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Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???

by , Posted to on 11/26/2007 3:42 PM | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/21/2006
Location: ND
I shoot a .50 cal Hawkins percussion. Have been experimenting back and forth between shooting round balls and jacketed sabots with 90 to 100 grains of Pyrodex. Feel pretty confident shooting targets at 100 to 130 yards.

Which type of bullet do you prefer?
How many grains of powder do you shoot?
What range do you consider to be too far to shoot?

Yeah, I know in-lines are great and all, but I'm gonna stick to a traditional rifle. It makes me feel like Daniel Boone ;)
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 3:45 PM | Reply #1 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/24/2005
Location: ND
Ive got a 50 cal TC Encore Stainless Synthetic.
I run 120grains of Triple Seven FF Grade, and Either a SST 300 grain sabot, or a 295 lead powerbelt.
Same POI... and roughly the same velocity.
I sight around 1.5 in high @ 100 yards.

I'm the devil's son..... call me young gun.

Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 3:50 PM | Reply #2 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 01/18/2002
Location: ND
I shoot an il-line but still use granular powder, .54 caiber knight, #11 percussion caps, 325 grain saboted bullets. I will shoot up to 100 yards with mine but no more and always look for a standing shot and look for optimum shots inside of 50 yards.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 4:02 PM | Reply #3 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/27/2003
Location: MN
I have an old TC New Englander in .50cal. It's a traditional styled percussion rifle but all synthetic stock in Hawken style. It has a the twist rate that is between the ideal twist rate for the round ball and the cast bullets. I've never shot Sabots through it.

It shoots a round ball with 75 grains wonderfully out to about 100 yards. When I shoot the cast bullets, I need to pump her up to about 95 I believe.

However, if you are asking round balls versus Sabots for hunting, you should really be shooting the Sabots (or casted bullets). I read an article on your 'effective kill' range with the round balls and it was surprisingly short...I'll have to dig around for the article.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 4:16 PM | Reply #4 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 07/20/2006
Location: mn
Round balls are NOT ethical
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 5:09 PM | Reply #5 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 01/09/2002
Location: ND
Neither is hunting according to PETA.

I will kill with round balls and just take the limitations into account as they were meant to be with such a weapon.

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 6:32 PM | Reply #6 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/21/2006
Location: ND
That is correct jtillman, I was wondering about hunting with round balls. Guess that answers that question!

This is the first year I have ever drawn a buck tag for the old smoke pole. This is the first time in six years that I will get to use it for something other than target shooting. I fill my extra doe tags with a bow.

Thanks for your responses!
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 7:23 PM | Reply #7 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 12/16/2001
Location: ND
I shoot a Cabela's Hawken .54 caliber, loaded with 90 grains of pyrodex with a saboted 230 gr hp/xtp bullet. I try to keep my shots to 100 yards or less.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 8:19 PM | Reply #8 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 12/16/2001
Location: ND
Of course the effecdtive killing range of round balls is short! It's supposed to be that way! That was the original intent of the muzzy season when it was first adopted. Round balls unethical??? Not worth commenting on a statement like that!
I personally won't shoot anything but round balls anymore. I used to shoot REAL bullets or even Minie Balls, both of which are authentic all lead bullets to the 1800's and some other conical lead bullets till I fell in with some of the local buckskinners. Those guys are real black powder and round balls fans. They play those old guns like a violinist plays his violin! Ever hit an axe blade cutting your lead bullet in two breaking a balloon on each side of the blade? And do it consistently???
So I switched to some round balls to try them and was surprised how accurate they were, and how well they killed, as long as ranges were kept to "real" muzzleloader ranges, maybe up to 50 - 75 yards for the average shooter, 100 for a real good experienced shooter. I rarely shoot over 50 yards max with mine. Muzzleloaders are not supposed to be long range weapons!! If you can consistently hit targets well at 100 -130 yards, don't change a thing!!
I'm talking caplocks and flintlocks here, and IRON sights, not those abominations that are currently sold as muzzleloaders! LOL Just jerking chains, guys! Each to their own...
But I rarely load over about 80 grains in my caplocks and flintlocks. They shoot more accurately and the deer or bear is deader when hit properly with a round ball at a moderate velocity than having a leg shot off or gut shot with a slightly faster moving wobbling ball.
With muzzleloaders, if you chronograph them, you will find you hit diminishing returns very quickly with loads much more than 80 - 100 grains, max. Yep, even the modern ones, though the manufacturers won't tell you that. It's contrary to their testosterone infused big gun advertising they try to one upmanship each other.
And once you hit a certain load FOR YOUR RIFLE, accuracy falls off rather quickly with any all lead bullet, less so with those modern plastic/copper/lead/titanium/ceramic abominations that would make old Jim Bridger roll over in his grave! Or wake up and want one for use back then, but then that's not the original idea behind a muzzleloader season nowadays. Old Jim would want to use our technology all right, but the idea of a muzzy season for US nowadays is to use the crude technology a guy like old Jim had to work with BACK THEN!.
So Even the so called 'modern' ones do that. Back to topic - In the average Hawken Replica caplock, I usually recommend a round ball with around 70 - 80 grains to start with and experiment and play around with wad thickness, powder charges, etc. Most shoot pretty good with about 80 grains, though. All my guns get noticably less accurate at 100 grains, so I use less. If I had to pick one load for my .50's and .54's all flintlocks and caplocks, it would be a lead round ball and 80 grains of ffg. Or Hogden's 777, the best of the modern substitutes in my opinion. It shoots well but doesn't give you that skunky sulphur smell that smells so good when you touch off one of those old replicas (or originals if you are really lucky!) Good stuff otherwise...
I shake my head when I hear of modern ones using up to 150 grains equivalent and sometimes more. Those guns are in an entirely different league from the repicas and antiques.
But it doesn't take that much powder to cleanly kill a deer. I shot a .490 round ball completely through a doe's chest cavity last year at 25 yards with only 25 grains ffg and my hawken style replica pistol I built, and hope to do it again this weekend! Super high power is not needed, especially when ranges are kept to under 100 yards, preferably much less. Less is better!
I'll not comment on effective ranges for the modern ones with scoped sights, etc. Seems to me we may as well have a single shot metallic case rifle seasons instead of going to the charade of dropping powder sticks and a modern projectile in from the muzzle. But each to their own.
With the old timers though it is HUNTING, not SHOOTING. Keep the ranges down and do your part and they'll kill as cleanly as an 06!
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 8:30 PM | Reply #9 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 11/03/2002
Location: ND
Big balls solve many problems when used with the brain.

