Friday, July 31, 2020

Colorado: Legal Muzzleloader Projectile Choices

Picking the right and LEGAL projectile for your Colorado Big Game Hunt

Rather than give a long article stating which bullet is better, why, ballistics I am going to simplify it down to what down right works on big game and what bullet weight I would recommend and a max powder charge.

Not all projectiles are created equally and do have their limitations due to bullet design ( Hollow Point ), rifling twist, and alloy used.

We'll start off with the easiest projectile one could possible ever choose.

This projectile is the Patched Round Ball.

That's right, a simple round piece of lead wrapped in a .015 - .018 or .020" patch depending on the muzzleloader brand you are using. In Colorado, the minimum caliber when using patched round ball for Elk & Moose, is .54cal. This will be a .530" to .535" round ball. 
For Deer, Bear, Antelope you can use a .50cal patched round ball, legally. Minimum bullet weight in Colorado is 170 grains. A .490" round ball weighs 177 grains, so you are 7 grains in the clear. A patched round ball is not a projectile to underestimate when hunting big game! If you are shoot a .40cal or .45cal muzzleloader, you will obviously have to use a conical bullet in order to meet legal requirements.

If you do plan on using a Patched Round Ball, the recommended rifling twist is 1:48 and SLOWER. All of my Traditional Muzzleloaders have a 1:48 twist and my Kentucky flintlock has a slower 1:66 which can handle a 110gr 3fg black powder charge with no problem. I'd recommend starting with a 70gr 2fg or 3fg charge and see how that works as far as accuracy goes. I've dropped many elk and mule deer with my standard 70gr 3fg charge and they do not go far with a solid lung or heart hit.

Next we'll look at the most popular or easily found projectile you'll find at 99% of the hunting stores you walk into...

Powerbelt Bullets
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32 - 1:38 & 1:48
Left: Aerotip - Middle: Platinum - Right: Aerolite

Powrebelts, while they are a great shooting bullet, come with a very design flaw. That Flaw? Soft pure lead, a thin copper plating and greatly oversized Hollow Point that causes them to pan cake to the thickness of a quarter, IF, that bullet even holds together.

This is the #1 projectile that has the most limits on bullet weigh & power charge.

Starting with the lighter and more common 245 to 295gr Powerbelt Aerotip ( Green or Yellow tip depending on caliber ) These bullets are easily the scariest to use on big game, especially when shooting charges of 100 grains or more. I would never recommend more than 80 grains black powder or equivalent. Using to much powder with these bullets oftens results in very limited penetration into the vitals or not at all if you are a heavy bone shooter.

Recommended Powerbelt Aerotip for Elk - Moose and Big Bear:
348 - 405 - 444 Aerotip - Hollow Point & Flat Point

Max Recommended Loads for best killing performance: 90gr 2fg for the lightest. Once you get to the 405 and especially the boss hoss 444 flat point, don't even worry about having to use more than 100gr charges.

Remember, the old buffalo hunters of the day often used a 405gr projectile, propelled by 70gr black powder. Slow, BIG hunks of lead kill better than light weight bullets that fragment when they hit bone.

Powerbelt Aerolite
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32 - 1:38 & 1:48

This bullet was a huge favorite of mine when I used them in the field. They are made for deer size game ( Not elk or moose ) due to their new updated design to open up quickly and create a huge entrance hole while pushing bone & lead throughout the organs of the animal. We've tested them with outstanding results using 100gr Blackhorn209 on mule deer as close as 30 yards and ended up with One main bullet exit wound, and 3 rib exit wounds.

Available in 250 & 300 grain .50cal

These bullets were also designed for a standard 100 grain charge.

Powerbelt Platinum
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32 - 1:38 & 1:48

Now we are getting to the best Powerbelt have ever put out that actually holds together and penetrates deeply without over expanding and coming apart. The Powerbelt Platinum uses a much smaller hollow point, roughly the diameter of a toothpick. This allows the pure lead, copper wash plated bullet to expand, yet keeps it from over expanding like its sister,the Aerotip.

The Platinum is offered in three variety of bullet weights to meet your big game needs:
270 - 300  & 338

Recommended Power Charges : 90gr 2f for the lighest, 110gr 2fg for the heaviest. The 338gr Platinum is a stellar big game bullet and can handle even up to 110gr Blackhorn209 on big boned elk.

If I were going to be elk hunting, the 338gr Powerbelt Platinum with 100gr 2fg would be my choice.

Hornady FPB
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32 - 1:38 & 1:48

Hornady® FPB™ Muzzleloader Bullets are a full bore conical, a true .50 caliber bullet for use without a sabot.  Featuring a copper jacket and streamlined profile that eliminates the need for a sabot, these bullets make loading a breeze. Clean, convenient, and spot-on accurate, these 300 or 350 grain bullets are engineered to work flawlessly in all .50 caliber muzzleloaders. Hornady® FPB™ bullets feature Hornady® Flex Tip® technology for streamlined and aerodynamic function that maximizes bullet ballistics by compressing upon impact to deliver rapid expansion.

