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Thread: How well do Lead minnies shoot? Are they accurate?

  1. #1
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    Default How well do Lead minnies shoot? Are they accurate?

    I bought my muzzies so I could be a little more independant from the gun store. In a worst case scenario I could make homebrew powder and firing primers (the chemistry as all on the internet).

    I like the idea of using scrape lead and recycling bullets. It seems well established in the pioneer traditions of muzzle loading and mountain men off in the wild for years at a time.

    Does anyone here have much experience shooting home cast lead conicals, particularly .50 cal Lee minnies? How much powder behind one? Do you need a felt wad or some other gas seal? How do they do on a moose etc.?

    I bought a .50-70 mould and plan on rolling them on the steel top of my table saw to get the diameter to match my barrel caliber. I already tried one .50-70 in the barrel (didn't shoot it) to see how easy it would be to load. A rolled one went in as easy as a standard minnie, the unrolled were a little harder but one good wack with a starter still got it to go in halfway. They both went all the way down the barrel. I popped them out the breach and they seemed to keep the original profile and picked up a the riffling on the bands towards the back.

    I like the 50-70 profile. It is about 500 grains. I prefer the heavier bullet at closer ranges when using centerfires, so I lean that way with my muzzleloading experiments. I belive in the three B's... Big Bullets are Better for banging down big critters (especially bears).

  2. #2

    Default Lead minnies

    The biggest thing to remember about Minis is, they have to he soft lead, or pretty soft, as the skirt (the hollow part in the back) has to expand to fill the bore and engage the rifling. If too hard, they can be "blown off". Minis can be plenty accurate enough for hunting. In most cases they'll shoot better than most shooters can shoot them. I have a TX Big Bore, and load a 100 grs of FFg behind them. It WILL make the rifle jump out of your hands if you aren't holding onto the foreend tight enough. It does NOT kick, in that since of the word. It does however PUSH. My BB probably a lot lighter than your Kodiak double. You want to use ONLY FFg powder in it. There are more than a few Bubbas out there who will tell you you can use FFFg, but don't. Its faster burning and builds up pressure quicker, and could cause problems.

  3. #3

    Default Minie

    I'm not sure what rifle/twist you have. The large bullets you speak off will not stabilize in the longer twist RB barrells, 1/66-1/72. The accuracy will be much worse than PRBs and a miss with a 500 grn minie is not nearly as effective as a perfect shot with a PRB, of around 250 grns.
    The Lyman Blackpowder Handbook is the best source for loading info for your rifle. It gives loads for most rifles and projectiles as well as accuracy loads.

    Some large bore rifles can and do have loadings listed for 3F black powder, these are listed as well in the manual.
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  4. #4
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    Default initial results of minnies and 50-70's...

    This Thursday I sighted in the scope on my traditions pursuit pro .50 cal.
    Unfortunately the only safe range I had at home was about 30 yards with an earth mound back stop. That aside, I was able to get the scope dialed into the general accuracy needed to further adjust it at the 100 yard range near by.

    The RB's were dead on consistent with 75 grains of powder. I had two shots in the same hole. That's nothing spectacular at 30 yards but it hints at what may be possible.

    The minnies are about 360 grains shot with 100 grains of powder. Again I had two shots share another hole(the two holes overlapped by half). They loaded real easy and I used felt wads soaked in tallow to help as a gas seal. Most of the shots were in a 2 1/2" group to the upper right of dead center of the target. I think the minnies will be easy to make reliable and accurate. I cast my own and they seem to be a cheap reliable big game bullet.

    I wanted a elongated bullet with more weight than the minnie though. So I bought a Lee 50-70 mould. They were harder to load, but I didn't take the time to roll them before loading. They load easier if I roll them between the flat of a chisel blade and the table saw top, to reduce the diameter a few thousandths of an inch. Again I used 100 grains to push the 500 grain bullet out the barrel. Nothing blew up and I'm not dead so I think it is probably safe, so far at least.

    I used felt wads soaked in tallow to provide a gas seal. I only shot 4 of them and they had a good four inch spread laterally. They all shot the same height within about 1/2 inch. The first shot kicked me in the eyesocket because I was using to loose a grip (I was expecting the same kick as the RB's and Minnies). I adjusted my grip and had no more problems. I think my shots with the 50-70's could be tighter if I didn't have a flinch reaction. I also had some shakes from too much coffee. I suspect that I can improve the grouping with better shooting form and less coffee. Perhaps 2" groups at 30 yards without changing the load is possible.

    Correct me if I am wrong but wouldn't 2" at 30 yards translate to about 8" at 100 yards? I really want to make the 500 grain projectile work for about 100 yard moose hunting. My experience is that the Moose kill zone is about a 2 foot circle. That should be well within the possiblities of a 50-70.

