Total BP "newbie" needs a little advise on shooting new Whitworth

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum:

Marine Sniper

32 Cal
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
I spent seven years in the Marine Corps as a scout sniper- have done lots of long range shooting over the last 30 years.

Most know the CSA's use of the Whitworth was a devastating sniper rifle during the Civil War. I just bought a reproduction PH with a 6x Highlux Malcolm scope. Can't wait to shoot it, but here comes the rub. I am brand new to BP. I own a couple real CW era pistols, Colt and a Remington- but other than that I am clueless to BP.

What bullets should I shoot? Lubed or not? Do I need a paper patch? What caps? All I am interested in is getting started. I can ask more questions as I get a little experience.

Thanks,
John
 

Zonie

Moderator
Staff member
MLF Supporter
Joined
Oct 4, 2003
Messages
29,885
Reaction score
2,402
Location
Phoenix, AZ
The Parker-Hale Whitworth rifle has a hexagon shaped, rather than a rifled bore. It uses a .451 hexagon, lead bullet.
Dixie Gun Works recommended using 70 grains of 3Fg black powder.

Currently, Dixie Gun Works offers a .448 hexagon bullet that is meant to be used with a paper patch.

https://www.dixiegunworks.com/index/page/product/product_id/1227

If you go this route, I recommend using paper from a dress pattern (available at JoAnn's). This paper is about .0015 thick.

Pedersoli offers a .442 hexagon bullet mold for an arm and a leg's worth of money. The .442 size would be better for paper patching because it would allow two wraps of dress pattern paper around the bullet. (Two wraps would add .003 per side giving a .442 paper patched bullet a finish size of .442+.003+.003 = .448. This would load easily in a .451 bore and it would expand during firing to seal the bore.
Here is a link to the Pedersoli mold.

https://www.buffaloarms.com/bullet-moulds/pedersoli-bullet-moulds

At one time, Dixie Gun Works sold a .451 hex bullet mold but it isn't offered any more. There might be some Whitworth owner out there who has one and would be willing to part with it. (If they are on the Muzzleloading Forum, they should contact you using a "Converation" which is what we call our Private Message system.)
 

52Bore

40 Cal.
Joined
Dec 14, 2016
Messages
237
Reaction score
67
Musket caps.. If you don’t have a Platinum lined nipple, you’ll probably need one - check Buffalo Arms Co.
Good Hex bullets are hard to come by, many have tried and Pedersoli is probably your easiest to obtain. These are PP.
We’ve shot numerous originals over the decades to 1000yards at Oak Ridge, TN in annual matches. There are also a group in the UK. There is also a dedicated Facebook group for Whitworth’s.
Round PP conicals with a deep hollow base will shoot very well.
Best of luck and Have Fun.
EE75ED7F-E15E-41A6-B057-15BDC17DF691.jpeg DE94BA43-398D-4833-954F-83E9FDF1A227.jpeg
 

Irish lad

36 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2013
Messages
107
Reaction score
21
Research Press, aka David Minshall is our resident expert on Whitworths, Enfield and such.
The Whitworths require a double measure of patience and persistence.
I shoot the Lyman 457121PH grease groove bullet as cast in 30-1 or pure lead.
A hex cleaning jag is very helpful when cleaning between shots.
A platinum nipple from Buffalo Arms is mandatory.
Paper patch works great but I am too damn lazy anymore
S/F,
Irish
 

Zonie

Moderator
Staff member
MLF Supporter
Joined
Oct 4, 2003
Messages
29,885
Reaction score
2,402
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Marine Sniper:
You've seen several people telling you that you should use a Platinum lined nipple and being rather new to shooting muzzleloaders you might wonder why they say this.

Every time you shoot your muzzleloader, a flame blows back thru the nipple. The temperature and velocity of the flame is heavily dependent on the weight of the projectile. For instance, a .45 caliber patched roundball loaded over 70 grains of GOEX, 2Fg powder will have a breech pressure of around 11,000 psi. A Lyman 457121, 475 grain bullet loaded over 70 grains of GOEX, 2Fg powder can have a breech pressure of over 20,000 psi.
Put another way, a rifle shooting a patched roundball can shoot many hundreds of times without the hot gas wearing away or eroding the small hole thru a stainless steel nipple. A slug shooting rifle can burn out a stainless steel liner with 100 or fewer shots.

