Author Topic: .520 round balls  (Read 756 times)

Offline MuskratMike

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.520 round balls
« on: September 21, 2021, 06:44:59 AM »
As most who know me, I have always enjoyed shooting, hunting and owning 54 caliber rifles and pistols. Whether doing load development for myself or helping others with their 54's I always use either a .530 or .535 round ball (mostly .530). Recently I have seen two posts by people using .520 round balls in their 54 caliber rifles. At first I thought these were misprints but in fact they are commercially produced. I have no problem buying a box of them and trying them out, however has anyone used them extensively and if so what were your results? I would think the patching would have to be .022 or thicker? If anyone has used them with success give me a reply with patch material, thickness, lube, twist rate that worked best and if it was a flat bottom or radius cut rifling. Going to be too late for this years elk season but will give it a try if and see how it works if others have used and liked it. What is strange is Hornady does not list them in their catalog but Midway, Dixie, Buffalo Arms, The Gun Works and many others list them. I know they were offered due to the interest in .53 caliber but are listed as a ball for .54 caliber
Thanks,
"Muskrat" Mike
« Last Edit: September 21, 2021, 07:08:00 AM by MuskratMike »
"Muskrat" Mike McGuire
Keep your eyes on the skyline, your flint sharp and powder dry.

Offline Daryl

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2021, 07:59:18 AM »
Even a 12 ounce denim would load fairly easily, Mike, and provide better accuracy with clean shooting, if using such a small ball.
I have a .675" mould for my .69 rifle (.012" rifling) and find even with WW balls, use of even a 14 ounce denim to work well.  The 14 ounce is
necessary to get a snug fit & .022" canvas gas-cut.
Mine are no where near the .020" smaller ball you mention, being .015" undersize.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Online utseabee

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2021, 11:41:37 PM »
    I am relatively new to using the .520 ball and have not hunted with it yet. I have been able to get good accuracy out of a .520 round ball with .023-.024 pillow ticking and bear grease. I am using 75 grains of swiss FFG. Really easy to load and shoots as clean as anything else does. I was using some balls that a friend gave me to try. I did buy a Lyman .520 mold but have not cast any balls yet. I admit that I was skeptical of the combination when told about it. I always loaded really tight loads in the past. This combination does seem to work for me and loads easily. I intend to use this load for hunting this year. Hope this helps
The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer.

Online EC121

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2021, 12:52:28 AM »
I use .526s in all my .54s.  Works fine with a thick patch, and if needed,it will easily load with the rod on the rifle.  No cutting all with 85gr. of 2F.  This is 7shots from my .54 Harn rifle.  I let one get away to the right.  I thought I was missing the paper at first.





Offline alacran

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2021, 02:10:13 PM »
I really like the .54s. Have two of them currently, have owned others. I have never tried .520 balls in any of them. .530 balls load easy enough. That being said if I had .520 balls, I would certainly try them. I question the light 75 grain 3f and 85 grain loads for hunting, or for accuracy for that matter. I have found that with .54s, they really don't start to shine until you get above 100 grains of 2f. Also gives a bigger wallop.
A man's rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.  Frederick Douglass

Offline Bob Roller

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2021, 03:27:23 PM »
Surviving guns with original moulds have been seen as much a 2 calibers undersize.Very easy to load in the woods
and one hole accuracy not a consideration.Being able to shoot "minute of critter or enemy"was the big thing then.
Tom Dawson had a couple of rifles in this catagory and shot the with what he called "acceptable accuracy"but would
never win the turkey shoot.I used a .575 soft lead ball in my Bill Large .575 barrel and a moderate load of 65 grains
of DuPont 3fg and patches were army surplus for cleaning the M1 Garand and M1 carbine lubed with a cleaning concotion
called Black Solv which was a concentrate when used with water and looked like anti freeze.I bought it and a big contractor's
trash bag full of these patches from Wes Kindig and used them for years even in 1967 when I made a "Hawken" that was a
54 caliber with a ,535 ball from soft lead.
Bob Roller.

