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Thread: Finally Made It To the Range!

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Finally Made It To the Range!

    It has been a long time... too long and time to make up for it!

    I'll start with "Any day at the range is a good day." and "The worst day at the range is better than the best day at work." to lead in...

    That maybe gives you a hint. Things didn't go too well but it was a decent day for a change and not a lot of snow. We've gotten a sudden warming trend and snow is melting fast. We've got about 5' of snow beside the driveway but only maybe a foot left on the grass.

    Anyway, I took out my single shot Cooey with a variety of slugs though I only shot 4 different slugs today:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yeah, there's only three in the pic because the 4th is a 0.678" RB... its a sphere.

    On the left we have a Lee 7/8 oz. slug, in the middle is my home made 525 gr. TC HB slug that gets 2 wraps of printer paper to make it a snug fit into a shotcup, then on the right is my home made full bore 565 gr. HB slug modeled after turbo's design except no grooves, this one was knurled up then sized back to 0.001" under bore diameter.

    Results were dismal... well, maybe not dismal but not good.

    All shooting was at 50 yards.

    The Lee 7/8 oz. slug was sized to remove most of the taper then got one wrap of printer paper and into a shotcup. Accuracy was poor at 50 yards. I shot 10 and most were in about an 8" group but several bad fliers out of a 10 shot group so not good.

    The 525 gr. TC slug was the one I thought would be the winner because I have shot a slightly different variation of it and it has done very well but this time it was truly dismal! Not one on the paper at 50 yards! I couldn't believe it. These were all filled with hot melt glue so there shouldn't have been any skirt deformation issues.

    The 565 gr. full bore slug was a disappointment too. These cast at 0.729" with wheelweights but unfortunately the gun has a 0.733" bore so undersize (I measured wrong). To solve that I made a hammer sizer so knurled the slugs up then sized back to a hair under bore diameter. I've had mediocre accuracy with this slug before, but as cast, so I figured having it almost bore size would do it. Nope! Oddly I had a just about a perfectly horizontal line across the target within about an inch vertically but spread horizontally across the paper... right across the paper! These were filled with hot melt glue so again there shouldn't have been any skirt deformation.

    Last but not least was the good 'ol 0.678" RB. It was the winner but the group was nothing to brag about... I am embarrassed to post it. I did get a cluster of shots together but as with the Lee slugs, some fliers. The RB did give the best overall group though.

    I won't put all the blame on the slugs as the shooter is rusty and I was shooting off my elbows on the bench because I didn't have a good rest. That may explain some of the larger than expected groups but I think the slugs and/or loading procedures need work too (and likely slug designs). Also, my roll crimps were not very consistent. For some reason I was having trouble getting good crimps so that likely had some effect... but not enough to cause all the 525 gr. slugs to miss the paper!

    I think I'll drop the 525 gr. slug as it must have been tumbling to shoot so poorly. The full bore slug will get tested again with a different wad column.

    I thought I had loaded some as cast Lee's too but did not. I had sized the ones I took to remove some of the taper, as they have a lot of taper, then used one wrap of paper to get a nice fit in the shotcup and bore. I had thought that would be a good thing but it looks like I was mistaken! I'll try as cast next time.

    I recovered quite a number of wads that I'll look at closely to see if anything shows up there. No slugs were recovered today.

    Bad as accuracy was, it was still good to get to the range and burn some powder. I think I will try for next weekend too. Got some catching up to do. I've got more slugs loaded and lots cast and waiting to be loaded. Hopefully I'll have some targets I'm not embarrassed to post next time!

    Longbow

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Cap'n Morgan's Avatar
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    I saw this quote somewhere and think it sums up shooting slugs from smoothbores quite nicely:

    "I know everything happens for a reason, but sometimes I wish I knew what that reason was"

    Two things is an absolutely must: The slug must fit the bore tightly, and the center of mass must lie towards the front of the slug. Since you seem to have the bore/slug fit down tight - so to speak - I would concentrate on moving the center of mass forward. Unfortunately it's easier said than done:

    At one point I tried my hand at designing a lead cast, forward-heavy, full-bore slug without an attached wad - It turned out to be an almost impossible task without the slug getting too heavy or too fragile due to thinning of the skirt. I used a 3-D design program, which is an immense help as you can immediately check the center of mass in relation to any design changes. In the end I came to the conclusion that the only truly viable approach was a lathe turned slug in steel or brass with a couple of plastic guide belts to protect the bore. One of these days I may just try that, but don't hold your breath...