    I'll post back later in further progress at 100 yards. The barrel is a 1in28" twist.

    JK.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Kavemann View Post

    Correct me if I am wrong but wouldn't 2" at 30 yards translate to about 8" at 100 yards? I really want to make the 500 grain projectile work for about 100 yard moose hunting. My experience is that the Moose kill zone is about a 2 foot circle. That should be well within the possiblities of a 50-70.

    I'll post back later in further progress at 100 yards. The barrel is a 1in28" twist.

    JK.
    If that bullet is too long for your rifle's twist rate, it's going to be a lot worse than 8" at 100 yards. Only one way to find out for sure (and that's by shooting at 100), but bullets that are poorly stabilized tend to really wander as velocity drops. You may be really disappointed them at 100. I was seeing just how long bullets I could get away with in a 1:66" twist 54 caliber. The 325's shot around 2" at 50 yards and 4-5" at 100. The 385's I tried did 4-5" at 50 yards. But at 100 yards only 1 of the first group of 5 hit the 12"x12" paper, and one even missed my 3'x3'target holder! Next group I managed two on the piece of paper, but still had one miss the holder altogether.

    I'm betting that to stabilize that 500 grain bullet well enough for longrange shooting, you may have to get down below 1:20" twist rate in a rifle barrel, while also pushing velocities way on up there. Compare estimated velocities of your load with what a 50/70 cartridge gun, and while you're at it compare the standard twist rate of a 50/70 rifle with that of your muzzleloader.

  6. #6
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    Default Rate of twist...

    From what I have been seeing on other sites, the 50-70 rate of twist was ussually between 24 to 42 inches. But I'm no expert on the 50-70.

    I've read that the Cundhill formula determines rate of twist by how many factors of the caliber the conical length is. Such as a 1" conical would be a factor of 2 caliber widths for a .50 cal. I tried finding the Cundhill formula on the net but couldn't find it with a google search.

    I didn't really consider the rate of twist, thinking 1 in 28 is pretty fast twist. But now that you brought it up, Brown Bear, it is something to look into more.

    The thing that I was worried about was the gas seal. The base has a round taper on the edge and no hollow cavity to encourage obduration. I was hoping the felt wads would eliminate that problem. I guess the best thing to do is shoot at a 100 yard range.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Kavemann View Post
    From what I have been seeing on other sites, the 50-70 rate of twist was ussually between 24 to 42 inches. But I'm no expert on the 50-70.

    I've read that the Cundhill formula determines rate of twist by how many factors of the caliber the conical length is. Such as a 1" conical would be a factor of 2 caliber widths for a .50 cal. I tried finding the Cundhill formula on the net but couldn't find it with a google search.

    I didn't really consider the rate of twist, thinking 1 in 28 is pretty fast twist. But now that you brought it up, Brown Bear, it is something to look into more.

    The thing that I was worried about was the gas seal. The base has a round taper on the edge and no hollow cavity to encourage obduration. I was hoping the felt wads would eliminate that problem. I guess the best thing to do is shoot at a 100 yard range.
    I would have thought your wads would stop any gas blow-by too. Makes me wonder if two wads would change that.

    My problem with using the Cundhill formula by itself is the effect of velocity, as low as we generally work with it in MLs. I've done virtually all my long bullet work in MLs with a fast-twist 54 caliber, and in mine anyway, accuracy starts suffering when I pass around 500 grains unless I push velocity up till recoil moves about two steps beyond tooth-rattling. I literally cannot keep the foreend of the rifle in my hand by the time velocities are high enough to do much good at long range using some 550 grain bullets I got hold of. And I've never lit those loads off a single time with a scope, that I didn't end up with blood driping out of eyebrows. So I took the scope off and backed down to 450 grain bullets, and it's a tack driver.

    You might take a long look at the Fergusson 45 caliber "target" rifles. They've got really fast twists and are set up for long bullets. There are couple of guys on the MLF site- one in Idaho for sure and I think another maybe in Colorado- that have gone that route in replacement barrels for Thomson. IIRC they're using twists down in the 1:18 or 1:20 arena for really impressive long range shooting of elk and mule deer using long, heavy bullets, while also taming down the recoil they have to endure by dropping from 50 to 45 and using long bullets intended for the BP silhouette shooting.

    I'd have no qualms about using those long 45's for moose and such, so it seems like a good alternative if you can't get the 50's dialed in.

    I'd have guessed a 1:28 twist rate would have been fine for the 50/70, so now maybe you're down to the nitpicky details in making it work for you.

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