Author Topic: Smoothbore load testing  (Read 4517 times)

Offline Firelock

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Smoothbore load testing
« on: July 14, 2017, 09:27:01 PM »
I’ve been working on a smoothbore round ball test by shooting both patched and bare round balls with both 2Fg and 3Fg Goex powders.

Some of you may recall that a few months ago I took a survey here, and on some other muzzleloading sites to see how you shoot your smoothbores. For the test I shot the powder charges that came up as the most popular in my on-line survey.

I shot from the bench at 50 yards because virtually every load shoots a decent group at 25 yards, you have to get out to 50 to 100 yards before you really see what a group looks like.

I found that my results don’t always back up conventional wisdom. I suspect some of you will be getting out your scalping knives when you see my results. All I can say is that these are the results for a particular gun, and particular shooter on a particular day. Your results may vary.

So, before you unlimber your slings and arrows, I recommend you go to the range and shoot your pet load from the bench at 50 yards for a group. Then shoot my load of 110 grains of 2Fg under tow-.610 ball-tow, or 110 gr 2Fg Goex under 0.015” patch./0.580” ball, and see how your load does head to head vs mine…then come after me. If you do this, you’ll either feel vindicated when your load comes out on top, or you’ll have a new pet load…either way, you win.

So here are some take-aways:
1. The best patched ball load tested, and the best bare ball load tested, turned in exactly the same group.

2. 2Fg out-performed 3Fg with both bare balls and with patched balls

3. A tight ball/patch combo was not the most accurate shooter.

4. A looser ball/patch behaved just like a bare ball…liked bigger powder charges of 2Fg better than lighter charges.

5. As with bare balls, 3Fg builds pressure faster than it builds velocity with bigger loads.

For the bare ball test I shot .610-inch balls wadded with tow. My best groups were with 110 grains of 2Fg, and 80 grains of 3Fg.


For the first round of patched ball testing I shot 0.595” balls with 0.015” patches using the most popular powder charges from the survey.

For round two, I shot 0.580” balls with the 0.015” patches, and I used the powder charges that shot the best with bare balls.
By far the best patched ball groups I shot were a 3-inch diameter with 80 grains of 2Fg/0.595” ball/0.015” patch, and another 3-inch group with 110 grains of 2Fg/0.580” ball/0.015” patch

I’m not done testing yet. I still need to shoot chewed balls, and balls wadded with modern fiber cards & wads, and I want to re-visit some results, but, I thought I’d share the preliminary findings and gather your input…so fire away…

YouTube video is here, if you prefer that format.













































Offline rich pierce

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 09:50:15 PM »
That's a lot of shooting. Thanks for sharing. Are you going to bend the barrel or adjust your hold?
Andover, Vermont

Offline Firelock

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 09:53:06 PM »
When I'm ready I'll just file the front sight.

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 10:19:25 PM »
Fire lock, would it be possible for the varying light conditions that it looked like you were having when you did your testing to affect or cause the strung out groopes and not the load itself?

Offline Firelock

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2017, 01:02:01 AM »
Maybe...barrel heat could also be a factor. It was very hot during the test. I would cool the barrel off between strings, but the temperature difference between round one and round three was a pretty wide swing.

And the problem could be me. I am thinking about super gluing a temporary rear sight on the barrel and re-running the tests.

Offline Cades Cove Fiddler

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 02:07:55 AM »
 ;D ;D .... Thanx, Mike....enjoy all your videos ....informative AND entertaining.... !!! ;D ;D

Offline bob in the woods

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2017, 02:36:29 PM »
Your findings are consistent with my own.  A tight ball /patch combination is not the most accurate load in any of my smoothbores.
Thanks for all your work.

Offline Ray Settanta

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2017, 04:35:03 PM »
Interesting and informative. Thanks for posting this.

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2017, 08:59:24 PM »
I suspect that in the days when smoothbores were more common than rifles, they were almost never loaded with a patched ball. Paper cartridges, and Indian style, with just a blanket wad over the ball, were likely the way solid shot was fired from smoothies. JMO, as always.

  Hungry Horse

Offline Mauser06

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2017, 09:27:25 PM »
Very informative!   Thank for posting!   


I just started tinkering with my smoothie.  Mine is jug choked though. 



So far I've been just using nitro wads over the powder and over the ball.  I need to start buckling down and working on load development but it seems pretty accurate thus far.   Not "traditional" but I look for ease of loading while hunting.  I'm a hunter.  I look for accuracy and easy of loading.  Haven't tried tow...it could probably be easy to load with....my issue is my hand loading background says consistency equals accuracy.  Hard to pinch off the same amount of tow each time. That alone can likely effect the shots. 

Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2017, 05:54:38 PM »
Why so much powder? I don't think I have ever shot more than 65gr in a 20 bore shooting a PRB. Check your barrel lugs to make sure they are slotted properly and not binding. Something ain't right here. That light barrel is going to be very sensitive about where you rest it of a bench as well.
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Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2017, 06:47:15 PM »
Shooting a giant powder charge in a musket, or fowler, with a patched round ball, is just nuts in my opinion. But, shooting the same gun with a bare ball, with no wadding, or patching is a whole other animal. The dimpled ball principle depends on the cone of gas generated by a large powder charge to center the ball and limit its spin. The ball will travel relatively straight until the velocity drops off. The only thing down the bore other than powder, and a bare ball, is whatever you choose to hold the ball in place. I personally like a piece of old wool blanket with a little bear grease on it.

 Hungry Horse

Offline hanshi

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2017, 09:58:16 PM »
When I take the smoothbore into the bush, looking for deer, between 60 and 70 grains of powder is what I load.  I've tested up to 90 grains of 2F and didn't like it; it had nothing to offer over 60 grains.  And I don't like patched ball in a smoothbore.  Groups will be generally tight but wild fliers that could cause a miss are at least 1 or 2 out of 5 shots.

I do like bare ball loads and what they lack in precision, they make up for it with uniform groups, time after time.  I will cast those balls out of WW and they measure .606" for a tighter fit in the bore.  I seat them on top of a 1/4" lubed wad and with a card op wad and one over the ball.  Depending on the exact powder charge, they stay in about 4" to 5" groups (rarely much larger); that's keeping them always on a small paper plate.
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2017, 11:27:04 PM »
I consider a 20 bore gun a 60 yards and less gun with RB. I have killed lots of deer with them but I don't think I ever shot over 60 yards. Have a friend that loaded 40gr 3fff in his 20 bore and killed deer regularly at less than 50 yards with it..
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jrubin

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2017, 05:55:24 AM »
I think I've watch all of your videos over time.....    I followed some of the flintlock builds years back.

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Smoothbore load testing
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2017, 06:17:12 PM »
Hanshi;
 A tighter fit in the bore is exactly the opposite of the formula shooters on the international musket team prescribe. They prescribe a .590, or .595 round ball in. 20 gauge barrel sitting right on top of the "substantial" powder charge, of either 2F, or 1F. No wad, no card, just a lightly greased wool wad, or a piece of hornets nest, or towe, to hold the ball securely on top of the powder.
 The cone of gas centers the ball, and makes this work. Having no wads, or cards, keep the recoil, and pressure, down as well. This actually works in choked barrels pretty well, but I doubt it would work well in jug choked barrels.

  Hungry Horse