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Thread: Lyman 54 cal great plains rifle

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Lyman 54 cal great plains rifle

    I just ordered a Lyman Great Plains 54 cal.I have never had a 54 cal before.
    What is a good starting load of real bp for this rifle.

    Fly

  2. #2
    Boolit Master ktw's Avatar
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    I use 90 gr of FFFg for hunting and 60gr for more informal shooting, both behind a patched roundball.

    The 90 grain load shoots tighter groups. The 60gr load doesn't deplete the powder supply quite as fast.

    I have a 30 gr spout on the flask, so its two drops or three, depending on the purpose.

    -ktw

  3. #3
    Boolit Master swamp's Avatar
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    For starting I use the caliber in grains. For a 54 start with 55 grians and work up from there.
    swamp

  4. #4
    With a 435 gr thompson maxi hunter bullet I cast, I use 90 gr ffg. Accurate and devastating.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    What do you guys think of this rifle?I really got there kit & look forword to building it tomy own liking.Brown the barrel & hardware & keep it simple.It looks from the pictures to have
    more drop in the stock than most Hawkin stile rifles, TC,CVA ect & I hope thats right.

    I really wanted a flint, but could not pass up the price on a close out.My other half does
    not know I ordered it yet, but I'm used to getting yelled at,Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

    No I was hoping there was some that have these rifles could chime in & tell your likes
    & dislikes & how much powder you like on the 54 cal.
    Thanks Fly

  6. #6
    Boolit Master ktw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fly View Post
    What do you guys think of this rifle?
    I think the Interarms/Lyman Great Plains Rifle is the best deal going on a factory, reasonably traditional, sidelock muzzleloader. They are comparable in quality to the T/C guns, cost a bit less and I like the styling of the Great Plains much better. They are better quality than most of the other spanish/italian imports. I haven't run into one yet that wasn't a great shooter.

    The Interarms lock isn't anything special. I think that makes a more significant difference in a flintlock than a caplock. You are better off getting the GPR in a caplock and save up for a higher end flintlock with a top of the line lock.

    To get anything better requires a pretty significant price jump; $650+ for parts or $900+ for a built rifle.

    -ktw

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Good Cheer's Avatar
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    The .54 GPR is simply an awesome machine in flint and percussion.
    My only "complaint" would be that a selection of reasonably priced swap out barrels would be nice to drool over.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master


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    The GPR is a copy of Jim Bridger's Hawken.
    One trick is to replace the adjustment screw for the set trigger with a longer one from the hardware store.
    The screw that comes with the gun is too short for a light touch on the set trigger.
    Lawyers, I guess.
    Best,
    Mike

    NRA Life Member
    Remember Ira Hayes

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I have a GPR in .54 left hand caplock(had to order that!) and really enjoy it. Using Dutch Schultz' method, I shoot loads of 30 grains for the kids, 60 grains for me and 90 grains for deer. It took me a while to get there, but I finally found a combination that allows me to put .535 RBs in a six inch bull at a hundred yards off the bench with the 90 grain load. I sure wish I could shoot that good without a bench!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    I use a similar load in my 54 to what is posted, only 90 grains of 2f Swiss. That still hits the chronograph at about 1700 fps which is plenty for what I shoot at. Rifles, even of the same brand seem to tend to have their own little quirks. Lots of people shoot about 60 grains up close for plinking.

    DP

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooter View Post
    The GPR is a copy of Jim Bridger's Hawken.
    One trick is to replace the adjustment screw for the set trigger with a longer one from the hardware store.
    The screw that comes with the gun is too short for a light touch on the set trigger.
    Lawyers, I guess.
    The GPR is not a copy of the Bridger rifle. I have handled that particular gun at the state museum in Helena, Mt.
    John Baird and another individual were in the process of making an exact copy, but I seem to remember they ran into some sort of production problems. I think they were working with Uberti at that time, and I'm not sure the project ever saw production. I would have to go back through the old Buckskin Reports, I believe John did a series of articles as they were working towards a production point.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Jim how thick of patch do you use with a .535 ball.In my .50 cal,s I use a .490 ball.I would
    have thought a .535 would be tight if indeed that muzzle is right on at .540.

    Do these barrels differ in size?
    Fly

  13. #13
    Boolit Master

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    Yep, the GPR is simply a general facsimile of a "Hawken" style plains rifle. Even the original Hawken rifles varied as to style/specs over the period of production and were subject to special order, etc. But, the GPR comes closer than the T/C "Hawken" . I've looked at maybe 5-6 original Hawken rifles and none were the same and none were the same as the GPR.

    As to bore dimensions of the GPR .54. The ones I've been around were pretty close to true .54 caliber so .530- .545" RBs with correct patch work fine.

    As to bore condition... the ones I've been around were a little rough in bore surface but could be "shot in" or easily lapped. They shot fine.

