1" groups at 25 yards, 10" at 50 yards?

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Gsyme

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I have been silently perusing these boards for a few weeks and have learned a lot from you all - so thank you. I am the new owner of an old CVA Kentucky .45, gifted by a neighbor who had it in his closet for years. My first muzzleloading experience (actually, this is my first powder burner of any type. Been shooting high-powered air guns).

I must say, I think I am hooked. I've really been enjoying learning how to use this rifle, even though I have far to go and it takes forever to clean this beast, compared to an air rifle.

At first, I could barely hit a pizza box at 25 yards. It was all over the place. Trigger was extremely heavy pull - I had the wrong patch and ball size etc.

Experimented with patches, loads, holds, etc. and now have 1" groups at 25-30 yards. It's taken me about 50 or 60 shots to get to this point. An improvement but certainly not good enough.

I am using a .445 ball with a .010 patch, 40 grains of Pyrodex 2F (it's the only thing I could find available when I was shopping a few months ago.) I swab with one wet and one dry patch in between every shot. Spit lube seems to be working best for me at the moment.

I've tried up to 60 grains and the groups only seem to get worse.

So why are my groups almost acceptable at 25 but so incredibly huge at 50 yards?
(My guess: too light a charge and the ball doesn't have enough spin and starts to knuckleball after 30 yards or so.)

But why does 60 grains widen my groups?
(My guess: something wrong with my hold and the stronger kick is throwing me off.)

I am coming from airgunning to black powder. How should I hold this ol' Kentucky rifle?

My next plan is to try an even tighter patch, maybe a .015 since loading still seems fairly easy (I don't really need a ball starter currently.) Also going to try and find some 3F powder.

That's a lot of questions and I humbly thank you experienced black powder veterans for sharing your wisdom and/or laughter at my antics.

- G

P.S. I am a nerd and bought a chrony: 1260 fps at 40 grains. 1460 fps at 50 grains. 1540 at 60 grains.
 

Artificer

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I have been silently perusing these boards for a few weeks and have learned a lot from you all - so thank you. I am the new owner of an old CVA Kentucky .45, gifted by a neighbor who had it in his closet for years. My first muzzleloading experience (actually, this is my first powder burner of any type. Been shooting high-powered air guns).

I must say, I think I am hooked. I've really been enjoying learning how to use this rifle, even though I have far to go and it takes forever to clean this beast, compared to an air rifle.

At first, I could barely hit a pizza box at 25 yards. It was all over the place. Trigger was extremely heavy pull - I had the wrong patch and ball size etc.

Experimented with patches, loads, holds, etc. and now have 1" groups at 25-30 yards. It's taken me about 50 or 60 shots to get to this point. An improvement but certainly not good enough.

I am using a .445 ball with a .010 patch, 40 grains of Pyrodex 2F (it's the only thing I could find available when I was shopping a few months ago.) I swab with one wet and one dry patch in between every shot. Spit lube seems to be working best for me at the moment.

I've tried up to 60 grains and the groups only seem to get worse.

So why are my groups almost acceptable at 25 but so incredibly huge at 50 yards?
(My guess: too light a charge and the ball doesn't have enough spin and starts to knuckleball after 30 yards or so.)

But why does 60 grains widen my groups?
(My guess: something wrong with my hold and the stronger kick is throwing me off.)

I am coming from airgunning to black powder. How should I hold this ol' Kentucky rifle?

My next plan is to try an even tighter patch, maybe a .015 since loading still seems fairly easy (I don't really need a ball starter currently.) Also going to try and find some 3F powder.

That's a lot of questions and I humbly thank you experienced black powder veterans for sharing your wisdom and/or laughter at my antics.

- G

P.S. I am a nerd and bought a chrony: 1260 fps at 40 grains. 1460 fps at 50 grains. 1540 at 60 grains.
WELCOME to the Forum!

