Newbie help

Discussion in 'New to Muzzleloading' started by Checkmate, Mar 17, 2019.

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  1. Mar 17, 2019 #1

    Checkmate

    Checkmate

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    Hi all,

    I am getting into muzzleloading this year. I have been lurking a bit and trying to learn all I can through posts here and research elsewhere as well. To say it is information overload is an understatement. I am still in need of some guidance that I was hoping to find here. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give! Disclaimer: I understand that all rifles are a bit different and you need to work up the load to your specific rifle. I am mainly looking for some good starting places. I have viewed the stickied topics here + numerous others and I still find myself with the questions below.

    Biggest question:
    -I'm looking for a bullet that won't break the bank, perform well between 50-250/300 yards and has reasonable availability at most retailers. From what I have seen most places stock Powerbelts and a couple other saboted type bullets. I don't think I want to shoot Powerbelts from the research I have done so far. The other types of bullets are usually inconsistent in what is offered on the shelves.

    -Best type of sabot to use with recommended bullet.

    -Who do you use for a bullet supplier? Is the best to just use someone online (Midway, Natches, ML.com)? Does shipping kill the price point from online retailers?

    Below are the parts that I think I have myself settled on for reference:
    -CVA Accura plains rifle
    -Weaver Grand Slam 2-8x36 shotgun/ML scope
    -Blackhorn 209
    -T/C U-view powder measure

    Others that I could use recommendations for:
    -Range rod
    -?bullet starter - is this needed?
    -Jags for rods (both range and/or included rod) to get the best bullet seating
    -Other pieces of "can't live without" gear for muzzleloading?
     
  2. Mar 17, 2019 #2

    GM54-120

    GM54-120

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    I think you are setting your goal post too high....at least from retail outlets. Thats a huge range to cover and expect reliable expansion or even accuracy from a retail available product. Performance like that cost money. Something has to give or pay the piper.
     
  3. Mar 17, 2019 #3

    talon_dfa

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    First thought... welcome to ml shooting... yes, you will have to find a combo of bullet/powder your gun wants to shoot. Be systematic. Change one variable at a time. Clean barrel and BP after every other shot. Shoot 1st clean, cold barrel shot at one target, then shoot 2nd warm dirty barrel shot at 2nd target.
    If shooting at paper, shoot any distance you want. If shooting at animals, forget 200 yards shots until you are consistently deadly at 150 (which you may never do unless you burn lots of powder)...
    With all the time, effort and money spent on hunting, don't go cheap. If and only if you gun will shoot nothing but powerbelts would I ever use them... Lots of folks like them, but they wasted my time trying to get consistent groups and terminal ballistics are crap for hunting. I still have some, but only use them for fishing weights... Try all copper. I recommend Barnes TEZ or TMZ. No, not cheap, but shoot well from my gun, cut big holes in deer/elk and leave no lead fragments in meat.
    Yes, to save time and effort get a long range rod and use the seating tool for the bullet you use... also, bring socket wrench to remove breech plug at range unless you have quick release type. You will probably get better accuracy with powder, but use pellets for faster reloads for 2nd shots. Practice this... You will always fall to your lowest level of training when the pressure is on (you can pick a dropped pellet off the ground...)
    Lots of talk about powders and pellets... I still shoot the same powder ad pellets I tried the first time and never changed because I get consistent groups. Don't need to fix what isn't broken and don't get paid to try new powders.
    My local stores do not always have shooting supplies I need. Even if I drive to the big city, they may not have supplies I need. So I usually buy online. Shipping across country is cheaper than driving across town.
    Good luck
     
  4. Mar 17, 2019 #4

    GM54-120

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    -Range rod...Lehigh Ultimate Range rod....nothing out there ive seen is better and comes with one jag
    https://www.lehighdefense.com/products/muzzleloader-range-rod?variant=28906200264
    https://www.lehighdefense.com/collections/muzzleloader/muzzleloader-rods

    -?bullet starter - is this needed?
    Look for a ball type. It will have a hole for the ram rod and 2 spots to screw in jags...1 short and one a few inches long.
    Spin Jag loader if you want one of the best. They are around $30 with 1 loading jag. https://www.spinjag.com/spinjag_starter.php

    -Jags for rods (both range and/or included rod) to get the best bullet seating
    Lehigh sells extra jag...get a couple when you get the range rod.

