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Thread: Accuracy Issues

  1. #1
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    Default Accuracy Issues

    What are the issues for accuracy of a ML rifle. (Not talking about INLINEs.)

    For example, when your rifle gets dirty, does it degrade accuracy? And, how much?

    What about the powder charge? Is this a critical issue for an accurate load?

    What else?

    Thanks for any information, or observations etc.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  2. #2

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    The three biggest I've encountered are patch integrity, powder choice/quantity and follow-through.

    You have to find the right patch material and thickness and the right lube so your patches hold together. That's easy to check- you just pick up the fired patches about 15 feet out and "read" them. Tearing, shredding, burning are usually a sign of a patch too thin, a poor lube or a rough bore.

    Each gun is going to have its preferences of powders and charges, but in my experience they're waaaaaaay more foregiving than centerfire guns. Most of my rifles shoot a little better with 3f powder rather than 2f, for example, but don't seem to discriminate whether it's Pyrodex or real black powder of the same granulation. And they're accurate over a wide range of charges.

    Follow-through is mostly about what happens in the interval after the trigger breaks and before the ball exits the bore. It's a lot longer than even a 22 rimfire, and probably even longer than an air rifle in most cases. It's even an issue at the bench or improvised rest, but it can be a killer for offhand shooting as is done a lot with traditional muzzleloaders. Some of it gets pretty weird and hard to explain. One of my rifles delivers about a 1" group at 50 yards when I put my forehand between the front rest and the rifle's forearm, but spreads to close to 3" when I rest the rifle directly on the front rest. Go figure!

    After that, lots of things you're familiar with can affect accuracy. Guys pay a lot of attention for match shooting, but you can get by without most of them for hunting accuracy: You need quality balls, consistency in powder charge, and like the old days of shotgun shell loading you need consistent "wad" pressure- how much force you use to seat the ball down on the powder. All those factors together might shrink a group from 2" at 50 yards to 1" at 50 yards. You might see some degradation of accuracy with fouling buildup, but that depends more upon your patch/ball combo and how much fouling it leaves behind. It also affects how much effort is needed to seat a ball. As effort builds in some rifles, you need to swab the bore to knock down fouling for loading ease, but that's not universal among rifles. It's often a sign of a poor choice of lube or a patch too thin, for example, and a switch can eliminate the need to swab even after long strings of shots.

    Like centerfire arms too, barrel quality and bedding quality can affect the accuracy potential for match shooters, but it's been a rare experience for me to run across a factory rifle that wasn't "good enough" even to win a few matches.

  3. #3
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    Thank You BB:
    I'm using 3F, BP, only.
    My patches are good, and they're tight, with no tearing.
    My lube allows MANY shots without cleaning, but the gun does get harder to load.
    My eyes and my shootin ain't the best.

    I thought I knew what I was doin, but recently, I began to wonder. Things are not going as expected.

    I appreciate the info. I'll keep at it.

    Thanks Again
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    My eyes and my shootin ain't the best.

    I thought I knew what I was doin, but recently, I began to wonder. Things are not going as expected.

    Smitty of the North
    I can relate to the eyes and shooting!

    If you don't mind my asking, which gun are you shooting and what are the problems?

    I'm shooting over a dozen different guns, and the 5 guys I shoot and hunt with account for more than that, some in the same models as mine and some different.

    That adds up to a whole lot of problem solving, but we've managed it with all of them.

    Maybe after hearing a little more about what's going on with your gun I can speculate a little more and in a positive direction.

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    BB:
    CVA Mountain Rifle, 50 cal.

    I'm having trouble getting it sighted in for 100 yards, and determining the elevation at 50 and 25.

    Either, me, my gun, gun rest, or shooting position, etc. is inconsistent.

    I'm fixin to use my Nother gun for a while.

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  6. #6

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    Boy, having nothing to do with you and that fine rifle, I have trouble getting really sharp aiming point at 100 yards!!!! I can spray balls all over the paper unless I do it just right.

