Starting charge and Hunting Charge

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SB1911

32 Cal
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Hello.
I purchased a well used Connecticut Valley Arms .45 cal muzzleloader yesterday. This is my first muzzleloader and for $127 plus tax I figured I would take a chance. I cleaned the bore and tested for obstruction firing a cap while having some leaves at the barrel end and the leaves blew away. I purchased hornady .440 round balls, Pyrodex RS powder, .010 patches, .015 patches, and a powder measurer. My question is what charge to start out at and what is a good hunting charge? I read that a good starting point for powder is the caliber. So I would start at 45 grains? Please provide any guidance possible and any recommend literature. I look forward to better understanding muzzleloaders.

Thank you!
 

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ElkStalker

40 Cal
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Nice rifle! I haven’t seen many CVA Kentucky rifles. Great rifle at a really great price. Your most accurate load is probably going to be in the neighborhood of 70gr. Start at 50gr and work up shooting 5 shot groups. Some do 3 shots, but 5 gives room for shooter error and flyers. You may find that you need to go to an .018” patch. The .010” probably won’t be that great with a .440 ball. Do you know the twist rate of your rifle? The above 70gr accuracy load would be true for a 1:48. There is a good chance that your Kentucky rifle has a 1:66 twist. This would be great. You can push some pretty heavy loads through the slow twist and still obtain great accuracy. If you need an explanation for how to check the twist rate, I’d be happy to help. A lot of times you will find 2 accurate loads at different nodes - meaning one powder charge somewhere between 30-50 grains and another between 70 -100. CVA recomended 75gr 3f for best accuracy based on their test rifles. I couldn’t find a max from CVA but did find a max load given by Sam Fadala at 120gr 3f. I think this is extremely high for a 45 and wouldn’t recomend it. Watch for pressure signs as you work up. I think you’ll find a sweet spot before you hit 90gr. Again, it depends on your twist rate.
Since you requested guidance and reading materials, I’m assuming this is your first muzzleloader. Do not be in a hurry. Make absolutely certain that your PRB is seated firmly on the powder. No air gaps allowed with black powder, unless your goal is to make a pipe bomb. Powder - patch-ball. Repeat this to yourself until it becomes second nature. It’s not much fun pulling balls because you forgot to add powder, and it’s really not safe if you accident double charge. Take your time and enjoy the learning experience. 3f black powder is what you want for this rifle. Pyrodex RX is equivalent to 2F. Pyrodex is also highly corrosive and I personally would not recommend it for that rifle. Some guys use it and swear by it. I’ve seen some really nice rifles get trashed from its use but that also usually included poor maintenance and cleaning. Use it if that’s what you can get, but use Pyrodex P (P stand for Pistol as is the FFFg equivalent) and get it cleaned right away with hot water and a couple drops of dawn dish soap- then clean with hot water, dry patch until all water is removed, some guys will also run an alcohol patch for extra measure, then a patch lightly coated with a good gun oil/rust preventative. If you can find some real black powder, that would work best for you. Triple 7 burns cleaner than pyrodex and is not near as corrosive. No matter what you use, you will need to clean it when you get home. Black powder is hydroscopic so you don’t want that sitting in your barrel for extended periods. Remember that Black powder, and it’s substitutes are measured by volume, so you need a good volumetric powder measure.
Welcome to the forum and welcome to black powder muzzleloaders. Folks here are extremely helpful, so ask as many questions as you have. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.
 
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ElkStalker

40 Cal
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You can search this sight for instructions on how to inspect your patches also to ensure that you are using the proper patch for your bore.
A good tight patch will look almost like you can reuse it. A patch that is too loose will either burn up completely, or will show where gases are getting past the ball. I don’t recommend prelubed patches. There is no telling how long they have been sitting on the shelf and patches lubed with bore butter will degrade over time. This creates an issue of, either the patches will not stay together when loading, or will behave similar to a patch that is undersized. There are a lot of good patch lubes on the market. I like Mink oil sold bu Track if the Wolf. You can also use spit if you are shooting right way, or even use bore butter on a clean dry patch - just don’t let it sit for long periods (weeks/months). With patch lube - use a thin layer. Less is more. I have one rifle that only shoots well if I lightly lube one side of a pillow ticking patch. Too much lube or live in both sides of the patch and accuracy goes to pot. You will get the hang of all the intricacies after a while. You will want to run a stitch patch on a cleaning jag, followed by a dry patch every so often. One of my rifles likes to be swabbed every 5 rounds, another needs it between every shot.
If your rifle is a 1:66 twist, don’t even bother with conicals as it’s a round ball twist, but you could use the Hornady PA connical which is made for the slow twists based on a ball-et design.
This should be enough information to get you you started, and again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything that doesn’t make sense.
 

