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Thread: New to these guns, don't know where to start

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    New to these guns, don't know where to start

    I'd like to try shooting a gun I recently acquired, but I'm not sure where to start. All my experience with muzzleloaders so far is with patched round balls. I have no experience with conical bullets, or with casting.

    It's a .58 Armi-Sport 1853 3-band Enfield, three groove. A check with the cleaning rod showed a 1:48 twist. It has the flip-up ladder sight graduated to 1100 yards (yeah, sure). The longest range I have access to is 200 yards, but after I've done that for a while, I'd like to go a little farther, maybe 300 or 400, but I'd have to find a place out in the boonies for that. 200 is my limit for now, but I have a feeling that will be plenty for a while. I'd like to see what kind of accuracy I can get out of this gun.

    I got it used at a pawn shop in very good condition, the bore is pristine. It has a Spitfire nipple, and I have a tin of RWS musket caps for it. I read an article in one of the current gun magazines about slugging the bore with melted wax instead of lead, so I tried that (I don't have the means to do it with lead), but I couldn't get accurate measurements from it with my caliper. The factory specs say it's a .580" bore with .004" grooves. I tried taking a measurement inside the muzzle with the caliper and I actually got a solid reading of .580"; couldn't get that with the wax slug. But I don't know if that's really an accurate measurement.

    I have a bag of 50 bullets from Track of the Wolf someone gave me, they're two-groove, 530 grain, hollow base .577" Enfield bullets, I think cast from the Lyman 577611 mould. I measured a few of the bases and got different readings, but they seemed to average .577". I tried a couple in the muzzle for fit and they feel like they'll go down with a little resistance. I'm posting all this info because I've heard the fit of the bullet is critical to accuracy, but I don't know how, so I figured these details would be important. Is it supposed to be a tight fit? Loose?

    I'd like to start casting my own bullets for this gun, but I don't know how to decide which bullet mould I will need. Someone said you need a bullet sizer to do any accurate shooting. What exactly is a bullet sizer, and where do I get one?

    I'm thinking about ordering a 20 lb. Lee Production Pot IV, because I heard it's big enough to use with a ladle or with the bottom pour spout and I thought it would be good to have both options available (unless someone can recommend a better one that won't break the bank). I'm currently investigating several sources of lead. Should I also get a scale to help determine if any bullets have voids in them?

    I'm down to a couple of cans of GOEX, I'll have to order another case soon. I've found a couple of places that have decent prices. I should use 2F in this gun, right? What other equipment will I need?

    Sorry for all the questions at once, but this is new territory for me, and it seems a bit more complex than the old roundball.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    norfolk, va
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    2
    Boy did you just open a great big can of worms, bout the only thig you forgot to mention was (dare i say it ? yes i will) LUBE !!!!! (here we go again). every question you asked can and probley will be answered by members of this forum (i'll bet in several different ways on every point :wink: . the only advice i'll give you is to listen to what everybody says then take little pieces of that knowledge and figure out for your self what works the best for you and your individual gun.

    and rember the most important part HAVE FUN DOIN IT
    michael a smith
    7611v
    Tuckers Naval Brigade
    norfolk, va.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Oh, yeah. I forgot lube...


    Green

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    nooobie

    Russ,
    Welcome to the FAQ of all FAQ.

    Truth is you are asking in the one forum where eventually you will find the information and suggestions to get it going.

    Bore: .580 sounds close enough to start.

    Bullet: Lyman 575213NS is an option, Wilkerson MkII from North East Trader is another.

    Sizing: Recommend you try with the .577 to start as your bore might not be ,580, but .579. Jerry Harman (check postings for address) makes good ones. For target accuracy, sizing the bullet .001-.002 below the bore size is the practice.

    Powder: FFg, FFFg charge 40gr-50gr for 50/100yd 50gr-60gr for 200yd

    LUBE!!!: best advice here is to follow Lefty's postings per the Big Dummy as found by a search of the postings.

    The Lee pot is a fair size to start with. Properly cast bullets will normally not have voids, but will vary slightly in weight as the mould heats and cools in use. A scale will allow you to sort by weight for consistency at longer ranges.

    Lead: closer to pure the better.

    Take care and be safe
    pfb

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    SE Michigan
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    Region:
    Northwest Territory - Michigan, Ohio and Indiana

    Re: nooobie

    Quote Originally Posted by paul w/McGregor's 385V
    Russ,
    Welcome to the FAQ of all FAQ.

    Truth is you are asking in the one forum where eventually you will find the information and suggestions to get it going.

    Bore: .580 sounds close enough to start.

    Bullet: Lyman 575213NS is an option, Wilkerson MkII from North East Trader is another.

    Sizing: Recommend you try with the .577 to start as your bore might not be ,580, but .579. Jerry Harman (check postings for address) makes good ones. For target accuracy, sizing the bullet .001-.002 below the bore size is the practice.

    Powder: FFg, FFFg charge 40gr-50gr for 50/100yd 50gr-60gr for 200yd

    LUBE!!!: best advice here is to follow Lefty's postings per the Big Dummy as found by a search of the postings.

    The Lee pot is a fair size to start with. Properly cast bullets will normally not have voids, but will vary slightly in weight as the mould heats and cools in use. A scale will allow you to sort by weight for consistency at longer ranges.