    -Other pieces of "can't live without" gear for muzzleloading?
    Powder vials to carry to the range and hunting... See Lanes Tubes on Ebay or our Classifieds when your post count it upto 25
    Powder flask and a measure for powder....Good cheap one is the T/C Uview but i prefer brass. Pedersoli has some nice ones.
     
  5. Mar 17, 2019 #5

    GM54-120

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    How is pouring pellets from a tube faster than pouring powder from a tube?
     
  6. Mar 17, 2019 #6

    talon_dfa

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    Yes, no difference if all goes well... only faster if you spill or have to reload while lying down... can pick up pellet... spill powder and then what? That's why I say practice and see what you think.
     
  7. Mar 17, 2019 #7

    Checkmate

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    I should have clarified/given some examples of where I am currently looking, sorry.

    I have been really interested in the Barnes TEZ Spitfires (not exactly cheap, but I don't think they are "breaking the bank either, especially at one shot at a time ;)). The trouble is, I haven't found them on any shelves anywhere. I would prefer to have something that I could pick up easily and not wait days for, but perhaps I just need to have a good supply set aside. (This is just so different for me because I am used to centerfire stuff being so readily available at ANY retailer that this makes me worried my old habits of picking things up a couple days in advance are going to bite me in the rear.)

    The other bullet that I have been intrigued by is the Federal BOR Lock 270. I like the IDEA of an easy to load bullet, no sabot, etc, but the reviews on Powerbelts seem to be terrible for the most part from people that are really evaluating them. The Federal option seems to be better, but that is on fairly limited and seemingly biased reviews...

    Hornady bullets have had some mixed reviews from what I have seen, some are good and consistent (I think it was the XTPs) and others (I think it was the SSTs) get mixed to poor reviews. Hornady I have found on the shelves (even in the offseason for MLing) and they are fairly cheap.

    Basically, I am not against a bit of trial and error, I would just like a good starting place. I would rather pay for the Barnes TEZ bullets and have them work splendidly than try all kinds of cheap ammo that works mediocre and ultimately end up spending way more money trying to find something that is just better than average.

    And thanks a ton for the replies!
     
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  8. Mar 17, 2019 #8

    GM54-120

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    BOR Lock BC is horrible. Might as well scratch that one off if you are talking about 200 yards and beyond.
    Ballistic Coefficient: 0.168

    You will want to keep any tipped Barnes at 1200fps minimum impact speeds. So do the math. You wont get a 290gr TEZ much over 2000fps at the muzzle safely. A .223 BC isnt stellar but not horrible either. Using the advertised BC and 2000fps at the muzzle its down to 1398fps at 200 yards and 1280 at 250yards.

    Speer rates their 300gr DeepCurl BC higher but im sure thats with a lower muzzle velocity. You would get 50 bullets for $20 or less. The Harvester Scorpion PT Gold comes to mind. Nothing great about it other than it might do what you want and its sorta cheap directly from Harvester.

    Buy some Harvester EZ Load sabots at the same time. Not the Crushribs.
    https://www.harvestermuzzleloading....em/60-45-cal-300-grain-451-polymer-tip-bullet
    https://www.harvestermuzzleloading....abot-for-451-452-cal-300-grain-or-less-bullet

    They have a new White Lightning bullet too that should have a better BC also. Bullet is the same construction. Its just a .429 instead of a .451
    https://www.harvestermuzzleloading....85-50-cal-sabot-300-gr-430-polymer-tip-bullet
    https://www.harvestermuzzleloading....s/item/51-50-cal-sabot-for-429-430-cal-bullet
     
  9. Mar 18, 2019 #9

    Checkmate

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    Can't thank you enough for this info. I think the White Lightning is going to be the first thing I try. Crossing my fingers it will shoot well out of the rifle I am picking up. From the additional reading I have found on that, it seems like it is just the right type of combo of price point/performance that I was hoping to achieve. Thanks again!
     
  10. Mar 18, 2019 #10

    GM54-120

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    Good BC (over .250 more than likely)
    Good Sectional Density (.233)
    Really affordable

    If that combo works for you, Grafs is cheaper on the sabots. Harvester will give you some sabot samples if you ask for them too. You might want to try some green Crushribs just in case but the EZ load normally work well for CVA owners. I have better luck with 45s shooting better than 44s in sabots. Some people are quite happy with 44s.
     
