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I read this article the first time a few weeks ago and it inspired my questions relating to bore lapping my Rossi Model 92 in 454. I was amazed with what occurred with the muzzle loaders and am really looking forward to your upcoming information on Rossi 92's and fire lapping. I think I will try the 92 first and then I might just have to keep going and do the lot.

I just wanted to say thanks for all of the work you do, and for creating this forum so that everyone can benefit and share from one anothers experiences. LIV
 

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Firelapping Small Caliber Muzzleloaders

Thanks for the well written and educational article. I am in awe of the extensive amount of experience and information that is contained in this website.

Mr. Stanton,

Would it be useful or possible to apply this technique to a small caliber muzzleloader? I have a .32 cal Traditions Crockett rifle that shoots OK but not great. Since the barrel is relatively new, I wonder if the firelapping would help to smooth it out and make it a better shooter.

The challenge, as I see it, would be to find a projectile of suitable size to embed the lapping compound. I mould and shoot .32 cal balls, and have yet to see a .32 mould for anything but round balls. If you can provide some suggestions, I might be tempted to give it a try.

Would mixing the lapping compound into the patch lube work?

Thanks,
hbennett
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Indeed it would help immensely. I too have been at the same quandry you are now! What for a lapping bullet. I've considered perhaps some of the HB swaged .32 cal wadcutters available in bulk..... might work, but they would be pretty soft (BHN 6-7) If there were enough interest, I'd get a custom mold cut for the express purpose, but to date nothing that would warrant making that move.

I'm all ears.... many minds are better than one! I'll look forward to creative suggestions to be sure!

Thanks for the comments.

God bless,
 

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.32 Cal Bullets

I did a little searching for .32 cal bullets and found some possible solutions.

1. Buffalo Bullet Co makes a .32 cal ball-et, however, these
come pre-lubed. These ball-ets are offered by Dixie Gunworks
and other vendors.

2. http://www.underhammers.com/blackpowderbullets.htm
offer .32 cal maxi-balls and minie balls on their website.

3. http://www.neihandtools.com makes the moulds that #2
uses to cast the maxi-balls. While a .32 cal maxi-ball mould does not appear in the online catalog, I placed a call to NEI
and was assured that a .32 cal maxi-ball mould was produced.

I wonder if any of these solutions would suffice for the firelapping task.
 

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hbennett -

Don't want to kick sand out of your and Marshall's playpen, but thought I'd add the extent of my worldly knowledge on this subject, to wit:

The Buffalo Bullets I have for the .44 are not only pre-lubed with a waxy substance, they are deeply hollow base with a pretty thin skirt. Not sure they would suffice for the lapping job. Marshall can address that issue better than I can.
 

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Thanks Ken,

The hardness of the lapping bullet is absolutely crucial for best results, at least in my experience. It needs to be absolutely BHN 11-12 for optimum lapping action. I'll wager to say that the Buffalo Bullets are somewhere in the BHN 6 range, at least in my experience with their other similar products.

I'm all ears to what experience out there reveals!

God Bless,
 

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Barrel Constriction

I finally got some range time this weekend. As an informal experiment, I shot a hundred or so rounds through my little .32.

While loading I took notice of the areas that seemed especially tight. I measured the spots of tightest constriction against the ramrod and found the two worst to be:

1. Area of the front sight.
2. Under the rear sight.

I found this very interesting, and right in line with your article.

It looks like I will be placing a call soon to order some lapping compound.

For the record, the loads I fired were:

Pyrodex P, 15gr with Hornady .310 ball and a pillow ticking patch, and a commercial BP lube.

Pyrodex P, 20gr with Hornady .310 ball and a pillow ticking patch, and a commercial BP lube.

Pyrodex P, 15gr with hand-cast .311 ball(Lee mould- weighed and sorted to 1 Std Deviation) and a pillow ticking patch, and a commercial BP lube.

Pyrodex P, 20gr with hand-cast .311 ball(Lee mould- weighed and sorted to 1 Std Deviation) and a pillow ticking patch, and a commercial BP lube.

The bore was swabbed between shots using windshield washer fluid, which was recommended by the civil-war re-enactors who shoot at the club.

Atmospheric conditions were ideal. The temp was in the 70s with little or no breeze. The sky was partly cloudy.

For all intents and purposes, I found little difference in the store-bought verses home-made balls. At 25 yds, the best groups I fired, were 1.25 inches. Most groups averaged 2.5 inches.

I believe some of the larger goups were due to the inexperience of the shooter, new to shooting BP. After much trial and error, a lot of the loading inconsistancies were eliminated and the number of fliers dropped to nearly zero.

One bit of experience learned is that pounding a ball down with taps of the ramrod was a guarantee for a resultant flier.

