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I have a .54 cal custom made Hawken that shoots Buffalo Conical bullets pretty good. I was wondering are there any other conicals in this caliber that might be a little longer, heavier that might give accuracy for match shooting?
The barrel has a 1 to 24" twist to it.
 

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take a look at Hornady Maxi-bullets, and the T/C Maxi-Hunter projectiles, at 425 grains and 435 grains they are heavier and longer than the buffalo bullet "ballettes" Outside of that you may have to cast your own, I've heard of 535 grain .54 cal conicals, but never actually seen one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks keith44!
Looks like more research is required.
 

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You're welcome Streak. One of my motto's is "If you think you know everything there is to know about something then it is time to quit, you are about to get someone hurt or killed"

more research is nearly always required
 

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streak said:
I have a .54 cal custom made Hawken that shoots Buffalo Conical bullets pretty good. I was wondering are there any other conicals in this caliber that might be a little longer, heavier that might give accuracy for match shooting?
The barrel has a 1 to 24" twist to it.
Not sure which Buffalo Bullet you are using...So here is what I (think) know about some of the comparable conicals.

For the .54 calibre, I am familiar with two of the bullets that the Buffalo company distributes for the venerable .54 calibre. One is a hollow base that has a mass of 390 grains and the other is a solid base of 510 grains.

Hornaday used to make a great swaged bullet called the "Hornaday Great Plains Bullet" to compete directly with the Buffalo product line. In .54 calibre, it was a solid base hollow point only and weighed in at 425 grains.

Big Bore Express had a "Black Belt Bullet" that was an under sized bullet so that it could be loaded easily with finger pressure. The plastic Black Belt would then easily expand to engage the rifling when the powder charge was ignited. In .54 calibre the product line included projectiles of 295, 348, 405, 444, and 520 grains.

Lee Precision made bullet molds and marketed a product line called the R*E*A*L* (Rifling Engraved at Loading) Bullet. These had a slight depression instead of a true hollow point. In .54 calibre the bullet weights were available in 300 grain and 380 grain. It has been my experience that with a little load development and range work the lower bullet weights actually shoot fairly well in guns that are considered Round Ball only barrels.

Thompson Center produced a set of molds for their Maxi-Ball product line. In .54 calibre these molds could be had in 365, 430 and 530 grains. Personally, I liked the Maxi-Ball above all other conical projectiles. But they are not perfect as they had a tendancy to shoot-through the deer and elk that I hunted with little or no expansion; unless I hit bone. So I took an 1/8 inch drill bit and hollow pointed all my Maxi-Balls that I used for hunting. I would weigh them and only use the ones that fit into my weight tolerances. Those hollow pointed bullets that didn't fall within my tolerances were melted down and recast. These home-made hollow-pointed projectiles approached the performance of the Buffalo product line at a substantial cost savings; it just took time and care to produce the projectiles.

For rate of twist of the rifling in a barrel...we all know that slow twist works for roundballs and faster twists enhance conicals. That is the accepted theories that we all play by.

But what I have found is that I can get very good accuracy using a roundball out of fast twist barrel. The trick is to reduce the powder charge of the load. I had a gun that had a 1x32" twist rate, designed strictly as a conical/sabot barrel for hunting. That gun could keep a buffalo bullet in the black all day using hunting loads at 100 yards. And with the same heavy powder charges, a round ball was all over the place (No surprises there, no consistant accuracy at all). But I found that if I dropped the powder charge from a standard hunting load to somewhere around 40 or 45 grains of powder...that gun was very accurate with a round ball and I could hit the bull easily out to 35-40 yards...great for plinking.

When a patched round ball is fired, the bullet expands slightly into the rifling grooves and causes the patch to grip the bullet and create a fairly good gas seal in the barrel. As the twist of the rifling is increased, the patched round ball will start to "strip" as it travels up the barrel; the patched ball starts to jump the rifling, the patch is damaged and the gas seal is ruined resulting in an inconsistant spin being imparted to the round ball....accuracy takes a nose dive.

But if you cut the powder charge, pressure is reduced and the round ball is not driven into the rifling as hard...a consistant spin is then imparted to the round ball and accuracy is maintained; but accuracy is maintained at the loss of velocity. If you are looking for an accurate roundy load for your fast twist barrel; then look at the patches as you experiment with lower and lower powder charges. As you reduce the powder charges you will reach a point where the patches are no longer damaged. That is where you can start focussing on a plinking/target load for the rifle using a round ball.

If your goal is to punch paper, velocity is not a huge consideration...For plinking and punching paper accuracy is the prime consideration.

-aim small miss small-
 

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A 1:24 will stabilize a 1.82" long bullet in 54 cal. Go over to the Mountain Molds web site and start playing with the bullet designer and find out that is a very heavy bullet. Pick a weight you think you want to deal with that is that length or shorter, have him make it to your bore size so it'll either work as is or need to be sized slightly, and get a mould made. You'll be in business! BTW, make sure your stock is plenty strong, barrel bedded correctly, and either buy a platinum lined nipple or be prepared to replace the stainless steel ones every dozen or so shots. Bullets like that make WAY more pressure than balls do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
RHI and Nobade,
Thanks for the great info!
My dentist is supplying me with all of the x-ray lead bitewings that he saves from all of his x-rays that he takes. So have plenty of lead for making conicals. Interesting that a .54 cal in 1-24" twist will stabilize a 1.82" bullet, I will also try to see about the TC mold for the 530 grain Maxiball.
Where is a good source to find the platinum lined nipples?
 

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PT nipples are tough to get anymore, since Joe Hepsworth died. He was pretty much the only guy in the US catering to the long range muzzleloader crowd. You might check out the LRML forums over at Researchpress and see where guys are getting them from now. I hear a guy sells them at Friendship, so they might know who he is and how to get one. There is a LRML e-list on Yahoogroups as well though it doesn't seem to have much traffic recently.

Oh one thing I thought of since yesterday, your rifle has a patent breech doesn't it? You don't want to be shooting bullets out of a rifle with a threaded in percussion drum.
 

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Nobade said:
A 1:24 will stabilize a 1.82" long bullet in 54 cal. Go over to the Mountain Molds web site and start playing with the bullet designer and find out that is a very heavy bullet. Pick a weight you think you want to deal with that is that length or shorter, have him make it to your bore size so it'll either work as is or need to be sized slightly, and get a mould made. You'll be in business! BTW, make sure your stock is plenty strong, barrel bedded correctly, and either buy a platinum lined nipple or be prepared to replace the stainless steel ones every dozen or so shots. Bullets like that make WAY more pressure than balls do.

Good to know. I will be checking out the website for Mountain Molds. :)
 
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