Ball, Bore, and Patch Combinations?

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plmeek

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I don't have any experience in shooting round balls in smoothbore guns and want to do some research before I jump into it. I would like to conduct an informal survey of members concerning the ball diameter, the bore diameter, and the patch thickness for the guns and loads you shoot.

From what I can tell, different barrel makers have slightly different bore diameters for their smooth bores. For this reason, I'm using gauge numbers in a nominal sense, so please be specific about your gun's bore diameter if you have measured it or know what the barrel manufacturer's specification is.

20 Gauge (Bore ID range .605" to .635") ___ Bore ID? ___ Ball OD? ___ Patch Thickness? ___

24 Gauge (Bore ID range .569" to .599") ___ Bore ID? ___ Ball OD? ___ Patch Thickness? ___

28 Gauge (Bore ID range .540" to .570") ___ Bore ID? ___ Ball OD? ___ Patch Thickness? ___

32 Gauge (Bore ID range .516" to .546") ___ Bore ID? ___ Ball OD? ___ Patch Thickness? ___
 

dcalef3

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For my .56, i use a .550 ball with a .018 patch. I did measure the inside bore a while back but dont remember what it was exactly but it was very close to .56. Whatever caliber or gauge you choose, it should fit snug for best accuracy.
 

Rifleman1776

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Exactness of bore isn't terribly important as moulds for balls only come in a few sizes. (Custom mades excepted.) Patching can be varied. Do try a couple balls for what works best for you. And, keep in mind, smoothies get harder to load with subsequent shots. A slightly undersize might be your best choice. e.g. I use a .600" in my fowler but plan to switch to a .595".
 

Britsmoothy

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My 58's always are/were .577-.580 and always did ok with a .562 and .018linen patch. Some better than others!

The same .562 in my .629 with a doubled up patch kind of works...good enough for deer to 40yards but I should really get some .600's for it!

B.
 

plmeek

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I appreciate your comments, Rifleman.

I read in one of Mike Nesbitt's columns in Muzzleloader mag that some shooters had trouble loading .530" patched balls in their smoothbores that had .540" ID bores. He recommended a .526" patched ball. This got me wondering about other size smoothbores and other people's experience.

So far, one seems to do ok with .01" windage and one likes around to .02" windage in their .58's. Hope to hear from more folks and other gauges/calibers.

S. James Gooding in TRADE GUNS OF THE HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY 1670-1979 says that the British standard for windage was .01" for smoothbores. This may not have been the specifications for a patched ball as it likely applied to military muskets as well as HBC trade guns.

T. M. Hamilton in COLONIAL FONTIER GUNS found a source for military specifications from 1789 that indicated windage of almost .04" for what we would call today a .69 caliber military musket. That seems like a lot, but a soldier likely required more windage than a hunter. In any event, French standards and British standards appear to be significantly different.

There doesn't appear to be any modern standards, so I was curious about modern shooters' experiences.

Looking at reference tables for conversion from gauge to caliber, the tables seem to confuse bore caliber with ball size. In other words, they make no allowance for windage.
 

Wes/Tex

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French and British standards are indeed different. "Balls per pound" and the French "balls per livre" are actually different. I't's like trying to keep up with the doings without a scorecard! :haha:
 

Patocazador

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You didn't ask for 12 ga. but I'll give it anyway.

Gun #1: I.D bore = .735; ball = .715; patch = .015

Gun #2: I.D bore = .729; ball = .690; patch = .022
 

VEARL

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56 Cal T.C. Renegade Smoothbore.
.550 RB
Approx: .560 BORE
.015 lubed patch.
Keeps 5 shots in a 6 inch circle at 50 yds.
 
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My 19ga NWG has a bore of .625 and I load a .600 ball wrapped in a .026 denim patch, a bit stiff to load but very accurate.
 

54ball

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My son's 42" 20 bore Carolina Gun

Bore: .615 Ball: .610 Patch:0 lubed Spanish moss wads
Comments: It's scary accurate for a smoothbore.

My 42" 28 bore gun

Bore: likely .55 to .56 Ball: .530 Patch: 0 lubed Spanish Moss
Comments: Roughly pie plate size groups at 50 yards, should do better with a tighter ball.
 

joeboleo1

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Hi, interested in your post on using Spanish moss. Can I ask how you use it. Is it as a "patch" or over ball as a wad,,or something else? Lubed in any way? Also, Spanish moss not readily available up here I don't believe. Any substitute ideas?? Thank you, very curious.
 

tenngun

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I often shoot tow. I have never used spaniish moss but would assume it would act about the same. I roll my tow into a short cylinder and force it in to the muzzle, leaving a ragged end at the top. I push my ball into this nest . I ram the whole down then. The wad makes what works as a patch. Youhave to play with it a bit to learn how to get enough to hold the ball but not so thick as to prevent loading. My groups are about the same size at 25 yards as a patched ball,about 2 inch groups. Smooties were shot with wadding in the old days and not patched. I Think that people who had smooth rifles may have patched. But you can shoot well with a wadded ball.
 

Britsmoothy

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I combine the two. Three leather wads wet with olive oil and a patched ball. The leather is welding gloves punched so thin. Can shoot all day and no gas gets past the patch to upset the ball at the muzzle.
B.
 

Beerd

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I shoot my 24 bore fusil with a bare ball

.58" bore (nominal dimension, I've never measured it)
.575 roundball
0 patch
half of an over-powder fiber wad between powder and ball, the other half on top.
..
 

54ball

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A link for more info...
http://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/fusionbb/showtopic.php?tid/284411/post/1335553/hl//fromsearch/1/

Good alternatives to Spanish Moss...

Flax fibers used in making linen known as Tow

Manilla or sisal rope pulled into fibers and rolled into wads.

raw or processed wool fibers

fuzzy moss fibers on hardwood bark " old man's beard?"

Old wool blanketing

old Felt hats or felt blanks cut into wads

Thick leather cut into wads

wasps hornets nests

commercial fiber and cardboard wads

In shooting bare ball and wads I have found that the tighter ball you use the better the results will be.
Out of a smoothbore I find it as accurate or maybe more accurate as a patched ball.
 
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joeboleo1

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Great info and thanks for the link too. Lots of good suggestions on it.
 

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