We've been selling and installing our great 209 conversions for years now. And I've noticed my questions and sales following trends influenced by the various hunting seasons and their associated rules. This time of year many folks are getting ready for Colorado's muzzle loader season, typically focusing on harvesting an elk. So every year I edit and re-post this one. The commentary here was also added the to the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
The FAQ entry:
Q: I hunt in Colorado, sabots are not allowed for hunting during muzzle loader season. I want to use your awesome 209 conversion, but you say you recommend sabots with jacketed handgun bullets. What are my options?
A: Short answer is our kit will work great with any projectile. I've found Pyrodex, Triple Se7en, and black powder work best with non sabot projectiles. So I suggest that you use our kit and any muzzle loader safe powder (besides BlackHorn209) for your Colorado hunts with Colorado legal projectiles.
I realize not all 50 state have the same rules. And some state’s rules are just plain silly. I wrote a blog post about that.
The main thing to remember here: the powder you chose must be compatible with the projectiles you use.
Our kit will seal the breech, which keeps the crud out of the bolt and action no matter what muzzle loader safe propellant you chose. Our kit is compatible with all muzzle loader safe propellants: pellets, loose powder, etc. Also using 209’s will give you more ignition heat and thus more reliable ignition over caps. And seeing our system keeps the crud sealed into the breech plug, the 209 is ignited reliably too. But the powder and projectile choice is up to the shooter. Read the manuals/instructions and follow them when developing loads.
Blackhorn209 powder is different from Pyrodex & Triple7even: To be reliable BlackHorn209 needs to be fully sealed; i.e. sealed at the breech (which our kit does), and sealed at the projectile. Minnie balls, minet, power belts, B.O.R. Lock MZ and other easy loading projectiles that are legal for Colorado muzzle loading, don’t usually seal until the powder combusts and forces them into the grooves. This deformation sealing the bore after combustion is called obturation. The problem is BlackHorn209 doesn’t burn well until it’s sealed and can build pressure. So it’s likely to have bloopers, miss fires, and hang fires with obturating projectiles. Sabots seal well to start, thus if you are using BlackHorn209, it’s recommended to use sabots.
Never use smokeless powder in your Remington/Ruger! It says it right on the barrel!
Because Colorado doesn’t allow sabots during the muzzle loader seasons I would stay away from Blackhorn209. If I was hunting in Colorado, I’d use our kit, choose a heavy projectile (250gr or more) that seals on ignition: Hornady FPB, Thor, minie ball, lead conical, etc. But I wouldn’t use BlackHorn209; I’d try Triple7even, or Pyrodex. Although they are not as easy to clean, and will foul the barrel, they are very easy to ignite even when not sealed, and will obturate the projectile. Black powder will work just fine with these sorts of projectiles too.
I do have a few clients that report success with Blackhorn209 and magnum primers (CCI 209M or Federal 209A) using Hornady FPB’s and/or Thor bullets. I also had one that said it worked well at the range, but didn’t fire when he had a nice bull in his sights. He said it was extremely chilly that morning, his rifle was cold soaked, and the Blackhorn209 wouldn’t go bang. He was very frustrated. I suspect it was because the projectile shrunk with the cold, and the copper jacket wasn't quite as malleable. Also cold powder is just a bit harder to get burning, and thus that setup was unable to obturate the looser projectile and keep the BlackHorn209 burning. Thus I would stick with Pyrodex or TripleSeven for Colorado muzzle loader hunting: they will go bang with an obturating bore riding projectile when you need it, even when its very cold.
Just about everywhere else, I recommend sabots because they have been accurate, easy to load, and jacketed hand gun bullets have always been very effective for me. Whatever powder you chose, the velocities your muzzle loader will produce are essentially the same that good jacketed hand gun bullets are designed for. They tend to kill quickly and bring home game. Sabots are allowed in most states, so that's what I usually recommend.
Long-term: If I voted in Colorado, I’d pressure my legislature to change the muzzle loader rules. Removing the most effective projectiles (jacketed hand gun bullets are great in muzzle loaders), and the most modern muzzle loading propellant (Black Horn 209) from use is bad for the game receiving the projectile. I believe the no sabots rule promotes wounded/lost animals.
I'm consistently getting asked the same question: Q: "What primer should I use with your Remington 700 ML 209 conversion kit?
I usually give the same answer: A: "I'm my Remington's I use the old copper colored standard CCI 209 primers. The new CCI's you can buy now are silver and have slightly different dimension. The old copper colored ones have never given me any trouble, but I don't have enough experience to recommend the new ones (they are probably fine, I just don't have much experience with them). If I didn't have the old copper colored ones, I'd probably start with a standard Federal, their 209A, or the Remington STS 209's.
I'd stay away from Winchester. The Winchesters burn hot and ignite BH209 fine, but they tend to balloon and stick in the nose, so I avoid them. If all you have is Winchester, you may have to dryfire on the spent primer to remove it when it sticks."
"In my Ruger 77/50 I use whatever crushes without having to use shims. Just a simpler solution."
Then the next question either goes: Q: "But the Blackhorn 209 site recommends, CCI magnum 209 primers?"
A: "That is true, however I've had the magnums stick in the bolt nose at lower powder charges and require a dry fire to remove, so I personally stay away from them. If you don't mind dry firing in-order to get the spent primer out of the nose, or you work up to higher charges, you can use them (or any other 209 primer). I've personally had great accuracy and performance with the standard old copper colored CCI and Blackhorn 209 so that is what i use. Federals and Remington STS primers work good too. With our Remington kit, you can really use whatever primer you tune your breech plug to. For the Ruger you can use what gives you a proper crush seal."
