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Thread: Best bullet size for original “Zouave”

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Best bullet size for original “Zouave”

    Just picked up a gorgeous original 1861 Remington for a steal. Got most of the minor surface rust out of the barrel, and the bore is pretty darn nice for a 157 year old girl. Will give it a quick shot of evaporust to finish clearing rust from the breech and flash channel
    For those of you with originals- i`m looking for the most common size of Minnie and RB used for this. Trying to avoid buying different moulds that i`ll not use. Hoping to use this as a primary hunting rifle for large game.

    Need the other guns to defend my toilet paper......

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy

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    Quote Originally Posted by eggwelder View Post
    Just picked up a gorgeous original 1861 Remington for a steal. Got most of the minor surface rust out of the barrel, and the bore is pretty darn nice for a 157 year old girl. Will give it a quick shot of evaporust to finish clearing rust from the breech and flash channel
    For those of you with originals- i`m looking for the most common size of Minnie and RB used for this. Trying to avoid buying different moulds that i`ll not use. Hoping to use this as a primary hunting rifle for large game.

    Need the other guns to defend my toilet paper......
    Get a machine shop to measure your bore. I assume you want a minie ball. Try a 0.576 05 0.577 mould. They can be sized down. Gun is gonna shoot high with original sights. N-SSA folks usually raise front sight. On original you may want to make a sight that fits over original to preserve value

  3. #3
    Boolit Mold
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    You didn't say how many grooves your Zouave barrel has. Early production has 7 grooves and are twisted for round balls and they are superb shooters with patched round balls using a .570RB with an .18-20" patch and a stiff load of 3FG. Original 7 groove Zouaves will scare you how accurate they can be. However, 7 groovers have a reputation of being mediocre at best with a Minie- try using the old Lyman .58 wadcutter bullet with a with a light (30-40grains) load of 3F. Later production Zouaves have a 3 groove barrel and are much better suited to a Minie. Try using the old Lyman 578213OS bullet with a light powder charge of either 2F or 3F. The skirmish shooters recommend filling the base cavity of the bullet with crisco to both expand the skirt into the rifling and to manage the fouling. Good luck and have fun- IrishFritz

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

    rfd's Avatar
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    just slug the barrel to better understand the land/groove diameter.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbine View Post
    Get a machine shop to measure your bore. I assume you want a minie ball. Try a 0.576 05 0.577 mould. They can be sized down. Gun is gonna shoot high with original sights. N-SSA folks usually raise front sight. On original you may want to make a sight that fits over original to preserve value
    I've used the Richmond carbine front sight which has a round bottom base. I use JB Weld or Black Max to mount it behind the original
    sight. Heat and acetone will remove the glue. I've also done as you suggest and make a longer blade with a cut out on the bottom so it straddles the original sight.

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    It`s a 7 groove. Looks like it is close to one twist for the barrel length but not quite. I have 3 minie ball molds on the way- a lee, an ideal, and a steel mold- price was right. I`ll see how they work. The Lee is kind of a wad cutter style in 577. And the other two are shaped like the original minie ball, not the modern or improved. They are 575 and 578.
    If it`s mediocre, i`ll look for a RB mold

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    You have a real prize! I would check the muzzle diameter with plug gages. Barrels of most .58 rifle-muskets were tighter at the muzzle and got larger by about 0.002-0.003" towards the breech to ease loading. Using either pure lead or very lightly alloyed with tin 1:40 or 1:50 to get good fill-out and largest diameter you want an as-cast bullet which is 0.001-0.0015 smaller than the pinned diameter of the muzzle.

