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  1. #1

    Default .50 Minie ball VS. .50 Maxi ball

    Hello Folks, Great forum!!
    I am trying to find a high quality .50 cal. minie ball mould. Since the only ones I can find are low dollar aluminum moulds, I was wondering what the pro and cons are of the Maxi ball, which for some reason are indeed available in quality steel from RCBS and others.
    Naturally the .58 cal. is the Civil War bullet and is therefore where the market is for minie balls, but why are there not quality steel moulds for .50 cal. minie balls? Why are the quality mould companies avoiding the .50? There are far more .50 cal. muzzle loaders out there than there are .58s.
    If I can't beat 'em, I'll join 'em and buy a good Maxi-ball mould. Is the maxi better than the minie? I'm shooting a Lyman Hunter with a 1:32 twist which should be great for the minie or maxi.
    I'd like to hear some comments on this. Thanks.
    Marv

  2. #2

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    1 in 32 twist is too fast for a Minie but may be okay for a Maxi. Why try a round ball?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by TP View Post
    1 in 32 twist is too fast for a Minie but may be okay for a Maxi. Why try a round ball?
    I'm fairly new to BP, but Lyman says 1 in 66 is best for round ball, and 1 in 32 is best for conicals. I took that to mean that 1 in 32 should be used for Minies, Maxies, and sabots. Why would 1 in 32 be too fast for the minie and not the maxi. They are approximately the same length and weight. In .50 cal., the Lee Minie is 360 grains and the Lyman Maxi is 370 grains. Hey, if the Maxi is better than the Minie in .50 cal., then maybe that's why the manufacturers avoid making a mold for the .50 cal. Minie. Thanks for your response.
    Marv

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    Your rifling should determine the choice of bullet. With deep cut rifling and narrow lands, Minie is often the better choice since the Minie skirt gets pushed easier fully into the rifling then a pure compression bullet like the Maxi ball and you can choose a harder alloy for the Minie. With a Maxi ball a softer alloy is often better since it compresses easier and engages the rifling better. Ideally, your lands should be wider and the grooves shouldn't be too deep for a Maxi ball. I would recommend a Maxi with at least two large grease grooves (depending on the bullet length). The grease helps to control fouling and leading and it seals against gas leaks helping to fully compress the Maxi.

  5. #5
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    I have been shooting Minie Balls in competition since 1968. Minie Balls need to be cast out of PURE Lead, otherwise the skirt will not expand to grip the rifling properly. Minie Balls prefer SHALLOW GROOVE RIFLING. The deep, multi groove rifling is best for patched, round balls.

    Google up the NEI Moulds website. They might catalog a .50 caliber Minie, I just don't recall if they do or not. I would highly recommend that if you do order a custom mould, order one made out of brass. It is almost the ideal mould metal and about 1000 times better than aluminum for a mould material.

  6. #6
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    Here you go, one shouldn't post late at night with a little too much Pinotage behind you . Yes the military rifling was shallow with wide lands to, among others, better withstand the compulsive cleaning.

    However, from practical experience, the only ML I got Minies to work with well, had a very typical patched RB rifling, i.e. deep cut and narrow lands. My Bristlen, which has a very shallow rifling with wide lands doesn't like Minies at all, at least not the ones I have tried and I had no intention to spend some 300$ over and over again for yet another custom Minie mold. I'm hence shooting all my percussion target rifles with Maxi balls, a short and light one for the Tryon (with a 1:48 twist) and a somewhat larger and heavier one for the Bristlen (1:26 twist). Both produce excellent performance. Both Maxi molds were a success at first try. I cast my Maxi balls from 100% pure lead.

    Regarding the pure lead for the Minies, I'm not sure the original military Minies were pure lead. I can't imagine a pure lead Minie skirt will survive the abuse during transportation and battle turmoil. I believe having read something about a harder alloy, something like a 1:20 to 1:16 tin/lead alloy, being used for the military Minies.

