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Thread: CVA 54 Cal Hawken overbore issues.

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    CVA 54 Cal Hawken overbore issues.

    Hi All, I have been shooting muzzleloaders for over 30 years, mostly TC hawkens and Traditions Great Plains rifle. About 45 years ago my dad bought a CVA 54 caliber Hawken. He bought it as a kit mostly for the fun of the build. He brought it out to my place to shoot it about 25 years ago and I remember that my .530 round balls and .015 patches basically fell down the bore. Fast forward to this spring and my dad passed away and all his guns came to me. I have been getting all his old winchesters etc out of moth balls and out shooting. I took the CVA out this past weekend. The manual for the CVA 54 Hawken says to use a .530 ball and .015 patch. When we shot it I used a .530 ball and 2, .015 patches and it still was just an easy push down the barrel. When I cleaned it at home I measured the bore with a caliper and it measured .565. My TC 54 Hawken measured .540. What gives here?Do I just use a .530 ball and real thick patch material? I also took one of my 54 cal Lee REAL bullets and it just fell down the barrel? Any advice is appreciated. My dad did such a nice job on the build I want to get this thing shooting and get a deer with it this fall! P.S, the barrel is clearly marked 54 caliber.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    Needs bigger round balls, or you measured groove diameter. Bore is land to land.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    That barrel may have been " Refreshed "
    I have had Hoyt do a couple of them for me.
    They came out with a little deeper rifling , but I just used different balls or thicker patches.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master RU shooter's Avatar
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    Id remeasure the barrel (land to land) and see if you get the same reading. And look for a ball size that will work for it . I don’t think a very undersized ball and a double patch is conductive to good accuracy .
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  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    That barrel may have been " Refreshed "
    I have had Hoyt do a couple of them for me.
    They came out with a little deeper rifling , but I just used different balls or thicker patches.
    Nope, my dad had it since new as a kit. It's only been fired 4-5 times since he built it. Will re measure it.

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Quote Originally Posted by RU shooter View Post
    Id remeasure the barrel (land to land) and see if you get the same reading. And look for a ball size that will work for it . I don’t think a very undersized ball and a double patch is conductive to good accuracy .
    That was my thoughts as well. Bigger ball and patch to match. The other thing is I have shot Sabots out of my TC with great success. I have 54 Caliber Sabots for a 44 bullet. They are a nice snug fit in my TC but the Sabot and bullet is "sloppy" in the CVA and can be just dropped down the barrel.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master Sasquatch-1's Avatar
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    Sounds like you could use old flannel shirts and still not have a tight ball. Do you have any lead you could slug the barrel with?
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    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

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    Sounds like you need to find around a .540 ball mold and pillow ticking.

    Try Tanner Molds. https://www.ballmoulds.com/

    Don't be put off by them being made in England. I have several of their molds, and delivery was unbelievably fast. There are probably other mold makers who would do the job, but these are a good place to start.

    If you can find some .535 balls, they may do the trick. Track of the Wolf may have them.
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  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    You can "slug" the bore without opening the breech. Oil the barrel well. Drop a heavy brass rod (about a foot or better into the barrel. Pound your lead in a short distance. Just not up to the brass rod as you will need space to let the brass rod push it back out. Shake the gun up and down so as to let the brass rod bounce into the lead slug. Takes a short time and the lead & rod will come out. Viola ! You have a slug to measure that accurately reflects the dimensions you are dealing with. Good luck.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I use .535 balls in several of my .54s
    On one , I have to use a thicker patch ( .020 )
    The other a ( .015 )

  11. #11
    Boolit Mold
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    Just remeasured the barrel with a digital caliper as far into the muzzle, about .75cm. Diameter Land to Land was .557", and Groove to Groove was .581". Again checked the stamping on the barrel and its marked 54 caliber?

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Question,
    How many grooves are in the barrel.
    You can not get accurate measurements with a caliper on a 5 groove barrel since everything does not line up directly across the bore.

  13. #13
    Boolit Mold
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    8 grooves. Might have to slug the barrel. Never done it before though.

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    Try a thicker patch(s) and see how well it shoots - might surprise you. I knew an old guy who shot a .62 rifle and used greased doeskin patches. I never measured one but they looked to be relatively thick. He’d occasionally find one after being shot and would reuse it (did I mention he lived through the Depression)?

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    It does give you the most accurate measurement if you slug the barrel.
    The suggestion of using a price of brass rod in the barrel to pound out the slug works good.
    But it does take a little time and patients.
    But the results are Well worth it.
    I also make up a little tool so I can Cast Epoxy in the barrel and pull it out the bore end.
    It is basically a threaded rod or long bolt.
    Some washers that fit the barrel with a patch sealing it off.
    To pull the epoxy slug out of the barrel.
    I use a section of pipe and some nuts and washers.
    You place the pipe over the threaded rod sticking out of the bore.
    And use a nut and washer to draw the rod and slug out the barrel.
    Two things also.
    Use a release agent in the bore. ( Johnson's paste Wax )
    You also should use a Hard Epoxy like JB Weld or stock bedding compound.
    Most quick 5 minute epoxy is softer and a little sticky when hard.
    I make epoxy slugs to use for lapping the inside of the barrel with polishing compound on a cleaning rod.
    Last edited by LAGS; 06-23-2022 at 08:04 PM.

  16. #16
    Boolit Mold
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    Some good things to try before I order custom molds from England. need to find a brass rod now and maybe If I flatten a lee REAl 54 bullet a bit to make it bigger I can use that for my slug.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    Will be looking for some type of thick cotton material to try before I get too carried away with new molds etc.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Try old Blue Jean Material.
    On an old pair of pants , you can find many thicknesses due to wear.

  19. #19
    Boolit Mold
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    I've heard that about blue jeans, got a few pairs of old "fat pants", maybe the bigger the waist size the thicker the material! lol.
    Just slugged the barrel with a squished REAL bullet, worked really slick! Groove to Groove is .590, and land to land is .570.
    Going to try some thick patches this weekend and see what happens. If I can't find something that works I'll look at a larger ball mold. I already have a great 50 cal flinter and the TC Hawken percussion for hunting, but getting this shooting good, along with the model 94, 32-40, and the model 92, 44-40 I got when my dad passed a month ago is something I need to do.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Do you happen to know what your rifling Twist is.
    You might be able to look into Slugs or Sabots if you have a faster twist in the rifling.
    Faster than 1:48 will work for heavy slugs or minies.
    Lee and others make some slug molds that are .575 or .580 diameter.

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