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muzzle loader question(s) for the gun/rifle experts


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I have a 50 calber Rossi ML. I was trying to get it sighted in better on Saturday & it was shooting horrible at 100 yards, with 260 grain Noslers. I had a package of 300 grain T/C's with the plastic sleeves/sabots. I decided to try one of those, the package definitely says 50 caliber, but they fit in my EZ loaders a lot tighter. I went to load it & it didn't want to go in the barrel. (I'd taken just 5 shots & had ran a dry patch through after each shot.) I've had them give me trouble getting started before, but then they'd go, but not this one. I got it almost flush into the end of the barrel & it wouldn't budge. I finally took the breech plug out, they're a break action, to push it back out with the ramrod. It wouldn't go, so I tapped on the ramrod with a hammer trying to dislodge it, still no go. Eventually I just tried to pull the ramrod out for fear of breaking it, it wouldn't come out. Finally I thought maybe twist it a bit with a pliers to see if it will come. Nope, just got the end of the ramrod in my hand, Nice!!

It's at the gunsmith now, he said he'll probably have to drill the bullet out.

Here's my question(s): Why won't that saboted 50 caliber bullet go in my rifle? I've had no problem loading Powerbelts & minimal trouble with the Noslers with the sabot, but these were like they were too big. Should some bullets be shot without the sleeve on them or what? I'm assuming you don't buy 45 caliber in some bullets to make them work?

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The sabots need to match both the caliber of the rifle and the bullet being used. If you were using a .45 cal. bullet(.452") in a sabot sized for a .44 cal. bullet(.429") you would probably get the jam you experienced.

Cold weather can also make the sabots very hard to get started, when going hunting or to the range it is a good idea to carry the sabots in an inside pocket.

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I was going to say using a wet patch would help to make sure the barrel is really clean and your getting the residue out followed by some drying patches. I haven't dealt with running wet patches in a really cold environment though and I wonder how that would work. I'll include some stuff below that an expert wrote about Sabots. He gets pretty technical and makes some pretty good points in that you just need to figure out what shoots out of your gun the best. Technicall from my understanding it will be the sabot that is 50 caliber in size and not the bullet. The bullet just has to fit inside the sabot correctly and be designed for the correct caliber of gun.

Here's what the expert had to say. I'd been debating on giving the sabots a try. I just took a good sized doe on Saturday with my muzzleloader. I missed a buck though but it wasn't a wall hanger so no big deal since it was a clean miss. Came to find out after I didn't see a deer and nearly froze to death on Monday that I'm shooting at least three inches to the left. I suspect it had something to do with the 15 layers of clothes I had on.


Chapter 8: Sabots

From reading all of the posts on this site, and from questions that I get at seminars all the time, there is a lot of confusion about what sabot/bullet combination is best in what rifle, and in what specific situation. Let's try to take the mystery out of this. Several steps have to be taken, by you, to determine the answer, but below I will give you the things that you have to do to arrive at the answer.

#1: As you have read in some of my other posts before you decide which is best for you, the first thing that you must do is to determine exactly what the inside diameter of your barrel is. Just because the manufacturer says that your rifle is a .45, .50, .54, .58 DOES NOT MEAN A THING. Get 4 people together with their rifles, make sure all the rifles are by the same manufacturer, make sure they are all the same advertised caliber, measure the inside diameter, and I will guarantee you that you will have 4 different inside diameters. This is exactly the reason why I insist that you not use the combination that somebody else tells you will work, unless his/her rifle has exactly the same inside bore diameter as your rifle. If you don't have a small inside micrometer go to either a machine shop or gunsmith and have the bore measured. You want the measurement in inches, not in metric. You then need to convert it to a decimal. If you have a problem doing this let me know and I will get you the decimal equivalent. Usually if you ask the machine shop or gunsmith what the decimal equivalent is they will tell you.

