Lies, No Sex, but Muzzleloading

By Randy Wakeman

Many of the "truths" that have been parroted for many years in frontloading city are either half-truths or outright lies. It is time to set the record straight, past time, actually. Here are but a few of them, presented for your reading pleasure.

Bore Butter Seasons Barrels

That is an absurd and ridiculous notion. The notion that, in this day and age, a combination of road kill, wax, and "fresh pine scent" changes or protects the surface of a modern steel barrel in any way is without foundation. A century ago, when barrels were iron or laminated steel, good bore protectants were hard to come by.

Sure, lard, bear grease, bacon drippings, anything that was available to coat metal was better than nothing, and was used on far more than barrels. It was used on wagon wheels, hinges, and practically anything that moved to reduce friction. Some of the old "natural" lubes were outstanding, such as sperm whale oil.

Most of us don't do much whaling these days, though, and to really protect the bore of your muzzleloader you need the same properties that work on any other modern rifle barrel, such as Breakfree CLP. Bore butter is "udder balm," handy if your milk cow has a sore udder, but as far away from a high performance metal protectant as can be obtained. Hard as a rock in cold weather, runny as water in the summer, bore butter is better off thrown or flushed than inflicted on a rifle.

Black-Powder Substitutes Need to be Measured by Volume.

That is false on its face. They CAN be, but that does not mean they have to be, or even should be. We sure don't measure Pyrodex or Triple 7 pellets by volume or by weight, do we? Modern black powder subs have a higher energy content than true black powder. If you want better accuracy with Triple 7 loads, use your powder measure to pour 100 grains by volume onto your scale. Note the actual weight. Now, pre-measure all your charges by actual weight, and watch your groups shrink. It is just that easy.

Muzzleloaders Need Muzzleloader Scopes.

This is another goofy notion. Today's muzzleloaders are clearly rifles, and have trajectories similar to a .45-70 or .35 Remington cartridge rifle. A suitable scope for a .35 Remington or a .45-70 Government rifle is a suitable scope for a muzzleloader. They do the same thing, at the same ranges, and have similar recoil.

209 Primers are Too Hot.

This is another ridiculous notion, perpetrated by those who peddle after market breechplugs and ignition systems that have false claims of accuracy attached to them. Well, not only have I tested most all of them, I've also designed breechplugs. If there was any provable accuracy increase associated with low-power small bore rifle primers vs. 209 primers I'd certainly not be shy about mentioning it.

There is not, so I have never claimed it, and anybody who does claim it is taking severe liberties with the truth. There is no basis for it. Black powder is easy to ignite, and does not need a hot spark to fire. Pyrodex needs more, Triple 7 needs more yet, and Triple 7 pellets need more still.

Year after year, Triple 7 and 209 shotshell primers have won the NMLRA Championships. Does anybody really think that when shooting for all the marbles the top marksmen would not avail themselves of a more accurate ignition system if it were available? What softer ignition system can do is lessen the amount of hard fouling left by Triple 7 loose powder, as can reduced charges of Triple 7. That's all she wrote.

World's Most Powerful Muzzleloader

Whoever says it, they are wrong. It does not exist. Power is customarily measured at the muzzle, unfortunately, not where most of us take our game. Older .58 caliber conical loads of straight black powder regularly break 2500 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle, and for many years that was considered a "small caliber" by big game hunters.

Muzzleloading is reloading; you control what your gun does within certain parameters. Imagine how ridiculous "the world's most powerful shotgun" argument would sound? Build a gun heavy enough and long enough, the only restriction to "power" is what we can bear to drag around. Punt guns are not coming back into vogue, no matter how loud and shrill the brags for "power" continue. Certainly, we need ample energy and velocity to allow our chosen projectile to do its job at its strike distance. We are still operating in the arena of the .45-70 Government, and no one that I am aware of makes the "world's most powerful" .45-70 Government rifle.

Magnum Muzzleloading

It is either a term of art, or a term of deception depending on who is saying it. Striking velocity and energy remains just that, regardless if you call it a magnum thingy or not. For comparison, the .577 Kynoch cartridge develops 7,020 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. For some reason, it is not designated as a magnum of any sort, and I've never seen anyone at the range shooting one.

Muzzleloading is a Black Powder Sport

It obviously is not. Black powder is an organic compound comprised of three substances. The vast majority of muzzleloading hunters do not choose to use black powder today, and most never have.

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Copyright 2005 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.