Question. . . .44 or .45 cal. bullets ? ? ?

Discussion in 'Muzzleloader Hunting' started by STEEL SLINGER, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. STEEL SLINGER

    STEEL SLINGER Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    I have a question for the muzzleloading pro’s. Since I was 17 years old, I’m 42 now, I have used a T/C Renegade 50 cal. muzzleloader with tremendous success. 350 gr. T/C Maxi Hunter, 110 gr. FFF and a musket cap was pure hell on anything softball sized out to 100 yards. I love the rifle! I have owned and traded/sold off several other muzzleloaders during this time because I just couldn’t get them to shoot as good as my O’le Rene (actually, I wouldn't put forth the effort to try and make them shoot is the truth of it), so I’ve just stayed in the “dark ages”, so to speak. With a little age on my eyes and a bout with Type 2 diabetes has made it hard for me to stick with my iron sights. . .and I can’t bring myself to scope this rifle. Recently I was out and came across a stainless muzzleloader barrel (not the Weather Shield) for my Encore frame, still in the package and the man was asking $75.00 for it – yup, I snatched it up! So now that I have come “into the light” with a scoped inline muzzleloader I want to pick your brains. I reload for several different centerfire rifles and know that each one favors its own load, but is there any "muzzleloading" science behind using a .44 cal. bullet over a .45 cal. bullet in a sabot. . .is one inherently more accurate over the other? I have on hand 3 jugs of the Blackhorn 209 powder and all sorts of .44 and .45 caliber bullets for different guns I load for. . .I was kind of thinking to start with either a 265gr. .430 or a 250gr. .452 Hornady Flextip in some sort of sabot, maybe the Harvester or MMP brands. I will also be shooting my powder charges by weight (@ .7 x vol.) to keep things in check. Any suggestions from you guys with experience with this rifle and is there a real accuracy advantage to using one bullet diameter over the other? Sorry for the long drawn out post, but I just had to put it all out there for you. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. ENCORE

    ENCORE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    791
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    I've owned and shot Encore platform rifles since they hit the market. I only shot the Barnes TEZ or TMZ bullets from them, except for expanders for a time.

    Here's my 2¢........ Bullets can be great bullets but, it has to have the proper sabot and the larger the bullet and thinner the sabot the better. I remember back in the day, when sabots started catching on. I bought sabots and shot .44 240 and then 300gr XTP bullets and the sabots were thick in a .50 barrel, which created a few problems. Once the .45 bullets and sabots started showing up, there were much fewer problems and it was much easier to determine an accurate charge.

    I'm in no way saying that .44 bullets won't shoot and/or shoot great. Its been my experience that the thinner the sabot, the better.

    Encore platform rifles......... 75grs WEIGHT of BH209 and a Barnes 250gr TMZ is an unstoppable combination. I used it since BH hit the market and have taken countless whitetails with it.

    Good luck with your rifle
     
  3. STEEL SLINGER

    STEEL SLINGER Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Thanks for the reply, ENCORE. Your someone I wanted a reply from. I've read a lot about the Barnes muzzleloader bullet, but do they come in bulk packs or can the bullets themselves be purchased in quantity. . .$30.00 for 24 rounds is not very appealing to me. That is usually the case though with a good thing - LOL. Thanks again.
     
  4. ENCORE

    ENCORE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    791
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Yup, its a premium bullet. They are always consistent and reliable.

    I always searched once a week, looking for deals. The last deal that I found was at Midway and they were $17.95 for a 24pk. Needless to say, I bought a full container of them. Keep checking for sales online. Another great place to buy them is from Smokelessmz ASG LLC - Bullets You can order the sabots separately from Harvester if you choose to shoot the TMZ.

    My Encore platform rifles all loved the 250gr Barnes TMZ and they loaded excellent in all the different barrels. I have shot the TEZ from rifles, which were actually to loose and I lost accuracy. At the time, I limited my hunting shots to less than 250yds and took many whitetail at 200. I started shooting the heavier 290gr, just before I sold my Pro Hunter and it was shooting them excellent. But boy, that 250gr TMZ filled the back of the gator many times.
     
  5. STEEL SLINGER

    STEEL SLINGER Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Which sabot are you referring to from Harvester. . .the 12 or 24?
     
