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Fowler/Trade Gun or Proper Shotgun?

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megasupermagnum

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In the photograph the first still clearly shows that the shot column has been lengthened.
The blowhards say that long shot columns result in so much pellet damage that anyone using anything other than their suggestion is a dang fool!
Not so, why? Because the same blowhards don't seem to mind having their precious shot rammed at full velocity through a choke.
Then the dang idiots try and mitigate the point by saying its only a slight constriction.
Wrong, it don't feel slight to the shot! How do I know? Because I observe! I can observe in my choked guns heavy lead deposits from the compression forces on the lead in the choke!
So blowhards, you keep on blowing. I'll stick to practical lessons and observations in the field.

The problem with their assessment is that you can not tell what or why pellets deform. It isn't possible. You can find recovered shot that is deformed, but you have absolutely no way to prove it was setback, the barrel walls, choke, or the target. Same as you, everyone that has done pattern testing has concluded that the only surefire way to reduce pellet deformation is by using harder shot.

Wads is a whole other discussion. Everyone finds what works for them. Same as you, I get my best patterns from solid wads under the shot. Why, I can only speculate, but the patterning board shows what it shows.

The problem with long shot columns, and that definition is vague, is the long shot strings. Inside of 40 yards where just about all muzzleloading shotgun hunting takes place, it is practically a non-issue. If one were to say want to set up a gun for longer 45-60 yard shots at waterfowl, then it absolutely will matter. All of that information is in Bob Brister's book, and can also be found on the other links I provided. Slight changes like 1 1/2 vs 1 oz in a 12 gauge are most non issues. In that link to the Federal article you can see the comparison of 7/8 oz in 20 gauge vs 11/16 oz in .410, which should be a good comparison of your 45 caliber to a larger 20-16 gauge gun. Both about the same shot, both patterned about the same percent, but the shot string of the 20 gauge was only 46", and the .410 66", and that's at only 20 yards. To see real world effects of such things, Bob Brister's book is full of pictures. He took shots at moving targets so you can visualize exactly what effect shot string has at the ranges it will actually matter.
 
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The problem with their assessment is that you can not tell what or why pellets deform. It isn't possible. You can find recovered shot that is deformed, but you have absolutely no way to prove it was setback, the barrel walls, choke, or the target. Same as you, everyone that has done pattern testing has concluded that the only surefire way to reduce pellet deformation is by using harder shot.

Wads is a whole other discussion. Everyone finds what works for them. Same as you, I get my best patterns from solid wads under the shot. Why, I can only speculate, but the patterning board shows what it shows.

The problem with long shot columns, and that definition is vague, is the long shot strings. Inside of 40 yards where just about all muzzleloading shotgun hunting takes place, it is practically a non-issue. If one were to say want to set up a gun for longer 45-60 yard shots at waterfowl, then it absolutely will matter. All of that information is in Bob Brister's book, and can also be found on the other links I provided. Slight changes like 1 1/2 vs 1 oz in a 12 gauge are most non issues. In that link to the Federal article you can see the comparison of 7/8 oz in 20 gauge vs 11/16 oz in .410, which should be a good comparison of your 45 caliber to a larger 20-16 gauge gun. Both about the same shot, both patterned about the same percent, but the shot string of the 20 gauge was only 46", and the .410 66", and that's at only 20 yards. To see real world effects of such things, Bob Brister's book is full of pictures. He took shots at moving targets so you can visualize exactly what effect shot string has at the ranges it will actually matter.
I appreciate that.
However, where upon shot "stringing" is generally viewed as bad I don't!

While I understand how you put over evaluating deformation of shot and how or when it happens is impossible to evaluate accurately I do have my own conclusions.
I have recovered shot that clearly has a flat side that when viewed under glass has scrape marks. From being forced against the barrel wall or the choke. Now here is the thing.
I have recovered those type of damaged pellets from every shotgun that has passed through my hands! From .410", .45", .58", 20g, 12g and 10g. In other words it makes no difference to anything of real concern. They all do that.
Same can be said of other observed pellets. Like the ones with dimples from neighboring pellets. Yes, it gets worse the lower down the loaded pellets are enyet it's never as bad for pellets shot from a muzzleloader compared to a nitro gun! However, the fact that said dimpled pellets be them shot from a nitro gun or muzzleloader are recovered from shot game it obviously does not matter does it, I mean, the shot was obviously a succes!
Cartridge shotguns and muzzleloaders are often over thought. In my honest opinion, for what ever that is worth.
 

megasupermagnum

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Not only that, if any scrapes were detrimental, then universally plastic wads which would 100% stop that would pattern better. I've been reloading shotgun shells for about 15-17 years (I forget exactly), and shooting muzzleloading shotguns since 2013, and I have yet to prove plastic wads pattern better. I've got more examples of the opposite being true, although I'm of the opinion it does not matter. Plastic wads in the shotshell are great in that they are loaded in 1 step. You put it in the guide and pull the handle. In a muzzleloader I have not found them to pattern better. I've not even found them to seal better. If you go back through my posts you will find that usually plastic wads are actually quite a bit slower than the paper wads! But I digress.

