Author Topic: Advise on small game rifle  (Read 6588 times)

beleg2

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Advise on small game rifle
« on: July 09, 2009, 04:34:47 AM »
Hi,
I have plans to make another rifle, one that burns a little powder charge.
It will be a Target/small game rifle.

First option was a small bore, .32, .36 or .40.
Then read old posts about low charges (half charge) on bigger bores like .50.

I have two .50 rifles, will make another soon and also have a .58 double, so do not need another big bore.

Would like to know your experience with both options.
Thanks
Martin

Offline bob in the woods

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2009, 05:42:06 AM »
Yes, you should make another rifle!  My rifles of .50 cal and greater, are styled after those of the F&I War and Rev. War.  When I wanted a small bore, I went with a late 1700 early 1800 style, which was something new for me. Lots of fun doing the project. Also,most of the large bore guns I've built have  a single trigger, whereas the smaller bores have double set triggers.  I've had .32,  .36, and currently am shooting a .40    Years ago, I built a .36 cal tennessee rifle with a 3/4 in 42 in long barrel and a small siler
flintlock.  I sold it in a moment of stupidity. [ happens more often than I'd like ]
One day I'll build another.  An excuse to build another rifle should never be wasted!

40Haines

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2009, 06:00:48 AM »
I have a real sweet spot for the .40.

Enough juice for 'yotes, turkey, feral dogs and such.

The .32 is the perfect squirrel gun, but don't really trust it for 20-25# critters @ 50 yds.

That's just me though.

I have played with reduced loads for big bores - I prefer to use the proper tool for the job.

In this case, the .40 is the propper tool.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2009, 06:04:45 AM by 40Haines »

Mike R

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 03:05:47 PM »
Since you specified target as well as small game the .40 or .36 would be top choices.  But check your local laws.  The .40 is illegal here in Lousyanna for hunting both small and big game--and is overkill anyway on squirrels and rabbits. I disagree that the .32 is too small for 25 lb game at 50 yds.   The .310 or .315 ball can be sent out with .22 Mag velocity and energy with proper loads--or .22 LR v & e.  I have cleanly killed up to 50 lb animals at 50 yds with a plain jane .22.  A good compromise would be the .36.  I have owned all three calibers--I gave my .40 to my son who lives where he can use, and I sold off my .36 years ago [I needed the $$].  Today I hunt small game with the .32.   But for targets I prefer my .45.  I do not feel undergunned with my .32 for any small game, but if you are wanting to also hunt the larger varmints a .36 or .40 [if legal] would be better.

northmn

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2009, 03:38:42 PM »
Currently building a 25 with a Rayl barrel.  Its actually a 26 by ML standards as a #3 buckshot drops down the barrel.  The ball weigh 23grains.  I got sold on starting this rifle for a couple of reasons.  First I shot several squirrels with a 45, quite a few with a 32 and have used the 40.  None of these perform like a 22 but more like a 22 mag HP.  The 32 likes to be driven with about 20 grains of powder, sometimes 25 to shoot well and will leave very little head from a snowshoe hare.  The 40 loaded down actually does less damage on a body shot but still is not that conservative.  The 45 was as good as any.  Secondly a couple of contributors poisened my mind with stories of the fun they were having with their 25s.  They call it a supercharged 22 short.  As to shooting bigger animals like coyotes, use your 50's.  Generally when I hunted squirrels I was loaded with the gun for the job including a fowler loaded with about 7/8 oz of 5 shot.  If you hunt modern you would likely carry a 22LR. Were I calling varmints I would use a deer load.  For me a long shot at squirrels would be 25 yards,  Most shots are taken pretty close.  I even cheat and rest the rifle on a tree if possible.

DP

Daryl

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2009, 04:42:38 PM »
Martin - I'd go with a .36 or .40.  Just remember, the larger the bore, the longer the range.  If you want to shoot accurately in the 50 to 60 yard range, I'd go with a larger bore.  A .38 would give good results, being 1/2 way between.

BrownBear

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2009, 06:38:31 PM »
I've got extensive experience using reduced charges for small game in 50+ caliber rifles and extensive use of both 32 and 36 caliber.  I will most certainly continue to use both "classes" of rifle for small game.  My reasons are pretty specific, namely using the small bores for the sheer delight of small rifles and the bigger bores for the opportunity to put in lots more field time with my big game rifles.

In my experience the size of the hole in small rifles has little bearing on their performance on edible game at normal hunting ranges.  The biggest criteria are pinpoint accuracy for head shots and ideal balance for offhand shooting at small targets.  Rifle balance and shooting skill are larger influences than choosing hole size between 32, 36 and 40.  Move beyond small game to predators or long range shooting or occasional pots shots at deer, and yeah, there are reasons to move up the scale.  But for head shooting rabbits or squirrels?  Nah.

