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29thWisCoG

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Had my first ever experience shooting a black powder muzzleloader... it was a lot of fun and I had some questions on what I can correct... feel free to offer suggestions as you see fit as I am doing this on my own. Hope this isn't too long, but I want to give enough detail so you could give me a reasoned response, skip to sections that interest you.

First Session Goal - not get hurt and hit the target without key-holing. I think I did that.

Muzzleloader - Pedersoli P53 3-Band Enfield (see pic 1). I picked this rifle because I wanted a ML that was similar to what my ancestor used while serving in the Army of the Tennessee 13th Corps, while being a quality rifle at the same time that I could use for deer hunting. Historical accuracy was not as important to me as the quality of the build and how it shot, apparently this rifle offered both. My ancestor was originally issued an 1861 Springfield, and was asked later to turn that in and replace it with an 1863 Springfield which he did not like as much, I guess it didn't balance as well on the shoulder.

Cleaning from the Factory, my first question: any gun anything right is hard to get, cleaning ramrods fall into this category apparently. This forced me to make my own rod from 3/8" 360 brass using a lathe, threading, etc. If I am not careful the rod will rub against the muzzle and little brass shavings will fly off, is this normal and will it hurt my gun? I was able to factory clean the grease/rust from the gun, took me a few weeks to learn how but it was time well spent. After cleaning, the bore was laid to rest with a coat of Barricade.

Minie Ball Bullets - I was advised that a gent that goes by Blue Falcon casts quality minie balls, I acquired 50 from him on GunBroker and they were prompty delivered, 0.576 420 grains with 2 lube bands, skirt thickness approximately 0.060", not sure what mold he uses and did not ask. I was impressed with these bullets and would buy again. Bullet size was verified with calipers.

Rifle Bore Size - Pedersoli markets the bore size as 0.577, a 0.578 nogo gauge fits, but a 0.579 does not. Maybe its 0.5785? I dunno, but the lubed minie balls sized to 0.576 dropped right in and I did not need a starter to push them in. The bullets would slide in and stop with a little finger pressure, then I could ram them home.

Lube - I mixed up some of Stumpy's Moose Marrow, it's basically a 25/75 mix of bees wax to castor oil, with a few other ingredients added in, formulated for conical bullets. I dipped lubed, then made a simple wax scraper to clean the bullets up and get rid of the excess wax (see pic 2). There was no wax in the bullet cavity.

Powder/Caps - I decided I was going to use 2F Goex powder (felt lucky to get it right now), and the Schuetzen 4 wing caps was all I could source at this time. All shots were done with 60g, didn't want to fiddle with this now just wanted to get used to shooting the gun, learn how to be safe... I found you really have to pay attention to what you are doing at all times while shooting a ML, day dreaming not permitted Lol

Before the First Bullet - ran a patch with alcohol to clean the Barricade off the barrel, ran another patch with Moose Juice to clean and coat bore, shot off a cap, then shot off 20 grains of powder with no bullet. All went well.

Loading first shot - set hammer to half cock, made sure muzzle was pointing away, held the back end of the powder measure as I dumped it in the barrel, tapped the sides of the breech to settle powder in chamber- all loads were 60g of FF. Pushed in minie ball and it entered quite easily but did not drop down, then tamped it down three times or so to make sure it was seated, making sure to hold the sides of the ram rod and not the handle

25 yard group (pic 3) - first 6 shots of the 25 yard group, point of aim was the bottom middle edge of the plate, top of the sight was positioned at the bottom of the V... I was advised that these rifles shoot high so I tried to aim accordingly. I know grouping is not great, it is partly me, not sure how much is the bullet/load combinations or the rifle itself- will fiddle with later. The recoil was not bad at all, somewhere between a 22LR and 0.243Win, very tolerable and could handle all day- this surprised me.

50 yard group (pic 4) - next 8 shots out of 10 hit the 50 yard target or cardboard, everything was the same as with the 25 yard group as per loading and aiming. Not great shooting I know but getting used to open sights. I can shoot 0.5 MOA with my scoped 7mm-08 at 100 yards, so there was a day when I was a decent shooter Lol

After the shot - I decided I was going to be a bore blower (go ahead and flame away Lol), I had some 1/2" silicone tubing and after the shot I would set the hammer to safety, remove the spent cap, put the tubing in the muzzle and blow until no more smoke came out of the touch hole- gave me peace of mind no embers were present to give me a sun roof in my skull. I also decided I would swab the bore once and back again with Moose Juice after every shot (see pic 5)- I think this was all fouling on this patch, but not sure if there was powder on that patch?

When I was done - before I loaded up to go home I dumped in about 2 oz of water in the barrel, cupped muzzle and swished back and forth several times then emptied... did this about 3 times until water was clear... then sprayed some Ballistol down the barrel and let it drip out of the nipple, then swabbed a few times until dry... last patch was still dirty but not like the pic of the patch below, not even close... decided to let it be that way and clean it the next day and finish cleaning the rifle- did I make a mistake doing this or will all be well?

OK there it is, it was great fun, beyond what I expected! Any and all criticism and critiques welcome.

The sight and smell of black powder smoke is amazing.


