rifled or smoothbore barrel

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BV

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My personal preference for a smoothbore would be a minimum of .62 (20 ga). If I was building a .50, I would consider only a rifled barrel.
 

hillbilly

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Welcome to the forum, hillbilly!

In very general terms, I would suggest a smoothbore for versatility or a rifle for accuracy. Your .50 caliber barrel, if a smoothbore, would be roughly equivalent to a 37 gauge shotgun (.501"), which is nonexistent in the modern world but certainly possible with a muzzleloader. Ballistically, I would think shot loads would be somewhere between a .410 shotgun and a 28 gauge shotgun, to put it in more understandable terms. I think Britsmoothy, one of the gentlemen who posts regularly on this board, has enjoyed excellent results with shot loads in smoothbores of small caliber, and we hope he will contribute to this discussion. However, I think with shot loads, you would be limited to very small game (squirrels, rabbits, and birds) at relatively close range. I think you can take buckshot loads off the table altogether in this case... I can't think of anything I would want to shoot with buckshot out of a .50 caliber smoothbore.

You can certainly shoot patched round balls from a smoothbore, and there are plenty of people here who report very good accuracy with these out to 50 yards or so. I am not one of them.

If you are building your .50 caliber flintlock to look like a rifle, with a full octagon barrel, rear sight, and rifle-styled butt stock, but you build it as a smoothbore, you will have what the old timers called "a smoothbore rifle," although most people now would call it just a "smooth rifle," or even a "smoothie." I believe you would find this an awkward gun to use for wing shooting. I think the optimal targets for shot loads in a smoothbore of that gauge would be stationary or slow-moving small game at relatively close distance, unless you are an exceptional wing shot. Ball loads might take up to deer-sized game a little further out, but everything would depend on your skill as a marksman and your ability to develop an appropriate load.

If you are just gathering information and listening to opinions here, with regard to your .50 caliber project gun, that's one thing. If you are looking for recommendations, I would recommend that you build a rifle. Work up a good, accurate load with a patched round ball and you can confidently go after deer at reasonable ranges, take small game with head shots, and seriously compete in matches with your local club.

Rifles tend to be more muzzle-heavy, to facilitate deliberate aiming. Smoothbored fowling pieces, the shotguns of the flintlock era, tend to be a bit lighter in the muzzle and more nimble. "Smooth rifles" are hybrids, incorporating the best and the worst of both. They can be useful, versatile, and a lot of fun to shoot, but they also have their limitations.

I think there are probably very few of us here who have only one gun. Maybe after you finish your rifle your next build could be a smoothbore of somewhat larger gauge.

Those are my thoughts on the topic. Others' opinions are just as valid. There are plenty of people here rooting for your success!

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
THANK you, with all that has been said about this and what you have added which has put all into perspective. Thank you again for your knowledge and opinion
 
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I ve not taken a deer this century with a rifle. It seems I started with a percussion rifle.but everything that drew me to ml was more so with flint. And all that drew me to ml was more so again with smoothbores
I’m kinda afraid to shoot a matchlock😊
Burnt a hole in my best jeans by putting my match in my back pocket. Thought it was out.
 

FlinterNick

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I think each type has its beneficial use.

For most occasions a smoothbore will do just fine.

Now if your distance to the target is critical, then a rifle makes more sense.

It really depends on what you’re doing.
 

Britsmoothy

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Welcome to the forum, hillbilly!

In very general terms, I would suggest a smoothbore for versatility or a rifle for accuracy. Your .50 caliber barrel, if a smoothbore, would be roughly equivalent to a 37 gauge shotgun (.501"), which is nonexistent in the modern world but certainly possible with a muzzleloader. Ballistically, I would think shot loads would be somewhere between a .410 shotgun and a 28 gauge shotgun, to put it in more understandable terms. I think Britsmoothy, one of the gentlemen who posts regularly on this board, has enjoyed excellent results with shot loads in smoothbores of small caliber, and we hope he will contribute to this discussion. However, I think with shot loads, you would be limited to very small game (squirrels, rabbits, and birds) at relatively close range. I think you can take buckshot loads off the table altogether in this case... I can't think of anything I would want to shoot with buckshot out of a .50 caliber smoothbore.

You can certainly shoot patched round balls from a smoothbore, and there are plenty of people here who report very good accuracy with these out to 50 yards or so. I am not one of them.

If you are building your .50 caliber flintlock to look like a rifle, with a full octagon barrel, rear sight, and rifle-styled butt stock, but you build it as a smoothbore, you will have what the old timers called "a smoothbore rifle," although most people now would call it just a "smooth rifle," or even a "smoothie." I believe you would find this an awkward gun to use for wing shooting. I think the optimal targets for shot loads in a smoothbore of that gauge would be stationary or slow-moving small game at relatively close distance, unless you are an exceptional wing shot. Ball loads might take up to deer-sized game a little further out, but everything would depend on your skill as a marksman and your ability to develop an appropriate load.

