I'd like to introduce you to our newest test rifle here at NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING. One of the .50 caliber Pedersoli No. 209 primer ignition in-line Rolling Block Muzzleloaders.
The rifle showed up here at our office just a couple of days before this was written, and we wasted little time in getting a scope on the rifle. Here in Montana, mid February can be a bit brutal weather wise. We have been experiencing one of the snowiest winters in years, along with frigid below zero temperatures ... so when the weather forcasters began predicting a week of nice sunny and warmer weather, I prepared to get in as much shooting as possible before the next weather front moved down out of Canada.
The scope shown on the Pedersoli .50 Rolling Block ML above is one of the Hi-Lux Optics 3-9x40mm M40 Tactical Hunter models, which had been on my Winchester Model 70, chambered for the .300 Winchester Short Magnum cartridge. I had the rifle sighted in to print 2-inches high at 100 yards with a Hornady 168-grain Match BTHP bullet, shot at 3,037 f.p.s. This is my "Wolf Rifle" that has a spot in my Jeep any time I pull out of the driveway...but I needed a reliable scope, and other than a couple of 1-4x scopes on my AR rifles, every other scope I own was already on a muzzleloader being used for testing.
As I do with every new modern .50 caliber No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifle I shoot, I sight in with my standard "Base Load" ... which consists of 110-grains of Blackhorn 209, behind a 300-grain Harvester Muzzleloading .451" diameter Scorpion PT Gold, loaded with one of the same company's black .50x.45 Crush Rib Sabots. This combination has definitely been one of the most consistent loads I have ever shot ... and generally will quickly allow me to assess the level of performance I can expect from a brand new rifle.
Since the scope had been sighted in on the center-fire rifle, I stapled a target on my 50-yard target board, and took my first shot. I will admit that I was surprised that the shot was even on the 8" diameter target. In fact, that hole that's right down about "6 o'clock" is that first shot. I calculated the clicks needed for the rifle and scope to be "on" at 100 yards, and applied the adjustment to the scope...moved the target out to 100 yards ...and touched off shot No. 2 - which is the hole right at the bottom of the "X" ring. I put 4 more clicks of elevation on ... reloaded the .50 RB ML and took shot No. 3 ... which punched that hole just touching the right side of the "X".
I started to put a couple of clicks of "left" adjustment on the scope, but there was a light 6 or 7 m.p.h. breeze coming from the south, from the left, so decided to just leave the setting as it was. The rifle was allowed to fully cool ... then reloaded ... and I went for the first three-shot group with the muzzleloader. Between shots, I let the rifle cool, out of the sun, for 3 or 4 minutes...and with the 30-degree temperature I could not feel any warmth left in the barrel from the previous shot. The very first three-shot group with this rifle (and the only three-shot group fired with it as this is written) is shown in the two photos directly above. Center-to-center, these three hits measure .554".
You will be seeing quite a bit of this rifle through this year. For several years, it has been my contention that the needs...wants...and demands of today's performance driven in-line rifle shooters have surpassed the ability of the old 1-in-28 inch rifling twist to deliver. That rifling twist was first used in the Knight MK-85 rifles of late 1987 production, for shooting fairly short saboted "Pistol Bullets". Today's saboted "Muzzleloader Bullets" are growing in length ... with higher ballistic coefficients for flatter trajectories - and higher retained velocities and energy levels out past 200 yards. The ONLY thing holding back the future development of better performing rifles and loads right now is the outdated 1-in-28 twist.
The Pedersoli .50 caliber rifle used to punch that great 100-yard group above is built with a much snappier 1-in-24 twist.
From more than 30 years of shooting saboted bullets, I have concluded that the 1-in-28 twist (which is something that Tony Knight and I came up with) loses its ability to consistently stabilize bullets somewhere in between 1.120" and 1.160" in length. Velocity does come into play. Simply put ...more "feet per second" puts more "revolutions per second" on a projectile, which also plays a role in bullet stabilization.
With the Pedersoli 1-in-24 twist No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifle, our goal is to show that this faster rate of twist will still shoot very well with our favored loads...like the 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 and the saboted 1.045" long 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold used to shoot the above group ... while also properly stabilizing newer and longer bullets.
