Advanced New Powders Produce Plenty Of Speed
Back in 1985, when I first began loading and shooting saboted bullets, no one actually manufactured a modern rifle with the proper rate of rifling twist for achieving best accuracy with the muzzleloader sabot system. Rifles with a snappier 1-in-32 twist didn't come on the market until 1987...and the now popular 1-in-28 twist followed about a year later.
Another "unknown" back in those days was whether the saboted (.44) .429/.430" diameter or the (.45) .451" diameter pistol/handgun bullets would shoot with best accuracy. That too took a couple of years, and more people shooting them, to determine. Early on, the vast majority of us discovered the thinner sleeves of the .50x.45 sabots tended to fold out and away from the bullet more quickly, forming an airfoil that got the sabot away from the bullet more quickly, allowing the bullet to fly to the target without any additional influence from the sabot. On the other hand, the sleeves/petals of a .50x.44 sabot were more prone to continue gripping the bullet for several yards after exiting the muzzle - and did affect bullet flight.
In the mid to late 1980's, we did not have "black powder substitutes" capable of getting saboted bullets out of the muzzle at velocities exceeding 1,800 f.p.s. The above photo shows sabots that were shot at velocities ranging from around 1,700 f.p.s. to more than 2,000 f.p.s. - and the affects that velocity has on the heavy sleeved .50x.44 sabot. The higher the velocity, the more quickly the sabot opens up and gets away from the bullet...and likewise, the better the accuracy.
Newer powders like Blackhorn 209 and FFFg Triple Seven could very likely be the key to tapping the downrange performance of a slightly smaller diameter and higher b.c. bullets of .429/.430" diameter. The added speed of the sabot and bullet could force those sleeves to fold back...catch air...and pull away from the bullet.
Back in 2012, NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING took a more in-depth look at shooting saboted .44 bullets, and the advantages of doing so - once the lack of speed obstacle could be overcome. The Two-Part report also took a look at the vast superiority of the smaller diameter .429"-.430" diameter bullets when a sharp polymer-tipped spire-point is added to these bullets.
For more on this topic, go to the following two links...
Part 1 - http://www.namlhunt.com/mlbullets4.html
Part 2 - http://www.namlhunt.com/mlbullets5.html
As fast as muzzleloading sprinted ahead during the 1990's and early 2000's, development has slowed considerably during recent years, so don't hold your breathe waiting for bullet makers to immediately begin offering saboted .44 poly-tipped spire-points. However, if enough of you begin asking...who knows, maybe a bullet maker or two just might listen. - Toby Bridges
Above Featured Rifle - Cooper .50 Model 22 ML
HARVESTER MUZZLELOADING Hunter
Harvester Muzzleoading has been a primary sponsor of this website since 2004 - the company's reputation has been built through the quality of their sabots and bullets...plus their outstanding service to America's muzzleloading hunters.