Hawkin's .54 cal question(s)

Discussion in 'Muzzleloader Hunting' started by Jeff In TX, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. Jeff In TX

    Jeff In TX Well-Known Member

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    My dad is getting up there in years and decided to send me his firearms as he's not able to hunt any longer. One of them was a complete surprise. It's a percussion cap .54 cal Hawkins muzzle loader. Now I've never been into shooting muzzle loaders but my boys can't wait to take it out. So this is all new to us.

    Be kind, this is completely new to us and I'm not looking to get hammered by anyone. I have some questions so we go about this safely and the right way as there was no product material with it, but I'll do a search on line.

    It went together lickety split with the two pins to hold the barrel on. It's came with the rod to tamp it down the powder and the bullets so I think it's complete and I'm not missing anything. I've got some shopping to do for all the extras. At the end of the day, I’m not anyone will hunt with it, but I can see my boys having fun at the range with it, but who knows.

    Here's my list of questions

    What kind or manufacture of black powder do you recommend?
    How much powder do I poor down the barrel or is there a device for measuring it...I'm sure there is
    What type of bullets should I purchase?
    What type of bullet patches do I need...if any??
    is there a big difference in percussion caps?
    Cleaning supplies...what kind or brand?
    Oh yeah and the last question and this is from my youngest who's 16. How much kick should he expect seeing it has no recoil pad?

    That should get me started on my shopping list. I know I've probably left out a bunch of stuff, so fill me in if you see I'm missing something.

    As always thanks for your support.
     
  2. WSmitty01

    WSmitty01 Well-Known Member

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    The first thing one needs to know before answering this question, what is the make and model of the muzzleloader and barrel length. that way we can get an idea of the twist rate, which is very important to know to determine the loading data.
     

  3. Jeff In TX

    Jeff In TX Well-Known Member

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    The rifle is made by Lyman and is called The Plains Rifle. It's a .54 cal percussion with a 33" barrel. Twist rate is unknown. That all the info the box had on it.

    Hopefully you can help and thanks
     
  4. WSmitty01

    WSmitty01 Well-Known Member

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    That should be a 1 in 60" twist, or close to it. This rifle is an excellant shooter with patched roundballs. I shoot a 1 in 66' twist Sante Fe Hawken. My best loads are 90-100 grains FFG or 85-90 grains 777. I would use Hornady's .530 balls (no sprue) with a .12-.15 patch. I use mostly TC lubes but mostly any good quality lube will work, or make your own, plenty of recipes on the I-Net. I remove the barrel and put the end of it in a bucket of hot soapy water with nipple out and use a good cleaning jag to pump the water through the barrel. 777 powder is a LOT easier to clean and you can get more shots between cleaning, but I do like real BP better. You might be able to get a minnie ball to shoot out of that barrel, but I haven't hunted anything that the PRB hasn't killed quickly and cleanly (elk, bear, deer, turkey). There are several web sites that are "traditional" muzzleloader friendly. Just google "traditional muzzleloader" and you'll get more places to help you out than you can imagine. I own and shoot 3 "traditional" style muzzleloaders, some will shoot sabots, others will not, I don't recommend you stuff them down your tube, they are made for faster twist barrels at least 1 in 48". Have fun with that rifle, they are selling for about $500 now. Don't let the in-line guys talk you out of it. You can safely kill out to 200 yards with practice with the PRB. Oh yeah, they don't kick all that much because of theweight of them, my wife would rather shoot the muzzleloaders than her HP rifles, the hardest part is holding up all that weight of gun!
     
  5. WSmitty01

    WSmitty01 Well-Known Member

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    Forgot another important rule, put the original ramrod away and purchase a good synthetic one (not fiberglass, too hard on crown). I've broken at least a dozen in the 35 years I've been shooting BP. Propably had to shoot half of them out of the barrel, also seen a few shooters put broken ones through their hands. Better to be safe than sorry, also get a bullet puller for it in case you forget the powder, I just usually pull the nipple and trickle enough in to clear the barrel though! Lots to learn....also NEVER pour BP out of a flask directly into your barrel, there are bunches of measuring devices out there,,,one of the best parts of traditional shooting is making your own equipment, horns, leather goods, patches, knive etc! Have fun and be safe!!!
     
