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What powder in new round ball gun

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txhunter58

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So, a friend made me a 54 cal Hawken style sidelock with a 1 in 66” twist. So will be shooting round balls in it. He shoots real black but I have never done that. Anyone shooting pyrodex or 777 in these guns or should I stick with black?
 

Squint

Squint
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So, a friend made me a 54 cal Hawken style sidelock with a 1 in 66” twist. So will be shooting round balls in it. He shoots real black but I have never done that. Anyone shooting pyrodex or 777 in these guns or should I stick with black?
I started out in the late 80s with a percussion and all I had access to was pyrodex and it worked just fine. It was a Hawkins design so cleaning was a snap as the barrel came off easy. Never had any problems with rust or corrosion that I see posted on the sites. Fast forward 15 years, I bought a Flintlock and had to find a source for black powder as they do not work with anything else. Fast-forward another 15 years and I bought a new percussion with the intentions of using 777 and that's what I do. Works just fine, don't even use Magnum primers, I did bore out the nipple a couple wire bit sizes. The nearest black powder to me is roughly 400 miles and I have to make special arrangements to get it here and I'm too darn old to order enough to pay for hazmat and shipping from a retailer as I don't think I'm going to need that many more pounds. Back to the 777, easy to work with, much easier to clean, and I get more speed out of the same volume measure. I might not be a purist, but it takes me just as long to load and shoot and reload, as those blackpowder people of 1850. But they didn't have the gun laws or the federal interference that I have.
Now if you're wondering why I needed a new percussion, is because the old one is too heavy for offhand shooting anymore. This one has a black fiber stock, a 24 inch barrel, and a one and 48 twist and shoots round balls reasonably well. The entire rifle weights 5 3/4 pounds and is a dream to shoot.
Squint
 

Bruce Mattes

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If black powder is readily available to purchase then there is no reason not to use it. Regardless of what anyone might tell you, using black powder substitutes does not eliminate, nor slow down the need to clean ones gun once it has been fired. The same as with black powder, the sooner you clean, the better. Many shooters like to partially clean at the range to get the bulk of the fouling out, and then thoroughly clean once they are home.

Every rifle barrel is different. Try as many different powders, granulations, charge weights, patch materials, patch thicknesses as you want until you find the one that gives the best accuracy in your barrel.
 

Squint

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If black powder is readily available to purchase then there is no reason not to use it. Regardless of what anyone might tell you, using black powder substitutes does not eliminate, nor slow down the need to clean ones gun once it has been fired. The same as with black powder, the sooner you clean, the better. Many shooters like to partially clean at the range to get the bulk of the fouling out, and then thoroughly clean once they are home.

Every rifle barrel is different. Try as many different powders, granulations, charge weights, patch materials, patch thicknesses as you want until you find the one that gives the best accuracy in your barrel.
I hope you didn't take my statement, "much easier to clean", to mean that I didn't have to clean. Even though my caps are noncorrosive, I know there still is a danger from the 777. That said, one swab of CVA #13 patch down the barrel works fine until I get home and when I pump soapy water through the bore, nothing never comes out, but that doesn't mean I don't have to do it. A shot of alcohol to help remove the water, and the final patch treated with kerosene seems to take care of the corrosion factor. Two days later, still white as snow as also in a week. So far, the most times I have loaded with 3F-777 without running patch through is 18 times. Number 18 loaded the same as number two. I do use a powder wad. I've never taken the time to see what accuracy would do if I swab between every shot because of the time factor and I want to be able to shoot without the delay. I do know the first fouling shot is generally right around the black at 50 yards which would be my interest in having a shot ready for hunting. Actually, the main fun for me, it's all the experimentation trying to develop that perfect load with lubes, patches, and powder. I haven't found it yet, I just need more time.
Squint
 

Bruce Mattes

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I hope you didn't take my statement, "much easier to clean", to mean that I didn't have to clean. Even though my caps are noncorrosive, I know there still is a danger from the 777. That said, one swab of CVA #13 patch down the barrel works fine until I get home and when I pump soapy water through the bore, nothing never comes out, but that doesn't mean I don't have to do it. A shot of alcohol to help remove the water, and the final patch treated with kerosene seems to take care of the corrosion factor. Two days later, still white as snow as also in a week. So far, the most times I have loaded with 3F-777 without running patch through is 18 times. Number 18 loaded the same as number two. I do use a powder wad. I've never taken the time to see what accuracy would do if I swab between every shot because of the time factor and I want to be able to shoot without the delay. I do know the first fouling shot is generally right around the black at 50 yards which would be my interest in having a shot ready for hunting. Actually, the main fun for me, it's all the experimentation trying to develop that perfect load with lubes, patches, and powder. I haven't found it yet, I just need more time.
Squint
No, I was not referencing you, Squint.

I was actually composing, and typing my response while your response was being added to the thread.

It's just that there is a lot of mythology floating around the internet about how the black powder subs eliminate the need to clean. Either at all, or in a timely fashion.

As a result, there are a ton of ruined barrels, breech plugs, drums, and nipples on rifles sitting in pawn shops/gun shops/private homes.
 
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txhunter58

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Thx guys. Another question: should I use 0.530 or 0.535 round balls?

I have used 777 quite a bit too, in my renegade sidelock, so familiar with it.5C6EDD60-0ABE-4C26-9144-6819F3499EFE.jpeg
 

deermanok

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If it was me, I'd go with the smaller diameter ball because I think you can adjust patch thickness a lot easier and cheaper. I'm sure someone else would be able to tell you better than me.
 