  7. #7

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    I was talking to a couple of RCBS guys, since I live in Oroville, Ca. which just happens to be where RCBS is located, and they seemed to think that casting straight wheel weights should be fine for minies and maxis. They said that they were surprisingly consistent.
    Also, I have no clue as to whether I have shallow rifling or deep rifling. I'm shooting a Lyman Great Plains Hunter. It only comes in 1 in 32 twist, especially designed for conicals. I've looked at the Lyman information, but none of it dealt with the depth of rifling.
    When it comes to bullet moulds, my discussion is more on the order of a Lyman 370 grain Maxi ball mould for $60 plus handles, or a Lee $16 mould. This custom mould stuff is too far out of my league; $300 for a mould from NEI is insane! I'm just trying to keep the rounds in the ten ring at 50 yards. As for which is better, Minie or Maxi, its sounds like it is whatever the gun likes more. The Lyman maxi is a funny looking bullet, but has large grease grooves, so, since I can't find a good minie mould, I guess I'll go with the Lyman 370 Maxi. Comments still welcome. Thanks for the help. I look forward to asking more questions as I go along.
    Marv

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    AAARRRGGGG!!!!!! Only Minie Balls made of PURE Lead work! I have been shooting Minie Balls in N-SSA competition since 1968 and take my word-I know what works!

    Ten years ago, I made up about 300 .58 Minie Balls for my N-SSA team members using lead sheeting that I purchased at a scrap yard. The lead sheeting was (I thought)"soft" lead. Unfortunately, lead has a tendency to "Work Soften" so when the lead was originally ran thru rollers to turn it into lead sheeting from lead bars, it "softened."

    Cast into Minie Balls the former lead sheeting turned HARD again. The Minie's were "keyholing" into the target backer boards at 50 yards and I had a bunch of unhappy team members on my hands!!! I ended up breaking down the remaining cartridges and cast the hard Minies into pistol bullets! HARD LEAD MAKES LOUSY MINIE BALLS!

    The .577 Caliber, P-58 Naval Rifle and the P-60 Army Short Rifles were well known in their era for being the most accurate arms of the entire Enfield line of muzzleloading military rifles. All the .577 Enfields utilized smooth sided and paper patched Metford/Pritchett Minie Balls manufactured at the government owned and run Woolwich Arsenal.

    I quote from Page 145 of The British Soldier's Firearm, 1850-1864 by Dr. C.H. Roads from the Chapter entitled Ammunition:

    "It was considered to be of great importance that the lead used was as pure as possible . By both physical and chemical tests lead was checked to ensure it was free from traces of tin, antimony, arsenic, silver, copper, and sulphur. For instance, the presence of .1 per cent antimony would cause the rejection of the entire lot of lead..."

    Trust Me: Only Pure Lead for Minie Balls!!!

  9. #9
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    The only exception to the "Pure Lead Rule" is that I throw in a very small amount of tin in my 40 pound lead pot because time actually makes the Minie Balls cast better.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southron, Sr., View Post
    AAARRRGGGG!!!!!!
    Trust Me: Only Pure Lead for Minie Balls!!!
    ABSOLUTELY Southron, Sr. You are correct.

    Indeed, Minié balls cast of anything but pure lead are a complete waste of time. Rifling designed for the Minié is has wide and shallow lands and grooves and requires a slow twist. The US Rifle Musket and the Enfield Rifle Musket both had a twist in the range of 1 in 72 inches. Also, keep in mind that if the grooves are too deep the Minié ball will not seal the bore when fired, allowing gas to escape around the ball and destroy accuracy. Marv, I am sure that you misunderstood what the guys were telling you. If not, then they don't know what they are talking about, it is as simple as that.

    The fast rate of twist, deep rifling you seem to have will allow the use of a soft lead Maxi ball or a tightly patched round ball. Also, with that fast rate of twist, keep your powder charges in the reasonable range for the round ball and the Maxi, do not try to make your muzzleloader act like a magnum. Too much powder will simply cause problems; anything from destroying accuracy to blowing up the gun.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southron, Sr., View Post
    The only exception to the "Pure Lead Rule" is that I throw in a very small amount of tin in my 40 pound lead pot because time actually makes the Minie Balls cast better.
    I am not sure that I agree with that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TP View Post
    [...]
    Rifling designed for the Minié is has wide and shallow lands and grooves and requires a slow twist. The US Rifle Musket and the Enfield Rifle Musket both had a twist in the range of 1 in 72 inches.
    [...]
    That must be the reason why my Bristlen doesn't like Minies. Its 1:26 twist in a cal .44 bore is then too fast for Minies. Something learned again. And btw., I did start with pure lead Minies and tried a harder alloy later. Oddly, the harder Minies were a bit better but still lots of keyholes and flyers.

