Crazy results at the range .... frustrating

Help Support Frontier Muzzle Loading:

Sparkitoff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Messages
289
Yesterday I went to the range to check rifles prior to an upcoming hunt. I always bring at least 2 so if one has an issue at least I can get the other ready. Well … my trusty custom flintlock has repeatedly put the ball right on the bullseye at 100 yards. Yesterday it would do no such thing! I have the rear sight orientation scratched in and it did not move. However, the impact moved up and left significantly. I have the same swaged balls, pillow tick patches from same material made the same, same powder (Goex FFFg) same primer (Goex FFFFg). Flint was new. After 12-shots with a poor group and high and left I packed that one up. My CVA Mountain Rifle Flintlock uses the same exact load and components as Trusty. It put two balls touching and one less than an inch out at 100-yards. That one will be going on the hunt.

Today, I brought my sons .50 percussion conical shooter w/optics (Its a sidelock carbine we built). I have the load written down on the target we shot with it last. Shoot a Hornady PA Conial over 80 grains Triple 7 FFFg. This one shoots a three shot group that is ok, but coincidentally high and left. The wind is not blowing that way, in fact there is hardly a puff of breeze today. I move the scope and put two shots touching just a bit too far right. I move it back left just 3 clicks. That shots goes somewhere off the paper. And repeat, and repeat. OK, I got to 25-yards. Low and right. I move it to hit the 12 O'clock on a 1" circle at 25-yards. Back to 100-yards. No hole on paper. I shoot at all 4 corners of the paper looking for a hole somewhere....but there is nothing. Back in the case. I pull out my CVA Hawken .54 caliber. It uses the same load as the other two .54 flintlocks in the above paragraph. First two shots touching just an inch and a half left, third one another 1/2 inch left of those. Move the sight right slightly. Hit the bullseye at 3 O'clock. Next shot 9 O'clock. Those are on a 1.5" round circle and they are inside it at those respective clock positions. 3rd shot 7:30 O'clock on the bullseye circle line. This one is good to go hunt.

At home I thoroughly clean the two misbehaving rifles and check everything. Nothing is "out of whack". No loose screws of parts, visible damage, substantial dirt or new pitting. Nothing obvious. I just cannot figure out what went astray. Both rifles are bedded and have a few tweaks to keep them consistent but apparently they weren't working yesterday and today. I put the bore-sighter in the scoped sidelock and moved the crosshairs where they are bore-sighted in hopes of seeing a hole next time I shoot at a target. Maybe tomorrow I can get back. I will use the scoped rifle at 25 and if consistent go to 50. If it groups, I will dial in at 100 again. The other rifle will wait, I cant mess with two tomorrow if I can even get there. I want to take two on the hunt Sunday and Monday (and maybe Tuesday morning).

Such is life, I just cannot figure what has caused two rifles that were sighted in perfectly to suddenly throw ball outside of the sights and not in a group. Hmmmmm…...
 

FrontierGander

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Joined
May 19, 2008
Messages
15,426
Location
Boncarbo,Colorado
could be scope or loose mounts. Is the powder fresh? T7 and the other subs seem to weaken over time and can cause issues like this.
 

Hanshi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2015
Messages
1,239
This same thing has happened to me more than once. Last shoot with it perfectly sighted in but this time out it hits way over yonder. Things that come to mind: 1. stock losing or gaining moisture since last fired. 2. patch/lube/ball not the same or maybe damaged. 3. possible difference in shooting technique. Other than that I can only speculate that you did not slaughter a chicken to appease the accuracy demons. :dancing chicken:
 