    Anyway; don't let my negative musings hold you back. Perhaps a drag stabilized round ball is the way to go?

    http://www.b17queenofthesky.com/pain...rststrike.html
    Cap'n Morgan

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Forget sizing the Lee I think. It will do better as it is in shotcup. try some with one 20 and some with one 20 and one 16 card. The lee 7/8 is very frontheavy and to my mind helps with accuracy. Like an arrow the tail will follow the heavy nose. Some have tried to disabuse me of this notion. What choke is that single?
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
    Leonard Ravenhill

  4. #4
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    LB,

    I've had range trips with rifled slug guns with worse results, but generally I am not brave enough to post my results. I admire your honesty. Keep after it you will find the "grail" load.

    BB

  5. #5
    Boolit Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Stick with it!

    Worst case scenario an 8" group aimed at the middle of a deer's boiler room will kill more often than not. A precision rifle it is not.

    If you can keep them all on a 12" paper plate at 50 IMO your doing pretty good.

    Waiting for spring to get some of my creations out to the range. Its coming but in North Dakota its a slow process.

  6. #6
    Greetings brother Longbow, I went through your post and have a few questions:
    Was the 7/8 Oz Lee around 6 to 10 lbs fiction fit.
    Did you have one or hopefully two .125 nitro cards below slug in wad of 16 ga or 20 ga based on the wad.
    Next time like my brother Hogtamer said don't re-size the Lee or use any hot glue in the base cavity.
    Please do not roll crimp the Lee loads instead fold crimp and be sure the slug fit in wad looks like this :
    https://imgur.com/CigHhnF
    Protect your wad from being mangled at launch, be sure the part of the slug sticks out a bit as in the picture to open your fold crimp ! !
    The last three on the right, the Trap Commander wad has been a blessing in disguise for us slug shooters.
    https://imgur.com/tp5FTLC
    What wad and load were you using and at what velocity?
    We are all in it to win it, I wish you the very best.

    Best regards,
    Ajay Madan
    Super Blazing Sabots
    Last edited by SuperBlazingSabots; 03-04-2018 at 11:30 AM.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Cap'n Morgan ~ I'll add another:

    “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
    ― Thomas A. Edison

    I believe I am working on 10,001 as of yesterday! Oh, wait I tested 3 that didn't work so 10,003!

    This is the main reason I left HB slugs behind a few years ago. I decided it was too hard to get a weight forward slug with thick enough skirt not to deform at firing unless oven heat treated. I went to the hot melt glue "Brenneke's". I believe I will return to them again! As for the modified ball, that looks a lot like a Nessler Ball:

    https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/brit...let-t2641.html

    There are several different versions and use was quite widespread. The were apparently common in the Crimean War and American Civil War.

    I made a mould to produce a reasonable facsimile of that for my smoothbore but no better accuracy than the 565 gr. HB slug. I have some loaded now to try out again and again, they've been knurled.

    Hal ~ Yes, I will try the as cast Lee next time. I was positive I had loaded some as cast but apparently my old brain has been playing tricks on me again. As mentioned, I sized them to take out the taper then use a single wrap of paper to get back to good fit. The patches all left the slugs at the muzzle. I also used 16 ga. nitro card wads under the slugs. My 1 oz. lee's gave about 6" groups at 50 yards as cast and that improved to about 4" after I added a hot melt glue tail wad. I have some of those made up in both 1 oz. and 7/8 oz. so will try those next time, along with plain old as cast.

    The gun is cylinder bore.

    BB ~ I've had some very good results from factory Foster loads and some not bad results from some home made Fosters but... there does seem to be some black magic involved in doing it consistently. I'm with Cap'n Morgan on the attached wad slugs. I think easier overall to get the weight forward/drag stabilized projectile.

    GhostHawk ~ Yeah, but I know I can better 8" groups though. Even the round balls usually do better than that and my horrible roll crimps may be partially responsible there. I guess one thing I should add is that I used Federal field hulls with the fiber basewad this time where in the past I have used Fiocchi hulls almost exclusively. The Federals did not like my roll crimper. I doubt they'd have any other effect though.

    Next time I go I have several Brenneke versions to try. Some have copper tube skirts filled with hot melt glue. Again, I've had some good results with these before and some not so good results. The best version so far was a 0.662" RB attached to a piece of 1/2" copper pipe filled with hot melt glue loaded in a shotcup.