    I've started using those florescent orange stick-on targets, specifically the 8" I think it is at 100. Might even be a 10", but I'm not home right now to check on it.

    But here's the difference. Rather than aiming at the center, I hold for 6 oclock, but with the intent to hit right there at 6 rather than up in the middle. All I'm really using the bull for is a big, easy aiming point, with my POI at point of aim right at 6.

    The other thing is I've gone to peep sights on any gun that will take them.

    BTW- My "standard" sight-in is dead on at 75 yards. With my 50 cals and 90 grains of 3f under a ball, it puts me almost an inch high at 50 and about 2-3" low at 100. When I sight in at 100, I get midrange heights of around 3-4 inches, which is problematic since most of my shooting is inside 100.

  7. #7

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    I have found that keeping the loads less than 95 grains is a big key. The other big factor is how often you clean your barrel. I have a knight bighorn and have found that 3F powder works best. The pellets don't ignite evenly-much bigger spread on the chrono. I shoot 495 grain no-excuse conicals well, but I also shoot a buffalo bullets 368 grain sabot round well. Each rifle shoots a little different because the bore size for a .50 cal is different from brand to brand. You may have to try using different ammo types to get good consistency. You want a firm, but not too firm of a seating on the projectile. Once you find a combo that works stick with it. Avoid trying to overload the powder. It will just burn outside of the barrel and create inaccurate loads. 90 grains seems to be a good load for most of my projectiles. Hopes this helps a bit.

  8. #8
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    Gentlemen:
    I use an 8 inch bull for sight-in at 100 yards. (Any rifle with iron sights) a smaller bull, at 50 yds. and smaller yet, 3 inch, at 25 yards. That's what has always worked best for me. I use a 6 OCLOCK HOLD too, and adjust my group to there, also.

    I can't handle those Orange Targets, especially, if the sun is shining. They distort off to the side too much, and that effects my shooting. I like a Black on WHITE, target best because I can see it the best. Sometimes I cut out the bull, and stick it onto a White background. For closer than 25 yards, I make my own targets on White Paper.

    Anyways I does all kind'sa things to make it possible for me to see the target, when I'm sighting in or testing, etc.

    My last time at the range, I was using both 65 grains and 75 grains of 3F. Things didn't go well at all. For example, at 100 yds. with the 8" bull on white, I got a group at the bottom of the bull, so thought my elevation was good for 100 yds. BUT, when I shot at 50 and 25 the balls went HIGH. I figgered that was crazy, either that or RB trajectories are crazy.

    I had flyers, or PP shots from time to time, that didn't help with knowing what the rifle was doing too. I was frustrated two days in a row. I'm interested in knowing what I did wrong, or what the problem could be, or if I should give up shooting, and go into Beeg Foote research.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  9. #9

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    Sounds like you've got the sighting issues well in hand. If the sun would ever shine over here, I'd probably switch away from orange, too!

    If you were sighted in to point of aim at 100 yards with the 65 and 75 grain loads, I'm not surprised you were fairly high at closer ranges, especially at 50. That's why I went up in charge a little, but also sighted in at 75 rather than 100, as I said.

    Basing this on my own 50's (two Lymans and a Perdersoli) plus a friends rifle like yours, long range accuracy and trajectory come into their own in the 80-90 grain range with 3f and 90-100 grain range with 2f. Did yours happen to shoot better with 75 grains than 65 grains at 100 yards? Creeping up a little in charge might tighten the groups.

    I'm assuming your recovered patches are looking pretty good. I find that damaged patch loads shoot pretty good at 25 and even 50, but groups really open up at 75 and 100.

