Shooting Round Balls Without Patches

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by GregLaRoche, Sep 3, 2019.

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  1. Sep 4, 2019 #21

    tenngun

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    The Mexicans were short on lead and often used copper balls. Not easy to cast at home and expensive. However effective. Copper is lighter then lead so the ball couldn't keep velocity as well but in smooth bore rage was just as deadly.
    If you patch a ball in pure lead in a rifle you leave an imprint of the patch on the ball. It grabs the ball well and holds the rifling. A hard ball will resist that. I don’t reckon a smoothie cares.
     
  2. Sep 4, 2019 #22

    kingsax26

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    First thinng i learned when I bought a smoothbore, loading a PRB in a dirty barrel can be pretty tough. I finally tried using a bare ball, I found that the PRB is more accurate, but only marginally so. There is no rifling, period. it doesnt matter what tricks you do to the ball....its never going to be a rifle. I have tried evrything from rasps, chewing, dimpling, etc etc....nothing is that much more accurate than the next. Why go through all the trouble? most smoothies max out at 70 yards..ish, I own several....and itdoesnt matter if im using PRB or bare ball and wad....70 yards is about it. The prb might get me a few more yards but thats it....and they both produce groups capable of taking deer, bear or whatnot to 70 yards.... bare ball is soooo much easier to load. so thaTS WHAT i USE...
     
  3. Sep 8, 2019 #23

    Maven

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    IMG_6345.jpeg I just returned from the range after testing "bare," i.e., unpatched RB's in my 20ga. Green River Forge trade gun (flintlock). The particulars will follow in a moment, but the verdict, at least for my gun, is that patched RB's are significantly more accurate than the bare ones, and those results are repeatable.

    Today's frolic involved .618" - .619", i.e., bore diameter, weighed RB's (Tanner mould), seated over 80gr. Graf's Schuetzen FFFg + a grease wad. No OP or OS wads were used as those RB's are a tight fit in the bbl. I also swabbed the bore after each shot for loading ease and consistency. In this test, the balls were rolled between 2 coarse files and dipped in melted Crisco + beeswax. From a rest @ 25 yd. I could keep most of the 7 in an 8" bullseye, with some (2) near each other, but not touching.

    Test #2 involved RB's cast (and weighed) from the same Tanner mould, but not rasped like the others. These were also fired with 80gr. of Graf's Schuetzen FFFg, but with the addition of a proper OP wad (~1/8" thick), a felt grease wad, and a thin OS wad to hold the unrasped but slightly looser fitting balls on the powder charge. The results? Better than the rasped RB's, but my 7th and last shot (high at 11 o'clock) really opened the group. This one is worth retesting, but it's still not as accurate as a patched RB in my gun.*

    *My trade gun will shoot either a .014" or .018" pillow ticking patch + a .598" (Tanner & Lee moulds) or a .603" RB (Lyman mould) quite accurately @
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  4. Sep 8, 2019 #24

    Maven

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    Here's a photo of patched RB results, also @ 25 yd., same gun, but with a Lyman .603" RB IMG_6269.jpg
     
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  5. Sep 9, 2019 #25

    RAEDWALD

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  6. Sep 9, 2019 #26

    smo

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    Maven, have you tried less powder?

    Here’s a group I shot awhile back benched out of my 16 with bare ball and an over shot card on top of the ball.

    617FB03A-9725-4D31-81AC-8B7AE3B6EF96.jpeg
    The one low left was my first shot of the group.
    70 grns of ffg Goex , ball , card.

    What does your bore mic at?

    Mine is .653 and the balls are .648, I’m now shooting a .642 ball with similar results...


    Smo
     
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  7. Sep 9, 2019 #27

    Maven

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    Smo, To answer your questions, first, I've tried less powder, e.g., 65gr. FFFg with patched RB's and have had excellent (and repeatable) accuracy with .598" - .603" RB's. However, with the larger, "bare" ball, my gun likes a heavier charge else it hits quite low. Second, as best as I can measure, the bore is .618" - .619". My Tanner mould casts a bullet ( as I requested) exactly that size (pure Pb), but 25 yd. accuracy (80gr. FFFg) isn't nearly as good as I get with a slightly smaller patched RB and lesser powder charge. Btw, compressed patch thickness, e.g., .014" v. .018" makes little difference in accuracy in my gun.
     
  8. Sep 9, 2019 #28

    smo

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    Thanks Maven good info.

    My gun shoots almost as well with 50 grns of ffg with a Tanner mold cast .642 ball.

    But that’s at 25 yards , outside of that as you said it hits quite low.

    I’m still testing different charges as well, but I like what I’m seeing.
     
  9. Sep 10, 2019 #29

    dave951

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    69smoothbore.jpg
    Here's my take on patches, molesting the ball, etc in my smoothbore. All shots were fired in succession with NO wiping between and at a somewhat rapid pace.

    Bottom group, no patch, no wiping, dimpled ball with sprue removed. Top group, unmolested ball (sprue on), no patch, no wiping. Shot on top dot was just to confirm sight picture. Guess which load I'm competing with.