    I also have some solid slugs with hot melt glue skirts cast on in a form. These have also done well in the past but casting the glue skirts on is a bit of a pain. Its easier to fill a hollow base or copper tube.

    Anyway, while not successful from an accuracy point, I guess I have confirmed that round balls are easier to get accuracy from than HB slugs for the most part and to 50 yards hard to beat... even though groups yesterday were a bit large.

    So that's all I've got for now. 10,003 ways that you shouldn't try.

    Longbow

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    LB, I know that you know all this stuff, but different shotguns produce dramatically different results for whatever reasons with the same load. Phase of the moon for all I know, there just seems no logical explanation at times. In a post with pictures I cannot now find, I put 3 of the the lee 7/8 slugs in a paper plate at 125 yds from an old 870 with, of all things an original Poly Choke on the barrel! And I thought the RBs would be pretty foolproof. Take along another gun next trip, may save the day.
    "My main ambition in life is to be on the devil's most wanted list."
    Leonard Ravenhill

  9. #9
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    LB,

    Heat treating slugs is very easy. All you need is a toaster oven, bucket of water and a good thermometer (I borrow the TC from my lead pot and insert it in a hole I drilled in the top of the oven). 400F for 30 minutes with my alloy makes a very tough slug. I sent some of these HT slugs to a "ballastic" lab in eastern Georgia for testing. I hope I don't have to buy Hal a new 12ga slug barrel.

    If you are interested I will look up the composition of my alloy.

    BB

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Hal:

    The Lee 7/8 oz. and the RB's did okay and likely the old rusty shooter was at least partly to blame for large groups but that TC 525 gr. slug is a mystery to me! I have used a very similar version with shorter nose in the same way, paper patched to fit, and gotten very good accuracy on several outings. This time with this similar slug, I couldn't even hit the paper! That surprised me.

    I was also somewhat surprised with the full bore slug in that I had a near perfect horizontal line across the paper. Like what the...!?! Those I'll try again because they have good balance point (quite nose heavy) and are modeled after turbo's design.

    It does make me wonder if skirts did deform on those two HB designs. I found that even with thick skirts in previous slug testing I got skirt distortion, mostly belling for some odd reason (base flared out). I solved that by oven heat treating, then those slugs shot amazingly well but I don't like having to oven heat treat. This time I filled with hot melt glue but I wonder if the skirts still distorted. That would explain poor accuracy. I was not able to recover any slugs to check condition though. Now with the bore size slugs, they shouldn't distort especially when filled. There's nowhere for anything to go!

    I have to go with Cap'n Morgan and the Brenneke style attached wad slugs though as the best solution. HB slugs seem to be hit and miss (no pun intended) with lots of miss.

    The poor crimps certainly wouldn't have helped as well so I have to get that working better. Maybe best to buy some new Fiocchi hulls.

    I have a couple of other HB designs and some Brenneke style to test yet so will take those out next time. Hopefully things go somewhat better!

    The other side of the coin here is except for the 525 gr. all of these loads would be perfectly adequate for close range bear defense with the 565 gr. full bore and the 0.678" RB's likely being the best choices. That and just destroying stuff is their intended purpose but the quest for better accuracy has gone on for some time.

    I guess I better dust off that rifled choke tube project and get up and running again! That or a rifled gun may be in my future.

    Longbow

  11. #11
    Longbow,

    your're still ohead of my last outing doing tests where I failed to remove the Coyote choke after testing buckshot loads and proceeded to send a low power Russian slug down the barrel. Wedged right in the choke thankfully with no "Earth shattering KaBoom" Made me feel pretty dumb though. New procedures are in place for testing now.

    Kraken Fan #69

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    BB:

    Yeah heat treating isn't all that hard but I found that slugs became exceptionally brittle... or at least WW slugs did. Skirts tended to shatter on impact. I doubt it would happen in a critter (charging bear?) but...?

    With a solid slug no problem but with HB slugs, I am not so sure.

    Maybe some added tin would result in less brittle alloy, or tin + pure lead then heat treat.

    I am beginning to think a hybrid slug design might be the answer ~ short HB with a starter hole for a screw then a short attached wad so balance is good with nose heavy design. Not too much skirt and not too much added tail wad. Those plastic gas seals that UncleD uses are what I tried to buy about two years ago but the outfit got confused about the order and I didn't follow through.

    KrakenFan69 ~ Good thing there was no earth shattering Kaboom! I've had one of those and it was one too many! Try to avoid earth shattering Kabooms whenever possible!