    I'll take a flier and guess that your gun will like the same patch and ball combo as my friend's Mountain rifle and my own 50's, just in case. We've settled on .490 balls and .018 patches but I lube with either my own grease concoction or pure mink oil grease from Track of the Wolf, while one buddy uses factory prelubes and the other is using some liquid- maybe Wonderlube? The bigger issue seems to be getting the ball diameter/patch thickness right more that which particular lube we use. Some guys report more happiness with .495 balls and either .015 or .018 patches, but they're match shooters who think nothing of using a mallet on their short starter to get the ball going. I want a little looser fit for hunting loads without carrying a mallet in my bag!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Sounds like you've got the sighting issues well in hand. If the sun would ever shine over here, I'd probably switch away from orange, too!

    If you were sighted in to point of aim at 100 yards with the 65 and 75 grain loads, I'm not surprised you were fairly high at closer ranges, especially at 50. That's why I went up in charge a little, but also sighted in at 75 rather than 100, as I said.

    Basing this on my own 50's (two Lymans and a Perdersoli) plus a friends rifle like yours, long range accuracy and trajectory come into their own in the 80-90 grain range with 3f and 90-100 grain range with 2f. Did yours happen to shoot better with 75 grains than 65 grains at 100 yards? Creeping up a little in charge might tighten the groups.

    I'm assuming your recovered patches are looking pretty good. I find that damaged patch loads shoot pretty good at 25 and even 50, but groups really open up at 75 and 100.

    I'll take a flier and guess that your gun will like the same patch and ball combo as my friend's Mountain rifle and my own 50's, just in case. We've settled on .490 balls and .018 patches but I lube with either my own grease concoction or pure mink oil grease from Track of the Wolf, while one buddy uses factory prelubes and the other is using some liquid- maybe Wonderlube? The bigger issue seems to be getting the ball diameter/patch thickness right more that which particular lube we use. Some guys report more happiness with .495 balls and either .015 or .018 patches, but they're match shooters who think nothing of using a mallet on their short starter to get the ball going. I want a little looser fit for hunting loads without carrying a mallet in my bag!
    BB:
    I just put down an old Lyman Black Powder Handbook I hadn't looked at for ages. Before today, I didn't find it particulaly helpful.

    It has loads, and also, trajectories. I wasn't expecting so much difference in elevations as the tables show. I perceive, at least a part of my perceived problem right there.

    I can't say for sure if the 75 grains was more accurate, than the 65 grain charges, but they could be. I started the 2nd day using 75 grains thinking that might help at the longer ranges. (Way out to 100 yards.)

    I think I'll have to up my charges to deal with the trajectories, at least when I shoot at 100 yards. I didn't know what a dummy I was on this stuff. I think you're right. What doesn't make much difference, at 25 yards, shows up at 75, and 100 yards.

    I've always used .490 balls. Now, I'm using a patch strip, 100% Cotton, lubed with Lard, that I rendered myself, and cutting them off with a straight razor. I tried some other lubes too. I have some Bear Grease that was given me, and it doesn't work as well as the Lard, as far as shots without cleaning. The patch thickness is a thou, or two, over .015, but I've used .015 pre-cut patches a lot of the time, in the past.

    I think I need to up my charges, sight-in at 75 yds. as you suggest, clean my barrel more often, and work from there. Maybe get my windage at the shorter ranges, and my elevation at 75 and 100 yards, then determine what I've got at 25 and 50 yards.

    I want to be able to shoot at 25, 35, 50, and 100 yards, and know the elevation. I'm not too good a shot, but I want to have the rifle properly sighted in, and know what it's capable of. Most of the matches are fired off-hand. Very, very, seldom, do you get to use a rest, of some sort.

    Thanks Again.
    If you see any Beeg Footes, gimme a holler.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  11. #11