One we will start shooting with very soon, when the weather begins to break, will be the 1.210" long 375-grain .475" diameter spitzer hollow-point shown above (with the Harvester Muzzleloading .50x.475 sabot). It's going to be a very interesting spring and early summer! It will also be interesting to see which companies are paying attention. - Toby Bridges
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Back in 2007, there was a very small group of us tryng to come up with a snappy new name for the powder shown directly above. This revolutionary nitrocellulose based muzzleloader propellant had been in the prototype stage for more than a year at that time, and other than the powder engineers at EXPRO TEC, in Quebec, Canada ... and myself ... no one else even knew the powder was being developed.
At least once a week, EXPRO TEC engineer Mathieu Racette would either call me or e-mail me with glowing reports of how the powder was progressing ... and how shooter friendly the powder was proving to be. I had sat down with Mathieu and two other engineers with the company at the 2005 SHOT Show, to identify exactly what properties and benefits a truly modern powder for today's No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifles needed to possess, and for nearly a year and a half I was chomping at the bit to begin burning some of the powder.
The prototype powder was a mixture of dark gray (almost black) and lighter gray (almost a dirty white) colored short-cut extruded granules. Just to give it something of a reference name, we began calling it Silver Strike. And that's what it was still known as among those of us in the know about its development when I finally received some of the powder for testing in late summer 2007. That pile of varying colored granules shown in the above left photo is some of the prototype Silver Strike powder I received that year.
About this same time, EXPRO TEC approached Western Powders, of Miles City, Montana about adding the powder to their line. The company already owned the Accurate and Ramshot modern smokeless powder lines...and jumped at the opportunity. The crew at Western Powders came up with the name "Blackhorn 209" ... after having EXPRO TEC make all of the granules the same dark gray color - shown above right.
Examining the powder under magnification, I was impressed with the uniformity of the granules. Even before measurng out the first load and touching off my first shots with the powder, I was confident that it would load very well using a volumetric measure. Prior to receiving the powder, the only powder I had shot out of my then favored Knight .50 caliber Long Range Hunter had been FFFg Triple Seven. And the load I favored was 110-grains. Shooting the new 260-grain Scorpion PT Gold the previous fall, I had taken one great buck at 191 yards with the rifle and load.
For 2007, I was shooting mostly and hunting entirely with the same rifle ... only this year, I was going with a volume measured 110-grains of the new nitrocellulose based powder...which was still being referred to as Silver Strike. Plus, I was hunting with some of the very first run of the 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullets being produced by Harvester Muzzleloading. On several earlier hunts that fall, I had filled a few doe tags with the combo - dropping them dead in their tracks out to 160 yards. On the fourth evening of a December muzzleloader season hunt, the buck in the above right photo came easing down a long open draw...offering me a 181 yard shot. The saboted 300-grain .451" diameter polymer-tipped spire point caught the deer perfectly right behind the shoulder.
The buck humped up and just stood there. Without having to worry about wiping the bore, I quickly reloaded and less than a minute later was holding for the exact same spot. That 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold hit less than 2 inches from where the first had plowed through the tall racked eight-pointer. The deer dropped on the spot - this was the first buck taken in America with the powder that shortly after this hunt would be named Blackhorn 209.
Since the fall and winter of 2007, I have burnt a lot of Blackhorn 209 - putting somewhere around 18,000 rounds through the more than a dozen in-line test rifles I keep on hand. Early on, my role with the powder was simply to help identify the qualities and properties the "perfect" modern muzzleloader propellant should bring to muzzleloading - then to determine the "do's" and the "do not's" of loading and shooting the powder. Back when I sat down with the engineers from EXPRO TEC, we all agreed then that the market for such a modern powder would be the newer No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifles - and the owners of those rifles would be the customers or consumers we needed to concentrate on, not the traditional muzzleloading shooter.
Here Are The Qualities & Benefits Of Blackhorn 209 I Have Come To Value ...
UNIFORM GRANULES - Take another look at the granules above...then compare their uniformity to that of any other black powder substitute. Nothing else is even close. This uniformity allows Blackhorn 209 to be easily volume measured, and still achieve great accuracy. Off and on over the past ten years, I have sat down and weighed out ten of my favorite 110-grain charges of the powder...and on average get a not so whopping 2/10ths of a grain variation. No other black powder substitute allows such precise volume measurng of charges.
