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PraireHunter83



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PostSubject: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 19th 2017, 7:44 pm

Hey everyone, I've been watching the forum a bit over the past few months and want to pull the trigger on a blackpowder rifle. I've got a rifle in mind (Lyman Great Plains .50 1:60) but am looking for guidance on the rest of the gear I'll need. I sat down and spoke with a fella I know around town here, but thought I'd run it by this group as well. Here's what I can come up with so far:


[list="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"]
[*]Rifle
[*]Lead
[*]Shot Starter
[*]Patches
[*]Powder
[*]#11 Caps
[*]Powder Horn
[*]Lead Ladle
[*]Scissors mold
[*]Beeswax
[*]Making bullets Book
[*]Nipple wrench
[/list]




Anything I'm missing that I'll really need?




Also, I'm wanting to cast my own round balls. Should I get some material to help me learn the process, or is it pretty straightforward?




Thanks for any help everyone!
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FrontierGander
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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 19th 2017, 11:50 pm

Well I really think you should rethink your caliber choice. Lyman offers a .54cal which IMO, I would go with! When a company offers a 54cal or bigger, always go with the bigger bore.

You'll find this of some help for what's needed to load, shoot and maintain your percussion lock.
https://www.frontiermuzzleloading.com/t8411-percussion-lock-shooters-must-have-list

As for the scissor mould, I highly suggest you stay away from those moulds that track of the wolf offers. I bought one and it actually produced 2 difference sizes of ball from the ball cavity. There are custom scissor mould makers, Tanner? I believe is one of them. They get pricey, but well worth it if thats what you really want. Otherwise, a $25 Lee mould will last you years and years of service. Along with the $45 4lb Lee Pot.

With my pot, I turn the setting to high, allow the lead to melt and once it has, let it heat for another 10-15 minutes, to make sure its nice and hot. Dip the edge of my Lee mould into the lead and give it 30 to 45 seconds, depending on if its a single or double cavity mould. Start casting!
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PraireHunter83



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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 20th 2017, 5:55 am

Thanks for the reply Frontier! Out of convenience I priced everything on Track of the Wolf so I appreciate you saying something. My friend in town I mentioned told me to definitely look at other places for gear since they can get a little pricey. I will definitely look into the Lee products.

Just out of curiosity why the .54? Is it a case of bigger is better? I've hunted elk before and hope to again. Is a .50 too small? I've read and heard contrasting opinions on the matter. Sounds like that is the one species people debate about. Are deer a concern with a .50? 

Also, will a .54 beat the hell out of you after a few shots? Might make me sound like a pansy, but I'm not looking to get a gun that I don't look forward to shooting.

Thanks again man!
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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 20th 2017, 6:42 am

Im gonna agree with Jon. The 54 wont give you anymore noticeable recoil than the 50 IMHO. You dont need to shoot full charge loads to go out and just shoot. I shoot a 58 cal all the time and always look forward to the next time. If you want to hunt elk again I would definitley go with the 54. Al

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 20th 2017, 9:40 am

PraireHunter83 wrote:
Thanks for the reply Frontier! Out of convenience I priced everything on Track of the Wolf so I appreciate you saying something. My friend in town I mentioned told me to definitely look at other places for gear since they can get a little pricey. I will definitely look into the Lee products.

Just out of curiosity why the .54? Is it a case of bigger is better? I've hunted elk before and hope to again. Is a .50 too small? I've read and heard contrasting opinions on the matter. Sounds like that is the one species people debate about. Are deer a concern with a .50? 

Also, will a .54 beat the hell out of you after a few shots? Might make me sound like a pansy, but I'm not looking to get a gun that I don't look forward to shooting.

Thanks again man!

The .54 is an awesome caliber for patched round balls and elk. If you plan on shooting conicals, the 50cal would be the best way to go due to all the conical offerings.

Im using a .50cal this year with round ball for deer and elk, but I know I'll have to limit my shots to 100 yards or even closer for best results. I'll also be casting my balls with wheel weight for better penetration.

Deer are no problem with a 50cal and patched ball.
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John Neslen



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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 20th 2017, 10:39 am

I would add a range rod, pipe cleaners, and a brass brush. I don't have time to re-read as I know I could add more but the fence project is calling me.

John
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lighthorseman

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 20th 2017, 2:17 pm

I agree with all that has been said and would add powder measure, loading block and a shooting bag. For the type of hunting I do, I consider .54 cal. the minimum. Check out October Country as well for accessories. I can't remember for sure but I recall the average rifle caliber size in the fur trade for the plains rifles was .52 or .53......which at the time I thought was odd...but of course it was an average....so more guns on the large size. If I ever have another half stock percussion rifle built, it will be at least a .62 cal. I own several smooth bores in sizes .20 ga/.62 ca; up to 12ga/.73 cal. The only rifle I own is a .58 and I have taken elk and bear with it. Good resource here among the guys for advise. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 21st 2017, 6:30 am

All good advice! Adding to the chorus - Get the .54....  Having both and everything from .177 up to 12ga - the 54 is the one I'd have if I only could have one......

