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Thread: How much powder to use with 45 cal Minie bullet?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master wellfedirishman's Avatar
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    Question How much powder to use with 45 cal Minie bullet?

    Folks,

    I cast up some 45 cal Minie type bullets recently with a Lyman mold, from soft lead. They were well lubed with TC Bore Butter.

    The Lyman mold is:
    Lyman #445599 .45 Cal. 255 Grain Hollow Base mini Ball Mould Blocks

    When I shot them in my TC Hawken 45 (1/48 twist I believe) with about 50 grains of FFg, they did not shoot particularly well. They appeared to stabilize (as there were no keyholes) but did not group well. With the same powder charge, a patched round ball of .445 diameter shot quite well, about a 2 inch group at 50 yards.

    An experienced muzzleloader at the range told me that for a 45 Minie ball, you need 90 grains or for it to bump up and shoot well.

    Can anyone tell me:
    1) How soft a 45 minie ball needs to be? I cast these out of lead I could indent with a fingernail.

    2) How much powder you need to properly expand the skirt of the Minie, but not too much to blow its skirt off?

    3) What twist rate is required to properly stabilize this Lyman .445 Minie?

    Thanks! This is the first time I have tried something other than a round ball in a muzzleloader.
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  2. #2
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    The Lyman mold is: Lyman #445599 .45 Cal. 255 Grain Hollow Base mini Ball Mould Blocks.
    When I shot them in my TC Hawken 45 (1/48 twist I believe) with about 50 grains of FFg, they did not shoot particularly well. They appeared to stabilize (as there were no keyholes) but did not group well. With the same powder charge, a patched round ball of .445 diameter shot quite well, about a 2 inch group at 50 yards. An experienced muzzleloader at the range told me that for a 45 Minie ball, you need 90 grains or for it to bump up and shoot well.

    Can anyone tell me:
    1) How soft a 45 minie ball needs to be? I cast these out of lead I could indent with a fingernail.

    2) How much powder you need to properly expand the skirt of the Minie, but not too much to blow its skirt off?

    3) What twist rate is required to properly stabilize this Lyman .445 Minie?


    Wellfed...., Did you happen to swab (dry OR damp patch) your bbl. after each shot? If not, you may want to try it, as the powder and lube fouling may not be helping your accuracy. Also, the 2" groups with .445" patched RB's are a bit troubling. A T/C bbl. is capable of better accuracy than that (5 shots in 1" - 1.5" from a rest). I must also ask how well that Minie Ball fits your bbl.? If it's too loose, accuracy will likely suffer. (You may need to paper patch it to fit.) Assuming you don't have a problem with the bbl. or how it fits the stock and tang, I'll try to answer your questions:

    1) Pure Pb for Minie balls and Maxi-Balls. I've tried using WW's + 1% Sn and ony succeeded in wasting powder and alloy. OTOH, pure Pb Maxi-'s and REAL's were very accurate (5 touching from a rest) in my T/C .45cal. Hawken.

    2) This is something you'll need to experiment with. Why not start with 40gr. FFg, maybe 10 shots (swabbing between each shot) v. 50gr. v 60gr. v. 70gr. v. 80gr.? I'm thinking accuracy should improve at 60gr. Btw, after you determine which load is more accurate, you may also want to retest and fill the hollow bases with lube as well.

    3) The 1:48 twist will stabilize a 240gr. Maxi-Ball, but it may be a tad slow for the 255gr. Minie ball. A bit more speed may help.

    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Ya the minies weight needs alot more powder than the round balls.I can't tell you on a 45cal
    but 90 grains does no seem out of line.I have shot 110 with a 50cal.

    Fly

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Several pretty good questions there wellfed. I'm sure you'll get some opinions. Some of the skirt expansion thing has to do with how thick the skirt is.

    Now, I think that minie #445599 should drop a bullet of about .445" diameter and is designed for a 44 cal bore not a 45 cal. So even if the skirt expands it may or may not translate to accuracy. I've found that minies shoot best if they are very close to bore diameter and I'd bet your bore is about .450-1". If your T/C has original barrel it should have a 48" twist and that should be plenty to stabilize a minie since they are stabilized by a combination of both gyroscopic and aerodynamic forces.

    My guess is that your minie is stabilizing OK. But even if the skirt is expanding the front part of the bullet probably isn't.... so at ignition the nose portion is getting slammed off of centerline- thus the poor accuracy. I think the more correct minie for the .45 cal may be the #454613?

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    The others gave you good info. What is your definition of not shooting well? You may not have enough twist for the real accurate shooting you may be wanting or you may just get so-so accuracy. Like the others said run up some charges and see. Each gun is it's own and one may shoot real well with a certain twist and another may not or like stated your minie you have may not work well in your gun.
    Aim small, miss small!