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    Smitty one day a few years back I left our house in the woods on a dead end road and proceeded up the gravel road towards town. Now me being the critter hunter that I am I always notice any new tracks crossing the gravel road, specially after a fresh rain which be the case this time. There they was....the biggest or is it beegist footprints ever I saw. They cut the road at a 90% angle and wandered across a soy bean field that was maybe knee high and were headed towards the woods a quarter mile away. I got out and examined them! These tracks were 3-4 inches longer than my size 10 shoes and were wide and sported 5 toes each. I got behind the seat in the truck and found an old pair of Tasco 10x50's and 10 minutes latter after I got enough crud off the lenses so's I could see through them I started to scan the landscape. There he was 200 yards from the road sleeping in a grass waterway in that thar bean field. He was laying on his side with his back to me. I mighta given the bigfoot thing some consideration sept this big feller had narry a hair on his bare keester and he was wearing a big ole jersey with number 8 on the back of it. Now taking into account the size of the feet prints and something g'pa told me about leaving a sleeping dog lay along with the fact that he weren't on my property I ruled out walking out there for a closer look see. Besides I was gonna be late for work if I iffen I concerned myself with such a trivial matter. So I called the guy that owned the ground and told him that he had a big ole galoot either sleeping or dead in his bean field then I went to work.

    Turns out it was big ole Kirby, a local boy who was loaded with football talent but a little short on judgement. He got kicked out of the NFL for making stuff what made him play better but hadn't been approved by the Food & Drug folks. Ole Kirby was at a party on the tother side of the mile the night before and just sort of wandered off and passed plumb out in that water way. Can't say what happened to his britches and shoes though!

    There Smitty....it's the only beegfoot encounter I've ever had.

    As for your musket. I have had several traditional style muzzleloaders that required an extensive shooting in period before I got confident with them. I once had a TC Renegade 54 cal(straight stocked cheek slapping piece of junk anyway) that really didn't come around until after a couple hundred shots were fired through it. Since that gun I have made a few passes down the bore using fine valve lapping compound on a patch before firing. It seems to speed up the process and since you are fitting the ball to the bore using a patch it isn't like with a centerfire rifle where you have to worry about taking off metal that could be detrimental the bullet fitting the bore! Just my 2 pennies worth!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post

    I've always used .490 balls. Now, I'm using a patch strip, 100% Cotton, lubed with Lard, that I rendered myself, and cutting them off with a straight razor. I tried some other lubes too. I have some Bear Grease that was given me, and it doesn't work as well as the Lard, as far as shots without cleaning. The patch thickness is a thou, or two, over .015, but I've used .015 pre-cut patches a lot of the time, in the past.
    Ha!

    Sounds like you have about as much luck with precision measuring fabric as I do. I use the measure .018 as a matter of convention for pillow ticking, though darned if I can measure it the same from one time to the next.

    That makes me wonder about one thing in your approach, though. Did you run the fabric through the washer and dryer before using it? That get's rid of the "sizing" coating on the new fabric which interferes with the lube in my experience, plus it also tightens up the weave. I wasn't too impressed with ticking after reading so much about it, that is until I went back and "read the fine print" on what folks were saying about washing it.

    One other thing to check out, though it's only come up kind of "sidways" in discussion so far. Some guns simply prefer 2f to 3f. If upping your charges of 3f doesn't work to your satisfaction, you might want to try 2f.

    As for ole Zapata Grande, I worked in the woods in the heart of his NoCal terrain for 5 years back in the early 70's. Never saw a track or a hair, but there was this one night when I heard something.....

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Ha!

    Sounds like you have about as much luck with precision measuring fabric as I do. I use the measure .018 as a matter of convention for pillow ticking, though darned if I can measure it the same from one time to the next.

    That makes me wonder about one thing in your approach, though. Did you run the fabric through the washer and dryer before using it? That get's rid of the "sizing" coating on the new fabric which interferes with the lube in my experience, plus it also tightens up the weave. I wasn't too impressed with ticking after reading so much about it, that is until I went back and "read the fine print" on what folks were saying about washing it.

    One other thing to check out, though it's only come up kind of "sidways" in discussion so far. Some guns simply prefer 2f to 3f. If upping your charges of 3f doesn't work to your satisfaction, you might want to try 2f.

    As for ole Zapata Grande, I worked in the woods in the heart of his NoCal terrain for 5 years back in the early 70's. Never saw a track or a hair, but there was this one night when I heard something.....
    That Monster Quest show sure comes up with a lot of dead ends doesn't it. Spose there could be a monkey walking around in the woods somewhere but until one actually croaks and somebody finds the remains...Im gonna remain cynical concerning such!

