lead muzzleloader bullet opinions

tmitch

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Feb 12, 2013
75
0
Idaho
Wondering what you folks think the best "all lead" muzzleloader bullet is for big bull elk. Given Idaho's laws, my setup is a Traditions Vortek NW edition .50 cal. I've killed a few elk (cows, raghorns) with PB 348gr flat nose solids. Hoping for a crack at a monster bull this time, and want to leave no doubt. Any thoughts, opinions, or suggestions?

Thanks
 

Umpqua Hunter

Veteran member
May 26, 2011
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North Umpqua, Oregon
I love the No Excuses 460 grain 50 caliber bullet. He runs them through a die sizer after casting for a consistent fit. They are also prelude. I killed my bull with it last year in Colorado, and will use them again this year in Oregon. They are extremely accurate out of every rifle I have shot the in (like sub MOA in one of my rifles). They are also quite affordable. Order them online:

http://www.muzzleloading-bullets.com

Yes the website looks a bit amateurish, but it's an excellent bullet. I would say probably one of the best if not the best on the market.

Don't use too much powder with a conical, or you will just strip the bullet from the rifling. I tend to get best accuracy around 75-85 grains of powder.

What few guys realize when shooting lead conicals these days is that almost all muzzleloaders have fast twist barrels designed to shoot sabots, and you really need a heavy (400 grain+) bullet for best accuracy in those fast twist barrels.

Also a long heavy bullet extends the lethal range since they retain energy better.
 
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sneakypete

Veteran member
Aug 9, 2011
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Oakdale Ca.
What about the traditions tapered Bullit no sabot all copper I think? I bought the same gun but haven't bought any projectiles yet.
 

tmitch

Member
Feb 12, 2013
75
0
Idaho
Thanks UH. I remember u talking about your CO hunt last yr, but wasn't sure what bullet you used. I will order some of these. I have heard mostly good about these bullets. I agree with you on using the lighter charge for the big bullets. It only makes sense. I typically use 777 fffg with a CCI musket cap in ID. Anything wrong with that in your opinion?
 

Umpqua Hunter

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May 26, 2011
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Thanks UH. I remember u talking about your CO hunt last yr, but wasn't sure what bullet you used. I will order some of these. I have heard mostly good about these bullets. I agree with you on using the lighter charge for the big bullets. It only makes sense. I typically use 777 fffg with a CCI musket cap in ID. Anything wrong with that in your opinion?
Sounds like a good way to go. I think I would make sure they are the "magnum" CCI caps.
 

ore hunter

Very Active Member
Jul 25, 2014
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I don't believe any copper is allowed for Idaho,,,,Ive had good luck with the great plains conicals by hornady
 

Sawfish

Very Active Member
Jun 9, 2011
707
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Peoples Republik of Kalifornia
I love the No Excuses 460 grain 50 caliber bullet. He runs them through a die sizer after casting for a consistent fit. They are also prelude. I killed my bull with it last year in Colorado, and will use them again this year in Oregon. They are extremely accurate out of every rifle I have shot the in (like sub MOA in one of my rifles). They are also quite affordable. Order them online:

http://www.muzzleloading-bullets.com


Yes the website looks a bit amateurish, but it's an excellent bullet. I would say probably one of the best if not the best on the market.

Don't use too much powder with a conical, or you will just strip the bullet from the rifling. I tend to get best accuracy around 75-85 grains of powder.

What few guys realize when shooting lead conicals these days is that almost all muzzleloaders have fast twist barrels designed to shoot sabots, and you really need a heavy (400 grain+) bullet for best accuracy in those fast twist barrels.

Also a long heavy bullet extends the lethal range since they retain energy better.
X2 for No Excuses
 

tmitch

Member
Feb 12, 2013
75
0
Idaho
so just an update. I purchased a bunch of "no excuses" bullets and tested them out Sunday. My Traditions Vortek NW edition setup, with an RWS musket cap, 777 FFFG powder, and a 460 grain no excuses bullet. I have a scope on my gun right now for load development purposes. I shot 75, 80, 85 grain 3 shot groups. After each 3 shot group I cleaned the gun completely to make it a fair comparison. All loads shot 3" to 3.5" groups at 100 yards. Per the chronograph, the 80 grain charge burned the most consistent. I was hoping for better than 3" group with a scope at 100 yards. I've shot 348gr and 405gr PBs with about the same results (2" - 3" groups). This doesn't seem real great to me. What do you guys think, and what do you suggest I try different?

thanks
 

CoHiCntry

Veteran member
Mar 31, 2011
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Colorado Mountains
In my experience about all you can do is mix it up. Different powder, bullets and caps until you find the combination your gun likes. I would try the great plains bullets or maybe try some pyrodex instead of 777? I have a gun that just will not shoot the No Excuses accurately but it does shoot other bullets very well. This can be the frustrating part about muzzleloaders, trying to find the right combination. I agree 3+" at 100 yards with a scope isn't great.
 

