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Thread: Range Report: Shooting the Pedersoli P53 with RCBS-500M, Moose Wilkinson, and RCBS Hodgdon

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    Range Report: Shooting the Pedersoli P53 with RCBS-500M, Moose Wilkinson, and RCBS Hodgdon

    Cabela's had a great sale over the holidays so Santa brought me one of the new Pedersoli P1853 Enfields. I took it to the range today and ran it through its paces with load work-ups for three different kinds of bullet:


    • .578 RCBS Hodgdon (skirmisher bullet)
    • RCBS 500M
    • .580 Moose Wilkinson


    Like my P58 Pedersoli, the best fit was achieved with a bullet sized to .578, so all bullets were sized to that value.

    All bullets were shot at 50 yards, using 3F Goex powder. Weather was in the low 40s, no wind. All shooting was done from a bench rest while seated at the bench. All bullets were weighed, with any falling outside of +/- .5% of average being discarded. Powder charge was calibrated with RCBS Chargemaster and then dropped using the Lee Perfect Powder Measure.

    I shot this rifle with the factory sites "as is", with the rear leaf in its lowest position. I held as deep a hold in the rear sight V as I could and still see the top of the front sight post. I held a 6 o'clock hold on the target. Even so, at 50 yards the gun shoots at least 7 inches high. Here was my sight picture:



    The RCBS Hodgdon Bullet
    First I tried the bullet that I normally use in my Euroarms P53 with custom Whitacre barrel, the RCBS Hodgdon.

    http://imgur.com/a/kyPcR

    I fired strings of 10 shots, cleaning between each string. I had strings with 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55, of powder. Lube was 50/50 Crisco/Beeswax with a bit of vegetable oil.

    There are only 9 shots in the 35 grain group, as I had one squib load (no powder) that I had to discharge via CO2.

    The group achieved its best performance at 50 grains of powder. But the 45 grain group was also excellent with 6 out of 10 shots touching.

    This is similar to my Euroarms P53 with Whitacre barrel, in that I get the best groups with 46 grains of powder. But with my Whitacre, all shots touch when shot from a bench.

    The Moose Wilkinson Bullet
    Next I tried the .580 Moose Wilkinson. I really want to make this bullet work. The mold is wonderful. It is a double-cavity mold, and so really cranks out the bullets. It always fills flawlessly, with no voids. Being the Wilkinson style, there is no hollow base since it uses compression rather than expansion to obdurate and take up the rifling. Unfortunately despite numerous work-up attempts with different guns I cannot make it perform as well as the RCBS Hodgdon does for me. The Pedersoli P53 was no exception. I shot strings of 35, 40, 45, 50, and 55 grains of powder.

    http://imgur.com/a/UktxZ

    As before, I fired strings of 10 shots, cleaning between each string. These bullets had been sized to .578, then dip-lubed in SPG lube.

    The 45 grain group showed promise, with 2 very close clusters of touching holes, but 2 fliers killed the group average. The best average was 35 grains with an Average to center of 1.314 inches. But the 45 grain group would have the best ATC if you discount the fliers. Still, none of the groups best what I can do with the RCBS-Hodgdon, so I still look longingly at these bullets wishing I could find a way to use them in competition.

    I will say, however, that the Wilkinson consistently shot the closest to the point of aim of any of the bullets I tried today.

    The RCBS 500M Bullet
    Lastly I tried the RCBS 500M. This is a traditional-style minie ball with a rather thick skirt. As such it usually takes an above-average charge to get good results with it. I can get very good results with this bullet with my Whitacre P53, but with the Pedersoli P53, I could get nothing out of it at any charge. I was running out of daylight and percussion caps, so I limited my test to only 5 shots per charge. I shot strings of 40, 45, 50, 55, and 60 grains of powder.

    http://imgur.com/a/QK7xh

    40 grains produced a terrible group with possible keyholing.
    45 grains actually did OK, with 3 shots in the 4" black and one 10X, but not a very good group, and possible keyholing again with 2 fliers.
    50 grains showed some promise, but a single flier wrecked the group.
    55 grains was terrible - I could not even find 2 shots.
    60 grains did the best, with 2 shots in nearly the same hole.

    Conclusion
    The new Pedersoli P53 Enfield is a beautiful gun. Fit and finish is excellent, and all the new attention to the details of making a correct Civil War-appropriate Type III Enfield reproduction are very nice. The gun's authentic weight is noticeably lighter than my Euroarms P53.

