casting for Idago legal muzzleloader

what am I doing wrong. I invite you, the internet, and all of your criticism, to tell how I'm doing it wrong.

I have recently started muzzleloader hunting as a consequence of my failure to find a willing elk during any weapon season.

The rifle that fell within my budget was the .50 caliber CVA Accura2 Northwest. It is not, as the name implies, all that accurate. It was cheap asa result of a trade in coupon. I traded in a badly cared for inline rifle that was given to me as a gift. perhaps I've already spent the %20 savings on powder while working on load development and should have bought a hawkin from the beginning.

The best group I've shot was with 405 grain soft lead powerbelts over 120g of 777 (the green ones) which at the time was a great disappointment to me because the store bought powerbelts out-shot my cast boolits.

I cast the Lee 501-440RF (like Idahoron paper patches) for the 500 S&W magnum, from pure soft lead. I powder coat them with Ford Light blue, run them through a .501 Lee push through sizer. I've shot them over a 1/4" lubed felt wad, and not, I've tried with and without 1/8" wonder wads. I've tried with and without an over charge card. the best that I can manage is a 1.5 inch group at 25 yards. the store boughts shot inside 1 inch, most disheartening.

I bought a peep-rib so I could utilize magnifying optics during this load development stage and then pull the scope off while hunting. so, I am confident that the group size is load/charge dependent, not shooter error or a result of coarse sights.

I've slugged the bore and found that the Grooves are .512 and the lands are somewhere between 501 and 506... kinda tricky to get the measurometer squarely pinched on the center of each of the land's tiny indentations simultaneously. really im going to say .501 because a sized 501 projectile loads into a clean bore with out falling in by itself and encounters minimum resistance and engraves the rifleing slightly.

I started with 70g (the lowest volume my measure can be set to) of 777 2F. I worked my way up to 120g in the 10 grain increments, shooting 3 shot groups, one with a grease wad, one with out. finding my best group at 110g, no wad, no card. all with out swabbing.

suspecting that perhaps heavy fouling had contributed to better obturation, I brought it home, gave it a thorough cleaning, and re-shot the last few sets of 100g, 110g, 120g, groups, and ran out of powder just after disproving the heavy fouling worries. the 110g no wad, was still the shiner.

so I just bought some FFFG 777 and some pyrodex RS, as the real stuff isn't readily available in my little town. The 3F seems to be about the same as the 2F did 1.5 inch groups. the pyrodex choked me out and didn't improve the groups.

The next thing that I am gonna try to tighten the group is not sizing, just loading some as cast, and some double powder coated and I ordered some 50 caliber gas checks. the lee 501-440F is gas check mold, so... I'll give that a try also.

my latest theory is that the deep grooved barrel was cut for sabots, their flexible plastic skirts easily opening under explosive pressures and insuring tight obturation in the Grooves, that is why the green powerbelts worked. I hope that I can achieve some better accuracy with tightly fitted cast. It may be that I have been a victim of marketing and purchased a rifle that was advertised as "built for the northwest hunting rules" but was actually a sabot gun with an exposed nipple and no scope.

so my questions are

1) how deep are your muzzleloader Grooves?
2) what do you cast for your muzzleloader?
3) do you really need to swab between shots while
developing a load? and if so What is your method/material?
4)how can anyone take an ethical shot with a 6moa rifle with iron sighs ? get within 26 yards I suppose.

thanks for reading my post


Well-Known Member
my stuff would be of no help to you.
I'm still stuck using lead round balls, regular black powder, and measuring my patch thickness for a complete groove fill.

I know these guns can be quite sensitive to the length of the projectile.
I should have mentioned the 1:28 twist.

I can't go longer without going heavier and 440g is plenty heavy. unless I try hollow base, I don't have any 50 Cal hollow base molds but I have some 58s that I may put up on the trade forum. so maybe I'll try shorter, I have access to a 50 REAL mold. but I haven't seen many positive posts regarding the lee REAL's


Well-Known Member
440 is a lot of real heavy considering round balls are like 165 grs.

I think I'd try something a little lighter,, 300grs maybe just to see.
I have 2 CVA Wolf ML's. One blued and one stainless. They both like saboted 240gr Horn .452" HP and 100gr. of 2f 777. Shoot inside of 2" at 100 yds. and a few whitetail deer were killed rather convincingly. I would not use that bullet on elk. They are on the fragile side for anything larger than Whitetail in my opinion.
I did have good luck with Lee R.E.A.L. bullets lubed with TC "Borebutter"in a 54 cal. TC Scout Carbine. I used 80 or 90 gr. of 3f Goex. It shot into 3" at 100 yds. and dropped deer like Thor's hammer. I have no experience with elk.
I experimented with cast 300 gr. bullets from Beartooth bullet in sabots. They are without lube grooves. I had indifferent results. Less accurate than the Hornady's in sabots or the Lee R.E.A.L.
I also own a TC Omega used only with sabots and two RB guns.
I have experimented with powerbelts but have not ever got reasonable accuracy with them.


West Central AR
I don't know if the outfit is still around or not , but there was buffalo bullets or something very close ..... Not Buffalo Bore . They had a shallow hollow base and for lack of a better word an RNFP into a SWC shoulder . The commercial bullets were knerled except about .1 at the base about the same as the HB . Seems like they were 275-300 gr and .500-505 in 50 cal . They loaded easy and sealed via the skirt orbitration . Hornady maybe ????


Staff member
Mine shoots a 457122 HP sized to .452 in a sabot very, very well. Cast that bullet as a pure lead solid, resize, and let her rip.
well I'd really like to show you all the group that I shot today, but I haven't figured out how to compress the photos on my phone to a postable size.

I tried un-sized lee 501-440's double powder coated. they were a bear to load but I managed, even in my wool mittens.

I shot a one inch group after "whanging" the charge like this article suggests.

I only had daylight enough to shoot 6 shots, so committed the unforgivable sin of altering two variables simultaneously (whanging and un-sized/double coat) so I have no choice but to once again race to the range after work to determine if it's the compressed load or the tight projectile that is the shiner.

I am very grateful for Freebullet and Will who linked to their successful load development threads. I really want to try the maxi balls over leather load. maybe I'll ask Santa for a mold for Christmas.

well that is enough staring at me phone. I've got a bore to scrub.


Active Member
@copperBB , regarding compressing photos to postable size. I have a simple photo editor (free) on my phone. If I crop the photos just a little bit, they become postable. Try to trim the edges a little, it may help :)
@copperBB , regarding compressing photos to postable size. I have a simple photo editor (free) on my phone. If I crop the photos just a little bit, they become postable. Try to trim the edges a little, it may help :)

spindrift, what's the name of the photo editor app? I tried to crop with the standard Samsung editor and it only exploded a zoomed in part of the photo and didn't reduce the file size.
how does everyone feel about pictures of the practical effects that projectiles have on the bodies of game animals? I am hesitant to post anything that could be considered in poor taste.
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well, I'd like to but in order to crop the pictures down to a postable size, they loose any frame of reference and it's difficult to tell what one is actually looking at. 20181229_153649.jpg