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Question about shooting round ball in smooth bore

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Question: is it necessary to patch the ball when shooting a smooth bore muzzle-loading black powder firearm? Per my limited knowledge and experience, the main purpose of the patch is to grab the rifling and spin the ball. It seems this serves no purpose in a smooth bore. Am I still supposed to be using a patch with a round ball in a smooth bore gun? And if so, what purpose is it serving there? Thanks ....
 
The purpose of the patch is to seal the bore.
OK, then why patch the ball, why not just use a wad? Or two? Ram a wad down on top of the charge, then if the ball isn't tight to the bore, another wad on top of the ball? One of my smooth bores is really, really tight with the recommended ball and patch. I don't really want to have to start it with a mallet if I don't have to. Seems to me a wad or two seals the bore just fine for reasons why a bore would need to be sealed.
 
Go to the N-SSA forum and find a tread call "smoothbore theory", I believe it is over 100 pages of mind numbing smoothbore speculation that come up with a surprising amount of things that really do work! Patches are NOT allowed in N-SSA competition and you would be amazed at the groups these guns are capable of. The added bonus is smoothbores are just plain fun to shoot!!!!!!!!

Good luck in your quest fair knight.
 
Go to the N-SSA forum and find a tread call "smoothbore theory", I believe it is over 100 pages of mind numbing smoothbore speculation that come up with a surprising amount of things that really do work! Patches are NOT allowed in N-SSA competition and you would be amazed at the groups these guns are capable of. The added bonus is smoothbores are just plain fun to shoot!!!!!!!!

Good luck in your quest fair knight.

I guess so. Not something I ever thought much about. Always learning something new. I got some reading to do. Thanks.

I'm already using the thinnest patch and I still have to use a mallet to start it. I can use a smaller ball for a given caliber?!?!?

What caliber?

Bob
 
I recently got ahold of a Harper’s Ferry 1816 smoothbore conversion musket to use with the N-SSA/ACWSA. Here are my first 5 shots, at 25 yards, bareball, using a .685 ball and 60 grains of 2F Schuetzen. From the bench, as the trigger pull was very heavy, which has now, hopefully, been put right!
IMG_1013.jpeg
 
I recently got ahold of a Harper’s Ferry 1816 smoothbore conversion musket to use with the N-SSA/ACWSA. Here are my first 5 shots, at 25 yards, bareball, using a .685 ball and 60 grains of 2F Schuetzen. From the bench, as the trigger pull was very heavy, which has now, hopefully, been put right!View attachment 264201
Watched a guy at a Regional blow the entire "X" ring out of a target with the same type of gun at 25!!!!!!!!!!! He only needed 5 shots to turn it in for score but he fired 10, the extra 5 voided the target but I was impressed that the man was so confident in his ability, arm and load that he had no interest in the medal he would have earned.
 
You have to experiment to see what load works best in your particular smoothbore.
I think the most common smoothbore is a 20 gauge, which is, of course, .62 caliber. In mine I use a .60 round ball with a patch over 70 grs. of 3F. I do NOT bother to measure the thickness of my patch material. If it fits, I go with it. If not, I'll use something else. I generally buy pillow ticking from a fabric store, but I also cut up my old worn-out shirts, my wife's old dresses, whatever. I'm not particular. As long as I get "minute of deer" groups at 50 yards I'm happy.
Some guys prefer a .59 ball with a thicker patch.
Some guys use a wad or a card between powder and ball, then an over ball card to hold it in place, but no patch. In this case they usually have a ball of almost bore diameter.
Any number of combinations might work best in your gun. You won't know until you try them.
 
As a long time rifle shooter it took me awhile to get it through my little mind that I can't expect to get rifle accuracy out of a smooth bore. I've been getting deer killing accuracy out of my 58 caliber smoothbore with a bare ball out to 50 yards or so. I use 50 grains of 3F Goex because I have a lot of it. I dump the powder and push a 1/8" nitro wad in the muzzle followed by a 1/2" lubed wad, the ball and a card wad. I shove the whole works down the barrel with one stroke. It seems to work pretty well but I'm a newby when it comes to smoothbores so maybe I can improve. But, I built it to shoot rabbits with shot so the round ball loads are more for fun.
 