Just like any kind of shooting, little of it matters until you are trying to push the limits. If your goal is to shoot rabbits at 10-30 yards, pretty much none of it matters. If your goal is long range shots at waterfowl, then it very much matters.
 

jtkerk

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Look at a box of smokeless shotgun shells. Determine which box would be appropriate for what you want to hunt. On the box it has the load information. Convert the drams to grains.... Load that much powder in your fowler,,, then load the same amount of shot and the same size shot. That load will approximate the same power that the smokeless load would have. I am a firm believer in the Mike Bellevue loads for a fowler. My 20 gauge load for hunting is 90 grains of FFg and one and three quarter ounce of shot. It is dangerous to birds out to 40 yards. That load got me 2 turkeys last year.
What shot size did u use?
 

R Ellis

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Referencing Reply #16

"Now see I don't buy this notion of looking on a box of shotgun cartridges for the dram equivalent. No way will a muzzleloader with its vented breech match the performance of a sealed breech via a cartridge.
To get a muzzleloader to match a cartridge you have to add much more powder and much more shot to which I have no issue in doing other than cost."

-They said the same thing about gas operated self-loading unmentionables for decades, with their gas ports in the barrel; but the difference between a manual loading and self-loading unmentionable is usually only 25-75fps. If your vent isn't shot out, and is thereby giving you consistent velocities, you will be very close to standard loads. Also, the "dram equivalency" is in reference to the similarity of the velocity between the modern smokeless charge and the traditional BP charge with that particular payload in that bore size.

"I here this thing about muzzleloadrs are 25 yard guns with cylinder bores but it simply is not so. Just put more shot in it, stop using anything courser than 3f and stop using thick wads."

-Obviously, most of the shot is going to be able to go beyond 25 yards, but your pattern gets excessively large quickly (especially so with shot smaller than lead BB). The ONLY solution in a cylinder bore is therefore to increase the number of pieces of shot (and some more powder to keep the trajectory similar), in order to "fill in" the big gaps in the pattern (and you get a nice extra helping of recoil to go with it). Kinda wasteful (if there are other options), if you ask me, but to each their own; would much rather use 1/2 oz of shot and 55gr of powder in a choked barrel than use 7/8 oz and 75 grains of powder to kill the same bird lol. Not going to comment on powder granulations, there's several schools of thought on that. Having a nice cushion under the shot tends to reduce deformation somewhat, but some people use thick wadding over the shot as well for some reason; the issue with that is it can interfere with the separation of the shot and wadding at the muzzle (quite a few early breechloading rifle designs had issues with that (like the Westley Richards Monkey Tail).

"Another thing I don't get is how it is believed that a larger bore is better because the shot string is shorter. Not so. If that were true all the popular 20g or .62" muzzleloafers would be useless! My .45 certainly has proved itself!

-Larger bores with the same payload have a shorter shot column in the barrel, this reduces the difference in inertia between the rear of the column and the front. This reduces deformation of the shot, and tends to pattern better. Besides, I'm not sure anyone has claimed that smaller bores are not effective; just that they are less capable than the larger ones (I believe that the Brits came up with a .40-something shotgun chambering for use as a garden gun at some point, but IDK). The reality is that you can fit more pieces of shot (and larger shot) and more powder in a larger bore, and get it to pattern well.

"Does not choking lengthen the shot string to achieve a tighter pattern?"

-it can with very tight chokes (like, extra-extra-full turkey chokes). Shot traveling down a barrel isn't a solid slug of lead, and a choke forces the spaced out pieces of shot into a more dense mass of shot (generally by reducing the shot column in both in length and circumference). Choke restrictions do not have to be very much to be effective (a few degrees is all it takes), and excessively tight restrictions will cause excessive pressures and shot deformation.

"Is not therefore a smaller bore already matching a choked bore of a larger gauge somewhat with a like for like load?"

-not exactly, reference the points I made above about large vs small bore shotguns.

"Is not a smaller bore going to have higher pressure and henceforth higher velocity compared to a larger gauge with like for like load?
Its all myths and bluster!"

-Yes, velocity will generally be slightly higher out of the small bore. My general recommendation is that if you are primarily going to be shooting light loads in whatever bore you are thinking about, that you opt to go down in bore size and use a "more stout" loading in the smaller bore (smaller, lighter guns, and you can download it further than the larger bore, meaning more shots per pound, which is a good thing). Smaller bores are more efficient/economical on powder and shot, no need using more than you need. I like 20, 28 bore and .40" shotguns with chokes for that reason.

"As I said earlier, they all work and better than some think, especially when you think out the box!"

-Absolutely correct.