    I never had an original Remington Zoave, but did use in N-SSA competition an original W.J. Jeffery 2-band Volunteer rifle and also an Isaac Hollis and Sons 3-bander. Those were 5-groove Enfield pattern rifling with one turn in six feet and they shot best with the old style Lyman #575213 having the thick skirt and short nose at 475 grains with 60 grains of Curtis & Harveys 2-1/2Fg or Goex 2Fg, lubed with 50-50 Beeswax and olive oil. Bullets dropped from the mold at .585" and I sized them to .580" to be able to load by hand smacking them in the muzzle with the palm of my hand, then ramming them down. I could depend upon 3-4" five-shot groups at 50 yards and 7-8" at 100 yds.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    I hope you didn't "hand smack" in NSSA competition. Did you ever have a cookoff? Your safety should have said something if you did.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dennis g View Post
    I hope you didn't "hand smack" in NSSA competition. Did you ever have a cookoff? Your safety should have said something if you did.
    Many, many years ago (1960s) I did hand smack and never had a problem. I haven't shot N-SSA since I turned in my gray uniform for OG107 in 1967. Thanks for warning the youngsters on current practice.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  10. #10
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outpost75 View Post
    You have a real prize! I would check the muzzle diameter with plug gages. Barrels of most .58 rifle-muskets were tighter at the muzzle and got larger by about 0.002-0.003" towards the breech to ease loading. Using either pure lead or very lightly alloyed with tin 1:40 or 1:50 to get good fill-out and largest diameter you want an as-cast bullet which is 0.001-0.0015 smaller than the pinned diameter of the muzzle.

    I never had an original Remington Zoave, but did use in N-SSA competition an original W.J. Jeffery 2-band Volunteer rifle and also an Isaac Hollis and Sons 3-bander. Those were 5-groove Enfield pattern rifling with one turn in six feet and they shot best with the old style Lyman #575213 having the thick skirt and short nose at 475 grains with 60 grains of Curtis & Harveys 2-1/2Fg or Goex 2Fg, lubed with 50-50 Beeswax and olive oil. Bullets dropped from the mold at .585" and I sized them to .580" to be able to load by hand smacking them in the muzzle with the palm of my hand, then ramming them down. I could depend upon 3-4" five-shot groups at 50 yards and 7-8" at 100 yds.
    I keep hearing that it`s a prize, i think i got really lucky, especially when i tell people how much i paid for it.
    It will be a couple of weeks before i can fire it, no bullet molds yet.

    Not familiar with “hand smacking” but think i can guess

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Had the rifle out a couple of time, just shooting, no load work ups, just making holes. First time I lubed with straight crisco, was pretty accurate off hand. Easy loading, soft fouling.
    Second time out was prelubed with bees was and olive oil -60-40 ish. Hard fouling to the point of hard to load, and i think i got some leading. The cleaning patches are still coming out a bit grey.
    I may not have had enough lube on the boolits, the lube is the only thing that was different.

    It is getting easier to clean, there was a fair amount of rust and crap in the barrel, some minor pitting as well.
    Am considering a light lapping with a fine compound.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Maybe leave out the bees wax next time /Ed

  13. #13
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    I use either the amber colored Lithium based wheel bearing grease or crisco in my 1960's Zoli replica . 50 or 60gr of 2f with the Lyman OS minnie unsized . Haven't shot it with RB in years and honestly can't remember the load I used when I did . Congratulations on finding an original at a good price , even a replica cost more now than an original did when I got my Zoli .
    Grumpy Old Man With A Gun....... Do Not Touch !!

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by carbine View Post
    get a machine shop to measure your bore. I assume you want a minie ball. Try a 0.576 05 0.577 mould. They can be sized down. Gun is gonna shoot high with original sights. N-ssa folks usually raise front sight. On original you may want to make a sight that fits over original to preserve value
    this ^^^^^^^^
    A man cannot have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.
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  15. #15
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfd View Post
    just slug the barrel to better understand the land/groove diameter.
    Slugging the barrel of a muzzleloader with progressive rifling will not yield a true result and will involve unbreeching a barrel. Best method on a minie ball gun is to use machine shop pin gauges.
    A man cannot have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.
    Rudyard Kipling


    Palmetto Sharpshooters
    North South Skirmish Association
    NRA Muzzleloading Instructor

  16. #16
    Boolit Mold
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    Next time i get out by myself i`m going to try grouping with the three different bulletin types i have with different lube mixes.

    Olive oil and beeswax worked wonders in my .50 investarms, and that has a ringed barrel. Won’t shoot round ball well at all.

    If I don`t get any satisfaction with the Zouave, I`ll see my gunsmith about measuring the bore.

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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