View Full Version : Small Caliber Muzzleloader Loads

04-24-2005, 01:19 PM
I have a .32 caliber muzzleloader barrel for my Hawken on order, and I've been trying to get some loading info. It's a Green Mountain barrel, 1-in 48 twist. There's not much info. out there with all the emphasis on big game loads, and the few references I've found suggest starting with 25 or 30 grains of powder. Anybody out there have any experience with a .32? I'll be shooting .310 round balls, mostly for squirrels.

04-24-2005, 01:44 PM

I've no experience with 32 cal. But perhaps it'll do some good if I pass this on to you: I used quite successfully 30 gr. of powder for small game loads behind a round ball in my fifty four caliber Renegade. So if I were out for squirrel with a 32, I might see how 15gr. performed, as a start. Make sense? I'll bet it brings 'em down quick, but with no meat damage. Which I suspect is the goal.

04-24-2005, 05:34 PM
Smokepole, I think Patrick is about right with his load recomendation. I have never used a 32 before but I have shot thousands of 36 cal. through my T/C Seneca and I used about 20-25 gr of FFF. This load can still be pretty hard on things if you don't hit them in the head. 28-33 gr in a 36 will blow the head clean off of a rabbit, I guess this is all right but it kind makes things a mess to carry. I also used a 36 cal maxi. over about 38-40 gr of FFF and it was a pretty fair turkey load and I would have no problem using it on deer out to 50 yards if you could get a clear shot behind the leg.

Let us know how the 32 works, I was always afraid a person would have fouling problems with the small bore but I have never talked to anyone who actually had one.


04-25-2005, 05:42 AM
Thanks for the info. I found one good reference, and it discussed just the things you guys brought up--damage to the meat, problems with fouling, etc. Balancing that out, it said that if you go too low on the powder charge the ball won't be stabilized and accuracy drops off. The suggested load to minimize damage was 25 grains, but I think I'll start lower and see what happens. The goal being, the lowest charge that shoots accurately.

A couple follow up questions, Ozark, were you using black powder, pyrodex, or something else? My reference said black powder caused fouling problems, but pyrodex helped a lot. Also, how do you measure your powder? Seems like with the smaller loads, a difference of a grain or two could throw you off. Are the normal powder measures used for big game accurate enough?

Also, for both you guys, out of curiousity did you stick with the stock sights or go with something different?

William Clunie
04-25-2005, 06:39 AM
Mr. Smokepole,
Please contact someone that specializes in the properties of gunpowder/blackpowder (maybe Sundles from BBB could help). I have heard that under charging a blackpowder weapon is more dangerous than over charging. I know T/C tests their firearms by double charging them at the factory, but the unusual thing about blackpowder is this under-charge phenomenon. I'd check to make sure before firing a super low charge. Speak with a technician at T/C or Ox Yoke Originals, etc.
The powder measure I got from T/C is very accurate, and the "natural" method of seasoning a bore and cleaning a blackpowder weapon keeps my smokepole burning clean. Check with the folks at Ox Yoke Originals (www.oxyoke.com) and they'll set you straight on the "natural" method. It's the way they used to do it in the old days, and it still is the best way to maintain a blackpowder weapon as far as I'm concerned.

William Clunie

04-25-2005, 03:20 PM
Thanks, Mr. Clunie. I checked a manual on black powder shooting and it said 25 or 30 grains was a good starting point for a .32, so I feel fairly comfortable with that. It also said that kind of charge would result in some meat damage on small game, which is why I'm interested in the lowest charge that shoots accurately.

I've never heard of under-charging being dangerous, can you elaborate on that? What does it involve, barrel rupture? Is it specific to blackpowder vs. Pyrodex? I think I'll use Pyrodex, because I've been told that .32 caliber barrels are sensitive to fouling and Pyrodex is less of a problem than blackpowder.

I will take your advice and contact T/C or the barrel maker, Green Mountain.

And I've always used the natural method, T/C bore butter in my guns. You're right, it works great! The one problem used to be the scent they put in the stuff (smells like mint), but now they make it pine scented, which is a big improvement.

04-25-2005, 03:35 PM
Smokepole, I use black powder in mine, have always thought about trying something different but hate to change a good thing. As to powder measures, I have an adjustable one made out of brass, it is pretty accurate, although I have never checked out its consistency on my digital powder scale, I base this on the fact I get good groups.

I generally clean about every 5-6 shots, I carry a small bottle of isop. alc. and run a wet one down the bore followed by dry ones. Seems to always work for me.

As for sights, I have always used the Factory sights but would really like a peep rear as my eyesight is starting to suck and I tend to be losing my edge.

Another thing that you might find real handy is to make some loading blocks. I used walnut and oak, ( I think the oak ones were a little better)made them the shape of a kidney, and they each hold 5 patched balls. Very slick and really speeds up loading especially in the winter or when you are trying to hurry up and get that 2nd shot off at the second squirrel that is staring at you after you just dropped his buddy.

Hope this helps, Dan

William Clunie
04-25-2005, 04:28 PM
I use the pine scented stuff too. They call it Wonderlube 1000 because they (Ox Yoke Original) fired a T/C New Englander 1000 times without cleaning it and the last five balls went into a tiny hole at 100 yards (maybe 50?). Don't ever use petroleum products and stick with their natural stuff for cleaning and lubing and you'll do fine. Check with the experts on the underloading phenomenon--I'm sorry, I don't know where I heard it, or who told me about it. It has to do with the way blackpowder burns and creates a gas. Slightly different than modern smokeless powder.
William Clunie

04-25-2005, 06:40 PM
I believe you are thinking of the intermittant "detonation" problem with low charges of slow burning smokeless powder.
When 4831 was cheap and plentiful, there were loads worked up for almost any conceivable purpose. The detonation problem was very infrequent, but apparently a real concern.
Big difference between a smokeless case with only a fraction of the volumn occupied by powder, and a muzzle loader, with the ball pushed down to the charge.

Dave R.
04-25-2005, 07:17 PM
Hi William...do you know thickness of patch was used to do that 1000 shot feat?? Maybe rice paper??!!!