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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We’ve had quite a few threads over the years about favorite loads or “best” bullet for X rifle for deer, or reviews of specific bullets…
Thought maybe it’s time to mix it up a little as we’re 4 weeks from ML season.
What have you tried that didn’t work out for you? (Couldn’t get acceptable accuracy or didn’t perform well on deer.)

There’s a few that I tried and just couldn’t wring good groups out of to save my life in my old Optima Pro:
The 240gr XTP MAGs from T/C. Gun seemed to hate these bullets/sabots. Best group was 5” at 100. Worked up from 75gr loose 77 all the way to 150. Tried 3 different sabots, nothing tightened it up. Tried 245gr powerbelt (copper hp) and shot cloverleafs at 100 with 100gr and 150gr worth of pellets.
These passed the accuracy I desired, but failed miserably on deer at 150gr charges. Explosive expansion. Didn’t lose any deer, but had to track a few a lot longer than I’d have liked. Backed it down to 100gr and it was better, but not stellar. Went up to 295gr powerbelts and was good to go for years.
Traditions Pursuit:
This rifle DID like the T/C XTPs. Grouped very nicely, but was tight loading. Too tight with the supplied sabots. Grabbed some crush ribs, loading was improved (no more bent ramrods) and didn’t lose any accuracy. Performance on deer was depressing. Almost no expansion. It was then I discovered these were listed “MAG” for a reason. Unreliable expansion unless you were zinging them with 150gr charges, which was more than the shorter barrel on the traditions would burn. Back to 295gr Powerbelts. Punched some tags.
 

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I have a CVA Optima V2 50 LR nitride rifle. I have only shot the blackhorn and 250gr sst sabot. I been wanting to try the hornady bore drivers. I got to looking through my muzzle loader bullets. I have a bunch of the TC 240gr cheap shots. And the Remington 275gr jhp sabots. I had good luck with the 275gr out of my Remington 50 cal ml. I looked at the power belts. Just not a fan of them. May have to buy some barnes ml bullets. The 250gr sst shot good out of my CVA. But i have only killed 1 deer with it.
 

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I have to look at my notes as I haven't loaded or shot my T\C Encore with the 50-cal M\L barrel in some time...(and we are speaking to modern M\L's and not flintlock rifles) but a measure of Blackhorn 209 over a Nosler 300gr .458 Ballistic Silvertip. 45-70 Govt. 300gr Cann .458 Ballistic Silvertip (50ct) will give me cloverleaf groups at 100 yards. The sabot is the MMP Orange MMP SABOTS : Store : Orange HPH Sabot/50 Pcs

I have tried using many other bullets\sabot's in my rife, but none give me this accuracy. I had a buddy who had an Omega (I think that's what it was) that didn't shoot the groups he wanted and we tried this combo in his rifle with great success.

These Nosler's are very pricy and hard to find. OTOH, with the groups I get I wouldn't shoot anything else. Then again.....haven't had a bear to step out in front of me to determine terminal performance.

FIWI
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks guys.
I guess I should explain why I'm interested in looking at what didn't work out for people vs what works or current favorites.. Been chatting with the guys leading up to ML season and I'm noticing a trend that I want to validate.. (and yeah, talking in-lines)

Seems most issues the guys report, both in terms of accuracy and performance are from what I'd consider "light for caliber" bullets (250gr and under) being pushed way too fast (100gr equivalent or more, in some extremely light cases even above 75gr was too fast)
Those shooting heavier bullets, or pushing "light" bullets slower have fewer performance issues.
Those shooting full-bore bullets report almost no issues when using bullets ~300gr and up.. Pretty much regardless of bullet choice.
Those shooting sabots report a bit of a mixed bag... Accuracy issues seem to moot once the shooter finds the right sabot for their barrel and bullet choice... but performance is all over the place, with a slight advantage to the heavier bullets. (Deeper penetration or pass-thru, heavier blood trails if they weren't DRT, etc) Matching velocity to bullet construction is biggest factor observed here. Get it right and performance is great, get it wrong and even a "top quality" bullet performs miserably on game. (Not in any way surprising to most of us, but a concept that isn't even on the radar of a lot of hunters.)