    The only thing which still puzzles me is the pure lead bit, which I thought to be rather impractical for a military round. For matches in a controlled environment, with lots of time, care and all the gear you need, I don't see a problem. But on a battlefield with all the action I would imagine the Minie skirt to get easily damaged or bend out of shape. I know how my pure lead Maxis perform, if I am lazy and load the "accidentally dropped to the floor" bullet. Not a good idea if you aim for a high score.

    I can't dispute Southron, Sr.,'s quote from "The British Soldier's Firearm". If they have said so then, they are right since they have tried it first hand. And I/we try to regain knowledge considered obsolete and lost for 150 years or more. Is then the original military Minie more durable than I am imagining? Aside from my, now unused, custom Minie mold which I bought for my Bristlen, I know the Minies coming out of contemporary molds for the contemporary military match rifles (mostly Pedersoli replicas). I have tried them a couple of times since I once wanted to get one of those Pedersoli “Württembergisches Vereinsgewehr 1857”. I couldn't help noticing the required care and caution for the equipment, bullets and loading procedure to achieve competitive scores in the military rifle competitions. I can't see this practice being a typical replication of a battle field scenario.

  13. #13

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    Soft lead is required, as Southron Sr. stated, because the shirt must expand to grip the rifling. The Minié is a deliberately undersized bullet to ease in loading a rapidly fouling bore. The gas generated by the powder's ignition rapidly expands the soft lead skirt and engages the rifling. Hard lead (wheel weights, Linotype metal and any other of the various metals used in casting modern bullets) will not expand enough to do the job. The skirts of some modern "target" Miniés are relatively thin and can be considered to require care but in general, the military Minié ball was a very sturdy bullet and could take a lot of abuse. Besides, even in battle or with rough handling in transportation, the skirts do not deform very much, certainly not enough to cause a serious loss of accuracy. A dented skirt of a soft lead Minié will expand as well as one that is not dented, not so with hard lead. Your mention above of Pedersoli's statement mentioning the "required care and caution for the equipment, bullets and loading procedure to achieve competitive scores in the military rifle competitions" is for modern (leisurely) target shooting and is overstated even for that. "Minute of Man" accuracy at 50 to 100 yards was all that was required and the rifles and rifle muskets of the US, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, Spain, etc., etc. provided it in spades.

    Use the purest lead you can get hold of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TP View Post
    [...]
    "Minute of Man" accuracy at 50 to 100 yards was all that was required and the rifles and rifle muskets of the US, Great Britain, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, Spain, etc., etc. provided it in spades.

    Use the purest lead you can get hold of.
    I'm probably too much of a competitive target shooter. I strive to get 15 consecutive bullets within the right 1" spot on the paper target at 50m. Luckily my guns are capable of performing this "miracle". Sadly, my aging eyes aren't .... ;-).

    I still have 2 100lbs pure lead ingots straight from the foundry. And they have plenty more to sell.

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    I can understand DanielR's concern about the possibility of the soft lead skirt of the Minie Ball being damaged or deformed back in the Old Days when rifle muskets were standard issue military arms.

    The military back in those days had a system that protected the Minie Balls from being deformed or damaged. Here is how it worked:

    Cartridges containing Minie Balls were wrapped in paper wrappers that held 10 cartridges and 12 percussion caps. One hundred of these packets were tightly packed in sturdy wooden ammunition boxes containing 1,000 rounds each. Ammunition was shipped from the factory to the armies in these boxes.

    The ammunition remained in these wooden boxes until it was issued out to the soldiers in the field. All soldiers were issued and wore stiff, leather "Cartridge Boxes" that not only protected the Minie Balls from being deformed, but also provided some measure of protection from the rain and snow.

