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Thread: Zeroing process?

  1. #1
    Flatlander35 is offline
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    Zeroing process?

    Good evening,

    So I was able to cast up a few hundred minie balls and hopefully within a week I will get out to the range and fire my "new" musket for the first time. I have a few questions. Is it advisable to fire a fouling shot before the first string of five shots? I figure, I'll start my charges low and increase by .5 grains each time to see what groups the tightest in my rifle. After each string of five, do most people run a few patches of Ballistiol or other cleaner/water through the bore to wipe it out? If so, I assume another fouling shot before the next string of fire?

    I'm probably overthinking things, as with my Zouave I can put 80 shots through it before it actually needing to clean the bore but want to be thorough and I don't have enough experience with these to know the best way to do things.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    hawkeye2 is offline
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    Fire a fouling shot if it makes you feel comfortable, some guns need one , some don't. You'll probably find out if you need one before you've fired many groups. I noticed you said .5 grain increase per group, you'll die of old age if you do that long before you find the ideal load, hope you added a decimal point where it wasn't wanted. I usually go with 5 grain increments and when I find my group opening up again I go back to the next to last and increase slowly. If the group diminishes as I approach 45 grains and then begins to open up after 50 grains then I go back and try charges between those two limits till I get what I'm looking for. Remember the only thing that should change between 5 shot groups is the weight of powder and absolutely nothing else. I start each 5 shot group with a clean bore.

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    I do similar, but usually in 2 grain increments, then 1 grain increments the second time around, going above and below the best group from the first batch. I normally load 5 rounds of 5 different charges, mainly because I use those plastic cartridge boxes that hold 25 rounds. I seldom go to .5 grain increments on black powder, but you could if you wanted. I do not fire fouling shots and I do clean between each 5 round string. I say "clean". I don't clean like I would before putting it away, but I put a couple of wet patches down the bore. If it's getting clean after the second one, I'll run a dry one to get the moisture out and move on. I find that with Swiss powder and only 5 shots, this is usually sufficient. If the second one is still black, I use a third or fourth until I see it cleaning up, then a dry one, but this is seldom needed.

  4. #4
    John Bly is offline
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    Shoot your first shot on paper and then you'll know what your musket does on a cold clean bore. This is important. How many times do you miss your 1st target than start hitting? Shoot until your musket needs cleaning. I shoot an entire skirmish without cleaning mine until the end. I used to clean after every event but found that many times I missed the first shot on the next relay. Now if I miss I know it is my fault. You'll know when to clean when a bullet hits a tight spot about 5"-6" down from the muzzle when loading.

    Use 5 grain increments to find the 1st sweet spot then go 2 grains over and under to refine the sweet spot. Then 1 grain increments for the final load. Good luck to you.

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    I don't fire a fouling shot.

    When doing load workups I make up groups of 5 shots of each charge weight. I increase charge weights by 5 grains between groups.

    When doing load workups, I clean the bore in between every charge group (5 shots), so that each group starts out with the same bore condition.

    In competition, I usually clean in between relays.

    I know some people do not clean between relays.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon
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  6. #6
    Kevin Tinny is offline
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    Hello, Flatlander:

    There are many Threads here that include helpful, proven detail.

    Here are some tips, please:
    The OD of your minie should be enough to prevent gas cutting and tipped target holes. If any tipping, step-up OD in .001" increments. Check for tipping at all distances and slightly beyond the longest.
    There are many good lubes that allow shooting a full event of 50 plus rounds with cleaning only afterwards.
    Use PURE lead, not mystery metal.
    Weigh your Minie's, and use those within a spread of 2 grains. Watch the weight tolerance of your scale. Cheap digital ones can have a couple grains tolerance with heavy Minie's. Weigh the same one three times to see the spread.
    Confirm your final accuracy load on separate trips to the range.
    Beware of wiggly benches and bad holding that can mask an otherwise good load. Most prefer a CONSISTENT, moderate to firm hold against the rifle.
    A heavy trigger pull can be a distraction.
    Please keep us posted on your progress.
    Smiles.
    Kevin Tinny

  7. #7
    Muley Gil is offline
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    You aren't actually zeroing your musket, you're trying to find the most accurate load. Once you find that load, then you adjust the sights so that the most accurate load hits where you aim it.
    Gil Davis Tercenio
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    34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
    Great, great grandson of Cpl Elijah S Davis, Co I, 6th Alabama Inf CSA

  8. #8
    PoorJack is offline
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    You didn't mention the size of the bore of your musket. Without knowing that for sure and sizing the minies accordingly, you're wasting time and powder unless you're in that happy spot where the mold drops at the perfect size.

    Maybe I'm the odd man out here, but I use a 3gr increment. With a 5gr increment, it's possible to miss a node entirely while 3 will show a node right away and you can dial in from there. Once you've gotten the charge right, then there are other variables to work with to fine tune even further.
    "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition"
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  9. #9
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    Here is an example of a load workup with 2-grain increments I did:



    This may indicate how a gun might have more than one "sweet spot". Ideally you should duplicate the test multiple times to confirm it.
    Steve Sheldon
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    4th Louisiana Delta Rifles
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  10. #10
    SLevitsky is offline
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    I usually do not fire a fouling shot. I start with 46 grains usually loading up 10 rounds and do a 2 grain increment with 48 and 50 grains respectively. I will bench the gun to find the best possible group. Once you find a group,no matter where it may be(you can sight in the gun later). Say 48 grains was your best group, I then load up 47 and 49 grains to find that sweet spot. Shooting 10 rounds instead of 5 will give you a better idea of how a bullet will group. Just my humble opinion.

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