Round balls from a Daisy sure do a number on starlings and flickertails, at the appropriate range of course.

I shot two deer within 50yds with a 7mm Remington Magnum. Sure would've been more fun with a large smoke cloud or a handy pistol caliber carbine.
 Nuke the Whales
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 8:43 PM | Reply #10 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 01/09/2002
Location: ND
Excellent post Bob.

7mag, uh....can't disagree with yours either. :D
“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” ~ Mark Twain
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 9:29 PM | Reply #11 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/27/2003
Location: MN
Good point/points Bobkat....I 100% agree, my .50 shoots those patched balls much better than any of the conical bullets. It's also much easier on the shoulder after 20-30 rounds! However, I still would feel better shooting something weighing 350ish grains versus something 100ish grains, but to each his own I guess.

I just picked up a Traditions .32cal percussion this fall. I haven't gotten a chance to shoot it yet, but can't wait until I can.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 10:13 PM | Reply #12 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 01/11/2003
Location: NE
When I started hunting with my percussion cap 50 cal Hawkin, I was told to only shoot round balls or the maxie-ball or buffalo bullets, because the old traditional muzzel-loaders have a very slow twist to the rifling in the barrel. The new in-line rifles have a much faster rate of twist in the barrel which allows them to shoot sabots effectively. I now have a T/C Black Diamond in-line, and I shoot the Powerbelt 295 grain hollowpoints with the ballistic tips. They don't pattern any better than round balls, but are much easier to load than either sabots or round balls, and have a little more punch than the round balls do. I have taken a buck at 92 yards with my old Hawkin loaded with 78 grains of Pyrodex and a patched round ball, he dropped in his tracks. I have taken a cow Elk at 152 yards with my In-line with the Powerbelts in front of 2 50 grain pellets of 777. I also like the Power Belts better than sabots, because they don't require as much cleaning between shots, due to plastic fouling the barrel.

 If you drink --- Don't drive -- Don't even Putt

Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/26/2007 10:43 PM | Reply #13 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 02/03/2004
Location: ND
If you want accuracy or a decent BC go with sabots, if you are nostalgic/traditional go with roundball.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/27/2007 08:09 AM | Reply #14 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 11/14/2006
Location: MO
built a cva kit gun in 1972
490 round ball,90grs.powder.
when it does not kill what i
shoot,i will change

total cost=under 60$
don,t need an in-line
got enough $400 guns
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/27/2007 09:07 AM | Reply #15 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 12/10/2006
Location: ND
I got a .45 cal CVA inline Optima pro for $140 last year. i shoot 195 gr. powerbelts through it with 150 gr powder tablets(triple seven). shoots awesome and it will knock a deer dead on the money at 100 yds for sure and further if you wanted but i limit myself.
"I hump the wild to take it all in, there is no bag limit on happiness. "
- Ted Nugent. 
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/27/2007 10:15 AM | Reply #16 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 03/29/2005
Location: ND
I shoot Powerbelt bullets. They are easy to load and do not have a plastic coating like a sabot. I shoot 150 grains of Triple Seven Hodgon powder through my thompson center. It is the cleanest powder out there. Just wash the barrel with water.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/27/2007 10:18 AM | Reply #17 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 03/29/2005
Location: ND
O and 245 grain bullet.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/30/2007 1:25 PM | Reply #18 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/29/2002
Location: ND
Round balls not ethical????? What the f......


Round balls when used by real hunters who know their limitations have been cleanly and effectively taking all types of game for hundreds of years.

The round ball made this country.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/30/2007 2:44 PM | Reply #19 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 10/09/2007
Location: ND
295 grain Powerbelts shoot great and at 60 yards it expanded nicely doing exactly what it was intended to do.

I really get tired of cleaning after every shot though. Probably will go to a cleaner powder next year.
Re: Muzzleloaders: Round Balls or Sabots???
by on 11/30/2007 3:15 PM | Reply #20 | "Quote" | "Quick Reply" |

Joined: 08/12/2003
Location: ND
Bobkat, were you to lay eyes on the muzzle-loader I'll be using it may cause you to convulse uncontrollably! SS/Syn, pellets, sabots, 1x Sightron scope. After a tirade of dirty words, however I know I could gain your approval for using such a gun. It's the gun I'm confident shooting.

There are only 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary, and those who do not.

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Posted On: 11/26/2007 3:42 PM
3924 Views, 28 Comments

Tags: round, balls, sabots, muzzleloaders, 0, shoot, shooting, grains, pyrodex, hawkins
More Tags: Daniel Boone,
Region: North Dakota

Categories: Hunting
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