The Royal Road to Savage 10ML-II Success
It really does not take a great deal of work to find an effective hunting load for your new 10ML-II. In fact, it is the easiest possible muzzleloader to work up a load for. There are endless options for those who enjoy fiddling and tinkering-some which make sense, others that are void of it. It remains a puzzlement as to how many folks remain unable to decide on a reasonable hunting load after allegedly years of playing around. The short answer to this is that they are not hunters at all, but simply those who have no particular goal in mind except to continue to play. If that what you seek, then there are far more esoteric treatises to endure. Every single load here, sighted in a 3" high at 100 yards, will cause a sudden demise to any trophy deer you plant the crosshairs on to 190 yards (or more) terminating your animal with over one half of a ton of striking force at that 190 yards with no holdover or vertical trajectory compensation of any kind.
When you get your new gun, clean the bore with Hoppe's #9, and lube the breechplug and ventliner with Mil-Spec 907E Anti-Seize (Never-Seez, Permatex, etc.), available from any auto parts store. A pound of the stuff will last you for years; either the gray "standard" type than can make you look like the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz, or the copper type is fine. There is often an urge to shoot your new gun right away, but please don't overlook this simple but vital step.
II. 209 Primers
Standard Winchester 209 shotshell primers work generally the best. There is no compelling reason to waste your time on anything else unless you wish to.
There are three Savage preferred powders at present. The worst thing you can do is try to use what your buddy has in his garage. Unless you want to waste time or ignore Savage Arms' clear warnings, use IMR SR4759, Vihtavouri N110, or Accurate Arms 5744.
SR4759 works well with 250 grain saboted bullets, N110 works better, both get fussy with 300 grain bullets. Both must be weighed by inexpensive balance beam scale or digital scale for the best accuracy.
Accurate Arms 5744 works great with anything from 250 to 300 grain saboted bullets, making it the most flexible powder of the three. Additionally, it can give superb accuracy when measured by volume with the cheap yellow Lee Dippers. Use either the 3.1cc or the 3.4cc Lee Dipper, whichever your gun likes the best. 42 grains by weight of N110 or SR 4759, or 44 grains by weight of Accurate Arms 5744 are all superb choices.
The standard (not magnum) .452 Hornady 250 grain or 300 grain XTP pistol bullets have always been terrific performers out of the Savage. Alternately, use 250 or 300 grain Barnes MZ-Expanders with the supplied sabots. MZ-Expanders offer better penetration and weight retention than the XTP's, but both are fine choices.
Get fresh, current formulation MMP short black sabots direct from MMP for use with the XTPs. The sabots that automatically come with Barnes MZ-Expanders are MMP HPH-12's, and are the correct sabot for the Savage. If you have old sabots, save yourself a headache and dispose of them properly.
The Savage 10ML-II requires no immediate maintenance or cleaning. It is the easiest and cheapest muzzleloader ever made in terms of cost per shot and overall cost of ownership.
However, you do need to maintain your breechplug for best performance. That means, after a box of primers (100 shots) removing the ventliner face (powder side) of the breech plug, and drilling out the carbon with a 5/32 inch drill bit from the primer side.
The drill bit is self-guiding; make sure you drill all the way through. The carbon you are drilling out is primer energetic; it never gets into the bolt; you need never disassemble or clean.
Lube a new ventliner and screw it in as shown in the manual with Never-Seez, then lube your breechplug with Never-Seez as well and screw it in tightly. That's all the maintenance you will ever need, save for scrubbing your bore with Hoppe's No. 9 every 100 shots as well. For long term storage, Break-Free CLP is an optional but recommended bore protectant.
There isn't much to remember, except like in all muzzleloading, you are a reloader in the field, and the individual assumes all responsibility for proper loading practices. No muzzleloader can do anything by itself. Pour down your powder then seat your saboted bullet via ramrod with about 40 pounds of force over the charge.
The use of a witness mark on your ramrod is requisite. A scratch with your knife or a dab of nail polish marks your proper loading level. Dedicated use of a witness mark on your ramrod precludes the possibility of double loading any muzzleloader. It is the single most important thing you can do to insure safe loading practices. Please remove your ramrod before attempting to fire any muzzleloader. It may sound goofy to you, but some folks manage to shoot their ramrods out of their muzzleloader every year.
Barrel heat is the enemy of any sabot, regardless of type of powder used. It softens and weakens the sabot. Your barrel must be allowed to cool between shots. Wait until it is not hot to the touch, prior to loading for the next shot.
Copyright 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.