Every 50+ bore I've owned has turned in stellar accuracy with reduced charges.  And if you're head shooting, it doesn't matter a whit if you're using a 45 caliber or a 4-bore.  But if hunting small game allows you to increase field time with your large game rifle, bring it on!  My 50's, 54's and 58's all seem to like 30-35 grain charges of 3f.  At small game ranges, you can just about stack balls on top of each other with any of them.

beleg2

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2009, 10:07:00 PM »
Thanks for your advises!
I dig a pile of old barrels and found an old project, a .313" barrel (from a 7,65x53mm Mauser) for one of my underhammer rifles.
I have some buckshots that I will try on Saturday.
I have consider a .40, but a .36 should be a middle point between .32 and .40.
I know this is a difficult question:
What is the effective range of a .32 a .36 and a .40?

Thanks
Martin

Mike R

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2009, 10:23:38 PM »
Thanks for your advises!
I dig a pile of old barrels and found an old project, a .313" barrel (from a 7,65x53mm Mauser) for one of my underhammer rifles.
I have some buckshots that I will try on Saturday.
I have consider a .40, but a .36 should be a middle point between .32 and .40.
I know this is a difficult question:
What is the effective range of a .32 a .36 and a .40?

Thanks
Martin

that depends on several variables, like the load, shooter's ability, conditions, game sought, etc.  For me with open sights in my prime, 100yds was max effective range for the .36 and  .40--today I'd shorten it.  The .32 is bascially a 50 -75yd gun .  My old .36 would hold 1-1.5" groups at 100yds with a peep sight on the tang.

northmn

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2009, 12:49:41 PM »
For some reason I never tried a 36, which is about the only standard caliber I haven't.  When I started in Muzzleloading the 36 was the small game gun or "squirrel rifle" and the rest were 45 on up.  I built and used the first 40 in my area to show up at shoots and if the the first at least close to the first 32.  For me the 32 had two problems.  It was a little overkill for small game and it did not hold up at longer ranges.  I went up to the 40 to try and get a small game/target rifle that would work for off hand shooting up to 100 yards.  It did, but I bought parts for a 45, which I never finished as I got burnt out.  To me the 45 is the best all around target, small game, close range deer gun out there.  The 40 was really stretched as a consistant performer at 100 yards.  The 32 was really stretched at 75.  Both were very wind sensitive.  There is a person on another thread from New Zealand that is very happy with his 40 and has shown pictures of 100 pound goats and European hares shot with it.  It would be ideal for longer range shooting at "larger" small game (oxymoron).  It would also be a good caliber for the western MN/ND jackrabbits I used to hunt.  For normal small game like cottontails, snowshoes, and squirrels, either load down the big ones as Brown Bear said or take your pick of the small ones like the 32-40.

DP 

Daryl

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2009, 04:43:03 PM »
Ahhh - snowshoe hares- can hardly wait for Taylor to build the .25.  That one should be about perfect.  The .36 really destroys them with a bad hit in the body - and cleanly removes their heads down to the neck. The .25 should be about perfect. Ranges seldom exceed 25 yards.

Along with a .36, .45 and .50, I've even used the .69 for 'bunnies' -  - I loaded 30gr. of 2f  with the 466gr. hard WW balls (for deeper penetration - :D) and crushed their little melons one after the other. What fun! So- even the BIG bores can be used with appropriate charges. My buddy used 40gr. of 2F in his .75 English Gun with much similar results - only crackling sounds. It was like crushing egg shells when those bit balls hit. pow -------whapcrackle  ;D

beleg2

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2009, 02:51:29 AM »
I have just try my old project.
Considering that this barrel have 1 in 10" and I used buckshot as balls, it shoots pretty well.
I was afraid that it would be difficult to load, but using paper cartridge as patch and borebutter it works fine.
Buckshot have different diameter, I will try to get some round balls from a friend.

I think a .36 would be fine for small game as the bigger game would hunt will be foxes, jackrabbits and vizcachas (medium size rodent).

Thanks
Martin
 

Offline hanshi

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Re: Advise on small game rifle
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2009, 09:23:23 PM »
Since you specified target as well as small game the .40 or .36 would be top choices.  But check your local laws.  The .40 is illegal here in Lousyanna for hunting both small and big game--and is overkill anyway on squirrels and rabbits. I disagree that the .32 is too small for 25 lb game at 50 yds.   The .310 or .315 ball can be sent out with .22 Mag velocity and energy with proper loads--or .22 LR v & e.  I have cleanly killed up to 50 lb animals at 50 yds with a plain jane .22.  A good compromise would be the .36.  I have owned all three calibers--I gave my .40 to my son who lives where he can use, and I sold off my .36 years ago [I needed the $$].  Today I hunt small game with the .32.   But for targets I prefer my .45.  I do not feel undergunned with my .32 for any small game, but if you are wanting to also hunt the larger varmints a .36 or .40 [if legal] would be better.

I ended up with all three, .32, 36 and .40.  The .32 has been used the most on small game so I agree with you though I've never used it on anything bigger.  Using my chronograph and calculator, I found the .32 leaves the .22mag in the dust on all counts.  Even loaded down with 20 grains 3f it far exceeds the .22LR both in lethality and power.

I now use my Southern .36 flint as my small game gun simply because I love that little rifle.  I use the same powder charge I used in the .32.  The .40 is newer and still being groomed.

Northmn, I couldn't agree more; the .45 rocks as the finest all around for the uses you described (I learned that word "rocks" by listening to young folks talk).
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.