Or the next question is: Q: "I'm using Pyrodex/TripleSeven/Black powder, I've heard full power primers are too powerful, and will drive the powder down the bore, un-compacting it, and gives inconsistent performance, and poor ignition."
A: "That can happen. I believe its most probable with loose fitting projectiles (like minie balls, power belts, Bore locks etc). I stuck with tight fitting Sabots and standard CCI's and was OK back when I shot TripleSeven. Feel free to follow proper load development practices and experiment with other 209 primers. I myself have always been pleased with standard CCI's."
"If standard 209's are not giving you the accuracy you want (with black powder substitutes other than Blackhorn209) you may want to try the low power "black powder" only primers. I'd try the ones with the same name as the powder you are using. However, understand, that they may stick in the bolt nose and require a dry firing to remove. ie Winchester 777 primers."
If sealed breech and 209 primers are legal for hunting in your state (only Idaho and Oregon restrict sealed breeches and 209's), I suggest you give our kit with Blackhorn 209 a try (and only with regular full power shot shell primers). Blackhorn 209 has given me better performance in every way imaginable. But remember Blackhorn 209 will not work with the low powered "black powder" primers; they don't have enough heat to consistently and fully ignite Blackhorn 209.
Check out the video below for real world examples of our Remington 209 kit using old copper standard CCI's functioning just fine with BlackHorn 209
In the video below I shoot a rifle I just converted to sealed breach 209 primers. I used Blackhorn 209 and CCI magnums at 80 grains by volume (a minimum charge), and I got a few sticking primers that required a dry-fire to remove.
Thanks for visiting the The Badger's Den (the blog for Badger Ridge). If an internet search brought you here, please stick with us: we have the solution to your Remington 700 ML/MLS and Ruger 77/50 woes. I update this blog frequently and what you are looking for is probably one or two clicks away. This blog is sorted categorically and chronologically. So you can find what you want by looking in the appropriate category, or if you know when it was published, you can use the time line. Or just keep scrolling down!
If you are new to our site: YES WE STILL SERVICE AND CONVERT THESE OLD MUZZLE LOADERS!
Our kits fix blow back issues, don't rely on most of the parts people tinker with, and base line the rifle to a solid known good state.
However you got here, and whatever shape your rifle is in, welcome to the best, last conversion you'll ever want on your rifle, and a great source for other hard to find Remington 700 ML parts.
In this post I'd like to share a text, email, & phone conversation I've had with a customer recently (I asked and he said it was OK to share it). Mike had a Remington 700 ML and had us convert it a year or so ago. He liked using it (with our conversion) so much he just bought another rifle (his new rifle is a bit of a "basket case", needing serious repair and missing stuff).
Here's how our conversation went (First from our Contact form, then edited and summarized from texts, emails, etc... I've taken the liberty to edit and summarize some of this):
NEW CONTACT FORM SUBMISSION:
Name: Mike L
Question or Comment: I have an Remington ML700 stainless bolt body that is missing the handle, I bought this rifle this way. If I shipped the body, would you be able to weld a new handle on for me, and what would the cost be?
Its probably best to start by sending me pictures of the bolt that you have.
Typically we can do the work, but some folks really torque on stuff then expect us to work a miracle. Send me pics and we'll take it from there. You can text them to my cell or email them to me.
Here is the bolt with the missing handle. This is the way I bought it. I think it is very usable, but I will leave that to you, the expert. By the way, I purchased one of you 209 conversions and had you perform the conversion. Man is it cool! I made a long range muzzle loader kill with it last year: a nice ram.
From what I see: we can weld a handle on that. Seeing there is little silver solder to remove before we reweld, and you are a repeat customer, we'll extend you the less expensive "no solder to remove, virgin weld price." (we usually charge more to remove the silver solder).
You will need to purchase a handle (stainless steel) and our welding service. You can buy the handle from us, or purchase one from someone else and ship it with the bolt body. You can chose whatever you want through the drop down menu's on our web site page for bolt handle welding:
Click on the link above and then select the option you want (ie You provide a bolt body & we provide the handle.)
PS I would love to see pics of the Ram and hear the story!
Here's the Ram. It was an 175 yard shot. That 209 Conversion is Badass! I have shot 300 rounds with it, wore out one vent liner from shooting it so much! My load: 100 Grains by volume of BlackHorn209, CCI Primers (older copper colored ones), 300 gr Harvester PT Gold bullets.
It has been an awesome combination for me!
Oh and I Got the bolt back with the new handle! It works great!
Mike, Thanks for your continued patronage and sharing your experience with everyone!
The Remington 700 ML/MLS & Ruger 77/50 muzzle loaders have been out of production for years now. These rifles now vary in condition. Some have hardly been used. Others used, but well cared for. Some have been neglected. So their condition truly runs the full gambit. This is further complicated due to the original design and other 209 modifications sending fouling corrosive gasses throughout the bolt and the receiver. New owners can be further confused by the various kits that may have been fitted over the years. Our kits fix blow back issues, don't rely on most of the parts people tinker with, and base line the rifle to a solid known good state.
Many folks find their way to this blog from a simple internet search. Frequently because they are having trouble like misfires, failure-to-fire, are tired of blow back, etc. Some just want to use Blackhorn 209 powder (which will misfire or blooper if not sealed up). Other's have a friend that fixed his woes with our system, or saw a modified rifle at the range using our awesome 209 conversion for Remington 700 ML's and Ruger 77/50 rifles. Some just know that there has to be a better way, and there is: you found it in our kits. However you got here, and whatever shape your rifle is in, welcome to the best, last conversion you'll ever want on your rifle, and a great source for other hard to find Remington 700 ML parts.
