Finding the Right Ball for your Rifle?

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MTGUNNER

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Does anyone know of someone that sells a sampler pack (for lack of a better term) of the different size balls per caliber to find out which size your rifle likes best? Like for a .45 cal rifle, the .433, .440, .445 sizes? I know they do that for air rifles, just wondering if anyone does it for muzzleloaders.

Thanks,
>> Jan <<
 

MTGUNNER

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Yep. I was thinking of the ball/patch combination. So in my above example, I would want to try different patch sizes with all 3 of the different balls until I found what it likes best. Hmmmmm, maybe I would NEED 100 balls of each to accomplish that :>))
>>Jan <<
 

FishDFly

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Does anyone know of someone that sells a sampler pack (for lack of a better term) of the different size balls per caliber to find out which size your rifle likes best? Like for a .45 cal rifle, the .433, .440, .445 sizes? I know they do that for air rifles, just wondering if anyone does it for muzzleloaders.

Thanks,
>> Jan <<

You might do a Google search for Eddie May to see if he can get you want.
 

Coot

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Each time I bought a new (to me) gun, I got several sizes of ball from Eddie May in Chatsworth, GA & found out what the gun liked rather than just copying what someone else said their gun liked. After settling on a size, I buy a mold for that size & recast the leftover (too big/too small) balls into what the gun chose.
 

Grenadier1758

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If it's a new rifle, do what bang suggested and shoot 100 rounds. Make no adjustments to your sights as you want to smooth the sharp edges off the lands. Pick up your patches and look for excessive shredding or cut holes from the lands. If you are getting cut or shredded patches, shoot another 50 rounds. Are you beginning to shoot a group. Then it's time to find Eddie May and get a sample pack. Go to a good fabric store and buy 1/4 yard of pillow ticking (0.015"), 1/4 yard of mattress ticking (0.020"), 1/4 yard of pocket drill (0.018"), or denim and 1/4 yard of tightly woven canvas (0.022"). Use a simple patch lube of Murphy's Oil Soap and water to dampen the patch.

Load development can take a while. Don't get discouraged. For more details get Dutch Schoultz's instructions for Black Powder Rifle Accuracy. Its 94 pages of good information. Blackpowderrifleaccuracy.com

Buy an inexpensive digital calipers. Harbor has an adequate one for about $20 that is often for sale for $10.
 
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tenngun

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Track of the wolf sells cast ball in several sizes per caliber. In many it’s hundred round bags. The bigger guns are fifty I think.
There are rules of thumb but IMHO there is not a magic perfect load for any one gun. I THINK there are several ‘best loads’ for any one gun. Big ball/thin patch or small ball/thick patch
 

SDSmlf

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Yep. I was thinking of the ball/patch combination. So in my above example, I would want to try different patch sizes with all 3 of the different balls until I found what it likes best. Hmmmmm, maybe I would NEED 100 balls of each to accomplish that :>))
>>Jan <<
If it’s a standard commercial 45 caliber rifle barrel, would likely shoot fine with a .440 ball and a .012”-.018” patch. As @MtnMan suggested, the patch thickness (and lube) is most important. Lee molds are inexpensive, less than $20 each. You will spend more on two packages of balls than that.

Typically, I buy mold that will cast a ball .010” under stated caliber and see how it goes. Getting a mold .005” under stated caliber may only make sense if you have deep cut rifling with narrow lands. I have a collection of molds from over the years that has me covered for most calibers, from 32 up to 62, rifle or pistol. You could always sell a mold you don’t want and get 50-75% of your money back. Just something to think about.
 

Sidney Smith

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Honestly whats the point of all that? Unless your attempting to be the worlds greatest marksman, really do you need to try that many combinations? Better IMO to go with a ball ten thousanths under and maybe a couple different patch thicknesses and go from there. You will work up a load that will produce acceptable accuracy somwhere in there.

I truly think most shooters get too wrapped up in trying every imaginable combination, in what for most becomes an unattainable quest to be marksman of the century. I think you lose the sense of fun that muzzleloaders bring when you get tied up doing that. But thats just my humble opinion.
 

MtnMan

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I agree. I use a ball .010 smaller than bore and then work on patch thickness and powder load. However, i'm a hunter and not in target competition. Although my load will shoot a small group.
 

rich pierce

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In general a shallow groove rifled barrel can shoot well with a ball 0.010” under bore size and one with deeper grooves can stand a ball 0.005” under bore size and with a thicker patch. I’ve never gotten patches under 0.018” thick to work in a barrel with cut rifling. If I use a .490 ball for example in a .50 with cut rifling (not shallow) I’d need a patch 0.020” or thicker to prevent blow-by.
 

MtnMan

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You've been unlucky Rich. I use a .530 ball and .018 patch in my .54 Rice barrel. It shoots a good group. Even a .015 patch shoots well when I want an easier load combo. Now that i've stopped using a ball starter I may use the .015 patch.
 

rich pierce

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Glad it’s working. Don’t have a Rice barrel in one of my keeper rifles. Yet, that is!
 
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SDSmlf

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In general a shallow groove rifled barrel can shoot well with a ball 0.010” under bore size and one with deeper grooves can stand a ball 0.005” under bore size and with a thicker patch. I’ve never gotten patches under 0.018” thick to work in a barrel with cut rifling. If I use a .490 ball for example in a .50 with cut rifling (not shallow) I’d need a patch 0.020” or thicker to prevent blow-by.
Agree. With my deep cut groove radius bottom Hoyt and Rice barrels in 58 and 62 caliber i have found that a patch material that compress to .015”-.016” works the best. Non compressed this patch material runs .025”-.030”. Just my experience.
 

mholder

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and I found a 437 works pretty good in my 45.
I’d like to know ‘who’ predetermined that 433, 440, and 445 should be the chosen sizes.
mholder
 

MtnMan

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and I found a 437 works pretty good in my 45.
I’d like to know ‘who’ predetermined that 433, 440, and 445 should be the chosen sizes.
mholder

.010 smaller than bore size will always be the most popular for any caliber.
 

bang

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If it’s a standard commercial 45 caliber rifle barrel, would likely shoot fine with a .440 ball and a .012”-.018” patch. As @MtnMan suggested, the patch thickness (and lube) is most important. Lee molds are inexpensive, less than $20 each. You will spend more on two packages of balls than that.

Typically, I buy mold that will cast a ball .010” under stated caliber and see how it goes. Getting a mold .005” under stated caliber may only make sense if you have deep cut rifling with narrow lands. I have a collection of molds from over the years that has me covered for most calibers, from 32 up to 62, rifle or pistol. You could always sell a mold you don’t want and get 50-75% of your money back. Just something to think about.
Now about them molds. Got 19 myself. Minor investment compared to buying premade, they can get expensive. Pour 2lbs and the mold is paid for.
 

MtnMan

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Now about them molds. Got 19 myself. Minor investment compared to buying premade, they can get expensive. Pour 2lbs and the mold is paid for.
If you don't put any value on your time.
 

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