Online WadePatton

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2021, 04:31:06 PM »
If my 54 was smooth and I was going to shoot bare ball per HH, I'd want to use .520's.   
Hold to the Wind

Online EC121

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2021, 07:40:42 PM »
85gr. of 2F and a .526 ball will shoot through a deer rib cage at 50yds. and keep going.  Also shot through a hog from top to bottom at about the same distance.  Also shot through a hog sideways with the ball stopping under the hide on the far side with the same load.  Neither hog ran.   More powder can't hurt. Might make them deader.  ;)

Offline Daryl

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2021, 09:16:54 PM »
When ranges stretch "in the West", using more powder to create better accuracy as well as flattening the trajectory making hitting the right spot easier, becomes a VERY good thing.
Peter Hathaway wrote a book, "Use Enough Gun", well, here we recommend, use enough powder.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Online utseabee

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2021, 11:32:16 PM »
I really like the .54s. Have two of them currently, have owned others. I have never tried .520 balls in any of them. .530 balls load easy enough. That being said if I had .520 balls, I would certainly try them. I question the light 75 grain 3f and 85 grain loads for hunting, or for accuracy for that matter. I have found that with .54s, they really don't start to shine until you get above 100 grains of 2f. Also gives a bigger wallop.

   75 grains of Swiss seems to be a little hotter than Goex. I know I can load more powder if needed, but the 75 grain load grouped the best so far. It is plenty of power for anything I can shoot in PA. The barrel is a 47 3/4" wrought iron barrel with gain twist made by Bobby Hoyt. If I do get out west again or go for big bears, I can try out more powder at that time.
The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer.

Offline elkhart

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2021, 10:33:00 PM »
I used .520 round balls in a North Star Trade Gun. The bore runs a bit tight in this smoothbore, so I was using the .520 ball with a .010 patch. It shot fine with that combination and 65 grains of 3F. However it shoots better with a bare .530 ball over wadding with the same charge. I'd like to bump the load up near 80 grains for bear this fall, will be trying the .520 ball again in the process.

A couple days ago I tried the .520 in a Euroarms 1841 Mississippi rifle. The gun has shallow, 7 land rifling, so I used a .020 patch. Couldn't get it to group, it shoots best with a .530 ball and .015 patch.

I'm thinking a rifle with deeper rifling (at least deeper than the above mentioned 1841) would shoot fine with a smaller ball and thicker patch.

By the way, Lee sells a mold for .520 round balls

Offline Daryl

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2021, 12:14:14 AM »
I've had a couple .58 Zouaves with .003" deep rifling, along with a .574" bore Musketoon with .003" at the muzzle, .011" deep at the breech.
I used .575" balls with .022" denim patching in all of them, with extremely good results 2 1/2" to 3" at 100 meters off a rest. The Musketoon
did it with 75gr. 2F GOEX at 1,308fps and the Zouaves both did it with 120gr. GOEX 2F.
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline Mike_StL

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2021, 06:16:27 AM »
I used a 0.520 ball in my 54 caliber 1803 Harper's Ferry with 0.010" patching for the ease of loading.  The patches were shredded and the groups opened up a bit when compared to my usual load of a 0.535" ball and 0.017" cotton drill.  However those balls were easy to load with a simple push of the thumb and easy push with the ramrod.  I also didn't need to wipe between shots.  Since I was shooting at reactive steel targets and not for X's, I was satisfied with the performance.

Offline Skirmisher

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2021, 07:18:29 PM »
I also use a .520 with an .011" linen patch in an original 1803 Harpers Ferry.  Loads easy and shoots wonderfully well over 65 or 70 grains of Swiss 2fg.  Bob Hoyt steared me to the looser fitting .520" ball years ago, claiming they shot just as well as the tight loads.  With most old guns with deep grooves he was absolutely correct.

Offline Daryl

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2021, 08:41:45 PM »
I think you mean with "most old guns with rotten bores", he was right.
 
If loose combinations shot as well as tight combinations in anything, why would BR and cross stick match shooters not use
the easier loading combination?  If loose combinations shot just as well back in the 1800's, false muzzles and ball starters would
never have been invented and be still used in BR muzzle loading rifles.
Remington even sold barrels abroad, in which the muzzles were turned round for ball starters.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 08:45:46 PM by Daryl »
Daryl

"a gun without hammers is like a spaniel without ears" King George V

Offline Clark Badgett

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Re: .520 round balls
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2021, 09:55:43 PM »
The ordnance manual loading for all .54 cal military rifles called for a .53 tumbled ball with a thin muslin or membrane patch.
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