If you are new to our conversions, you may want to skip this blog post and read some of the others, then come back to this one, as it assumes you already know our conversions are awesome and fix your troubles. However some folks are determined to do some even "heavier meddling" and make these rifles something different. I've looked at this and on a personal level, I'm not interested and won't be doing anything more on my rifles than using our kits to seal the breech, and shoot Blackhorn209 powder.
We do have products that will aid those who still want to do that barrel swap and burn smokeless, but I myself won't be going down that path. In this post I want to discuss this 'heavy meddling' and explain why I won't do it myself.
The number one question I get concerning meddling and trying to do 'more' is converting to 209's with our kit and shooting smokeless powder in the factory barrel: DON'T DO IT! It says it right on your rifle's barrel. No kit will change the fact that the barrel is not safe for smokeless. I don't care what you read on some forum, or what some guy on the range told you. DON'T DO IT! There are not any magical fairy smokeless powders for your rifle, and there isn't any need to take that risk!
The problem here is that muzzle loader safe propellants (like Black Powder, Pyrodex, Triple Se7en, and BlackHorn209) have different burning properties than the wide spectrum that makes up modern smokeless powder. And that difference is what saves folks from blowing up guns (so long as they follow the manufacture's rules, don't double charge, double load, etc). I cannot emphasize enough how using only a muzzle loader safe propellant (and using a witness mark on the ram rod to know the rifle is loaded and avoid a double charge) is the key to enjoying this sport safely.
That said, some rifles, with special barrels are made to use certain types of smokeless powder. However, your Remington nor Ruger is not one of them. Yes, some folks swap barrels to make a smokeless gun. They of course are 100% on their own, and liable for their own technical problems and safety issues. If it is possible to do a barrel swap, and may be legal in some states to hunt on some hunts with a smokeless muzzle loader... why do it? What really are you going to get and at what cost? Typically those pursuing smokeless want faster, flatter shooting, harder hitting rifles, and think that they need to go smokeless to get better performance. But how much increase in range or velocity will you get versus the $$$$$ spent? How much heavier or more awkward of a rifle will you make? Will it group any better than what you started with?
Doesn't the original leaky rifle, with black powder, already have what it takes to kill anything in North America?!?! Our kits seals up those breach leaks and makes it reliable. Many modern muzzle loading propellants already out perform black powder. These rifles with their factory barrels have a reputation of being very accurate. Do you really need more than that?
Looking at these rifles as they came from the factory, folks 'just know' that they could be so much better. I agree: our kits take them to their full potential.
I believe the factory rifle (with our 209 kit) is good enough: my rifles shoot reliably, accurately, and harvest deer (the largest game I can kill around here is Black Bear, but Black Bear isn't my thing... but I'm sure my rifles could easily handle Black Bear). I'm confident my rifles, with our kit and factory barrels, will kill any North American game to 200 yds. I'm convinced that anyone with a Remington 700 ML/MLS or Ruger 77/50 in good shape and wants to have a top performing muzzle loader, only needs to use our kit, standard 209 primers, Blackhorn209, sabots, and jacketed hand gun bullets or muzzle loader specific bullets.
But to continue the comparison: rifles re-barreled for smokeless almost always have much longer, heavier barrels. It must be emphasized that the longer barrel itself gives an increase in velocity... all things being the same: longer barrels increase velocity. Or in other-words, shooting the same powder charge and projectile combination in a longer barrel will generate more velocity. This is because the projectile is in the barrel longer, getting pushed by expanding gasses for longer, so more energy (AKA velocity) is transferred to the projectile.
But with BlackHorn209, and your factory barrel, you don't have to go smokeless to get more velocity. At heavier bullet weights, (like 275gr and up) I think you will find BlackHorn209 out performs all other muzzle loader safe propellants. And if you were to chronograph a safe smokeless load in a barrel made for smokeless, and of the same length as the factory barrel, against a BlackHorn 209 charge (both using the same 300gr projectile), the BlackHorn209 load wouldn't be too far behind the smokeless. By too far behind, I'm talking a couple/three hundred feet per second. And lets be honest, 200 to 300 FPS is not much of an increase in range or killing power.
In general barrel swaps cost around $1200.00... Frequently more, occasionally less if you do a lot of the work yourself. To consider what our kit does to a standard rifle vs doing a barrel swap, you have to consider the cost against the potential performance increases. And I don't think that $1200 is worth it. Especially because BlackHorn209 is readily available, and safe! You must realize that if you get something wrong with the smokeless gun, you are more probable to have a KABOOM!
Remember, a longer barrel is essentially what the newer Remington 700 Ultimate Muzzle Loader (UML) has over the older Remington 700 ML/MLS. The Ultimate is a longer, heavier rifle. It is not as handy, and costs so much more than a good used MLS. Plus I understand Remington no longer will warranty the rifle if its been shot with Blackhorn, so in that case, you are restricted in the powders you can use. I've had plenty of customers tell me they sold their Ultimate and got a used 700 MLS rifle and our kit because it does the job, is more handy, easier to carry, and actually saved them $ because its cheaper over all.
I have a Savage 10ML2, new in the box. I've never shot it! Why? Because its super long and super heavy: my Remington 700 ML's and Ruger 77/50's (with their original barrels) get the job done and are so much lighter and handier. And I don't go deer hunting from a bench... I'm walking out to the fields and woods, climbing trees, up ladder stands, etc. My Remington and Ruger rifles with their factory barrels win hands down overall when it comes to hunting.
So for me, I wouldn't entertain a barrel swap unless the barrel was not serviceable. And even then its probably cheaper (and definitely easier) to just buy another rifle with a factory barrel!... or find a take off barrel on Ebay from someone's smokeless build. I get nearly the same performance from my factory barreled rifles, and without all the cost, weight, awkward handling, and added trouble of doing the work to swap a barrel. Dollars & work in vs performance out: I'm tickled pink with our kit and my factory barrels.