Upon impact, the Hornady FPB's flexible elastomer tip compresses into the nose of the bullet causing violent expansion at impact velocities from 800 to 2000 fps, creating extraordinary transfer of energy for quick, efficient kills and minimal tracking, if any. The Hornady® FPB™ 300 grain bullets are easy to load, deliver surgical-like accuracy and consistent, devastating performance. Why would you shoot anything else? The Hornady® FPB Muzzleloader Bullets come in a package of 15.

Now this is a projectile I never really spent a whole lot of time on, and the #1 reason behind that is... They are a friggin SOB to load! The FPB is a hard lead alloy with a thin copper wash coating on them to prevent lead fouling in the bore. If you're  not shooting Blackhorn209, you better swab between shots, otherwise, you'll end up with one of these bullets stuck a few inches down the bore. I know Hornady advertises that they are easy to load, but when you break out in a sweat and your palm is sore after reloading a couple shots... It is simply unreal. Your mileage may vary!

Pros - Cons?

Pros: Shoot them with what ever powder charge you can safely shoot in your gun without fear of them exploding on impact.

Cons? Super hard loading in all of my muzzleloaders. 

A strong, sturdy short starter is highly recommended with these bullets in order to get them started into the muzzle. DO NOT FORGET IT AT CAMP WHILE HUNTING!

Hornady Great Plains Bullets
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32 - 1:38 & 1:48

If you want something cheap, easy to find and extremely accuracy, the Hornady Great Plains Bullet is a fantastic Do - All Big Game Projectile. Available in pure lead, 385 grains and a small hollow point, these bullets has shot amazing out of almost every rifle I have tried them in. Rifling twist of 1:28 to 1:48 have always grouped 2" or less at 100 yards with open sights. My best shooting load was with a Winchester X-150, 80gr Pyrodex RS and a 3 shot group that measured 5/8" center to center. Deer, Elk, Antelope, Bear... they don't stand a chance.

Now, because this bullet is soft pure lead, we do have a powder charge limit in order to control over expansion. I'd set a 90gr 2fg charge limit for this bullet from my experience in the field with this projectile.

$9.99 at Big R & Sportsmans Warehouse.

Some tighter bored muzzleloaders may need a short starter to pop them in the muzzle.

Another great, accurate and simple bullet is the Thompson Center Maxi ball. This bullet has no restrictions whatsoever. 370 grains of soft lead will put a smack down on all big game that it comes into contact with. A short starter may be needed to pop them into the muzzle of some tighter bores muzzleloaders, but it won't be much of a wack get them down the bore!

In my rifle, I don't shoot for the most powerful load. I shoot for the most accurate & consistent load I can find. When I cast my own maxi balls, I shoot them with 70gr 3fg or 80gr 2fg with stellar results on paper & game. These bullets are readily available at Big R & Sportsmans Warehouse for around $20 to $24 for 20 bullets.

Cons: Often times the lube is dried up and falling off. Not a huge deal as these bullets are over lubed and do not require much.

Next....Cream of the crop for Muzzleloading Bullets?

Thor Bullets:
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32 - 1:38 & 1:48

Easily one the best big game performing bullets you can buy today!

In 2008, I came across a link for a new muzzleloading bullet that was 100% Copper and opened up to just under 1" diameter when it was all said and done. I inquired about getting a small sample to test out and eventually, we took the 250gr Colorado Thor ( as it was called at the time ) to New Mexico for a mule deer hunt. We were using a CVA Accura .50cal with a 1:28 twist and 105gr Pyrodex RS. The first day of the hunt, my brother in law was the shooter and got excited at finding a small 3x3, he hit him with the range finder and received a 175 yard ranging. At the sound of the shot, the buck dropped! The aiming point was at his chin and the bullet dropped into his chest ( center facing ) and lodged into the spine, between the shoulder blades!

Actual recovered bullet from this hunt:

The Thor bullet can be pushed as hard as you can safely shoot in your muzzleloader. It does however require at least 90gr Pyrodex RS in order to function properly ( expansion ) Shoot the Thor with what ever charge is most accurate in YOUR muzzleloader. All my rifles love the Thor bullet with 100-105 Pyrodex RS or 100gr Blackhorn209. The Thor bullet will harvest ALL big game cleanly. Doesn't matter if it is an Antelope, a 500lb black bear or the Elk of a life time. If you, the hunter, can do your job, of course.

The Thor Bullet is now available in a One Size Fits All version! 247-250 & 300 grain bullets are available.

Cons: Thor Bullets are currently made by Barnes, on a limited production run. First come, first serve! Order months before hunting season, otherwise you may be out of luck. In the past 4 year, Thor sold every single bullet in stack, 3 months before hunting season started in September. or in order to order.
More info on Thor Bullets found HERE

Federal BOR Lock Bullets
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32
An extremely user friend bullet! Fast, easy loading, 100% Copper, Available in 270 grains which is more than enough for elk and other large game. Perfect for deer and bear as well. Reliable, controlled bullet expansion. The base design actually does in fact scrape/cut fouling from the bore as you push it down. Upon ignition, the base slams up into the base of the bullet, flares up, seals and engages the rifling.

