There are not a lot of .50 caliber in-line rifle shooters ... or those who hunt with a .50 caliber in-line rifle ... who have tried loading and shooting a saboted .40 caliber (.400" diameter) bullet out of a rifle with a .500" bore. However, for those who have at least thought about it ... Harvester Muzzleloading does include in its sabot lineup that dark blue .50x.40 Crush Rib Sabot shown on the right side of the above photo.
Now, surely those of you who HAVE NOT are likely asking yourself ... "With so many saboted .451" or .430" diameter bullets now available for the modern .50 caliber front-loading rifles ... why would anyone really want to try getting such a combination to shoot with a high degree of accuracy?"
Actually, there are a couple of reasons why some people do ... or at least seek to. One is that it's possible to load and shoot a significantly lighter 150 to 200 grain bullet ... at a significantly higher velocity ... with much milder recoil. Then, another reason is that it is now possible to load ... shoot ... and hunt with a sleek and smaller diameter bullet which has a much higher ballistic coefficient (b.c.) ... for a flatter shooting hunting bullet that retains velocity and energy downrange much better than a ,451" diameter bullet of the same weight.
That bullet shown directly above is the .400" diameter .287 b.c. all-copper MAXIMUS spitzer hollow-point produced by Cutting Edge Bullets. The company currently only offers the bullet pre-packaged with the light blue Crush Rib Sabot shown on the left in the above photo. This is a .45x.40 sabot for a fast twist bore .45 caliber in-line rifle.
But...what is that black thing-a-ma-jiggie the sabot is sitting on? It's called a "Magnum Sub Base" (produced by Muzzleload Magnum Products) - and it protects the base from excessive pressures produced by heavy powder charges. When using the Harvester Muzzleloading .50x.40 sabot ... especially when shooting an all-copper .400" diameter bullet ... you'll very likely find it a must.
Those heavy sleeves which take up the difference between the .400" diameter bullet and .500" bore are extremely stiff ... and so are the powder charges required to force them to peel out and away from the bullet in order to catch air and fall back and away from the bullet. Even though the .50x.40 sabot shown above left was propelled down a .50 caliber bore by a 120-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 ... note that the base cup practically looks as if the sabot had not even been shot ... thanks to the use of a sub base. On the other hand, without a sub base between the sabot and powder charge ... when shooting all-copper bullets the pressures of a 110- or 120-grain charge of Blackhorn 209 or FFFg Triple Seven will very typically blow the bottom right out of these sabots - as shown above right.
Should shooting that high b.c. .40 caliber 240-grain bullet now seem like something you just might want to try with your .50 caliber in-line ... there is one major problem most of you are sure to run into. That is the rate of rifling twist most likely found in your rifle. Unless it is the Pedersoli .50 caliber No. 209 primer ignition Rolling Block Muzzleloader shown at left ... or one of the discontinued Savage Model 10ML II rifles ... your rifle very likely has a 1-in-28 twist. The two rifles mentioned feature a 1-in-24 twist.
The 1-in-28 twist simply will not adequately stabilize the longer 240-grain .400" MAXIMUS bullet. That hundred yard group shown here, shot with the 1-in-24 twist Pedersoli rifle, measures .667" center-to-center. The powder charge was 120-grains of Blackhorn 209, and the Harvester .50x.40 CRS was loaded over a Magnum Sub Base for each shot. Velocity of the load was 2,137 f.p.s. (with 2,434 f.p.e.).
Come mid May, we look to spend a couple of mornings shooting several different .40 caliber bullets out of several different .50 caliber rifles - using the Harvester Muzzleloading .50x.40 sabot featured in this post. Out of the 1-in-28 twist rifles, we'll stick with bullets of 200-grains and lighter. We should have a detailed report on the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING website before the end of that month.
If you've played around with shooting .400" diameter bullets out of your .50 caliber rifle, or rifles, please use the comment section to share your experience ... and the performance you achieved. Likewise, if you've taken game with these smaller diameter bullets, please share how well they performed. - Toby Bridges
For More On Shooting The 1-in-24 Twist Pedersoli .50 Rolling Block Muzzleloader Go To -
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