View Full Version : What load for .54 T/C Hawken?

Bob Krack
02-15-2008, 12:48 PM
I just inhiereted a Thompson/Center .54 caliber Hawken style percussion rifle.

My only experience with muzzle loaders was more than 30 years ago with a .45 cal caplock pistol kit. Had lots and lots of fun with it!

Back on the subject, while waiting on a manual and parts list - it needs a trigger spring - I have been thinkin bout what to load into it. My first thought was to load a "minni" with the big hollow base but havent been able to find a 54cal mold for it.

So, the Lee "R E A L" .54 is available in 300 and in 380 gr and am figgerin that the 380 will give me the biggest variety in loading ability (slow and heavy or faster and heavy). Course, a round ball will be in my bag as will store bought sabotted slugs.

Anyone know offhand if a shotshell wad might be used as a sabot?

Thanks all in advance,


02-15-2008, 01:16 PM
I think I would try to settle on a hunting load of about 80 grains of FFg Goex and a patched ball if it were me,and a target load of 60 grains Goex FFg.
just make sure you NEVER put smokeless in that rifle,it WILL fail and get you hurt or killed.
Just call T/C for a spring,they have a lifetime warranty!

02-15-2008, 01:29 PM
54 cal is close to 28 gauge It is about .560 It is just as easy to get 54 cal sabots you can get them to shoot 430 451 and 50 cal. I use a felt wad below the bullet helps seal gases. What is your barrel twist 1x48 or 1x66 mots T C were 1x 48 they will shoot real bullets and sabots fairly well.

02-15-2008, 02:36 PM
I have a Jaeger 54 flint. It really likes the Lee REAL 380gr. It holds plenty of lube and is easy to load.

For plinking and close target work I use 25gr. Goex 3F Lots'a fun and nice tight groups.

For "walk-a-bouts", trapline and snowshoeing I load 50gr.3F...Plenty of power ..1100FPS...if I ever need it to save my butt from an angry moose or the likes. But still quiet enough I don't need ear-protection for stump shooting.

For hunting I use 100gr.3F...lots of power, packs a Taylor KO of 44! and plenty of noise!...1500fps....this matches the power of my 475Linebaugh. (not in penitration due to the pure lead boolit)

I have a Lee HB minnie style mould....The boolit is a nice shape but it doesn't hold enough lube.

02-16-2008, 03:46 PM
I think I would try to settle on a hunting load of about 80 grains of FFg Goex and a patched ball if it were me,and a target load of 60 grains Goex FFg.

+1. That's exactly what I shoot in mine, although I have a slow-twist Green Mountain barrel on mine. Now that I think on it, only my stock and buttplate are still original T/C parts.

02-19-2008, 12:38 PM
As a general rule, you can go up to about 1/2 the ball weight in a muzzle-loader for a hunting load and get good results ie a 54 RB weighs 220 gains a powder charge of 110 2F will work which is what I use in my flintlock. Madcaster's load of about 80 grains isn't all bad from the faster twist in a TC. Its hard to improve on dead when hunting and should take out most any critter. Some like 3-F for the lighter charges as it tends to foul less. 100 Grains of 3f behind a 380 grain slug would get your attention in a light weight TC. Some like those loads, good shooting have fun.


02-19-2008, 09:29 PM
I have the Renegade in .54; same gun with 2 inch shorter barrel and iron furniture rather than brass.

News for ya; the Hawken has a compromise 1-48 twist, which is not optimum for either round ball nor conical. Forget the sabots. Most using like, say, the 240 XTP .44 pistol bullet will not be stabilized.

The 380-450 grain conicals will also shoot poorly due to the slow twist. Due to the fast twist (for roundball) you can't use max loads. With conicals, you must use only the lightest ones or you will have poor to nonexistent accuracy.

My best load for accuracy (was) the 310 grain Ball-et but I understand they don't make it any more. That projectile really shoots.

Roundballs shoot okay as long as they don't go too fast, but not as well as a dedicated round ball barrel shoots them.

