Great Shooting And Hard Hitting Muzzle-Loaded Sabot And Bullet Combinations That Don't Come Packaged
One bullet that has proven exceptional out of this rifle's turn-in-28 inches twist Green Mountain barrel has been Hornady's .458" diameter 325-grain "FTX" bullet - a slightly rounded polymer-tipped semi-spitzer designed for loading into .45-70 lever-action cartridge rifles. This past spring I put quite a few of these through the Knight prototype, loading with either the orange .50x.458" sabot offered by Muzzleload Magnum Products...or the standard .50x.45 black "Crush Rib Sabot". While the MMP sabot loaded easier with the bullet, the "Crush Rib Sabot" proved most accurate. And with hot 130- and 140-grain charges of Blackhorn 209, the rifle and loads as often as not shoot inside of an inch at a hundred yards. And thanks to the ribbed sleeves of the sabot, the .458" bullet loads as easily as most .451" bullet do with a non-ribbed sabot.
At the muzzle, the 130-grain charge gets the bullet on its way at 2,017 f.p.s. - with 2,938 f.p.e. Out at 200 yards, the 325-grain Hornady bullet drives home with more than 1,400 foot-pounds of knockdown power. The bullet is shown at left with both the orange MMP and black Harvester Muzzleloading sabots. The expanded bullet was shot into expansion medium at 100 yards...and retained close to 90-percent of its original weight.
Another great choice for the hunter looking for a super hard hitting, deep penetrating bullet for hunting elk and other really big game could be the Barnes all-copper .475" diameter bullets that company produced for the Knight .52 caliber rifles. And these can be loaded into a .50 caliber rifle like the "Extreme Ultimate Slam" prototype using the light blue .50x.475 sabot offered by Harvester Muzzleloading.
Several years ago, I played around with the .475" diameter Knight/Barnes all-copper 275-grain hollow-point (just a different diameter of an Expander MZ style bullet), loading it with the Harvester .50x.475 sabot and got it to shoot superbly with 110-grains of FFFg Triple Seven out of a .50 T/C Omega. At a hundred yards, the big hollow-point commonly shoots inside of 1 1/2 inches - and it is a great close cover or deep woods bullet that floors whitetails on the spot. However, when I tried shooting the heavier and much longer (1.210" long) 375-grain Barnes/Knight spitzer style hollow-point with the same amount of FFFg Triple Seven - accuracy went out the door. The best groups were usually still 3-inches or more across.
The turn in 28-inches twist of the .50 caliber rifle is apparently not fast enough to impart enough spin on the bullet to properly stabilize it in flight. However, when I upped the charge to 120-grains of FFFg Triple Seven, accuracy did improve - with a few groups right at 2 inches. The added velocity seems to add stability to the long all-copper bullet. I knew that FFFg Triple Seven creates some pretty high peak barrel pressures, and didn't take the charge to 130 grains.
Blackhorn 209 has a more progressive burning rate, allowing the powder to give higher velocities with a lower peak pressure. So, I recently pulled out some of the .50x.475 sabots and a few of the big 375-grain Barnes/Knight .475" spitzer hollow-points - and with 120- and 130-grain charges I've been enjoying some very acceptable accuracy.
The loads are being shot out of two different .50 caliber rifles - a T/C Triumph and the Knight prototype. With 120-grains, both rifles tightened some groups to just over 1 1/2 inches. And with 130-grains of Blackhorn 209, both rifles are now grouping regularly at 1 1/2 inches at a hundred yards. That powder charge gets the bullet out of the 27-inch Knight/Green Mountain barrel at 1,911 f.p.s. - with 3,037 f.p.e. At 100 yards, the big bullet hits with 2,400 foot-pounds of retained energy, with 1,950 f.p.e. at 200 yards, and with 1,600 f.p.e. at 300 yards.
Not everything that's great comes prepackaged. When it comes to muzzleloader sabot and bullet combos - experimenting is half the fun of in-line muzzleloading, and often the only way to find an optimum load for a particular rifle.
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