I got asked what my favorite BP rifle was


Staff member
I built a 62 cal 42" barrel custom hawken or trade rifle kit,
I forget which, one first and a near clone later in a 58 caliber ,
I did that mostly because 58 cal projectile designs are far more common than the 62 caliber versions,
and theres very little difference in power
at about the same time , with the same hawken design and 42" barrel.
but either one will throw a 58-62 cal patched ball into a 2"-2.5" 100 yard group most of the time from a bench rest ,
and I'm sure its old eyes keeping the groups that large,
and its effective on deer hogs and the one stupid elk that wondered out in front of it at 80 yards
I've generally used a 58 cal Hawken with patched round balls over 95-110 grains of 2f black powder,
for hunting, as the 62 calibers just a bit less accurate. but I used to own a 1864 Springfield 58 caliber replica that I found to be most accurate with a 505 grain mini over 65 grains of 3f black powder, now that might not sound like much power but a soft lead 505 grain mini punched a BIG hole in a deer and in most cases expands to the size of a 50 cent coin
I load a 110 grains of 1F or 2f a cosmetic cotton ball as a powder gasket then a well lubed greased patch and round ball firmly seated
that round ball looked like a 50 cent piece ,on that elk found against the far side hide and it leaves a impressive hole
I don't know if they are still available, its got a 1 1/8" barrel and its like carrying a truck axle heavy, but its damn effective , makes you appreciate how tough the mountain men must have been and why most carried a hatchet, and a large knife as a secondary weapon




https://www.davide-pedersoli.com/uploads/supporto/9SUGGESTED BLACK POWDER LOADS.pdf


http://www.gmriflebarrel.com/blackpowde ... caliber-42

http://www.cabelas.com/product/Pedersol ... 389473.uts

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/255271 ... steel-blue

http://www.trackofthewolf.com/Categorie ... /BBL-58-42



when I ordered my kit a friend also ordered a similar kit, which I built for him at the time, he sold his when he got divorced and regretted doing that till the day he died (heart attack at 60)

the pressure and efficiency differs with the bore size, and the larger bore size allows you to place more energy on target at longer ranges,
expansion ratio and projectile weight plus the powder and type and granulation
I've owned and shot at least a dozen or more BP rifles and most of my friends are well into them also, the 50 cal and larger bores are by fare the better choices

as a general rule using round balls AND PATCHES ONLY I've found these to be about ball park loads to get both accuracy and high velocity

45 cal-60-70 grains 3f or 2f
50cal 70-80 grains 3f or 2f
54 cal 85-95 grains 3f-or 2f
58 cal 80-95 grains 2f or 1f
62 cal 95-110 grains 1f

obviously youll want to experiment as patch, lube twist and rifle groove depth effect results
your never going to get extremely high velocity but don,t be overly concerned the rifles are still deadly with proper shot placement and these loads


BTW I have yet to see the BP rifle that does not increase the accuracy and shot to shot consistency by inserting a cosmetic cotton ball you can get at any drug store between the powder charge and a really soaking dripping wet with lube, patch around the ball, keeping the bore surface well lubed and fairly free of burnt black powder residue helps consistency and accuracy and the cotton ball helps prevent the lube from contaminating the powder charge, just be sure to mark your ram rod because the ball,patch and cotton ball must be firmly compressed over the powder charge
Last edited by a moderator:


Staff member
I have no idea why the vast majority of hunters are so sure the only decent combination in a black powder rifle needs to be the best in high velocity and inline design,selecting muzzle loaders that are 50 caliber exclusive of the other options.
while theres some fine rifles available in that type Ive never regretted purchasing a 58 caliber hawken kit and building a rifle, and Ive also got a 58 caliber TC big bore, both are fully able to kill deer and elk very effectively out past 150 yards or so, with a good load, and both shoot round balls very accurately (2" off a bench rest at 100 yards) or 500 grain minis in fairly decent groups 3"-3.5"
check your local gun store and pawn shops for used hawken style rifles, the better brands like BROWNING (54 cal)and some Thompson center rifles (54 and 58 cal)are usually available fairly cheap and make good hunting rifles



Ive always been into the older traditional muzzle loaders of the mountain man hawken type , mostly in 58-62 caliber











http://www.midwayusa.com/Product/255271 ... steel-blue





a quality barrel on a correctly loaded hawken in my experience can almost always hold a 4"-5" or smaller group off the bench rest at even 150 yards making it easily capable of killing game even with the patched round ball, keep in mind your 58 cal ballistics easily match or exceed a 45/70.
a properly loaded 600 grain maxi may not be a high velocity load but it punches effectively and usually exits from most angles in my experience on deer and hogs
obviously you need to know how to correctly load,size projectiles, and lube a rifle bullet or patch and be consistent, to maximize accuracy, a maxi ball must be carefully fitted and made from soft lead so the black powder pressure bumps it up expanding it just a bit as its fired and its critical that its properly lubed, the cotton ball and extra lube mentioned earlier in the thread helps seal and accuracy, youll quickly find that some projectiles are far more accurate in your particular rifle than others, not all projectiles are equally accurate in all barrels or twist rates, and even changing the powder charge or lube effects results.
it will take you some time and experimentation at the range but don,t assume that because one mini-or-maxi is, or is not accurate all others will be similar


these guys sell bullet molds


http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/i ... 0000690476

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/i ... 0152650213

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/i ... 0152654213

http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/i ... 0000690404
Last edited by a moderator:


Well-Known Member
I have two favorite muzzle loaders

I love my old school Lyman cap and ball
For hunting doe in snowy Indiana winter.

