in the field. You can also eat it if you get hungry, and it makes a nice cologne too. ....HeHe!

June 6, 2001, 03:13 PM
Cleaning - in the field or at the range I use a cleaning patch with what ever cleaner I happen to be using at the time. I don't worry about getting clean, I just want to remove the bulk of the fouling. Run a dry patch down after the wet patch. If you leave mositure in the barrel this could reduce the energy you get from you charge or prevent it from firing.

At home clean with hot soaping water, then a BP solvant. Use a brass cleaning brush. On a new gun it can take a while to get clean, but the more you shoot the easier it will become to clean. After cleaning oil the barrel to prevent rust.

I can't comment on the use of RS vs RS select. I've used the select, but had problems with hangfires in a Hawkins so I went back to the real black powder and never looked back.

Your 1:48 twist is designed to shoot ball, conicals and sabots, however some guns with this twist rate tend to shoot one style better than another. Personally if the gun is shooting balls and conicals ok I'd stick with them.

You should try working up load. Start with 60 to 70 grains of powder and fire groups of 3 to 5 shots, following the same loading and cleaning procedure for each shot. Up your load by 5 to 10 grains of powder and repeat. Until you find the tightest group. You may need to do this with every new projectile you try.

The quick loaders are up to you some like them some don't. Buy a set and try them out.

You can try marking your ramrod to know if are getting the same seating depth with each load.

You may want to run a dry patch down the barrel before you first shot, and fire a cap with no load. This will help clean out any extra oil that could cause hang or misfires.

Don't mix powders. Especially don't mix smokeless powders with black or its substitutes.

Don't use smokeless powder!

Don't pour powder from your flask down the barrel.

Never fire the gun with an air gap between the projectile and powder.

Never leave the gun uncleaned for any length of time.

Be safe, have fun.

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