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Thread: 1st Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, 45-120 Pedersoli Sharps

  1. #1

    1st Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, 45-120 Pedersoli Sharps

    Good afternoon guys, I've been reading a lot on this forum and others for quite some time now and have decided to join here. I have been planning on a bpcr for many years but a few weeks ago all the stars aligned. Me, the rifle and the funds all came into close proximity at the same time and I am now the owner of a 2nd hand but never fired Pedersoli 1874 Sharps chambered in 45-120. I've been having a blast working up a load for it and more than a little of the load information I've used has come from this forum.

    Although I'm new to bpcr I have been shooting traditional front stuffers (percussion and flintlock) for 45 years, so you might say I'm getting more advanced in my black powder shooting.

    I just want to thank y'all for the information I've got here. My Sharps load is looking promising with sub 2" groups so far with a stout load of FFG and a 530 grain paper patched bullet (another new experience).


    Regards,
    Brian (aka Pappy)

  2. #2
    Boolit Bub
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    Couldn't agree with you more on the info on here. I did the same as you but a year ago with my sons 577/450 Mark IV Martini Henry. I had lots of questions about BPCR, grease cookies, card wads, and paper patching. Read a lot and asked a few questions and was helped out by some very smart people here, made the learning curve MUCH shorter. Welcome and glad to hear you got your 45-120 up and running right.
    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    welcome to the never ending school of all things bpcr and ppb.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Enjoy the history and make some memories. Its a great way to shoot.

  5. #5
    Thanks for the welcome guys. I know a 45-120 Sharps perhaps ain't exactly historically correct but this is likely my "learning" rifle, before I convince my bride I need a Shiloh . I didn't care for the vernier sight it came with and have already replaced it with a Lee Shaver soule style as well as a P-H front sight. BIG difference there and I couldn't be more pleased. The coarsest powder I have right now is Goex FFG as I shoot triple F in all my front stuffers, even my 54......so I'm a little confused with the dominant recommendations of 1.5F and 1F powder, but I'm easily confused.

    I also realize most folks recommend starting with a 45-70 but I never liked to color inside the lines. Also I have two of those already, my great-grandfathers Winchester high wall that lives in a place of honor (above my grandfathers 1894 30 WCF and my father's pre-64 270) and a Marlin lever action that I have a ball with hunting pigs in close cover. Well I do load for the Marlin I'm ashamed to say it has never fired a black powder load.

    I've been reloading since I was 12 years old, I'm 61 now and just decided to learn how to cast bullets......haven't had this much fun in a long time. Thanks again for the kind responses.

    Regards
    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    The 1F and 1.5F fill the case more and allow for better compression of the charge along with a velocity in the range of where you want to be. I use 1 1/2 in 45-70 and 45-90. Your pedersoli is more than likely a 1-18 twist so bullets in the 500 - 550 grn range should be in the works. Theres a lot of Thump in a 550 grn bullet at 1200 fps, at both ends.

    Another hint. when buying paper for PP bullets when you find one that works buy a lot of it, chances are when you need more its changed.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by West Texas Infidel View Post
    Thanks for the welcome guys. I know a 45-120 Sharps perhaps ain't exactly historically correct but this is likely my "learning" rifle, before I convince my bride I need a Shiloh .

    your pedersoli is more than a capable rifle of bringing home the bacon, be it meat or medal, and imho shiloh's aren't gonna do more for ya other than "braggin' rights".

    I didn't care for the vernier sight it came with and have already replaced it with a Lee Shaver soule style as well as a P-H front sight. BIG difference there and I couldn't be more pleased.

    lee's super grades are all i use and need for my rollers and sharps Name:  thumbsup.gif
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    The coarsest powder I have right now is Goex FFG as I shoot triple F in all my front stuffers, even my 54......so I'm a little confused with the dominant recommendations of 1.5F and 1F powder, but I'm easily confused.

    i use swiss 3f for my trad ml's that are .40 thru .62, but i use swiss 1-1/2f for the bpcr guns. 1f would prolly work for the better in yer 120.

    I also realize most folks recommend starting with a 45-70 but I never liked to color inside the lines. Also I have two of those already, my great-grandfathers Winchester high wall that lives in a place of honor (above my grandfathers 1894 30 WCF and my father's pre-64 270) and a Marlin lever action that I have a ball with hunting pigs in close cover. Well I do load for the Marlin I'm ashamed to say it has never fired a black powder load.

    imho, the 45-120 is a "fun gun" as it has no realistic advantage for bpcr silhouette or target, and more than likely presents a disadvantage in recoil and components (special brass, more powder, heavier alloy boolits).

