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I've shot deer with a .50 caliber PRB and had no trouble knocking them down.

I have tenitive plans to purchase a Tennessee Poor Boy in .54 caliber that has a round ball rifling. I'm wondering if a PRB is enough to efficiently kill an Elk. Otherwise, I may purchase a quicker twist for conical bullets. This muzzleloader will be used in Colorado.

Your opinions and experiences are appreicated. :)
Thank you, Bowhunter57[/color]
 

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There's alot of BS being peddled by some out door writers about the ineffectiveness of PRBs on game. At a reasonable distance, the PRB is more than adequate. A fast twist and conicals if you are talking about those 250 to 300 grain fancy whoop de doo bullets, won't extend the range but about 20%. They are too short to be stable for mid range and long range. If you were to say go to a Rigby or Gibbs style rifling with 450 grain to 500 grain bullets, you could kill elk out to 500 meters. (very Little different than a breech loader Buff Rifle in Ballistics including the rainbow trajectory.)

The inline manufacturers have alot of folks hood winked about PRB's. They have to, or their product won't sell. The bullet companies won't tell you, they want to sell you some bullets.

In the civil war, the US War Dept. (and even earlier the British War Dept) trough extensive trials determined that a 450 grain or 500 grain minnie ball and 60 grains of black powder were lethal on humans to 500 yds. Again, thats SIXTY GRAINS of powder. If you shoot a 54 PRB with 90 grains it will be traveling so much faster, at least to one hundred yards. Remember that a round ball loses it oomph due to wind resistance much faster than say a 310 grain bullet. But a monster bullet like a civil war minnie ball can carry its energy with stability for much much further, and with less powder. If you are really going for elk, why not a 58 caliber rifle? Easier to find both round balls and minnie balls for.

If you do decide to shoot minnie balls, in any rifle, remember that the hollow base of the soft lead bullet can and will deform and throw accuracy off with more than about 70 grains of powder. Using harder lead, defeats the purpose of the hollow base and fails to provide the accuracy the soft hollow base was designed to provide.
 

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killed alot of elk with a simple RB . keep the range in close and it will do the job fine . Now I do use a heavy mini when hunting the hells canyon rim . that’s a deep and steep place . For there I like the added thump of the heavy conical . Past that it’s the RB for me


i agree with longcaribiner about where all this bla bla comes from as well .
I think also to often folks get on this ballistic calculator or calculation kick .
To often what is supposed to happen and what actually happens are to entirely different things


now for my rifle I find that a heavy hollow base mini shoots more accurate then a solid base and my load is 110 grains .
But again , that’s my rifle , my barrel ……. Someone else’s results may and most times are completely different .
 

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All good advice.If you are taking on the challenge of useing trad gear then you just have to get close.I never hunted elk,but I'm sure a .54 is plenty.
 

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Cap is right. He said "keep the range in close and it will do the job fine "
The problem with a lot of people is they don't want to pass a shot. If you keep the shot under 75 yards and use a 54 or Larger it will work. You have to remember that a ML needs to be placed in the right spot. Even more so than a regular rifle.
I personally am a HEAVY conical shooter. I like bullets for my 50 that are 410 gr minimum, and 385 gr minimum for my 45. My rifles are tack drivers and I can comfortably take 150 yard shots.
One thing you need to remember is elk are HUGE. Even a cow is HUGE. A lot of people that give advise on killing elk with a ML have never actually killed an elk. I am not saying these guys haven't don't get me wrong. I am just saying get info from guys that have done it. Knocking down whitetail deer is not the same as killing elk.
I have killed elk with bows, rifles, and ML's 17 in total that I have killed and I have been with and helped with at least another 20. Elk can take a whuppen and keep going. It is better to hunt them with more than enough than just enough when it comes to a ML.
The first picture is a picture of a elk my son got about a week ago. She was a big cow and Bulls are about 25% maybe more larger.
The second picture is of my Daughter. Her bull is big but I have seen even bigger. Forgive me for posting centerfire rifle pics, but I post these pictures to show you size of elk. If I were you I would shoot as big a bullet as you can do so accurately. Ron


 

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A 50 cal RB weighs what - maybe 230grs? A RB might give you 1/2 the penetration of a same weight bullet. A 230gr RB just seems too light for Elk to me, but I bow to those who have actually taken Elk with RB.