Anyway, it was a good day on the range. I learned a lot and feel I have a fair idea how the gun shoots. Althought, I am not 100% happy with the gun at this point, at least I now have a baseline to work from for improvement. Perhap with a bit of work I may have a decent squirrel shooter by next fall.
 

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hbennett:
Coll...another .32 BP fan. Love the small bore for shooting small targets hiding in trees; .22's are feeling neglected.

Dovetails do seem to be common places for tight spots...you got to wonder how fast they are runing those mills that cut the slots.

Had to take mine apart when i first got it (it was a used gun...flinter), so with a naked barrel in hand, went ahead a lapped it by hand. Didn't detect a tight spot at the front sight, but did detect one at the rear....looking closely, the front was hand filed after the barrel was shortened a couple of inches (it's 40" now, so it must have started life a real long one) but the rear seemed factory made...tight spot under the factory dovetail, not under the filed dovetail, so you have to suspect the way the factory ones were put in.

If I were to do it again today, would fire lap. If nothing else, the 32SWL 100gr. HBWC's are abit small at .312", but they will bump up to fully fill the rifling with as little as 10gr. of FFFG...with lapping compound on them, they'll load easly but still fully engrave and "cut" on the way out. Depending on the twist, they may actaully shoot pretty well too...but for fire lapping, accuracy isn't very important.
 

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Firelapping Muzzloaders

Thanks for the tips. Being new to BP shooting, I am amazed at how many folks who shoot MLs regularly are keen to offer advice and pointers. This certainly shortens the learning curve!

Finding a source for bullets for the lapping process seems to be the challenge at this point. But, as they say, the pursuit is half the fun.

This little .32 has already added another dimension to the enjoyment of the sport, not to mention giving me an excuse to get out for more than just deer season. I haven't hunted squirrels since the 70's , when my dad started teaching me how to hunt.

Last season, when I first took the .32 out hunting, the excitement and anticipation reminded me a lot of what I felt as a kid. I didn't bring anything home, but boy did I have some memorable misses.. like the time the squirrel that sat perched on a limb, and let me load and fire 3 times, berating me the entire time. Obviously it knew it had nothing to fear from me..

Let's see what happens come this October...
 

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First Attempt

I finally had the opportunity to take the .32 Crockett out to the range today. Fired two five-shot groups as a base-line. The load was 20gr. FFFG BP, .310 Hornady round ball, Young Country 103 lube, and an 0.01" Irish Linen patch.

The the first group was an awful 5" at 25yds from a sandbag rest. The barrel was swabbed after each shot.

As previously posted, constriction in the barrel was noted under the front and rear sight. This was determined by the force needed to get past these points during loading, and not by slugging the barrel.

After cleaning the barrel, I fired 6 lapping shots. Four of the shots were .32 cal, HBWC bullets treated with the lapping compound. Two shots were .32 cal maxi-balls that were purchased from Blue Grouse, that I treated with the lapping compound. The HBWC bullets literally dropped down the barrel. The maxi-balls needed help from a short starter. I tried 5gr of FFFG BP with the first of the HBWCs and found that it struck the target side-ways. Subsequent loads were raised to 10gr. I did not see any more key-holes after raising the load to 10gr.

The barrel was cleaned between shots.

After this lapping session, I noted that in loading the rifle, the constriction, although still there, was much less pronounced. The force needed to bypass the constriction was reduced considerably.

Accuracy became noticably better. The same load that was used prior to the treatment, now produced 2" or smaller groups.

Curiously, an probably due to my inexperience as a BP shooter, three shots would be often clustered together, and the other two shots would be "fliers". The fliers would often be nearly on top of each other.

I substituted 20gr. of Pyrodex P, but the groups opened up even more.

I returned to the 20gr of FFFG BP and substituted a 110gr .32 cal maxi-ball, and the groups got really tight (as in three or four-leaf clover tight), however, the single flyer persists with every group. However the 20gr load with the maxi-ball put the point of impact one to two inches below the point of aim.

When I switched to 25gr of FFFG BP, the groups shifted to exactly the point of aim. Also, 25gr of Pyrodex P, gave a similar result.

I also fired groups using .32cal Buffalo Ball-ets. The results were nearly the same as when using the .32cal maxi-balls. Although, I found the maxi-balls to be the most accurate of all the projectiles tested.

It appears that only six lapping shots have helped to shrink the groups for shooting patched round balls. Loading is quite a bit easier. Although constriction is still felt, it is felt to a much lesser degree. This little rifle will shoot (maxi-balls and ball-ets) but I am still not impressed with its abilities with patched round balls. Perhaps I am expecting too much, but I would like to cut the group size down by half. I am also at a loss for understanding why my groups were consistantly marred by fliers.