No Powder Charge restrictions - Push it as safely as your muzzleloader allows or until your accuracy falls off.

I've only tested a few packs and the accuracy was excellent at 100 yards with 100gr Blackhorn209. Very, very easy bullet to shoot accurately.

Harvester Sabertooth
Recommended Twist: 1:28 - 1:32
A little more on the pricier side at $16 per 12 bullets, is the Harvester Sabertooth Bullets. A copper clad lead bullet similar to Powerbelt Bullets, but with a more reliable reputation when used on big game. Available in only two weights of 270gr & 350gr. I have shot many of these bullets over the years and they performed very well in my torture tests. The thicker, harder plastic skirt however can be a little more difficult to load on a fouled bore, but they certainly are worth taking a look at. I would suggest the larger 350gr version for your bigger game such as elk,moose and large bear. 
No Excuse Bullets

Colorado Muzzleloading Rules & Regulations

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

On the Range: 345 MAX gets a 100 yard test

345 MAX-HP
Traditions St.Louis Hawken 50cal, 1:48 twist.
70gr 3fg Gearhart-Owen
1,403 FPS

Now you ask... Why are you using concials?

Due to Colorado Parks and Wildlife outlawing the .50cal patched round ball for elk and moose in 2018, we now have to switch to conicals or update to a .54cal ( the new minimum ) for elk & moose. Seeing as I like Traditions, finding a .54cal barrel for this model is pretty much impossible. Swapping over to conical isn't a huge deal for me as the rifle shoots both, round ball and conicals very well. I just hate the extra recoil!

The St.Louis Hawken has shallow .004" rifling which makes for a very good seal with solid base conicals, as I was shooting today. I am still currently working with this load, trying different style of wads, powder granulation/charges, but today, This would be my go to elk load if hunting season opened in a week.

Reloading with the 345 MAX is very easily done, even after 12+ shots. The .503" diameter bullet loads like a hot knife through butter yet has enough resistance to hold it in the bore, safely.

I cast the bullets from pure lead, But do plan on making a few with a harder alloy of around 7.5Bhn to see if the 1:48 shallow twist rifle, reacts in a positive way, to the harder lead.

I will also be testing  the 250gr REAL and the 395gr Plainsman next so I can compare accuracy, ease of loading, before I head out to the mountains in September for my cow elk hunt.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Muzzleloaders & Lead Fouling - Cleaning the mess out

 Lead Conicals - Removing the LEAD!


Why we don't season our barrels anymore

Why We Don't Season Barrels Anymore

Paul H. Vallandigham
Periodically, some new shooter comes on the forum claiming that he needs to "SEASON" his
Today's modern barrels are made of STEEL, an alloy of iron and other metals,
which produces a much harder metal. Muzzleloading barrels are made either of
a soft alloy with lead in it to make it easy on the cutters (12L14), or harder
steels, like 440 alloy steel, which withstands high pressures, but is harder
on tool bits. They are not made of the iron that was used in the 18th century.
We don't season Steel, because its next to impossible to do (those pores in
steel are filled with trace elements, so there is no room to allow oils or other
substances to be burned into the pores), and its Not necessary for good accuracy,
or to prevent rust. Simply running an oiled, or greased cleaning patch down the
barrel AFTER seating a PRB on the powder charge, will protect the front portion
of the bore from rusting.

Today, the most common IRON product to be found in a home is the Frying pan,
or "Skillet" used to cook. Even those are becoming more rare- often
only seen in camping equipment, rather than used in the home kitchen. Skillets
are made of CAST IRON, which, unlike Wrought iron, have large PORES in the surface.
We SEASON cast iron skillets (but not steel, aluminum, or Teflon coated skillets)
to fill the pores of the steel to prevent rusting (RUST adds a terrible taste
to food), and to make a very smooth slick surface to use to cook certain foods,
like Eggs.

To Season a Frying pan, or skillet, you first rub the surfaces of the skillet
with shortening, or lard, or fat. Coat it liberally, so that you don't miss a
spot. The place the greased skillet in an oven heated to 500 degrees!
Leave the skillet in the oven at that high temperature for at least an hour.
Then turn off the oven. When the oven and the skillet cool to room temperature,
inspect the skillet. If there are spots of plain steel showing, or if the entire
surface of the skillet is Not Black and Smooth, and slick to the touch, repeat
the process, until it becomes that smooth, black Greasy feeling surface (a dry
grease- not gooey). With a properly seasoned frying pan/skillet, you can fry
eggs on them, and the eggs won't stick to the pan.

In the 18th century, when barrels were forged from soft iron, the barrels
were seasoned, often by the gunmaker. He would coat the rifling with a thick
layer of fat, then heat the barrel up in his forge, and burn out the fat. What
was left in the open pores of the iron bore was the "Seasoning", that
prevented rusting inside the barrel.

