Brown Bess Light Load

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

Louisk

40 Cal.
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
Messages
258
Reaction score
75
Location
Fairbanks AK
I have yet to get out to shoot my recently acquired Pedersoli Brown Bess carbine but have been doing a lot of searching around on these forums for advice in the meantime. Sounds like paper cartridges and wads are more popular than a tight patched ball for loading ball. I'll probably try all the above. Thinking of starting at 25 yards with a light load. What have you found to be a reasonable light load for a Bess? Trying to limit recoil at first, let alone conserve hard to find black powder. Thanks!
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
Messages
366
Reaction score
260
Optimum load from Pedersoli themselves is 75 grains. Found it to be pretty accurate too - once I figured a good cheek location to use the barrel screw and bayonet lug as sights. Was using paper cartridges with a .69 ball.
Recoil was negligible but I’m a husky lad.

EDIT: Oops. See you said carbine. Mines full size. Well the file below will take care of you.
 
Last edited:

Louisk

40 Cal.
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
Messages
258
Reaction score
75
Location
Fairbanks AK
Optimum load from Pedersoli themselves is 75 grains. Found it to be pretty accurate too - once I figured a good cheek location to use the barrel screw and bayonet lug as sights. Was using paper cartridges with a .69 ball.
Recoil was negligible but I’m a husky lad.
Thanks. I'll try that. Seems like I've heard people talking about shooting twice that load but that could use up both my finite powder supply and shoulder pretty quick. Do you know of a source for a manual for that gun? None came with mine and all I can fine online from Pedersoli is a kind of generic muzzleloader guide.
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,505
Reaction score
10,764
I competed with my Pedersoli Brown Bess Carbine in the mid to late 1970's. The bore size at the muzzle was .754" and I used a .735" ball, the largest size available in those days that was closest to the bore size. I used a greased pillow ticking patch and thus had to use a large diameter short starter.

I used 70 grains of FFFg of Dupont for my accuracy and hunting load. I tried going up 5 grains at a time from there until I hit 95 grains and stopped, because as the charge increased, the group size just got bigger and bigger. My Pedersoli didn't like Fg or FFg, though some folks report good accuracy with either.

When I did my job as the shooter, that carbine would split the ball all day long at either 20 or 25 yards (offhand) on the exposed edge of a double bit axe blade and the two pieces would shatter a clay pigeon on each side of the axe blade. Considering how the ball has to hit the edge of the blade somewhat close to center to split like that, I consider that an excellent example of the carbine's capable accuracy.

I shot off the bench at 25 and 50 yards so I learned how to "Hold Off" for the balls to hit where I wanted at those ranges.

One day we had a trade gun match where the guy who set up the course put a standing buffalo silhouette made for .22 cal and only a bit over 4 inches from head to tail, on the ground. However, he did it at 73 yards, which no one had a "zero" for. I missed by putting a divot into the ground only about 4 inches away and was pretty happy with that.

Again shooting offhand, I got to the point I could hit a one gallon milk jug pretty well centered at 100 yards at least 8 if not 9 times out of 10. I would not shoot a deer at that range from the offhand, but I could keep the ball in the 8-10" circle that is the "killing zone" of a deer IF I used some kind of field rest.

I did not think I then know how to do a trigger job on that carbine, even though I had been doing trigger jobs on large UnCivil War locks for a while and you do a trigger job the exact same way. Had I realized that then and put around a 4 lb trigger on that musket, I may or even probably could have shot the carbine even more accurately.

Gus
 
Joined
Oct 12, 2021
Messages
366
Reaction score
260
Thanks. I'll try that. Seems like I've heard people talking about shooting twice that load but that could use up both my finite powder supply and shoulder pretty quick. Do you know of a source for a manual for that gun? None came with mine and all I can fine online from Pedersoli is a kind of generic muzzleloader guide.
This is “official Pedersoli” and quite handy. And 150 grains exceeds Pedersoli’s recommended maximum for the Bess FYI.
Pedersoli says their recommended loads provided the best accuracy for them and form a good starting point for load development.
 

Attachments

  • S000 Powder Charge.pdf
    682.6 KB · Views: 0
Last edited:

hanshi

Cannon
Joined
May 7, 2009
Messages
13,461
Reaction score
7,556
Location
New England
I have a rear sight on my .62 smoothbore which makes aiming super easy. At 50 yards I've gotten on occasion three shot groups as small as 1-3/4" with patched ball. Then there's the "bare ball" load. No patch but carefully seated along with a lubed cushion wad and a card wad on top for 3-shot groups as small as 2-3/4". The prb load averages a bit under 3" while the bare ball averages an inch or two larger. Both are seriously deer worthy and have shown just how worthy in the deer woods. The powder charges I use for these loads range from 60 grains of 3F to 75 grns of 3F. Anywhere in this range accuracy remains unaffected. 60 grains is the range and fun load while 70 to 75 grns is for bambi.
 