CLEAN BURNING - Blackhorn 209 is the ONLY black powder substitute for modern No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifles that IS NOT carbon based. While this new "High Performance Muzzleloading Propellant" is nitrocellulose based...it IS NOT "smokeless powder". That compositon allows Blackhorn 209 to burn without all of that nasty fouling that's left behind by carbon-based powders. This is a truly modern powder that allows these rifles to be shot ... without having to wipe the bore between shots.
See that "One Big Hole" 100-yard group at left? That's actually 50-shots put on the same target...using two different rifles that were precisely sighted to put shots truly "dead on" at 100 yards ... loading with volume measured Blackhorn 209 charges. Since 2008, when Blackhorn 209 hit the market, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING has conducted an annual "Consecutive 50-Shot Test" to check the consistency of the powder from year to year. While 25 shots were fired with each rifle...neither bore was wiped once during the shooting. For more on the test that produced this group, go to the following link.
QUICK & EASY CLEANUP - Following my very first shooting session with the Blackhorn 209 prototype powder, I quickly learned that you DO NOT use the same water-based cleaning solvents for cleaning carbon-based powder fouling from a rifle you've shot with Blackhorn 209. This is a modern nitrocellulose based powder...and the light soot it does leave in the bore needs to be cleaned with a modern "Nitro Solvent" ... such as good ol' Hoppe's No. 9 - or one of the solvents from Montana Extreme. In fact, Western Powders, who brought Blackhorn 209 to market, also owns Montana Extreme, and has developed a Blackhorn 209 solvent...which really speeds up cleaning.
The Traditions .50 VORTEK Ultra Light LDR rifle shown directly above has been our No. 1 test rifle for the past four years. During that time, the rifle has had more than 6,000 rounds fired through it ... the vast majority of them with charges of Blackhorn 209. It's still a tack driver...and is used regularly. There have been a couple of extended tests when the rifle had 15 to 20 rounds fired through it ... two or three times a week ... for several weeks ... without a thorough cleaning. But even after such use, two solvent dampened patches were all it took to get ALL of the Blackhorn 209 fouling out of the bore. I have actually spent much more time cleaning No. 209 primer carbon from the breech plug than I have Blackhorn 209 fouling from the bore of this rifle.
I could go on and on about what I feel makes Blackhorn 209 the "Best Damned Modern Muzzleloader Powder" ... and probably will through 2017 on this blog. I'll finish up this post by sharing just a few things that are important to tapping the reliability and performance of this powder.
HOT PRIMERS - During my early shooting with this powder, I quickly learned two things ... back then not all breech plugs were compatible with Blackhorn 209 ... and that you couldn't use JUST ANY No. 209 primer for consistent and spontaneous ignition. Since the powder first came on the market, in-line rifle makers have done a great job of re-configuring the internal passageways and the diameters of the flash holes of their breech plugs...and with most of today's rifles, standard power No. 209 primers will now reliably ignite this nitrocellulose based powder. Still, I like the hotter primers.
My No. 1 choice is the Federal No. 209A primer, and right there with it is the CCI 209M. These two primers put a lot more fire through the breech plug and to the powder charge than the standard CCI or Winchester 209A primers. The down side of all that extra heat and fire is that the hotter primers do leave a lot more carbon fouling in the breech plug - and that fouling will sooner or later cause either a severe hangfire or total misfire. Keeping that fouling cleaned from the plug is paramount to keeping any No. 209 primer igintion in-line rifle sure-fire when shooting Blackhorn 209. I make a special effort to get all the fouling out of a plug after every hundred or so shots.
SEATING PRESSURE ON THE BULLET - My best accuracy when shooting with Blackhorn 209 is achieved when I apply what feels like 70 to 80 pounds of seating pressure once the bullet makes contact with the powder charge. I learned to acquire the "feel" by placing the butt of a rifle on a regular bathroom scale ... noting the weight of the rifle...then applying enough pressure on the ramrod or range rod to add between 70 and 80 pounds to the reading. When loading at the range or in the field, I simply try to duplicate that feel.
Do you have any Blackhorn 209 loading secrets or tips you'd like to share? - Toby Bridges
Here at NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING, we still have a cannister of the prototype Blackhorn 209 powder .... and in early September, we plan to get back out and shoot the powder to see how the 10-year-old pre-production Silver Strike compares performance wise with current production Blackhorn 209. This ought to make for an interesting report.