    Unfortunately, as it stands right now I can't see displacing my current Euroarms P53 with custom Whitacre barrel for competition. Part of the problem may lie with the factory sights. As they are even with the deepest V I can hold the gun shoots several inches high. I find it hard to make my eyes focus on the target properly when the tip of the front sight blade is so deep in the rear V. It's possible that with a taller front sight I could get a clearer sight picture and get tighter groups. I kind of wanted to leave the sights alone for possibly shooting in the new "Traditional Musket" matches. Also, to be fair, my Euroarms/Whitacre gun is glass bedded.

    I have to note that fouling seemed low for all bullets. I have heard it said that Pedersoli's button rifling, which uses a broach with buttons that displace metal in the bore rather than cut it away, results in very smooth grooves that resist fouling. I do not know if this is so, but I found that the barrel was easy to clean and did not produce much fouling, even with the Wilkinson bullet which carries little lube and has caused me fouling problems before. I believe I could have shot 20 or more shots without cleaning. There was never a hint of fouling resistence during loading.

    Steve

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    tackdriver is offline
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    minie failure

    Steve,'

    Thanks for showing this. As you've seen in some of my previous threads, I seem to have had too high of expectations for my shots with minie balls (Lyman mould). Our 50 yard results appear about the same. The Wilkensons are much better for me too. I'll try looking for a "cheap" RCBS to try that one too!

    So. When are you going to show the results for 100 yards?

    Steve.

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    Well, unfortunately we had crappy weather for the entire two weeks I had off except for last Wednesday and Thursday. I spent both days at the range for about 5 hours, but all I got down was 80 shots of load workup for the 1842 at 25 yards on Wednesday and then the workups for the three different bullets from the Pedersoli P53 on Thursday at 50 yards.

    Next time I get to the range it will be some 100 yard work with the rifle and 50 with the smoothy.

    Steve

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    Lou Lou Lou is offline
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    Steve I measured the new skirt on the RCBS 500- Seems to be in the .055 range at the last ring
    Lou Lou Lou Ruggiero
    Tammany Regt-42nd NYVI

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    Smosin is offline
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    Thanks for the shooting results, this is great info. I don't have a big variety of moulds, so this helps tremendously.
    My best accuracy from my 1853 Pedersoli, so far, has been with Lyman NS sized to .576" and fired with 60 grains of Goex 3Fg. Along with that, the same bullet run thru a .568" sizer, then shot paperpatched (a la Pritchett bullet) is also very accurate with the same powder charge. I tried shooting that Lyman N/S 400 grain SWC minié with 40-45 grains of 3Fg with poor results, although it shoots well in my other repro rifles.
    Rifle shoots to point of aim with issue sights, but as you say, that front sight is very small.
    That Pedersoli barrel stays much cleaner overall than my PH P53 rifle with progressive depth rifling.

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    Rifle shoots to point of aim with issue sights, but as you say, that front sight is very small.
    Hi Smosin - shoots to point of aim at what distance?

    That Pedersoli barrel stays much cleaner overall than my PH P53 rifle with progressive depth rifling.
    I find that the Pedersoli barrel seems to stay cleaner than my Whitacre barrel with progressive depth rifling.

    Steve

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    Steve I measured the new skirt on the RCBS 500- Seems to be in the .055 range at the last ring
    Hi Lou, thanks for the info. Mine as-cast from the stock RCBS 500 mold and pin is measuring about .080.

    Steve

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    Lou Lou Lou is offline
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    You can start at 50-55 and make it thicker if needed by machining off more metal.
    Lou Lou Lou Ruggiero
    Tammany Regt-42nd NYVI

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    Smosin is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maillemaker View Post
    Hi Smosin - shoots to point of aim at what distance?


    Steve

    Steve, I am hitting the center black of high power SR21 targets at 100 yards (from the bench) with the Pedersoli, sight setting at 100 (lowest), 6 o'clock hold... This works for me at 50 yards as well, holding the front sight a bit higher. At any rate, the rifle is dead on for windage most of the time, and any deviations result from operator error, (a frequent occurrence, I might add)not the rifle. The same sight picture works from standing for me as well, and is much more comfortable than bench resting it. Group sizes are a bit larger, though, if you know what I mean.
    FWIW, I had to replace both front sights on my PH Enfields, a P53 and a P61, in order to hit anything at all, although now, both shoot pretty well.
    I am very pleased with the Pedersoli, and have fired perhaps a few hundred miniés in it over the last couple of years.

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    devisser is offline
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    RCBS Hog mold

    Question: Were you guys using the original RCBS mold or the new improved mold with a deeper cavity ? I replaced the "Plug" with a deeper Plug and improved the results in both my 2nd gen Parker-Hale (bullet sized to .578) and my original Springfield with a relined barrel sized to .576. Both guns shoot better then I can see. My best load was using 45gr. 3f Goex. I did not have good results using the original designed mold unless I added more powder.
    "Using the Past to Promote the Future"

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