Author Topic: Loading funnels?  (Read 3335 times)

DaveP (UK)

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Loading funnels?
« on: December 26, 2013, 05:29:24 PM »
This question has been creeping up on me for a while .My kids are grown up, and yes, I do seem to have time on my hands today...
The muzzle loading rifle users at my club predominantly use Enfield rifles. Both originals and reproductions are to be seen, and they generally seem to shoot some form of Minie bullet. They invariably use a loading funnel to place their carefully measured charge right at the breech end of the barrel - not a grain gets left in the rifling!
I have a ML rifle of a type that we won't be discussing. I have found that a hollow based REAL bullet works best for me. I too use a loading funnel, followed by short starter and ramrod. I used to think that the funnel was all about accuracy and consistency until a couple of months back I carelessly tipped my powder in without it. I decided to finish loading and take the shot. If I got a flyer, then at least I would know why.
I could feel things getting tight by the time I had finished with the short starter. I got it a few inches further before realising that I had finished shooting for the day...
It took a spanner and a big hammer to shift it. I was quite surprised by the experience as I had imagined that a reasonably snuggly fitting bullet with a square edge round its base would be able to push powder grains before it, just as it's supposed to deal with fouling.
Now I realise that there are some obvious differences between a REAL bullet and a PRB. I also realise that the use of a funnel is unlikely to be historically correct for a longrifle. (I had a brief but enjoyable vision of Hawkeye traipsing through the woods trying to avoid bending a thin 40 inch brass tube!) All the same, I keep on thinking about those very long, and in some cases very narrow barrels that you guys use - mine is 26"x .50 - and wondering just exactly why you "get away with it" and I didn't.
Any thoughts?

In a slightly different direction, I have noted several statements recently about the desirability of using tight fitting loads, possibly tighter than historical usage, in the pursuit of accuracy. Its a view that I'm inclined to accept myself.
Do you think it possible that using a funnel to keep powder out of the rifling might facilitate even tighter loads? Or would it all be one encumbrance too much?


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Re: Loading funnels?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 06:26:32 PM »
The only reason I can think of that would have caused your bullet to be difficult to seat would be that the fouling got hard.  If there wasn't enough, or enough of the right kind, of lube on your bullet then the fouling can get hard and that will cause difficult seating with ball or bullet.

The lube, liquid type or a thicker paste consistency, applied to the patch of a patched ball load will keep the fouling soft.  Generally, a thicker patch with a snug patched ball load will keep the fouling mostly wiped as you load and shoot each shot so that the fouling doesn't build up in the grooves.  The type of lube, thickness of patch, tightness of ball, humidity and temperature all have an effect though.

I've only tried bullet loads a few times in ML rifles and that was many years ago.  Others may be able to offer better advice.


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Re: Loading funnels?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 08:02:45 PM »
I would be inclined to agree that fouling is more the issue with the projectile seating. Rather then, grain of new powder being in a rifling. Although I am a patched round ball shooter primarily. I have some experience with  58 caliber Miniť ball firearms, as well as maxi balls in everything from 36 to 62 caliber, all of which after just two or three shots required cleaning. This was of little consequence to me as a competitive round ball shooter I was in the habit of cleaning the barrel between shots anyway. It only takes just a few seconds to run a wet patch and a couple of dry patches and makes the rest of your range time more enjoyable.

Offline Artificer

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Re: Loading funnels?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2013, 09:58:20 PM »
First, I agree that loading without the funnel and tube did not cause the bullet to stick.  Most North South Skirmish Association Shooters here do not use them.   This even though they buy and use Minie Balll sizers that size the Balls to within one thousandth of an inch of bore size.  

What I am wondering is what size is the diameter of your ball compared to the diameter of the lands of your Enfield's bore?  If the ball is being compressed to fit the bore, that will cause problems at times when the bore is fouled too much.  That may have been your problem?

Many shooters, who shoot in International Muzzleloading  Committee events, use funnels permanently affixed to long brass or copper tubes to best ensure the full charge is at the breech.  This in round ball and Minie Balll competition.  It does show an advantage in accuracy but not as much at 25 yards or meters as it does at 50 and especially 100 yards or meters.  

P.S.  Have your ever shot at the Ranges at Wedgnok?  We had a great time there at the World Championships in 96 and 98. 
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 09:59:55 PM by Artificer »

DaveP (UK)

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Re: Loading funnels?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2013, 01:14:46 PM »
With due deference to more experienced heads, I don't think that fouling was the cause of my difficulties - at least, not directly.
I did measure up, as best I could, when I ordered my mould. I cant remember the numbers now. When The bore is clean I can generally get the bullet down by thumb pressure. It enters fairly easily, only the band at the nose end requires pressure. Once the barrel is fouled I need to use a starter to get it in, but once in it will slide home with a comfortable push. This doesn't seem to change from shot to shot and I've managed about 20 shots without feeling the need to clean the bore. I have always understood that this is exactly the situation that expanding base bullets were intended to produce, so I've been feeling quite smug at having correctly fitting bullets.
I do think its possible that fouling might have trapped a lot more powder than a clean bore. Possibly the combination of soot powder, soot flakes and powder grains turned out to be a compactable mixture, rather like crushed rock with the fines left in used as a construction base. It certainly went solid enough!
I suppose  ought to find out what happens with no funnel and a clean bore. These days I'm finding more excuses for fetching this gun apart than for shooting it... Note: Remind self that the reason for coming here is to work towards replacing it.

Gus - I'm only about an hour from Wedgnock but I've never shot there. Some of their high flyers have attended competitions at my home range - I just kept quiet and kept the tea flowing  ;D