As the hole thru the nipple wears away, the pressures inside the barrel with identical powder loads will change so the point of impact of the bullet will change.

Platinum is very resistant to hot black powder gases so by inserting a small piece of the material and drilling the small hole thru it, it will last many times longer, even with the increased gas velocity and temperature.

Needless to say, platinum lined nipples aren't cheap and if you only intend to shoot your Whitworth a few times just buying several regular stainless or Ampco nipples might be worth doing. On the other hand, if you intend to shoot the rifle a lot, platinum lined nipples may be well worth the cost.
 

Irish lad

36 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2013
Messages
107
Reaction score
21
My load is 75 grains of Swiss 3F and Ampco nipples were shot out in 35-40 shots Zonie.
Best,
Irish
 

Marine Sniper

32 Cal
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
Thanks for all the advise so far gents, I will look into all the suggestions you have made. I have one question that I hope is not too sacrilegious; I have an authentic 1860 colt and 1858 Remington .44 calibers. I also have a replica Colt Walker.... I shoot "fake" black powder out of all three. The pistols are MUCH easier to clean with the fake stuff. I assume I can use this in the rifle as well?

Like I said; I hope that is not sacrilegious lol
 

Irish lad

36 Cal.
MLF Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2013
Messages
107
Reaction score
21
Thanks for all the advise so far gents, I will look into all the suggestions you have made. I have one question that I hope is not too sacrilegious; I have an authentic 1860 colt and 1858 Remington .44 calibers. I also have a replica Colt Walker.... I shoot "fake" black powder out of all three. The pistols are MUCH easier to clean with the fake stuff. I assume I can use this in the rifle as well?

Like I said; I hope that is not sacrilegious lol
I think you will get finer accuracy with black powder, especially Swiss, in your target rifle.
No more difficult to clean in a single shot as opposed to a revolver.
HTH,
Irish
 

Zonie

Moderator
Staff member
MLF Supporter
Joined
Oct 4, 2003
Messages
29,885
Reaction score
2,402
Location
Phoenix, AZ
MS: You can probably use the synthetic powders but, generally speaking, Pyrodex produces higher breech pressures than regular black powder does.

For instance a powder load of 80 grains of GOEX 2Fg under a 325 grain Buffalo HP conical bullet gave a breech pressure of 16,000 psi.
Using Pyrodex RS, the same load gave a breech pressure of 25,300 psi.
That would worsen the nipple erosion that is commonly seen with rifles that shoot heavy lead bullets.

I might mention that ALL of the tests Lyman did for the .451 caliber barrel used 2Fg or Pyrodex RS or Select powder.
No where did they test a 3Fg powder in the barrel.

As you may know, with heavy slugs, a slower burning powder works best. The 3Fg powder is basically a pistol powder. Because of this I recommend that you always use a 2Fg or with heavy powder loads a 1 1/2 Fg powder in your rifle.
 

Robby

62 Cal.
Joined
Apr 15, 2008
Messages
2,831
Reaction score
176
Location
NYSSR
Thanks for all the advise so far gents, I will look into all the suggestions you have made. I have one question that I hope is not too sacrilegious; I have an authentic 1860 colt and 1858 Remington .44 calibers. I also have a replica Colt Walker.... I shoot "fake" black powder out of all three. The pistols are MUCH easier to clean with the fake stuff. I assume I can use this in the rifle as well?

Like I said; I hope that is not sacrilegious lol
I

I don't see how cleaning the synthetic powder would be any easier than real black powder, which only requires water, and you don't have the percolate's that will rot you barrel no matter how well you clean it.
PYRODEX

With little question, Pyrodex is the nastiest, most invasive propellant in common use. It is harder on most barrel metals than organic powder (“blackpowder”) and can etch stainless steel barrels, as noted by Doc White many years ago. It stinks and it sucks. With the huge negatives associated with Pyrodex, the most available barrel-rotter of the day, it might seem puzzling why the stuff gets used at all?