I am sure that somewhere, in this country, someone is forging IRON barrels.
The Possibility exists then, that a shooter could run into a modern made gun,
made with a true Iron barrel. I can't imagine the cost of such a gun, considering
the labor involved in making such a barrel using the old forging methods, and
I would not fire such a gun, since there are cheaper, safer barreled guns available
for shooting and hunting.

With Steel Barrels, any attempt at "seasoning" the barrel will only
result in frustration, and in a clogged bore, that eventually looks like a smoothbore.
The Grooves of the rifling fill up with charred residue, to the point that there
appear to be NO more grooves.

This very thing has been observed these past 30 years, in Thompson/Center
rifles, because that company's early loading manual spoke about just adding more "Wonderlube" to
the barrel if a ball or bullet began to stick in the barrel because the barrel
was not cleaned, or swabbed between shots. A lot of people, including members
of this forum have made (and probably will continue to make) a lot of money buying
up OLD T/C rifles, with the barrels "Shot out", for bottom prices.
(The current T/C manual no longer carries that advice, I am told). 

The gun barrels are taken out of the stocks, given a good soak for several
days with soap and water, then scrubbed well with a bore brush to remove all
the crud accumulated in the grooves of those barrels. It comes out in CHUNKS!
Typically, when the barrels are CLEANED, they look as good as new, and shoot
PRBs just fine. The guns are then sold for a nice profit.

[Plunge a piece of soft wire coat hanger, heated red hot, into a container
of oil - any oil. The wire will come out with a smooth, Shiny Black coat on the
surface, that is quite durable. It's the closest you can come with modern metals
to see what a seasoned barrel WOULD look like].

Years ago, now, I offered to try to help a small local gunsmith, who had just
opened up a New shop, get more business into his store, by getting the members
of my local gun club to come out, on an Advertised Saturday, to offer to inspect
and CLEAN and oil the guns of hunters intending to hunt in the up-coming seasons,
for a nominal charge. He looked at me IN HORROR! He told me that if people actually
cleaned, inspected, and oiled their guns, he would be OUT of BUSINESS!

He told me that a substantial part of his pre-hunting season business profit
came from customers who brought their guns to him to be cleaned and oiled for
the next season, having done nothing to them since the last one!
I was raised by a father who Insisted that our guns be cleaned as soon as
we got home, and before we did anything else. He inspected our work, initially,
and was as hard as any drill sergeant ever heard in Boot Camp.

I can't even imagine taking a dirty gun to a gunsmith, unless it was jammed,
and I could not get the gun apart to clean it first. (That's not going to happen
with any MLer I have). I would be embarrassed to take a dirty gun to my gunsmith.
I obviously was raised in a different world.

If I had to give a truly SHORT answer to WHY we don't Season MLing barrels,
It would be, that "we clean our steel barrels, so seasoning is never necessary
(nor possible)". Cleanliness is next to Godliness, so goes the old Proverb.
The context was different, but the wisdom is still sound.

The Truth about Bore Butter

I have worked for several years on lubricants for muzzle loading rifles
and just recieved this from a good friend of mine and he asked me to
comment on it and provide my input---he has used my lubricant for
competative shooting and will not use anything else to shoot and to clean
with--i thought it would be a good subject to start a good discussion
about---and the pro's and con's of the different type of lubricants and
what is the majority of the peoples preference in a lubricant. I know we
have had some discussion in the past so this may add to the base of
knowledge---it was real interesting to me and brought out some
interesting points---my personal feeling is there is a difference in
patch lubricants depending on hunting and target shooting---yet you must
have one you can do both with and not have to rezero your gun for eather
type of shooting---have tried everything including the web terry teflon
ticking and each has its place in different types of shooting and

please feel free to provide me your input even offline if you wish--again
thanks for your future input--no flame wars only positative discussion
and what you feel is a good and proper patch lubricant and why---note i
am not hammering on the products mentioned only trying to establish a
good base line for proper patch lubricants--

Michael pierce
854 Glenfield Dr.
Palm Harbor Florida 34684

Subject: Re: lube

I tried the Wonder 1000 theory, and I'd love to see someone
actually do that. I've watched 5 different guys try it, and the record
is 8
shots, same as I got. Of course, another way to look at it is: on any
given day that I am hunting deer with it and I get off 10 shots and
don't have a deer to show for it, I probably ought to go home and give
some serious consideration to what I am doing wrong.


You have no idea how much humor has come out of Ox-Yoke's claims on the
1000 Shot Plus lube. To the point where some of us now call them
Ox-Joke. With any of my three BP rifles "an historic feat" is getting the
4th ball down the bore without resorting to a bigger hammer.
I'll run you through the full story since the snow has started to fall.
Lets go back to the early 1980's.