  6. ENCORE

    ENCORE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    791
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
  7. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,786
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    I may have to give those a try. I bought the 290 TMZ's with the blue sabots and they were pretty hard to load compared to the 300gr Scorpion with the black crushed rib sabot and I wasn't at all happy with the 2.5" or so 100yds group.

    Thanks for that.
     
  8. STEEL SLINGER

    STEEL SLINGER Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    Thanks for the helpful advice ENCORE. I'm on the hunt now for the Barnes bullets, and YES, they're pricey! ! !

    If anyone has some leads on these bullets at a good price or in bulk, please send me a P.M. and let me know where. Thank you.
     
  9. ENCORE

    ENCORE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    791
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    RETAIL.............. I always found that Cabela's had as good a price as most. I always ordered 10 or 20 of the 24pk each order.
     
  10. ENCORE

    ENCORE Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    791
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
  11. savagekindaguy

    savagekindaguy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    69
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2012
    Use the right sabot for whatever bullet you use. I think the .44 conicals are .429 and the 45s are 451-452, and I know there are 454s to 457s. I use MMP sabots and also Harvesters. Select the size/color coded sabot for the bullet you want to use and go from there.

    Neither one is better than the other. Use what shoots and performs best in your rifle.
     
  12. WildRose

    WildRose Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    10,786
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2011
    Good luck finding a good supply this time of year.

    Brownell's and Midway had the 290gr Spitfire TEZ's a couple of weeks back when I ordered mine.

    Midway still has them and the Barnes Expanders in stock.

    Black Powder Bullets & Sabots | Black Powder Guns
     
  13. a1smokepole

    a1smokepole Active Member

    Messages:
    29
    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
  14. STEEL SLINGER

    STEEL SLINGER Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    286
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2012
    [​IMG]
    I finally received all the items I was in search of (almost) to begin my quest and the free time to experiment. . .what bullet/load combination does my T/C Encore like to chew up and spit out! At nearly $330.00 later and the better part of the whole weekend (minus my morning Thunder Chicken hunts) I have found my pet load. It is the Hornady .430” 300 grain XTP in a Harvester Crush Rib Sabot on top of 80 grains (by weight) of Blackhorn 209 with a CCI 209M primer to kick things off. I am unsure of the muzzle velocity, but I’m pretty sure it is in the 1900/2000 fps range. The rifle will consistently print 1” to 1 ¼” 3 shot groups at 100 yards and 4” groups 11” low at 200 yards. What has really sealed the deal for me and this load was my Bullet Trap Test, it performed better than what I was expecting as I well explain further in this post.



    Let me begin by stating everything that I used to conduct my experiment. I ordered 7 brands/types of bullets; Barnes 290gr.TMZ, Hornady .452 300gr. XTP, Hornady .452 250gr. FTX, Hornady .430 265gr. FTX, Hornady .430 300gr. XTP, Scorpion PT Gold 300 gr. and lastly the Sierra .429 300gr JSP. For sabots I had MMP’s for .44/50 and .45/50 in the 12 and 24 and the Harvester Crush Rib in the .44/50 green and the .45/50 black also the blue sabot that came with the Barnes bullet. Using only Blackhorn 209 powder being ignited by CCI 209M primers, I weighted charges on a Dillon electronic scale from 70 grains to 95 grains, swapped sabots around for each proper bullet diameter, swabbed the barrel clean after each 5 round string and shot from a cold barrel. This was all done off a bench with sand bags shooting at 100 yards.



    Much to my surprise, the Barnes 290gr. did the worst in the accuracy dept! I shot this one first because it was the one I really wanted to make work. . .and I couldn’t. Best was 3” 5 shot group at 100 yards, but that seemed to be the norm using the .45 caliber bullets in any combination although the Hornady 250gr. FTX I did get to 2” with a few different loads. I also noticed that the black .45/50 sabots would be on the ground 50 to 60 feet in front of my bench where as the .44/50 sabots would be closer; Harvester Crush Rib about 12/15 feet and the MMP’s about 18/20 feet. I could not get excited with any of the .45 caliber bullets? ? ? The Hornady .430 265gr. FTX made it in to the 1 ½” to 2” realm and I might give it another look-see. The Sierra .429 300gr. JSP would have 3 of the 5 from the group in 1 ½” and then 2 of them would be somewhere an inch or so away. . .in no particular order either. I kinda had high hopes for this bullet too, but can’t deal with the fliers.



