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Old December 4, 2016, 02:02 AM   #1
Unsilenced
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Best place to get minie balls?

Traditional, and more specifically historical muzzle loaders are a bear to get into, but I think I've narrowed down that I want to get myself a Pedersoli 1853 Enfield 3-band, as they are supposedly quite accurate while also being a historically relevant/interesting reproduction and usable in reenactments.

Now what I need though is the ammo, and this has caused me some problems. The first is the fact that I don't know what size I need. It seems like .575 is the right diameter, but others have reported that they use .577 or .576 to better effect. I had been thinking to buy .577s and the Pedersoli .576/.575 sizing die to give myself options, but I can't find the sizing die anywhere.

What's more, the .577 minie balls I've found have awful reviews on Dixie gunworks. There's only 8 reviews, but two of them are one star and not a single is five. Even the most positive reviewers basically admit to forcing them into shape and discarding many that were simply too deformed to shoot.

I've found other places selling minies, but with no reviews I'm hesitant to trust them.

Has anyone found a reliable source of civil war style minie balls? I'm really not in a good position to try casting my own, and given that I could only at maximum fire the thing once or twice a minute I'm not too concerned about the cost. Purchasing them would definitely be preferred for me.
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Old December 4, 2016, 03:01 AM   #2
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Can't help you, I've always cast my own from a Lyman mold. They drop at .577 and are the perfect fit for my P53 Enfield.
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Old December 4, 2016, 04:44 AM   #3
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You need to get the gun before deciding what size minie to use. There is a lot of variation in the bores when they are manufactured. You want to use a minie that is no more than .002 under actual bore size. Best to measure or you can try a few of different size. Track of the Wolf has .575, .577,..580 and .585.
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Old December 4, 2016, 04:49 AM   #4
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I saw track of the wolf. Are their minies good?

I was planning to try and measure the gun when I get it, but I still don't know where to buy the minie balls from because I haven't heard any happy stories of people buying them in general.
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Old December 4, 2016, 06:53 AM   #5
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Track of the Wolf is a good store.You can give them a call and they will give all the help you nead.There minnies are top grade,so are there roundballs.
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Old December 4, 2016, 07:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
I want to get myself a Pedersoli 1853 Enfield 3-band
Make sure you have actually picked up and sighted down the barrel of the Enfield to check that you can get down the stock enough to use the sights. As compared to the '61-63 Springfields, the drop on the Enfield's stock is quite a bit less.
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Old December 4, 2016, 11:11 AM   #7
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My Pedersoli P53 and P58 both took .578 sized bullets.

I shoot competitively, and I size my bullets .001" under what will not fit. You do not have to have such precision-fitted ammunition, of course, but it improves accuracy for competition.

You will probably want to start casting your own bullets as it is cheaper in the long run than paying shipping for someone else to make them for you. You also have to be careful that the people making them are actually using pure lead; had a fellow report recently on the N-SSA forum that he bought minies from an online source (I believe it was Dixie Gun Works) and they were hard lead, not pure soft.

Expanding ball bullets need to be made of pure lead or they will not expand and take up the rifling properly.

You can get a Lee 4-20 pot for $70 or so and a good mold for $90 or so. If you cannot find a source of pure lead locally (I now buy from Sanders lead in Troy, Alabama) you can buy online from rotometals.com.

It is very easy to cast minie balls.

Expect the Pedersoli P53 to shoot several inches high even at the lowest rear-sight settings. Most skirmishers end up replacing the front sight. You can file off the existing blade, leaving the base, and carefully cut a notch in the base, and then solder in a new blade. Or you can have a gunsmith remove the original sight entirely and install a dovetail front sight that can be adjusted for windage.

However, CapNBall got shots pretty much to point of aim on his YouTube video but he was shooting like a 640 grain Pedersoli bullet!

You do not have to use Pedersoli sizers, DGW, Lodgewood, and others sell sizing dies, some that work with standard reloading presses, other that you can hook up in a vice. I use a Lyman Lubrsizer with dies from S&S Firearms.