    I still have 50 cal balls that I molded long ago. They all have the cut off sprue from the mold. I know some grind that sprue off and claim that it makes a difference in accuracy. I've always just loaded them with the little bump pointing up and never noticed a difference. I have also always used Oxyoke .015 Wonderlube patches or at least since they became available some years ago and load them with the fine side of the material down.

    There are some guys around here that do those black powder side lock shoots and they make a science out of it. I have heard them talking about different pillow ticking and washing it then soaking it in some homemade stuff.

    It's fun to watch those guys shoot just so long as I don't have to try to compete with them! I did that once and finished close to dead last! As long as the deer don't know I suck I'm fine!

  14. #14

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    Ha!

    Kindred spirits, or is that similar skeptics?

    I'm not familiar with Monster Quest, but take that as a sign that I watch about 10 minutes of TV a month if I'm forced to do it. Working in the woods in the heart of big foot country, I certainly had more than average opportunities to find something. I sure ran across a bunch of serious searchers though. I scared a couple of them half do death one time when I appeared suddenly dressed all in black (turns out they were indeed following my size 14's), but that's another story.

    And yeah, the real serious traditional muzzleloader competitors are a phenomenon. I used to hang with one before I moved to Alaska, and I kid you not, he could shoot tighter groups offhand than I could with his rifles and his loads from the bench. Yet he managed to win very few matches!!!!! Downright spooky to watch.

    Good thing deer are so obliging about jumping in front of my bullets, I think!

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    BB:
    Some I washed, and some I didn't. I'll make sure it all gets washed in the future. The stuff I have doesn't have stripes, but I have some with stripes too. Both are plenty strong. I saved some thick 100% Cotton from worn out britches but that wasn't strong enough. Those patches got holes in'em.

    A few of the guys that I shoot with are very good, and some pretty good. The rest of us know enough to make the gun go off almost every time.

    Well you know, that with a rifle that isn't sighted-in right, the Poor Shot has a better chance of hitting the target, than the good shot.

    He'll shoot all over the place, and might get one in the bull, but the Good Shot guy, will miss every time.

    Nonetheless, I always try to get my rifle sighted in correctly, although I might be better off if I didn't.

    I shall endeavor to perservere. I AM, gonna start using my Nother Gun. It doesn't have a Set Trigger, but it has deep rifling grooves. The Mountain Rifle has shallow grooves.

    I'm considering a New Rifle, but I can't decide on which one to buy. I like the Hawken Types because they have hooked breech, but they're heavy, and sometimes the barrels are short.

    I like the PA/Kaintucky kinds, but I'm concerned about cleaning them when the barrel doesn't come out of the stock for cleaning.

    I don't know which way to jump.

    EKC:
    I've never even seen a Beeg Foote, but one of'em could have seen me. Maybe not though. I think they must live wayyyy, back in the boosh. Which BTW, seems like a good idea sometimes.

    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  16. #16

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    You know if I ever did see one of them Sasquatch guys I'd never tell a soul! I really don't want to line up with that crowd!

    Smitty, A TC White Mountain Carbine barrel will fit right on a Hawken and they are only 21 inches long or you can cut the 28 incher down and recrown it. I even refiled a dovetail for the front sight once!

    I know Cabelas used to sell a Hawken Carbine that looked real handy!

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post

    I'm considering a New Rifle, but I can't decide on which one to buy. I like the Hawken Types because they have hooked breech, but they're heavy, and sometimes the barrels are short.
    I like the various TC rifles I have (two Hawkens, a New Englander, Big Boar and Renegade), but I've got prominent cheek bones, and every single style whacks the snot out of my face due to their high combs. Still shoot them, but I gotta whine a little, too.