But my savage 10ml smokeless powder
Puts a hurt on deer at well over 200 yards
@2200fps at the muzzle it's only a few hundred feet a second slower then my .308 win


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

I was recently down at a local outdoor range sighting in my 58 caliber hawken as the season is getting closer.

one of my neighbors who has never used a muzzleloader had purchased an older well used, 45 caliber front loader rather cheaply,
from a buddy and now he wanted to get familiar with it,
he asked for my assistance.
once he watched me load it a few times he found it was not very difficult.
we found he was using a 45 caliber mini-type projectile over 70 grains of 3f powder to get decent 50 yard groups,
we use a cotton ball packed firmly over the powder ,
followed by a bore diam, glob of the linked grease, that makes the bore remain clean and easily loaded
both projectiles while much different caliber, are similar in weight
naturally, the 58 caliber hawken has other heavy projectile options





this is the same soap base grease in a larger container and cheaper per pound and easier to locate than the smaller container below
the soap paste is similar to peanut butter or axle grease as it comes out of the can, but it dissolve's powder fouling
wet a patch with water and rub a bit into both surfaces to get a well greased patch ,that makes loading a patched ball fairly easy

followed by the mini -ball to be a consistently accurate combo in his rifle


Ive used 100 grains of 2f powder followed by a cotton ball and grease, under a patched round ball in my 58 caliber for 4 -to-5 plus decades
either option will kill deer out too well past 120 yards if you can shoot accurately
I know thats no challenge with my 58 but hes still getting the rifle he recently purchased sighted in.

Last edited:


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
this 1842 springfield with a fully rifled barrel, kit,
would be my first choice

but theres certainly several 50-54-58 and 69 caliber kits available, I would strongly suggest a 50 cal minimum and use of a rifled barrel
and the percussion hawken rifles in 54-58 caliber are well proven performers



a 54 0r in my opinion a 58 caliber hawkens always a good choice
and any high quality 58 caliber springfield rifle kit is a good option in my opinion

track of the wolf,
dixie gun works
both sell good kits


I got asked what would I suggest as a good black powder rifle kit to build?
well that is both related to your goals and budget
Last edited:


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member

keep in mind black powder firearms rely a great deal less on initial muzzle velocity and use projectile mass and diameter to achieve lethality, this generally results in very good lethality at short ranges,
but rather limited range, shots much over 150 yards in most cases are not going to retain best accuracy or lethality.
especially if compared to more modern firearms as your generally having under 1800 fps projectile velocity.
the problem is that the rifle twist rate might not stabilize a mini ball as most are designed for patched round ball use primarily

remember impact energy is calculated ,
projectile mass in grains x velocity x velocity divided by 450240


thus a 58 cal round ball might weight 280-300 grains , but a 58 cal. mini might weight 500-590 grains

lets compare
a 30-06 throws a 150 grain bullet at 3000 fps =2998 ft lbs at the muzzle

a 58cal. hawken might throw a 310 grain round ball at 1700 fps=1989 ft lbs

a 45 cal Pennsylvania might throw a 130 grain patched ball at 1900 fps= 1042 ft lbs

that 69 caliber springfield, might throw a 670 grain mini at 1300 fps= 2514 ft lbs
Last edited:


The Grumpy Grease Monkey mechanical engineer.
Staff member
one factor commonly ignored or over looked is the fact that black powder rifles commonly are loaded with softer cast lead projectile that expand to about double the original caliber on impact, now that might not sound impressive until you have experience in the field
a common 308 for example has a ,308 diameter bullet, of lets say 150 grains at its much higher velocity, that might expand to .60 also, but
the cross sectional area of an expanded .60 diameter bullet is roughly 1/3rd of a sq inch in area
a .58 round ball, that expands to something that looks like a 50 cent coin, is commonly found under the skin on the far side of a deer's chest, and has a cross sectional area of about, 1.1 sq inch, or nearly 3.5 times the cross sectional area, thus the damage done internally on the lungs is substantially greater. Ive shot der with my 58 caliber Hawken and the lungs and heart were almost all effectively jello during the field dressing
now both the modern 308 and the old Hawken are both effective and the 308 has easily far more effective range, but inside 150 yards where the vast majority of deer are shot your not handy caped with a Hawken muzzle loader if your a good shot