I've whacked Elk with Bow and Rifle - never with a Muzzleloader. I am going to hunt with traditional MZ next year, and I intend to use the heaviest conical I can. I'm not messing around as I don't like bloodtrailing. Elk don't fall down like those fluffy little Whitetail.
 

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Ballisticlly a .54 caliber PRB is about like a .44 Magnum pistol. If you would be comfortable using a .44 Magnum pistol on elk then have at it.

I've shot primitive muzzleloaders for about 35 years and I think it's a little on the light side.
 

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well i have HUNTED ELK with a flintlock for 20+ years and have taken them every year but 2 " thanks to the US army "and
can tell you its not to light


50 is 177+ and 54 is 230 + if I recall correctly " i looked it up becouse i was thinking the 50 was 190 "
well i can tell you that a 50 and a 54 call RB if placed right behind the shoulder of an elk 1/4 away will penetrate completely through at 75 .
The 54 will do it at 100 yards , both charges of 80 grains .

A 436 grain maxie fired with 110 grains of 3 F place dead on the shoulder at 100 yards will not penetrate all the way through . At least I have not had one yet that did
that’s from actual experience .

Now will a 2417 or 2117 Easton with a field point travail at under 250FPS kill an elk at 25 yards ? Ya you bet . You put it behind the shoulder and punch the hart or lungs or both and bobs your uncle
I can also tell you a marlin 30.30 will kill elk “Bulls “ out to 175 yards with a 170 grain bullet .
The bullet did not penetrate all the way through but the bull only went 150 yards and was done ..
The distance was lasered and the shot witness . The rack is out in my shop

As I said before don’t fall for this modern ballistics bla bla put the ball , behind the shoulder and into the hart and lungs and you will be fine . There is no need for core locks , 500 grain buffalo bullets or copper jackets sabots and all that . They simply are not needed .
Learn your weapon , learn your accurate range , stay under 100 yards . Leave the compression to the modern folks who seem to need it .
 

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dla said:
A 50 cal RB weighs what - maybe 230grs? A RB might give you 1/2 the penetration of a same weight bullet. A 230gr RB just seems too light for Elk to me, but I bow to those who have actually taken Elk with RB.

I've whacked Elk with Bow and Rifle - never with a Muzzleloader. I am going to hunt with traditional MZ next year, and I intend to use the heaviest conical I can. I'm not messing around as I don't like bloodtrailing. Elk don't fall down like those fluffy little Whitetail.
actually a 50 cal RB weighs 177 grs. RB's can be the hammer of Thor is used correctly. by that i mean big power comes from big diameter. lots of good advice so far. someone suggested a .58 cal and that is a great start. as in all hunting, big game can be killed with 40 lb. bows, .223's, and small caliber RB's when the hunter is skilled and patient for the right shot. for me personally .45, .50, and .54 are bullet rifles. .58's get interesting with the PRB and .62's and up offer incredible power that is all out of proportion to what the paper energy claims. they absolutely pound big game. it has to be seen to be believed and many 300mag type hunters would be speechless. good luck.
 

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Hummmm...Much like Hollywood, I guess the laws of physics don't apply to primitive weapons.

I'm as much of a romantic as anyone, but I personally believe in the laws of science and physics.
 

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Cap, is it fair to compare a shoulder shot to a soft lung shot? I don't think so, it's kind of apples to oranges don't you think. I can honestly say that a PRB 50 or 54 will do the job if the hunter is skilled enough to pull it off, but I won't recommend it. I am also going to have to say that PRB's don't have any voodo or magic on big game. If you compare a conical and a PRB of the same cal and the same type of lead on the same target, the bullet will out penetrate the PRB. I know you don't buy into the ballistics " bla bla" but it does have some truth in it. I don't know where you got the idea that a elk will die from a field point, but I would not bet on it. A friend of mine killed a cow one time that had a bullet in her shoulder and about half of one lung was shriveled up. The bullet had came apart when it hit the shoulder. We found a part of the bullet still there encased in a hunk of gristle. Elk are tough and deserve to be shot with a bullet that can do the trick.
I would never say that a field point is lethal on elk. If it was done it would be a parlor trick. The 150 yard tracking job because of the 30-30. Well in the wrong case would lead to a lost elk. I don't think I would want to bet on a hit like that very often.
I am on the other side of the fence to a point. I believe in the ballistics mambo jumbo. For the most part it is because i have seen it work on elk. No I don't hunt with Magnums in the rifle hunt. But I believe in big heavy lead for a ML, the bigger the better, the faster the better. Ron
 

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Swampman said:
Hummmm...Much like Hollywood, I guess the laws of physics don't apply to primitive weapons.