    Another line with the hooked breech is the Lyman. Not a true "Hawken" any more than the TC, but closer to a general "Plains" rifle than a lot of others on the market. With its 32" barrel, the Great Plains Rifle balances well, especially the 54 cal for my tastes. It's easily a half pound lighter than the 50 cal of the same model too. And accrurate? Holy cow! I built a kit and really trimmed the wood down, and it's even better. My wife has a 54 Deerstalker, and is it ever a shooter. She didn't want the extra barrel length and weight, and the way she shoots it will make a believer out of you. No experience with their Traade rifle, but barrel-wise it's a "tweener" between the two.

    Best of all, all of them accept the TC Hunter peep sight with no drilling and tapping. That's great for my old eyes!

  18. #18
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    Well, the Lyman Great Plains, is one of the ones I'm considering. Also their trade rifle. But It is purty hefty. So is the Thompson Center Hawken. I'm looking for long barrel and light weight, if I can find the right combination.

    I want a traditional lookin gun, and not something with a shootgun stock. I can't abide In-Lines, either.

    I also want a long barrel so the front sight is far enough away from my eye, that my seeing double isn't so bad.

    I guess I'll stay with 50 Caliber, especially if I go with a Kentucky rifle.

    Meanwhile, I plan to work with my CVA Frontier rifle, even if the barrel is short.

    I may go with a Traditions Hawken. I got a Traditions Trapper, Single Shot percussion pistol a while back and it's a dandy. Looks well made to me.

    Thanks for the Info.
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

  19. #19

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    I'm not personally acquainted with any "Kentucky" style that also has a hooked breech. My own Pedersoli Frontier is a dandy for balance and light weight- It's identical to the Cabelas Blue Ridge in fact. It's got a 39" barrel, but no hooked breach, and in 50 cal it is comparatively light. You have to go about cleaning a little differently than with a hooked breech, but it's still possible and reasonable to do a good job without pulling the barrel from the stock.

    I've got a Green River Rifle Works 58 cal Hawken (not made since the 70's) that's a true marvel for looks and function, but it's a tank. It has a 36" barrel, but weighs a whopping 12 pounds.

    I find that with the TC Hunter Peep on a rifle, barrel length is a lot less of an issue for aging eyes. It's tiny and doesn't obstruct like the bigger Lyman peep. My wife's Lyman Deerstalker 54 only has a 24" barrel if I recall right, but the front sight is easy through the peep, even if I couldn't see it before putting on the peep. I've got a custom 58 cal rebarrel of the TC Hawken that's 26" and it's the same way.

    If peeps don't bother you much for "authenticity" selecting a model that is compatible with it lets you pretty much ignore the barrel length/sighting issue and concentrate on weight and balance. My Perdersoli Frontier's 39" barrel pretty well take care of that, though I don't see the sights as well as I do with a peep.

    It might help you a lot to find a shop that had a selection of guns for you to handle, but I'm not sure one exists in Alaska. Sportsman's used to carry several different traditional models, but the offerings were real slim last time I was there.

  20. #20
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    BB:
    Yeah, it seems that the hooked breeches are on the Hawkens, and not the Kentuckys.

    As to peep sights, I have a lyman Receiver Sight and a wide post combo, on my short barreled Mdl 94, 30-30. My problem is that I see double. (Two front sights) and the closer to my eye, the more pronounced the problem.

    Peep sights don't offer much in improvement for me. I prefer a rear sight with a notch wide enough that I can see space on both sides, and a front sight that is far enough away from my eye so I'm not so bothered by seeing a double image, the one being out of focus.

    I'm starting to have problems with my Scoped rifles too, seeing double crosshairs. Sometimes, it get discouraging, and I think about giving up shooting, at least the matches.

    On the ML, I'll probably go with a kentucky, unless I can find a lighter weight Hawken with a long barrel. But, I want to give my Nother Gun a good try before I seriously look for another boom stick.

    Thanks for your help.
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
    Has it ever occurred to you, that Nothing ever occurs to God? Adrien Rodgers.
    You can't out-give God.

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