I have a couple T/C 56 smoothbore Renegades that have been ignored for years. I shot one of them in 2008 and the other has never been out. I've been enjoying my .62 smoothbore flintlock Renegade recently which got me thinking about these guns. I decided to take the one I've never shot to the range today.
Before heading out I carved a wood dowel that fit the bore so I could make some Post-It shot cups like the ones I've been using in my .62 cal. I didn't play with different charges of shot or powder charges today. I only had about an hour to spare at the range so I went with 7/8oz #6 shot and equivalent charge of FF Goex which turned out to be 65 grains.
I only shot at 14 yards today. In the areas I hunt most shots on snowshoe hares, cottontails and grouse are inside 20 yards.
At the range the paper shot cup failed to open on both my first (left) and second shots. One pellet escaped on the first target and it impacted sideways on the second target with only a few pellets escaping. When I've experienced this with my .62 it was always because I didn't tap the shot cup to "stress" the paper. On both of these shots I had tapped the shot cup.
I thought about it a second and realized that with my .62 I've been using a half a cushion instead of a full cushion. I don't know why I started doing that. I decided to try a half a cushion in the .56 to see if that made any difference. Here's a full cushion compared to a little less than half a cushion on the right side of the tin.
That's all it took. My guess is that the full cushion absorbs more of the shock, preventing the paper from being stressed enough to open. The first target had 86 pellets in an 8" circle, the second had 73 pellets in the circle.
I also tried loose shot in it. This gun performed much better with loose shot than my .62 has. With 72 and 73 pellets in the circle on these targets its pretty much the same performance as the paper shot cup load without the chance of the shot cup not opening. I still used a half a cushion on these targets (I mistakenly wrote 1/2 card on the second target).
I decided to try loose shot with a full cushion. It performed much worse, only putting 28 pellets in an 8" circle. Its surprising how much difference such a small change can make.
I also wanted to see how the gun would perform with a prb and light powder charge for small game. From my notes I knew I had used a .018" pillow ticking patch with a .550" ball in my other .56 smoothbore back in 2008. I assumed the same combo would work in this gun so I only brought .018" patches with me. I was surprised when that ball and patch combo would not fit the bore. I hit the short starter with the palm of my hand a few times which was only resulting in a crater in the ball.
Since the patches I had with me wouldn't work I decided to see how it would do with a bare ball. I used 35gr of FF Goex and dropped a ball down the bore.
I seated a .036" card over the ball to keep it in place.
Not the greatest group but with a bare ball it put three shots just below the point of aim on the left target. I pulled a little to the right on the rabbit target but the shot would have put meat in the pot. Next range trip I'll be sure to bring some thinner patches.