I'm as much of a romantic as anyone, but I personally believe in the laws of science and physics.
just more bla bla from the other side IMO
but hay flies and other bugs by physics shouldn’t fly , neither should the heli but they do and do it well .
but to some the old CVA dont shoot good either a ? swamp ??? still got to have a 2000 dollar gun to do the job ? bla .

no Ron i think we both agree here . the point im trying to make is if you put the projectile where it needs to go , you will be happy area it will kill .
you miss it or just lightly clip it and guess what ? it doesn’t mater what you missed with your still tracking
and yes a field point will do that if you drive it into the pickle barrel
you miss that area and it will do little more then poke a hole .
th
Past that it’s the same old Bla bla put for by the modern folks . When it comes down to it ,a obsidian tipped arrow will kill just as dead as a 125 grain Ziwicky but they don’t want you to believe that. so they tout bolistics charts , trajectories velocities and such . However they leave out the shooter who is the real brains behind the system .
Tell me something Ron you want to lay money that my rifle will shoot to the same POI as your rifle using the exact same loads ? about how about your rifle shooting my loads and having the same out come ?

I would think not . Why would that be you think when bolisticaly speaking you should be able to load X amount of powder with X projectile and everyone have the same out come .
But that’s not how it works is it . If it was we would all be using brand X and shooting the same charges wouldn’t we .
Go to a modern muzzleloading forum and read all the different combinations . Why are there so many ?
Simply because what works for one doesn’t work for another and having a 500 grain conical maters diddle if you cant put it where it needs to be .
But ha ??? Maybe im wrong if the projectile / caliber gets big enough maybe it doesn’t mater

but just as with most everything else what looks good on paper seldom ends up that way in real life .


IMO also the 30.30 just as the 270 is a good elk gun . has been for a long time .
the problem is we live in a day and age where we have to compensate for our poor shooter performance by always getting bigger and thinking its better .
we are compensating by saying well if I cant hit where I need to aim then what I need is something that will blow half the target away and then it doesn’t really mater

growing up we had 3 rifles in the house . a 22 , 30.30 and a 65x55
the 30.30 and 65 filled the freezer every year with elk meat .
The 22 ,,,,,well it worked just fine for local mule deer .
The point is learn your weapon . don’t just shoot it a couple times a year just before season opens and then expect all to work out fine because your not going to be happy .

you know i find it funny . Its like someone wakes up one day and say X isn’t big enough and you shouldn’t use it .
To that I have to say , really did X just become something today ? Has X changed in the last 100 years ?
Is is some how different then it was.
If it wasn’t any good then why is X still around .

The only thing that changes is us and our abilities X is constant
but ha maybe the game its self has gotten somehow bigger better , tuffer but i doubt it
 

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You know what is funny, I put GM barrels on two TC renegades. Both guns shoot the same load and both guns use the same sight set on the Lyman 57 sml, all the way out to 300 yards. I wonder why that is?
I know different guns shoot different but some guns shoot the same or dang close to it, Whether it is a cartridge gun or a ML.
You said "Whenit comes down to it a obsidian tipped arrow will kill just as dead as a 125 grain Ziwicky but they don’t want you to believe that so they tout bolistics charts , trajectories velocities and such"
Actually I have never heard that, I have heard that obsidian is sharper than steel. I have heard that the newer stuff is more accurate, and it is. I have MANY trophy's from archery shooing.
A 30-30 is as good as a 270? My son dumped his cow with a 270 at 345 yards one shot the elk never twitched. Yours ran 150 yards. My daughters bull went 20 yards after it was shot at 200 yards with a 270. I have seen MANY elk killed with the 06 family of rifles. I can tell you a 30-30 is not as good as it gets. The 30-30 was great for it's time. And I feel it still has some life left in her, heck I have a 30-30 and a 32 special.

