Finally got around to shooting the muzzle loader. Loaded with 2 IMR “White Hot” powder pellets, for a total of 100 grains of powder. For the test shoot, used 285 gr “Power Belt” jacketed hollowpoints. These have a hollow plastic base instead of the wrap-around sabot, and are true .50, instead of .45. I applied a small amount of Bore Butter to the bullets as a lube to help get them down the barrel because this was my first time loading it and I DID NOT want a bullet “stuck” halfway down the bore, started them with the starter tool, pushed them the rest of the way down with the ram rod supplied with the barrel. Recoil was fairly mild, and I was surprised there was not more smoke. Fired three shots to check barrel fouling, but the only problem seemed to be that the 3rd primer was hard to remove – barrel cleaned up pretty easily with a foaming bore cleaner, then a cleaning gel. The sabots have a reputation for “fouling” the rifling with melted plastic that needs to be brushed out, but these bullets did not exhibit that problem. As noted in the initial post about this barrel, it was purchased as an “entry level” muzzle loader, because I already had the shotgun. If I planned to get really serious about this aspect of shooting, a break open gun with removable breech plug would probably have a lot of advantages. Of course, from what I’m seeing so far, this setup would work well as a shooter’s only muzzle loader, as well.
I had bore-sighted with a Bushnell magnetic bore-sighter, instead of the arbor-type instrument I normally use, and was happy to see the first shot on the paper. This has not always happened with other rifles and the arbor system. I did “run out” of elevation on the scope adjustment, however, and think that is related to the high base mount. At 25 yards, the shots were a couple of inches low. Plans are to shoot it at 50, 75, and 100 yards and check the point of impact – with the sabot encased bullets I plan to hunt with, and if needed, make an elevation card to remind me of any necessary holdover.
Overall, a successful shoot, and I feel confident I’ll have it fine tuned by muzzle loader only deer season. Also plan to shoot some hogs with this gun, should be a blast!
2016 – 2017 UPDATE!
Once again I did not get a shot at a deer during the Muzzle Loader only season! But I am not giving up, and will try a lot harder to use my pump action muzzle loader for hog harvesting, beginning very soon.
Some additional info on the gun: barrel is 24″ long, with a 1:26 twist – which is fairly “fast”. The trigger pull registers 4# on my gauge. Since the only way you “unload” an in line muzzleloader without a removable breech plug is to shoot it, I do this at a 25 yard target in “camp”. When test firing the gun before actually hunting, it was shooting about 4″ left of point of aim, but after I corrected the scope adjustment, the next several shots all went in the same half inch hole!
This year I decided to try Hogdon Triple 7 pelletized powder, rather than the IMR “White Hot” pellets I started with. This powder also comes in 50 gr by weight pellets, and 2 pellets per charge is the max load recommended for the Mossberg barrel (and for most other in line barrels). 777 is supposed to be much cleaner, and in fact the barrel can be cleaned with hot water on a patch, instead of cleaning solvent. Be that as it may, I bought some cleaning patches from T/C that are pre-impregnated with cleaning solvent that I intend to keep using. I also found some patches coated with “Bore Butter” lube, which I was already using to treat my barrel, and also to lube bullet sabots to help them go more easily down the barrel. It is much better to run one of these patches down the barrel than to try to get the lube on the patch manually!
The Hornady bullets I have been using are 245 gr .45 caliber, but seated in plastic sabots to get them up to .50. Since I have a lot of cast .45 bullets, and also a supply of jacketed soft nose and jacketed hollow point .45 bullets in 300 gr size, and also a bunch of cast bullets in 300 gr and a supply in 290 gr .44 that I consider too heavy for my .44 Special (the 290 gr), yet a bit “light” for my .44 mags, I’d like to shoot in the muzzle loader, I ordered extra sabots for both .44 and .45 diameter bullets. A heavy hard cast in these weights at over 1,000 fps muzzle velocity should kill a hog just as well from the muzzle loader as from a hand gun!
I was also researching in line muzzle loaders, with the thought of getting a break open model. It finally dawned on me that some of the traits most prized in the best of these – such as a striker fired firing mechanism instead of an exposed hammer and a closed breech for weather protection are qualities my Mossberg already has!
That removable breech plug still “calls” to me, though!