Well, it gets used because it works. Even though it is corrosive, moisture-sucking and has a poor shelf life, it is consistent, cheap to make and easy enough to use in so-called “blackpowder rifles.” Pyrodex has done a lot of things. It is dangerous enough to manufacture that it cost its inventor his life, yet so cheap to make in quantity it has made a fortune for Hodgdon Powder and set the stage for their monopoly of the “black powder substitute” market. By virtue of its current ease of shipment (compared to blackpowder) and widespread availability it has become a standard of sorts, even if the standard it has set defines dirty, corrosive, smelly and filthy.


Good luck!!!!
Robby
 

Marine Sniper

32 Cal
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
As I mentioned guys I am a total newbie at this BP game. My only real experience with real black powder was when I first bought my 1860 colt. When I got it- I bought some BP (no idea what it was) and some balls and caps and went to the range. I had a great time shooting my 1860 Colt but the clean up from that black powder was terrible. It took me an hour to clean the pistol. I immediately went looking for a cleaner substitute. Perhaps I was using the wrong BP if clean up with the real stuff is so easy.

Thanks again for all the help guys.
 

Robby

62 Cal.
Joined
Apr 15, 2008
Messages
2,831
Reaction score
176
Location
NYSSR
Yes, you must have been doing something wrong. I clean all my guns after shooting, black powder and smokeless alike. Black powder is so much easier, plain room temperature water, a barrel jag, patches from an old flannel bed sheet, and a tooth brush to clean the lock, make sure it is completely dry, and seeing how I shoot a lot, I just wipe down with WD 40, stand it muzzle down for a couple hours and rack it. If the gun won't be used for a while I swab the bore with a very light coating of RIG gun grease.
Most people don't bother cleaning their centerfire guns, I do, old habit learned honestly. It takes time, chemicals, more equipment, and unless you learn to like it, it smells pretty strong.
But like everything and anything, you can make it as complicated as you see fit.
Robin
 

Grenadier1758

58 Cal.
Joined
Oct 9, 2004
Messages
4,319
Reaction score
1,041
Location
St. Louis, MO
As I mentioned guys I am a total newbie at this BP game. My only real experience with real black powder was when I first bought my 1860 colt. When I got it- I bought some BP (no idea what it was) and some balls and caps and went to the range. I had a great time shooting my 1860 Colt but the clean up from that black powder was terrible. It took me an hour to clean the pistol. I immediately went looking for a cleaner substitute. Perhaps I was using the wrong BP if clean up with the real stuff is so easy.

Thanks again for all the help guys.
The fouling from Pyrodex is much less visible than the fouling left from Black Powder. This leads many people to lightly clean a firearm using Pyrodex, leaving some of that perchlorate fouling to rot your metal. You probably should spend the same amount of time to clean your revolver following a session with Pyrodex as you would with Black powder.
 

Marine Sniper

32 Cal
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
Looks like I was doing the cleaning all wrong- not surprised. I will get some good black powder and follow your recommendations.
 

Marine Sniper

32 Cal
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
0
Yes, you must have been doing something wrong. I clean all my guns after shooting, black powder and smokeless alike. Black powder is so much easier, plain room temperature water, a barrel jag, patches from an old flannel bed sheet, and a tooth brush to clean the lock, make sure it is completely dry, and seeing how I shoot a lot, I just wipe down with WD 40, stand it muzzle down for a couple hours and rack it. If the gun won't be used for a while I swab the bore with a very light coating of RIG gun grease.
Most people don't bother cleaning their centerfire guns, I do, old habit learned honestly. It takes time, chemicals, more equipment, and unless you learn to like it, it smells pretty strong.
But like everything and anything, you can make it as complicated as you see fit.
Robin
Thanks, will try this next time.
 

dave951

40 Cal
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
330
Reaction score
204
Ditto on using only the real deal black. In your gun, I'd recommend Swiss in either 2 or 3f. I'd also recommend only using a good quality cap like RWS or Schutzen. The CCI reenactor ones are garbage for accuracy work.

And yeah, paper patching is really the deep end of the black powder swimming pool.
 
2
Group Builder
Top