A .50 Cal Ball In A .54?

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Walkabout

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Is it possible to get decent accuracy shooting a .50 cal ball in a .54 cal rifle using a thick patch? Just wondering. Thanks
 

morehops52

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After reading about balls and patches, I'd say possible but not likely. Why? .530 balls are available and not that expensive. Can you define "decent accuracy"?
 

Notchy Bob

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You won't get optimum accuracy with a ball that much under size, but you'll have to decide for yourself whether the accuracy you obtain will be "decent" or not.

If you have no properly sized balls for your .54, but you have a quantity of .50 caliber balls, I don't think you'll hurt the rifle by shooting them. You will almost certainly get a lot of gas blow-by, which may deposit smoldering patches downrange, though. This is a realistic safety consideration if you live in a fire prone area.

If you try it, I would put a wad of some sort between the powder and the patched ball.

The gas leak will also result in a considerable loss of velocity and energy. Accuracy will suffer, but for your safety do not shoot a large caliber, low velocity ball against a hard surface. The ball will bounce back or ricochet. Shoot into a soft backstop, like a dirt berm, if you must shoot the load you describe. I tried all kinds of hare-brained stunts with old guns from my dad's collection when I was quite young and unsupervised, and shooting a grossly undersized ball, because I didn't have one to fit, was one of them. You wouldn't believe the story if I told you, so I'll just say the Lord does indeed watch over drunkards and fools. Nobody got hurt and there was no property damage, but even as a teenager I was able to recognize a close call when I saw it, and I learned my lesson.

If you just want to make smoke with a new gun and you don't have bullets to fit, you might just shoot some blank loads. I'm serious. Just powder with a pinch of wasp nest or tow or Kleenex rammed down firmly. Again, you'll want to check for smoldering debris downrange when you finish. Shooting blanks in itself can be informative, especially if you are new to muzzle loaders. You can learn about follow-through, trigger function, lock time, and maintaining a clear flash channel for consistent ignition, all without wasting any lead. This will give you something fun and productive to do with your gun while you're waiting for UPS to deliver the properly sized balls you have ordered.

Safety first, my friend.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
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Once on a trail shoot a member of our group ran out of balls for his 50 caliber. The rest of us in the group had 45's. He shot the last ten shots with .440 balls triple patched and hit all of the targets, he had missed two earlier when shooting his .490's Maybe it was just the phase of the moon but it worked for him!.
 
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I grabbed .490s one time when I went to a voo. Shot a woods walk with it and hit most of the targets
My little bag of 50s was for a pistol so I didn’t have that many and ran out before the end of the trail
Dualist 54 had a vid of him shooting .600 in a Charley and seems to have shot ok
 

morehops52

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Once on a trail shoot a member of our group ran out of balls for his 50 caliber. The rest of us in the group had 45's. He shot the last ten shots with .440 balls triple patched and hit all of the targets, he had missed two earlier when shooting his .490's Maybe it was just the phase of the moon but it worked for him!.
Most of my rifles (1:48 or faster) just don't like the RB combinations I've tried. I have to admit i never thought of shooting under sized balls with mattress stuffing:dunno:
 

Hiddeninsmoke

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For shooting .50 cal. in a .54 cal., cut patch size pieces from one gallon milk containers. Using that combination is a home-made sabot.
 

rafterob

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You won't get bullseye accuracy but plenty good for metal targets. Same thing happened to me on a woodswalk and I shot .440 balls double patched in my .50. No problem hitting the targets.
 
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I have read, but not delved into it as I don’t do military, that American rifle corps carried ball in a pre sewn wrap. With a tight ball for accurate work. And a small ball for quick reloads. As they shot a .54 I would guess it was something in the range of out .530s and .490s
Accuracy is a null word. An accurate gun should cloverleaf at a hundred or even two hundred yards. Or an accurate gun should hit a dinner plate.
A head shot on a squirrel is accurate. But that won’t win you a ribbon at the nationals where the x is the target, a squirrel head is about the size of the nine ring.
A deer will will turn French if you hit a dinner plate sized area in the center of its chest.
My TFC will take deer, but I can’t shoot a match against rifles.
Take your .54 to the range, load .490s and a denim patch see how it does. Will it do what you need to do?
 

Cruzatte

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Is it possible to get decent accuracy shooting a .50 cal ball in a .54 cal rifle using a thick patch? Just wondering. Thanks
Truth is, you'd have to experiment to find the answer. The other thing is how do you, the shooter, define decent. Third, I have to ask, why bother? If you have a stock of .490" balls, and a .530" mold, why not melt down the smaller balls and turn them into bigger ones? If you don't have a .530" mold, you could trade your .490" balls straight across for the larger size with another rifleman who wants your .490" balls.
 

Banjoman

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I regularly shoot .495 lead round balls and 1/2 inch glass marbles in my .62 caliber Fusil de Chasse with with either jute tow, brown paper or wasp nest for wadding. I can consistently hit a gallon milk jug at 25 yards off hand with that load. That’s decent accuracy for me.

I have shot .440 lead round balls in my .50 caliber Traditions Kentucky rifle with jute tow and was able to hit a gallon milk jug at 50 yards off hand. That was decent accuracy for me.

None of these loads would win matches. But, since I am a plinker and not a competitor, these loads work just fine for me.
 

hanshi

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Unlikely to get close to your best accuracy but it's definitely possible to get satisfactory everyday performance by doubling or tripling patches with a smaller ball. I've done that with a smoothbore and had fairly good results, although the size difference was smaller.
 

Jimi The Weed

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Is it possible to get decent accuracy shooting a .50 cal ball in a .54 cal rifle using a thick patch? Just wondering. Thanks
I had to do that at a Treaty Oaks shoot in Jacksonville Fla last Saturday.
It worked and I got through the Shoot. Double patched with pillow ticking.
 
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I use .490 round balls in my .54 smoothbore pistol. I can shoot softball sized groups at 25 yards.

In a pinch you can probably expect smoothbore type accuracy using a .490 ball in a .54

If you stack patches up and a spin is imparted to the ball it will shoot somewhat accurately
 

Rock Home Isle

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Is it possible to get decent accuracy shooting a .50 cal ball in a .54 cal rifle using a thick patch? Just wondering. Thanks
When I was a kid, I hunted everyday after school with my .50 calibre CVA Mountain Rifle…one day I ran out of .490 RBs, and started shooting .440s with denim patching. Fairly good accuracy, I could still hit rabbits, prairie dogs and squirrels out to 100 yrds.

I now have a little .40 calibre Southern Mountain Rifle…shoots .390 RBs into a single ragged hole at 25 yrds and touching at 50 yrds. Using denim patching it’s really accurate with .375 & .380 RBs.

So applying this logic to your question, try a .495 RB with heavy denim, or even cotton canvas patching….I have a flintlock .54 calibre, I’ll try this myself and see what I get…
 

Walkabout

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I tried some .490 balls in my new .54 cal pistol. They seemed to do ok, though I wasn't shooting for accuracy, just trying it out.
 

Loyalist Dave

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Is it possible to get decent accuracy shooting a .50 cal ball in a .54 cal rifle using a thick patch? Just wondering. Thanks

Well just my observation with my rifles....
My tests were with round bottom rifling, and I think squared rifling gives a different result
I tried .520 ball instead of .530 in my .54. The ball was just snug enough that I could force it flush with the muzzle with my thumb, instead of starting it with the butt of my patch knife. Accuracy when to garbage at 50 yards. So I dropped the idea.

A .490 or an actual .500 ball would need a pretty good thickness of patch to work. Elkhide? No idea.....

LD
 

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