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Thread: Kentucky long rifle that will shoot a Miniť ball?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Kentucky long rifle that will shoot a Miniť ball?

    I know this may start a riot here but I'd like to see what a Miniť ball would shoot like out of a Kentucky Long rifle. The superiority of the conical bullet over the round ball out of such a long barrel with the appropriate twist rate might be surprising.
    The good thing about science is that it's true no matter if you believe it or not. (Neil DeGrasse Tyson)

    I was scolding my 5-year old for her and her friends making a giant mess in her room. She said they all did it. So I asked her: If all her friends jumped off a cliff, would she do it too? She said, "Oh no daddy! I would go to the bottom and try to catch them! They're my friends." Man, either I have a great kid or she has a stupid father.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    I doubt you'll start a riot.

    I don't think it is a bad idea - but I do think you are maybe going to have to put some thought in to just wwhat you want? What caliber are you thinking and is a mold made for what you want?

    I have a Lyman 445-599 mold that casts a hollow base boolit - it was primarily made for the H & A Numrich barrels which were know for undersize bores. I have been working on a H & A under hammer over time - was in bad shape and needed stock repairs, etc. but the bore is pristine. I plan on trying the above mold in it and it should do well.

    Most "production" logn rifles are going to have round ball twist. And Im guessing that most of them have fairly deep rifling as compared to the three groove military rifling in the rifed muskets that used minie balls. So, I'm guessing that it will take some time to play with loads to get good expansion in int skirt but not so heavy as to blow the skirt.

    Cost is another factor - are you talking a "production" rifle or a custom build? If you find a production rifle but the bore doesn't have the twist rate you want, you could have Bob Hoyt re-bore and re-rifle it to your specs. That may be the best way to go to keep the cost down over a custom built rifle. Ignition is up to you - percussion or flint - once the powder charge goes off, it's up to the change and bore to guide the minie where you want it to go.

    On a long rifle, I always preferred to use a 40" - 44" inch barre on my builds. I'm not sure just what is available out there for barrel lengths on the production "long rifles".

    People seem to have good luck with the REAL and Maxi-ball loads so a but neither are hollow base nor depend on skirt expansion. I have yet to try the 445-599 (200 grain) hollow base minie n my 45 H & A so I really can't speak as to how it works out - but the barrel is rifled for with a round ball twist.

    Interesting project - just getting the right parts it to gell - bore size, rifling twist and depth and load with a good fitting minie.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master



    curator's Avatar
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    Abitnutz:

    Minie' bullets do not obturate sufficiently to seal the bore on a rifle with deep grooves. A "Kentucky longrifle" would almost by definition, be rifled with deep (.008 to .012") grooves for accurate shooting with patched round ball. A rifle made for shooting minie' bullets will have very shallow (.004-.006) grooves. Both Great Britain and U.S, military found very shallow 3-groove rifling worked best for shooting minie' bullets. Perhaps you could achieve your goal with a purpose-built barrel with the proper minie' type rifling for your long rifle, but don't expect that to shoot patched round balls very well.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Conicals are nor superior to RBs. It's like comparing apples to oranges. RBs are better choice in some applications and so are conicals. Just depends on what and how you want to use them.
    Aim small, miss small!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    In my limited experience conical bullets are superior to RB's for longer range shots. I imagine sometimes what if they had been invented/tried around the time the Long-rifle was in its prime?

    I was thinking of a 45 caliber Long-rifle with a barrel in the 44" range with the appropriate rifling to make it work. Perhaps even gain twist rifling. That was done now and again back then. Colt revolvers routinely had gain twist rifling.

    Perhaps folks here are more tolerant of differing points of view. Some folks are insistent that RB's are superior in just about any category you care to name. It was like arguing a religion.

    I'm just really curios what kind of long range performance gain could be achieved in a long-rifle using Minie balls over RB's. The rifles would be pretty much the same with the exception that the rifling would be matched to the intended projectiles.
    The good thing about science is that it's true no matter if you believe it or not. (Neil DeGrasse Tyson)

    I was scolding my 5-year old for her and her friends making a giant mess in her room. She said they all did it. So I asked her: If all her friends jumped off a cliff, would she do it too? She said, "Oh no daddy! I would go to the bottom and try to catch them! They're my friends." Man, either I have a great kid or she has a stupid father.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master kens's Avatar
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    I have a old school Douglas Barrel longrifle. it is 45cal 1:66 twist, deep grooves.
    You can load a soft cast 45acp boolit and launch it over FFg.
    I used the lightest 45acp boolit, not over 230gr.
    It stabilized just fine.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by AbitNutz View Post
    In my limited experience conical bullets are superior to RB's for longer range shots. I imagine sometimes what if they had been invented/tried around the time the Long-rifle was in its prime?

    I was thinking of a 45 caliber Long-rifle with a barrel in the 44" range with the appropriate rifling to make it work. Perhaps even gain twist rifling. That was done now and again back then. Colt revolvers routinely had gain twist rifling.

    Perhaps folks here are more tolerant of differing points of view. Some folks are insistent that RB's are superior in just about any category you care to name. It was like arguing a religion.