  6. #6
    Boolit Master


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    I have not tried that mini but the Lee designed for 45 is loose enough in most of my guns that I paper patch them and they shoot very well at 45 to 60 grains of fffg. fffg seems to do better with mimis in my guns in all bores. I do not load any of them heavy.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master wellfedirishman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    Wellfed...., Did you happen to swab (dry OR damp patch) your bbl. after each shot? If not, you may want to try it, as the powder and lube fouling may not be helping your accuracy.

    I dry brushed the barrel between shots.

    Also, the 2" groups with .445" patched RB's are a bit troubling. A T/C bbl. is capable of better accuracy than that (5 shots in 1" - 1.5" from a rest).

    The barrel is an older one and has been shot quite a bit before I got it (judging by pitting etc on the outsize near the muzzle and muzzle). It does well with a Hornady 445 round ball in a tight TC Bore-Butter lubed patch. 2 inches is not too bad for me with iron sights

    I must also ask how well that Minie Ball fits your bbl.? If it's too loose, accuracy will likely suffer. (You may need to paper patch it to fit.)

    The Minie Bullet is pretty loose going in. I suspect that it is not expanding enough to grip the rifling.

    Assuming you don't have a problem with the bbl. or how it fits the stock and tang, I'll try to answer your questions:

    1) Pure Pb for Minie balls and Maxi-Balls. I've tried using WW's + 1% Sn and ony succeeded in wasting powder and alloy. OTOH, pure Pb Maxi-'s and REAL's were very accurate (5 touching from a rest) in my T/C .45cal. Hawken.

    I used lead that dented easily if I tapped it against concrete. I haven't tried squeezing a Minie ball with my fingers to see if it is soft enough to bend the skirt.

    2) This is something you'll need to experiment with. Why not start with 40gr. FFg, maybe 10 shots (swabbing between each shot) v. 50gr. v 60gr. v. 70gr. v. 80gr.? I'm thinking accuracy should improve at 60gr. Btw, after you determine which load is more accurate, you may also want to retest and fill the hollow bases with lube as well.

    Thanks, I will try upping the powder charge in increments.

    3) The 1:48 twist will stabilize a 240gr. Maxi-Ball, but it may be a tad slow for the 255gr. Minie ball. A bit more speed may help.

    Hope this helps!
    Dirtfarmer, I will try FFFG next time and see if the faster burn expands the skirt better.

    Thanks to everyone who responded. I appreciate all the info, this is very helpful.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Might try some Lee REALs also. They shoot pretty well in some guns. I could send you some if you would like to try. They come in two sizes in each caliber. I have the smaller one for .45, I think it 200gr.
    Aim small, miss small!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master idahoron's Avatar
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    I use a 316 gr Lee Improved minie in my 45. Mine is a 1-28 twist .451 Green Mountain. I paper patch them and I use 80 gr of Pyrodex. The lead I use is on the hard side of 5 BHN which is still very soft. I add a small amount of lead shot to the pure lead to make the lead flow better and it makes it s pinch harder to handle the higher speed. But you have to remember I am using a paper patch and an over powder wad. Ron

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    "...judging by pitting etc on the outsize near the muzzle and muzzle...."

    Wellfed, Does that pitting affect the bbl. crown as well? If so, a piece of #320 grit paper on the ball of your thumb will restore it and increase the odds of accurate shooting.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master wellfedirishman's Avatar
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    Maven, the crown is ok thanks. Just that there is pitting on the barrel indicating it has probably been shot quite a bit.

    I will experiment with round ball and Minie loads some more and see what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    "...judging by pitting etc on the outsize near the muzzle and muzzle...."

    Wellfed, Does that pitting affect the bbl. crown as well? If so, a piece of #320 grit paper on the ball of your thumb will restore it and increase the odds of accurate shooting.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Baron von Trollwhack's Avatar
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    405 hit it on the nose. That minie was designed for the H & A underhammers with tight bores and shallower grooves that the usual patch guns. These guns also were used with the .437 RB moulds, the .440s being a tight fit even thinly patched.

    The bullet will shoot nicely in the rifles with a charge around 50 grains fffg. I've had both the moulds involved here and the longer barrel model of the H & A. BvT
    It is a crying shame that our goobermint, especially bozo and his stooges did not go positive for oil/gas exploitation years ago. The economy would already have been better without the saudis having a fire sale in an attempt to kill off fracking for their own benefit .
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master wellfedirishman's Avatar
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    Thanks BvT and 405. I just purchased a Lee REAL 45 and will give that a try instead.

    I might try paper patching this Lyman Minnie just for fun and see how it does.


    Quote Originally Posted by Baron von Trollwhack View Post
    405 hit it on the nose. That minie was designed for the H & A underhammers with tight bores and shallower grooves that the usual patch guns. These guns also were used with the .437 RB moulds, the .440s being a tight fit even thinly patched.

    The bullet will shoot nicely in the rifles with a charge around 50 grains fffg. I've had both the moulds involved here and the longer barrel model of the H & A. BvT

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