A shooter/buckskinner by the name of Young, living in California, went
to the range one day and forgot his patch lube. In utter desperation he
whips out a tube of Chap-Stick and smears it on a few patches. Lo &
Behold it worked better than the lube he had been using. Several of his
buddies tried his idea and reported it worked well. So Young then
tracked down the source of Chap- Stick which is a common lip balm
formulation that has been floating around since the late 19th century.
Chap-Stick is petrolatum (petroleum jelly) with 5% cetyl alcohol and
water. The cetyl alcohol acting as the emulsifyer. With the cetyl
alcohol the water forms minute beads within the petrolatum. Without the
cetyl alcohol you can't get the water to mix in any way with the
petrolatum. Huge quantities of cetyl alcohol are used in the production
of PVC emulsion resins used in kitchen flooring. (My old job was as an
Tech. on these resins.) The petrolatum is the moisture barrier and
carrier for a topical agent used to soothe chapped lips. The water
emulsified into the petrolatum reduces the drag of the "stick" when you
apply it to your lips and acts as the moisturizing agent. Young then
finds a place to buy Chap-Stick in bulk and packages it as Young Country
Arms 103 Lube. That his lube and Chap->Stick are identical in every
respect, right down to the color, suggested he simply bought from the
makers of Chap-Stick in bulk quantities. Now Ted Bottomly had started
Ox-Yoke and made pre-cut patches and packs of patch cloth. He wanted a
patch lube to round out his line. He bought the first Ox-Yoke lube from
Young. When I first saw them I was at the late C.P. Wood's house in West
Virginia. Woody was looking at a 4 ounce container
of Young Country 103 and a 3 ounce container of Ox-Yoke's patch lube.
Both were identical in every respect, including color. You paid the same
price for 3 ounces of Ox-Yoke's lube as you paid for 4 ounces of Young's
lube. The logical conclusion would be that Ox-Yoke was buying from Young
and the missing ounce was Ox-Yoke's profit on the deal.

Both were advertising their respective lubes in the magazines. Young
advertised that you could fire a hundred rounds without wiping the bore
with his lube. Three months later, Ox-Yoke would advertise that when you
used their lube you could fire 200 rounds without wiping the bore. The 3
month lag time in the mags being the lag time in getting adds scheduled.
This went on, each one upping the ante, so to speak.
Those of us connected with the Buckskin Report discussed this in letters
and thought it a great joke.

The others in the field at that time were Hodgdon with their "Spit-Patch"
which was nothing more than beeswax emulsified in water with a soap.
Then there was T/C Maxi-Lube which was nothing more than the same
petroleum grease they used to grease the bearings in their machines.
Blue and Grey products was selling an automotive wheel bearing grease
that had been pigmented, not dyed, blue. I receieved several letters from
Doc Carlson. He was seeing BP muzzleloaders come into his shop with
balls or slugs stuck in the bore just ahead of the powder charge. You
could not pull these projectiles by any normal method.

He would have to remove the breech plugs, pull the charge and beat them
out of the bore, toward the muzzle with a heavy rod and a hammer. He
described the presence of a black tar-like film in the bore where the
projectiles had been frozen in place. The common thread in this being
that the shooter had used one of the "petroleum-based" lubes. I had to
explain to Doc that the petroleum greases were nothing more than
petroleum lubricating oils that had been "bodied" by the addition of
metallic soaps such as calcium or cadmium stearate. With a petroleum
lubricating oil, or grease, anytime you heat them to a high temperature
in the presence of sulfur you get asphalt. The way asphalts were
produced was to take crude oil and sulfur in an autoclave. Heat the
mixture to 600 degrees for about 8 hours
and you had road tar. Which is about what was happening in the gun.
Since the repackaged Chap-Stick was a petroleum wax it did not form
asphalt with sulfur and high temperatures. I then wrote an article for
the Backwoodsman magazine and compared the behavior of the two Chap-Stick
lubes to the behavior of sperm whale oil when it had been used in black
powder guns.

Well, Old Ted Bottomly jumped right onto that one. three months later
he starts advertising that his lube is "all-natural, non-petroleum" and
authentic, using what our ancesters had used. At that point I figured
his parents were to Christian to call him ******* so they settled for
Bottomly. By about 1984, Bottomly and Young had a falling out over
pricing. The one ounce shy thing with Ox-Yoke pushed most of the
customers to Young's lube. Same thing, same price but more of it with
Young Country 103. And by this time we were up to 800 rounds between
swabbings. Technology marches on. Bottomy came out with his first Wonder
Lube. Years of research went into this lube, or so he claimed. Now at
this time Ox-Yoke was located in West Suffield, CT. A short time later I
was searching the drugstore shelves looking for petrolatum-based skin
care products or salves that I coulde repackage and become a millionaire
<vbg>. I spotted this tube of something called "Mineral Ice". Menthol in petrolatum. 

 Made by a Dermatone
Laboratories located in Suffield, CT. Out comes the map. just by a
mere coincidence both companies were located just across the river from
each other. This of course raised doubts as to the "years of research"
comments out of Bottomly. The new Wonder Lube went into the lab. Proved
to be mineral oil, paraffin wax, a yellow dye and oil of wintergreen. A
book at work on fats, waxes and oils nailed this one down to a common
chest rub preparation for those with head colds who could not tolerate
camphorated oil. Again it was billed as "all-natural and non-petroleum".
Never mind that paraffin wax comes from paraffinic crude oils and mineral
oil comes from napthenic crude oils, the yellow dye and the oil of
wintergreen should convince anybody that it is all-natural and
non-petroleum. Given the wax and oil, I simply refer to this type of lube
as a remanufactured vaseline. With the yellow dye the rubes will swear
it is beeswax.