  11. Mar 18, 2019 #11

    FredB

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    I've never felt the need to carry a separate bullet starter. TC makes a clear plastic gadget that holds the powder and bullet for my second shot, and it's really a multi tool. Its a hollow tube with a divider in it, and endcaps. You put the powder in one side, and the bullet in the other. It also has a nub on the middle, to serve as a short starter, and a corresponding hole to put over the end of the ramrod, to drive the bullet down to the powder. No need for a separate bullet starter means one less thing to buy, and to carry.
     
  12. Mar 19, 2019 #12

    snapbang

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    Enjoy your gun, practice until your a good shot, pick your target, and make it count. Dont worry too much about the second shot. If the first one is good you'll never need the second.
     
  13. Apr 16, 2019 #13

    Widude

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    I often use the common Hornady XTP Bullet in a Harvestor sabot, shoots fine, also no issues on game. When recovered, hard to get a prettier mushroom than an all copper bullet.

    It takes a bit of trial & error, experimenting to get the right setup and bullet fit. That testing is best done at a casual pace in the off season, like now.
     
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  14. Apr 16, 2019 #14

    Doccbst1

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    I'll chime in, not an expert but I know some things. I'll take. As described in post. What I would use.
    Forget 300yds, maybe 250 with a lot of work and some research & $ on bullets. Heavy bullets for long range and KE.
    Rifle looks nice, nitride finish,accurate.
    Scope, for longer shots get a 3 or 4 x 12
    Blackhorn 209, you may need specific 209 breechplug for accuracy, performance according to Blackhorn
    Powder, get a digital scale also for consistency and to dial in your load.
    Range rod, get a steel or aluminum
    One piece rod
    Jags, universal CVA $4 or of course spin jag is the best
    Starter, t handle or ball starter
    Bullets, stick to .45 for starters buy all 3 to get best group
    Hornady xtp 300gr .452
    Speer deep curl 300gr .452
    Harvester PT Scorpion .452
    Barnes are great but pricy
    Sabots, crush rib, easy load, try both or more
    Sabots are cheap.
    Another edit : primers CCI magnum 209
    Hopps #9 for cleaning Blackhorn
    Brushes, patches, Montana extreme bore conditioner to start out right.

    Look at the hi lux optics scopes, priced Right an ML designed.
    Just my opinions
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
  15. Apr 16, 2019 #15

    GM54-120

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    Eye Relief:3.40”–2.72"....OUCH
     
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  16. Apr 16, 2019 #16

    Jimmer

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    Not an expert either but have been hunting and shooting muzzleloaders for 20 plus years. Here is my 2 cents.
    The Deep Curl or Gold Dot 300 gn bullets are most excellent. I have shot many mule deer with them with excellent results. The Hornady XTP is very similar but not as good as the Deep Curl. Issue I had was I bought what I thought was a lifetime supply of them only to let a friend use them to get his rifles shooting well. Then the bullet crunch hit. I couldn't find any online or in the big stores. I guess what I'm saying is find a bullet that is a known performer that shoots good out of your rifle and buy all you can get your hands on. The Speer 260 gn .452 HP is an excellent performer. I shot a big mule deer buck at well over 300 yards with this bullet and it performed flawlessly. I still have the bullet and the buck on the wall. They are about $13 for 50 at Midway.
    I like the Thompson T-rod and I use it at the range and in the field, only need one rod.
     
  17. Apr 16, 2019 #17

    NatureNick

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    MidwayUSA has been running a Free Shipping on $49+ Orders promotion for 2-3 days about every other week since Thanksgiving. If you're interested in what they have available, I recommend signing up for their emails so you'll know when they're running it again. Natchez has frequently run a $5 flat rate on $99+ orders; again, email subscriptions are good for a heads-up. It's been a buyer's market as you've no doubt noticed, at least until the next general election. I do try to patronize my LGS, but they just don't carry much in the way of niches like muzzleloading beyond what the local Farm & Fleet has on their shelves.