    So, the easily deformed Minie Ball skirts were protected from the time the round was made in the factory until it was literally pulled out of the soldier's cartridge box to be loaded into a rifle musket.

    The British army, instead of shipping their ammunition in boxes utilized "Quarter Barrels" which were literally, small wooden barrels that held 160 packets of ten cartridges each. The "Quarter Barrels" were considered to be waterproof-no small consideration when ammunition had to be shipped all over the world to troops stationed throughout the Empire.

    Of course, like the American military system, when issued to soldiers in the field, the cartridges went into stiff leather "Cartridge Boxes" worn by the soldiers, that protected the cartridges until the soldier withdrew the cartridge to load it in his Enfield.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Misfit 45 View Post
    [...]
    The Lyman maxi is a funny looking bullet, but has large grease grooves, so, since I can't find a good minie mould, I guess I'll go with the Lyman 370 Maxi. Comments still welcome. Thanks for the help. I look forward to asking more questions as I go along.
    Marv
    You could give the Lyman LY2640617 mold a try. It should look like this: Click image for larger version. 

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    However, I'm not sure if this bullet will work well with your rather fast twist. I use a similarly shaped bullet for my Tryon rifle, fairly close to the Lyman LY2640616, but the Tryon has quite a slower twist than your rifle. According to the information from my favorite dealer web site, this Lyman cal .50 mold is designed for a 1:48 twist. Alternatively, you could try the Lyman LY2654656. It's a 395grn bullet, which might be more suitable for your rather fast twist rifle.

    Nevertheless, there aren't that many "of the shelf" molds for cal .50 available. So you might end up getting a custom mold after all.

  17. #17
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    There is an alternative IF your Lyman bullet doesn't shoot worth a heck. Carry it down to your local machine shop and have them mill down the mould to eliminate the rear band and rear grease groove (if it is a base pour mould.) Just ask the machinist to use a "Face Mill" to get a nice, even cut.

    This will give you a bullet that weighs approximately 1/3 less than the factory mould bullet. Will it work? I don't know. I had a Lyman 50-70 mould that I was using to cast bullets for my Smith Carbine. I had part of the rear of the mould milled off and ended up with a lighter bullet that turned my Smith into a "Tack Driver."

    Most people mistakenly think that Lyman moulds are made out of "steel," but they are made out of a very soft iron. I know because I have machined enough Lyman moulds. The reason Lyman uses soft iron is so their tooling will last forever.

  18. #18

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    Thanks for all the comments.
    1. The 370 grain maxi ball by Lyman was, as has been stated, designed for the 1 in 48 twist rifle. True. That was in an attempt (in my opinion) to satisfy the shooters of the most dominate muzzle gun at the time, T/C Hawken. Lyman did not have a stock 1 in 32 twist when the Lyman Maxi ball was introduced. T/C is the inventor of the Maxi ball. Even though I have not contacted Lyman, I would bet they would say their Maxi is perfect for the 1 in 32 twist (again, just my opinion).
    2. Rightly or wrongly, the 1 in 48 has always been considered a tweener twist. Good enough for conicals, good enough for round ball, but not real good for either. Who says this? People on the Smokepole and other black powder forums, and at least one black powder book I can remember.
    3. The sales pitch for the Lyman Hunter"s 1 in 32 twist that it is "ideal for shooting projectiles.....such as heavier conicals and sobots." I took that to mean heavier than round ball projectiles. Does that actually mean conicals that are heavier than most conicals? Would I find better stabilization with a 395 grain as opposed to a 370 grain conical?
    4. With my Lyman Hunter, I have only shot about 40 rounds through it so far. Most of that was sighting it in with the 17AEU front sight and the GPR 57 rear peep. I am shooting a 360 grain minie cast from a Lee aluminum mould with wheel weight alloy. I have been shooting at a close 25 yards just to get it on the paper. The last three shots were almost a clover leaf dead center. I have not had any keyhole problems. As I shoot longer distances, I suppose that could change.
    5. My original question about minie ball moulds has been answered. Fifty cal minies are pretty much left to the Civil War calibers as far as moulds are concerned.
    6. Since the Maxi type bullet is the main choice for me, would a heavier bullet like 400 grains be more stable than a 370 grn with the fast twist? I guess I just repeated an earlier question. That's ok maybe I'll get twice and many answers.
    Thanks for the discussion, I am really enjoying it.