Sparkitoff

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Messages
289
Well it was interesting but the chicken sacrifice doesn't work. I started with a totally clean rifle. I dialed in at 25 yards and then 50 yards. Shot 3-shot groups and cleaned thoroughly. The 50-yards groups were one-ragged-hole. Went to 100-yards. It shot low, expected. Raised the sights up as necessary and left to bullseye. Now, I cleaned and shot. Low. Cleaned and shot. Low. Cleaned and shot. Low. OK, so the first shot on a clean barrel is low. No problem, so I thought. Shot 2 shots off the paper and then put a 3-shot group into 1.5" right on the bullseye. Next shot without cleaning went high. Next shot without cleaning went left. Well, maybe it needs 2 fouling shots to settle in and is good for 3-shots. Nope. Could not repeat it at all. It shot low and left from then on. No wind at all registering on my meter. The projectiles are kind of like Minnie balls, that is they have a hollow base. I think the hollow base is not obturating consistently. Maybe more or less powder would do it. Anyway, I plan to try a few different projectiles next time. For the moment I am done with these. If you can name a projectile on the market I have tried it in this rifle. When it as freshly built, I sighted in with green crush rib sabots and 240 gr XTP's and killed a hog at 75 yards with the open sights. A few years later I wanted to take it elk hunting where there was a lot of hiking in snow (the rifle is short, light and handy). I sighted in with the same green crush rib sabots using 300 grain XTP's and proceeded to take and elk at 80 yards and another shot at 45 yards (first shot did not put in on ground). So, somehow I got it sighted in with those projectiles/sabots in the past. I will try them again at the next range outing. Maybe I had it all along but somehow overlooked it. Who knows. But no more dead chickens.
 

Mad Irish Jack ODonnell

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2016
Messages
109
Location
sw PA -Allegheny Co, McDonald, PA
Overconfidence and lack of concentration. It bore often happens to guys shooting scopes. 9 shots, 1 ragged hole of 1/4" group; he says, "Last one". Last one and 2" left and 1.5" high. ( That was me forty years ago. Psychologically, a shooter feels good about what HAPPENED before that LAST shot. So he quickly goes through the process and something in his process is relaxed out. Then because he gets different results, he panics with flash questions about "WHAT HAPPENED". If I sight in or am checking a previously sighted gun, I take a shot as I would in a scenario of how I'm using the gun: Hunting, trail walk, paper target competition, etc. I shoot to test or take the last one that way. My high power, I shoot at the mid range of my expected shot and the stance ( Prone, sit, offhand,etc.)1"dot on a printer paper. Offhand @100 yds.>1.25" low and 2" LEFT, I'll kill the game I'm after and be fine. In my mind I feel that a stabilized shot will be better. I'm good. If I put a new scope on a gun and sight it for someone, I use 1 shot to do that. For my flintlocks, I shoot them but never move the sites (Unless they've been bent or accidentally move or damaged. I set it when I finish the build and seat it. Then I just shoot for the fun and to sharpen my technique and form.
If you're preparing for hunting game, I still use the adage for all weapons used in hunting; and it stands true for practice. "The only shot that counts is the first." So true because you most likely won't get a second. For archery, we use portable targets. I own the target and have others place it. I always get the first shot from where I'm standing when they place the target. Thus, I have to process the distance, wind and all variable, just like I would if while walking in I'm surprised by my game. That will be the most important shot I take; Just as it would be in the chance encounter. My $.04
 
Last edited:

dbowling

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
287
maybe inconsistencies in the lead making up the hollow base causing them to engage rifling different everytime.. that seems like the only variable that is not checking out..I would try a different bullet that you know has shot accurate before in it.
 

Marty

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
4,010
Location
Massachusetts
Overconfidence and lack of concentration. ...
...If you're preparing for hunting game, I still use the adage for all weapons used in hunting; and it stands true for practice. "The only shot that counts is the first." So true because you most likely won't get a second. For archery, we use portable targets. I own the target and have others place it. I always get the first shot from where I'm standing when they place the target. Thus, I have to process the distance, wind and all variable, just like I would if while walking in I'm surprised by my game. That will be the most important shot I take; Just as it would be in the chance encounter. My $.04
Summed-up nicely.👍
 

Renegadehunter

Well-Known Member
FML Supporter
Joined
Oct 12, 2018
Messages
298
I would also suspect the lead of the projectile. Most projectile manufacturers run several different antimony's of lead. When they switch from something like a .85% to a "soft" lead, they run the melt pots and pour pots down as far as they can, usually take the opportunity to scrape the sides of the pots really well, clean out the mess, and then add the "soft" lead and start melting/refilling. Perhaps the projectiles you got were made on the first pour after a change over by an employee that had too much fun the night before, etc., etc., several possibilities.
Have you tried a different batch of the same projectile? Make sure they have different Lot numbers.
If the lead is a bit harder, perhaps your charge is just barely opening the skirt and bumping up 5 grains would get it more consistent?
 

Latest posts

Top