    I'm a Hornady fanboy as far as bullets go, but I don't care for their Slick Load sabots. I get better accuracy from Harvester and MMP brands, plus I once had a Slick Load saboted bullet get loose over the powder after a moderate 1/4 mile trek from truck to blind which I fortunately discovered while double-checking the seating once I was in my blind. (I will always do that, and as another member here says in his signature, "WITNESS MARKS ON ALL RAMRODS!")

    I happen to like this bullet (https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1018229522/hornady-ftx-bullets-flex-tip-expanding-box-of-100) in this sabot (https://www.natchezss.com/harvester...rush-rib-sabots-fit-45-cal-bullets-50-pk.html). I can make 3 holes touch at 200 yards all day long with 110 grains of BH209, and this load is nearly perfectly synced with my holdover stadia in my scope at 7X. It has performed well in deer hunting, but failed to exit a doe at 190 yards (my furthest game shot with this combo). I found it under the distant ribs, nicely expanded, but I saw enough to know this isn't a combo for using past 200 yards. Your mileage may vary.

    My second favorite combo is this bullet (https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1010865576/hornady-xtp-bullets-jacketed-hollow-point) in this sabot (https://www.natchezss.com/harvester...rush-rib-sabots-fit-44-cal-bullets-50-pk.html). It syncs nicely with my scope's stadia at 4X out to 100 yards. It expanded well at in the 9 deer and 4 pigs I've shot with it from 20-80 yards but as it's a heavy handgun bullet, fired at .44 Magnum rifle velocities, and has a BC approximating that of a U-Haul van, I'll keep it under 150 yards no matter what groups it prints on paper beyond that range.

    What I really like about both of those loads is that along with a 5 lb. bottle of BH209 and a case of Win 209 primers, I can get a lot of shooting done at the range with the same stuff I use on whitetails. If I had to choose between the two I'd probably stick with the FTX bullet.

    As far as other gear, I've had a CVA Lifetime Range Rod for about 15 years and it leaves little to be desired. I did wrap the aluminum handle with gaffer tape because sometimes it's really cold out when I get time free for range days. I believe my T/C T-handle short starter is very helpful, but CVA makes a good one too. I prefer using the ones that accept 10-32 bullet seating/loading tips because I like having the same tip on my range rod, short starter, and either on my rifle's field ramrod or in my buttstock pouch. I use loading tips conformed generally to the geometry of the bullet tip I'm seating at the time, so I can lean hard on a stubborn seating without unacceptably deforming the bullet. Lastly, I've found waterproof medical sample tubes or the Blackhorn brand charge tubes are great for keeping pre-measured charges dry, instead of trying to use a measure in the rain without getting my powder wet or fumbling with a powder flask with numb fingertips in January. Don't rely on the measuring graduations marked on the Blackhorn brand tubes - they're roll-printed with significant variation lot-to-lot in just where the lines fall along the tube's length.
     
  18. Apr 16, 2019 #18

    Jimmer

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    I also like the plastic tubes for powder. I can send you a few if you want to give them a try. See photo: IMG_0099.JPG
     
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  19. Apr 17, 2019 #19

    Doccbst1

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    Yea, guess TB got me on his article, just looked so good in print. I'm gonna have to research more before posting. And get over my budget buying complex.
    I'm a Nikon guy with centerfire and put a $50 Tradions BDC scope on my ML, it's a lil shy on eye relief also.
    Top rated Nikon Pro Staff ML is 3.6" eye relief and although a lot more relief than HiLux they claim "generous". I guess a $500 rifle deserves the best, or at least a $500 scope. Awaiting the answer here . Until then best (value)I could find in reviews is the Nikon.
    https://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en.../prostaff-p3-muzzleloader-3-9x40-bdc-300.html
     
  20. Apr 17, 2019 #20

    GM54-120

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    I prefer 3.7" minimum but that is a little flexible on mounting position and the amount of recoil expected. What you have to watch for is eye relief on high vs low magnification. On high its typically much less on cheap scopes. Its improves as the price goes up. Longer eye relief may also hurt your field of view.

    A scope i thought was pretty nice for ML use was the Vortex Diamondback HP. Im pretty sure its been discontinued. They had a generous 4" of relief, side focus and glass similar to the Vortex Viper scopes. All for under $300 when on sale.

    These are very nice for the money
    https://www.sportsmans.com/hunting/.../1386616#tab_content_ProductSpecsTabComponent
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019

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