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Okay ... I will admit it ... I am a Blackhorn 209 junkie! But, then, I shouldn't have to tell that to any of you who spend a great deal of time on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website. I doubt seriously that there is any other single person in the U.S. who has done more shooting or testing with the powder than I have on my annual hunts and weekly range sessions. Since loading and shooting my very first rounds with an early prototype of the powder in 2007, I've likely loaded and shot 10,000+ muzzle-loaded Blackhorn 209 rounds.
The buck shown above was a result of "some of that testing". The deer was taken in Nebraska, in December 2009. It was kind of a "celebratory" hunt. After fighting the Nebraska "No Scopes During Muzzleloader Season" regulation for about 10 years, and gaining the support of Nebraska hunters, the state gave in and eliminated that non-serving ban on using rifle optics during the December muzzleloader season. A landowner, who loved to hunt with a muzzleloader, had invited me to hunt his ranch to celebrate the regulation change.
The previous season (2008), I managed to take a nice Montana buck at just over 200 yards ... shooting 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 behind the Harvester Muzzleloading saboted 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold. When I returned home from that trip, I pulled the rifle from its case in preparation to clean it. Then, the idea hit me ... an ultimate test for Blackhorn 209 would be to take the rifle from one season to the next ... without ever cleaning it ... and putting 1,000+ additional rounds through the rifle without ever wiping or cleaning the bore. I figured the worst that could happen was that at some point or another accuracy would wane...or loading would become too difficult...making it necessary to clean the bore.
But, that never happened. Through the winter (January thru March) of 2009, I put at most another 200 rounds through a favored Knight .50 Long Range Hunter model...then in early spring I really began hitting the range ... and by the time early June rolled around, I had put another 300 or so rounds through the rifle ... without ever wiping the bore. The rifle still punched great 1- to 1 1/2-inch hundred yard groups ... and often even tighter.
At that time, the rifle was definitely my favorite in-line rifle...and when I decided to use it for an annual "Consecutive 50-Shot Test" ... I broke down and gave the rifle a cleaning. This was 7+ months after shooting my Montana buck. Still, the breech plug popped right out ... and it took all of three solvent dampened patches to have the bore of that Green Mountain barrel shinning like a brand new barrel.
I put in a morning of shooting with the rifle, to tweak the scope setting ... and to put a little more Blackhorn 209 soot in the bore. The next morning, I spent right at 4 hours at the shooting bench ... putting 50 consecutive shots on the same target. (The rifle was allowed to cool 5 minutes before being reloaded for the next shot.) That 1.4-inch group can be seen above right - shot from a barrel that was NOT wiped once during that shooting session. (Note: The quality of the rifle and the precise Hi-Lux TB-ML scope deserve a lot of the credit for this accuracy as well.)
When testing every aspect of something new, one must try to establish what "should be done" and what "shouldn't be done" to learn the properties and benefits of a product that is truly revolutionary. That often means going against what has been established as "proper" ... or how it "must be" done. And, yes, when doing so, I often make mistakes ... but fortunately, some are not mistakes ... as long as something is learned by it.
At times, old habits are hard to break. On my very first trip to the range in 2007 to shoot with the Blackhorn 209 prototype powder, I snapped a few primers through the ignition system ... poured in a hundred grain charge of the powder ... and seated one of the very first production run 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullets. On a previous range session, I had sighted the rifle and Hi-Lux TB-ML scope to print the bullet, powered by 110-grains of FFFg Triple Seven, right at an inch above the center "X" of the target.
My first shot with the new (yet to be officially named) powder printed the bullet exactly in the same spot. It was early September, with morning temperatures in the 70's, so I intended to let the rifle cool. Out of my habit to wipe Triple Seven fouling from the bore, without thinking I dampened a cleaning patch with my tongue, and ran it down the bore. When I loaded the rifle again 5 minutes later, that sabot and bullet was noticeably a little harder to push down the bore - and the shot was off to the side of the first by about an inch. Again, out of habit, I wiped the bore with a saliva dampened patch. When it was time to seat the third saboted bullet, loading was even tougher ... and that shot went about 1 1/2 inches high - resulting in a not so impressive 2 1/2-inch hundred yard group.