    I've been reloading since I was 12 years old, I'm 61 now and just decided to learn how to cast bullets......haven't had this much fun in a long time. Thanks again for the kind responses.

    if it ain't responsible fun, i try not to do it.

    y'all have fun now, y'hear?!


    Regards
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  8. #8
    Just signed for some Goex, Swiss, Graf and sons and Eynsford in 1F, 1.5F and 2F. I live 6 miles North of the middle of nowhere so there is no place to buy black powder near (gotta love those hazmat fees). Hopefully the weather is nice this weekend so I can do some more playing. Also going to try my hand at casting tonight with my 1 bullet mold.

    This rifle will be just for playing and hunting. I don't compete at all as I developed a slight tremor some years ago. While I can usually concentrate it out sometime it's just **** pathetic . I have a good friend who puts on a hunting camp for wounded warriors every year and I help guide. I will be taking several muzzle loaders and this rifle as well for those who want to give it a try so it's important for me to get a good hunting load developed.
    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    I've used a 45-90 since the mid-1990's. As the 45-120 is even more of a good thing then what it does to game should be impressive!
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

    The common virtue of capitalism is the sharing of equal opportunity. The common vice of socialism is the equal sharing of misery

    NRA Benefactor 2008

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by sharps4590 View Post
    I've used a 45-90 since the mid-1990's. As the 45-120 is even more of a good thing then what it does to game should be impressive!
    I'm hoping to find out soon if I can get all the heavy pointy things hitting in the same (or at least similar) spot. Lots of feral hogs around here I figure should make a good testing media.

    I did learn 2 new things today,

    1: Casting bullets ain't as easy as some make it look (made 25, weighed and kept 6 to try)
    2: Picking up recently cast slugs with bare fingertips is just silly

    I'm going to try and post a picture if the rifle, one of my paper patched cartridges and one of my fresh made boolits. Off to the range in the morning Click image for larger version. 

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    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  11. #11
    Boolit Master

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    Preheat mould before starting, either on the lead pot or a hot plate. Some thing to consider a lot of us throw out the first 15-25 bullets as standard operating procedure. Just so the mould is up to temp and "normalized. I normally make a 3-4 hour run of bullets when I cast.

    No Matter how pretty and shiny that new bullet is its still hot.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by country gent View Post
    Preheat mould before starting, either on the lead pot or a hot plate. Some thing to consider a lot of us throw out the first 15-25 bullets as standard operating procedure. Just so the mould is up to temp and "normalized. I normally make a 3-4 hour run of bullets when I cast.

    No Matter how pretty and shiny that new bullet is its still hot.
    yep, pretty, shiny and hot

    I did preheat the mould, I think I wound up with everything too hot.........had frosted then misshaped bullets. Probly rushing it and I left my temp gun in the truck so couldn't check lead temp either. I'll get it sooner or later. Got enough to shoot at a target tomorrow anyway. I'll let y'all know how the range session goes........unless it's too awful to contemplate
    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    Temp gun will not work on shiny lead but you can float a small black piece of steel on top and get a close reading.
    What part of Tex?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by kokomokid View Post
    Temp gun will not work on shiny lead but you can float a small black piece of steel on top and get a close reading.
    What part of Tex?
    hmmm, I never thought of that. I am in Fort Stockton, right in the middle between "how did I get here and what am I doing here?" Where do you hang your hat?

    Just got back from the range after 20 rounds. Nuthing worth bragging about and there will be no picture for sure. Maybe 3 1/2" on one group with my new bullets and 110 grains of 1.5f. Lots of work to do yet but that's half the fun.
    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    I am east of Abilene. I had a 45-100 that shot ok just never thought I would want to shoot a 60 round match with it.

  16. #16
    Well, I'm going to have to ask for some input from you bpcr gurus. Thought I was getting this thing narrowed down, fired 15 more rounds this afternoon and couldn't have hit a barn from the inside for money. 535 grain Postell from Montana Precision would not shoot, period. First two shots I fired appeared to overlap and I was wettin my pants but it didn't take long for that to go away. I'm talking literally three shots, same load with an 18" spread. Three different kinds of powder same results with each. Several didn't even hit the backstop. Upon closer inspection of the target the two I thought were overlapping was actually one.....going sideways. Found another way low and right the same way. The 500's shot into 3 1/2" yesterday but today, granted there was more wind but would not shoot less than 5" or more, I was too disgusted to measure. 530 patched that I thought shot so well early on were nearly as bad as the 535's (possibly poor patching).

