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Finding Accuracy


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#1 HighMountain

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 02:10 PM

Hi Guys,

I recently acquired a Knight MK 85 50 Cal. inline. The bore was in pretty rough shape (lots of rust) but after lots of patches and some pretty wicked chemicals I got it pretty clean. There is some pitting through out the bore but nothing major. I took it out to shoot with some 245 gr sabot loads and 100 gr of pyrodex. and it shot fine. about 2-3" group at a 100yds. Here in Montana we have to use all-lead bullets when hunting during a specific muzzleloader season. I picked up some Hornady GPs bullets in 385gr. But can't get them to group at 50 yds. I figure it might be the powder levels. But am not sure if I should go higher (maybe stablize the heavier bullet) or go lower.

Any help is appreciated.

#2 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 06:17 PM

I have and use a Knight Bighorn which is very similar to your MK-85. My rate of twist is 1:28 and shoots a sabbotted bullet very well. I started out with the 240 gr and got good results but once when I went to buy some more they were out of them but had some 250 gr Hornady XTPs and they shot even better. I had some 260 grain hollowpoints and lo and behold my groups got even better. I then looked up and found that Hornady makes a 300 grain XTP and man I have not looked back since as they shoot extremely well. I presume that you cannot use these bullets where you hunt. Are you permitted to use a sabotted bullet or do you have to use a full bore size lead conical. you can get 45 cal all lead bullets that you can use a sabot if that is legal there. Can you use the powerbelt bullets as that may also be an option. If none of these bullets are legal then the bore size conicals are about all that is left. I suggest trying the 370 grain maxi ball or the 350 grain maxi hunters. If they don't seem to shoot as well for you then you can try a felt wad under the bullet. These are called bore buttons and did work well for my son in his lyman 1:48 twist rifle. you may have to reduce your powder load to effectively shoot the r.e.a.l. (Rifling Engaged At Loading) bullets as they will not stay in the rifling and skip down the barrel with too much push behind them. In my Bighorn which is ignited by either a #11 cap or a musket cap as I never converted it to shoot the 209 shotgun primers I shoot 85 grains of 2f real goex black powder and have killed a number of deer the longest of which was a lasered 77 yds. Let us know what powder you are using as it may help to give a bit better advice.
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#3 HighMountain

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 07:09 PM

This is the verbatim regulation: [Muzzleloaders] must only use plain lead projectiles, not sabots or similar projectiles.

I'm still shooting two 50 gr. pyrodex pellets. I did not convert it either, still #11 percussion.

Hogdgon recommends the use of a wad with conical bullets, perhaps I'll try that too

It sounds like maybe 80 or 90 gr. would be better. I don't know too much about powder (have always done well with pyrodex pellets) Would a loose powder be different? If i remember correctly 2f is slower burning than 3f

I have shot both power belt and sabot loads out of this rifle and have done well

Thanks for the response.

#4 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 08:53 PM

I tried pellets but at the time I only had a side lock percussion and flintlocks and the pellets did not work for me possibly because ignition is from the side and pellets are designed to be ignited from the back.

You can use musket caps by just changing the nipple to accomodate the larger cap. Not only are they hotter they are bigger and therefore easier to load.

The wad is a cheap experiment I bought a whole bag of them for only a couple of dollars.

Pyrodex pellets and pyrodex loose are the same strength. For instance 50 grains of pyrodex is equivelant to one pellet and they are the same as black powder. Some of the other substitutes are different though. Pellets are convenient but are much more expensive than loose powder. Since Real black powder only comes loose I use loose powder. 2f black powder when compared to 3f is a coarser powder. Yes 3f has just a tad more oomph and is easier to ignite. When I started shooting back in the 70s the general rule was any caliber up to 50 cal you should use 3f and 50 cal on up use 2f. Since most of my hunting has been with a 50 cal flintlock I chose 3f for easier ignition. Actually using 2f or 3f there is little difference in my 50 cal. In my inline I have always used 2f and musket caps although I did try #11 caps and felt I got the best possible ignition with the musket cap. They are kinda like a mag #11 cap.

If I were experimenting with full bore size conicals I would start at around 75 grains of powder and work up in 5 grain increments till the pattern starts to open up.
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#5 HighMountain

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 09:02 PM

Well Pyrodex only makes a 30 and 50 gr. pellets for 50 cal. So that means I can shoot 50, 60, 80, 90, & 100 gr. I'll start with 80 and then 90 and if I can't get anything with that, I try a wad.

If that fails, then I try loose powder and work in smaller increments.


I probably won't be able to shoot until next week, but will post on the results

Thanks for your help!

#6 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 09:47 PM

You are welcome. Be sure to check back before you shoot again as Cayugad, our blackpowder moderator will surely check in and have some more great ideas. He got me started on my bighorn accuracy quest.
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#7 cayugad

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 01:55 PM

HighMountain if you are using #11 cap ignition in your MK 85 and shooting pellets, you are going to be for a big let down at some point. Pellets require a lot of flame to get consistent ignition. 209 primers are the recommended ignition source. Even musket caps would give you a little more flame. Now don't get me wrong. A #11 cap can and will ignite a pellet. The problem you are going to run into is when the adverse whether conditions catch up to you. For instance, pellets, #11 cap, hunting, cold, snow, long hours in the field... if you get a poof or nothing at all, don't blame the rifle.

I have three LK rifles. That was the next step above the MK-85. All of them use the #11 caps. I like to shoot pyrodex loose, Goex loose, or Triple Seven loose. Since you have to shoot conical bullets and they must be all lead, I would go with a 3f grade powder. Why 3f you ask? The finer grains ignite easier, especially with a #11 cap. Also the 3r have more surface to ignite and so you get a little more velocity (not a great amount but in some cases 100 feet per second) and you get that large conical bullet to take off faster which is critical to get it spinning.