If you are tired of the clean up of Black Powder substitutes, and wanting to get away from them for that reason, BlackHorn209 comes out ahead there too. Blackhorn209 cleans up great with standard gun cleaning solvents, just like a smokeless gun. You can read more about that by clicking here.
All that said: any muzzle loader safe propellant works great in the Remington and Ruger original barrels (with our kits installed on the bolt and sabot/projectile). It so much easier just to convert to our system and get great performance, I don't think I'll ever re-barrel a rifle and go smokeless.
But if you are absolutely set on swapping barrels, we offer "half kits." Smokeless conversions usually use a custom breech plug that sits deeper into the breech. So, folks putting a new barrel on a Remington will probably want a longer nose. Our long nose protrudes farther forward and will not work with our standard breech plug, nor the original barrel. The cost is the same for a half kit with a long nose or a standard nose (just tell us in the "note to seller" portion of check out what nose you want):
So there you have it. I got on my soap box, and told folks that I'll sell them what they want, but I won't necessarily agree with them that they 'need' it.
So if you contact me asking about smokeless mods, I'll try and figure out what your priorities are, see if they could be met with a cheaper option: our kit, the rifle's original barrel, BlackHorn209, and Sabots. Those are deadly combinations.
That's my advice, because that is what I use and resolved to myself.
Alas, the customer is always right!
If an internet search brought you here looking for a solution to your woes with a Remington 700 ML or Ruger 77/50 muzzle loader: Don't worry, you are in the right spot and we have the fix you are looking for. Just keep scrolling down or click here for our wonderful 209 sealed breech fixes for those rifles. We are a dynamic business and constantly adding to this blog.
In this installment, I figured it was time to discuss breech plugs: what works, why it is probably different than most think, and why I think it works. I'll also showcase our service of retrofitting vent liners into breech plugs (to help them work more reliably, accurately, and better with Blackhorn209 powder). Yes: we can help with more muzzle loaders than the Ruger 77/50 and Remington 700 ML.
One of the first things most folks realize when they examine our kits, is that the Badger Ridge breech plug, is unique and different from the rifle's original. Our kits won't work with the original breech plug! Our system just plain works. Because our design works, folks frustrated with igniting BH209 in other rifles send us their breech plug for modification.
BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT: A good breech plug is a compromise of many different features. Our design works with any muzzle loader safe powder (we can make other rifles' breech plugs work with any muzzle loader safe powder... like Blackhorn209).
I'll try not to delve too deeply into chemistry, physics, and thermodynamics both because most won't care about the details, but also I'd probably rapidly reveal the limits of my understanding. But some basic understanding is required. First, heat flows from hot to cold. There is truly no such thing as cold... cold is a relative lack of heat. Heat can be thought of as a form of energy... thus a hot piece of metal just has more energy than a cold piece of the same metal. So heat from discharging a primer will flow into the metal around it, and into the powder charge we want to start burning.
So you might be thinking "What does that have to do with muzzle loading and breech plugs?"
Well every time we discharge a primer we convert the chemical energy of the primer into heat and expanding gasses. Seeing our real goal is to get the powder burning, the primer's flash needs to be directed into the powder charge, and it has to stay hot to get the powder charge burning. It is the powder charge that turns into more heat and more expanding gasses that push the projectile down the barrel.
So at first it seems to get reliable ignition, you just need to get the primer close to the powder, and minimize the metal in between. And many of the first generation of inline muzzle loaders followed that design idea. But if you have seen any of the more modern breech plugs, especially those that use 209 primers, and are reliable with Blackhorn209: there is a large expansion chamber in front of the primer, creating a big air gap, and has a small hole at the end that abuts the powder charge.
Just thinking about heat flow, all the metal that makes up the wall of that expansion chamber, and that super cold winter hunt you might take your muzzle loader on, it seems stupid to lose some primer heat to it. So why does a good breech plug have that chamber? And why would it have a metal constriction on the end of it (ie a vent liner or small flash hole)?
Before I answer that, let's consider another reason the flash chamber doesn't make sense at first glance... as the primer's burning gasses expand they would cool just through the act of expanding into the flash channel.
Fact: pressure, volume, and energy are all connected. For a steady state, ideal reaction I learned in High-School Chemistry:
PV = nRT
(or Pressure * Volume = number of molecules * their constant value * Temperature)
Or in simpler terms if you don't change the temperature but you increase the volume the pressure will decrease to keep it all in balance. But in real life you get both: as the hot gas expands into the chamber it loses heat just from the expansion, even before we take into account the heat that flows into the cold walls of the breech plug!
"OMG" you exclaim, "I knew that primer should be right up against that powder to be 100% reliable!" But, I'd say practice has proven that to be wrong, our breech plugs have expansion chambers for good reason: to keep the powder charge from blowing up the primer and venting gas all over the shooter and dropping accuracy!
Remember, after we get that powder ignited and burning, it produces a whole lot more pressure and heat than that tiny, thin walled primer could ever contain. We want all that heat and energy to push that projectile down the barrel, but because there is that small flash hole right next to it, the gas shoots backwards into the expansion chamber that is being sealed by the primer. The trick here is that the flash hole is so small it greatly restricts the rearward flow, and what flow makes it through, finds itself rapidly expanding, dropping pressure, and cooling as it flows into the primer's flash chamber. And that is why the flash hole and flash channel (chamber) are there. They work together to keep the pressure from burning powder from blowing up the sealed primer.
Keeping that primer sealed and intact keeps the mess in the breech plug, and tends to increase accuracy as the pressure seen at the back of the projectile is consistent shot to shot.
