I like to spend my oval office time watching hunting videos on Youtube. The other day I was watching a video of a Pennsylvania muzzleloader hunt and the guy had shot at a running deer (hmmm…) and during his reloading process he was THROWING the ramrod down the barrel, and then RAMMING it down.
This kind of loading is completely UNNECESSARY! Loading should be consistent. Think of it like tightening the bolts on your wheel. The professionals torque the bolts down with consistency on each bolt. While you don’t have a torque wrench, you should use a similar approach with loading your muzzleloader. The more consistent your loading pressure the more consistent your velocities will be (powder burns differently depending on how compacted it is). Consistent velocities result in consistent accuracy.
A) Start the bullet in the muzzle using a bullet started. This ensures your bullet isn’t started cock-eyed. Plus it’s easier.
B) Using your ramrod with a palm saver, put the ramrod on top of the bullet and with one consistent motion push the bullet down the barrel until it stops. I use my body weight and ‘pull’ with my legs.
C) When your bullet stops, put slightly more effort on the ramrod to ensure it is seated. Double check the mark you made on your ramrod to confirm that it is level with the muzzle.
D) You are DONE! Do not smash the bullet, throw the ramrod down a dozen times, or any other crazy ritual that you feel will make the deer gods happy with you and bless you with a 320 pound, 31 point buck.
Most muzzleloaders come with a loading rod that is the length of the barrel. Then most shooters screw on a loading jag that makes the rod extend past the barrel. So what if my jag sticks out 4 inches past my barrel you may say? Well here’s what happens.
Upon firing gases blow out around the bullet. When those gases hit the loading jag they push up on the bullet. This results in decreased accuracy. And a filthy loading jag.
So measure the part of the rod that goes past the barrel and trim the end of the rod that is closest to the action. You’ll have improved accuracy and a rod that looks like it came from the factory with the correct loading jag installed.
Your ramrod should look like this:
You know what’s really embarrassing at the range? Having to remove your breech plug and push out a load because you got distracted and double loaded it.
You know what’s even MORE embarrassing? Blowing up your rifle because you double loaded your gun! The likelihood of this happening grows exponentially when you’re shooting more than one muzzleloader at the range or helping others with theirs.
Once you have the power / bullet combination you’re going to run with take a sharp object like a knife or a screwdriver and put a line around your loading rod level with muzzle when loaded.
Now if your line is IN the barrel, you know you’re missing something. If your line is ABOVE the muzzle, you know you have too much in the barrel or your bullet isn’t seated all the way (which can blow up your barrel just as easily).
I’m going to start posting a short muzzleloader “tip of the week” aka “Monday Muzzy Munchies”! This will be helpful little tid-bits from cleaning to the range to the field.
Muzzy Munchy #1: Speed Loaders
So you’ve forsaken those expensive and inaccurate pellets and gone to powder. Good for you! Now take that money you saved and buy a TON of speed loaders!
1. Buy speed loaders: Keep an eye out for the .45 caliber speed loaders as they often put them on clearance. Gander Mountain had 3 for 99 cents. They work the same as the .50’s only you can’t put a bullet in it, which you won’t do because you’re using powder. That said, any vial that can be sealed will work
2. Load them up: I’ll load up 40 speed loaders while watching TV with the wife at night. I find it very therapeutic.
3. Stash them in Zip-Loc bags: This is a great way to keep different powder charges separate. If I’m working up a load for a gun I will load up a dozen 80 grain, 90 grain, 100 grain, and 110 grain speed loaders and then write the corresponding charge on the Zip-Loc bag. I’ll bring an extra bag to store my empties in when I’m at the range. It helps you spend range time shooting instead of loading. Crazy idea huh?