#2: Once you have the bore diameter figure you now know what the diameter of the sabot/bullet combination has to be. For the sake of argument: if your bore measures .445 then your sabot/bullet combination, when put together, cannot exceed .445! Also, take the following into account. When you load your first round the barrel is clean, but when you load the second round the barrel is no longer clean. It has fouling in it. If you are using a sabot/bullet combination that measures .445 in diameter and you are loading your second shot, you are going to have to darn near get a hammer and pound it down the bore! I always make sure that my sabot/bullet combination is at least .001 UNDER my actual bore diameter so that the 2nd shot is easier to load. If you notice, I did not say EASY, I said EASIER.

#3: When you measure the diameter of your sabot/bullet combination insert the bullet in the sabot. You will notice that the bullet does not go all the way to the bottom of the sabot. Below the bullet there is about 3/16 of an inch of solid plastic that has a small cup in the bottom of it. This is called the gas check. When the powder ignites, the heat of the explosion causes the walls of this "cup" to obfligate (expand) and seal against the inside walls of your bore (lands and grooves). When you measure your sabot/bullet combination DO NOT measure the solid plastic at the bottom of the sabot. Measure the diameter where the bottom of the bullet stops in the sabot. This is your maximum width (diameter). If your bullet causes the sabot "ears" to expand then your bullet is too large for the sabot. You either have to get a bullet with a small diameter, or a sabot with a larger diameter. Whichever you have to do, the combination should not exceed the inside diameter of your bore MINUS .001!

#4: Here is a chart of sabot/bullet combinations for various calibers:


.36 cal. x .311/.314 bullet gray 70/90 grain

.45 cal. x .355/.357 bullet blue 88/220 grain

.50 cal. x .429/.430 bullet green 180/265 grain

.50 cal. x .451/.452 bullet black 185/260 grain

.54 cal. x .429/.430 bullet white 180/265 grain

.54 cal. x .451/.452 bullet red 185/260 grain

.58 cal. x .451/.452 bullet gray 185/260 grain


.357/.358 diameter 140 to 160 grains

.429/.430 diameter 180 to 240 grains

.451/.452 diameter 225 to 260 grains

Shoot jacketed, swaged, or cast pistol or rifle bullets in your rifle. Properly selected bullets can deliver increases in expansion, penetration, and shock effect. You do not need any lubes with a sabot. With the designs and weights of modern bullets available from your local dealer your muzzleloader can be well suited for anything from small game, to varmints, to big game.

Most recommended bullets are available in jacketed, jacketed hollow point, swaged or cast, semi-wadcutter, semi-wadcutter hollow point, or Keith type.

#5: In my humble opinion you can save yourself a lot of hassle if you don't shoot sabots, but switch over to PowerBelt or BlackBelt bullets. I field tested these several years ago, fell in love with them, and haven't shot a sabot since. The biggest reason I converted over was because the belted bullets are so much easier to load on that second shot.

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Some sabots have longer petals than others. The bullet starter jag will expand the longer petals at the muzzle not allowing seating.

Example: A green Hornady sabot is shorter than a green Knight sabot.

I use a Barns bullet starter jag and had to shorten the jag 0.100 to use the Knight sabots.

This is probable not the cause of your problem but check to make sure the jag is not expanding the petals of the sabots you are using.

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My gun was apparently just too dirty after 5 shots. The local gunsmith drove the bullet all the way through & after I cleaned it they would load fine. I know I could shoot more Powerbelts then that with a dirty barrel & they'd shoot acceptable. It must have something to do with the bore diameter compared to the bullet diameter, as the article you posted indicates. There's no question the T/C 300's have a large diameter then the Powerbelts, it's quite obvious.

I did speak with a friend last night who told me he's been shooting .45 caliber pistol bullets with some .50 caliber sabots that he ordered over the internet. He's shot two deer with them this year. He said it shoots a very tight group about 2" high at 100 yards, which he said should be dead on at 150. He smoked a doe a week ago in it's tracks at 150, that works for me.

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