    Marv

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    Dear Misfit 45

    Shooting a "Minie Ball" cast out of wheel weights is not a Minie Ball at all because the skirt is not expanding to grip the rifling properly. As for the "advice" you were given by those individuals that work for RCBS, all I can tell you is just because someone makes bullet moulds, does NOT make them an expert on casting.

    I also make bullet moulds and there is nothing about making a bullet mould that transfers over to casting bullets using that same bullet mould! That is like expecting someone that works on the production line at Boeing being able to fly a 747 airliner!

    Try this:

    1. Cast some Minie Balls out of PURE LEAD.

    2. Weigh each one, discarding and re-melting down each one that varies more than "Plus Or Minus" ONE GRAIN from the standard weight.

    3. Size Your Minie Balls BUT NO MORE THAN TWO THOUSANDS OF AN INCH UNDER YOUR BORE DIAMETER.

    3. Make up 5 cartridges using 42 Grains of a high quality FFFg Black powder, 5 cartridges using 44 Grains of a high quality FFFg Black powder, 5 cartridges using 46 Grains of a high quality FFFg Black powder, etc, etc, etc, all the way up thru 65 grains.

    4. Shoot your rifle off the bench at 100 yards. You ARE NOT INTERESTED where the bullets are hitting in relation to the bullseye, only the GROUP SIZE. You are looking for the load that will give you the tightest group.

    6 Say a load of 48 grains gives you your tightest group. Then load 5 more cartridges with 47 grains and another 5 with 49 grains and see which one of those three loads shoots the tightest group. That way you will find the Best load for your rifle.

    7. Recommend you use a load of 60% pure beeswax and 40% Bore Butter as your lube OR SPG, whichever is easier for you to get hold of.

    Then let us know how Minie Balls shoot in your rifle.

    Shooting Minie Balls cast out of wheel weights is a useless waste of powder and time, not to mention scrap lead.

    As for the RCBS employee that has been telling you to cast your Minies out of wheel weights, either he has been "pulling your leg" or he knows a heck of a lot more about operating machinery than shooting!

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southron, Sr., View Post
    I can understand DanielR's concern about the possibility of the soft lead skirt of the Minie Ball being damaged or deformed back in the Old Days when rifle muskets were standard issue military arms.

    The military back in those days had a system that protected the Minie Balls from being deformed or damaged. Here is how it worked:

    Cartridges containing Minie Balls were wrapped in paper wrappers that held 10 cartridges and 12 percussion caps. One hundred of these packets were tightly packed in sturdy wooden ammunition boxes containing 1,000 rounds each. Ammunition was shipped from the factory to the armies in these boxes.

    The ammunition remained in these wooden boxes until it was issued out to the soldiers in the field. All soldiers were issued and wore stiff, leather "Cartridge Boxes" that not only protected the Minie Balls from being deformed, but also provided some measure of protection from the rain and snow.

    So, the easily deformed Minie Ball skirts were protected from the time the round was made in the factory until it was literally pulled out of the soldier's cartridge box to be loaded into a rifle musket.

    The British army, instead of shipping their ammunition in boxes utilized "Quarter Barrels" which were literally, small wooden barrels that held 160 packets of ten cartridges each. The "Quarter Barrels" were considered to be waterproof-no small consideration when ammunition had to be shipped all over the world to troops stationed throughout the Empire.

    Of course, like the American military system, when issued to soldiers in the field, the cartridges went into stiff leather "Cartridge Boxes" worn by the soldiers, that protected the cartridges until the soldier withdrew the cartridge to load it in his Enfield.