The nice thing about large conical bullets are they do not need large powder charges to be deadly. Since your shooting Great Plains conicals in 385 grain, I would start them out with 70 grains of 3f Pyrodex P or Triple Seven 3f but I would lean towards the Pyrodex P. It is a good conical powder. As for the wad.. only a flat based conical bullet should have a wad. You don't want a wad if the base of the conical is slightly hollowed. That hollowed area needs to expand to grip the rifling. Even on the flat based I seldom use a conical. If you do not have a wad to try, go to a store and get some corn meal. Dump your pellets if you must, but again.. 70 grains of loose powder, be sure to level your load by tapping it on the toe of your shoe... then about 10 - 20 grains of corn meal, then load your conical bullet. That corn meal will act as a buffer.

Posted Image

That was shooting a 460 grain Bull Shop .451 diameter conical bullet. When I play with my White rifles, I like to shoot a lot. I shot off a whole box that day. But had a lot of fun. And that load of 80 grains of Triple Seven 2f.. I use the 2f because it is the most accurate.

Posted Image

This was shot with my White Ultra Mag which is a conical shooting machine. This is a deer load for me. Although that
"deer load" penetrated 8 inches of solid poplar wood before it stopped and it had opened to (that is the Bull Shop conical I like to shoot)

Posted Image

Posted Image



A person who elk hunts out west shoots 100 grains of Pyrodex P with this conical and with a Lyman Peep sight makes an impressive group at 200 yards with it. I can not shoot iron sights to save me. 100 yards is my limit with the open sights.


When you work up a load, just start at 70 and work up from there. A conical I might recommend which is pure lead is the 460 grain No Excuses No Excuses click on that link to look at them. I would get the 460 and with the .503 diameter they should load pretty good. There is no guarantee that they will shoot well out of your rifle, but I think they will do better then the Great Plains conicals. If you can get them up to even 85 grains of powder, I think an elk would have a real bad day.

Another good conical is the Bull Shop Conical bullet Bull Shop

Dan will make the conical any size (diameter of the bullet) you like. He can take a while though to get them to your house, but he is very reasonable in price, excellent quality, and great to deal with. I just bought 500 more of them from him for my White rifles..

I do shoot these conicals out of my Knight Rifles. I get good accuracy with 80 grains of Triple Seven 2f in my LK but the recoil is a little brutal. But nothing I can not take. Its just my Whites are such a better conical rifle...

I hope this helped. If there is anything I can help you with, let me know...
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#8 HighMountain

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:02 PM

Thanks Cayugad!

I've owned a knight MK 85 before and shot it for years with pellets and never had a misfire, but I will definitely remember your advice.

I'll stick with the pellets for now (only because I still have a full box of them left and I'm pretty cheap) but if I can't get any accuracy, I try the Pyrodex P and maybe try some other bullets as well.

I'm only hunting for whitetails in the river bottoms with conicals, If i wanted to hunt elk with my muzzleloader during firearms season I could whatever I felt like.

I will definitely look into the no excuses and bull shop conicals.

Also I have a pack of bore buttons, are they worth trying or should I just leave them at home?

#9 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 05:03 PM

Highmt I just knew that Cayugad would have some great advice. That is advice you can take to the bank ah er range. He got me started with my knight bighorn and for that I am grateful as it saved me a bunch of experementing. Since you have the bore buttons I would test them along side the load without them. We can only offer advice based on our particular rifles as I have found each rifle may have its own mind as to what it will shoot best and we just have to find that powder/bullet combo that it likes best. Good luck and better shooting. Let us know what you learn while testing.
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#10 cayugad

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 09:50 PM

There is nothing wrong with testing bore buttons. If they work, all the better. They will protect the back end of the conical from the ignition flash.
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, a total wreck with a big smile on your face."

#11 jeepman

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 11:02 AM

X2 on the bullshop and the no excuse conicals. bullshop also makes some UC shorts in .400 and .420 grain, as well as the 460 gr bullets.be sure to measure your bore diameter for a good fit.you can call either place and they will help you with everything you need to know. i also would stick with pyrodex, starting at 70- 75 grs and work up until accuracy falls off or your shoulder can't take the abuse lol!

#12 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 04:49 PM

I have recently upped my Goex powder load from 80 grains to 85 grains and am shooting the 300 Grain 45 cal Hornady xtp with a black Harvester crush rib sabot. There is a noticable but not intolarable recoil increase from the 240 gr and 250 gr xtps. I can imagine going 100 to 150 grains heavier yet would increase the recoil even more but still within tolerable limits. My son has a lyman Deerstalker flintlock that he wanted something with a bit more punch than the patched round ball. He found the TC maxi ball to be very accurate from his rifle. He does use the bore buttons also. Since he got a mature doe a few weeks ago with it and it did not go more than 70 yds from where he hit it and we recovered the bullet. Apparently the deer was angling much more toward him than he thought the bullet entered the left front shoulder, took off a rib and then traveled all the way to the right back ham where we found it lodged. In all that bullet travelled just about 3 feet through that deer and hit 1 lung and bone and although it travelled through the gut area I did not see much damage at all in there. That bullet still weighed 370 grains, the same as a new one and held its shape except for being a little bent over. My experience with the xtps has been great expansion on the two bullets I have recovered and only lost about 4 to 5 grains of weight but expanded From 45 cal to 65 cal.
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