Is My Muzzleloader Safe? Here is "THE QUESTION."
As scrutiny of the muzzleloading market quickly reveals, there are no muzzleloading standards. There are no standards for metal, bore-size, testing, or much of anything. SAAMI and the CIP have clear standards for rimfires, pistols, shotguns and centerfire rifles, but it is a brave new world when you look at muzzleloaders. It is quite a mess and has been for a long time. The term "Magnum Muzzleloader" means nothing specific, it's just another meaningless marketing label.
How do we know what a muzzleloader of reasonable build quality should do? Good question, as the manufacturers have still failed to set minimum standards or otherwise control themselves. Pressure information has long been available, as evidenced in the LYMAN Black Powder Handbook & Loading Manual written by Sam Fadala. Lyman Ballistic Laboratories data has been above reproach for decades. If you check pages 172-177 of the second edition of the Lyman book, you will quickly obtain a grasp of what muzzleloading pressures may be. You'll see that 120 grains by volume of Pyrodex RS pushing a 240 grain Hornady sabot can develop 29,900 PSI. You'll find many, many loads developing well over 25,000 PSI peak pressure. A three pellet load can develop 29,000 PSI peak pressure, as shown by Lyman. That still isn't the top pressure loads that are published; some are well above 30,000 PSI with 120 grains of Pyrodex. Loose powder loads heavier than 120 grains by volume of Pyrodex are not touched upon, though heavier loads and hotter propellants than Pyrodex are in common use.
Based on all this, the question becomes obvious. If an inline muzzleloading manufacturer refuses to tell you in writing that their rifles have been designed and tested to withstand a constant diet of 30,000 PSI peak pressure loads safely, their guns should not be sold, much less used.
This is such a basic, common-sense question that no inline muzzleloading manufacturer should have any problem answering it without hesitation. If they can't, they are richly deserving of all the scorn and condemnation that we can lavish on them. It is bad metallurgy and lack of testing that keeps 911 busy for some unfortunate victims, year after year.
Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.