Warning: Proceed with caution, follow manufacturer recommendation as it is possible to blow up your rifle (hands and face) with an incorrect bullet and powder selection. For example, too little powder with too big of a bullet can create a lot of pressure. Generally, the "magnum" rated rifles should not take more than 120 grains of loose black powder or 150 grains of pellets -- there is no need for more as the powder will have no time to burn. There is a very small chance of harm by overcharging with black powder substitute. The projectile, however, has to sit tightly on the black powder load there should be no air space gap (however pellets have an empty core, so no need for the paranoia).
Smokeless should not be used in the muzzleloaders because the smokeless powder should not be compressed. In addition keep in mind that most of the modern smokeless loads take 15 (cowboy) to 60 grains (in 30-06 max) of powder in comparison to 70 grains of black powder in 45-70, the 7.62x54R has 64 grains capacity so substituting powders would blow up the gun.
It is an interesting question how the above apply in the case of CVA Optima breech plug for the loose Blackhorn 209 powder as it is possible to put black powder in without compressing it. I did not try it and I do not recommend doing so, but a small amount of TrailBoss, without compression should not harm the rifle. Do not try it.
Powder: You can load your muzzleloader with a "gallery puff" load of few grains of black powder substitute, 30-grain rabbit loads, 80-grain deer loads, up to 150 grains magnum load. The 50 grains is usually listed as the minimum starting load, so use your own judgment.
You could achieve such a variety if you hand load 45-70 Gov, but realistically most people do a single "sweet spot" deer loads.
By comparison, the most popular "Western" load was 40-40, with 40 grains of black powder. The 32-20 is a small game load using 20 grains of black powder. The "buffalo" round used to be 45-70 gov with 70 grains of black powder.
Projectile: You can use 177 round lead ball (50-caliber), 250-grain copper sabot (45-caliber), all the way to 400+ solid-lead muse loads. The selection of the projectile will be dictated by the rifling twist rate:
- 1:30 is fast for magnum hunting with sabots
- 1:50 is medium for versatility
- 1:70 is slow for lead balls
I use 1:28 and I enjoy plinking with round balls, shooting lead slugs and modern aerodynamic bullets this rifle was designed for.
Recently, I have been shooting 150, 100, 50 and 30-grain loads one after the other and decided that I need more "scientific" approach to "zeroing" and shooting a variety of loads.
The problem is that once you "zero" your rifle scope to the bore, all these loads will shoot differently, above or below the target.
Distance: Most of my shooting happens in the woodland, with 75 yards of maximum distance. Occasionally, however, I venture to the openings where I should know my ballistics up to 200 yards.
The fields are often 250-400 yards wide, but at that distance, I would recommend 308, 30-06, 270 Winchester, 7mmRemMag, 6.5 Grendel, or some other flat shooting rifle.
Target: I am interested in the vital area of about 3-inch in diameter (a 6-inch circle).
The math: I have looked up the ballistic coefficients (BC) of the projectiles I will shoot and their muzzle velocity, the BC is somewhat "black magic" estimate that is often inflated by the manufacturer.
- .50 caliber round ball 177 grain has .070 BC
- .50 caliber 250gr AeroLite Powerbelts have .174 BC
- .50 caliber Remmington 250 grain sabot (.451 cal) has .210 BC
- .50 caliber 270gr Platinum Powerbelts have .220 BC (1616fps/100gr, 2000fps/150gr)
- yellow for round ball
- blue for 100 grains of black powder with 250-grain bullet
- red for 150-grains of black powder with the 250-grain bullet
- gray for 150 grains of black powder with 270-grain bullet
in the future, I will add lead slugs such as T/C maxi-hunter and Great Plains.
In other words, with zero set at about 20-yards, or 2 inches high at 50 I can shoot my rifle without scope adjustments, or "holding off" the elevation.
Depending on the load my MAXIMUM MPBR distance would be:
- 110 yards for round lead ball over 80-100 grains
- 160 yards for 250-grain bullet over 100 grains
- 180 yards for 250+ grain bullet over 150 grains
Furthermore, if I hold 6-12 inches high, my range goes up to 150, 210 and 240 yards, respectively, for the metal gong shooting.
You will be able to find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Nook and Google Books soon:
I use my Astro van as camping vehicle, when it gets cold at night I often turn the engine on to warm up. By default the Daylight Driving Lights stay on while engine is running which is very annoying in the campground situation. I found out that pressing Dome Override button 4 times will turn them off.
if you want run together, or cheer and take photos,
I created a team: "Valeria Warriors" to honor our late grandma who brought this family together.
Seattle, WA, Saturday 11:15AM-4PM, run start time 1PM (IMPORTANT)
I started my hike from Kennedy Meadow Campground, I picked the spot because it looked promising on the Google sattlite map with Little Kern River running thru and nice mountains surrounding the area. I had no idea at the time that this campground is a long-desired goal and destination of hikers arriving from the southern, desert leg of PCT, or Pacific Crest Trail.
I arrived driving J41 road at night I thougt I ended on the end of the world, roads in Sierra Nevada, especially at night are quite an experience with narrow passes over black, abbyssal drops.
I have spent the night sleeping inside my Astro AWD van on my military cot, which is much more comfortable than pitching a tent. In the morning I hiked at first light, way before couple of families with kids, few hundred yards away would steer up.
The campgroud is big and unlike crowded midwestern camps it gives you plenty of space and privacy. The vegetation is deserty chapparal but there are plenty of trees thanks to the river nearby.
The Little Kern Rivers is a beauty, at this time of the year in the late fall it was quiet, with plenty of clean water, the edges of the river had ice at some points, but the weather and the athmosphere were a daydream.
I hiked several miles north following the PCT, but then I decided to explore the mountains to the east. The hikes up and down the mountains are very steep, but not impossible with the huge boulders and tall trees, to reach the tops there are no paths to follow, just hopping from a boulder to another, sometimes squizing between bushes and sometimes walking on dry sandbars with deer tracks. You have the feeling that the monntail lion will pounce upon you at any moment from the boulder overhanging above you, l was happy to have my rifle with me.
Reaching the peaks gives you the ultimate reward of seeing the large valley bellow, the tall trees along the river and the PCT, look small, the remote valleys between the mountains sporting not a single human path look inviting with untold stories of adventure awaiting.
I think it is important for hikers zipping along the well travelled PCT to take this extra time and explore the land to the sides. This region, although not as beloved as subalpine meadows, is one of the best places a person can choose to explore. The nature is absolutely pristine, maybe sans grizzly bears that used to roam California and are no longer. The weather especially in late summer and fall is perfect and the river allows you to refresh at the hike's end in its clear, cold water.
I hope to come back there again!