Trying to gather insights from those that have experimented vs those that simply picked a load when they bought their gun and have never looked into testing others for better/worse performance.(We all have our favorite loads.. some lucked out and found that favorite after little to no experimentation... and some of us made a lot of smoke finding it.)
Basically I'm thinking if there's an identifiable trend out there where we could demonstrate via consensus that certain loads are unlikely to result in acceptable performance, we could save some novice ML hunters some time and $$$ (and possibly lost/wounded deer) figuring things out on their own.
 

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Just some random thoughts on your post....my thought's and $1.35 may get you a coffee at the local fillin station.....

---Pushing lighter weight bullets (say under the 250gr) fast in a plastic sabot\bullet setup may be doomed from the start. That plastic sabot can only handle so much velocity before it just gets "stripped" of it's ability to engage (grab) the rifling. Thus.....similar to pushing an all lead projectile to fast. Leading occurs with that.....I would think "plastic" leading would occur in the in-line.

--Terminal performance on a whitetail with a "premium" bullet is subjective. A premium bullet may not expand at the MV being shot out of a ML. OTOH, I've killed plenty of whitetails with a soft lead PRB or lightweight conical and all they did was punch a hole through the lungs\liver\whatever organ that will cause a quick death. I dunno who's shooting game with a modern in-line past 200 yards. I've never killed one past 100 yards....FWIW.

--IMHO accuracy trumps speed in the distances I shoot......anyway.
 

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You nailed it in your above post. Plain and simple. Biggest issue is light bullets, heavy charge. Avoid it. Find a bullet 300 and up that will shoot 80gr accuratley and you will not have performance issues.
That`s what I do. 460 grain Maxi-type slug and 90 gr of Goex FFG. I only shoot to about 50-60 yards though open sights. Very deadly.
 

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That`s what I do. 460 grain Maxi-type slug and 90 gr of Goex FFG. I only shoot to about 50-60 yards though open sights. Very deadly.
Yep. Even though many hate powerbelts I load up the 348's over 80 and it folds deer out of my Omega. I would recommend anyone starting out inline ml hunting try this load first and if its accurate look no further you have no worries. One thing I did find out is MY gun likes a fouling shot b4 max accuracy. That first clean barrel shot is always off a smidge from my group. Day b4 season I just let one rip and run a single spit patch and shes good.
 

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I have an omega and the most deadly accurate bullet I ever shot was 250 grain PTX bullets.. They were made in the 80s by hornady a special run for TC... I use 100 grains of triple 7 and they are super accurate at 100 yards..I was also told by a guy at a gunshop the hornady FTX 45 caliber with HPH sabots are very accurate,,They are 250 grain also... These are light for a 50 caliber bore but shoot superbly out of the omega so the guys on here that have trouble with light for bore size have not experimented enough.. The PTX bullets came with their own red sabot..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Accuracy is only half of the equation. Terminal performance is the other.
What’s been said so far (which happens to match my direct experience) is that all weights can be accurate, but light weights are more prone to issues caused by being pushed faster than their construction can handle. Heavyweight bullets tend to be more immune from this issue by their very nature (too heavy to be pushed too fast for their construction)
Like everything in life, there’s trade offs. It’s at the tail ends of the spectrum that most problems manifest.
Light and fast while made of soft/pure lead? Problem
Light and fast made of copper/controlled expansion? Lesser or no problem.
Mid to heavyweight of soft to moderate construction at moderate to high velocity? Little to no problem.
Mid to heavyweight of hard construction or pushed slow? Potential problem if it doesn’t expand.
Overall I’m a believer that heavy for caliber bullets have a wider performance envelop than light for caliber, which tend to have very tight tolerance for impact velocities over which they’ll expand reliably while achieving acceptable penetration.
 

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I have been looking at the nosler 250gr orange tip bt bullet. But i dont know anyone shooting them. I am shooting max load of blackhorn. I am going to back off a little this yr and try that. Which way is better going by weight or volume on your powder charges?
 

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Kind of goes with this conversation...what do you all think about these utubers shooting into water jugs? Is that a good indicator of expansion in a deer? Also, they get all gitty about these bullets that look like a thick quarter when they're done. I know from hunting with lead slugs that is not good expansion because that "wafer" turns and slices right through doing little damage.
 