    Now on to the star of this little show. . .the Hornady .430 300gr. XTP. I had no expectations for this bullet, but I read many pros-n-cons about it and they were on sale at MidwayUSA so I said, what the heck. This bullet shot well with both sabot brands, but with the MMP’s it shot better at 70 grains of powder than the stouter loads. Then after playing with it a bit I came up with the best consistent grouping at 80 grains of powder with the Crush Rib sabot. I was impressed with the groups, but in the back of my mind I was also thinking of the “negative” things I read regarding this bullet. So now I have to put my mind at ease and conduct my own bullet construction integrity test. Now on to the Bullet Trap Test! ! !



    Mostly what I see and read is people shooting into water filled milk jugs, pals of dirt or clay hillsides. The water jug test to me doesn’t compare to a critter’s anatomy and shooting into dirt/clay is just too harsh of a media and again, doesn’t compare to a critter’s anatomy. My bullet trap is “BY NO MEANS” critter anatomy either, but I feel is a better representation than the later two. It is made from a 5/8” plywood box measuring 16”x16”x36” long, it sorta looks like a fish tank. The face of this bullet trap was made so it “somewhat” represents the broadside shoulder construction of a average whitetail deer; The outside skin is 3 layers of 1/8” linoleum flooring to represent the deer’s skin. Then under that is a 2” thick (when dry) local phone book that I soaked in water until saturated, this would be the mussel between the hide and shoulder blade/rib cage and this is placed on top of a ¾” piece of pressure treated plywood which represents the shoulder blade/rib cage. This sandwich has the outside perimeter screwed together holding this to the frame of the bullet trap. Now for my media ? ? ? I had several thoughts on what to use, but didn’t really have enough of any one thing to tightly fill my box. . .then walking back from my shop I noticed all the Spanish moss hanging from my trees and I had plenty of that! What I did was take a 60 gal. trash can liner and put it inside the box. Filled it with paper from my office shredder (about 25% volume), cut up t-shirts (about 20% volume) and the balance with the Spanish moss (about 65% volume), this is all mixed together and tightly packed, then I filled the box with water and let it soak for about an hour, I then placed a piece of plywood on top of the inside media and placed a concrete block on top to compact this mess. This would represent the deer’s insides and fluids.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    My first 3 shots where at 100 yards and I picked different areas on the target face as not to be so close to one another. My partner that was helping me said that each time a bullet hit the target the concrete block would raise up about 6” to 8”. After those shots we went down and start going over the media with his metal detector to locate the slugs. We found all three slugs at a depth of 23 to 26 inches deep into the media! A perfect mushroom of copper petals with shiny lead and the lead core was soundly intact. . .YES, much better than what I was expecting. We patched up the holes and placed another trash bag liner in the trap along with the bag of media, filled with water with block on top and began the 50 yard shoot. 3 shots again and this time penetration was not as deep, only 18 to 22 inches into the media. Bullets had a more violent mushroom to them, but they were intact . . .no jacket core separation. After this little experiment I had a better feeling of the on game performance of the .430 300gr. XTP. Something else that was puzzling to me was the target face had pulled loose from the box frame. This was ¾” plywood screwed together with 2 ½” deck screws (4 to an edge) into the 2x4 frame work. Why would it exert force backwards also when it was launching the concrete block upwards? Upwards would have been the least path of resistance of force exertion, yes? Maybe someone could answer this for me?



    I returned home and put the recovered bullets on my scale. The 100 yard bullets averaged 262.8 grains for an 87.5% weight retention. . .not bad. The 50 yard bullets averaged 219.2 grains for a 73% weight retention. . .still not bad. I also put 5 unfired bullets across the scale and that weight averaged 300.08 grains. . .just for giggles. All in all I feel confident with this bullet/load combination in my rifle for deer, caribou, black bear and most critters of this size. Elk and moose. . .maybe at ranges of 75 to 125 yards, no closer and no further. This concludes my little muzzleloader experiment. Hope it may have been of some use to others as it was for me. I enjoyed it!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]