Our sealed breech systems have the expansion chamber with a 209 primer sealing one end of it, and a removable vent liner so that we avoid the bad things that happened without an expansion chamber (and I say happened because many of the first 209 designs lacked the expansion chamber and vent liner design, but beware: they are still out there!)
Lets over simplify and say that there are four basic ideas on how to make a breech plug. Two are bad ideas, and two work well with the back pressure burning powder generates:
1. Don't even try to seal the primer and vent the back pressure (ie Blow-Back) into the action; let it leak out. This makes a horrible mess, and tends to shorten the life of the system as sticky corrosive goo covers everything. This also tends to send flying fragment primers and percussion caps into things, like the shooter. Also these systems won't work with Blackhorn209 as it has to be sealed up. (BAD IDEA)
2. Seal up the 209 without an expansion chamber and vent liner: Direct all the heat into the powder charge but blow up the primer/cap due to blow back, and then have blow back escape where ever it goes.
This tends to drop accuracy as you don't control the time nor pressure when the rupture occurs. Plus just like #1 above, it makes a mess and sends pieces of primer all over the place. And just like #1 above, Blackhorn209 does't like this will yield unreliable performance at best. Again: Flying primer fragments are dangerous! (BAD IDEA)
3. Seal the 209 up with an expansion chamber that has a small orifice at the end to deal with the back pressure the powder charge generates.
4. Use large primer holders/brass cartridge cases that are strong enough to hold the pressure in.
209 primers in and of themselves are not strong enough for #4. Most systems that use #4 use primer carriers and magnum rifle primers, also break actions enclose the 209 primer in steel.
-The original #11 percussion cap systems on the Remington 700 and Ruger 77/50 followed 2 mostly.
-The Remington 209 modification followed #1 (note the big slits on the side).
-The Canadian 209 mods for both rifles did a bit of #1 and #2 in my book (sealed until back pressure unseated the primer, also tended to blow up primers).
-The Remington Ultimate Muzzle loader uses #4, but is very expensive and requires reloading gear to re-prime the cases.
-Our 209 kits use #3. And we can modify other rifle's breech plugs to do the same. The down side is that the chamber must be sized right: it is "Goldilocks" work. Not too big (lose too much primer heat) not too small (blows up primers). The other down side is that the orifice/flash hole slowly erodes with each shot.
Remember that back and forth flow of hot burning gasses (primer residue and combustion gasses) erodes the flash hole with each shot.
When breech plugs that don't have vent liners open up, they loose accuracy. Most folks don't realize this, and just know that their rifle doesn't shoot like it used to. They typically look for loose scope mounts, bad scopes, loose action screws, etc. I get calls from them and they are frustrated as they can't seem to figure out why the rifle isn't shooting well now. For some, the light bulb comes on when I start asking about the size of their breech plug's flash hole. And do they have a gage pin to measure it?
I'm confident, that manufacturers know that flash holes have a limited life. Some just go with a cheaper breech plug, or even solder in vent liners! Seems they just want to sell entire new breech plugs. But we usually can offer a different solution: modifying the breech plug to take a vent liner. Most of the time we can convert those breech plugs to take inexpensive vent liners and also put an expansion chamber between them and the 209 primer to keep the primer from seeing excessive pressure.
So there you have it, a good 209 breech plug is a compromise between directing the energy of the primer into the powder, and keeping the pressure from the burning powder from blowing up the primer. To use Blackhorn209 powder, it must be sealed up. To use 209 primers the breech plug needs an expansion chamber that is sized to allow expansion but not rob too much heat, and it needs a small orifice in the end that abuts the powder charge.
At Badger Ridge, we go a step further by using inexpensive replaceable vent liners. Our breech plugs are designed for longevity: we use vent liners to cheaply replace the flash hole instead of forcing shooters to buy new breech plugs. And we sell pin gauges so that you know when to replace the vent liner: if it goes through its time to replace.
Welcome to the website with the only conversion kit you'll ever want on your Remington 700 ML or Ruger 77/50. I've been writing and updating this blog for years. If an internet search brought you here, you will find what you are looking for by reading through these articles or finding the topic you are interested in along the right hand side.
A while back I got on my soap box about trying to figure out all 50 states muzzleloader rules.... and the major head ache that it gave me. You can read that blog post by clicking here if you desire.
For those who hunt in Idaho and Oregon (The only two states where (I think) you still cannot use sealed breech 209s for all muzzleloader seasons) we offer complete bolts for the Remington 700ML or Ruger 77/50. A second, complete sealed 209 bolt helps folks who hunt in these states to swap between sealed breech system and the original unsealed system. This is useful when one season or area allows sealed breeches, but another does not.
However, if you only hunt in places that allow sealed breeches (which is 48 out of 50 states now!), it's always cheaper to convert your bolt than to purchase an entire new bolt. It's always best to have a sealed breech: it stops blow back from getting into nooks and crannies and protects the shooter!
The Remington 700 ML/MLS has been out of production for years now. Those that are out there vary in condition. Some have hardly been used. Others used, but well cared for. Some have been neglected. The condition of these rifles truly runs the full gambit. This is further complicated due to the original design and other 209 modifications sending fouling corrosive gasses throughout the bolt and the receiver. Our kit fixes these blow back issues.
Many folks find their way to this blog from a simple internet search. Frequently because they are having trouble like misfires, failure-to-fire, are tired of blow back, etc. Some just know that there has to be a better way, and there is: you found it in our kit. Other's have a friend that fixed his woes, or saw a modified rifle at the range using our awesome 209 conversion for Remington 700 ML's. However you got here, and whatever shape your rifle is in, welcome to the best, last conversion you'll ever want on your rifle, and a great source for other hard to find Remington 700 ML parts.