As an Air Gun shooter, were you taught to "quickly get off the trigger, after it went off?" I've seen this a lot with them and .22 shooters and is the reason I ask. You can't do that with a ML rifle as you have to continue follow through for enough time "for the ball to pass through the target." Otherwise, you can't help but throw the shot off.

Some ML rifles shoot well with a rather wide range of powder charges and some prefer rather specific charges to shoot the best. Also, for a ML rifle there are TWO accuracy loads. One is a light load good for short to medium range target shooting and the other with a heavier charge will be a hunting load.

I have one .45 flintlock rifle that drove me nuts trying to find a light powder charge accuracy load until I accidentally found 42 grains shot best. As I increased the load a little at a time, the groups opened up but finally got tighter again at 70 grains, so that is my hunting load.

Gus
 

andy52

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From your description, I'll assume you're shooting offhand?
The only way to confirm the rifle itself is to shoot from a bench out to whatever distance you need.
 

GriscomRun

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As a Marksmanship instructor - I teach all to - TAKE THE WHOLE SHOT !!
That means a full followthrough. Eyes on the target until well after the shot breaks. Includes small bore and archery.
 

Larry (Omaha)

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I am using a .445 ball with a .010 patch, 40 grains of Pyrodex 2F (it's the only thing I could find available when I was shopping a few months ago.) I swab
Welcome Gsyme from Nebraska. Air rifles are blast, but welcome to the smoky world too. Don't know if you are shooting from a bench or not. Bench the gun and if you want another suggestion try .440 ball and .017 to .020 cotton patch.
Keep us posted.
Larry
 

LME

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I have been silently perusing these boards for a few weeks and have learned a lot from you all - so thank you. I am the new owner of an old CVA Kentucky .45, gifted by a neighbor who had it in his closet for years. My first muzzleloading experience (actually, this is my first powder burner of any type. Been shooting high-powered air guns).

I must say, I think I am hooked. I've really been enjoying learning how to use this rifle, even though I have far to go and it takes forever to clean this beast, compared to an air rifle.

At first, I could barely hit a pizza box at 25 yards. It was all over the place. Trigger was extremely heavy pull - I had the wrong patch and ball size etc.

Experimented with patches, loads, holds, etc. and now have 1" groups at 25-30 yards. It's taken me about 50 or 60 shots to get to this point. An improvement but certainly not good enough.

I am using a .445 ball with a .010 patch, 40 grains of Pyrodex 2F (it's the only thing I could find available when I was shopping a few months ago.) I swab with one wet and one dry patch in between every shot. Spit lube seems to be working best for me at the moment.

I've tried up to 60 grains and the groups only seem to get worse.

So why are my groups almost acceptable at 25 but so incredibly huge at 50 yards?
(My guess: too light a charge and the ball doesn't have enough spin and starts to knuckleball after 30 yards or so.)

But why does 60 grains widen my groups?
(My guess: something wrong with my hold and the stronger kick is throwing me off.)

I am coming from airgunning to black powder. How should I hold this ol' Kentucky rifle?

My next plan is to try an even tighter patch, maybe a .015 since loading still seems fairly easy (I don't really need a ball starter currently.) Also going to try and find some 3F powder.

That's a lot of questions and I humbly thank you experienced black powder veterans for sharing your wisdom and/or laughter at my antics.

- G

P.S. I am a nerd and bought a chrony: 1260 fps at 40 grains. 1460 fps at 50 grains. 1540 at 60 grains.
Before you change anything try shooting from a bench using a rest and make sure the rifle doesn't move. Practice pulling the trigger till you can pull it with no or hardly any movement of the rifle. You may be able to adjust the trigger if need be but be careful!
 

