28 or 29 caliber??

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Pilgrim67

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Hello, I’m not sure this is the correct place on this forum to post this. I apologize if it’s not.
I recently purchased an old muzzleloader and need some thoughts/advice/help with determining the caliber so I can find round balls and/or ball mold. It’s got a 7 groove rifling which makes it hard to measure. If you measure from a land there is always a groove on the opposite side. Measured like this it is .290. If I measure from one land to the opposite land as close to the groove as possible it is .280.
I realize My options are limited with this caliber range and would like to hear some advice or opinions before purchasing balls and molds that may or may not work. I will try to post some pictures if I can figure it out😁 Thank you
 

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Zonie

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From what you measured, the rifling bore is very close to a .28 caliber. With the narrow rifling the photo shows, your .280 measurement was probably pretty good.

The angle on the rifling on the slug looks like the rate of twist is very slow. That indicates the gun was most likely made for shooting cloth patched lead roundballs. Normally, a patched lead ball size is approximately .010 smaller than the bore. That would mean the gun would shoot a .270 diameter ball.

Now for the bad news. I checked the Track of the Wolf's web site and the smallest lead ball they offer for sale is .283 in diameter.


Although you could drive that size ball down the bore if you used a hammer, it wouldn't shoot very well. The ball needs the cloth patch to not only grab the rifling but to also seal the grooves off by making a tight seal.

Dixie Gun Works catalog shows a "Tatham's Compressed Buck Shot and Lead Balls chart that says that somewhere there is a No. 2C buckshot that is .270 in diameter and that would work if you could find it. It is also called "IV" in Germany. That 2C is not to be confused with "#2 American standard shot" though. #2 shot is .150 in diameter so it wouldn't work.

I'm going to move this thread to the General Muzzleloading area because the question applies to all muzzleloading rifles.
 

Pilgrim67

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From what you measured, the rifling bore is very close to a .28 caliber. With the narrow rifling the photo shows, your .280 measurement was probably pretty good.

The angle on the rifling on the slug looks like the rate of twist is very slow. That indicates the gun was most likely made for shooting cloth patched lead roundballs. Normally, a patched lead ball size is approximately .010 smaller than the bore. That would mean the gun would shoot a .270 diameter ball.

Now for the bad news. I checked the Track of the Wolf's web site and the smallest lead ball they offer for sale is .283 in diameter.


Although you could drive that size ball down the bore if you used a hammer, it wouldn't shoot very well. The ball needs the cloth patch to not only grab the rifling but to also seal the grooves off by making a tight seal.

Dixie Gun Works catalog shows a "Tatham's Compressed Buck Shot and Lead Balls chart that says that somewhere there is a No. 2C buckshot that is .270 in diameter and that would work if you could find it. It is also called "IV" in Germany. That 2C is not to be confused with "#2 American standard shot" though. #2 shot is .150 in diameter so it wouldn't work.

I'm going to move this thread to the General Muzzleloading area because the question applies to all muzzleloading rifles.
Thank you Zonie. I new here and just figured it out just a few minutes ago and reposted in General Muzzleloading also.😁. Sorry. If you could delete the other post I would appreciate it. I tried to delete this one but to no avail.
Thank you for the information. I too would say it is a 28 caliber. I found some buckshot at Ballistic Products with a diameter of .270 but it says that it is hardened. I have read of others using this. What are your thoughts on hardened lead? Or should I just have a .270 ball mold made? Thanks
 

Rudyard

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Owning by chance a 290 cal bird rifle I've looked into bulk shot it once was offered but like the op I found getting balls difficult so made a cherry & with it a soapstone gang mould and added replica Colt mounds to make some from the spare room in these common moulds .. Not making the cherry stem small enough the snipped of sprues are often much flatted but seem to work but awkward to load easily spue uppermost . But loading just 15 grains its a pleasant rifle to shoot . .The barrel was marked G Tyler & it came from Greenville Ohio a patiently well made barrel doubtless meant for squirrels but we don't have then here in NZ .
Rudyard
 

Britsmoothy

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If you can measure the barrel wall thickness with land and then without, or in a groove you can then work out the bore by adding or subtracting what you measure across the bore etc.
If you did want to try a full size ball hammered in. Use a firewall of creame of wheat. You may have to rod the barrel every shot with a lubricating patch.
The hardened buckshot of the right size would be better though.
 

Pietro

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If you can measure the barrel wall thickness with land and then without, or in a groove you can then work out the bore by adding or subtracting what you measure across the bore etc.
IOW, measure the bore from the bottom of a groove to the top of the opposite land, then add in the height of the land from it's groove bottom.
 

longcruise

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You could go with one of these.

 

Pilgrim67

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Thank you all so much for your input. I just purchased it and have it posted elsewhere on this forum trying to figure out the maker/age of it as it doesn’t have any makers mark on the barrel. Here are a couple of pictures of the rifle in question. There are more on the other post if you wish to see more. Thanks
 

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Britsmoothy

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IOW, measure the bore from the bottom of a groove to the top of the opposite land, then add in the height of the land from it's groove bottom.
Yeah sort of....we need to know the bore diameter for patched ball more so than the groove diameter. Groove diameter is important for a conical.
 

Eterry

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The old jr high coach who introduced me to muzzle loading made a 1/4 size flintlock for his son when he was 5. He used an 8mm mauser barrel, and bought single O buckshot then tumbled them in a rock polisher for a few days and had a 25 lb supply of round balls.

A 7mm cast lead conical bullet might work, would be interesting. I bet someone over on castboolits would sell you a handful of cast 175grain 7mm bullets to experiment with.
 

Pilgrim67

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The old jr high coach who introduced me to muzzle loading made a 1/4 size flintlock for his son when he was 5. He used an 8mm mauser barrel, and bought single O buckshot then tumbled them in a rock polisher for a few days and had a 25 lb supply of round balls.

A 7mm cast lead conical bullet might work, would be interesting. I bet someone over on castboolits would sell you a handful of cast 175grain 7mm bullets to experiment with.
I don’t know if a bullet would work. The twist rate looks to be pretty slow.
 

Zonie

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Thank you Zonie. I new here and just figured it out just a few minutes ago and reposted in General Muzzleloading also....
Thank you for the information. I too would say it is a 28 caliber. I found some buckshot at Ballistic Products with a diameter of .270 but it says that it is hardened. I have read of others using this. What are your thoughts on hardened lead? Or should I just have a .270 ball mold made? Thanks
The hardened lead buckshot will work but you should probably use a cloth patch that is a little thinner than the .018 thick ones a lot of us use with pure lead balls.

If I was shooting the gun I would try some .015" thick patches with those balls. Maybe even some .012 thick patches.

One of the nice things about shooting patched balls is, the ball never touches the bore of the gun. One of our forum members even successfully shot some solid brass balls out of his rifles quite accuretly. As I recall, he also killed a deer using the brass balls. (He was an avid hunter. He didn't live in California but he read about the lead ban in that State so he wanted to be prepared in case his State adapted a similar anti-lead ban.)

A couple of muzzleloaders who write articles for Muzzle Blast magazine (The Bevel Brothers) also tried shooting lead balls that were cast out of wheel weights. As you may know, most of the lead wheel weights are made from hardened lead.
What they found is that the patch thickness needed to be reduced but once that was done, the wheel weight lead balls shot almost as well as the pure lead balls they use to often win shooting matches.
 
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