If you are just gathering information and listening to opinions here, with regard to your .50 caliber project gun, that's one thing. If you are looking for recommendations, I would recommend that you build a rifle. Work up a good, accurate load with a patched round ball and you can confidently go after deer at reasonable ranges, take small game with head shots, and seriously compete in matches with your local club.

Rifles tend to be more muzzle-heavy, to facilitate deliberate aiming. Smoothbored fowling pieces, the shotguns of the flintlock era, tend to be a bit lighter in the muzzle and more nimble. "Smooth rifles" are hybrids, incorporating the best and the worst of both. They can be useful, versatile, and a lot of fun to shoot, but they also have their limitations.

I think there are probably very few of us here who have only one gun. Maybe after you finish your rifle your next build could be a smoothbore of somewhat larger gauge.

Those are my thoughts on the topic. Others' opinions are just as valid. There are plenty of people here rooting for your success!

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Just to add......with a small bore as in my .45 you can add two .445" or to cover my azz for legal reasons beyond all comprehension load 5 number of .36" balls. So in effect you can make a substantial buck shot load in a small bore smoothbore.

I have never gone out with the 45 smoothrifle (along Kentucky lines) and wished I had gone out with the .63 and equally never wished I had my 45 with me when out with the .63!
A .50 will through 3/4oz of shot all day long.
 
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which is the better of the two ? comments, advice, and reason why . any knowledge is held with great respect....thank y'all..
Honestly, I do enjoy shooting my smoothbores more than my rifles.

Course, these days anything that gets me out of the house, without a mask...is enjoyable. So, might just be the COVID talking...:doh:
 

Art Caputo

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If I were to own just one muzzleloader where I live snd hunt it would be my 62 cal Fowler. My primary hunting with a ML is whitetail, and turkey, typically shot a close range: <50 yards for deer, <25 yards for turkey. My Fowler is very versatile, using ball or shot, and accurate enough for deer at this range. Since I haven’t owned only one muzzleloader for many years, I use my Fowler for turkeys and occasionally other small game and game birds. I much prefer the balance, styling, and greater accuracy/range potential of my rifles for deer hunting, and more importantly, my recreational target, practice, and casual shooting that I enjoy the remaining 9 months of the year, with a much higher volume of shooting.
 
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Roundball2319

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Like others have said it depends on what you are wanting to shoot and at what distances that will be. They are both a hoot to shoot and fine tune the loads. I have even used my 50 cal rifle for hunting rabbits with a 25 grain load of 2f followed by 20 to 25 grains of malto meal to raise the volume of the load so the ball would not have an air gap at the breech plug. 840 fps and super accurate to 50 meters.
 

tenngun

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Just to add......with a small bore as in my .45 you can add two .445" or to cover my azz for legal reasons beyond all comprehension load 5 number of .36" balls. So in effect you can make a substantial buck shot load in a small bore smoothbore.

I have never gone out with the 45 smoothrifle (along Kentucky lines) and wished I had gone out with the .63 and equally never wished I had my 45 with me when out with the .63!
A .50 will through 3/4oz of shot all day long.
I had a Navy Arms .45 ‘Kentucky’ rifle, wish I kept it. Who made yours and did you have to get it special made?
 

smoothshooter

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My smooth rifle, half octagon barrel in 28 bore, about .54 cal. It’s lighter in the muzzle then a full octagon but as said it would be hard to wing shoot with it, 50 yard target, 70grains 3f .527 ballView attachment 61355View attachment 61357View attachment 61358
I also have an Isaac Haines-type .54 smooth rifle than I have fired approx. 2,000 times in the 20 years I have had it.
Very versatile setup that I have enjoyed ( except a few times when I wanted to wrap it around a tree during load development ) immensely.
It has a “C” weight swamped barrel and sliding wood patch box.
If I could only have one muzzleloader, it would be this one.
 

Britsmoothy

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I had a Navy Arms .45 ‘Kentucky’ rifle, wish I kept it. Who made yours and did you have to get it special made?
Mine is from the now defunct maker Armisport italy.
I just phoned a purveyor of muzzleloaders and asked if they had any small bore smoothbores in the back room and they found this one. They assured me of it's fine condition and sent it over for £200.
Best 200 I've ever spent!
 

smoothshooter

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Mine is from the now defunct maker Armisport italy.
I just phoned a purveyor of muzzleloaders and asked if they had any small bore smoothbores in the back room and they found this one. They assured me of it's fine condition and sent it over for £200.
Best 200 I've ever spent!
A friend of mine put it together from a Track of the Wolf kit about 21 years ago. Added some raised C-scroll and other line and border carving. Did an excellent job on it. Cost me a bunch of money. $2,000.
I have gotten my money’s worth out of it, though. Have not fired it in over 18 months, but will try to remedy that when we get past this terrible cold wave we are having in the lower midwest right now.
Sometimes I think I would like to find a less expensive one like you have/had in .45 that is either already smoothbored, or a rifled one I can have Bobby Hoyt ream out, so I can play with it and see just what can be done with a smaller smoothbore.
 
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