To patch or not to patch ball in Smoothbore

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Rich

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Patch, period if you want tight groups.
 

Heelerau

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I get good accuracy from my Dutch Potzdam using paper cartridges. As a kid with a Pat 42 smooth bore musket I got good accuracy using patched ball, I could often head shoot rabbits out to 40 yards with that combination. Both these muskets have rear sights. I use 4 1/2 drams of Fg in my potzdam and used 2 1/2 drams of FFg in my Pat 42 as I remember.
 

hanshi

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A good bare ball load can easily be accurate enough to take deer at up to 50 yards or thereabout. Since you won't be shooting a lot using a 3-shot group will usually give a decent group size and that's a deer taker. Got to work it up, though, just like in a rifle. Any good smoothbore load will look good at 20 to 25 yards, so testing at 50 yds should also be done.

I've chronographed various smoothbore loads and yes, bare ball loads tend to give up velocity, but not enough to worry about. I've shot some very good bare ball groups at 50 yards and shot a 12 shot group a while back. 8 shots measured around 3.5" but two were wild fliers and two were well out of the group but still on the deer. But then, fliers can emerge from almost any load if you shoot enough rounds.
 

Spence10

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@Spence10

Could you go into more detail on the brown paper please?
In 1767 Thomas Page wrote a book, The Art of Shooting Flying. In it he discussed wads for shot loads, and had this to say:

"But I cannot yet find any thing better, or so ready as thin brown paper rubbed soft, and cut into pieces about one inch broad and two inches long; so that when it is once doubled, it is an inch square. I punch a small hole at the corner of each piece, put a sufficient quantity upon a key-ring, hang them into my button hole, and tear off one as I want it. This being doubled, put it into to the muzzle, and close the corners up about the rammer (the end of which ought to continue of the same bigness for at least half an inch, or rather somewhat smaller just at the end) and thrust the paper thus put into the barrel gently down upon the powder. Your rammer will come back without danger of drawing the paper back, and will leave it closed against the sides of the barrel like a half cartridge. Put in another in the same manner after the shot."

He was recommending brown paper as the only wad. I tried some shot loads that way and wasn't impressed with the patterns. Later, though, when I was trying out wadding with tow only, I had the impression that pressures and velocities were low, possibly because the tow was letting gasses escape through it. It occurred to me that I could make a barrier with a brown paper wad and then use the same tow overpowder and over shot. I tried that and could easily tell it worked, the gun was shooting harder. When I got into trying bare ball loads using only tow for wadding I used the brown paper over powder again, with the results I showed. I have also done penetration tests with shot loads using brown paper and tow over powder, shot, tow over shot, and had excellent results with tin cans at 25 yards, penetrating both sides with force.
paper+towB.JPG

Here's how I carry the brown paper pieces.
brown paper1.JPG

How they fit into the bore, sort of as a short cartridge;
brown paper4.JPG
brown paper6.JPG

There are good primary references to the use of soft paper as wadding from at least two other good writers in the 18th century.

Spence
 

AZbpBurner

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Everyone knows that you patch a ball to keep it centered in the bore and that a bare ball's just gonna rattle down the bore with lousy accuracy and reduced velocity from gas blow-by as a result ...
Well, that's what I thought when I began shooting .62 cal smoothbore. I also tried overpowder wads, cushion wads, and over-ball wads. I did patches with my usual Tallow/Beeswax, and also my dry Castor Oil patches. All were disappointing.
The best load I finally settled on was powder/tow/ball/tow. Apparently that ball rattling loose and uncentered down the bore didn't know it was supposed to have poor accuracy.
 

Murph507

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In 1767 Thomas Page wrote a book, The Art of Shooting Flying. In it he discussed wads for shot loads, and had this to say:

"But I cannot yet find any thing better, or so ready as thin brown paper rubbed soft, and cut into pieces about one inch broad and two inches long; so that when it is once doubled, it is an inch square. I punch a small hole at the corner of each piece, put a sufficient quantity upon a key-ring, hang them into my button hole, and tear off one as I want it. This being doubled, put it into to the muzzle, and close the corners up about the rammer (the end of which ought to continue of the same bigness for at least half an inch, or rather somewhat smaller just at the end) and thrust the paper thus put into the barrel gently down upon the powder. Your rammer will come back without danger of drawing the paper back, and will leave it closed against the sides of the barrel like a half cartridge. Put in another in the same manner after the shot."