One thing about con artists is that they are never content to leave a
con artest for any length of time. In 1990, Bottomly comes out with a
new version called 1000 Shot Plus lube. High-technology now made
possible a lube that eliminated fouling, eliminated the need to clean and
would totally stop bore corrosion. Bottomly searched the world for this
modern technology and found it in Germany after years of searching. This
advance in this lube was made possible by this secret micronizing agent.

 It gave the lube a micron particle size that
made all of this advancement possible. At that point his chest thumping
ego trip gave away the formula. This secret micronizing agent is no real
secret and has been around for over 100 years. It is nothing more than a
fossil wax mined in Germany. The same time of wax used to be mined in
Utah as Utah Wax but the mine closed for lack of business.
Paraffin wax is a hard brittle wax that forms huge crystals. When you
look at a block of paraffin wax sold for food canning you see lines on
the surface of the blocks of wax. Those are the lines denoting crystal
size. It had been found that if you added this fossil wax to paraffin
wax it would reduce the size of these crystals, though nowhere near a
micron in size. Paraffin wax was limited in which skin care and salve
formulations it could be used in because of the macro-crystallinty of it.
This made it unsuited to preparations where hardness and brittleness
were objectionable. By using the fossiol wax addition the paraffin wax
could replace more expensive waxes in these products. But when you lay
this type of Techno-Nonsense on a bunch of ignorant rube BP shooters they
will beat a path to your door, wallet in hand.

Now, to get back to an historic feat of 3 shots without swabbing the
bore. The problem with this type of lube is that as long as the surface
temperature of the bore is above the melting point of the wax, about 40
to 45 C, the fouling deposited by the combustion of the powder will slide
off the metal when pressure is applied to it. When the surface
temperature of the bore is below the melting point of the wax it will act
as an adhesive and hold the fouling to the surface. The unburned
charcaol in the powder fouling will adsorb most of the mineral oil
present in the lube. This turns it into an oily sludge that simply
builds up in the breech with repeated loading of the gun. After a few
rounds are fired in a flinter you have the oily sludge being blown out of
the vent which then coats the flint and frizzen. Lubricated flints
strike no sparks.

Now for the real punch line. With the addition of the micronizing agent
they doubled the amount of dye used so the new lube was more orange in
color, compared to the lemon yellow of the previous version, and they
doubled the amount of oil of wintergreen. Convince the rubes that it is
now even more natural. During the past few years there has been much
******** about the quality of Ox-Joke's pre-lubed patches. I have seen
packs in the store where the lube had turned hard and brown. The mineral
oil migrates out of the paraffin wax into the low density polyethlene
used in the bags. This makes the lube hard and brittle. It goes back to
paraffin wax properties. With these an historic feat is getting the
second ball down the barrel without wiping. Ox-Joke supplies T/C with
Bore Butter which is only a slight modification
of Ox-Joke's standard formula.

Remember the dbate about blowing down the barrel on the message boards.
My off line joke was that as long as you use the repackaged Chap-Stick as
a patch lube you would not get chapped lips from blowing down a cold

Then their was Uncle Mike's Apple Green patch lube. Another paraffin
wax/mineral oil lube with methylsalicin in it. Nothing more than a
repackaged arthritis salve. I can tell you that is was very effective on
a knee suffereing degenerative joint disease. So if you are going to go
out in those North Woods in winter weather to hunt the elusive whitetail
you ought to take all three lubes along. Prevent chapped lips, take care
of chest colds and arthritic joints from all of the hoofing through the
snow. No reason for you to return home in anything less than the best of
health in spite ot the weather. Might be a good idea to take along one of
the ascorbic acid-based powders since that is vitamin C. Then Goex's
sugar-based powder might make an emergency trail food.

I joke with Dixon that it is bad enough we have to deal with the ATF,
what next with these products, the Food and Drug Administration too???
Well, time to go sit out on the deck for a smoke and listen to the snow
flakes fall.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Thor Bullets - Sizing & Ballistics Info

No Color = .500"
Red = .501"
Black = .502"
Blue = .503"

  250 Thor .230 BC
300gr Thor .240 BC
Anyone using Pyrodex RS - Select - Triple 7 may use Thors supplied velocity info that comes with their prepackaged bullets.

Ballistics Calculator -

250 Thor
Pyrodex Select
90 - 1784
100 - 1858
120 - 2031
150 - 2148

Triple 7 2fg
90 - 1946
100 - 1955
120 - 2050
150 - 2119
300 Thor

Pyrodex Select
90 - 1663
100 - 1701
120 - 1801
150 - 1910

Triple 7 2fg
90 - 1803
100 - 1831
120 - 1858
150 - 2066

Friday, July 24, 2020

Powder Time!