The very next morning...I was out on the range at first light ... and before 9 o' clock rolled around, I had already punched five three-shot groups - which ranged from the near 3/4-inch group shown above right to right at 1 1/4-inches (all measured center-to-center). What I DID NOT do on this morning was wipe the bore between shots. I did allow the rifle to cool for 4 to 5 minutes after each shot before reloading again. What totally impressed me was that the last round pushed down the bore loaded every bit as easy as the first.
Two of our newer test rifles are shown above. The upper rifle is one of the 30-inch barreled .50 caliber VORTEK Ultra Light LDR models from Traditions Firearms. The bottom rifle is one of the 30-inch barreled CVA Accura V2 LR models, also a .50 caliber. Very early this morning (December 28, 2015), I mounted new Hi-Lux Optics scopes on each of these rifles ... and four-wheeled my way through fresh snow up to a mountain meadow and sighted each to print on at 100 yards. Both rifles were being loaded with 110-grains of Blackhorn 209 and the saboted 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold bullet - and both rifles produced solid 1-inch center-to-center groups for me.
These two rifles will be our two primary test rifles through 2016. While we may tweak how they are sighted in order to test shoot different bullets and/or sabots - I've decided that there are two things that will not change through the coming year. One is that these two rifles will be shot ONLY with Blackhorn 209 powder...the other is that we will not wipe the bore or clean the bore through the entire year - UNLESS it becomes evident that it must be cleaned. Watch for our report on www.namlhunt.com come the end of December 2016 - and see how the performance of these two rifles fared through the year. - Toby Bridges
For More On Loading & Shooting Blackhorn 209 Without Wiping The Bore...Go To -
Note: Our goal is NOT to discourage anyone from properly maintaining their modern No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifle ... but rather to definitively establish the one trait...property...or benefit that more clearly separates Blackhorn 209 from ALL other black powder substitutes. Here at NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING we have shot enough of this modern high performance muzzleloading propellant to have faith in both of these rifles continuing to produce exceptional accuracy ... without once wiping the bore for an entire year. The breech plugs will not be cleaned as well ... to determine at what point (the number of primers fired through them) primer fouling hampers ignition. When it does, the plugs will be cleaned ... but not the bores. So begins a year long test ... "A Tale of Two Rifles".
The buck shown here could arguably be the very first whitetail buck ever taken in the U.S. with a charge of Blackhorn 209. The deer was taken with a stout 110-grain charge of the powder, shooting the Harvester Muzzleloading 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold. In fact, the deer was taken with two of those loads. At the "wallop" of the first bullet driving home, the whitetail simply humped up and just stood there, in the very same spot, until I quickly reloaded...got the .50 caliber Knight Long Range Hunter back on my set of hickory cross sticks...held for the same spot along the rear edge of the front shoulder...and touched off the second shot.
As that 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold drove home, the deer dropped on the spot. The distance was 186 yards...and both bullets had hit within 2 inches of each other.
That hunt took place during the fall of 2007 - several months before the prototype powder I had been shooting, testing and hunting with was even known as Blackhorn 209. Just to give it a name, the initial batch of the powder had been designated "Silver Strike", due to its grayish color. As far as I know...no other muzzleloading hunter in the U.S. was hunting with the powder that fall. The lead engineer who had developed the powder, working with a major gun powder making operation in Canada, had taken a young buck with a charge of the prototype powder in Quebec, about a month before I started hunting with the powder.
I have burnt a lot of Blackhorn 209 since that first season of shooting and hunting with the prototype batch of the powder. I had known about the development of the powder for nearly two years. In fact, I had sat down at the 2005 SHOT Show with three powder engineers from the powder maker to identify exactly what qualities the "perfect" modern in-line ignition muzzleloading propellant should offer today's muzzleloading hunter. What we came up with was a list that no other muzzleloading powder/propellant ever developed could claim.
I remember talking with the Project Leader for the new powder and commenting, "I know that list is a tall order for a muzzleloader powder...but those qualities would indeed take modern in-line muzzleloading rifle performance to the next level."
His response was, "I am a powder engineer...you tell me what this powder needs to be...and I'll make it!"
Blackhorn 209 & 300-Grain Scorpion PT Gold - Used In Every In-Line Rifle I Hunt With!