The list of possibles is looking mostly complete - I would add a nipple pick and a set of rod tools - ball puller, worm swabbing jag etc. A range rod was mentioned above but if you can get one of the Delron rods, extra long, you will be good - they  aren't PC but they take a beating and won't crack.
 Find a set of "good screwdrivers" to use specifically for gun maintenance. Also perhaps a small leather or brass mallet for wedge pin removal.  I have small tins for patch grease, cleaning patches, small spares and loose small tools. I'd recommend a small leather bag for lead balls so things don't rattle around in the hunting bag....... You will find the right combo after awhile - Have fun!

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 21st 2017, 9:52 am

Long time muzzleloader, first time poster.

You'll accumulate a huge pile of stuff before you're through. Some guys elect to get a bag big enough to hold it all and carry it all with them all the time. Bags quickly get big and heavy.  What you'll learn is that with all that stuff in a bag, whatever you need is always at the bottom of the pile.

Here's a way to make some sense of what you really need to carry and what you don't:  NEVER use the shooting bench at the range for a shelf to lay your stuff out for shooting.  Stay away from the bench and use your bag only.  Pretty quick you'll be sorting out what you need to carry for shooting, and what you don't.  You're also likely to discover that you need a much smaller bag.

My addition to your list?  A range box.  All that extra stuff just might be needed at the range, especially for cleanup after a shoot, or if you have problems. I leave my range box in the truck, but it's always there if I need it.  I just don't carry it on hunts.
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lighthorseman

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 21st 2017, 11:22 am

I agree with BrownBear........if you're going to hunt, get used to and proficient with loading from a shooting bag. Your "shooting bag"...'Possibles bag" should not be so big that you carry too much gear....you need to be able to reach into your bag and immediately find your loading block with short starter attached with a leather thong. Some make arrangement to have the short starter attached to the bag's shoulder strap. Again by having a leather thong attached, pulling on the short starter pulls the loading block from the bag. Though not period correct, I still carry 4 pre-measured powder loads in cylinders "quick loads" in the bottom of my bag. This allows for a quick second shot and a practiced shooter can reload in under 10-20 seconds. It means that only quick loads and loading block is in the bottom of the bag. With a bag made with an additional outside pouch, you can carrying as Hawkthrower said "a nipple pick and a set of rod tools - ball puller, worm swabbing jag etc" as well as percussion caps, extra balls and cleaning patches. When shooting/hunting this way you can have a shooting bag as small as 7" x 7" in diameter. Personally I carry a second bag "haversack" over my opposite shoulder, where I carry any extra shooting stuff I think I might need...plus second sharp knife, sharpening stone, fire starting stuff, and food for the day, and survival stuff. Even hunting with period correct clothing and gear, my modern stuff is hidden. Some guys hunt with out all the extras and go bare minimum period correct gear without an haversack, but I have had to spend an unexpected night out in the cold at 8,000' elevation and always make safety a priority. You might also carry a small saw and extra sharp knife. I carry a sharp belt axe "Tomahawk"  to chop through a pelvis or sternum. Mine has a rounded blade edge , which makes quick work of it.

Here's a small bag I made for my wife's "poachers gun" it's only about 8" X 8".

Notice under flap pocket. I also sewed a knife sheath to the back of a bag where she carry's her "patch knife/field knife". Loop inside flap is for short starter.


Some guys attach their powder horn to their bag strap or carry it on a separate strap.
Here's the bag I made for a upper middle class "gentleman" impression. It is larger than the first.

Under flap pocket.

Knife sheath on back.

Here's my loading block and short starter.


On this particular set up I carry my horn separate. 

You have entered a fraternity that will have hundreds of different opinions....follow the basics and decide for yourself what suites you the best. Smile

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BrownBear



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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 21st 2017, 11:57 am

I'll add one more to the list of things you'll need. Or at least for me it's an indispensable part of my hunting kit.  Living and hunting in rough country, I can't get by without my slip-on gun sling. I don't leave it on the gun while shooting, but it's priceless when the going gets tough and you need two hands to navigate, or when you have game down and the real work begins. Easy on- easy off.

I use it with rifles, shotguns, fowlers.... You name it. Only bought the one and have made my own since using their design, and it really works well. Always have one rolled up somewhere when I'm in the hills.
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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 21st 2017, 12:25 pm

Good point!......always a good safety item while climbing a steep hill, tree or over a fence. t up

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 22nd 2017, 7:37 am

I agree with all stated above.
I have several .45 and .50 cal flintlocks and percussion rifles, but my .54 Great Plains Rifle will be my big game hunting rifle. The smaller calibers I use mostly as target rifles.

Along with a possibles bag, I bring a range box and range rod to, where else, the range. Additionally, I have a 2 gallon container with water and a few drops of dish soap.

In the range box is a small, metal container with extra cleaning patches, jags for the particular caliber, bullet puller, patch puller, tooth picks (to put in the nipple or flash hole when filling the barrel with soapy water) and flints, when necessary. In the main box I include a CO2 dry ball ejector and set of "Leatherman-like" tools.