Bruce Mattes

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Try both sizes. Sometimes the size that you think should shoot the best, or that you WANT to shoot the best; turns out to be the opposite of what your barrel shoots best.
 

txhunter58

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Messages
998
No, I was not referencing you, Squint.

I was actually composing, and typing my response while your response was being added to the thread.

It's just that there is a lot of mythology floating around the internet about how the black powder subs eliminate the need to clean. Either at all, or in a timely fashion.

As a result, there are a ton of ruined barrels, breech plugs, drums, and nipples on rifles sitting in pawn shops/gun shops/private homes.
The ONLY sub I have used where I felt safe letting the rifle sit over night before I clean is BH 209. And can’t use that in a sidelock!
 

Bruce Mattes

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Remember, modern hunters shooting brass cartridges in centerfire rifles have gotten used to out-of-the-box accuracy that most sidelock rifles shooting a patched ball require some time & effort on the shooters part to match.

Modern shooters are obsessed with sub-M.O.A. accuracy. And, the truth is, that a 40 year old Thompson/Center Hawken has the ability to deliver sub-M.O.A., 100 yard accuracy if the shooter is willing to spend the time finding the powder charge, wad/bullet, or patch/ball, combo that will deliver that accuracy.

So too, are any modern recreations of a sidelock rifle of the past with a modern, high quality barrel.

It WILL NOT MATTER if the firearm is a matchlock, a wheellock, a snaphaunce, a flintlock, or a percussion.

The limiting factor in accuracy will be the eyes of the shooter, the shooter's ability to shoot a rifle, and most important of all, the sighting system.

Lousy form, and bad eyes cannot be made up with great equipment.

By the same token, should one insist on using 18th Century sights, set at 18th Century distances on that long barrel; then you had damn better have young eyes with good eyesight in order to see those sights. Those types of sights WERE NEVER INTENDED TO BE USED BY OLD PEOPLE WITH AGEING EYESIGHT!!!!!!!!

Like me!

Edit to the above:

If you are willing to put a modern telescopic sight, ie. a scope, on your sidelock rifle; then that will indeed make up for lousy eyesight.

So too, depending upon how bad your eyes are, will a good tang-mounted, windage & elevation adjustable, aperture sight. Usually to get the most out of an aperture sight requires a hooded front sight with inserts.

For HUNTING, a ghost ring aperture rear sight, combined with some form of hi-viz front sight can help old eyes a lot.
 
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Cent540

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Feb 25, 2020
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109
So, a friend made me a 54 cal Hawken style sidelock with a 1 in 66” twist. So will be shooting round balls in it. He shoots real black but I have never done that. Anyone shooting pyrodex or 777 in these guns or should I stick with black?
60 grains of FFG ought to get you down range to start. I've seen guys hunt with 90-100 grains (for penetration) but I can hit just about anything paper out to 100 yards with 60 no problem. My beef with synthetics is the corosivness, the slow burn and the mess. It's not really any worse then BP, you just have to clean it up pronto before it starts doing damage. I mean, quick clean at the range, then complete clean when you get home. Keep a note book of whatever you use. Date, shot #, range, powder type, charge size, ball size, patch thickness, ambient temp, hits, misses. All that data on every shot adds up. You start to see what the gun likes and don't like.
Try different stuff, who knows? You might have a gun that loves 777. Whatever questions you have about any variable has no doubt been tried by sombody on this forum. You can save alot of time that way to. You might get 20 answers to one question. If 12 of the shooters say the same thing well you can be pretty sure they have the right answer. BTW, I shoot synthetic pelletized charges in my modern Knight but I only use traditional real black powder in my original 1861 Bridesberg and Pedersoli flintlock.
 

Renegadehunter

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Oct 23, 2018
Messages
169
Try both sizes. Sometimes the size that you think should shoot the best, or that you WANT to shoot the best; turns out to be the opposite of what your barrel shoots best.
This, for your .530 or .535 question. Try both and find out what your rifle prefers.
It does take some patient load development to get RB's shooting well.

For patches, I'd pick up and try .010" cotton, .015" cotton, and .018 pillow ticking. Start with thinnest and work up. I prefer unlubed so I can lube myself. I'm not a fan of chap stick style lubes like bore butter, natural loob, etc., so I'd recommend either Hoppes Black Powder lube and solvent for a damp patch target shooting type lube; or mink oil from Track of the Wolf or Frontier's anti-rust and patch lube for a hunting type lube. Lots of other things work too, there's more lubes than Carter had pills (or Reagan had jellybeans if you prefer). Just apply enough lube that the patch is lightly coated and the lube can be rubbed out to the edges of the patch. I can impact my groups by a couple of inches just with lube application or type of lube.

Start with a .530 RB and see which patch shoots best. That will also tell you what patch thickness you can try with the .535's. If the pillow tick patches load really tight with a .530 you don't want to try them with a .535 and end up with it stuck in the barrel and not able to seat it. Even if you don't want to have to swab between shots ultimately, I'd start out that way for load development...but make sure to check groups after you decide on a load combo to see how they do without swabbing. You may end up being able to shoot multiple times with out swabbing, only a couple times, or have to swab every time. My rifle for example will shoot only two shots without swabbing well, the third shot and others after it jump out of the group quite a bit.

To dial in the powder charge your rifle prefers, I'd start around 60 grains of 3f or 70 grains of 2f, shoot a group, bump the powder up by 5 grains, shoot another group, etc., etc., until you find the tightest groups. Most find a lighter charge their rifle shoots well and also a hotter charge up near max that shoots well. I wouldn't exceed 120 grains of 2f and 105 of 3f. A 1:66 twist "generally" does well being driven fairly hard. I like to find which patch/ball fits good before I start trying to find its preferred powder charge.
 

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