Long range muzzleloading revisited


Well-Known Member
Oct 7, 2003
Lizton, IN
Months ago we had a thread about long range muzzleloading. I'd hoped to have my rig tuned up and tweaked by now, but since I don't, I thought I'd start the discussion without the data.
Anyone who has done serious ML shooting knows that it is a whole different ballgame than centerfire. This becomes all the more true as distance increases. This is true for several reasons.
1) Muzzle velocity. MLs, excluding the smokeless Savage 10-ML-II, run at a maximum velocity of about 2400 fps with a 190-200 grain bullet and 2200 with a 240-250 grain bullet. Some people get around this by going with tiny (180 grain) bullets, but these have tiny BCs as well. A few guns out there (Ultimate Firearms has one) shoot up to 200 grains of powder to get the velocity up there. But in the end, we're still left short of centerfire by a wide margin.
2) Twist/sabot. These are interlinked. The fastest ML twists are 1:20. Most are 1:28. The 1:28s are too slow to stabilize really long bullets, but the 1:20s were soon pulled from the market because they were very fussy and stripped sabots. So, in the end, we are stuck with a maximum twist of around 1:24 until the technology of the sabot is improved.
3) Sabot itself. In addition to its limitations on twist, a ML sabot must be soft enough to ram down the barrel yet tough enough to take the rifling and pressure without letting the bullet drill backwards. Currently, shooters of the smokeless Savage are suffering from the weakness of ML sabots in their efforts to push 3000 fps. While they have found some useful tricks, this limitation remains.
4) Low BC bullets. This is one of the most severe limitation. A quick survey of most available ML bullets will find BCs averaging around .15. The highest currently marketed are the 200 grain T/C Shockwave and the Dead Center line by Precision Rifle. The Shockwave is advertised around .24, and the Dead Centers vary up to an advertised .375 (though the real value is regarded as under .3). Due to the bore, twist, and velocity restrictions, it is a battle getting a higher BC bullet to fly. The high BC Dead Centers are also pure lead, which is fussy in some guns and will not fly fast. So until someone duplicates them in a copper jacketed version, they cannot be pushed to the max in most cases.

With these limitations in mind, I have set about working up a gun to hunt deer to 400 yards and punch paper to 500 yards. Last year with my old gun I shot the 195 grain Duplex Dead Center over 100 grains 777 powder at 1998 fps. This load was 4" high at 100, 0 at 200, and 17" low at 300. Group size at 300 was just over MOA. However I suffered from a cheap gun with an unsafe trigger, so I upgraded.
I currently have a T/C thumbhole stock Omega with a Leatherwood In-Liner 3-9X scope. It wouldn't shoot the Dead Centers (MLs are MUCH more bullet fussy than centerfires), but I could push the 200 grain Shockwave to 2100+ fps with sub-MOA accuracy.
I have since upgraded the gun from 209 primer ignition to the .25 ACP conversion to use small rifle primers. This should help accuracy some.
Hopefully I'll get to finish choosing the flatest-shooting accurate load this weekend so I can move on to long range work.
Anyone else done some work on this subject?
I did some testing last year with the Hornady 300g SST/ML sabots with a BC of .25 in my Peifer 50 cal and 125g 777. We shot them at 100 200 300 400 and 500 yards. We sited in at 100 yards 3" hi then shot at 200 yards the impacts were 6" low. Then at 300 yards I put in 12 MOA of elevation the impacts were good for elevation and 3" right of the x. Then at 400 yards I put in 24 MOA of elevation from a 100 Yard 0 impacts were good for elevation and 12" right I did not adjust for the wind witch was 5 MPH form 9:00. THe shots form 500 yards were not consistent.
Crow Mag
power belt seem to stablize pretty good in my omega it is 1/20 twist maybe because there is no sabot but im not shooting over 300 yards but i can shoot a 2 ltr. pepsi bottle with confedence just my 2cents
Where did you get the .25 ACP conversion? What advantage does it give over the 209 primers?
The conversion is sold by Precision Rifle out of Manitoba. www.prbullet.com (I am in no way affiliated with them). They sell it for the Omega, Encore, Apex, and several others I believe (not Knight guns).
While I have yet to fire mine, there are supposed to be several advantages over 209s. First, think why they started using 209s...because they were a convenient self-contained primer that could be removed by hand, NOT because they were tested and found to be the best ignition method. A 209 is much more powerful than rifle primers because a shotgun shell works differently...the pressure must build before the shot breaks through the crimp, since there is little resistance in a shotgun barrel. Hence a very powerful primer to burn the charge quickly.
If you push a saboted bullet down the barrel of an Omega (NO powder) and fire a 209, the bullet/sabot will fly 20 feet out the barrel...I've seen this personally. In a rifle/ML, there is no need for this kind of power. With 777 powder in a ML, many people experience the infamous "crud ring" that forms around where the sabot was seated and must be worked out of the barrel upon every firing. My Omega has a really bad one that sometimes sticks the cleaning rod fast in the barrel.
The theory put forth for the conversion is that sometimes a 209 will start the bullet down the barrel before the powder fully ignites, causing unexplained fliers and larger groups. Seems logical to me.
While I have yet to personally test the system, I have heard reports from others that it #1) increases accuracy and #2) eliminates that nasty crud ring. I'm guessing the crud ring is gone because the powder burns more uniformly rather than baking onto the barrel before it can ignite properly.
I'll be shooting it on Sunday if it doesn't rain, so I can give you my personal opinion on it then.

If you could get a Black Powder equal that would completely burn, We could achieve better velocities in our MLs. You can't completly burn much more than 100 grains of any Black powder equal.

You would think as big as Muzzleloading has become, that some manuf. would come out w/ variable burn rate substitutes.

Until then, I am going to keep pouring smokeless in my Savage. (Tiny groups, more velocity, no clean-up, less recoil, and more loads than you could dream up) Man, this Savage ML 10 sounds better every day.

Good Luck!

Havn't you guys seen 'Last of the Mohecans'? Its heaps easy to shoot to 1000 with a ML, you just need silk as a wad and not regular cloth! That easy! Hehehehe

Just a little humor!
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