YouTube video of our Remington 700 ML/MLS 209 kit in action (above)
So while our sealed breech, any muzzle loader powder compatible, 209 ignition system may be new to you, its old hat in many other ways. So please let me guide you through figuring it all out: First and foremost, this website has a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). If you go to the FAQ and scroll down to the question and answer area for our muzzle loader products, you'll probably find the answer you are looking for.
Also, I've been writing this blog for years. Along the right side are all the posts, sorted by date, then Category (subject). If you have a question, the answer is probably in those blog posts or the FAQ.
If you want to get it from the beginning, I think some of my very first blog posts will be a good read: How to make a diamond in the rough shine
Badger Ridge Industries offers:
- The best 209 conversions for the Remington 700ML and the Ruger 77/50, seal the breech and are compatible with any muzzle loader safe powder
- MMP sabots, they work great with Blackhorn209 powder and modern hand gun bullets
- The best replacement bolt bodies for the Remington 700 ML/MLS
- Replacement parts for Remington 700 ML's like bolt stop cam follower screws (similar to Remington #: F99286) and main springs
- The best price anywhere on Lehigh Savage type vent liners
- Pin gages to know when your vent liner should be replaced
Remember: if you have questions, please read what you can, watch the videos, and then use our Contact form to reach out to us. We usually reply via email or phone call within 48 hrs.
(A second YouTube video below)
We keep hearing great things from our customers! It makes this line of work very rewarding! We look forward to helping you! Here's an email conversation between us and Wes G from North Carolina!
To purchase a conversion or learn more click here, or any of the pictures or links below.
You've just received a new submission to your Contact Form. Submitted Information:
Name Wes G:
I just had you install a conversion kit on my 700 ML. Haven't had a chance to shoot it yet. Can't wait.
Question: Groups before your conversion between 1.5 and 2"@ 100 with 105 gr BH 209 and Barnes 290 gr T-EZs. While that level of accuracy is fine for deer @ 100 yds, I am heading to NM for elk this fall and would like to improve my 5" groups @ 200. Thanks.
Try out the kit and see. Usually sealing up the breech improves accuracy as it makes pressures more consistent. What you are reporting is pretty good with any muzzleloader.
Thought I’d send you an update. Shot the conversion yesterday. My previous unmodified load was 110 gr (by volume) BH 209, CCI-M, 290 T-EZ in supplied sabots, averaging 5.25” @ 200 yds & 1919 fps (10’ instrumentation).
Since you recommended standard CCIs, I switched to those. Two shots with previous loads were 6.625” apart averaging 1863 fps. Bumped charge to 115 Black Horn 209 (by volume) with standard CCIs and shot a 3 shot group of 3.125” @ 1923 fps [all groups at 200 yds].
Thinking the slower velocity with the 110 gr load was due to the primer switch. Upping the powder got my velocity back with the standard CCI primers. That velocity appears to be the most accurate node from this barrel (having tried 105, 110, 115, and 120 gr by volume). I’m out of both powder and bullets currently, but after I resupply, I will shoot some more to verify repeat-ability. I may also try 110 gr by volume with the CCI-Ms to see how it does.
At any rate, I am thrilled with that group and that my glasses, nose, and thumb are no longer coated with soot and oil from the bolt. Thanks for your help and a great product.
That is great! Thanks for the kind words!
Remember that you can try the CCI-M's... they may stick in the nose and require a dry fire to remove... but usually that goes away at the higher charges you are using.
I always recommended standard CCI's as they have never stuck in the nose on me, but recently CCI changed from a copper colored primer to a Silver, and I don't have any experience with it yet. Regardless, you can use whatever primer you desire with our conversion, they just may require a dry fire to remove them.
Thanks for the update...
Here’s a pic. Trying not to get too excited until I get more powder and bullets to make sure that group is repeatable. The 3 shot group with 115 gr by volume was cleaned between shots.
Steve P from Lake Orion, Michigan was so pleased with his Remington 700 ML 209 Conversion he took the time to send us the picture above via Facebook. Here's what he had to say (short, sweet, and to the point):
130 yard shot, 120gr by volume of Black Horn 209, Parker Ballistic Extreme 300gr and the Badger Ridge bolt upgrade, Timney trigger.
Wow! Nice Buck! Well Done!
After years of selling our Remington 700 ML 209 conversion, and installing many hundreds of them, I still enjoy it when folks take the time to send feed back. I installed our kit on the customer's bolt below. After he got it back, I received the very detailed message shown below (and received permission to share it with you).
Subject: Remington 700 ML 209 Conversion
Badger Ridge Staff
I got to the range yesterday (finally) to do some testing. As expected I had to do just a bit of tuning on the breech plug to allow the primer to fit properly with the provided drill bit. The time at the range sort of got away from me so did not get to test every powder option that I wanted too, however my plan was to end up with Blackhorn 209, so that is what I ended up using for most of the testing.
Powders Initially Desired to be Tested
Pyrodex Select Powder – did not get a chance to test.
Pyrodex Pellets – did shoot one three round group with this powder source
Triple Se7en Magnum Pellets – did shoot one three round group with this powder source
Blackhorn 209 – Shot 15 loads with this powder
Barnes - 245 grain - .451 Spit-Fire MZ™ - 1763 fps
T/C - 250 grain - .451 Polymer Tip - 1712 fps
Harvester - 260 grain - .451 Polymer Tip - 1705 fps
I ended up with the Blackhorn 209 powder (100 grains by volume), the Harvester 260 PT Shockwave bullet, and CCI Shotgun Primers giving just under 1.5” groups @ 100 yards. I think I can actually improve on that. I shot 21 rounds with the new 209 Conversion setup and did not experience one misfire of a 209 primer during this testing. Plans are to do some additional testing to build a proper scale as my Bushnell Scope has a BDC reticle. I would also like to revisit the use of Pyrodex & Triple Se7en Magnum pellets as that is a very convenient method to load and/or reload for a second shot versus the Blackhorn 209 loose powder. I did clean between (3) shot groups and was a bit surprised at the amount of “black” residue from the Blackhorn. It did not seem to be any cleaner than the other powder sources. Maybe I was expecting too much from the advertising.
