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I don't think Dad's Hawken is going to hunt

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Joined
Sep 26, 2023
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Location
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I spent most of my free time this week yrying to clean up the bore. It is pitted, and still has some serious carbon buildup near the chamber. I have been pretty aggressive in the cleaning, and still the patches are catching in 2 spots. I can shoot it, and it will group, but I have to keep charges under 60 grains. I am shooting a .490 ball with a .015 patch, tried .018, but every patch was blown out. I am shooting Goex FFFg powder, patches of .015 look good until I try 70 grains, and then the group is replaced by a pattern. I also saw some weird marks in the bore about 2.5-3 inches forward of the chamber. Most look like machining marks, but a few look like something else.
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I think I would have that barrel freshed out. I don’t know what those gouges are in the bore, but they don’t look good.

Sixty grains sounds like an adequate load to me. If the rifle is one of the brass-mounted, mass-produced Hawkens, I don’t think the grooves would have been very deep to start with. A lot of fellows will tell you a 1-48” twist is a “compromise,” and some will tell you it is too fast for patched round balls, but that isn’t necessarily true. The depth and configuration of the grooves makes a tremendous difference. Anyway, if the rifling in your gun is badly worn, the heavier powder charge may be pushing the ball too hard, so It doesn’t engage the grooves adequately so it skates across the lands. There are other possible causes of reduced accuracy with the heavier load, but I think this is one to consider. If the rifle shoots well with 60 grains, that’s what I would shoot.

However, I really think the best option is to get the bore recut. If the barrel is 15/16” across the flats, you could probably have Mr. Hoyt bore it out up to .54 caliber. I have a T/C Hawken barrel in his shop right now, from an abused and neglected rifle I bought used. He will fresh it out to .52 caliber (balls and moulds are obtainable), keeping the same number and configuration of grooves and pitch or twist, but cutting the tops of the lands to .520” to smooth them up, and the grooves to .011” (his recommendation) for patched round balls. Non-standard calibers are nothing to be afraid of in muzzleloading.

Good luck with it! We hope you’ll keep us updated on your progress. It would be great to get your dad’s rifle fixed up and out in the field again. He would probably be pleased.

Notchy Bob
 
I have had very good luck with the maroon colored "scotchbrite" pads. I use a smaller than bore diameter wire bore brush and cut a strip of the pad. Wrap the brush and go to work on the bore. I change out the pad as soon as it becomes easy to push and pull in the bore. A bit of Kroil doesn't hurt the process. It has worked for me on unmentionables and ML's. Any new barrel gets the treatment, unless the barrel was a high dollar custom.
 
Looking at the rebore option, or maybe a drop in 54 caliber barrel.
Re-bore is a good option. Especially for your Elk quest, with a re-bore you could also consider proper twist rates for your projectile and within local laws.
Would like to be able to hunt deer and elk with it.
Well, maybe it's a bit too close to the season this year to get the load just right. To be honest we here at the forum always see this kind of issue as the hunting season nears, Maybe take "Dad's rifle" and start getting it ready for next year?
It's heirloom, care for it, upgrade it, prove it works,, and pass it on. Then it'll be "Gandpa's rifle"
 
Re-bore is a good option. Especially for your Elk quest, with a re-bore you could also consider proper twist rates for your projectile and within local laws.

Well, maybe it's a bit too close to the season this year to get the load just right. To be honest we here at the forum always see this kind of issue as the hunting season nears, Maybe take "Dad's rifle" and start getting it ready for next year?
It's heirloom, care for it, upgrade it, prove it works,, and pass it on. Then it'll be "Gandpa's gun"
This is all about next year, I drew zero tags this year, all upland and waterfowl. I really want to hunt with roundball, although with a 50 and potentially elk on the docket, I was prepared to press the Lyman Maxi mould into service. I am really seeing the effects of rising costs, even the rebore option has dramatically increased.
 
This is all about next year,
Good! Thank you for that,, Rising costs?(!) Oh Lord we all feel that,, most of us here still support that race car driver and proclaim;
"Let's go Brandon"! (hope he gets his car fixed)
I made comment about projectile because most states have requirements about caliber for deer size game and many states have further minimum requirements for Elk. You should research your local to be sure. If you need to use large projectile, then you should have a faster twist.
With the back log of labor that's currently with us in all industry,, checking now for nest year is actually good timing.

p.s. what is the gun your working with?
 
Good! Thank you for that,, Rising costs?(!) Oh Lord we all feel that,, most of us here still support that race car driver and proclaim;
"Let's go Brandon"! (hope he gets his car fixed)
I made comment about projectile because most states have requirements about caliber for deer size game and many states have further minimum requirements for Elk. You should research your local to be sure. If you need to use large projectile, then you should have a faster twist.
With the back log of labor that's currently with us in all industry,, checking now for nest year is actually good timing.

p.s. what is the gun your working with?
An early 1970s T/C Hawken. Here in New Mexico, regs simply state 45 caliber or larger. While I know thousands of elk have no doubt been killed by a patched round ball from a 50 caliber muzzleloader, I was thinking Maxi for the insurance. I have loved this rifle since the day Dad bought it, movies like Jeremiah Johnson and The Mountain Men only fueled the flame. I fell away for a long while, but believe it or not the purchase of a Shiloh Sharps brought me back, first loading holy black in cartridges, to Dad passing this rifle to me this past Spring.
 
While I know thousands of elk have no doubt been killed by a patched round ball from a 50 caliber muzzleloader,
Your right, times have changed right(?), more people, more pressure, limited range, Elk more wary.
Tough call, do your research, and Thanks for checking here, :thumb:
Your T/C is model specific as far as rebore, A 1" barrel can go 54 easy, 58 maybe and uptoo 62 smooth, if the factory drilled sight mounts aren't too deep(it's a known issue). If it's a 15/16" I'm not sure how big you can go,,
After market barrels in larger cal for 15/16 are available, but getting rare in availability.
Again, Good luck,,
 
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I can try some FFg next time out.
May I suggest combining FFg with an over-powder wad and your maxi-balls. Your bore doesn't look that bad. Crud ring remnants? I find I can remove them after firing a string of shots and the barrel is good and warm, using tight fitting olive oil-wet cleaning patches.
 
Don't condemn the bore yet.
I've shot original muzzleloaders for several decades & some had considerably pitted bores but provided excellent accuracy after being re-conditioned.
Start by lapping the bore with a coarser grade of 3M abrasive fabric tightly wrapped around a cleaning jag & then finish with a finer grade.
Even if some pitting remains the 3M abrasive fabric will smooth the surfaces enough to provide easy loading & cleaning.
Judging by your photos I think you will end up with a bore that produces excellent groups.
 
I've found that the very best method to remove all the rust from a sad barrel is by a good cleaning with alcohol, then plugging the nipple with a toothpick or wooden match and filling it with white vinegar. The vinegar will remove all the rust in about 24 hours, then clean and use a scotch bright if needed.
 

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