Crow-Feather

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First, if it is an older rifle, some were made with sharp edges on the lands and they will cut the patch reducing accuracy. To determine if your rifle is cutting patches, find and check a fired patch to see if the patch is cut. If it is, there are ways to correct this but continued shooting will also wear the sharp edge down after about 100 shots. Second, accuracy is obtained when the patch grips the ball tight enough to hold and spin the ball. The patch has to be tight enough on the ball that when the pressure obturates the ball, the patch will be held tight enough that when the patch spins with the grooves, the ball will be spun by the patch. You should need a short starter to get your ball/patch combo into the bore. Spit on a patch is fine but there are other lubes that work extremely well and make cleaning the rifle bore fairly easy. I use Napa Cutting and Grinding Oil, Part #765-1526. 10 to 15 percent of that with 85 percent water with a dash of liquid dish soap on a patch (soaked through but not dripping wet) will let you shoot from dawn to dusk without wiping tween shots. But you must start with a bore completely devoid of any oil. I use Frog Lube Solvent or T/C bore Butter to prevent rust in my bores after cleaning. I find Pillow Ticking to be the best of patch materials. There are different thicknesses so take your calipers to the fabric store. Pillow ticking has sizing in it when you buy it so you have to wash the material about 3-4 times to get the sizing out and the material soft,

I had so many problems with my first BP rifle that I was ready to give up. But I went to the range, met some experienced shooters who helped me greatly. Most every Black Powder shooter is ready and willing to help a new shooter. Most all Black powder shooters have their system that works for them. Some might spin around three times and spit over their left shoulder and tell you that it makes them shoot X's at 100 yards. And it does work for them. My system works for me but it isn't the only way to drop a buffalo. Part of the fun of shooting is trying and learning tricks that work for you.

ps On the web, Powder Inc. and other companies sell Black Powder through the mail. Powder Inc is pretty good but you have to buy in five pound lots. Check them out and get rid of the junk powder. 3F I believe is best for 45 caliber rifles. (or Pyro P if that's all you can get)

When you are home and it is dark, try the internet for articles on Black Powder shooting.

Keep working and God Bless.
 

mooman76

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Using spit lube, you shouldn't have to swab between shots. Retrieve your patched and look at them. They will tell you allot. I think you will find they are in poor shape. As a couple others mentioned, use thicker patches and if too tight go down to a .440 ball. Are you using store bought patches? No telling how old they are and if they are also lubed, they can break the material down over time. Home made patches are allot better and cheaper.
 

hanshi

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Welcome to the forum, Gsyme. A .010" patch is way too thin. I prefer to cut my own patches and use heavy canvas .024" thick compressed. Bench the gun, read your fired patches and go to a thicker material and cut your own.
 

necchi

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Those darn split-stocks,,
Sure glad i didn't start with one, but that slow twist .45 they made can turn out to be a tack-driver.
Welcome to the forum. Your gonna get a ton of advise, try not to be overwhelmed because there are many different techniques that lend accuracy.
Do some research in the archives (find back stories). Read topics that interest you.
These ML rifles do kind of have a lot of things going on, but it's a simple learning curve, folks have been winning matches with accuracy for 400yrs with them.
As you research, you'll see topics repeated over and over through time, it's the repeated responses that will answer your basic questions.
Once you have found the basics that fit you most comfortably, then it's time to focus on technique.
Good luck, you've found the right place,, stick with the site, there's plenty folks here to help.
 

Grenadier1758

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@Gsyme, I am surprised that no one has suggested Dutch Schoutz's system, "Black Powder Accuracy". While I don't necessarily agree with all of his procedures, for someone new to shooting black powder rifles, his system is a great start. There's about 94 pages of information and its well worth the expense to get it.

Black powder rifle accuracy system -

Another good source of information is Bob Spencer's notebook. Might not help with improving accuracy, but @Spence10 has provided some interesting reading nonetheless.

Black Powder Notebook (insightbb.com)
 

Loyalist Dave

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Another couple of votes, for a) shoot from a stable position, from a bench, and b) after several shots find your patches and analyze them for problems.

The trigger should have a we adjuster screw on the inside of the lock. That should aid the trigger pull.
YES this is true for CVA and Traditions "longrifle" locks and it should be located here if there is one..., if not, check to see if the screw is missing.