    I'm just really curios what kind of long range performance gain could be achieved in a long-rifle using Minie balls over RB's. The rifles would be pretty much the same with the exception that the rifling would be matched to the intended projectiles.
    If you had given us this information to start with, you might have received better replies. A generic question will get a generic answer. When you just state Kentucky rifle with no other info, I tent to think you are speaking of a production gun. What type of rifle you want to shoot means little compared to how you set it up barrel/rifling wise.
    Aim small, miss small!

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Many years ago (1970's) I had a cheap Italian or Spanish reproduction of a generic Kentucky rifle in .45 cal. I never checked bore or groove diameter so don't know rifling depth or twist for that matter. My understanding was that it was a round ball gun and it shot round balls pretty well but I liked minies at the time so decided to try a Lyman .45 minie and lo and behold it worked well. Not real traditional but very functional. I got good accuracy from the minies.

    Unfortunately I don't have many details. Just that it was an import... wait a minute, I think I still have the barrel downstairs. I'll check and if I do I'll do some measuring then report back.

    I don't remember for sure which minie but I think it was a blunt design of around 250 grs. with big meplat and I am pretty sure it is listed in my Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook. I'll look that up too.

    Short story is that it was a production gun that shot minies very well. So you are not out in left field with the idea.

    Longbow

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbitNutz View Post
    In my limited experience conical bullets are superior to RB's for longer range shots. I imagine sometimes what if they had been invented/tried around the time the Long-rifle was in its prime?

    I was thinking of a 45 caliber Long-rifle with a barrel in the 44" range with the appropriate rifling to make it work. Perhaps even gain twist rifling. That was done now and again back then. Colt revolvers routinely had gain twist rifling.

    Perhaps folks here are more tolerant of differing points of view. Some folks are insistent that RB's are superior in just about any category you care to name. It was like arguing a religion.

    I'm just really curios what kind of long range performance gain could be achieved in a long-rifle using Minie balls over RB's. The rifles would be pretty much the same with the exception that the rifling would be matched to the intended projectiles.
    You dont think maybe those old timers knew more than we give em credit for??? After all our ancestors had been launching elongated projectiles since the stone age (called em spears and arrows!)
    The long rifle was a uniquely American creation - brought about to suit the conditions of the time -
    *a woods rifle - 100 yards is a very long shot in thick forest
    *much easier for a frontier gunsmith to cut slow twist rifling accurately
    *saves on lead
    *long barrel for accurate offhand shooting in the forest
    *with a cloth patch they could load easy and shoot clean for many shots
    the soft lead round ball is successful as a game getter out of all proportion to the theories of ballisticians -- some smart guru type said something like that long time ago.

    some negatives to your plan
    I can imagine horrendous fouling problems with a small bore 42 inch barrel shooting minies - unless you gonna scrub the thing out between shots - which case we just got a huge advantage for the round ball.
    thered be a bunch of other ...............--.
    Gotta wonder WHY? -- I guess the best answer to that is cuz I wanna do it

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy arcticap's Avatar
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    I don't see why Miniť balls can't be paper patched in order to help them fill the deeper rifling grooves of modern barrels.
    And some modern barrels have deeper grooves than others.
    AFAIK, paper patching bullets is fairly specialized and may also require some experimentation and research in order to help make it work well.
    With paper patching, there's also flat based bullets that can be considered.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I think bitNutz might been hoping to start a riot (said as much in the first line of his post) - we have progressed to paper patching minies in a kentucky long rifle (which is kinda ridiculous if Ya stop to think about it!) - wthout a riot - very disappointing

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Okay then. I guess it pays to check things out. No wonder my old repro Kentucky rifle shot minies well... turns out it is 1:36" twist as best as I can determine pushing a bronze brush through the bore on a 36" cleaning rod. Barrel is about 38" (forgot to measure it overall).

    I didn't have any lead the right size nor time to machine a slugging slug down but tried to get decent measurements with a vernier. I repeatedly got very close to 0.440" bore and 0.465" groove. Since the rifling does not appear to be that deep (0.012"+) I have to think the vernier lies.

    All in all it was quite an accurate gun with minies and traditional or not I liked shooting it with minies.

    Nothing against round balls but minies are better suited for longer ranges than round balls and smaller bores pack a bigger thump with a heavy minie than a round ball. Powder tends to burn more efficiently under the heavy payload as well.

    I'm with indian joe. Round balls, small bores and long barrels came out of a need to get the most with the least. Shooting a rabbit or squirrel with a Brown Bess used up an awful lot of powder and lead compared to a small bore longrifle.

    Nope... no rioting in sight so far.

    Longbow

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Longbow
    Takes a little while to get a riot going ..............
    Back last century we shot minies out of a CVA 45 --(66 twist) quite successfully too (not as accurate as ball but you'd had to rest it to notice on the target ) ........... interclub "skirmish shoot" and we were lookin for an edge ------needed a good stout charge under em was the only caveat - LEE minies, the semi traditional ones. I had intentions of doin it in my 54 but better sense prevailed and I sold the minie mold - that one kicked enough with roundball and a full house load - We were using more powder in that 45 than the guy next to us was putting in his Enfield 58 carbine.

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