A simple picture of the set up I use to grind up old artillery black powder into standard 2f & 3fg grade black powder for my rifles.

Hard to see, but this powder granulation is the size of a pencil eraser!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Hunting with Powerbelt Bullets - What you NEED to know!

 With everyone buying gear and loading up for the upcoming Elk hunts this year, lets take a look at the Powerbelt Bullet and what Powerbelt you should consider, as well as powder charges for that bullet.

My personal suggestion is the 338gr Powerbelt Platinum.

The Powerbelt Platinum is simply a tougher bullet due to its more aerodynamic shape, but most importantly, it has a much smaller hollow point cavity which allows deeper penetration into the vitals before it starts to open up. I have seen a lot of folks online comment that the bullet has a Platinum coating and guys, that's not the case! If it were Platinum coated, you would really cry at the check out isle!

Over the years of testing the 338 grain Powerbelt Platinum, I have found it to perform greatly in my torture tests that range from dry sand, wet sand, sloppy wet sand, to soaking wet news paper with a 1 gallon plastic bag of water in the middle of the news paper stack.

The powder charges I have tested with this bullet range from 80 grains Pyrodex RS, to 100 grains Blackhorn209. If you know the area you are hunting very well and have a good idea on the ranges you will be shooting, you'll be able to settle for less powder and get better penetration at shorter distances. 

It's better to use a heavy bullet with less powder, than a light bullet that's pushed beyond its limits.

Note hollow point size in the Copper series VS Platinum

Powerbelts are pure lead and like all pure lead conical bullets, pure lead plus high velocity plus close distance shots, often result in an over expanded bullet that has limited penetration due to over expansion/fragmentation, especially once it makes contact with heavy bone. 

Ideal loads for this bullet and shots of 50 yards + I would suggest 90 grains volume Triple 7 ffg or  Blackhorn209. 

Shots of  75 yards and beyond, you can up the charge to 100 grains +. Once you find the load that shoots best for you, go with it and just remember to avoid heavy bone, frontal shots, on elk. Lung shots will always do the job. Never ever rush a shot! It's hunting, shit happens, I understand that, But a lazy, rush placed shot is never the answer.

This Idaho elk survive a hunters pure lead( non copper coating ) Powerbelt. The hunter that shot this elk, posted pictures of what he found while skinning it. This elk had survived an unknown amount of year"s" before another harvested it to find this...... Bullet failed to even enter the rib cage.

Shot Placement is ALWAYS the most important part when harvesting any big game animal. I always hear of poor blood trails with everything from a bow to a muzzle loader. Poor shot placement is never made up with using any kind of bullet or broad head. When shooting big game, I like to hit them a little lower in the heart area so blood begins to flow faster rather than a mid way up lung shot which takes longer for the cavity to fill with blood before it starts to spew out and leave a trail.

Light weight Powerbelt Bullets such as the 223, 245 and 295gr Aerotip should never be considered an elk bullet simply due to their large over sized hollow point and the lack of weight behind them. Light weight, huge follow point, high velocity, is an absolute recipe for disaster.

These lighter Powerbelts have a track record for poor performance on smaller big game such as Whitetail & Mule deer. Sure, folks that do use them and have taken big game with  them have had success and as much as I love Powerbelt bullets, I will persuade folks from using these little bullets every chance I get. Big game deserves better bullet performance for a quick clean kill. They do not deserve a bullet that shreds apart quickly and does not enter the vitals. You as a hunter should also be researching bullet performance issues online and making the best attempt to use a strong, sturdy bullet to put that animal down.


Thor Bullets - DIY Custom Sizing

"Guys, I just got my order of Thors in today and they are to small! My season starts next week and there's no way I will have time to send them back and get the right size. Any ideas?! "

It seems that we run into this issue from time to time and so I took some pictures and will show you how to re-size your Thor bullets to a larger size that's very simple and effective!

Tools needed:
One small light weight hammer
One 3/8" 8mm socket "Matco 8mm shaft DIA is .449"-.450"
Thor Bullets of course
Caliper or Micrometer to measure bullets diameter

Now lets say you ordered .502" Bullets, but some of them as you found, just slide right down the bore very easily while the others take the recommended 20-30 lbs seating pressure. All is okay now! You can easily resize those looser fitting bullets to the size your need, and IMO this is the perfect way to get the exact size you need.

You can now actually order the smaller .500" Thors and then resize them yourself to exactly what your rifles bore needs.
 Today, I shot up the last of my Thors in my Traditions and all I have in stock are .500" Thors in 250gr Ballistic Tip. I decided to take a few pictures and share the process just in case you ever run into an undersized bullet in the package or simply want to take it up a level and size your own Thors for your bore. Quite a few on here knurl pistol bullets to fit their bores so they can shoot sabotless, this process is quite a bit easier because there's no knurling, just flaring up the base of the bullet a touch and measuring the diameter of the base and flare it up to where it needs to be for your bore size.
 Get the idea?

I hold it in my hand so I can feel the amount of power I am hitting with.