    20171028_105902.jpg
    Here's the culprit, a 42 Springfield, cut down to replicate those refurbed by the Macon Arsenal during the ACW. Group in the pic was shot offhand using the load from the top pic, no wiping between shots, rapid fire, and no, I was not aiming for the center. The bet at the time was to hit the bottom "slice" of the pie. Of 7 rounds, I missed once. (Flinched:rolleyes:)
     
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  10. Sep 10, 2019 #30

    smo

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    Looks like it works for you, was your unmolested ball patched?
     
  11. Sep 10, 2019 #31

    Maven

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    Good shooting and comparison, dave951 + you've convinced me not to waste my time dimpling my RB's! In short, in my gun at least, dimpled RB's + OP wad & greased felt wad were the least accurate. However, the weighed bore diameter RB (no sprue to speak of) + OP- greased felt- and OS wads shot better. However, the patched RB, not bore diameter, but either .598" (Lee mould) or .603" (Lyman mould; nominally .600") was consistently the most accurate. As for damp swabbing the bore, I have to with the bore diameter, i.e., .618" - .619" balls else I won't be able to seat them, but never with wet patched smaller RB's.
     
  12. Sep 11, 2019 #32

    dave951

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    No. It was bare and just like it came from the mold with the exception of musket lube on the side to the powder charge
     
  13. Sep 11, 2019 #33

    dave951

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    My bore is .690. Ball as cast is .685. No room for any kind of patch and besides, patches are illegal for NSSA smoothbore competition.
     
  14. Sep 11, 2019 #34

    Docgp

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    I also think pure lead helps with consistant weight. Some (if not all) of the alloys are lighter than pure lead, so you get different weight projectiles.

    Doc
     
  15. Sep 11, 2019 #35

    dave951

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    Most of our smoothbore competitors shoot range scrap. Pure lead is usually reserved for Minies. Range scrap for us can be about anything appropriate to black powder arms. Case in point, my 63 Sharps shoots the lights out with Lyman #2. Pure lead opens the group up to over twice the size.

    I've measured my smoothbore balls cast from pure lead and my trash pile of range scrap and the range scrap drops right at .686 or just under. Pure lead is generally .684 and just under. Both groups I posted are range scrap.
     
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  16. Sep 11, 2019 #36

    smo

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    Good info Dave Thanks.

    Did you notice any difference in loading the smooth vs dimpled?

    Was the dimpled ball tighter too load?

    Any difference in trajectory?

    Did the dimpled balls shoot higher or lower?

    FG , FFG or FFFG?

    My 16 gauge does well with a .648 bare ball , the bore measures .653 , basically the same fit as your ball.

    I’m still experimenting with different charges and a .642 ball un patched .

    Thanks again
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  17. Sep 11, 2019 #37

    dave951

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    Here's how I make the ammo you saw in the pic and remember that we in the NSSA shoot for speed AND accuracy.

    I cast my smoothbore balls from range scrap and they drop from my mold about 685. I'm using Old Eynsford 3f, a premium Goex product. We use a plastic cartridge tube. I charge the tube with 65g 3f OE. I plug the tube with a ball put in sprue first. The ball is about half in. The sprue up or down made no difference in accuracy, I just like the look of the finished round better. I then triple dip the exposed part of the ball in musket lube.

    To load, pop ball out of top of tube, dump powder in muzzle, place ball on muzzle lube towards powder, ram ball home in one quick firm stroke, cap and fire. The musket lube on the "base" of the ball keeps the fouling soft enough to keep loading.

    I'm pretty much convinced if the ball to bore to lube to powder is right, wads and patches will only muddy the waters.
     
  18. Sep 11, 2019 #38

    dave951

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    Did you notice any difference in loading the smooth vs dimpled? Not on the first. Subsequent shots with dimples were a bit harder.

    Was the dimpled ball tighter too load? Not really on first shot

    Any difference in trajectory? Not that I noticed other than in every case, the dispersion trended horizontal like the one in the pic

    Did the dimpled balls shoot higher or lower? Read previous answer

    FG , FFG or FFFG? 3f. I tried 2f and 3f in standard Goex and Old Eynsford. In every case, Old Eynsford was better. Between 2f and 3f, 3f was better. That might be a function of my barrel length.
     
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  19. Sep 15, 2019 #39

    Stantheman86

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    I have lots of fun shooting with bare ball and musket wadding, using a powder measure to dump the powder down the bore.....not unlike what was originally done when cartridges were not used in the 1700s.

    Sometimes I don't feel like rolling cartridges so I'll just use the flask-powder measure, wadding method and it works just fine.
     
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  20. Sep 26, 2019 #40

    Thomas Rose

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    After reading somewhere that the frontiersmen were prone to using materials at hand such as wasp nests for wadding in their smoothbores after extended hunts away from home, I began collecting nests to experiment this method. I now have a healthy supply and this thread has prompted me to get busy and see how it works. The wasp nest material does compress tightly and would seem to hold the powder and ball or shot in place. I will try this method ASAP and report back on this thread.
     

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