Unless it's a repro-musket (of which, I haven't owned any for a while), I personally won't keep a smoothbore that isn't choked, or capable of taking tubes, in at least one barrel. I'm a hunter and shooter, not a reenactor; and anything I keep needs to be focused on usability, more than appearing exactly historically correct. Proper, purpose-built shotguns are going to be better shotguns than a multi-purpose gun will be.
I agree 100% you saved me some time because you said it all before I could type it out
 

R Ellis

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If larger gauges are better, how come we are not all using 8g, 6g and 4g?
Surely if a short shot string is best why have we stopped? To follow the notion should a barrel 3' wide loaded with 1oz not throw a perfect pattern?
Good luck with that one.
I'll just stick to what I know works and leave the thinking to them that like tođź‘Ť
Anything over 10 gauge is not permitted in my State and most if not all States in USA
 
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Wow a bunch of great info here, looking at getting into ML shotgunning, have a New Englander 12ga with chokes, looking for a 20ga smoothbore now, I spent 20 yrs selling reloading equip and ammo, guns etc, always an opinion out there, what matters is what puts meat on the table, Britsmoothy is the only one proving what matters, again tanks for all the info, hope we are all still friends :)
 

Notchy Bob

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I haven't read every response on this thread, but I read a few of 'em and would like to contribute a couple of thoughts.

First, a fowling piece is a shotgun. I know trade guns are all the rage on the forum at this time, but if you want to do some serious shotgunning with a muzzleloader, you'll want a gun that's designed specifically for it. There are kits available for flintlock fowling pieces, and there are people who buid them. If you want to go with a capper, be on the lookout for a plain old English side-by-side. I think these were the epitome of smoothbore design, and shootable originals may not cost any more than reproductions.

Trade guns will certainly handle shot, but they were designed to be versatile, to shoot both ball and shot loads adequately.

Moving on, the OP states he was using 45 grains of powder and an ounce of shot. If he mentioned the gauge of his gun and the type of wads used, I missed it. In any event, if the gun can handle an ounce of shot, I don't think 45 grains is enough powder. I was taught many years ago that the rule of thumb, in working up a load, was to start with equal volumes of shot and powder. George Edie, the author of A Treatise on English Shooting, suggested to "...try at firft the common charge of a pipe of powder, and a pipe and a half of fhot..." (p. 6), which would be more shot than powder, but I don't know how much a pipe holds.

I have three antique adjustable powder and shot measures:

Powder & Shot Measures.jpg

The minimum capacity of the scoop at the top is more than an ounce of shot, but the other two show one ounce of shot as equivalent in volume to two and a half drams of powder. Note that there are 7,000 grains in a pound, sixteen ounces in a pound, and sixteen drams in an ounce. 16 x 16 = 256 drams per pound. Seven thousand (grains) divided by 256 (drams) yields about 27.34 grains per dram, so two and a half drams (recommended for an ounce of shot) would be 68.36 grains. I would say you need more powder.


About a year ago, the Bevel Brothers did an article in Muzzle Blasts comparing punched card and fiber wads to tow, grass, dried leaves and so forth used as wadding. The differences in pattern density and velocity, in favor of the punched wads, was jaw-dropping. Lots of us here are traditionalists, and we want to shoot as our ancestors did, so we use tow, wasp nest, dried grass, shredded cedar bark, etc. for wadding our smoothbores. However, wad cutters were available for people who wanted to buy them, even long ago. Proper wads should help.

Finally, I thought @rich pierce (post #12) gave very good advice about patterning your gun. I thought his suggestion for mounting a clay bird in the middle of the paper was a good one. If your load is not breaking the clay at the distance you'll be shooting, you probably won't bring home much game.

Good luck with it!

Notchy Bob
 
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Part of my thinking here is due to my experience last weekend. I took some shots at a few coots at the farther end of my range (25 yards) with my .50 smoothbore. One crippled and ran off into the reeds (lost). Another ran off and appeared unscathed (disappeared). A third was out at about 30 yards and didn't even appear hit (pattern too wide, I'm sure). The last was a gimmie shot on the wing at about 15-20 yards and I just plain missed -- my fault on that one. 45 gr. powder, 1 oz #6 Bismuth shot. It has me wondering whether a dedicated shotgun, where cards, wads & load information is pretty widely available, might be better suited to the application.
You can use regular shotgun loads in a fowler, fusil, or whatever. I have a fowler (wait just a bit, someone will show up to correct me that it should be a "fowling piece") that was said to be .69 caliber. I measured inside the muzzle .677". Look up tables of gauge or round lead ball diameters and that is precisely 15 gauge. That's pretty close to 16 gauge. Standard 16 gauge field load has long been 2 1/2 drams powder (69 grains) and 1 ounce shot. I use an 18 mm punch to make card wads out of the thin stiff cardboard between layers of cans in Fancy Feast cat food boxes. Any similar thin, tough cardboard works fine. But you need to know your bore diameter to choose proper wad diameter, if you want to use card wads. You can use folded paper wads as sportsmen commonly did in the 18th century, or wad up paper as Turner Kirkland used to recommend. English sportsmen punched disk wads out of worn out saddle leather, or felt from old hats.
 

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