  6. Jeff In TX

    Jeff In TX Well-Known Member

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    WSmitty,

    Many thanks for all your insite and advice. I'll google those sites to gain more knowledge and understanding. Should turn out to be a fun project with my boys.

    Thanks again
     
  7. jes10x1

    jes10x1 Member

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    More thoughts...

    WSMITTY has given you some good advice!

    I've used a .54 T/C Renegade (something like 1:28 twist I think) for probably 25 years. Used to use a conical of some type but went to a patched round ball about 10 years ago. I found that about 90 gr of Pyrodex or 80 gr of 777 gave me my best groups. Be sure to try different charges of whatever propellant you have as it can have a remarkable effect on accuracy.

    I hunt woods, so don't think I've ever shot at an animal more than 100 yds, but many have fallen. You'll enjoy it at the range also. The recoil is quite mild.
     
  8. TheSollyLama

    TheSollyLama Writers Guild

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    not to insult anyone's intelligence with what you probably already know, but check your muzzleloading laws before going afield. Here in CO we can't use pyrodex pellets, sabots (but Powerbelts are legal) nor have a scope mounted. Alot of citations every year issued here because of those rules.

    I have a Timber Ridge (Cabela's brand) .54 cal in-line I got a number of years ago. My best loads so far have been with the 408 grain hollowpoints (non-aerotip) in front of 120 grains of pyrodex. That is my maximum powder load in the unmodified gun. If I convert to the 209 primer (which requires a new bolt too) I can run 150 grains of powder, but at 100 yards I am pretty accurate and consistant right now.

    I have only used Pyrodex, so I can't speak to other brands. Although I have shot the gun with pyrodex that was at least 10 years old and it worked perfectly, so it's shelf stable in my experience.
     
  9. BountyHunter

    BountyHunter Writers Guild

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    Good advice so far.

    Only couple more points.

    1. Lyman made aftermarket barrels in 1-48 and I believe 1-28 for the 50 cal, not sure on the 54 so check the twist with a tight patch on the ramrod and measure the twist your self.

    2. Depending on the state and game, you may find that conicals are the needed or wanted. Go to prbullets.com in canada and they sell a special line of conicals for just about any twist.

    3. Buy RWS caps, they are the hottest and best for caplocks.

    4. Williams Sight company makes a set of after market fiber optic sight blades if you have to use open sights. Lot easier to see.

    BH
     
  10. quigleysharps4570

    quigleysharps4570 Member

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    Looks like everyone has you lined out...I'll add my 2 cents too.
    1. 2f Goex powder will do you just fine.
    Swiss is a real good powder too but costly...can about buy 2 cans of Goex for the price of one Swiss.
    2. Yep...you'll need a good adjustable powder measure for playing.
    Like Smitty said too...can make your own out of deer horn later.
    One place I've ordered stuff from that you might check out is Welcome to Cain's Outdoor, Muzzleloading Specialists!
    3. A .530 roundball is a good place to start. Like Smitty said...Hornady is a good one...til you want to start casting your own.
    4. You can buy a bag of factory patches that are already lubed or go to Wal-Mart and buy your own pillow ticking. Alot cheaper.
    5. Percussion caps...I use CCI in my caplocks.
    6. Cleaning supplies...can't beat hot, soapy water. ;)
    Use to take my barrels off...but have gotten lazy and use a flush tube these days. It's an adapter with hose on it. Unscrew the nipple, screw flush tube one in, put the end of the hose in a bucket of hot water and go to pumping. Cain's offers them.
    Your son was wondering about kick...load it down til he's comfortable with shooting it.
    I've sent many rabbits/squirrels to their maker with reduced loads in both .54 and .50 caliber...35 grs. of 2f and a patched roundball.
    Head shot proposition of course.
    Smitty also mentioned changing ramrods...that's sound advice. ;)
    Save the wooden one for hunting or show. My Lyman sports a brass one full time. That came about after having to have one cut out of my hand in an ER one day. Was a 1 1/2" long piece that broke off between my fingers. Couldn't pull it out...broke off with a barb on it which I found out later. Ruined my day. :)
    Guess this turned into more than 2 cents...good luck with your new rifle.
     