CoHiCntry

Veteran member
Mar 31, 2011
1,390
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Colorado Mountains
One more thing... I remember UH saying he uses a wad with his load. I've heard other guy's using them but have no experience myself. It's definitely worth a try though?
 

Umpqua Hunter

Veteran member
May 26, 2011
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North Umpqua, Oregon
so just an update. I purchased a bunch of "no excuses" bullets and tested them out Sunday. My Traditions Vortek NW edition setup, with an RWS musket cap, 777 FFFG powder, and a 460 grain no excuses bullet. I have a scope on my gun right now for load development purposes. I shot 75, 80, 85 grain 3 shot groups. After each 3 shot group I cleaned the gun completely to make it a fair comparison. All loads shot 3" to 3.5" groups at 100 yards. Per the chronograph, the 80 grain charge burned the most consistent. I was hoping for better than 3" group with a scope at 100 yards. I've shot 348gr and 405gr PBs with about the same results (2" - 3" groups). This doesn't seem real great to me. What do you guys think, and what do you suggest I try different?

thanks
A few thoughts:

1. I now have a product called a Lewis Lead Remover. It basically pulls a tight fitting piece of brass hardware cloth through the barrel to remove lead build up. I tend to do this every couple thorough cleanings. It helps remove lead you can't get out with other means.

2. I don't believe all barrels are equal when it comes to shooting soft lead conicals. A few years ago someone made a comment to me about the size and depth of the lands and grooves. That got me thinking. I believe the idea is that the better conical barrels have a bit more aggressive rifling that "grips" the soft lead conicals better. I have talked to manufacturers about the size and depth of their rifling, and they are not very helpful. The rifles I have consistently run across that have the best reviews on shooting conicals are; White Muzzleloaders (out of production), Knights, and TC Hawkens (traditional). I wanted to shoot inlines that I could still readily get ahold of and I settled on Knights and have had very good success with their accuracy up to 90 grains of powder (beyond that the accuracy falls off). My last Knight DISC Extreme shot an 0.8" group on it's first three shot group at 100 yards. [NOTE: The one issue I have had with Knight DISC Extremes is that I have begun to custom machine the length of my breech plugs to get totally reliable cap ignition. I believe that is due to some tolerance issues in the bolt. That has been a common issue with that rifle.]

3. I bought a CVA Optima NW when it first came out (I recall about 18 months ago). I was very optimistic, and I like the simplicity of a break action and the finger removable CVA breech plug. Unfortunately the accuracy went to pot with lead conicals over 75 grains of powder. I actually shot two of those CVAs (the first was returned due to inconsistent cap ignition, the firing pin hit the caps off center) and both had the same accuracy issues. My theory is that muzzleloader only has enough rifling "grip" to handle that level of a powder charge, and the bullet begins to strip free of the rifling at higher charges. I'll have to say, I never got accuracy that I was thrilled with, without looking at my notes I recall it was in that 3"+ range. As a thought, you might possibly want to try 65 and 70 grains of powder in your set-up. I have noticed that heavy lead conicals have a far higher conversion of powder to bullet energy than say a light sabot set-up (less powder to get the same ft.lbs at the bore). You can verify your muzzle energy with your chrono.
 
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Umpqua Hunter

Veteran member
May 26, 2011
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One more thing... I remember UH saying he uses a wad with his load. I've heard other guy's using them but have no experience myself. It's definitely worth a try though?
Yep yep...I run two 0.060" thick vegetable fiber wads under my bullet. It tightened my groups up noticeably. The idea is that it helps prevent the flame from scorching the sides of the bullet and deteriorating accuracy. I bought some conicals years ago that actually were packaged with wads.

These are the one's I am currently using (Walters Wads 50 Caliber (512 Diameter) 0.060 Thickness Bag of 1000 from Midway):

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/758084/walters-wads-50-caliber-512-diameter-0060-thickness-bag-of-1000?cm_vc=ProductFinding
 
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tmitch

Member
Feb 12, 2013
75
0
Idaho
Thanks for the info both of you. I do see a lot of lead fouling with PB bullets for sure, so I will definitely watch for it, and try to remove it. I am intrigued by the wad idea for sure. You are dead on with what I've also noticed with the lower charge not impacting the velocity a whole lot with lead bullets. I've done some calcs to understand kinetic energy and momentum needed for penetration. Lead bullets are definitely different beasts and require a different approach I think.

Too much velocity with soft lead, and the energy transfer is immediate, and penetration is compromised. That's the main reason Id like to get the "No excuses" to work. They seem to be harder lead, therefore momentum comes into play for deep penetration.

If I can get these heavy hitters under 2", I will be happy, but I will strive for a clover leaf as always.