Since there is still some barrel constriction, I will probably continue with another lapping session at another time. It will be interesting to see how much more improvement will be realized after another 5 or 6 lapping shots.
 

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THanks for the update! Great report, and I'll bet that another 6-10 lapping loads will really bring that rifle into its true accuracy potiential! It's amazing how just a little bore constriction deteriorates accuracy.

Since posting the article on lapping ML's, I've had literally dozens of customers report moderate to astounding accuracy improvements in their guns after lapping. I'm just amazed that I didn't think of fire-lapping ML's earlier in life! :(

Keep us posted on what happens with your next lapping session!

God bless,
 

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Another trip to the range...

I capitalized on a couple of hours of seldom seen free time after work today, to take the .32 to the range (since the Mrs. took the kiddies to visit the grandparents for the afternoon).

I fired four more lapping rounds, since that was all I had left from the previous batch. Again, after firing and cleaning, firing and cleaning, I do see more improvement.

I was able to fire one group before it got too dark to see. The group (at 25yds) was an inch and a half. Three of the rounds were just about on top of each other. This was not too bad considering that I was using balls that I cast by hand, rather than the perfectly round Hornady balls that I used on the last trip. Also, the point of aim started to get a little iffy as darkness started to fall. These over 40 eyes aren't quite as sharp as they once were. Still, this was a vast improvement over the 5" group from 5 days ago!

Load this time was:
round ball , hand cast from Lee .311 round ball mold
Oxyoke .010 prelubed patch
25 gr. FFFg Goex BP.

Also, of note, loading this round was very easy. I felt none of the earlier constriction points when pushing the ball down the barrel. The thinner patch most likely helped in that regard.

At this point, I am much happier with the performance of this rifle. Unlike last season, the situation is starting to look pretty grim for the tree-rats this fall..

BTW- shooting the little .32 at dusk was an education as to how much powder apparently burns outside the barrel. The last shot belched fire and sparks..impressive... but I wonder how inefficient it is.
 

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I'd like to try firelapping a Lyman GP 50 that I just picked up used. The bore is pretty rough. I have no minie mould in 50 cal but do have a TC maxie mould. Would that work? If not, where can I obtain some minies in the appropriate hardness?
 

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Some things to condsider.
Deep cut rifeling requires a smaller ball and thicker patch. If the rifeling is shallow, you need a tighter ball with a thinner patch.
I had a pistol that I used .005 ox-yoke patching, with a ball almost bore size.
Pure lead, for patched ball is a must. You should be able to short start a patched ball (long patch), pull it out and see the imprint of the cloth in the ball.
Rule of thumb, the ball + 1 thickness of patch should be bore (lands) diameter. I use patching as thick as the groove depth.
Humpty
 

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Marshall Stanton said:
... What for a lapping bullet. I've considered perhaps some of the HB swaged .32 cal wadcutters available in bulk..... might work, but they would be pretty soft (BHN 6-7) If there were enough interest, I'd get a custom mold cut for the express purpose, but to date nothing that would warrant making that move.
...,
I texted back & forth with a guy that uses cast lead pistol bullets for the .32, and drills out the bases with a center drill to make a "poor man's mini", as he put it. He said it worked well for him.
I plan on trying it myself someday soon.
 

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I realize that this thread is about a year and a half old, but it's pertinent for me... I cannot find anywhere on the Beartooth bullet selection where there is available BHN 11 hollow-base minies. Can anyone direct me to the proper source? Thanks.
 

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.32 ML lapping questions

I'm even later to find this great article than Tim Clark! I have recently received a used .32 CVA and in the initial clean-up felt the patch dragging in the bore like it was badly pitted. I dropped a light down it to see what the damage was and there wasn't any pitting! I really didn't expect any, as the previous owner is almost as picky about cleaning as me. Seems it was just a rough bore, mostly near the breach. The previous owner said he could never get it to group right. I thought of lapping and found this article. Is there any newer information out there? I was looking for ML bullets in the Beartooth ML section and only see the .44s for sabots. I have Hornady .32 HBWC and guess that is my choice for now, unless Beartooth has a mould for a HBWC and can cast them with an alloy to give a BHN of 11.

Thanks,

Rich
 

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You might just want to pick up the phone and try calling Marshall. He's been busy lately and not on the forums much. He may have some other odds and ends that will work for your purposes. If I had to guess there is probably another handgun bullet that will work, and he'll have them in the correct alloy.

Of course if someone else can answer the question that would be great too.

Welcome to the forum.....
 

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Thanks for the welcome Mike. I've tried to contact Marshall via email, 'direct contact' as the site calls it and by phone several times (no one answers) without luck. I'm not sure if I order lapping compound what will happen. Any thoughts?
 
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