    Checked my new sights and everything is tight. Checked the rate of twist and it's 18" like it's supposed to be. Pretty simple rifle, the barrel is not falling off, running out of ideas. I thought I had good groups previously with 530 grain patched bullets but when I checked my book it was a patched 400 grain from Montana Precision and 405 grain greased bullets from Buffalo Arms that shot reasonably well. It's obviously not stabilizing the heavy bullets but I can't figure why. I'm punching them fairly hard with 105 grains of powder.

    I will sure appreciate any input. I really didn't plan on shooting light slugs in this thing.

    Dazed and confused.
    Last edited by West Texas Infidel; 03-04-2018 at 05:14 PM.
    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    keyholing is not good. summa the basics ...

    are yer cast greaser bullets sized overbore to at least .459" (assuming yer bore measures .458")?

    muzzle is clean and properly crowned with no burrs/nicks?

    alloy is what - 1:20 thru 1:30?

    are you properly addressing fouling control after every firing?

    is the cartridge OAL set so the bullet either touches the lands or is a tad before them?

    where again iz you in tejas? i was born in san antone but now up here in jerseyland.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    Another thing to watch is velocity. Load for 1150-1250 fps with the heavies. the reason the lighter may have performed better is the shorter length of the bullet stabilizes faster and at lower velocities. Also the lighter bullets may be slightly faster with the same charge than the heavies.

    I would recommend a load work up with the bullet of choice. Start at no airspace no compression and work up in 2 grn increments only adding powder and the change in compression. When you find the best spots ( IE 100 grns and 102grns) test at the mid point between ( 101grns), once this is found then adjust seating depth to the best point.

    It is better to compress the powder in a separate die than use the bullet ( these are normally soft lead and bend deform when compressing). Once the die is set for the bullet its set and compression is changed with the added powder. The use of a chronograph can tell you a lot when testing.

    What are you using for wads? a heavy was something fairly stiff and around .060 thick with 1 or 2 thin wads. For the heavy wad LDPE, cork, Rubber fiber gasket material, and some other materials work well this wad seals the bore and protects the base of the bullet. the light thin wads can be newsprint, tracing paper or other thin light material 1 or 2 of these insure the heavy wad dosnt stick to the base of the bullet.

    Bullet alloy is normally 1-16 tin lead to 1-40 tin lead. these are soft alloies and do well swelling to seal the bore. a lot cast these pan lube and shoot as cast. ANother that can make or break you is the bullet lube you need a good black powder lube and enough to get thru the long barrel. If fouling is crusty feeling towards the end of the barrel or no lube star is present more lube may be needed. SPG is a good BP lube and a good one you can make is emmerts improved.

    Emmerts improved recipe
    50% beeswax
    40% unsalted Crisco shortening
    5% canola oil or olive oil ( I may make a small batch using Jo Joba oil here to see how that works)
    5% anahydrous Lanolin

    In a double boiler melt the beeswax Crisco and oil to liquid state and add the lanolin in stirring. I normally blend it for 5-7 mins and then let cool. the hardness can be adjusted with beeswax for harder or oil or Crisco for softer. This is a good lube that does well. A drop or 2 of murphies oil soap can be added to aid blending it

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post
    keyholing is not good. summa the basics ...

    are yer cast greaser bullets sized overbore to at least .459" (assuming yer bore measures .458")?
    My cast bullets measure .459 ( mostly). The 535 Postells are .458
    muzzle is clean and properly crowned with no burrs/nicks?
    Crown is clean and true.
    alloy is what - 1:20 thru 1:30?
    My bullets are almost pure lead cuz that's all I had. Buffalo Arms are 1:20. Don't know about Montana
    are you properly addressing fouling control after every firing?
    Not initially but after I saw what was happening yes. Thought my homemade bullet lube was to blame.
    is the cartridge OAL set so the bullet either touches the lands or is a tad before them?
    Bullets all touching or very close to lands
    where again iz you in tejas? i was born in san antone but now up here in jerseyland.
    I am in Fort Stockton, about 250 miles West of San Antone on I-20. Born and raised in Canada but will soon be here 20 years.
    "Fast is fine accurate is final"

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy
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    I hate to be negative, but when I saw the first posting in this thread, I was wondering how you were going to enjoy that rifle. It's pretty and I actually like Pedersolis, but the .45/120 is not for beginners. I've never known anyone who got one to shoot competitively, but that's just me. A friend of mine spent a lot of time and money on a .45/110 Shiloh and ended up selling it. I recently came across the original buttstock. The previous owner must've been a giant. Extremely long LOP. My friend was looking at long range competition with it, but eventually gave up because the brass was too hard to come by (kinda "hand-made" at the time, and not in a good way) and the recoil was simply too much for him shooting prone. It's been my experience you can do everything you need with a .45/90, which is the point of diminishing returns.

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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