.526 Roundball - Who Uses Them?

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I think it was the Lyman Blackpowder Handbook, but I'm not certain, having a piece about Gary (Doc) White killing a mountain sheep (Dall I think) and a caribou with a GRRW Leman using a .526 round ball. Do any of you .54 caliber shooters use this diameter ball and if so in what?
 
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bang

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I've used them but it's quite a bit of patch. So much that I don't think it really likes it. It's not terrible but.
IMO having to use a real thick patch especially in shallow riflings is set up for skipping on the lands with loads you would use typically but might work with lower load
 
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I think it was the Lyman Blackpowder Handbook, but I'm not certain, having a piece about Gary (Doc) White killing a mountain sheep (Dall I think) and a caribou with a GRRW Leman using a .526 round ball. Do any of you .54 caliber shooters use this diameter ball and if so in what?
Personally have not used a .526” ball in any of my 54 caliber guns, and I have quite few. It seems that the .530” and .535” molds I have cover what I need so far. If I had a .526” RB mold I would hang on to it, though I doubt I’d buy one unless it were quite the deal.

That said, it seems that someone is always looking for a .526” mold and it appears TOW will have 6 cavity Lee molds available at some time in the future. As far as who actually uses a .526” RB, from what I have heard, folks using GRRW barrels, Colerain, some others with radius bottom rifling, or any tight 54 caliber have success with .526” roundballs. I have also seen references where the US military used .525”/.526” roundballs in their 54 caliber guns. Wasn’t there and don’t own any in shootable condition to confirm, so speculation on actual ball size on my part.

Curious as to your actual experience using .526” roundballs. Anything you can share with us?
 

Tom A Hawk

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Personally have not used a .526” ball in any of my 54 caliber guns, and I have quite few. It seems that the .530” and .535” molds I have cover what I need so far. If I had a .526” RB mold I would hang on to it, though I doubt I’d buy one unless it were quite the deal.

That said, it seems that someone is always looking for a .526” mold and it appears TOW will have 6 cavity Lee molds available at some time in the future. As far as who actually uses a .526” RB, from what I have heard, folks using GRRW barrels, Colerain, some others with radius bottom rifling, or any tight 54 caliber have success with .526” roundballs. I have also seen references where the US military used .525”/.526” roundballs in their 54 caliber guns. Wasn’t there and don’t own any in shootable condition to confirm, so speculation on actual ball size on my part.

Curious as to your actual experience using .526” roundballs. Anything you can share with us?
My percussion .54 is a Hawken has a custom Goodoin barrel. That rifle and my Lyman Plains flinter both like .530 balls and a .015" patch. With my Colerain and Rice barreled guns I had to go to a thinner patch using .530 balls. With a .o13 patch seating was still too stiff and results on target were erratic, Patches were often blown. By using .526 balls in these guns I am able to go back to a .015" patch and have smooth seating. Groups are small and consistent. Recovered patches are perfect.
 

coaldust

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My Lyman's Great Plains Rifle (Kit built in 1977) takes a .520 Round ball with .012 to .015 pillow ticking for a patch
over 90 grains of 2Fg, very accurate!!
 
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I have used a .526 round ball during a Woods Walk when my .54 barrel started to foul and get hard to load. I start the walk with .530 and a .015 patch, then go to the .526 as fouling builds and have a .010 patch as a final backup.
 
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The reason I asked the .526 ball question is I own GRRW Leman .54 and a custom full stock Hawken in .54 with a GRRW barrel. I use .530 in both but I'm curious how the .526 might work. I shot my Leman yesterday and while the .530 is relatively easy to load I think the barrel in tight enough it might be worth experimenting with a .526 ball.
 

Tom A Hawk

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The reason I asked the .526 ball question is I own GRRW Leman .54 and a custom full stock Hawken in .54 with a GRRW barrel. I use .530 in both but I'm curious how the .526 might work. I shot my Leman yesterday and while the .530 is relatively easy to load I think the barrel in tight enough it might be worth experimenting with a .526 ball.
TOW has them in bags of 50.
 

Notchy Bob

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A pure lead sphere of .526" diameter weighs exactly half an ounce, or 32 to the pound.

I have a Hawken halfstock built around a nominally .54 caliber GRRW barrel. I haven't gotten around to getting an accurate measure of the bore size, but these are notorious for being more or less undersized. The first time I took it to the range, I tried a .528" round ball from Missouri Bullet Co. and had to use a mallet to seat it. I had some .520" balls with me, though, and these loaded as they should.

If you like fifty-fours, I think it's a good idea to have a variety of balls on hand in sizes from .520" up to .535". It's nice to have a few .526" balls incase the need arises.

In the book, Small Arms and Ammunition in the United States Service, author Berkeley R. Lewis cited several government documents and showed a number of tables indicating the .54 caliber US rifles and single-shot pistols of the first half of the 19th century used a .525" ball in the standard service load. Interestingly, he also noted that "...musket [smoothbore] balls were always considerably smaller than bore diameter. Prior to 1845 the standard difference in diameter of ball and bore (known as windage) was 0.050 inch. Thus, a smooth-bore arm to use the caliber 0.525 rifle ball, had a bore of 0.525 plus 0.050, or 0.575 inch" (page 49). These smoothbores, including the various "cadet" muskets as well as some treaty muskets for issue to the Indian tribes, were known as "rifle caliber" muskets (p. 48).

In the literature of the fur trade, you see occasional references to a "half-ounce trade ball," and we know the most common bore size for Northwest guns was 24 gauge. A true 24 gauge would be .579", but by actual measure, a great many of these old trade guns are closer to .60 caliber. Oddly enough, moulds and balls of .550" are frequently associated with fur trade sites (see Hamilton's Colonial Frontier Guns and Gooding's Trade Guns of the Hudson's Bay Company). An actual .550" ball in a .60 caliber gun would still give .050" of windage.

In any event the .526" round ball is historically significant, and this ball size does still have practical applications for .54 caliber shooters today, whether they simply want a slightly easier-loading ball, or they need the smaller size for an undersized bore.

I'm already in the queue for one of the .526" moulds from Track of the Wolf.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

SamTex1949

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The reason I asked the .526 ball question is I own GRRW Leman .54 and a custom full stock Hawken in .54 with a GRRW barrel. I use .530 in both but I'm curious how the .526 might work. I shot my Leman yesterday and while the .530 is relatively easy to load I think the barrel in tight enough it might be worth experimenting with a .526 ball.
I have the GRRW leman rifle (from 1975) and discovered it liked the .526 RB very well !
 
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Back in the 1970's there was basically only three barrel makers to choose from: Numrich, Douglas, or full custom from Bill Large. In general, the .54 caliber barrels from Numrich and Large actually mic'd out at .535 as I recall. The Douglas was closer to a true .540. It was early on during this time that Lyman introduced their .526 mold. Lee followed soon afterward. I remember Turner Kirkland mentioning that most of the .54 Numrich barrels they received were actually closer to .535. This is also probably why TOTW still offers .526 balls for sale.
During that decade, a friend had a custom Hawken with a Bill Large barrel. Sure enough it was actually a .535. The .526 ball worked better and was easier to load. On the other hand, my .54 Douglas barrel would load and shoot equally well with either .530 or .526.
Just a little history from my foggy memory.

Rick
 

beardedhorse

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Bill Large sold his barrel making machinery to GRRW and both barrels like .526 or .520 round balls. Got a defective Lyman steel block .526 mold. .530 and .535 don't feed well into my Large barrel.
 
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