    As to the lock... a little rough but funcitonal and would smooth out with use or could be lapped.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master


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    I have always went with 1/2 caliber in grains of powder for small game, one caliber for medium game, 1 1/2 caliber for bigger. 25-30, 50-60, 75-80 grains in a 54 for a patched round ball. This comes from historic loads in origionals. Then there is the load for rhose dangerous nut chompers, 30 grains in a 32.
    Don't buy nuthing you can't take home

    Joel 3:10

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    I like to start out with one grain per caliber for rifle and half that for pistols. So start with 55gr and work up in 5 grain increments until you are satisfied with your load. You can always tune it up or down as needed for the situation.
    Aim small, miss small!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Since your OP was specific to loads for the GPR....

    What I do with any new ML is to shoot it a lot. Get used to it. With a patched RB or a patch on a cleaning jag you can also get a "feel" for the bore condition. Unless something is really out of kilter with the bore, a bunch of shooting will help lap the bore. At some point as you get the feel for the best balance between ease of loading and accuracy you can start homing in on the most accurate load, best accurate hunting load, most pleasant load to shoot. I've shot quite a few different 54 cal RB muzzleloaders and every one of them was slightly different in what it liked. No reason to think yours will be any different. Some .530 and .535 RBs and some .010 and .015 patching and some blackpowder then it's up to the shooter to find out.

    If it were mine I'd probably start at 50 gr FFg, .530 RB and .015 ticking lubed with moose milk. I'd shoot off a rest and start gaining data on accuracy. Then I'd up the charge to 70 gr FFg keeping everything else the same. Record the data. Then go to 90 gr FFg. I may try swabbing/cleaning between shots to see how that affected accuracy. No one can give you a shurnuff prescription for THE magic load. Of my current two 54 RB rifles-- one likes 75 gr FFg, .530 RB, .015 ticking... the other likes 90 gr FFg, 535 RB, .010-.012 tight weave cotton drill. I can get slightly better accuracy with a felt overpowder wad in both guns. For range use the only lube I use is moose milk- couple of drops on wad and patch.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master northmn's Avatar
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    Can't add much to 405's advice except to say it parrallels my experience with about any caliber. I have seen a lot of barrels that needed a "shoot in" . As to the starting load of grans =caliber. Works for a small range of calibers and not so well for the smaller ones or bigger ones. Ned Roberts suggested 3 grains of powder for 7 grains of ball weight which is not all bad in my experience.

    DP

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    I got my third one last year. It's the nicest of the bunch. It's a .54 where the other two were .50's. It likes FFg hands down over FFFg. My .54 Renegade is the opposite. It starts to shoot fairly well at 70gr's of FFg and gets better up to 90 gr's.
    An over powder felt wad helps some. Enjoy the heck out of this rifle! It will shoot better than most.

  19. #19
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    Lyman Great Plains

    I have had a Lyman Great Plains flintlock for a number of years now. I enjoy plinking with 80 grains of Goex 2f pushing a .535 ball with a .015 patch. The one in 66 twist is designed just for round ball, so I have not tried any other bullets. I certainly have no trouble keeping it on a pie plate at 100 yards, even with these old eyes. My TC Renegade caplock with steel furnature has a one in 48 twist and shoots bullets as well as ball. Equally accurate at a hundred yards. I also have a Blue Ridge (from Cabela's) rifle in 36 caliber. This one I have not spent enough time with to get the load and accuracy down as well as I have with the 54 cal rifles. Maybe this spring...

    Enjoy your kit and the build. Take your time and take pictures of each stage so you can share it with us.
    Leonard
    Dysfunctional Disturbed Disabled Debonair Navy Veteran
    Swift Boats, Vietnam, 1967-1968.

    "You are never too old to learn something stupid."

  20. #20
    Boolit Master

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    Assuming that you have the slow-twist RB barrel, as opposed to the fast-twist 'Hunter' barrel, I use 80 grains of 2F in mine, with good accuracy. I used the same load in the Hunter barrel with various conical bullets with excellent accuracy (4" at 100 yards).

    The Lyman GPR does have a few quirks which are worth mentioning. You've already been told abut the adjustment screw for the triggers. The breech steps down to around .38 just behind the drum, and fouling will accumulate there unless you take special steps to clean it. I use a .36 scraper and a .38 bore brush for that. The Hunter barrel that I have was prone to misfire, and I kept that flash hole C-L-E-A-N! I tried musket caps and that didn't help. I eventually switched to the RB barrel, and it doesn't have that problem. I've heard of others with the same problem, including one thread that was posted here recently. One other problem that I encountered was the trigger guard screws pulled right out of the stock. Don't ask how I managed that, cuz I ain't telling! Easy enough to repair, but worth mentioning. The screws are very short.

    I really enjoy that gun - so much that I bought another in flint. I think you'll be happy with your's.
    'I have a feeling we're not in Kansas any more, Toto!' Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check