OK, then why patch the ball, why not just use a wad? Or two? Ram a wad down on top of the charge, then if the ball isn't tight to the bore, another wad on top of the ball? One of my smooth bores is really, really tight with the recommended ball and patch. I don't really want to have to start it with a mallet if I don't have to. Seems to me a wad or two seals the bore just fine for reasons why a bore would need to be sealed.
Why not use a wad?

There's page after page of comments on how to load round ball in a smoothbore. There are entries that extoll the virtues of a patched ball in the smoothbore. Others swear by using over powder wads, the ball and an overshot card. Still others make up a wad of tow to nest the ball and a ball of tow as the over shot wad. Still more simply use a near bore sized ball and an overshot card or wad. I use paper wrapped cartridges. After I dump the powder, I turn the cartridge over to use the tube of paper as the wad and the paper to hold the ball in place. There's just so many options to load a smooth bored gun. Use the loading procedure that you find acceptable. The differences are mostly about differences in sealing the bore.

You might get more responses by having this moved to the smoothbore forum.
 
I'm already using the thinnest patch and I still have to use a mallet to start it. I can use a smaller ball for a given caliber?!?!?
Yes.

The difference between bore size and ball size is described as “windage.” Old-time military muskets may have had as much as .050” of windage. With a ball that much undersize, you’ll get a lot of blow-by, which will cost you in terms of velocity and energy. Also, and this may be just theoretical, the path the ball follows as it travels toward the muzzle may not be concentric with the bore, so it will likely lose accuracy. In my own experiments with undersized balls, I found excessive and rapid fouling buildup, also. This was with loose wadding.

I would suggest you try the ball you are using, following @The Crisco Kid ’s formula, using a nitro wad to protect the powder charge from grease, a lubed wad, bare ball, and a card wad to hold the ball in.

As for myself, I just use a smaller ball with a lubricated patch, like a .595” ball in a 20 gauge, and whatever patching material is handy.

What gauge or caliber is your gun, and what is the diameter of the balls you have been shooting? Bear in mind, undersized bores are not unknown, meaning that the actual measurement of your bore may be smaller than the stated size.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 
Patching a ball was known atleast back to 1847, but we know loading on wad was common.
The idea of trying to get a rifle group from a smoothbore was unknown back in the day. Accuracy was generally measured in deer killing or man incapacitating range. A six inch group puts met on the table, and that was all the accuracy one needed
Patched ball vs wad ball at fifty yards. While wad is a bigger group it’s not that much bigger, five shot groups.
IMG_1602.jpeg
 
Question: is it necessary to patch the ball when shooting a smooth bore muzzle-loading black powder firearm? Per my limited knowledge and experience, the main purpose of the patch is to grab the rifling and spin the ball. It seems this serves no purpose in a smooth bore. Am I still supposed to be using a patch with a round ball in a smooth bore gun? And if so, what purpose is it serving there? Thanks ....
Here's BPMS's take on your question;
 
@tenngun mentioned fouling, which is a very important consideration. I can shoot any combination of anything I want to, not being bound by competition rules, and have run the gamut in my smoothies. I settled on .600 round ball and .015" patch in my 20 gauge and .565 ball .015" patch in my 24 gauge. Using a spit patch....which my 24 gauge insists on or it won't hit the berm at 50 yards....I can shoot all day and not wipe, and groups are typically 3-5" for 5-10 shots, respectively.

Paper cartridges and bare ball without lubed wads or just using dry wads of any kind with bare ball cause heavy powder caking a foot or a foot and a half up from the breech and it must be cleaned out every 3-5 shots or another charge cannot be seated. If I wipe out after every shot, bare ball no wad groups are about 8-10" at 50 yards and about the same withy wasp nest or felt wads. Wet wads are a little more consistent than that, but more expensive and tedious than a wet patch and still not as good. So I use spit patches and am happy.
 

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