You said "having a 500 grain conical maters diddle if you cant put it where it needs to be ."

To assume because I shoot a powerful Muzzleloading gun I can't shoot them accurately would be a incorrect assumption. Remember what "assume" stands for.

Ron



This thread is becoming PRB vs Conical. it is a argument that can not be won by either side, both sides have merit in the mind of the shooters. Good luck knocking down elk with a 30-30 at 345 yards my son would like to see that. If you want to compare penetration some day i would be game. I have a 45 I will shoot in the test. I will let you pick and bring the media we will shoot into. We could meet somewhere around Mountain Home for the shoot. It would be fun to do a little test like that and get a chance to pop a cap. Ron
 

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"but to some the old CVA dont shoot good either a ?"

They shoot ok, it's the blowing up in people's faces (documented) that concerns me.

230 grains of lead at a very moderated speed is about like a .44 Mag. That's enough but not my first choice.
 

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This thread is becoming PRB vs Conical. it is a argument that can not be won by either side, both sides have merit in the mind of the shooters. Good luck knocking down elk with a 30-30 at 345 yards my son would like to see that. If you want to compare penetration some day i would be game. I have a 45 I will shoot in the test. I will let you pick and bring the media we will shoot into. We could meet somewhere around Mountain Home for the shoot. It would be fun to do a little test like that and get a chance to pop a cap. Ron
may be for some but not for me as i said i use a conical in some areas but mostly RB.
I don’t think anyone said conicals could not be accurate , they can .
But one shouldn’t assume that having a heavy conical takes the place of shot placement
why would anyone want to shoot an elk with a 30.30 at 345 yards ?
That would be no different then someone taking a 250 or 300 yard shot on any big game with a muzzleloader .
It shouldn’t be done but if you read the internet it seems to be done a lot

Again what looks good on paper doesn’t mean it will work out in the real world .
i find paper to be pretty easy to kill and it doesnt go far

elk and other big game are not in that category now are they
 

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So why do you use a conical in some areas? I know the reason I want you to say it.
I find BS pretty easy to kill. Seems like we have a stand off. Ron
 

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Idaho said:
So why do you use a conical in some areas? I know the reason I want you to say it.
I find BS pretty easy to kill. Seems like we have a stand off. Ron
pretty simple , different shot placement .
Some years back ?? I think it was 95 or so I had one heck of a time getting an elk out .
I was hunting the edge of Unit 22 right on the hells canyon rim . I had went in alittle further then I normally do .
Most times I hunt the western edge of that unit . But that year it was dry so I chose to hunt the tops of the Black lake area as this and the 7 Devils area was one of our favorite places back when I was growing up .
Dad worked for the IDF&G as a salmon and steal head biologist from 1950- 1980 so we lived all over central and northern Idaho . I really started muzzleloading pretty heavy in the mid 1970s but never completely switch over tell I came back from the army in 87
Anyway you didn’t ask that did you .
Well for those of you who have never hunted this area , the ridge tops are often narrow . One side is the snake river and hells canyon or the other the salmon river canyon .
But in this area one side of the ridge dropped to the snake and the other to rapid river . Both sides are steeper then a Billy goats A$$.
The wind was blowing like crazy and I had slide in under a big pine to warm up and have a smoke .
I had been there for a while and was looking down into the rapid river canyon and was thinking I had better start heading back when I heard something behind me .
There walking up the trail was a rag horned 4X5 bull . Somehow he had slipped right behind me and was heading back up the trail I had just came down .
He was approx 35 to 40 yards 1/4ing away and I placed the ball right behind the shoulder .
It litterly stood him on his face . I was trying to re load but I was under this darn tree and was having one heck of a time .
The bull got up turned back toward me and started to tip again , I don’t think he ever really saw me as he was trying coming back down the trail that he had came up past me on . but his off shoulder where the ball had came out wasn’t working to well and as he tipped . You know how they do trying to stay in high gear while going over .
The bugger tipped and made it about 10 yards off to my left .right over and started sliding down hill into the canyon .
I bet that bugger slide maybe 100 yards before he snagged up. i really though he was going all the way to the bottom .
he was dead on his feet with my first shot and if I had been anywhere else there would have been no worries . But I wasn’t and so I spent most of the rest of the day just getting the meat back to the trail and the next day packing it out to my scout . So now I use a heavy conical when im back in that area . Not because a RB will not do it . That ball had went completely through and took out his hart and broken the off shoulder .

