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Long range with black powder

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Old 01-10-2010, 04:12 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 4,022
Re: Long range with black powder

Originally Posted by ATH View Post
Due to state restrictions all of my resident deer hunting is done with a ML. I have a T/C Omega which I accurized (pillars/bedding). Until this past year I shot 110gr 777 and a 200gr Shockwave (optimal accuracy) at 2050 fps and have taken 3 deer past 300 yds with a long shot of 338 yds. I regularly target shoot this load to 400 yds but 350 yds on deer is about where I'd limit it, just too slow past that.

This past year the FTX bullets were released so I switched to the .458 325gr FTX and a max load of 135gr 777 at 1950 fps. This load virtually duplicates the trajectory of my previous load to 300 yds then beats it after that, with twice the energy and half the wind drift. I have shot this load to 500 yds with good results but my only kills with it so far were a deer at under 20 yds (BRUTAL on it) and a coyote at 140 yds.

I am currently modifying a Savage Model 11 package gun I bought into a switch-barrel gun so I have a 243Win barrel for coyotes and a Pac-Nor .45cal smokeless ML barrel. People are pushing the 200 Shockwave to nearly 3000 fps with this setup, with 2700-2900 fps being easily acheivable. This would push the max range on game (extrapolating from my previous experience) to around 600 yds. I will also try the 275gr Parker Extreme .45cal bullet sabotless at 2400-2600 fps, which will not be quite as flat but will get another 100 yds or so due to increased energy delivery.

The real difference is that none of these bullets fare very well in the wind. Drift compensations compared to drop values get a bit ridiculous compared to shooting CF rifles. Therefore conditions really become a limiting factor, for all of my 300+ yd shots it was virtually dead calm.

500yd group with the ftx. It was a rotten 100F day and windy so I was happy with this group.

The accurized omega.

The smokeless ML.

Do you need a special bolt head to use the muzzle loader barrel? How does that whole thing work out? You have really sparked an interest in the whole changing the barrel from a centerfire to a muzzle loader. Can you show some close up picks of your set up with explanation?

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Old 01-10-2010, 05:18 PM
ATH ATH is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Lizton, IN
Posts: 526
Re: Long range with black powder


Google "Doug's Savage Board" (once you get there you usually need to click on the link for the NEW board as the old one typically is what is linked to) and you will have a wealth of information by guys who are more innovative than Savage themselves. It's a great group of knowledgeable, very helpful guys.

The factory Savage ML-II, the only mass-produced smokeless muzzleloader, uses a special bolt head so that it can use 209 primers for ignition, just like most inlines. However, just like those of us who learned that regular inlines can be ignited more cleanly and consistently using 25ACP carrier conversion plugs, a number of people now make custom plugs that will fit a Savage that allow you to use 45ACP, 308 or 243 cases as primer carriers so you can ignite with magnum rifle primers. You headspace so that the webbing is tight between the plug nose and bolt face when you cam the bolt down, sealing the breech.

My short-action Model 11 started life as a 243Win sporter, and I'll keep that 243 barrel until I burn it out and replace with a 26" 243AI varmint taper. As such it has the correct bolt head to use 243 or 308 cases as a primer carrier with a custom plug. The custom plug is the last piece of the puzzle that I am waiting on delivery to get out and shoot, so unfortunately I have no pictures that I can supply for you.

The modular and home-tinkerable design of the Savage is what makes this so easy. A barrel nut wrench, a go-gauge for the 243 barrel, and a home-made barrel vise were all I needed to make this a switch barrel gun which takes all of 10 minutes. Even if you have the wrong bolt face it's a $20 part easily changeable on a Savage. I love Remington guns but being able to do this all myself, and switch back and forth, sold me on the Savage this time around.

All that is necessary to change a Savage short action with a 308 bolt face into a smokeless ML are the barrel and breech plug, period!! Pac-Nor now stocks aftermarket drop-in barrels to do this in a variety of twists. Mine is 1-22", the most popular, but I believe you can get them down to 1-14 or 1-16 though I'm not aware of any commercially available bullets or bullet/sabot combination that are long enough to make use of that twist rate. Although at least one individual machines his own PVC sabots so he can shoot .338 250gr Accubonds!! But I need .357 bullets and a .45 barrel to be legal here.

By mid-summer I hope to start on the road of sabotless shooting, where I would size a .451" or .452" bullet down a few thousandths, then knurl back up with two rough files so it grips the bore perfectly.

The specs on the gun in the picture are:
-Base gun Savage Model 11 package gun as sold in Gander Mtn in 243Win
-Rifle Basix adjustable trigger (now the best trigger in my safe; factory one had terrible creep)
-Pac-Nor 26" SuperMatch 1-22" twist .45cal barrel, bead blasted
-Warne Tactical 20MOA base
-Leupold QR rings (you need to get the optics off to swap barrels)
-Scope level
-Bushnell 6500 2.5-16X Tactical scope
-Custom breech plug to prime with 243/308 shortened cases
-HS Precision varmint stock with extra stud

All together this set me back about $2000. Could have saved some by scrounging for a used Savage or a Stevens action but I wanted the 243 and did not want to compromise quality anywhere in the build. Feel free to PM me if you have additional questions, I'm still in the learning phase here. It's been documented for people to hit 3000 fps with the 200SW bullet out of a 23" barrel.
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Old 01-12-2010, 05:12 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 206
Re: Long range with black powder

i am not sure if this fits with what you are looking for but for something a bit different Go to bad bull muzzleloaders. some states have inline restrictions and smokeless restrictions so check first as this one would be out on both accounts but its a serious machine where u can use it. I have one due to rifle restrictions in many places i hunt lets just say it aint cheap but it shoots better than any factory centerfire gun i have bought and better than some customs i have. easy point on trajectory to 300 and if you shoot turrets i would not hesitate to shoot past 5-600 yds. shoots well better than 1 moa every time.
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