Steve
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Old December 4, 2016, 04:42 PM   #8
4V50 Gary
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Mould your own. I have a RCBS made mould for the Parker Hale Enfield.
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Old December 4, 2016, 08:24 PM   #9
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I live in an apartment complex, so there's not a lot of places I could whip out an electric lead smelting pot safely. From what I've heard the smoke it produces is very toxic, so I don't want to do it in a public or an enclosed space, which are my only two options at the moment.


Quote:
Make sure you have actually picked up and sighted down the barrel of the Enfield to check that you can get down the stock enough to use the sights. As compared to the '61-63 Springfields, the drop on the Enfield's stock is quite a bit less.
My understanding was that this issue was mostly with the Euro Arms reproductions, which had a less true-to-form stock shape. I have however shouldered an Enfield before (a Parker-Hale, I believe) and didn't seem to have any problems with the ergonomics of it.
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Old December 4, 2016, 08:31 PM   #10
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You need to cast them. That is the best way. If not, be prepared to spend 3-4 times as much per minie ball over what you could cast them for. They are very expensive if you buy them pre-made.
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Old December 4, 2016, 10:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
From what I've heard the smoke it produces is very toxic, so I don't want to do it in a public or an enclosed space
You would have to get lead to the boiling point to produce any toxic fumes. You do need adequate ventilation tho. Don't put your fingers in your mouth or eat until you wash your hands after handling lead.
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Old December 4, 2016, 10:24 PM   #12
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Living in an apartment, you may have an outdoor deck on which to cast. You could put down a canvas tarp or 1/4" plywood if you are worried about spillage. I looked at cast minies at a sporting goods store once and would have thrown half of them into the pot to remelt. They had wrinkles and voids (bubbles/holes) in the bases. Ditto on the recommendation for pure, dead soft lead. You can buy oversize molds and then size the minie down to fit.
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Old December 4, 2016, 10:56 PM   #13
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There's nothing like a deck in this place.

Closest I could do would be the walkway leading up to my door, which also happens to be right in front of everyone else's door. I could also use a bit of extension cord to get out in the lawn, but that's where everyone 'walks' their dogs.

Quote:
You would have to get lead to the boiling point to produce any toxic fumes. You do need adequate ventilation tho. Don't put your fingers in your mouth or eat until you wash your hands after handling lead.
What exactly is good ventilation in this case? My assumption is "being outside," which presents problems given the lack of suitable outside space available to me near where I live.

Last edited by Unsilenced; December 4, 2016 at 11:09 PM.
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Old December 5, 2016, 12:23 AM   #14
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Open a window and put a fan in front of it blowing to the outside.
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Old December 5, 2016, 12:50 AM   #15
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Yup, what Hawg said.

You could cast at your kitchen table. Open up a couple of windows and put a box fan in one blowing out to exhaust any fumes.

The only real smoke you get off the pot is if you flux. I don't really flux anymore as with pure lead there is little point. I just stir up the melt and scrape off the dross once, and then cast.

If you cast indoors, I'd put down some hardboard or plywood or something. You will have occasional drips and it will scorch what the lead lands on.

Steve
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Old December 5, 2016, 12:59 AM   #16
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You need to have both the mold and the lead very hot or you get voids. I probably toss 1/2 of my castings back into the melt and that's AFTER everything is heated up well. The original Civil War minies were swaged lead, not cast.
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Old December 5, 2016, 08:41 AM   #17
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I find if you have a mold that is prone to voids that the best way to clear that up is to ladle pour. I prefer using my bottom-pour pot when I can but some molds just won't pour well that way.

Steve
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Old December 5, 2016, 02:02 PM   #18
Hawg
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Quote:
You need to have both the mold and the lead very hot or you get voids. I probably toss 1/2 of my castings back into the melt and that's AFTER everything is heated up well. The original Civil War minies were swaged lead, not cast.
Yeah, my minies come out frosted looking but they shoot just as good as shiny ones. Wrinkles I don't worry about either, they shoot good too.
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