Sunday, November 03, 2019

Makin' Smoke

Today I made some smoke with my Cabela's / Investarm Hawken.

The rifle is a .50 caliber with a 1:48 twist. Last Winter, I installed a Lyman 57 SML aperture sight along with a Lyman white bead front sight. I'd shot the gun with a different, higher front sight, but not with the current sight. So, my first order of business was to zero it because with the lower front sight, it was shooting about 18" high at 50 yards.

The initial zero was with Hornady .490 round balls, 0.018" pillow ticking patches, and 80 grains of Swiss 3Fg black powder sparked by CCI No.11 caps. The patches were lubed with October Country's Bumblin Bear Grease.

I settled on a slightly different load: 70 grains of Swiss 3Fg and 0.020" patches. The 15-shot target below is actually two groups as marked by the brackets. The second, lower group is 7 shots all in the 10 ring.

I like this ball / patch / lube combination. I only swabbed after every fifth shot and the combination of the tight patch and the Bumblin Bear Grease remained easy to load. The temperature was around 50 degrees F. and the BBG remained easy to apply to the patches.

I recovered some of my fired patches, which show no signs of cutting or burning:

Another change I'd made to the rifle since the last time I shot it was to swap out the factory nipple in favor of a Hot Shot nipple, which has two small vents in the cone. The theory behind this is to allow the air contained inside the cone to escape when the flash of the cap hits it, improving ignition. My main reason for trying this was to improve first round ignition if I haven't popped a cap on the nipple to clear out the patent breech's flash channel.

I noticed that the Hot Shot nipple got a lot dirtier on its outside after multiple shots. There were a couple times when the accumulated exterior fouling prevented me from properly seating the cap, causing the cap to fail to ignite on the first hit. This would only be a problem in extended shot strings, not while  hunting.

For cleaning at the range I used moose milk made up of a Ballistol/water mix. I've found this to be very good at removing black powder fouling. In theory, if you run a few patches wet with this through the barrel and can't clean it all out, it should leave a light film of oil behind when the water evaporates.

To complete cleaning after I got home I used a flush nipple from Track of the Wolf. The Cabela's Hawken has a hooked patent breech allowing easy removal of the barrel from the stock. However, because the tang sight isn't mounted to the barrel I don't want to remove it to dunk the breech end in a bucket of water, because I don't know if it'll return to zero. The flush nipple allows you to pump water through the barrel using a piece of vinyl tube. The tube that came with it is a bit on the short side so I'll probably pick up a longer piece at a hardware store.

The blue painter's tape it hold the tube in the water.

I may get this rifle out in the woods for buck season.

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