ZUG

Pilgrim
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My half stock .45 caliber cap gun has an Orion tapered 35" barrel and I use a .440 diameter swaged ball with a 0.015" patch and 60 grains of FFFG GOEX for both targets and hunting and this combination does very well for me. :thumb:
 

dave951

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Don't get wrapped up in the "hunting" charge thing. Most likely your rifle will have 2 loads it will shoot very well, one light and one much higher but not a "max". Your best "hunting" load is the higher one that you can shoot with repeatable accuracy.
 
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@SB1911, among your initial purchases should be a brass or stainless steel range rod with a suitable bore protector and cleaning/loading jag. As stated, Pyrodex fouling is very corrosive and must be cleaned after each shooting session. The good news is that the fouling can be cleaned with water with a bit of dishwashing detergent. After cleaning, use a rust inhibiting metal protectant such as Barricade. Store the rifle muzzle down to let the oils drain from the breech. Dried up oils are sure way to block the flash channel and if flame can't get from the cap to the powder charge, there will be problems getting the rifle to reliably fire.

Welcome to traditional muzzleloading.
 

M. De Land

75 Cal.
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Hello.
I purchased a well used Connecticut Valley Arms .45 cal muzzleloader yesterday. This is my first muzzleloader and for $127 plus tax I figured I would take a chance. I cleaned the bore and tested for obstruction firing a cap while having some leaves at the barrel end and the leaves blew away. I purchased hornady .440 round balls, Pyrodex RS powder, .010 patches, .015 patches, and a powder measurer. My question is what charge to start out at and what is a good hunting charge? I read that a good starting point for powder is the caliber. So I would start at 45 grains? Please provide any guidance possible and any recommend literature. I look forward to better understanding muzzleloaders.

Thank you!
I have two .45 cal match rifles one in percussion and one in flint. Both of them have Green Mtn. barrels which is all I use for new guns as they are made of certified gun steel not 12L14 as many of the other big name barrels are. Both of them prefer 65 grains of 3F Goex , a .445 ball and .018 shirt felt patching. We target shoot to 100 yards in our club with various targets at 25,50 and 100 yards. I've not hunted with this load but believe it would be at the upper level of power in .45 cal for a patched round ball as a hunting load.
 

