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Thread: ball size matters

  1. #1
    Boolit Grand Master Nobade's Avatar
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    ball size matters

    Either from laziness or habit, I had always used .440" balls in 45 caliber guns. They worked great in everything except an old single trigger Cherokee I picked up about 10 years ago. No matter what I tried I just couldn't get it to shoot very well. Recently I was re-reading my Dutch Shoultz book and he kept talking about using the biggest ball you could load. So I thought why not, and ordered a .445" mold. I shot it some today and by gosh if it's not a one hole gun at 25 yards now! And that's with a 60 grain load, plenty of power for shooting deer. I am very happy with the rifle now, and amazed at myself for not making that leap a long time ago. I guess when a rifle doesn't work well it gets put in the back of the safe and forgotten for a bit. But a little 6 lb rifle is going to be a joy to carry in the woods this fall.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Hannibal's Avatar
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    It always surprises me when I discover a problem I'm having has a relatively simple solution and often one related to basics. I have learned that instead of fighting with something setting it aside and returning to it later often gives me a fresh perspective and the solution is found much more easily. I'm glad you found your solution.

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    My old lyman 2 ball steel mold is .445, was bought for a CVA .45 caplock. It shot well for me, never even considered smaller.
    I truly believe we need to get back to basics.

    Get right with the Lord.
    Get back to the land.
    Get back to thinking like our forefathers thought.


    May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you
    and give you His peace. Let all of the earth all of His creation worship and praise His name! Make His
    praise glorious!

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I shoot .451/pillow ticking in the old school Douglas barrels. (but not for hunting)
    for fast reload use smaller ball

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	303025No argument at all with ball size, but please recognize that T/C bbl. dimensions varied more than we realize and that's probably true of other manufacturers as well. E.g., I too owned a .45cal. Cherokee and got spectacular accuracy with a .440" RB and .015" patch. My Isaac Haines .54cal. (Rice bbl.) OTOH shoots a .530" RB well enough, but does even better with a .535" RB and .012" patch. (See image below: 10 shots, 25 yd, rested, I. Haines)

  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    By contrast the old Numerich barrels took a 435 or 437 ball, I still have the mould that came with my H and A Underhammer in the 60;s.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    I always used Hornady .433 in my H&A 45 called but it was a 44. I believe they stated that for states with a stupid F&G dept.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master Nobade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_6466.jpg 
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ID:	303025No argument at all with ball size, but please recognize that T/C bbl. dimensions varied more than we realize and that's probably true of other manufacturers as well. E.g., I too owned a .45cal. Cherokee and got spectacular accuracy with a .440" RB and .015" patch. My Isaac Haines .54cal. (Rice bbl.) OTOH shoots a .530" RB well enough, but does even better with a .535" RB and .012" patch. (See image below: 10 shots, 25 yd, rested, I. Haines)
    You are right about that. I can't remember ever using a pin gauge to check this barrel but it's obviously a bit bigger than any of my other 45s because it's the only one I can load this ball/patch combo into easily. It's just amazing, you give a barrel what it likes and it will shoot. They're funny that way. Big bore and shallow rifling, I guess they were trying to come up with something that would shoot conicals or balls so what they achieved wasn't optimal for either one.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nobade View Post
    Either from laziness or habit, I had always used .440" balls in 45 caliber guns. They worked great in everything except an old single trigger Cherokee I picked up about 10 years ago. No matter what I tried I just couldn't get it to shoot very well. Recently I was re-reading my Dutch Shoultz book and he kept talking about using the biggest ball you could load. So I thought why not, and ordered a .445" mold. I shot it some today and by gosh if it's not a one hole gun at 25 yards now! And that's with a 60 grain load, plenty of power for shooting deer. I am very happy with the rifle now, and amazed at myself for not making that leap a long time ago. I guess when a rifle doesn't work well it gets put in the back of the safe and forgotten for a bit. But a little 6 lb rifle is going to be a joy to carry in the woods this fall.
    I used to converse with Dutch Schoultz all the time - I got him hooked on my home made smoked venison jerky sticks and would send some to him every year. In turn, he helped me turn my front loaders into "one-hole" machines. I had a .54 that would never shoot worth a d*** and he recommended I keep raising the powder charge until I could see red flecks in the fouling (molten sulfur). Finally got to 90 grs FFg with patched round ball and it suddenly went from 2-3" at 50 yds to shooting caliber sized groups of about .60 total diameter. The balls would stack on top of each other in the sand pile. Did the same with my 45 rifle and it liked 70 grs. with a PRB.

  10. #10
    Moderator Emeritus / Trusted loob groove dealer

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    Quote Originally Posted by HWooldridge View Post
    I used to converse with Dutch Schoultz all the time - I got him hooked on my home made smoked venison jerky sticks and would send some to him every year. In turn, he helped me turn my front loaders into "one-hole" machines. I had a .54 that would never shoot worth a d*** and he recommended I keep raising the powder charge until I could see red flecks in the fouling (molten sulfur). Finally got to 90 grs FFg with patched round ball and it suddenly went from 2-3" at 50 yds to shooting caliber sized groups of about .60 total diameter. The balls would stack on top of each other in the sand pile. Did the same with my 45 rifle and it liked 70 grs. with a PRB.
    Unfortunately, Dutch passed away recently.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by waksupi View Post
    Unfortunately, Dutch passed away recently.
    Sorry to hear that - he was one of the good guys.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master armoredman's Avatar
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    My son just tried. 520 patched ball in his .54 cal Kit Carson as opposed to the .530 he was using. A little less accurate, but still good, and much easier to load for him. That was with a .015 patch - next time we go with the .020 patch and see what happens.

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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