The only downside with this new setup is the removal of the fired 209 primers and reloading of a new one seems to take a bit more time than the old #11 percussion caps. However, the greatly improved ignition system and lack of any powder blowback in one’s face is well worth that. Besides, I have not had to use a follow-up shot in all my deer hunting for the past 50 years and do not plan on starting now.
From my experience and initial testing, you have a very well designed product and have given my Remington 700 ML new life.
Before we only offered a 209 conversion for the Remington 700 ML. But now I'm happy to announce that we now offer a similar sealed breech 209 system for the Ruger 77/50!
Much like the Remington 700 ML and 700ADL, Ruger sold a muzzle loader that looks a lot like the Ruger 77/44: the Ruger 77/50. According to the Ruger website, it was in production from 1997-2004. Judging by serial number data no where near as many were made as the 700ML. The Ruger functioned very similar to the Remington, and even had a breech thread that allowed use of 700ML breech plugs. (Not that we nor the manufacturer are endorsing that. It's just so similar it's possible). Thus these rifles had many of the same problems as the Remington 700 ML: Blow-back, frequent misfires, and factory setups that didn't have 209 options.
So when Ruger owners find the Badger Ridge Industries 209 kit for the Remington 700ML, they often contact us and ask if we can make a similar "seal up the breech, BlackHorn209 compatible, finger simple prime de-prime system" for the Ruger 77/50. Now, I'm proud to say "YES WE CAN!"
In order to develop and prove out our sealed breech 77/50 209 conversion a few 77/50's were purchased and converted by Fred and myself. Having a couple of centerfire Ruger 77 MKII's that I've hunted with for years, in many ways the 77/50 didn't feel like a totally new rifle to me, even though it was a 'totally new' rifle to me. And while on the surface it works similar to the Remington, and the breech plug threads of both are essentially identical, the 77/50 is a very different rifle to convert.
As the rifle came from the factory, or even when modified with a Canadian 209 system, the warning about "Hot Gases Exit Nipple Area" excerpted from the 77/50 manual rings true and must be heeded. Hot gasses and pieces of primers/caps being blown back and around the nipple and the associated fouling are some time referred to as "blow by". However I find it seems more accurate to call it "Blow Back". The later version of the 77/50 used a protrusion on the bolt itself to try and direct the blow back to the side of the rifle. And while it does accomplish this, it also directs blow-back into the bolt. The bolt has a vent in the bolt body that directs the blow back that enters it down and into the stock! So as delivered from Ruger, blow back gets in the bolt, and is even directed down and into the inner recesses of the rifle!
This complicates cleaning and over the long term reduces the reliability of the system. So compared to the Remington we had to modify the Ruger's bolt much more to get a 209 system that seals the breech and is more reliable.
The main reason to switch to our system is not only to use 209 primers, but to seal up the breech area and essentially eliminate all of the blow back issues. 209 primers are hotter and more reliable source of ignition. Using them to seal blow back into the breech plug vastly simplifies cleaning and makes the rifle safer and more reliable. Our conversion seals out the elements and allows one to shoot Blackhorn 209 powder. Which in my opinion is the best black powder substitute available. The Canadian 209 system and the original cap system are not Blackhorn 209 compatible, and they allow blow back into all those nooks and crannies.
Remember, blow-back not only can injure a shooter or by stander, but it can burn the optics mounted above the breech, project corrosive fouling throughout the bolt and action, and wear out a mainspring prematurely. Even worse, the Ruger 77/50 is known to have an additional deficiency: Blow back launches the firing pin rearward and occasionally shears the trigger's sear!
Our conversion for the Ruger 77/50 fixes all of these woes by sealing the blow back into the breech plug with the 209 primer!
The conversion process requires the bolt to be completely stripped, our new firing pin to be installed, the extended shroud to be cut off, and the nose of the bolt dressed. Then the 209 nose is timed to align it for loading and unloading, pressed on, and firing pin protrusion set. So once complete there really isn't any going back. But once the converted rifle is shot, I'm sure no one will ever want to go back to the leaky original set up!
Our Ruger 77/50 conversion is through its first rounds of testing but is still in what the DoD would call LRIP (low rate initial production). I'm not comfortable sending this one out for just anyone to install, and for now, will only offer it as a full conversion service. Or in other words, I'm not willing to sell this one as a kit; you will have to pay me to install it.
The Ruger conversion uses a very similiar breech plug to the one used in our Remington system:
If you are interested in making your rifle work the way you always wanted it to, and Blackhorn 209 compatible, you can purchase Ruger 77/50 conversion as a service (very similar to our Remington 700ML conversion service). Mail us your bolt, we'll convert, and send it back with the breech plug, vent liner, and other accessories. The details are all in the listing for this service!
We also can ship an entire new 209 converted bolt to you if you want to keep the original leaky system, or are missing a bolt etc. That is more expensive than converting an existing bolt. We do not recommend this unless you hunt out west where leaky non 209 systems are required for special hunts, but on others you can use our sealed breech 209 system.
And as always feel free to use the Contact form to send me your info. I'll call or email back promptly.
Here's what someone who's used our 209 conversion for over a year has to say about it! Buy with confidence!