However with the big conical I find they will take out both shoulders at close range . As I said before , I have had very few get complete pass through but most times they are just under the skin on the off side . they pretty much take their front wheel drive out of action .
And before you say it , yes I have seen bulls take repeated hits through the shoulders with center fire rounds and keep going for some ways . Once that adrenalin kicks in , they can fast cover some ground

Down lower out of those canyons the RB serves just fine

What went wrong ? Nothing with the RB it was all me .
1) I was hunting alone , Not good when you get an elk down
2) while the shot was within very good range . I never for one second considered where I was at OR where the bull could get to. that I simply wasn’t prepared for

So in hind sight the fault was really all mine . The rifle did its part , the ball did its but I slacked on my end of the deal .
I still love to hunt back there . I don’t think there is any more wonderful place . The scenery is some of the grandest in the world . But I tell you even when I was younger , packing out an elk or moose has to be one of my least favorite things to do . If a person thinks they are big on the ground , that’s nothing tell your on your 2nd trip back for meat knowing full well your not even ½ way done yet

So to answer your question , I want the added thump and bone removing ability of a heavy conical when im back there .
It has nothing to do with ranges or if the RB is capable of killing and killing well .

Its really the same with a bow . I know a lot of fellas that bow hunt back there . But I never did LOL just to big of a chance of looking a ½ mile down in the canyon at a dead bull
and feeling like you got a big Dunce hat on
 

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You hunt with a conical because it has more "thump". That means foot pounds of energy to the rest of us but if the word you use is thump, than thump it is. I am glad you agree with me the big bullets have more thump or (foot pounds of energy) and more knock down potential.
If a guy needs to add thump in one area for hunting why not add the thump and use the thump every time. I want a elk stopped now! it seems that you want the same thing. the Conical will and does give thump as you say.
I think that Bowhunter57, would do well to do as you say and use the thump of the conical.
I have hunted the area you are speaking about. I hunted around Bear, Cuprum, Horse Mountain, windy ridge. I hunted there for years.
I went to black lake a couple of times but that was a LONG time ago. Ron
 

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Round balls lose their energy mostly from air resistance due to an un-aerodynaimic shape. But they are still far more aerodynamic than a flat topped squared off bullet. They other thing that is overlooked is sheer mass. The reason bullets fly so well is the inertia and spped vs the amount of the bullet hitting air. Physics can indeed tell some of the story, but there parts of physics that are left off the ballistic tables.

Per Lyman's Black Powder hand book, a 50 caliber round ball fired over a hunting load, tends to lose around 60 % of it's energy by the time it travels 100 yds. (light target loads tend to have slightly higher energy retention)

a 535 round ball averages a slightly higher energy retention. Maybe 55% loss

a 58 cal ball loses approximately 50% of its energy

a 75 caliber round ball loses only about 30% of its energy at 100 yds.

See the pattern?

Now the part that the ballistics tables leave out. A super dooper boat tail spire point highpower bullet may pack 30,000 ft pounds of energy, but if the shots are pass throughs, a significant portion of the energy is not imparted to the quarry. Why do most game departments require expanding bullets? Shock value, bigger more gruesome holes and surer kill? What happens to a soft lead ball upon impact with a carcass? It flattens, depending on the density of the flesh more or less but it still flattens. IE a 54 caliber ball might actually make a 58 caliber or larger internal wound. Which do you figure bleeds more, a 40 cal hole, a 45 cal hole, a 54 caliber hole? etc.If i punch a 60 cal hole 2/3 of the way through an animal, how much internal shock will be induced? vs a pass through with a 300 magnum super whoopee bullet?

Ft pounds of energy from the ballistics tables don't consider the physical shock imparted to the game, the expansion of the bullet and a number of other things. My daughter's favorit kitchen utensil is the round punch she uses to push through apples and remove the core. Imagine using a similar corer to remove a 60 caliber core 28 inches long from the chest of an elk. I think it would smart just a little and bleed buckets full.
 
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