    You are, of course, correct. The boxes and/or barrels used protected the ammunition very well when in storage and during shipment. Once issued to the troops, the cartridge boxes with wood blocks or, by the time of the ACW, tin liners which protected the ammunition until the command "Load!" was given. Another consideration to be given is that the average Minié ball of the period had a thicker skirt than the modern Minié. They were made by casting or swadging and the skirts were designed to not only allow it to expand properly but to resist deformation. I have many Civil War "dropped" bullets and most have resisted serious deformation in spite of being left where dropped for over 100 years.

    If you are going to use a Minié ball for modern target shooting, use only pure lead, size the bullet at .002 inches less than bore diameter and use lighter charges to keep from blowing out the relatively thin skirt of the modern Minié. Most N-SSA shooters fire loads of 30 - 35 grains of powder, well below the standard 60 grain charge used by US and CS forces during the Minié ball's time in military use.

  21. #21
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    I would echo some of the comments here.

    1. Yes, the Minie needs to be made of lead that is as pure as you can find. The way it works is absolutely dependant on that skirt expanding easily and evenly.

    2. I have a CW Minie, and the skirt on my example is actually fairly sturdy. The lead is soft enough to scratch off with a fingernail, but the skirt is thick enough that it would hold up under all but the roughest handling (i.e., stepping or falling on it).

    3. The hundreds of rounds I put through my used one-in-forty-eight .54 caliber TC New Englander were all cast with a cheap Lee REAL bullet mould. I could pretty easily get 2" groups, and, similair to a Minie, I could shoot a bunch of times before a barrel swabbing was necessary. We cast our bullets using nothing more than an old cast-iron ladle and a torch for heat. A REAL bullet will also knock the absolute stuffing out of a deer.

    Great thread! Very informative.
    "Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, 'I am strong!'" Joel 3:9-10

  22. #22

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    Alright you guys, pounding the table about pure lead is unnecessary. I get it. Pure lead is best. I was not arguing against the merits of pure lead, so much as simply relaying my experiences.

    Someone said that minies are intentionally made a few thousandths smaller than the bore. NOT IN .50 Cal.!
    The only .50 moulds I find are .50 cal., not .498. The bullets I have cast are .50 or maybe a thousandth larger! Therefore, even though wheel weights are too hard for minie balls, they still possess the ability to flare slightly to engage the rifling since there is only so much room in the bore to flare. Is pure lead best? Of course! When I run out of wheel weights, I'll buy pure lead.

    Someone said that 1 in 32 is too fast of a twist for minie balls and that maxi balls might be better. Someone else said that a 395 grain maxi might be better than a 370 grain maxi. Does that mean that with a 1 in 32 twist a 440 grain maxi would be better still? No one is addressing that question.

    I understand the passion with which some of you are making your points, because you have been there and know what works. I, at best, am a recreational shooter. If I can keep the bullet on the paper at 100 yards, I'd be surprised. Even with the best of equipment, my aging eyes will not allow me to do much better. With that being said, I still appreciate the combined information you have and will use it accordingly.

    So, I'll ask one more time. Does a fast twist barrel do better with much heavier bullets, or is a 370 grain bullet just fine? (CAST WITH PURE LEAD, DAMMIT)

    Marv

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    Quote Originally Posted by Misfit 45 View Post
    [...]
    Someone said that 1 in 32 is too fast of a twist for minie balls and that maxi balls might be better. Someone else said that a 395 grain maxi might be better than a 370 grain maxi. Does that mean that with a 1 in 32 twist a 440 grain maxi would be better still? No one is addressing that question.
    [...]
    That is because you can only tell what works and what doesn't once you have tried. There are a few rules of thumb which could aid your search for the right bullet. A slow twist, up to a certain point, will favor short and not too heavy conicals (Minie, Maxi, REAL, etc.). A fast twist often favors longer and heavier conicals. In both cases the bearing bands of the bullet shouldn't be to thin or they can't withstand the forces of following the rifling without shearing of.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misfit 45 View Post
    [...]
    I understand the passion with which some of you are making your points, because you have been there and know what works. I, at best, am a recreational shooter. If I can keep the bullet on the paper at 100 yards, I'd be surprised. Even with the best of equipment, my aging eyes will not allow me to do much better. With that being said, I still appreciate the combined information you have and will use it accordingly.
    [...]
    Marv
    Nevertheless, if your bullet/load combination sprays like a shotgun, your eyesight problem (I know that problem well) will only worsen the effect. It is my oppinion that one should eliminate as many variables introducing inaccuracies as one can. This way the only variable left should be your eyesight and that can often be improved with the right pair of glasses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misfit 45 View Post
    [...]
    So, I'll ask one more time. Does a fast twist barrel do better with much heavier bullets, or is a 370 grain bullet just fine? (CAST WITH PURE LEAD, DAMMIT)