  11. Jeff In TX

    Jeff In TX Well-Known Member

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    Update,

    My wife and I have been shopping around town for all the supplies I need. Not too much .54 cal stuff in the area. We found ourselves at Bass Pro shop yesterday and finally found a knowledgeable sales person who understood black powder rifles. I did measure the twist and it is a 1:60 twist. I was told with that twist rate sabots wouldn’t shoot worth a darn and patched balls would be the most accurate.

    I picked up a 1 lb can of Triple Seven, though we did entertain the thought of pellets but again ws advised that would not be in my best interest with a traditional muzzle loader. We picked up a simple powder measure, a box of .54 cal lead balls, pre-lubed patches and #11 percussion caps. We also picked up an aluminum push rod, a bullet starter and cleaning supplies.

    My sons and I are heading out to the range day after Christmas to give it a try. It should be fun and interesting to say the least. We've read about as much as we can on this subject, now it's time to get it out and give it a try. This should give us a good start and more we shoot the more we’ll start to understand what works, what doesn’t and what we need to change if anything.

    Thanks for everyone's advise on this. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

    Merry Christmas everyone!
     
  12. Jeff In TX

    Jeff In TX Well-Known Member

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    1st Range trip with .54 Cal

    My youngest and I have spent the last couple of weeks picking up all the things we thought we were going to need for a day at the range with our new Hawkin's 54 cal. After church this morning we headed to the range to give it a try.

    Well, it was just plain fun, fun, fun! We had a blast shooting it. Though now it's time to clean it. We shot .54 cal mini-balls with pre-lubed patches and 120 grs of triple seven powder.

    I took the first shot and to be honest, I'm not sure where or what county it landed in. I hadn't figured out the double set triggers yet and before I knew it the gun went bang! Everyone told me there would be a delay once the hammer hit the percussion cap! Delay my butt, the hammer went down before I was really ready and the gun went BANG! And yes I was startled!

    My son laughed his butt off until the same thing happened to him. Then we regrouped tested the double set triggers a few more times and got down to some serious shooting. Well at least we thought so.

    We had a 6" black circle on an 18” target at 100 yards we were aiming at. My next shot was two inches right of the bull’s-eye. My son's next shot was low 4" and to the left 4". Not bad considering the front site about covered the entire black circle at 100 yards. We stayed in the black or right around it for most of our shots and occasionally one never made it on the 18" square target. Who knows what happened or where it went. My son swears it knuckled balled off somewhere.

    Until today I never fired a black powder anything, but this is really a lot of fun. I'm going to take it wild pig hunting at the end of Jan but limit my shots to 50 yards or so until I get better with it.
     
  13. quigleysharps4570

    quigleysharps4570 Member

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    Sounds like you had a good time. ;)
    First chance you get I'd buy some regular blackpowder though...cheaper and better than replica.
     
  14. Meatco1

    Meatco1 New Member

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    There is no restriction concerning the use either Pryodex, or 777 as long as it is in the powder form. Pellets are restricted. There is also a restriction of the length of the bullets used in CO. If the length is over twice the bore diameter, you can't use it during the Muzzleloading season.

    I have also heard rumors concerning the shelf life of both 777, & Pryodex, that say once opened, they must be used within a years time, or they lose potency. I have absolutely not found this to be true. I have ran the same loads over a Ohler 35+P when the powder was fresh out of the container, and gotten much the same results after 2 years on the shelf.

    Richard