Pedersoli P53 Enfield, fit and finish is excellent imo, pricey but a quality rifle
pic1.jpg


lubed Minie Balls, are they over lubed?
pic2.jpg


25 yard group- meh
pic3.jpg


50 yard group- poor
pic4.jpg


after shot patch, fouling with powder?
pic5.jpg
 
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bang

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Seems like you did well. I cast my own minis and found 65 gns to be a good charge to get the skirt into the riflings. I think the moulds nowadays make a bit thicker skirt. Both my 58s have tad undersized bore. I cast .575 then put them through a sizer that just scrapes the mould seam line rounding them. My .575 mould casts a bit over .575. The .578 mould mini has to be firmly pushed in and that's after the little bit of sizing. But all barrels are not equal. Guess I just lucked out getting 2 that were a tad less.
Next time out set on aiming at a point to get grouping.
 

29thWisCoG

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Seems like you did well. I cast my own minis and found 65 gns to be a good charge to get the skirt into the riflings. I think the moulds nowadays make a bit thicker skirt. Both my 58s have tad undersized bore. I cast .575 then put them through a sizer that just scrapes the mould seam line rounding them. My .575 mould casts a bit over .575. The .578 mould mini has to be firmly pushed in and that's after the little bit of sizing. But all barrels are not equal. Guess I just lucked out getting 2 that were a tad less.
Next time out set on aiming at a point to get grouping.
Thanks... I have a 0.577 sizer and the RCBS 500M mold, I'm going to see what size that mold casts and then try the 0.577 and see if they shoot any better.
 

dave951

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I shoot a Parker Hale in N-SSA competition.

A couple comments on minies- there are lots of varieties out there. Weights and configurations differ but they all have one thing in common, they MUST be pure lead to work correctly. I've tried a number of different types and weights but nothing from Lee has worked well enough for competition other than the "target minie" that Lee discontinued. Probably my current best is the RCBS Hogdon.

Powder- don't be afraid to try 3f. It can leave less fouling and better accuracy with a lower charge. Don't get wrapped around the axles about the 60g service charge. Often best accuracy is in the 40 to mid 50 range.

Lube- lots of recipies out there but one commonality, avoid anything with a petroleum based product. It will create very hard fouling. My go to lube is 50/50 beeswax/lard.

Cleaning- easiest way I've found with real BP is Windex. Squirt down the barrel till it runs out the nipple. Swab barrel clean, repeat. Dry with patches, then oil. Use a patch dampened in Windex to remove the cap fouling. Put a dab of white lithium grease on the threads and put the nipple back in taking care to NOT over torque it. It doesn't take much to keep it in place.

This is my competition load in the Parker Hale shot at 50yd, winds gusting left to right- RCBS Hogdon sized to .576, 42g 3f Old Eynsford, RWS caps, beeswax/lard lube.
parkerhalegroup2.jpg


This is the same load in my Parker Hale musketoon at 100yds.
musketoongroup1.jpg
 

dave951

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After the shot - I decided I was going to be a bore blower (go ahead and flame away Lol), I had some 1/2" silicone tubing and after the shot I would set the hammer to safety, remove the spent cap, put the tubing in the muzzle and blow until no more smoke came out of the touch hole- gave me peace of mind no embers were present to give me a sun roof in my skull. I also decided I would swab the bore once and back again with Moose Juice after every shot (see pic 5)- I think this was all fouling on this patch, but not sure if there was powder on that patch?

Swabbing the bore is not necessary. Once the gun reaches equilibrium and your load is right, you can shoot till you run out of ammo, daylight, or shoulder whichever comes first. In N-SSA competition we shoot for speed balanced with accuracy so being able to load and fire fast is as important as an accurate load. I have shot relays in competition where I went through 18 rounds in 5 minutes in the Parker Hale. I have also shot 2 minute relays and gotten off 8 aimed shots with hits. In literally thousands and thousands of rounds in 40 years of practice, plinking competition shooting and blanks when I was a reenactor, I have had precisely one cookoff and that was traced back to poor cleaning by the person I lent the musket to.

Just as an example, I'm also a certified NRA Muzzleloading Instructor. We've had sessions with youth where we shot the guns without wiping. My record is right at 60 rounds straight with no wiping, blow tubing, etc, just load and shoot and with no loss of accuracy. If your load is in balance, the minie design will allow this

The method of loading you've described will work but it's unnecessary. Shoot the gun, leave the spent cap on the nipple with the hammer DOWN, charge the musket, ram the ball, cap, aim, fire. Of course don't put your head over the gun or anything you don't want shot over the muzzle while loading and that is a rule that is not unique to muzzleloading, it's just good gun safety practice.
 

stevemoede

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I dont know how you can go so many shots without cleaning the barrel. I clean it every shot, but every other shot works fine too. What am I doing wrong? I only shoot roundball though.
 

dave951

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I dont know how you can go so many shots without cleaning the barrel. I clean it every shot, but every other shot works fine too. What am I doing wrong? I only shoot roundball though.
That's the point, you're shooting roundball. Round ball will require a patch. It also shoots best from a "wiped" barrel. The Minie bullet was designed to eliminate that problem by using the expanding skirt and "scraping" grooves in the bullet. Get things in balance and have fun. Not every muzzleloader is a round ball gun! :D
 
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