    Lead: closer to pure the better.

    Take care and be safe
    pfb
    Lyman, RCBS and a few other makers make molds of different styles of minnie balls. I use a Lyman 315 grn wad cutter which is nice and light and does not waste as much lead as the heavier bullets, but we are only shooting at 50 and 100 yards for competition. If you are trying at 200+ yards, you might find a heavier longer bulllet stablizes better over long ranges.

    As paul mentioned, there are several people who make the sizing dies for the bullets. You can either buy a push through kind, which is basicaly a hollow donut with the ID machined to the size you want, and you drive the bullet through. You then must lube in a seperate operation.

    If you have or aquire a Lyman or RCBS lubrisizer, it is basically a press that you put the sizing dies in, and it not only sizes the bullet, but with the crank of a handle lubes the bullet as well. Much faster and more efficient if you have a lot of bullets to do. Paul mentioned Jerry Harmon, but Jerry sold his equipment and no longer makes dies. The guy who took over is Ray Smith, but I cannot find his contact info right now.
    If you want a die from him, you call him, tell him what diameter you want, and what type of bullet it is for.

    As for lubes, lubes for modern bullets are much harder than black powder guns normally like. If you are shooting just a few shots between cleaning, I have not found much difference, but if you are shooting many shots between cleaning, it can matter. You'll want something softer than modern lubes, but not runny on warm days. If you have to use a heater plate on your lubrisizer (assuming you buy one) the lube is probably too hard for black powder.
    In my guns, proper bullet diamter and consistant bullet seating have been the biggest factors in accuracy. Too small, and the bullet does not expand enough to grip the rifleing, too big and you need 3 men and a small boy to drive it down. As mentioned, the lead must be pure or damn close or the bullet skirt will not expand properly either.

    I have a 20 lb lee pot, and the only complaint I have is that it leaks, and requires constant fiddleing with the valve pin to stop it. I have been splashed countless times in the face by dripping lead, so wear eye protection. It hurts too. I also have the smaller pot, the one with the angled valve pin, and it does not seem to leak, but I have an older one which required modification to provide enough clearance under the pot for a mold with a base plug. Newer ones may have more clearance.

    Good luck, and remember it is fun. Sometimes with rifle muskets you need to keep repeating that to yourself.
    Always do what you always done and you'll always get what you always got.

    I have found some have many years experience, and some have one year of experience many times.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    If you're going to mould Minie balls, don't bother with a bottom pour pot. Just get a ladle...you'll end up using one eventually.
    Support the USIMLT! Help your fellow Skirmishers go for the gold! www.usimlt.com

  7. #7
    Muley Gil is offline
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    I have used an electric pot, but prefer a simple lead pot, heated by a camp stove, and a ladle.

    Uless you intend to cast a lot of bullets, the hand sizing dies are much less expensive and take up less room.
    Gil Davis Tercenio
    # 3020V
    34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
    Great, great grandson of Cpl Elijah S Davis, Co I, 6th Alabama Inf CSA

  8. #8
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    Russ, If you can get down to Northern Calif sometime, you might want to visit one of the skirmishes of the Blue-Gray Skirmish Assn to ask questions and see how it's done. Their website for more info is http://blue-gray.us/. Scan down and click on Events for their schedule. Looks like they will have a skirmish at their Camp Sixbits range, downhill from Sonora, next weekend.
    14th Miss Inf Rgt, CSA/N-SSA, NRA Life Mbr, no longer shooting

  9. #9
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    May 2009
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    Re: nooobie

    Can someone post a link to a sizer I would need? I've checked the websites for Lee, Lyman, RCBS, and Midway, but I can't find any sizers larger than .512.


    Quote Originally Posted by paul w/McGregor's 385V
    Bullet: Lyman 575213NS is an option...
    How do I know the bullet's diameter? Is it the first three numbers, .575?

  10. #10
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    Re: nooobie

    [quote=Russ E]Can someone post a link to a sizer I would need? I've checked the websites for Lee, Lyman, RCBS, and Midway, but I can't find any sizers larger than .512.


    Quote Originally Posted by "paul w/McGregor's 385V":2o0c84fw
    Bullet: Lyman 575213NS is an option...
    How do I know the bullet's diameter? Is it the first three numbers, .575?[/quote:2o0c84fw]

    The sizers you are looking at on those sites are just sizing dies. You would need to buy the lubrisizer to use them. They only go up to .512 or there about from those sources. As we said, you would need to contact a custom maker like Ray Smith to have one made for a larger size.

    IF you want the push through kind, there are vendors that make them, but I dont have any contact info handy. Ray might also make those too, I dont know. The volume of bullets I size and lube a push through would be a PITA.
    As far as casting, I find the ladle a pain. The reason so many like it is that the pour is slower, which makes it easier for air to escape reducing voids. If you use a bottom pour, you have to be more careful and develop a technique to avoid the void. Again, the number I do, I use a bottom pour and dont' get many voids, but I have a system. I do have to throw a few back, but the number I can cast in an hour vs the number I throw back is well worth it.
    Always do what you always done and you'll always get what you always got.

    I have found some have many years experience, and some have one year of experience many times.

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