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How to find the most accurate charge?

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Halighast

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Apologies if this is the incorrect place to post.
I have a Traditions pennsylvania flintlock and I am curious whats the most efficient way to find the most accurate charge. I have been shooting 70 gr of 2f out of it, which is what the manual recommends, but I would like to find out for myself.
So to cut to the chase what's the best way of going about that? Or your favorite way of doing it?
 

Rifleman1776

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Bottom line is to shoot, shoot, shoot. Actually, do it from a rest. Try different charges and patch materials. I'm going to modify my long standing advice to do this only at 50 yards. But, shooting first at 25 yards will get you on paper and if a certain patch/charge combo gives lousy groups you can forget it and move out to 50 to try others. You didn't say what caliber your rifle is. A rule of thumb is to start charges with your caliber. e.g. .45 cal. use 45 gr. real bp. But, generally a heavier charge is what you will end up with as giving you your 'sweet spot'.
 

tenngun

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Record keeping
And it never ends.
First get 2f and 3 f, start at one grain per caliber, shoot a group, increase by 5 grain intervals. You will find your best group.
Now try it with different grain size.
Now look back at your ball/ patch combo. Start with smallest ball thickest patch. Repeat with powder charges find best group with x ball. Then try bigger ball. Same patch do a run, same going to thinner patches.
Work out best patch ball combo. Then go back to you powder charge.
x powder charge may give best results with y-z combo, but a different patch ball combo may work better with different powder charge.
Always experimenting.
Now what we end up with is maybe 1/2 an inch to an inch at fifty yards.
I haven’t gone this far in twenty five years.
In general I just do the powder increments. I go with a patch ball combo that ‘feels’ right.
As Rifleman said use a rest. Also swab between shots. A dirty barrel can reduce your accuracy. Shoot in the shade or overcast. For ml it’s pretty slight at our ranges with our thick barrels, but guns tend to shoot away from the sun.
 

Sven205

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Everyone has a way of doing things, I have found in general with black powder pistols, revolvers, muskets etc they are more accurate with lighter charges than you would think. So you have a hunting or "service" load depending on what arm we are discussing. Then you have an accuracy load, which can often be around half of the aforementioned load.

So, my method is find the recommended range for your arm in question, for 50 cal rifle as yours is it's theoretically safe to fire with 50 to 110 grains of 2F powder you mention or about 45 to 100 with 3F using a patched round ball. Your accurate range is going to likely be 55-75 2F or 50-70 3F by volume. Make charges in 5 grain increments starting somewhere near the bottom and do a ladder test. When I find a range that shows promise I make note. The next round of accuracy testing I will make loads in 2 or 3 grain increments depending on how large the "accurate range" is from the initial test. You can go down to 1 grain increments if you're really chasing THE load, but to me is not worth the effort unless we are talking smaller caliber or pistol/revolver loads. Check the data for your arm, dont use mine just to be safe. Good luck.

Rifleman1776's info is spot on, use a rest and make the variables as similar as possible. For me that means using a lead sled or bags and lay off the coffee!
 

mooman76

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What they said. There are short cuts but you will never truly know your guns full potential unless you try all the variables. There are some that say 1 1/2 grain per caliber is the sweet spot. I don't buy into that totally but I think it may get you close.
 

Greg Blackburn

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As with anything, use the Scientific Method. Change only one variable at a time. Keep detailed records. Get a sew "memo" book (has thread holding it together under the taped binding) and use that for each weapon. Label the book.

Shoot from a rest, same temp and humidity if you can, and only change one variable at a time. Pick your ball/patch or bullet and start where the manual suggests, do 3 shot group, log results. Swab after each shot so that each shot is starting like the first one. Do this until you find the most accurate load at the range you are comfortable with.

This sounds tedious but since we imagine you like to shoot and you will benefit from the practice, it'll be fun. You'll also learn self control, patience, and peace of mind, plus good note-taking habits. Turn the phone off so you can concentrate.

Good luck, enjoy.