    Longbow

  13. #13
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    Kracken,

    About 20 years ago I was invited to an early season goose hunt on a farm near me. My friend who invited me hunted with his 12ga 1187 and even to my bad ears it sounded really loud. After about 30 minutes we had our limit, only time that happened with me hunting, and we started drinking coffee and BSing. I happen to glance at Jim's 1187 and saw he had left his extended turkey choke in the barrel. The barrel was okay but I bet the steel shot opened up the choke a little.

    My favorite screw up is shooting FB cast slugs without any choke tube in the barrel. Never again!

    BB

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Okay, I just had a look through recovered wads. The only thing that really stands out as odd is that the 525 gr. PP wads opened up like flowers where the Lee PP wads are almost closed. Push through force in the bore was (subjectively) pretty close.

    Both are Winchester wads but the 525 gr. got the yellow 1 1/8 oz. wads where the Lee 7/8 oz. got the 1 oz. wads.

    Yes, all the wad loaded slugs sat on top of 16 ga. nitro card wads and the 0.678" RB's had a scoop of COW as well. Those wads looked as they usually do so maybe the crappy shooter was mostly to blame there.

    No glue in the Lee's only in the open HB slugs.

    As for crimps, as mentioned, I roll crimped and likely should have fold crimped. The roll crimps came out poorly and I guess my roll crimper doesn't much like Federal hulls as it has worked well on others. These had been fold crimped before but were slightly trimmed and "conditioned", but roll crimping still went poorly.

    Slug height was good with the nose leading the way.

    Fit to bore... probably a little light. I have generally found that a fairly light push fit does best for me but I didn't check with a scale. Possibly a tighter fit would cause thinning of petals and better opening/release of the wad.

    No indications of anything sticking to glue filled slugs if anyone was wondering.

    Loads, I had a mix of load recipes depending on slug weight. I used Unique for the Lee 7/8 oz. and I think SR4756 for all others but didn't bring my load data to the computer.

    I used a cut off cushion leg under the full bore slugs instead of solid wad column so next time I'll go back to solid wad column. I've had best results with solid wad column in the past but figured with bore fitting slugs it wouldn't matter... maybe it does!?! Those should have shot better.

    I still have no explanation of the dismal performance of the 525 gr. slugs. I wonder if any paper patch stayed with the slugs though I haven't had any trouble before and I got a shower of paper bits each shot. I'll have to see if I can find any if I can get out on the range for a bit alone. The snow wasn't real deep but the dirt is pretty soft underneath so there may be some slugs in reasonable condition if I can find them.

    Longbow

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Okay what the heck... too many words and not enough pics. I hang my head in shame but here you go:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    0.678" RB on left, Lee 7/8 oz. slug middle, full bore 565 gr. slug on right.

    I started low on the first two targets (obviously) then worked up. The third target is a bit of a mystery since elevation is almost exactly the same but windage well... I'd like to say there was a strong wind blowing but... no. I can't recall if I shot the first one low or off to one side. The first hit is the third from right then I moved right (through my target frame post!), then to the left side. DOH! I not that the far right and left hand holes are somewhat oval so wobbly slug!

    Not an impressive day of shooting, not to mention no hits for one slug! I shouldn't have mentioned that.

    Longbow

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    It could be shooter, it could be slug, but have you ruled out any problems with the gun itself? Even through a smooth bore with open sights, I can keep a 5 shot group of round balls inside of 4". I actually just went though this myself with my muzzle loader. I had a couple terrible range days, and couldn't even keep them on paper. It turns out the hinge had come loose, and I couldn't even tell until I tore the thing totally apart to clean it.

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master

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    No, not the gun. Could be and likely is partly rusty shooter and also likely partly poor roll crimps. Not sure what happened there but they just did not want to turn out right. This was my first time crimping the Federal hulls.

    I agree, normally my good round ball loads stay within 4" at 50 yards and often tighter. That applies to 0.662" patched to snug fit, 0.678" in Winchester shotcups and 0.735" on hard card wad column. All those round ball shave shot very well for me out to 50 yards. What they don't do is hold up the groups at ranges beyond about 60 or 70 yards.

    This trip I'll take part of the blame not having shot for about a year and also not having a good solid bench rest (shooting off my elbows) that could explain the larger than normal groups with the round balls and some of the Lee group size but 10 shots missing the paper with what should have been a decent slug! That one has me baffled. I wish I could have recovered some to examine... I might get a chance yet, it is light late enough after work now I can probably go straight after work and do some digging as there will be no-one there during the week.

