Black Powder Ammo

Best muzzleloader bullet

To somewhat oversimplify black powder bullets, we can say that they come in two types, round ball and conical bullets. Round balls are exactly as the name describes, lead balls that are round. Conical bullets, however, can come in a myriad of shapes and configurations, from a pure lead conical, to sabot slugs, to PowerBelt bullets.

There are many factors that go into the decision of which muzzleloader bullet to buy for your gun. For example, which type of muzzleloader do you own? If you own a flintlock, you’ll most likely want to use, or have to use, a patched round ball. Before purchasing ammunition for your black powder firearm, it’s very important to look at the user manual to see if it calls for a certain type of ammo. My 1858 Army revolver specifies that I use only .44 cal round balls and nothing else.

If you’re just going to the shooting range to have some fun, the cost of bullets may be a determining factor for what you’ll shoot. .50 caliber round balls from Hornady cost about 10 or 20 cents per bullet, whereas some of the saboted hunting bullets made by the same company can cost more than a dollar per bullet.

The twist of the rifling in your barrel plays a big part in what type of black powder ammo you should purchase. Powerbelt claims their conical bullets for muzzleloaders work best in a fast rate of twist such as 1:28, which means that the bullet will rotate 360 degrees across a distance of 28 inches, (put another way, 1:28 = 1 twist in 28 inches). A slow rate of twist such as 1:60 is better suited for round balls.

Because the majority of people who are shooting muzzleloaders are using their rifles for hunting, the next thing to consider is how far you’ll need to shoot in order to take down your prey. Longer, flatter, and more consistently accurate shots are made with PowerBelt bullets and saboted bullets. If, however, you’re hunting from a tree stand in thick woods where you’re expecting whitetails or hogs to be near or beneath the tree you’ll be sitting in, then it may be more economical to use a simple pure lead conical.

The next consideration, of course, is cleaning. When shooting a saboted bullet, (a bullet seated in a plastic housing), you’ll need to run a bore brush down the barrel between shots to try to remove the plastic residue that melted onto the inner wall of your barrel. The reason is that this plastic residue can make it very difficult, or even impossible, for you to load your next round. PowerBelt bullets don’t require cleaning between shots because the plastic gas seal follows the bullet rather than encasing it.

The photos below show some of the various types of black powder ammo.

Round balls

Round balls

conical bullet

A simple lead conical bullet.

saboted bullet

Saboted bullet

Powerbelt bullet

PowerBelt bullet

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2 thoughts on “Black Powder Ammo

  1. Lisa says:

    I just purchased the 1851 Navy Pistol from Traditions. It’s .44 caliber muzzleloader. What do you suggest for the best ammo? Mostly target shooting and small game.

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