    Marv
    As I said above, that would be a matter of trying and finding out. I don't own a cal .50 with a 1:32 twist. My fast twist rifle is the Bristlen with cal .44 and a 1:26 twist. From the caliber to twist ratio it should be close to your rifle. And yes, I had better results with a longer and somewhat heavier Maxi and a relatively light load of approx. 30 grns of Swiss No. 2 (3Fg). But this is a load optimized for 50m. Out at 100 yards it might be a different story. Second, the heavier a bullet is the longer it takes to stabilizes in flight. Therefore too heavy a bullet will not work well at closer ranges. However, you can only be sure of that until you have tried it.

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    Thank you for your concise and informative, and good-tempered answer, Daniel. It should address any question the OP may have had.
    "Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, 'I am strong!'" Joel 3:9-10

  25. #25

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    I really appreciate your response DanielR, Certainly, I want to have the most accurate rifle I can, but first of all, there has to be a learning curve which includes loading the rifle, and sighting in the gun. I bought the Lyman Hunter to shoot conicals. I bought a cheap mold to, once again, deal with the learning curve of casting bullets. Understanding the eyesight problem, I will entertain the possibility of a Malcolm sight. The plan was, after sighting in the rifle and getting used to the whole black powder experience, to gradually start introducing factors that would improve the quality of that experience. I wanted a good quality mold. Being frustrated with the surprising lack of availability of .50 molds, I came here for the help I knew that could be found here. After I find a mold, I'll experiment with different loads and powders. That's the beauty of muzzle loading, It doesn't take a king's ransom to try different things. Once I get as much out of the rifle as I can, maybe I'll buy one of those fancy schmancy target muzzle loaders. Thanks for all the help.
    Marv

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    If you ever decide to get one of those "fancy, schmancy target muzzle loaders" start visiting some of the gun auction websites and look out for a Parker-Hale replica Whitworth or Volunteer Rifles in 451 caliber. Those are among the best long range rifles ever made.

    The British muzzleloading rifle association shoots those rifles in 1,000 yard Match competitions.

  27. #27

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    Thanks for the info. Someday, Someday. Those rifles are things of beauty.
    Marv

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Posts
    110

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    The best bullet I have used in a .50 is the Lyman Plains bullet. It weighs about 400 grains and it has a flattened round nose tip. It knocks deer on their can because it expands. My son has a 1:28 side hammer carbine and he uses 90 grains of loose pyrodex. The rifle groups great. He has shot a bunch of deer with it and none of them have taken a step after being hit. The mold is of high quality and casts nice bullets.

    I have a 1:48 traditions side hammer that I bought for $50 a couple of years ago. It doesn't like the Lyman bullet too much, but it shoots the Lee REAL bullet great! It casts bullets around 300 grains and will pound the center out of a target at 100 yards. So..... just because mold only costs $20 doesn't mean it will not cast accurate bullets. In fact, through the years, I have found almost all Lee products to be of excellent value.

    If you want to look into a Minie, check out Rapine molds. They are aluminum, but are of extremely high quality, as the price would suggest. I have a couple, including one with a custom base pin to thicken the skirt for heavy hunting loads. Rapine has an extensive catalog that every bullet caster should have. They have bullet molds for large and small bores. This comes in handy for old rifles that were made to loose tolerances and will not shoot bullets in standard sizes. My .58 minie molds are .580 and .585. I can use the .580 as cast, but I need to size the .585.

    If you use any of the molds I have suggested, you should do fine.

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