    It could well be skirt deformation. Several years ago I shot many slugs and had hit and miss accuracy (seriously!) while there was about 4' of snow at the range. Well come spring, I found a great many slugs of mine laying about and many had belled skirts. I took that same design and heat treated and that solved it, they shot very well. This slug is very similar and should have been an improvement on that one and I filled then with hot melt glue but did not heat treat. They were a good fit to bore and filled with hot melt glue I'd be a bit surprised if they distorted but... I've been a bit surprised before!

    That horizontal line with the full bore slugs is also a bit of a mystery and while I'd hate to put all that blame on me maybe...? Those were filled as well and lead really couldn't distort much if any being bore diameter and filled.

    I have recovered Lyman Fosters that were very distorted with noses all cocked differently and uneven skirts (also shot into deep snow) but they cast very much undersize and do obturate to fill the bore at firing. These full bore 565 gr. were bore size to start with and have thick skirts and were filled with hot melt glue so should not have distorted much if at all.

    All in all I had expected 4 groups somewhat like the RB's and Lee slugs with some maybe being tighter but that certainly isn't what happened!

    I'll give it another go next weekend.

    Longbow

  18. #18
    Longbow, question for you...

    If a round ball has a "hockey puck" or a "trombone" shaped trajectory, can we assume that it starts out with no spin, and then gradually picks up spin as it goes from friction in the air/imperfections. Once the spin becomes fast enough, it influences flight (beyond that 50 yard mark usually)?

    What do you think would happen it a small string...like a tail was inserted to the backside of the round ball? Could something like that provide juuust enough drag to keep it from picking up that initial spin?

    Has anyone here sent their slugs off for slow motion video testing? Or have access to a slow motion camera? Could learn a lot.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Absolutely! It may be hard to prove whether a full bore round ball leaves the barrel with no spin unless it is significantly over bore diameter so it can't spin or unless one has a slo mo camera which I do not.

    I have recovered 0.735" RB's that have a very uneven "belt" around the equator indicating that they were rolling as they hit the bore or that they were certainly off center when they hit the bore. They weren't spinning in the bore for sure.

    Round balls in shotcups will very definitely start out with no spin and patched round balls from smoothbore muskets start out with no spin but they all take the same trombone trajectory. So yes, in my opinion drag on slightly uneven surfaces causes a rotation which increases and since it is random cause the curve ball effect causing the ball to veer off in random directions. Sometimes groups out to 100 yards can be pretty impressive but more often there are some fliers and sometimes lots of fliers. Unpredictable. To 50 yards round balls do very well and I'll say not bad to maybe 70/75 yards but beyond groups tend to open up considerably.

    Hahahahaha! Small string! It's like you were just in my basement! I was just going through my big container of recovered slugs and one I tried was exactly that and more. I took a 0.662" RB, drilled a hole in it with using my lathe, pinned a short cord and then cinched a loop around a small tuft of egg yard for fly tying to make a small "puff" on the end of the cord. These were patched and loaded into shotcups. They did not work for me! Plain old 0.662" RB's worked just fine but the added string didn't work... or maybe the added "puff" was just too much? I'll post a pic of it if you want to see it. I tried all sorts of stuff.

    A friend told me he had an old magazine with an article about a guy in California (IIRC) that was shooting round balls with a length of ribbon attached. Same idea. The claim was that he got good accuracy. I tried ribbon years ago but I couldn't get decent accuracy with it. Not saying he didn't or that it can't be done but I didn't do it.

    I'd love to see some slo mo of round balls leaving the muzzle and especially patched round balls or slugs. I have read posts about people cloth patching 0.690" RB's to bore size and loading them into hulls like loading a muzzleloader. I wouldn't have thought the patch would stay on the ball ~ dragging on the rough plastic hull, opening the crimp then jumping through the forcing cone to bore but they say accuracy was pretty good. It is possible though that there is enough gas leakage to keep that patch tight on the ball. Hard to say, but a slo mo camera would see for sure. Patched balls in shotcups work great but the shotcup protects the patch.

    A slo mo camera would definitely answer a lot of questions and end a lot of speculation. I wish I had one or had access to one.

    Longbow

  20. #20
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    Watch a slow motion video of a pitcher throwing a "knuckleball". Very little rotation compared to most pitches, but an extremely erractic, unpredictable flight path.

    BB

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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