Ten years have now passed since first being asked to help come up with just what the perfect modern "High Performance Muzzleloading Propellant" should offer in the way of velocity, energy, accuracy and cleanliness. And eight hunting seasons have come and gone since taking my first Blackhorn 209 whitetails. So, do I still feel the same about the powder?
Well, not "exactly the same!" After easily shooting some 10,000 or more rounds with the powder, and taking upwards of 40 head of big game with loads made up with Blackhorn 209, I now have more confidence than ever in the powder. Through my ongoing testing, and the testing by the crew at Blackhorn 209, we have identified what it takes, primer and breech plug wise, to insure spontaneous ignition of this propellant. When a shooter follows the parameters set forth to achieve best ignition and performance with Blackhorn 209, the rewards are immense.
Following is a link to one of my earliest reports on the powder, comparing it to the powder I had used extensively before Blackhorn 209 hit the market in Spring 2008...or in my case, since shooting and testing the protoytype of the powder through the fall of 2007. - Toby Bridges
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It's rare when different aspects of muzzleloading evolve at the same time. Generally, someone has to get a bit ahead of others playing the same game before the others follow - and there are a lot more followers in the business than leaders. A great example has been the saboted muzzleloader bullets. The fact is, the sabot concept for muzzle-loaded big game rifles was introduced several years BEFORE there were rifles with a fast enough rate of rifling twist capable of shooting them accurately. Then, there has been the rate of twist thing. The first "fast-twist" larger bore (.50 & .54) in-line ignition rifles were built with 1-in-32 to 1-in-38 inches rates of twist...and it took just one company to prove that a faster 1-in-28 twist was better suited...and like lemmings...everyone else followed.
Over the course of the past twenty years, other innovations have done much to shape the sport we know now - like better performing black powder substitutes, polymer-tipped spire-point bullets and the switch to No. 209 primer ignition. Rifles like the Traditions .50 caliber VORTEK Ultra Light LDR, shown in the photo above, when stuffed with a modern muzzleloading propellant such as Blackhorn 209 and an extremely aerodynamic saboted bullet like the Harvester Muzzleloading poly-tipped Scorpion PT Gold makes those 200-yard shots far less iffy.
The buck shown here was taken during a December muzzleloader season, at 228 yards - and the deer never left the field after a 300-grain Scorpion PT Gold passed squarely through the chest cavity.
The photo above right shows one of, if not, my favorite of today's muzzleloader hunting bullets - the Scorpion PT Gold. The bullet on the left is my old stand by...the 300-grain .451" diameter version of the bullet. This is loaded into a .50 caliber rifle using Harvester Muzzleloading's Crush Rib Sabot. The bullet on the right is a prototype 350-grain version of the Scorpion PT Gold. During my tests five years ago, the heavier and longer prototype shot extremely well, producing exceptional accuracy. Despite getting out of the muzzle at about 100 f.p.s. slower velocity, thanks to its higher ballistic coefficient, once past 200 yards the bigger bullet actually would hold a flatter trajectory and maintained several hundred more foot-pounds of energy than the 300-grain bullet. Still, it has never been brought onto the market - even though muzzleloader elk hunters and dedicated longer range muzzleloading hunters have been begging for such a bullet for the .50 caliber rifles.
Blackhorn 209 DOES produce those kind of velocities! Behind a saboted .44 bullet, like the 300-grain .430" diameter Hornady XTP hollow point shown in the above left photo (and my mocked up version of the same bullet with a polymer tip), a 110-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 will get these bullets out of a 30-inch barreled in-line (such as the VORTEK Ultra Light LDR) at over 2,000 f.p.s. Back in 1997, a 110-grain charge of Pyrodex RS would get the saboted 200-grain .44 XTP out of an early No. 209 primer ignition rifle like the Knight DISC Extreme at less than 1,700 f.p.s.
With the speed produced by newer powders, the heavier sleeved sabots and smaller diameter bullets are likely the next popular trend in muzzleloader hunting bullets. However, to significantly up the ballistic coefficients of the bullets will also require making these bullets longer...which could call for a snappier rate of rifling twist. The old 1-in-28 twist has been with us since the late 1980's, and runs into problems when trying to stabilize a bullet that is much longer than 1.2" in length. The new rifles over the next 20 years of muzzleloading may require rifling that spins with a 1-in-26 inches rate of twist.