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I’ve been playing with mine for a while. TC Triumph. First issue was the primer. I couldn’t use regular ml primers. They were four thousands of an inch to long to fit into the breech plug and couldn’t get the breech to close. So I used regular shot gun primers for several years. Bad plan they burned to hot giving a crud ring making second shots without cleaning a crap shoot. Found ml primers that fit in the gun. That solved the crud ring problem. I’ve been using 100 grains of triple f two 50 grain pellets and 250 grain TC Shockwaves. Also tried 120 grains of triple f four 30 grain pellets. They’ll stay within the center diamond on a site in target at a hundred yards. Tried 250 Traditions bullets on the range this year. They are about a quarter inch shorter than the TC bullets and seem to group a little better. Both are copper with plastic ballistic tip. There is a major difference where the two bullets hit on the same target. TC bullets hit 6 inches low and 3 to the left using the same zero as the Traditions. The difference between the 100 and 120 grains of triple f is about 3 inches of elevation. The windage stays the same. I haven’t thought of using a heavier bullet, but it seems like the 250s seem to float around. As long as I’m shooting for the lungs I’m going to kill a deer at 100 yards, but the accuracy isn’t there to try for say a head shot and no I don’t take those shots anyway.
 

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So far, literally every combo of patched ball I've tried in 2 Pennsylvania Hunters has failed to yield accuracy AND consistency. I require both in equal measure if I'm looking at hair in the sights.
Ain't me neither. A 250 grain .45 XTP in a Harvester crush rib sabot over 70 grains of 3f Swiss cuts a hole at 50 yards from my .50 caliber flintlock Renegade.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Kind of goes with this conversation...what do you all think about these utubers shooting into water jugs? Is that a good indicator of expansion in a deer? Also, they get all gitty about these bullets that look like a thick quarter when they're done. I know from hunting with lead slugs that is not good expansion because that "wafer" turns and slices right through doing little damage.
In my opinion those videos are pretty worthless.
The better ones are showing shots into ballistic gel.
Water jugs will show the absolute maximum expansion a given bullet is capable of. They’ll all expand less in actual tissue/bone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So far, literally every combo of patched ball I've tried in 2 Pennsylvania Hunters has failed to yield accuracy AND consistency. I require both in equal measure if I'm looking at hair in the sights.
Ain't me neither. A 250 grain .45 XTP in a Harvester crush rib sabot over 70 grains of 3f Swiss cuts a hole at 50 yards from my .50 caliber flintlock Renegade.
What’s the rate of twist on that Renegade?
Been toying with shooting the small pile of 45 cal XTPs and sabots I have, or even the 245gr powerbelts from my flintlock, but at 1:66 I’m thinking only the powerbelts stand much chance at being stable enough to group.
 

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The Renegade is a 1-48.
If you REALLY want to have a HOOT with sabots and conicals, find a Thunderhawk or Firehawk .50. Those sweeties have a 1-38. My Firehawk is the most accurate, and consistent rifle I've ever owned. Breech or muzzleloader. Aperture sights btw. She's spooky with 230 - 300 grain .45 XTPs in Harvester crush ribs for the 250 and 300s. Regular Harvesters for the 230s. 70 grains of 3f Swiss gives 1645, 1575 and 1500 fps respectively.
The 400 grain Lyman Plains, with a .54 o.p. wad and 70 grains 3f Swiss ( 1350 fps)10 shot 100 yard groups hover around the 2 inch mark with boring regularity. Both recoil and grin factor are redlined. The Firehawk barely goes 7 pounds...
For all but the most unique loads, the 1-38 .50 caliber combo just rules.
 

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I have shot a bunch of different bullet/load combinations out of several TC 1:48 twist Renegade 54 Cal. I have not had good results with sabots. There aren't too many to try in 54 but the ones I have tried didn't stabilize well. The other bullet I wasn't happy with was Powerbelts. I shot a couple deer and the bullet fragmented and didn't provide an exit wound. I know there are a lot of newer style Powerbelts so they may have corrected this issue.
 

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Way back when T/C introduced the Thunderhawk, my wife relieved me of the gun but left me with the job of working up the load.
After multiple tries with many different bullet types we became convinced the 70 Gr of Goex FFG under a 460 Gr Maxiball was the best we were going to come up with, even though it only grouped 3 inches @ 50 yds....that, with a 3X9X40 scope.
Years later my hunting partner, a Pyrodex fanatic, talked us into trying Pyrodex RS and the newest version of a T/C sabot.
It shot 1 1/2" @ 100yds off sand bags. T/C sabot, 100 Gr RS, and CCI Magnum #11cap.
 
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