Louisk

40 Cal.
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
Messages
258
Reaction score
75
Location
Fairbanks AK
I competed with my Pedersoli Brown Bess Carbine in the mid to late 1970's. The bore size at the muzzle was .754" and I used a .735" ball, the largest size available in those days that was closest to the bore size. I used a greased pillow ticking patch and thus had to use a large diameter short starter.

I used 70 grains of FFFg of Dupont for my accuracy and hunting load. I tried going up 5 grains at a time from there until I hit 95 grains and stopped, because as the charge increased, the group size just got bigger and bigger. My Pedersoli didn't like Fg or FFg, though some folks report good accuracy with either.

When I did my job as the shooter, that carbine would split the ball all day long at either 20 or 25 yards (offhand) on the exposed edge of a double bit axe blade and the two pieces would shatter a clay pigeon on each side of the axe blade. Considering how the ball has to hit the edge of the blade somewhat close to center to split like that, I consider that an excellent example of the carbine's capable accuracy.

I shot off the bench at 25 and 50 yards so I learned how to "Hold Off" for the balls to hit where I wanted at those ranges.

One day we had a trade gun match where the guy who set up the course put a standing buffalo silhouette made for .22 cal and only a bit over 4 inches from head to tail, on the ground. However, he did it at 73 yards, which no one had a "zero" for. I missed by putting a divot into the ground only about 4 inches away and was pretty happy with that.

Again shooting offhand, I got to the point I could hit a one gallon milk jug pretty well centered at 100 yards at least 8 if not 9 times out of 10. I would not shoot a deer at that range from the offhand, but I could keep the ball in the 8-10" circle that is the "killing zone" of a deer IF I used some kind of field rest.

I did not think I then know how to do a trigger job on that carbine, even though I had been doing trigger jobs on large UnCivil War locks for a while and you do a trigger job the exact same way. Had I realized that then and put around a 4 lb trigger on that musket, I may or even probably could have shot the carbine even more accurately.

Gus
Thanks. Great information there! I didn't realize that kind of accuracy was possible with the Bess. I'd be quite surprised if I'm capable of anything close to that but certainly something to strive for. At least I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. Didn't think of the large diameter short starter. Seems like a larger jag screwed onto my short starter might work.
 

Louisk

40 Cal.
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
Messages
258
Reaction score
75
Location
Fairbanks AK
This is “official Pedersoli” and quite handy. And 150 grains exceeds Pedersoli’s recommended maximum for the Bess FYI.
Pedersoli says their recommended loads provided the best accuracy for them and form a good starting point for load development.
Just exactly what I was looking for. Thanks!
 
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
15,505
Reaction score
10,764
Thanks. Great information there! I didn't realize that kind of accuracy was possible with the Bess. I'd be quite surprised if I'm capable of anything close to that but certainly something to strive for. At least I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a lot of fun with it. Didn't think of the large diameter short starter. Seems like a larger jag screwed onto my short starter might work.
Probably will work, however I liked to have short starters for my flintlock rifle gun and Brown Bess Carbine "matched" to their respective bore sizes so less chance of the items to shoot shot out of my bess to turn in the bore when loading and far less chance on the longer wooden arm snapping off with my tight patch/ball combo. So I got one like the following with a full 1/2" diameter rod.


You are most welcome.
Gus
 

Louisk

40 Cal.
Joined
Aug 28, 2015
Messages
258
Reaction score
75
Location
Fairbanks AK
I have a rear sight on my .62 smoothbore which makes aiming super easy. At 50 yards I've gotten on occasion three shot groups as small as 1-3/4" with patched ball. Then there's the "bare ball" load. No patch but carefully seated along with a lubed cushion wad and a card wad on top for 3-shot groups as small as 2-3/4". The prb load averages a bit under 3" while the bare ball averages an inch or two larger. Both are seriously deer worthy and have shown just how worthy in the deer woods. The powder charges I use for these loads range from 60 grains of 3F to 75 grns of 3F. Anywhere in this range accuracy remains unaffected. 60 grains is the range and fun load while 70 to 75 grns is for bambi.
Thanks. Going to try it first with no sights, then might seriously consider making a rear sight if that doesn't work. Looks like some folks have made them out of angle stock to attach to the tang screw.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
2,289
Reaction score
1,312
Brown Bess’s were not made for accuracy, the best I’ve been able to do is with a .735 chewed ball in a Colerain .77 barrel with a heavy parchment paper and 115 grains of 1F at a target at 80 yards, my groupings were pretty close with one or two flying off target. Historically this is not how a Brown Bess was used. I think you’ll find that a .69 caliber barrel is far more accurate at 50, 75 and 100 yards, even with modest amounts of powder, 70-90 grains of 1 and or 2F.

My most accurate smoothbore is my .69 1766 Charleville by Navy Arms, with the very quick working reliable lock, and a .66 chewed ball and paper patch, my groupings are 95% consistent at 100 yards.
 

Latest posts

Top