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Thread: Best bullet size for original “Zouave”

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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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 Bub
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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 Bub
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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 Bub
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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 ^^^^^^^^
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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.
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  16. #16
    Boolit Bub
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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.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    Gee, I really hope you'll try your rifle with a patched round ball as you may find it will shoot much better. I have found that a .575" round ball and a .015" spit patch with a load of 70grs of 3Fg is a good starting point. You can also use a .570" ball with an .18" patch. These are really tight combinations so you will need to use a short starter and you might want to find a muzzleloading rod as the steel loading rod that is in the rifle has a real potential to wear the rifling at the muzzle crown. For target shooting I have found that a water based "spit" patch may shoot better than an oil or grease patch- I've used dishwashing liquid, simple green, Castrol super clean @ about 1 part to 16 parts water and lots of other stuff and everything works to one degree or another. I believe the important thing to consider when shooting ball is that with each succeeding shot you leave a ring of hard fouling that will slowly make it harder to fully seat the charge against the breech- this changes the compression of the powder charge and it will change the burning rate and change the point of impact of the bullet. So, you might consider swabbing the barrel out about every 5th shot or so when plinking and at every shot for best accuracy. Years ago I got into a routine of one wet patch both sides followed by two dry patches and I always snap a cap to clear the ignition channel as the Zouave seems to be especially suceptable to problems with moisture in the ignition channel.
    One further benefit of ball and patch is that it is more forgiving of bore damage than a lead bullet may be and you will be shooting the projectile that your particular rifle was designed to shoot. Again, Best of luck. IrishFritz

  18. #18
    Boolit Bub
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    I don`t have a Round ball mold as yet for this, and i am a Dutch Schoultz System devotee for my other RB guns, wiping between shots is almost SOP for me. Depending on the lube in the Zouave- fouling can be hard or soft.
    I use a fibre glass loading rod with a brass barrel guide, the steel rod gets hard on the hand when the loading gets a little tight. The muzzle does have a bit of wear already, but it is an original.

  19. #19
    Boolit Mold
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    Might be cheaper to try Hornady RB's before you have to foot the cost for a mold- IrishFritz

  20. #20
    Boolit Master fouronesix's Avatar
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    I have an original Remington "Zouave" with near pristine 7 groove bore. It is definitely tighter at muzzle than at breech end. The post referring to that is absolutely correct. The muzzle is going to determine the size you can easily load so just slug that part. Take a pure lead Minie or even round ball that has been smashed a little to shorten and fatten. Lube the muzzle end of the bore well. Take a short brass rod and drive the oversized slug into the muzzle maybe and inch or two. Use a screw ball extractor, screw into slug and pull out. Measure. Or when you cast some Minies or borrow or get some various Minies- measure the skirt diameters then try in the muzzle. You'll find out very quickly what is nice slip fit and what isn't. Ideally, given that they may tend to be tighter at the muzzle, I believe that it is best to find the largest size that just slip fits without undue fiddling. Mine accepts .578" diameter as slip fit. But I get best accuracy with a .580". I turned a two diameter false muzzle for mine out of delrin. I can easily load the .580" Minie using the false muzzle and a short starter. For just range blasting the .578 works fine. For serious accuracy or for hunting I use the .580". I cast all my Minies of pure lead and use Crisco smeared on with finger. I find best loads are usually around 50-60 gr FF. The best Minie design for all my original 58 cal Minie shooters is the RCBS N-S Minie cast of pure lead.

    Yes, for best accuracy and longest shooting strings with any of these Minie shooters, I like to swab between shots. Run a large cotton patch lightly soaked with moose milk in and out a few times with a correct sized jag. Then follow with a dry cotton patch in and out a few times. Listen for air being pushed in and out of the nipple. Pay attention to and realize any accumulation of fouling in breech end can interfere with ignition. Depending on how clean or dirty the burn is you can wrap a patch around a flat breech scraper jag and keep the breech end fairly clean for extended shooting sessions. Also, unless for re-enactment purposes, best to use the more powerful caps if you can find them. Good luck!
    Last edited by fouronesix; 06-02-2020 at 12:12 AM.
    Trust but verify the honeyguide

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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