Home Main Category General Firearms

Muzzleloader thoughts and help please

JayJay Senior MemberPosts: 4,349 Senior Member
Posting this here as it’s more gun related than hunting related. 

So, I finally got around to checking my hunt draw results this afternoon. I drew 3rd choice, which is a muzzleloader deer hunt. I haven’t hunted with or shot a muzzleloader in about 16 years... And I don’t currently own a muzzleloader. 😮

My dad has two muzzleloaders he said I can borrow. A Thompson Center Hawkin kit gun he built when I was learning to walk, and a Knight in-line. I’d pick the Hawkin of the two. Just ‘cause... but he seemed to be leery of that one and pushing me toward the in-line. Ok... 

Enter a buddy from work... who dares me to do it with a muzzleloader pistol.... he knows me well. 

I have a Thompson Center Encore pistol with multiple barrels and a TC 2-7 variable power scope. So, maybe a 13” Match Grade Machine ML barrel?  Problem is, what caliber do I go with and is it even worth doing it, not knowing if I’ll really dig it. And how bad would ballistics suffer being that short? I’m not real knowledgeable on muzzleloader stuff, but I can imagine I’ll have a lot of unburnt powder with a barrel that short. Can I get to 100 yards with a 13” barrel? I’d call that good enough, I guess..

I’m open to ideas. 


  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,928 Senior Member
    I hunted with a Hawken replica very successfully. However, another hunter show'd me an enline one season at his camp. When I shouldered it, the sights were lined up perfectly with no effort. An additional hunter had claim to buy it from him. Otherwise I would have bought it right there on the spot. Point being. Give it a look and see.

    Black powder and it's substitutes leave half of themselves behind as solid residue after ignition. The gun will tell you how much it wants. Too much will impede ignition. 100 yards is too far for me with open sights. Its not too far for the gun. The shorter barrel shouldn't be an issue I don't think.
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 4,551 Senior Member
    I have a T/C factory Hawken rifle in 50 cal. I was having some issues with accuracy with RB loads, just couldn’t seem to find a happy place with charge, patch thickness and what not. Switched to Hornady Great Plains maxi bullets and got night and day difference in groups. Planned to use it in Illinois but moved before that happened. 
    Now that I’m back in Colorado I might have to hit up Early for some pointers!!
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,928 Senior Member
    Any time Sako. I used T/C Maxi balls for the elk I shot. 320 gr.. Pushed to around 1200 or 1300 fps with 90grs Goex ffg. Went right through the elk like a freight train through wind.

    I like real bp for hunting. Lights easy. Gives consistent shot to shot pressure. Remembering to blow some breath down the barrel after a shot keeps the fouling soft for reload. Wich should be done immediately when hunting. A piece of masking tape on the muzzle, a rubber sleeve over the cap with a brass nipple guard under the hammer keeps the charge dry.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,349 Senior Member
    edited April 2020 #5
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,349 Senior Member
    Being 45 cal, I’m assuming that opens up the option of loading .357 cal handgun bullets in a sabot. Possibly use XTP or FTX bullets and get some decent velocity with a quicker burning black powder, maybe?
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,928 Senior Member
    There's BP substitutes that I've not tried. The only ones I've used are Hogdgon Triple Seven and Pyrodex. I like the Hodgdon product in my cap & ball revolver because it fouls less than BP.. I didn't like it in the rifle because it left a hard ring of fouling just ahead of the charge column. The ring interfered with reloads and stubbornly resisted cleaning. Its also a bit harder to light than BP.. The Pyrodex product seemed unusually hygroscopic and gave erratic ignition pressure for me. BP and the two mentioned subs don't like petroleum. Ballistol works best with them, and all three are hygroscopic.

    One or more of the more modern or recently introduced BP subs may be much better. I just don't know as Im lacking experience with them.

    And of course you'll be chasing desired speed if you want to use an expanding bullet.
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,349 Senior Member
    Thanks again for the info. Some good stuff there and definitely some things to consider..

    If I was to go the route I posted above, being a 209 primer setup, I’m sure that changes ignition characteristics and how powders behave. My guess would be that more modern BP substitutes are designed to work in modern in-line guns with 209 ignition. Could be wrong. Sounds like it could take some time to try different combos, chronograph and accuracy test..

    You also bring up a great point about having to reach a velocity threshold with an expanding, jacketed bullets. It’s something I was considering and was on my mind when I mentioned range possibilities earlier. If I’m to expect out to 100 yard distance, I’ll need to make sure I can start the selected bullets fast enough to have enough velocity down range to expand reliably. And I have no clue what kind of velocity to expect. But I’d also assume it shouldn’t be a problem with a 15” barrel and no cylinder gap as a revolver would have. 
  • tv_racin_fantv_racin_fan Senior Member Posts: 661 Senior Member
    Personally I would use some sort of a pure lead projectile.  Probably opt for Blackhorn 209 or whatever it is for propellant.  Tho I might give FFFg a try first.

    I have one of the CVA Optima pistols, that I have yet to try out, that is just about the same thing and I would opt for a pure lead projectile and that powder if I intended to hunt with it.

    Something like this for a 45caliber rifle and a 250grain 430 diameter projectile

    Or like this if I preferred a 357 projectile

  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,457 Senior Member
    Jay, something to think about if you go inline. Use 209 primers specifically made for muzzleloaders; they are less powerful than standard and magnum 209 primers. The standard and magnum 209 primers will push the powder charge forward before the powder fully ignites and it will leave a ring of powder residue that makes both synthetic and real black powder charges hard to load after that first shot. And accuracy will suffer as a result.
      I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer”
    ― Douglas Adams
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 24,985 Senior Member
    Personally I would use some sort of a pure lead projectile.  Probably opt for Blackhorn 209 or whatever it is for propellant.  Tho I might give FFFg a try first.

    I have one of the CVA Optima pistols, that I have yet to try out, that is just about the same thing and I would opt for a pure lead projectile and that powder if I intended to hunt with it.

    I'm no hunter, but I shoot my CVA Optima V2 pistol with BH-209 and it works well for this tyro.

    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • JayJay Senior Member Posts: 4,349 Senior Member
    Good to know, on the primers and BH209 powder. I was looking at powders yesterday and did some reading about that powder. Figured that would be the first one I try, even though it’s EXPENSIVE.. 

    I got my dads ML rifle out yesterday and checked it out. I was mistaken earlier in the thread. It’s a Thompson Center, not a Knight like I thought. It currently doesn’t have a scope on it and has horrible see through rings on it. IF I was to decide to try it, I’d have to buy a scope and rings for it or just shoot it with the fiber optic iron sights. All the more reason to look at the possibility of a barrel for my Encore or maybe find a used ML pistol..  If I’m gonna spend money, might as well spend it on a gun for me rather than optic for my dads gun...
Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.