Muzzy Powder Accuracy

tdcour

Veteran member
Feb 28, 2013
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Central Kansas
We were fortunate enough to draw CO deer again this year for Muzzy. Last year was my first year shooting a muzzy and had a good time, but think I can improve on some things.

Question 1: How do ya'll measure your loose powder for your Muzzy? I did by volume last year, but am wondering if by weight would be better?

Question 2: What bullet weight would you recommend? I wasn't overly happy with the expansion/knock down of my setup last year. I'm thinking if I go to a heavier bullet and more powder combo it'll have the desired expansion/knock down I'm looking for, but not sure I can shoot it comfortably without flinching. Those things kick like a mule!

Overall thought the gun shot pretty accurate for iron sights, loose powder, and bore size bullets. Just trying to figure out what the more experienced shooters are doing. Last year shot a TC with Thor 250gr bullets and 90 grains of Blackhorn.
 

JimP

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Mar 28, 2016
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Gypsum, Co
My go to load for my muzzle loader is 90 grains of Pyrodex measured by volume and a 300 grain Thor bullet. It will punch through a deer along with a elk with no problems, even the 250 grain ones if your rifle shoots them accurately is good enough for deer.

Now this is with my inline.

If I am hunting with my TC Renegade in .54 caliber I'll use a 430 grain hand cast maxi ball over 90 grains of Pyrodex. This load will blow the opposite side out of a deer if you hit him in the ribs.
 

mallardsx2

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Jul 8, 2015
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I pre-measure by weight (BH-209) and also shoot the Thor bullets.

Pretty good combination and I have killed several deer with it.

I should also note that I change my powder daily and my primer every few hours. (Why not..its cheap compared to a misfire)
 

Umpqua Hunter

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May 26, 2011
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North Umpqua, Oregon
I shoot Knight DISC Extremes, and have three of them so I can take the family. They have a great barrel for pure lead conicals, so I am not sure if what I am going to say will fully apply to other muzzleloaders.

My load is 85 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209, two 0.06" thick vegetable fiber wads (reduces flame scorching the bullet), a 460 grain lead conical from No Excuses (50 caliber), and a Fiocchi 209 primer.

I measure my first load by VOLUME, weigh it on a powder scale, then weigh all my following loads. You do it that way because various powders weigh much differently than the measure volumetrically. An 85 grain volume measurement for BH209 is 59.5 grains by weight. To calculate the weight (Blackhorn 209 only!!) take the volumetric measurement and multiply it by 0.7:

85 grains by volume x 0.7 = 59.5 grains by weight

After weighing my loads, I put them in waterproof vials. I really like these off of eBay.

23708

Some of my current thinking behind my muzzleloader load.

1) Most new muzzleloaders have fast twist barrels for stabilizing a bullet in a sabot. If a barrel was specifically designed for a conical, they would be slower twist. These fast twist barrels best stabilize long heavy bullets like the 460 grain I shoot, better than shorter lighter bullets. It is the same concept in today's long-range hunting rifles, twist rates are getting faster to shoot long heavy bullets.

2) 50 caliber has a huge frontal surface area and will shed energy quickly. I didn't realize it until a few years ago, but a roundball loses a ton of energy even at fairly modest ranges (50-75 yards). Again a long heavy bullet helps overcome that and retains energy better downrange. This is the concept behind Ballistic Coefficient (BC). This is the very concept with today's long-range rifle hunting bullets (along with an aerodynamic shape).

3) Lead has far more density than copper, so for a given load, you will have better retained energy downrange with an all lead bullet. (Again, same concept in rifle hunting bullets, all copper bullets don't retain energy as well as jacketed lead bullets.)

3) Years ago I had accuracy issues with lead conicals, a guy told me to shoot a more modest powder load. I have since seen accuracy deteriorate when I get to 90 grains (by volume) and beyond in my muzzleloaders. I believe what is happening is the lead is stripping from the rifling.

4) I feel Blackhorn 209 is by far the best powder for accuracy out there, simply due to the minimal residue left, and that you can shoot a fouling shot and with the powder being minimally corrosive, you can then hunt on a fouled barrel.

5) Blackhorn 209 seems to be sensitive to primers that push the bullet off the compressed load before the powder ignites. That issue has probably been the major accuracy issue for me when shooting BH209. Fiocchi primers have the energy to reliably ignite the powder, but are also a softer primer, not affecting the compression of the load.

6) I think No Excuses bullets (from Utah) are fantastic bullets and the best lead conicals in production. The guy who makes them die sizes them, which precision sizes them for the bore. They are also prelubed.

7) Not all barrels shoot lead conicals well. I have been told that barrels with deeper "lands and grooves" are better conical barrels. I do know my Knights shoot lead conicals lights out.

8) 460 grains may seem like a crazy heavy bullet, but for states that require open sights, where you are limited to 150 yards or so, the trajectory is reasonable, and the energy retention is excellent in those ranges.
 

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tdcour

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Feb 28, 2013
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Thanks UH. That helps. I think I'm going to try some of the heavier Thors or Federals. Federals are lead compared to copper Thors. I'd like to be in that 90-100 grains for powder by volume, but won't sacrifice accuracy to get there. I shoot heavier arrows out of my bow, so why not heavier bullets?! Seems like exactly the same logic.
 

RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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Two Harbors, Minnesota
I spent a fair amount of time with my TC Omega after switching to BH209 powder and 300 gr. Thor bullets. I used a chronograph and my own range and I found that after 120 gr. of powder (by volume), the velocity increase was only moderate, and the recoil and blast was excessive. At a later session, I just shot for accuracy, backing off in 5 gr. increments and found the sweet spot at 95 gr. I have tags for a muzzy hunt n CO for deer and elk this year, so I plan on a lot more range time to verify. Your results may well differ, and can only be determined with some time behind the sights. Good Luck
 

tdcour

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Feb 28, 2013
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Central Kansas
I did very similar last year Ric, but only with accuracy. Shot at 50-100 yards. Started with 120 and went down 5 grains each group until I liked the grouping. 90-95 is where my 250s fly good. I'm guessing would be similar with a 300 grain and could be in that 95-100 grains of powder. I think I'll order some 300s and shoot to see if I like them better than the 250s. After doing some ballistic calculators the 250s don't fly much better than the 300s which surprised me. Out to 200 they are within an inch of each other and with a Colorado setup no way I'll be able to tell if it was me or the load that moved an inch (most likely me)
 

RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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Two Harbors, Minnesota
I spent some time this week at my range after setting up a new 150 yard target. I can tell that my biggest limiting factor will be my aging eyes, but I was satisfied with the load to settle on. The TC Omega, with 300 gr. Thor bullets (.501), 100 gr. 209 powder. I can keep every shot on the 6" bull, but with open sights this is only a speck on top of the front sights. I can hold MOA with my scoped rifles.
Th biggest reminder for me though was to shoot a fouling shot before hunting, as my first shot is 12" low through a clean barrel.
 

Slugz

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Oct 12, 2014
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Woodland Park, Colorado
I spent some time this week at my range after setting up a new 150 yard target. I can tell that my biggest limiting factor will be my aging eyes, but I was satisfied with the load to settle on. The TC Omega, with 300 gr. Thor bullets (.501), 100 gr. 209 powder. I can keep every shot on the 6" bull, but with open sights this is only a speck on top of the front sights. I can hold MOA with my scoped rifles.
Th biggest reminder for me though was to shoot a fouling shot before hunting, as my first shot is 12" low through a clean barrel.
Interesting comment about the fouling shot. Is that a common trend with the modern muzzle loaders? I need to check the kids now. He shoots a Tradition G4 Ultralight and i didnt notice a big difference from fouled or clean first shot.

Is your rear sight open or a peep? We have found both open sights inside 100 provided the best view of the target and the 100 to 120/130 range the best accuracy with a rear peep. Much past that and i think even young eyes suffer from the target being covered up.
 

RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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Two Harbors, Minnesota
Interesting comment about the fouling shot. Is that a common trend with the modern muzzle loaders? I need to check the kids now. He shoots a Tradition G4 Ultralight and i didnt notice a big difference from fouled or clean first shot.

Is your rear sight open or a peep? We have found both open sights inside 100 provided the best view of the target and the 100 to 120/130 range the best accuracy with a rear peep. Much past that and i think even young eyes suffer from the target being covered up.
I switched to a rear peep long ago. I learned to love them in the Marine Corps where we shot with peeps at 200 off-hand, 300 sitting, and 500 prone. I usually had the highest score in the company. But, that was 49 years ago.
As far as the fouling shot....I don't know how other muzzle-loaders are affected by this, but it is certainly one more thing that should be determined before hunting. Most muzzy hunts only involve one shot, so you better make sure it is going where you want it to go.
 

Slugz

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Oh yeah I agree. We shoot all year round.....we have shot it without a fouling shot and it was off an inch or two @ 100.......nothing like 12" though........the 12" comment got me wondering is all.
 

RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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I have to make a correction on that, I forgot that I had adjusted the rear sight after a few more shots, so that initial (clean bore) was only 6" low. In comparison, my 338 is about an inch off at 100yds for a clean bore shot, and my 30-06 doesn't change.
 
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tdcour

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I've heard of the fouling shots, but dang didn't think of the ramrod. I'll have to remember that. I know I've shot it without it in before with the anticipation of having a second load ready to go and don't want to pull the ramrod out in the process of reloading and opt for just sitting it next to my second charge if I need it. Always more to learn
 

JimP

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Mar 28, 2016
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The ramrod adds strength to the stock and barrel and effects the harmonics of the shot.

So either take all your shots with it in or out but not both
 

RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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Two Harbors, Minnesota
I spent the better part of yesterday morning at my gun range, trying to reach out past my 150 yard sight-in distance. Two issues for me at 200 yards; I just can't see well enough with the open sights as I have to hold above the target to account for the drop. Also, the load only will have about 1000 fp of energy at that distance. I am not comfortable attempting to make an imprecise shot on a bull elk without sufficient poop left. I had switched to a Globe Sight on the front, and was much more precise while at the range, but found that in the bush the inserts weren't discernable enough early and late in the day. I am back to the factory fiber optic in front and the Williams peep in the rear. It's dead meat at 150 yards or less, so that's what I'll have to do. (TC Omega, 100 gr. 209 powder, 300 Thor bullets - .501 bore).
I had to order more Thor bullets yesterday to make sure they get here before I leave for Colorado Sept. 7th.
 
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JimP

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Sounds like you are ready. I know that with my eyesight that I have to limit myself to 150 yards when using open sights. That plus using a ML 150 yards is a good range. Plus the Thors will have no problem punching through a elk at that range.