It is my feeling that to further advance the longer range accuracy and game taking performance of the modern muzzle-loaded big game rifle will require three things from the muzzleloading industry - 1.) Faster turn in 24 or 26 inches rifling twists... 2.) Longer and heavier bullets of a smaller diameter in order to push ballistic coefficients into the .300-.350 range (most likely with .429/.430" or .400" diameter bullets) ...3.) Advanced sabot designs capable of withstanding the load pressures and rifling force to get velocities close to 2,100 f.p.s., and which will get away from the bullet the instant the combo exits the muzzle.
What do you feel is needed to enhance the accuracy and performance of the modern in-line muzzleloading rifles of the future? - Toby Bridges
For More On Shooting Saboted .44 Bullets Visit The Following Links...
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If your favorite hunting load for a modern No. 209 primer ignition in-line muzzleloading rifle will put 50 consecutive shots, without wiping the bore between shots, through one hole at 100 yards, such as that shown here...then you HAVE TO BE SHOOTING WITH CHARGES OF BLACKHORN 209!
If you are already shooting and hunting with Blackhorn 209, is your rifle and load capable of this degree of accuracy? What are your thoughts on "Not Wiping The Bore" between shots?
For more on the 2015 "50 Consecutive Shot Test" go to the following link -
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To test the "moisture resistance" of muzzleloading powders, you simply "just add water". Now, unless you are doing exactly that, to test the powder you load and shoot to see just how it holds up to extreme moisture, we don't advise you to add water to the powder you are loading and shooting.
Several million of us rely on rifles of front-loaded design to put meat on the table. Most of us who have been hunting with a muzzleloader for a decade or two, or more, can easily recall a hunt or hunts that have been ruined by extremely damp hunting conditions and lost opportunities at taking game due to a powder charge that had literally been turned to sludge by prolonged wet weather. Have you experienced wet weather misfires due to powder granules that were literally liquified?
Click on the photo to enlarge, and take a look at the granules. They are still as uniform as they were before the water was poured in. Here's the amazing part of the test we conducted, we blotted all of that wet powder with other paper towels...then spread it on several dry towels and let it sit in the sun for an hour or so. When we loaded that powder, it shot as well as fresh powder right out of the Blackhorn 209 canister.
We were intrigued by how well Blackhorn 209 took a real soaking...and could be dried...then loaded and shot...without any real noticeable change in performance. So intrigued, we felt compelled to check out how well other muzzleloading powders would hold up.
So...How Did The Other Powders Fare?
Keep in mind, all other black powder substitutes are carbon based - and for the most part the fouling those powders leave in the bore of a rifle can be cleaned out with just water. So, it did not surprise me when all of the other powders came out looking pretty much like the two photos directly above - after just a 30-minute soaking. - Toby Bridges
For more on this testing, go to -
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When Blackhorn 209 first hit the market in Spring 2008, many No. 209 primer ignition in-line rifle shooters did indeed experience some difficulty in getting spontaneous ignition with the new nitrocellulose-based propellant. The powder did require a very hot flame to insure consistently spontaneous ignition. The new "High Performance Muzzleloading Propellant", like anything else that's new, simply required some "adapting to" - and shooters, and the muzzleloading industry, quickly ironed out initial problems.
There were several breech plug designs that were simply not compatible with the powder. Those breech plugs which featured a recessed face and shorter length tended to perform best with Blackhorn 209 - by primarily shortening the distance the fire from a No. 209 primer had to travel before reaching the charge. Still, there are many Blackhorn 209 shooters who prefer a particular primer, which they found back then to give them 100-percent ignition with very acceptable accuracy - and they've simply not tried any other primer.
Here at NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING, the primer shown above has become our favored primer for use with Blackhorn 209 - the Federal No. 209A. Since our first shooting with the early prototype of the powder in 2007, then dubbed Silver Strike, we have never had a serious hang-fire or mis-fire when using these primers ... and these are the primers we continue to use for MOST of our testing and hunting. The good folks at Blackhorn 209 tend to favor the CCI No. 209M primer - which we have found to have nearly an identical power level as the Federal No. 209A primer.
Here Is A Look At The Comparative Strength Of Various No. 209 Primers... http://www.namlhunt.com/mlprimers.html