The rods I have seen that come with factory guns are pretty much junk. I don't care for them so I like to make my own, the way I like them to be. I personally examine each part to be sure it is of good quality and I hand fit everything and pin the thimbles so I know every one will do what it needs to do when it needs to do it. I like maple as a ramrod because it is easier to work and is tough, although a bit heavier, but I think heavier is OK. Oak works well but it is difficult to find a good quality dowel rod. I did find a really good 4 footer one time and made my range rod from it. I've been using it for years. Hickory is the best if you can get it. Knowing the right way to use a wooden rod is the key, as has been said.
When I started shooting black powder again I bought a steel rod from totw. 36" long, 5/16" with a 10-32 thread. So far I've used it for cleaning, loading, everything from .32 up to the .62 smoothbore gun. It's the only rod I use for everything. I have used when I get a new gun the existing rod under the barrel to see how it works. I've always preferred the steel. I like to keep things simple as I can.
Only time I had a wooden r/r fail on a hunt was my fault , ......had just killed a large meat doe out of a herd of 18. The herd ran to my hunting buddy , he killed a 6 pt. out of the herd . The remaining 16 ran back to me . I should have had time to reload my .62 Jager , but , I lost my short starter in the 8" fresh powder . W/o the shorty , my 1/2 " r/r was useless.. Was it the r/r @ fault???.....No , just the operator.........oldwood
The ramrod that comes with most production muzzle loaders is like the jack that comes with most automobiles: Barely adequate. The ramrod that comes with the rifle is usually just long enough to reach the bottom of the barrel. This leaves very little rod to get a grip on. If you must use the production ramrod, I would get a "T" handle to fit the threaded end. T/C makes nice small folding "T" handle, IIRC.
I have a 44" stainless range rod. I use it to pull balls that have been put down with no powder. I have pulled maybe 2 of mine in the last 30+ years, and dozens for newbies. That is the only thing that rod is used for. Everything else is done with the ramrod that accompanies the rifle.
Toot, I made mine from a piece of 3/8" diameter aluminum rod I picked up cheap at a recycle store. Some use brass and other metals.
I tapped one end of mine to accept jags and fit an old brass door knob to the other end as a palm handle. It took me all of a couple of hours to cut to length, tap and figure out how to attach the door knob.