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Anyone shoot a .480 in a 50 caliber?

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Magungo1066

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Interested in the ease of loading. My current load is quite hard to get down. Will accuracy work with the smaller ball? I am currently shooting a .490 ball and a .010 patch-Larry
 
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EC121

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I use the .480s with a .023" canvas patch. They are the ones from Hornady. I can't find a commercial mold except Tanner's. They fill the grooves on my Rice/Colerain barrels better than using a bigger ball and thinner patch. IMO the grooves are too deep on those barrels. I also round(just roll the sharp edges) the muzzle crown with a needle file and sandpaper to make for easier loading and no patch cutting. Only had one production rifle and that was 1978 so I don't know anything about the production rilfe barrel specs. What brand of rifle? A .490 ball and .010 patch should load easily in most .50s.
 
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rich pierce

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I mess around with my barrels till they load easily with extremely tight combinations. Some load that way from the get-go. Some do not. I do not find undersized balls to be accurate or really solve barrel problems. In my .50 with a Sharon barrel, I use a .495 ball, a 0.020 patch. In my .45 Bill Large barrel, a .445 ball and a 0.020” patch. In my GRRW .45 I use a .451 ball and a 0.020” patch. In my .58 Getz, a .575 ball and 0.020” patch. In my original which has a .368 bore I use a .370 ball and a 0.018” patch. Here is my process:

1) smoothly round the crown of the muzzle so a tight combo starts smoothly without tearing the patch. Most barrels as delivered exhibit a slight countersink at the muzzle. That’s not good enough. I use the “Daryl S” method. Get some 320 grit paper and with your thumb, press down at the muzzle and polish the very outer portion of the countersink, rotating your thumb 90-120 degrees. Turn the barrel 90 degrees and repeat. Press hard. Keep doing this until a very smooth, rounded entrance is achieved.

2) don’t go light on lube. Whether spit, grease, or some other concoction, use a wet patch, not a damp one.

3) I don’t mind if a ball/patch combo takes a couple whacks to short start but it has to go down smoothly after that. If it does not, then the barrel needs some work. A) try a very thorough cleaning followed by using a small jag and green scotchbrite as a “patch”. For a .50, use a jag for a .45 or even a .40. If that does not help the short-started ball go down smoothly, it’s time to lap the barrel. This should be done from the breech (requiring unbreeching) but can be done from the muzzle using a stainless loading rod with a muzzle protector. Use an undersized jag, doubled up large cleaning patches, and valve grinding compound. Make sure the jag and patch combo is tight tight tight. Do 100 strokes, not bringing the patch out of the muzzle, regardless of which end you are working from. Use a new set of patches with new valve grinding compound. 100 more strokes. Clean well. I use mineral spirits then switch to a couple soapy water patches then water soaked then dry.
90% of the time this will vastly improve loading. For the 10% that do not load a lot better, a good look at the bore is needed. I recently freshed a modern barrel that would not load. It was rusted and pitted end to end. It can happen especially when in the field for days. That .50 is now a .504 but loads like it’s on ball bearings.
One last tip: make a short starter with a 6 or even 8” leg. Amazing how helpful this is.
 

Magungo1066

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Thanks for the advice everyone! I will be on my farm down South in a couple days so I will have plenty of land all to myself that I can work on developing loads.
 

rich pierce

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Number one for me is a combo I can load that almost never shows a blown patch. Collecting and examining patches is the most important part of developing an accurate load for me. Varying powder charge is fine tuning once a good ball/patch combo is found.
 

Notchy Bob

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I had a .50 caliber flintlock which I think had a Long Hammock barrel, 42" x 7/8". I did not spend a lot of time on load development and my vision has deteriorated with age. I was using it mainly for recreational shooting... I am not a serious competitor and my hunting days are pretty much behind me. Anyway, I shot .480" Hornaday swaged lead balls with .018" patches of pocket drill with Dixie "Old Zip" patch lube or pre-lubed .018" drill with Wonder Lube. I used 55 grains of Goex or Swiss FFg ("two F"). I normally used a 6" ball starter, followed by the ramrod. The ball starter was probably not necessary, but I had one, so I used it.