Like the esteemed Lighthorseman, I am a period correct sinner and include a significant number of pre-measured powder loads in plastic cylinders as "quick loads". Of course the plastic tubes are "period correct." Very Happy Twisted Evil 

Possibles bag:


Oops, wrong bag. Here is the right one:


Range box made from wooden box found at WalMart:


And a sewing box from Johann's that has been stained and reinforced:



The box before refinishing and reinforcement:

Ron

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 22nd 2017, 12:33 pm

I am always a bit embarrassed with my meager showings Embarassed when you wheel out your famous and well documented "frosty" bullet bag....your shooting bag is solid and shooting/cat box.......rocks!  t up

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   April 23rd 2017, 9:33 am

Fine examples of customized traditional accessories for sure.  

Cool  3 speed loader and hatchet pouch!
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PraireHunter83



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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   May 12th 2017, 9:24 am

Thanks for the advice everyone! I appreciate you all sharing what you know. I'm looking forward to getting everything purchased in the near future and getting started. Should be the start of a grand adventure!
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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   May 12th 2017, 6:04 pm

PH? 

Add a ball puller to your gear for your rod. Sooner or later you will need one. Your gun won't go 'boom.' If you need a round ball puller and don't have one? That can be a pain.

Add a range rod with a 'T' handle for the same reason. You can hook the 'T' 
on something- other than you- and pull from the safe end to remove that ball 
that fails to fire.

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PostSubject: Re: Greenhorn Gearing Up   May 13th 2017, 9:07 pm

.54 cal is sound advice.  It's not a matter of "bigger is better", but .54 cal seems to be just the right diameter to retain more energy at longer distance than a smaller ball, while not having a larger non-aerodynamic surface to induce drag as it zips thru the air. 

.50 cal is fine for most applications & you're not gonna be undergunned for most applications.  I have several .50 cal rifles & they're all fine shooters.  But comparing my .54 cal rifles, the .54 cal is easier to develop an accurate load with & is more forgiving for better throughout a wider powder weight range. With .54 cal, there's not much in North America that you can't drop with proper shot placement.  .54 is comfy to shoot all day with moderate loads that produce great accuracy.  Depending on which rifle, I typically load 75 - 80 grains of 2F black powder for 175 grain roundballs. I'm an 'old guy' and can shoot these loads all day. They will knock down any edible herbivore out to 125 yards.  Beyond that, it's just too far to walk & anyway, you need to sharpen your stalking skills.  My 410 grain hollow-base minie ball pushed with 110 grains 2F is no joy to shoot (a guy at my range shooting a .458 Win Mag told me so).  Nevertheless, if you are hunting or hanging out in the same neighborhood with carnivores intent on eating YOU, it's plenty powerful. 

The Lee mold is also sound advice.  They're cheap, heat up quicker & produce quality roundballs, and they last forever.  Detractors point at aluminum as easily damaged.  My first Lee Mold was a .54 cal Improved Minie I began using in 1977.  I still have it today, and it still works as new.  A little cleaning and occasional lube & they're reliable for years to come.

When you get your rifle, first thing to do is crosspin the end of your ramrod.  The glue, spit, threaded wood or sissy stuff they use to hold it together won't ...not permanently.  There is no greater embarrassment (OK it's in the top 5) than gruntin' & strainin' to clean fouling outta your bore & have the rod separate from the tip. Drill a 1/16' hole crosswise thru the brass tip, then tap in a corresponding diameter finishing nail.  If it's too small diameter for tight fit, just peen the ends, file flush & finish with fine emery cloth. 

Next, disassemble your new rifle and completely clean it, especially the bore that comes coated with some noxious Italian bore preservative, which, if not properly removed before firing, bakes onto the bore surface & is a major PITA to remove. Carburetor cleaner is the best.  Brake cleaner evaporates too fast.

Birchwood Casey runs counter to the advertisers here, but their Barricade is the best bore rust preventative made for a muzzleloader.  It leaves a dry film & you don't need to swab it out prior to loading out in the field.

Everything else is sound advice for all the accumulated junk you need for your bag.  If you shoot a lot, consider an Ampco / Treso nipple.  They're tougher than steel & the flash hole won't erode to enlarge as quickly as steel.  No hurry, though, since your factory Italian nipple should give you several hundred heavy shots fired before you even consider having to measure the flash hole.

The only important advice nobody mentioned was this:  Seriously consider getting a flintlock instead of caplock.  Flints are cheap, you won't need a nipple wrench & after a few shots are fired you'll overcome the pan flash flinch.  Accuracy is extreme.  My .54 cal 24" barrel rifle is flint & I routinely annoy other rifle shooters at the range by blowing up grapefruit at the 100 yard berm.  All the pretty girls who come to the range to be ignored by Daddy or BF all want to fire a flintlock (when asked) and one even told me she knows what she wanted for her birthday (well, not THAT - she wasn't 18 yet).

It's just a suggestion, since once you master a flintlock, you can shoot anything else well.
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