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Joined: Nov 2005
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CJF Offline OP
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Finally had this out at the range yesterday to try my attempts at loading for this rifle and the 500 BPE.

Casting showed a fairly tight bore at 0.504. Case is 3" to leade, 3.36" to rifling, which is standard 6 groove with lands about 0.09" wide and grooves 0.171" wide.

Load was 137gr FFg Old Eynsford and a unpatched .500 370gr cast bullet. It's on the paper at 50 yards, but not regulating. From Graeme Wright's book, I believe I have too low of velocity. Since there's no room left in the case, I'm guessing this means trying 1) a lighter projectile, 2) FFFg, or 3) paper patching what I have now with the 370gr cast bullet for a tighter seal and less friction.

I'm planning on loading 6 more with my original try, since I was a bit anxious about shooting this the first time (first time ever shooting a double rifle!), plus 6 paper patched, with same charge, then 6 patched with FFFg.

Any other suggestions? I'd like to see if I can get these 370s to group before trying a different bullet.

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CJF,
As a longtime paper patcher, just patching tighter will not make reasonable increases in velocity. Check your patches in front of the firing line to see if you are getting blow by. If so, then better wads would be a good start. But your patches will tell a story.

Finer granulation (3f), more powder (and thus more compression, and a different powder (Swiss), maybe better.

What sort of precision were you getting with each barrel using OE? That would not be my first choice for powder.


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Originally Posted By: BrentD



What sort of precision were you getting with each barrel using OE? That would not be my first choice for powder.


OK, inquiring minds want to know, why would OE not be your first choice? I have several friends shooting OE reporting excellent results in replicating C&H#6. What do you find to be better at matching original ballistics in British BPE rifles? I ask because I am getting ready to start down the same road in my own .500 bpe, and I have zero exp with PP, my plan to start with grease groove bullets. Thanks for the input.


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SKB-

Most (not quite all but close) competitors find better accuracy with Swiss and greater (not not perfect) consistency from lot to lot. Out in your neck of the woods (Byers CO) last weekend, the biggest match of the single-shot cartridge, long-range matches concluded. I doubt more than a few used anything but Swiss, and I would wager that exactly zero of the top ten used anything but Swiss. The equipment report should be out shortly. Probably by the end of the week.

Generally, Swiss 1.5 fg is considered closest to C&H #6, but there is really no absolute measure that is appropriate for that comparison. OE can be fast, really fast, but some batches are not. Swiss tends to be fast, but OE can be faster (or slower). Faster is not to be conflated with better, of course.

Paper patching for competition and hunting is my gig so to speak. I do it a lot at both levels and in many different formats including levers, single-shot cartridge rifles and muzzleloaders over the last 25 yrs or so. But I have not done cartridge doubles, yet.

You will probably spend some time in the black magic of lubes and the nuances of compression, grease cookies, bullet taper, paper thickness and composition, etc. This why I was and still am so interested in some details in the thread on "Dis-assembling antique collectible cartridge".


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Hi Brent - the first 6 I tried with FFg OE were not paper patched. Just minimal lube in the grooves and under the bullet and over a card stock wad on top of the powder. I'll try to post a pic tomorrow of the target but other than having all the right barrel shots in the upper right, and all the left barrel shots in the left mid to upper range, the consistency was not there. Knowing how I can shoot, I don't feel I did my best, and plan to re-baseline this and try some alternatives.

Do you feel a paper patch will do better than just a perhaps minimally sized (vs bore) cast projectile with respect to velocity and accuracy? I would think it would perform better.

I have bees way foundation on order. Until that arrives all I have for lube here at home is some ancient Thompson Center ML lube from 30 years ago.

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Paper patching is just different. Not necessarily better or worse. There are advantages and disadvantages, but it is almost the only thing I shoot. Almost.

In working up a load for a gun like this, I would start with wiping between every shot. This seems tedious but goes pretty fast if you get used to it. This will show you the best accuracy your gun is capable of (eventually), and once you know that, you can work with overcoming fouling - which is the only real challenge with using black powder. I wipe with two damp patches and one dry - however, for grease grooves that is probably overkil and one damp patch, maybe two will suffice with a better cleaning every 3 or 4 loads. I use straight tap or crick water for wiping and cleaning. No other solvents needed.

With a grease groove, I would not use a grease cookie if I could avoid it, so grease only in the grooves. What lube did you use? I assume that TC lube, which is probably not ideal, but better than Alox or other smokeless lubes.

Did you drop tube your powder into the case or vibrate it? And what sort of compression? OE generally likes a fair bit of compression ( 0.125-0.3" but more or less may be better). Never compress with a bullet. Either make a dummy cylinder to put into your case for compression in place of the bullet or make or buy a compression die (buffaloarms.com).

I generally recommend CCI-BR2 primers. Not a super critical thing, but these seem to always do well, if not best.

Paper patching opens up a lot of options. My rifles generally use a bullet that, after patching, is land diameter. This is the standard for target rifles. They also use paper that, with two wraps, make a paper layer that is about as thick as the rifling is deep. Some hunting rifles use bullets that under bore diameter (when patched) by as much as 0.004". Some - maybe most historically - were tapered (this is why I'm so interested in the "Dis-assembly..." thread). Currently, I'm working with a 2-diameter bullet to use in a vintage Marlin .45-70 lever gun. For hunting guns I use a slightly thicker paper, but that may not always be necessary. I have also used groove-diameter paper-patched bullets but these are my least favorite by a long shot. Paper patched will avoid leading if done right and they can greatly increase your powder capacity - not really an issue for you. But they are tougher to shoot over fouling. In other words, there are many ways to go.

I used to have a percussion double (18 bore Joseph Lang) which I spent quite a bit of time trying to regulate from the bench. It was not easy work. Doubles don't seem to be regulated for bench shooting. That is my only experience with regulating a double.


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An 1884 Alex Henry .500 BPE double rifle in my care does fantastic with paper patched soft lead bullets cast from its original mould and also a similar one made by Accurate Molds in Utah. In 75:1 alloy, the bullets weigh 405 grains; in 16:1 alloy they weigh about 395 grains. The gun’s original powder measure throws 130 grains, and after that is in and a milk carton wad is on top, not a lot of room remains in the case. Like many other BPE shooters, I load this gun with Olde Eynsford 1.5FG. It is my morning stand gun during bear season in Pennsylvania


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