Re: Caliber choice - 50 or 54?
The 54 holds a slight edge over the 50 for ability to buck wind annd carry it's energy down range. At 75 yards, the differences are probably negligeable. For shock value on the game, the bigger hole, even with some ball flattening, is going to be larger with a 54 and will normally result in a larger blood loss. The 50 leaves more options in terms of availability of store bought projectiles, if you should wander into throwing huge minnie type bullets.
If you are of the sort that really heavies up the powder for hunting, the 54 will probably burn more efficiently in that 32 inch bore. According to the Lyman, Black Powder handbook, 1st ed. 100 grains behind a 495 PRB in a 32 inch barrel results in Muzzle energy of 1561 ft/ lbs and 100 yd energy of 501 ft lbs. The results for a 100 grains of the same, under a 535 PRB in a 34 inch barrel gave muzzle energy of 1347 ft/lbs and 100 yd energy of 515. The 50 caliber holds an edge over the 54 probably out to 75 or 85 yds, but by the 100 yd the 54 starts to have the edge.
Two other consideration are that between two production guns of the same model but different caliber, the 54 will be an oz or two lighter.
for typical whitetail distance, I'd still go with the 54, it can extend the kill range slightly and makes a bigger hole.
I once shot muzzle loading sillywets up at Shippensburg. My 45 target gun couldn't knock down the heavy targets past the first distance. The 50 caliber could knock the 200 yd pigs some times if hit right. The 54 did the job much more reliably. (Nothing worse than having a hit, hearing the "ding" and just having the target pivot slightly but not fall down. )