I did the same thing with several of my home defense and carry handguns last year, finding what defensive ammo was reliable and shot to point-of-aim along with doing the same thing with full metal jacket practice ammo. I kept detailed records. I shot many hundreds of rounds doing this and my accuracy greatly improved and my flinch greatly disappeared.
 

Sparkitoff

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I recommend starting with a goal. For example: If you are going to limit shots to 50-yards and you can sleep well at night with 3-inch groups, "shoot" for that. If you get there you can at least enjoy shooting and keep confidence that you can bust a bullseye or kill an animal. While shooting "that" load I would then change something here and there and take note if the group shrinks significantly. If so, try it again and if you confirm its better, switch to that load. I personally obsessed with small groups and it took the fun out of using the rifle, and cost a boatload of time and money until I figured it out. In hindsight, I wish I settled on a pretty good load combo early on and just got acquainted with the rifle for a while while casually searching for more accuracy instead of stressing to reach that point.
 

Dr5x

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Many have had success with Dutch’s‘ ‘accuracy system’. You can find it on his website, Black powder rifle accuracy system -, or send him a PM on the forum at @Dr5x.
THANK YOU for that but I don't want to run ads on the Forum. So many of my subscribers send me questions on the forum without including their Actual email address that I have no choices except to answer there or not at all.
I am as bit suspicious about the ones who want a free copy because. apparently. their dog ate or peed or something else to the alleged original collection of papers.
You must remember I was a teacher for years and heard a lot of those excuses.
Dutch
 

Halighast

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Thank you all for the great info and links! Seems like the general consensus is shoot a lot, keep records, and change variables very slowly, one at a time.
 

SDSmlf

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THANK YOU for that but I don't want to run ads on the Forum. So many of my subscribers send me questions on the forum without including their Actual email address that I have no choices except to answer there or not at all.
I am as bit suspicious about the ones who want a free copy because. apparently. their dog ate or peed or something else to the alleged original collection of papers.
You must remember I was a teacher for years and heard a lot of those excuses.
Dutch
Hi Dutch. Personally have two ‘paper copies’ (one came with a gun I purchased) and an electronic copy, so I’m good to go. No dog here anymore, but the bride does have a cat, that fortunately is well trained in using the litter box, so no peed on copies of anything here.... so far.
Keep on keeping on.
 

Poguetx

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Like others have said, keep records! General rule of thumb is your starting load equals your caliber, e.g. 50gr for 50 caliber, 45gr for 45 caliber, etc. Go up in 5gr increments, since most measures have lines at 10gr. Once you've found the load that is most accurate, stay with it.

I know some guys who vary the charge depending on the range, but I always figured you never know what distance that deer is going to be at when you're in the field, so once you find your accurate load, shoot at different distances to know your drop and adjust aim accordingly.

BTW, I know some guys will say the brand of powder or percussion cap also make a difference, but in my experience that doesn't matter much - unless, course your talking blackpowder vs Pyrodex!
 

Mulebrain

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Have you worked on the sights, or shooting it straight out of the box?

If your off at 25, then your gonna be way off at 50, and at 100yd don't even bother.

I picked up a used rifle recently, it wouldn't even hit the target at 50. It was going way underneath it, so I went back to 25 bench and started filing the front sight. Then I worked on the windage, and now she is a player

IMG_9886.JPG
 

Halighast

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I haven't messed with the sights and really haven't done any shooting for accuracy yet, just messed around with it. I was on target at 50 though not with a good grouping. Hopefully I can take it out this weekend with my newly learned info and a leadsled to start dialing it in :)
 

FishDFly

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Make a list of what you need to take with you to the range.

If you shoot in a place with other folks "do not visit",

Visiting gets you distracted from what you are there for.

Visiting also is the primarily cause of "dry ball". After dry balling you are frustrated and then concentrating on how and what do next.

Keep you targets and take them home and study on them, Mark the powder charge used on each one of them, Keeping notes is nice, but targets don't lie on how you shot.

Always keep your best target and post it somewhere you can see it.

Most important thing is, have fun.
 

hanshi

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To find an accurate load all that's needed is to shoot again and again addressing only one variable at a time. It's not usually difficult at all. Shoot from a rest when testing loads.
 

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