CVA SEAR ADJUSTMENT SCREW.JPG


LD
 

JCKelly

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I believe that spring-piston air-rifles are held lightly, so the gun can move freely as that main spring bounces around. Not necessary with gunpowder rifle.
With any shooting thing, I believe one "Follows Through", that is, keep your sights on the target until after all the gun activity has clearly ceased.

Oh, and DO load the ball right on to the powder. An air gap can blow up the gun. Does not happen consistently, but serious when it does happen.

Enjoy. Me, I'd stay with Pyramyd or Arizona.
 

JamesA

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I have been silently perusing these boards for a few weeks and have learned a lot from you all - so thank you. I am the new owner of an old CVA Kentucky .45, gifted by a neighbor who had it in his closet for years. My first muzzleloading experience (actually, this is my first powder burner of any type. Been shooting high-powered air guns).

I must say, I think I am hooked. I've really been enjoying learning how to use this rifle, even though I have far to go and it takes forever to clean this beast, compared to an air rifle.

At first, I could barely hit a pizza box at 25 yards. It was all over the place. Trigger was extremely heavy pull - I had the wrong patch and ball size etc.

Experimented with patches, loads, holds, etc. and now have 1" groups at 25-30 yards. It's taken me about 50 or 60 shots to get to this point. An improvement but certainly not good enough.

I am using a .445 ball with a .010 patch, 40 grains of Pyrodex 2F (it's the only thing I could find available when I was shopping a few months ago.) I swab with one wet and one dry patch in between every shot. Spit lube seems to be working best for me at the moment.

I've tried up to 60 grains and the groups only seem to get worse.

So why are my groups almost acceptable at 25 but so incredibly huge at 50 yards?
(My guess: too light a charge and the ball doesn't have enough spin and starts to knuckleball after 30 yards or so.)

But why does 60 grains widen my groups?
(My guess: something wrong with my hold and the stronger kick is throwing me off.)

I am coming from airgunning to black powder. How should I hold this ol' Kentucky rifle?

My next plan is to try an even tighter patch, maybe a .015 since loading still seems fairly easy (I don't really need a ball starter currently.) Also going to try and find some 3F powder.

That's a lot of questions and I humbly thank you experienced black powder veterans for sharing your wisdom and/or laughter at my antics.

- G

P.S. I am a nerd and bought a chrony: 1260 fps at 40 grains. 1460 fps at 50 grains. 1540 at 60 grains.
Sounds like you borrowed my Hawken. It has the same problem, 1" at 25 yards, a 50 cal. shotgun at 50 yards (10 in. to 12 in.).
 

rafterob

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Good advice here so far. Sounds like your load is good for 25 yards. Start from the beginning. Sighting in your rifle. Usually start with grains of powder=caliber. So for a .45 start with 45 grains. Shoot 3-5 shots a a target point and note the grouping. Do this and increase your load by 5 grains for each group. I find a 6 bull target great for this process. You should see the groups rise as the load gets larger and then peak out at a certain range. For that .45 I would guess that point is between 60 and 70 grains. Settle on the load that gives you the highest point of impact and tightest group with the least amount of powder. SO if 65 and 70 grains are both shooting a good tight group at the same altitude, go with a 65 grain load.
Once you have your load, then adjust the sights for zero. All of this should be off a steady bench rest hold.
Now its time to start practicing off hand. Note that these rifles with curved buttplates are made to be held at the cusp of the bicep and the shoulder with your arm parallel to the ground, not against your shoulder like most modern arms. Get good at 25, then practice at 50 and get confident at that range. Then try 100 ( or whatever various distances available at your range). When I got to the 100 yard distance it was the third trip to the range before I was hitting the target paper. After a year of practice I could fairly consistently score all shots on the 100 yard target (not great scores mind you, but they did score).
 

RanchRoper

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Welcome from Alberta. I shoot off hand only but I find that my best targets are always when I remember to follow through. Always.
 

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