SB1911

32 Cal
Joined
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Nice rifle! I haven’t seen many CVA Kentucky rifles. Great rifle at a really great price. Your most accurate load is probably going to be in the neighborhood of 70gr. Start at 50gr and work up shooting 5 shot groups. Some do 3 shots, but 5 gives room for shooter error and flyers. You may find that you need to go to an .018” patch. The .010” probably won’t be that great with a .440 ball. Do you know the twist rate of your rifle? The above 70gr accuracy load would be true for a 1:48. There is a good chance that your Kentucky rifle has a 1:66 twist. This would be great. You can push some pretty heavy loads through the slow twist and still obtain great accuracy. If you need an explanation for how to check the twist rate, I’d be happy to help. A lot of times you will find 2 accurate loads at different nodes - meaning one powder charge somewhere between 30-50 grains and another between 70 -100. CVA recomended 75gr 3f for best accuracy based on their test rifles. I couldn’t find a max from CVA but did find a max load given by Sam Fadala at 120gr 3f. I think this is extremely high for a 45 and wouldn’t recomend it. Watch for pressure signs as you work up. I think you’ll find a sweet spot before you hit 90gr. Again, it depends on your twist rate.
Since you requested guidance and reading materials, I’m assuming this is your first muzzleloader. Do not be in a hurry. Make absolutely certain that your PRB is seated firmly on the powder. No air gaps allowed with black powder, unless your goal is to make a pipe bomb. Powder - patch-ball. Repeat this to yourself until it becomes second nature. It’s not much fun pulling balls because you forgot to add powder, and it’s really not safe if you accident double charge. Take your time and enjoy the learning experience. 3f black powder is what you want for this rifle. Pyrodex RX is equivalent to 2F. Pyrodex is also highly corrosive and I personally would not recommend it for that rifle. Some guys use it and swear by it. I’ve seen some really nice rifles get trashed from its use but that also usually included poor maintenance and cleaning. Use it if that’s what you can get, but use Pyrodex P (P stand for Pistol as is the FFFg equivalent) and get it cleaned right away with hot water and a couple drops of dawn dish soap- then clean with hot water, dry patch until all water is removed, some guys will also run an alcohol patch for extra measure, then a patch lightly coated with a good gun oil/rust preventative. If you can find some real black powder, that would work best for you. Triple 7 burns cleaner than pyrodex and is not near as corrosive. No matter what you use, you will need to clean it when you get home. Black powder is hydroscopic so you don’t want that sitting in your barrel for extended periods. Remember that Black powder, and it’s substitutes are measured by volume, so you need a good volumetric powder measure.
Welcome to the forum and welcome to black powder muzzleloaders. Folks here are extremely helpful, so ask as many questions as you have. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.
I don’t know the twist rate of my rifle. If you can share how I can check that it would be appreciated. Is it ok to use a brush to clear the bore or should I not do that? Thank you.
 

ElkStalker

40 Cal
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I don’t know the twist rate of my rifle. If you can share how I can check that it would be appreciated. Is it ok to use a brush to clear the bore or should I not do that? Thank you.
I stay away from brushes in closed breach rifles except for very rare situations. They work great in inlines, but after getting several brushes stuck over the years in my rifles, I stay clear. They are a real pain to get out. A cleaning jag and patches is all you need to keep your rifle in tip top shape. If there is crud that requires a brush, you have something else going on - rust, pitting, etc and this will require several restorative steps.
Here is a video that explains how to find your rifles twist rate. I was going to type it out, but video might make more sense. You may need to copy and paste the link to your browser.
 
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TDM

69 Cal.
MLF Supporter
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Louisiana & My camp in Mississippi
Hello.
I purchased a well used Connecticut Valley Arms .45 cal muzzleloader yesterday. This is my first muzzleloader and for $127 plus tax I figured I would take a chance. I cleaned the bore and tested for obstruction firing a cap while having some leaves at the barrel end and the leaves blew away. I purchased hornady .440 round balls, Pyrodex RS powder, .010 patches, .015 patches, and a powder measurer. My question is what charge to start out at and what is a good hunting charge? I read that a good starting point for powder is the caliber. So I would start at 45 grains? Please provide any guidance possible and any recommend literature. I look forward to better understanding muzzleloaders.

Thank you!
Take heed to what @ElkStalker said. I can’t add anything to that. The other post are all good too. Follow the information and you’ll do fine.
 
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Those rifle are a slow twist. In the 60's range.

Hunting loads are somewhat dependent on what you will hunt and the typical shot distance for that Animal(s). My 45 only shoots targets and small game. Always with 45 gr 3f and .018 patch.
 
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Here are the specs on the current Traditions 50 caliber Kentucky model. This rifle is identical to the previous CVA 45 Kentucky.

KENTUCKY RIFLE KIT:



50 CALIBER
33.5" OCTAGONAL FIXED TANG BARREL, PERCUSSION
1:66" TWIST
BRASS TRIGGER
FIXED/BLADE SIGHTS
 

dave951

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Don't get wrapped up on twist rates. Experiment and see what works. If I went only on twist rates, I'd never have thought my rifles are capable of this type of accuracy-
 

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tgfrench

40 Cal
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Nice find. Currently I'm shooting my cva kentucky at paper at 50 yds out to 100 using 35 grs 3f swiss with a .018 patch. 60 grs seemed to work as well but just a waste shooting paper. Be diligent cleaning the breech and fire channel on this model and it will pay for the time and trouble. I suggest getting a channel cleaner from deer creek.
 
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