After a few light taps with the hammer and I was where I needed to be.

Accuracy woes with Blackhorn209 - The possible fix you have been overlooking

Break Action Muzzleloaders - Sealing the primer!

A lot of our members on here already know about this fix, but for our new members and, especially those on Facebook that are following us, I am going to start with the easiest fix to sealing up primer blow by on the CVA/Traditions break action muzzle loaders.

Years ago, I bought a brand new CVA Accura and right away, scrubbing the inside of the frame after every use was normal. Sometimes you'd even get a sticky firing pin from the amount of blow by, blasting the face of the frame and filling the firing pin with soot.

At the end of the day, out came the tooth brush and at most times, 0000 steel wool, in order to get the fouling off the frame! On the CVA/Traditions muzzleloaders, these often are coated or painted and any scrubbing over time, eventually wears this coating off and you are left with bare aluminum alloy. Not a terrible thing, but some folks, including myself, try to keep our weapons in top condition and loss of paint or a coating can bother us at times, especially after the money we spent on that rifle.

Does your action and primers look like this from time to time or every time?
 Note the firing pin bushing
 Over time you will have an action that looks like this mess!

  Not all muzzleloaders have this firing pin bushing. And that in a way is a bad thing.

What happens is, the CVA/Traditions rifles have a loose tolerance ( To easily accept different brands of primers ) between the primer and the face of the frame ( head space in centerfire terms )

When the rifle goes off, that Primer, now turns into a projectile and slams into the face of the firing pin/bushing, sometimes even causing the primer to stick into the firing pin bushing or cock at an angle in the breech plug, causing you to grab a pair of pliers and remove it.

Now, do you remember me saying that not all muzzleloaders have a firing pin bushing?

Traditions is one of those that does not using a firing pin bushing.

What happens when the fired primer, turns into a projectile, and slams into the face of the frame that's surrounding the firing pin?

That's right... Your frame becomes damaged very badly over time and can even cause the firing pin to break or worse, stick in the fired position without you noticing and then having a slam fire the next time you reload and close the action.

How can we seal up the Primer blow by AND protect the face of the frame?

Note: If you buy a CVA Muzzleloader and bought the Western Powders Blackhorn209 breech plug kit, these O rings come with the kit!

Second, grab your breech plug and clean the primer pocket and flash channel out the best you can.

Take One O ring and install it into the breech plugs primer pocket. You can use an old primer to fully seat it. 

  Please remember that these o rings are slightly over sized to take up that loose space between the primer and the frame. After 3 to 5 shots, the heat from the primer going off will slightly shrink them a bit so your action closes easier. At first, you will need to use a little more force or flick of your wrist when closing the action.

This will only be for the first few shots. After that, everything should load nice and smooth, with a touch more force to close, but your frame finish will be saved, you will no longer have to clean the inside of the frame or remove the barrel to scrub blow by out of the action, the rifle will now be 100% ( or close to it ) blow by free!

In this breech plug cut away, we can see both the firing pin bushing and primer making contact with each other, without over crushing. One benefit to the o ring is that it is rubber and squishes down to the proper size without over crushing the primer which could cause a slam fire. 
 A proper seal!


Finished powder horn

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Making my first Buffalo Powder Horn

I picked up this buffalo ( Bison ) horn at a local rendezvous last month and finally went at it. Went very smooth with zero issues which really surprised me. I did not want a shiny, fake looking horn. I wanted something that was natural looking without all the fancy thrill. No mountain man ever carried around the fancy stuff you see online today. Their equipment was exposed to weather and hard conditions. If they ever had anything decorated or snazzy, it was from boredom of being in winter camp, when they had some time on their hands.

Keeping my horn simple, I just went with a double cut bastard file and gently took down any really bad rough scale on the horn that could snag on clothing, etc. The horn spout I made from mule deer antler and a hardwood dowel that is just a super tight press fit. The large plug on the back of the horn is pine. Remember, we don't have all the fancy hardwoods that the east does. Pine, Cedar, Cotton wood, Juniper, Scrub Oak and Alder, pretty much sums in up in my parts of Southern Colorado.

The horn base plug was sealed with an epoxy. When I do another, I will use something more traditional such as pine sap, charcoal and finely ground deer droppings as a binder.

Coming to my senses and forgetting about all the fancy horns I've seen or owned in the past, I wanted something that was believable.

You're a mountain man coming across the plains. Naturally you pick up a collection of items along  the way. My buff'ler horn being one of them.

Somehow, my fancy ( or even a plain jane ) powder horn is either lost or damaged.

What do you do?

Go through the saddle bags and see what you have of course!

I stuck with local pine wood and mule deer antler.

If you were a mountain man back in the day and had to make something important, such as a powder horn, you darn sure were not worried about scraping it thin and laying down a fancy scrimshaw. Most mountain men back in the day actually purchased their horns from the store, same as we do today. It was an item very high up on the traders list of items to sell to mountain men/trappers.

So this is my "replacement" horn I made out on the trail to replace my lost/broken powder horn.

Monday, July 6, 2020