I have both the 300 and 380 REAL Lee bullets and have had a tough time getting them to shoot as well. In theory, the 300 should be better for the slower twist and I had hopes for it but in a limited amount of experimentation things aren't looking good. I have a few others to try this summer, including the lightest full caliber (300 grain) hollowpoint Buffalo belted bullets on the recommendation of a friend.

I have a supply of the accurate Ball-et on hand but when those run out I'm back to the drawing board in search of a substitute. I am hoping I find something this summer.

For plinking and recreational shooting try 50-60 grains Pyrodex Select and a roundball.

If trying the conicals I recommend max charges on anything over 330 grains as you need to be spinning the projectile as fast as possible in hopes of adequate stabilization in the marginal twist. If fast don't shoot there is no hope for slow. You might try 777 in the hopes that the extra velocity will improve stabilization and accuracy.

02-20-2008, 01:21 AM
We have a boolit available designed especially for the TC 54 cal 1/48" twist at as I recall 420gn.

02-20-2008, 03:07 AM
I think I would try to settle on a hunting load of about 80 grains of FFg Goex and a patched ball if it were me,and a target load of 60 grains Goex FFg.
just make sure you NEVER put smokeless in that rifle,it WILL fail and get you hurt or killed.
Just call T/C for a spring,they have a lifetime warranty!

My guess is same as above. You never know till you shoot it. My wife's TC 50 cal
would hold all loads with a round ball well even 110 gr 2F but its the only TC I had seen like that.
It shot the lite loads better but if you loaded it of she still do find. I have seen lots of deer shot with a RB and 50 to 60 gr 2F and at woods shots of 50 60 yards that ball will go in one side and out the other on a side shot.
Enjoy and go play. You never know till you try it out.

02-20-2008, 12:43 PM
Most TC's shoot round ball acceptably if you do not overload them. One year at a larger shoot a guy kicked everyones tail using a 50 TC hawken at 100 yard offhand. I do not know the load. He demonstrated that the nut behind the butt is still an important factor in accuracy. A 54 with a 1-48 is a little faster twist but is still usable. When I used to shoot the old Numrich arms barrels which had a shallower rifling I used to use a larger ball and thinner patch. You might try a 535 in the TC 54 instead of a 530. Accuracy is also relative to your use. For deer hunting you really do not need 1" groups at 100 yards and are not likely to get them with TC sights. Shallow grooves may also prefer 3-F. The 80 grain load of 2-f or 3-f should work behind a properly patched round ball.


Bob Krack
02-28-2008, 04:11 PM
After dis-assembling and cleaning the rifle, it appears to have a small split in the wood running vertically through the hammer pivot hole. Open at the top, closed at the bottom.

Is it likely that there is ANY SAFE way to glue - or patch the stock (and still shoot)?

I have a message in to Thompson/Center about a new stock but since the rifle is a "kit" gun, I am certain I will have to buy a new stock.

I have also seen synthetic stocks but have no idea where to buy one of those critters... Thinking of "patching the original stock for "wall hanging" and the synthetic stock for shooting.

Maybe I'll just go down and see Marshall Jones (Jones Fort) for a professional opinion.

What think y'all? Anyone got one for sale?


02-28-2008, 05:23 PM
I cannot see any danger in shooting the gun except that you may make the split larger. I've seen more than one TC stock start splitting. I have also seen quite a bit of that on walnut stocks on originals. Great Grandad preferred maple for gunstocks because it could take oils (maple has been used for machinery bearings) and because it did not split as bad. Walnut was more common on military arms. When I have done restoration I have taken SLOW setting epoxy and let it flow into the cracks. Sometimes I even wedge them open slightly to get it to flow in. Walnut is slightly oily such that Epoxy works well on it. Some stop the splits by drilling a hole at the base of the split on the inside and gluing in a dowel as well as gluing the split. Another method is to use some sort of fancy inlay. Good luck.