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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a 54 cal TC New Englander and I managed to ruin the original barrel. Got an eBay barrel 3 years ago and it never has shot like my original did. After trying every powder ( black too) and bullet I could find I got some TOW minnie boolits , lubed them with SPG and shot about 2 inch group at fifty and 4 to 5 at 107 yards. The end of my little shooting range. I thought good deal, I'm ready for deer season. Next trip to the range I can barely hit the 2' by 3' target box. It's consistently inconsistent! I clean thoroughly after shooting sessions and between shots. I guess my 50 cal is going huntin this year. But I sure love my 54. Idaho is lead boolits only. Any thoughts? Thanks
 

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I wonder what going on with it? I had a lube problem once with some conical bullets. Same thing once with some Ox Yoke lubed patches and round balls. Found out that it shot Maxi-Balls , Maxi-Hunters, and round balls lubed with T/C wonder lube really good. Is your bore good? A friend had a T/C Renegade .50 that wouldn't shoot round balls, Maxi's or anything. Said they would keyhole. He tried sabots with various bullets and they shot great. Killed several deer over the years with them. Go figure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The bore doesn't lead even with 100grains of T7. So the pitting I can see is very superficial. Rifling looks sharp, crown is perfect. Makes no sense.
 

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Roverboy may have hit on it. Some were built for round balls, some mini balls but some about the 54 cal. TC time were optimized for "TC maxi-Balls". Muzzle loader is sort of a love hate relationship. It takes a lot of work to find what to feed them. Grease, patch material and thickness, ball diameter, wadding all these things can be factors. Do you have a short starter and a patch knife? These really help at getting a tight fit into the bore. Please keep us informed on your progress.
 

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I had a .50 T/C New Englander that I had problems getting it to shoot good. It would shoot 370 gr. Maxi-Balls fair. 2" 3 shot groups at 25 yards. Round balls about the same, Finally tried a .018" patch and a .490" ball. I was shooting .010" patch. Also my uncle liked Hornady Great Plain bullets, I tried them. They shot pretty good.
 

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The bore doesn't lead even with 100grains of T7. So the pitting I can see is very superficial. Rifling looks sharp, crown is perfect. Makes no sense.
This is just one small part of the spectrum of possible problems, but I had a barrel that I thought was pitted. I scrubbed the heck out of it with with everything I could find or buy, stopping short of honing the barrel. I was convinced the barrel was pitted. But I finally used the Poor Boy copper scrub pad method to scrub the barrel. I used a brass brush and wound it with strips of cut up poor boy pad. I had to use a very tight fit, making me push with all my strength to get that scrubber into the barrel. About a dozen swipes up and down the barrel, and I checked it, and it was clean, shiny, and smooth. No pitting! What I was seeing was just fouling. My bad, lack of experience. The poor boys are very cheap and available on Amazon. The only thing you have to do is check them with a magnet to make sure you didn't get ones that are actually copper coated steel, fakes from China or something - but poor boy isn't known for that problem. I hope this story helps someone.
 

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1. check the twist rate, odds are your TC is 1 in 48. Not really fast enough for Sabot's, too fast for super accuracy with PRB.
2. Pick up patches after shooting, check for burn thru.
3. Weight your round balls. You will find as much as .3 grains difference. Keep only the +-.1 for hunting, .2 for practice, all others for 50 yrd or less practice.
4. Be consistent in your loading practice. Just like with reloading, consistency makes a difference. I always bounce my loading rod of the RB 3 times to insure it is seated.
5. Switch to Black Powder, 2 or 3 F. My .54 hawken likes the 3F. With 1 in 48 best I have never been able to get better than 4" at 100 (iron sights of scope). If I want better I need to go to a slow twist Round Ball Barrel.

Several years ago I went to northern Montana to spot and stalk black bear using my TC Hawken .54. Sighting in at 75 yrds I was very good. 100 yrds I was off the paper (18"x18"). We finally figured out I was 12" right and 10" low. Could not get it on at 100. When I got home, I shot up 1.5 lbs of black powder and never duplicated the event, so anticipate crazy things on crazy days. Oyea, my guide was a big time black powder shooter, both mz ldr and cartridge, he was at a loss, made no sense. Sorry, no bear) I went back in Sept and had no issues at any range.
 