He was recommending brown paper as the only wad. I tried some shot loads that way and wasn't impressed with the patterns. Later, though, when I was trying out wadding with tow only, I had the impression that pressures and velocities were low, possibly because the tow was letting gasses escape through it. It occurred to me that I could make a barrier with a brown paper wad and then use the same tow overpowder and over shot. I tried that and could easily tell it worked, the gun was shooting harder. When I got into trying bare ball loads using only tow for wadding I used the brown paper over powder again, with the results I showed. I have also done penetration tests with shot loads using brown paper and tow over powder, shot, tow over shot, and had excellent results with tin cans at 25 yards, penetrating both sides with force.
View attachment 36506

Here's how I carry the brown paper pieces.
View attachment 36504

How they fit into the bore, sort of as a short cartridge;
View attachment 36509
View attachment 36505

There are good primary references to the use of soft paper as wadding from at least two other good writers in the 18th century.

Spence
I'm goan give that a try . Thanks .
 

Greenjoytj

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So instead of using brown (wood pulp) paper I would try a high quality rag linen paper. I believe various thickness can be found at an art supply shop.
With rag linen you'll be nearing full weave cloth patch performance, it might even match its performance. Test to confirm.

Don't set the forest on fire leaving smouldering bit of paper wad on the ground.
 

mushka

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In a pinch one day in a little 20 ga double I used paper towel material over the powder and shot. It worked surprisingly well but you could probably burn down a national forest using that wadding. It burned really well. I'm tempted t use some of the viva paper towels as they are more substantial, but still made of paper. I shoot mostly on desert land so fire starting isn't really a problem if I pay attention. Sand, rocks, and a creosote bush now and then.
 

E. B. Leland

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Everyone knows that you patch a ball to keep it centered in the bore and that a bare ball's just gonna rattle down the bore with lousy accuracy and reduced velocity from gas blow-by as a result ...
Well, that's what I thought when I began shooting .62 cal smoothbore. I also tried overpowder wads, cushion wads, and over-ball wads. I did patches with my usual Tallow/Beeswax, and also my dry Castor Oil patches. All were disappointing.
The best load I finally settled on was powder/tow/ball/tow. Apparently that ball rattling loose and uncentered down the bore didn't know it was supposed to have poor accuracy.
Yup, I found that with two completely different guns - a .62 like yours and a T/C New Englander 12 ga.
 

Jay Templin

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"But I cannot yet find any thing better, or so ready as thin brown paper rubbed soft, and cut into pieces about one inch broad and two inches long; so that when it is once doubled, it is an inch square. I punch a small hole at the corner of each piece, put a sufficient quantity upon a key-ring, hang them into my button hole, and tear off one as I want it."

Spence
Made this one tonight after you reminded me of Page's quote. 25% cotton paper I had left over from a résumé years ago.
Jay
 

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smo

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Mr. Spence, the paper you are using is it form grocery/ lunch bag brown paper or the thinner 5 & 10 cent store type bags?
Is the paper rubber soft just between your finger and thumb or is there anything applied too it to soften it? Thank you for any info Sir.
 

RAEDWALD

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Thomas Page was using brown rag paper not modern wood pulp paper so his paper was much stronger than normal modern brown paper. Quite possibly thicker too.Note that he had to rub it to make it soft enough for the task. Much as one does with non toilet paper when one has the need but not the proper toilet paper.

Civilisation is hot water and soft toilet paper.
 

Kev308

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Patching a ball goes back to the 1840s that we can prove. It’s written about as if common knowledge, so I’m betting it goes back much further.
Jackson’s Kentucky Rifles lost many of their guns in a boating accident, and many were shooting random smoothies. As they had been shooting PRB all their lives I bet patching would come naturally.
I shoot both styles. I have found a patch a little better at fifty yards but not so much Bambi would fret over the difference.
However I hunt with a PRB as,in my head at least, it’s less likely to move off the powder as I tramp in the woods.
Some folks have had great success with moose milk type concoctions as patch or wad lubes. These are modern concoctions. The old timers used an animal fat or oil or sweet oil, ie: olive oil. Plain old lard or a little more expensive mink oil works great on a patch or a wad in a smoothie. A paste of bees wax and oil too works well.
In my personal experience I find greasy llubes easier to work with then wet lubes
I’m curious about the beeswax and oil paste idea. What kind of oil? Do you know how it was made? Sounds like another fun opportunity to melt stuff on the stove and stink out the kitchen....and we all know how much the wife likes that
Thanks, Kevin
 

tenngun

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Use a double boiler. Melt the wax then add in about 1/3 volume of oil. Let cool. Test: does it rub on the patch easy? Is it too sloppy to carry. You can remedy and adjust. If too loose add more wax, to hard more oil. Usually close to about 50/50 by volume. And an ounce of wax By weight has about the same volume of an once of liquid olive oil.
 

Kev308

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Use a double boiler. Melt the wax then add in about 1/3 volume of oil. Let cool. Test: does it rub on the patch easy? Is it too sloppy to carry. You can remedy and adjust. If too loose add more wax, to hard more oil. Usually close to about 50/50 by volume. And an ounce of wax By weight has about the same volume of an once of liquid olive oil.
Thank you, Sir!
 

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