Accuracy, by any normal person's reckoning, was dismal, but I had fun with it, and it loaded easily.

Shooting in the very relaxed local matches, I would usually swab the bore with one wet patch followed by a dry one between five-shot relays, just because, but I probably didn't need to. I usually had plenty of time. Most of the other guys had very elaborate loading procedures, and a couple of them required and used mallets to drive their balls all the way down to the powder. Every one of them routinely shot better than I did. I didn't let it worry me. My recovered patches looked OK, with no cutting or burning.

Serious shooters will almost all tell you a tight fitting ball and patch combination is essential for accuracy. I won't argue with that. Different shooters have different opinions on what constitutes easy loading versus hard loading. The .480" ball will shoot in your .50 caliber rifle, but it's up to you to determine if accuracy is good enough or not. You set your own standards. Or at least I do. Having fun is my primary objective. Life itself is such a freakin' battle sometimes that the last thing I want to do is fight with my rifle over a tight ball.

If you order Hornady .480" balls, make sure you get the pure lead ones. I'm pretty sure Hornady also makes .480 hard balls that come with little plastic cups like sabots. Another option is to order the .487" pure lead round balls by the Missouri Bullet Company, and sold by Graf's. I bought some but haven't tried them yet. These ought to load a little bit easier than the .490" balls, although not as easily as the .480's. You would probably gain a little accuracy over the smaller balls though.

Captain Dillin said in The Kentucky Rifle that the old time hunters often kept two sizes of balls in their pouches, one size for best accuracy and one for a quick reload. This has been brought up before and a lot of today's shooters poo-poo the idea, citing the difficulty of keeping the two sizes separate and organized. They have a point, but so did Dillin. Where there's a will, there's a way, and if you want to carry two sizes of balls and your dinner (or scalp) might depend on keeping them separate, you'll figure out a way to do it.

It's always good to ask for and consider opinions. That was mine. Ultimately, you follow your own path.

Be safe, and enjoy the trek.

Notchy Bob
 

Many Klatch

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I don't shoot a .50 caliber but I do shoot a .526 out of my .54 rifle. I like an undersized load that doesn't need a short starter and can be shot 20 to 30 times without having to be cleaned. I use a .012 spit patch because I always have the spit with me.
 

Larry (Omaha)

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Interested in the ease of loading. My current load is quite hard to get down. Will accuracy work with the smaller ball? I am currently shooting a .490 ball and a .10 patch-Larry

What brand is your barrel? I load a .495 RB, .020 cotton patch, saturated with lube and starter......No problem! If you are wanting to load without using a starter, then that is another issue. If you are loading with a starter and good lube, something is not right.
Flintlocklar 🇺🇲
 

tenngun

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I’m thinking the you tube channel called the ‘Black Powder Maniac’ shoots .480 or .485 in his .50, that I think is a Traditions .50.
He has a fun channel and isn’t afraid to laugh at himself. He is not a hard core traditionalist and is more ‘ol’timy then historical correct. However he seems to get pretty good accuracy and LOTS of fun.
I had a GM .50 I never got good accuracy from unless I shot a .500 ball and a load that was too tight to load easy. I loaded a .495 and excepted a deer killer but not a candle snuffer from it.
 

Calum

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Not yet. I'm currently using .490 and .005 patch in my TVM. Unfortunately they no longer make the .005 patch, so I ordered some .480s and am going to try them with thicker patches. A .490 and .010 patch have to be literally hammered down this rifle's bore. I've never had one so tight.

Mike
 

Flinty Scot

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In tried .480's in my .50, in an attempt to ease loading. I wanted to be able to load more quickly on woods walks.
It worked well enough and accuracy did not seem to suffer noticeably.
I finally decided to cone the muzzle, hoping to be able to load w/out a short starter. It worked wonders, without loss of accuracy. It's eased enough that I can thumb the .490s down far trim patching but still need the starter to get them deep enough to avoid the awkward initial push w/ the ramrod.
I'm considering another polishing pass to allow thumbing them down far enough to do w/out the short starter entirely.
With .480's, I now have to use a thicker patch or to be careful not to pull the ball back out when I trim the patching but I keep a few .480s, in a special little bag, for those times I need to load again quickly w/out swabbing.
 
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