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Modern muzzle loaders.....they just don't make 'em like they used to. No thought given to what will be shot out of them. Used to be FFG for the bigger bore, FFFG for the lesser ones. My 58 Zouave loved FFG and a 575 round ball with an old Levi denim spit patch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The original barrel (1/48 like this one) would put put 3 shots into a couple inches at 100 yards with open sights and Hornady Great plains boolits with 100grains of several different powders. That's what I was expecting out of this one. Expecting too much it seems. I've been scrubbing with chore boy wrapped around 50 cal brush and ugly stuff is coming out. More scrubbing to come with paste next. Thanks all. ;)
 

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If you can get it clean, then maybe it will turn on for you. Some muzzleloaders are like that. You know, a *****. My first one used to give me fits. It liked a clean bore. I started swabbing out between shots too.
 

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A high percentage of low price ML barrels have rifling cut too sharp cornered for PRB and need to be lapped enough to knock the sharp, sometimes quite rough edge off. The crowns are usually cut the same as CF rifle crowns which leaves about a 110* angle sharp edge which cuts patches and bullets when they're started. Find a steel ball a bit bigger then the bore, .625" would be about right, JB weld it to a 6" piece of dowel rod and use it with some valve grinding compound to knock that sharp edge off until you have a 3/64" wide shiny ring on the end of the rifling and muzzle, thus making a new soft edge crown, then switch out the valve grinding compound for a paste made of Comet cleanser or some such mild abrasive on the ball so's to put a nice polish on that new surface making it patch friendly. PRB's start really easy without damage once that too sharp crown edge is gone. If there was anything wrong with the crown that you couldn't see this process will correct that as well. Great Plains bullets and their ilk also appreciate this type crown.

PRB should fit pretty darned tight. It should take a good hard palm rap on a short starter. Don't use pre lubed round patches, instead use a strip of lubed ticking laid over the muzzle with the ball thumb pressed on it. After starting the ball cut the patch square with the muzzle with your knife, this makes a perfectly shaped patch that won't throw the ball off when exiting, then a couple more whacks on the long starter before ramming it home. Now pull one or shoot one over a 15gr. charge into a box of socks, find it and check to see if you have a good wide patch imprint band pressed into the circumference of the lead ball, maybe 1/8" or more wide. If it's not that wide an imprint you need a thicker patch or bigger ball. Once the patch material seems to need to be thicker than about .015" you should go to a bigger ball instead. Too thick patches like denim usually don't shoot as well as mattress ticking.

Another thing is the wedge(s), if it(they) is(are) on the loose side the rifle will be all over the place. Same goes for the breech/stock socket. The barrel should fit nice and tight into the stock.

Your barrel is probably 1:48", they made it that way on purpose not to shoot anything really well, but it should shoot PRB into an inch or so at 25 yds. And 2-3" at 65 yds. It will go downhill pretty quickly after 70 yds. to pie plate size at 100yds. PRB really needs 66-96:1 twist for best results. Plastic sabo pistol bullets will bring usable 1:48" accuracy back out to 125 yards or so but that's about it. If the twist is faster than 1:48 PRB most likely won't work and you will have to go to Mine balls or longer bullets.

Side locks are/were designed for and really like BP, and they like a wet patch followed by a dry patch quick clean between shots if time allows, same as a cannon. Barrel/vent/nipple must be dried of oils and such prior to loading or first shot will go most anywhere, or not go at all.

Partially plugged vent tubes cause erratic ignition, remove the vent plug, then clean the vent with a finger driven twist drill of the correct size, replace and snug the plug. If the breech plug won't come out easy leave it alone, instead make up a half inch wood dowel rod with a brass blade installed in a hacksaw cut on one end so as to go down the barrel. You can cut a blade from a modern cartridge case, flatten it out with a hammer and cut it to about .515" for a .54 cal. to clear the rifling. Run the dowel down to the breech and give it a few turns so the blade scrapes out the pile of residue that gets shoved down there ahead of patches. When the pile of fouling gets high enough it starts to block off the vent. It is crusty stuff that doesn't easily clean out.
Always load with the hammer at half cock so the nipple isn't covered. When you ram a ball down the barrel do it quickly like you mean it. The air pressure you create ahead of the ball blows powder grains from the charge through the vent filling it all the way to the nipple for exceedingly reliable ignition. Unreliable ignition, especially prevalent with fake gunpowder is very common with side-locks, you can't always feel it, but the delay and varying flame intensity is almost always there and it will ruin your day. BP properly loaded will ignite very quickly with repeatability if it is dry. Inline rifles using 209 primers don't suffer from the side-lock's double 90* barrel/vent/nipple contortion so they work very well with the fake powders.
 
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