I always enjoy hearing from our customers. This time, Mike A from New York, who had me convert his Remington 700 ML to our 209 conversion over a year ago, took the time to write in. To me, it says a lot about your product when people love it so much they take their time to write a thank you note. I can just say, "Thank you for being a great customer!"
The message I received from Mike A, New York is below:
QUESTION OR COMMENT FOR BADGER RIDGE:
Just a positive comment...
You converted my Rem. 700 ML a few years ago.
I've taken it into the field for a few years now during deer season, and to the range about once a month for those same number of years.
Essentially, with 90 grs. of BH 209, 300 gr. Hornady XTPs, MMP EZ load sabots, and CCI 209 Magnum primers, the result with a low ringed scope is clover leafing dead center at 50 yds. And dead center adjusted up + 3" at 100 yds. The holes are paper punch clean.
The gun is competitive with any of the other BP guns I own. It is fun to shoot.
You turned the firearm from a tomato stake to a reliable, easy to clean, accurate, easy to use gun.
Thanks again for writing in. All of my rifles have shot best between 80 and 100 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209 as well. Glad you are satisfied!
Always enjoy helping customers. It really seems like plain 'ol good Americans like to shoot muzzle loaders, and many of them have the old Remington 700 ML/MLS and are tired of unreliable ignition, crud in their face, and scopes getting eaten by blow back. They are looking for the better solution we offer. Below is a recent email from a repeat customer, Dennis, from North Carolina, who bought our Remington 700 209 Conversion Kit and installed it himself:
Shot my first Blackhorn 209 through Rem 700MLS on Saturday after upgrade with your kit. No misfires or problems of any kind on 3 shots and all between 1852 and 1879 fps with 70gn by weight (to test) and 240gn HP/XTP. Was a little slower than expected based on experience with Pyrodex. But, I think I have room in BH 209 powder charge to get back to 2000 fps safely and…. I can give away my protective scope wraps. Primers slip in and literally fall out if I turn gun over. Bolt disassembly is no longer part of each cleaning.
Good product. Firing pin install was a little tricky but overall installation not too bad.
Thanks for the positive feed back, Dennis!
As you are using BH 209 by weight, and 70gr by weight = 100gr by volume (equivalent black powder is measured by volume, not weight), you can increase your load by working up to 120gr by volume according to Western Powders. So you have more room to increase velocity if that is your desire.
Most of my 700 MLS rifles have shot best at 80 to 100 gr by volume of Blackhorn209.
For those of you who don't want the hassle of installing the firing pin and nose to your bolt, we offer installation of the kit for reasonable fees and have great turn around times.
Videos of our 209 kit in action are below:
With our 700ML 209 ignition upgrade we try to keep it simple and yet very effective. And frankly we are proud of it. We understand that its going to be new to most folks. Though we do have a number of repeat customers, who realize once they see our 209 conversion in action realize how great it is, and start buying up used 700ML's. Below I've put together a fairly common exchange for the benefit of the newcomer (and yes, did some editing for clarity and to protect the client's identity, etc).
You've just received a new submission to your Contact Form.
Question or Comment
First, I would like to thank you for your service and hope it has been as rewarding as the 22 years I spent serving our country.
I just received the full 209 conversion kit I purchased a couple of days ago. I am now opting to have it professionally installed - hopefully by you. Is it possible to return the kit along with my bolt and payment to you for the service?
Thank you in advance.
28 July, From BadgerRidge to Kenny G:
Thanks for your service.
You certainly can have me install your kit. Please purchase installation at our website with a note saying that you will ship the kit with the bolt. Then drop it all in the mail to me.
I appreciate your business!
(phone number removed.... if you want it, send me a contact form)
28 July, Kenny G's following messages to Badger Ridge.
Thanks Tom. I will do just that.
--then I received his bolt, converted it and mailed it back to him the day after receiving it, he got automated emails with tracking information I received this on 04 August :
I got my bolt back today! That was a very quick turn-around. Haven’t installed it yet but will this weekend. Thanks for the great service. I will send pix if I am successful this season. Take care and God bless.
--then he sent on Sept 2nd --
Just following up and saying thanks again. I installed my newly modified bolt and breech plug, mounted a Nikon 3-9x40 and went to the range. I only had 245gr Aero tip Powerbelts and used 100gr Pyrodex and the Winchester 209s. Yes, they stuck just as you stated so, thanks for the tip on getting them out. Barring the sticking primers, all worked well at the range. I zeroed with 3 shots. Shots 4&5 overlapped in the bull. I have been looking – in vain for CCI Primers in my area but had to settle on 777. They seem to work. I’ll take them to the range soon. Eager to go hunting with it. Got some really nice bucks on camera. J
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday. Take care and God bless.
After I asked (and he agreed) that it was OK to share our correspondence here in the Badger's Den, he sent me the sight in pic above and the pic below of his latest mod. Seems since sighting in at 50 he's decided to spruce the rifle up a bit:
From Tom to Kenny G:
What you have now definitely works, and you may have some Pyrodex to shoot up before you are ready, but my parting recommendation is:
Get some Black Horn 209, full powered 209 primers (best CCI, like you saw the Winchester tend to stick and require a dry fire to remove) , black sabots, and 225 to 300 gr 45 cal hand gun bullets and shoot some groups at 100 yds with different bullets by starting at 80gr by volume, and working up to 120gr by volume. Zero the load that shot best a couple to three inches high at 100yds. Go home clean the rifle up; you have a sealed breech a deer hammer to take to the woods.
Thanks for being a great, understanding client. Please keep me posted and let me know how I can help.
We sell our Remington 700ML 209 conversion to folks who hunt all 50 states and even Canada. And I must say that I've seen some states make folks jump through a bunch of hoops, while others don't. Its all tied to each state's rules varying drastically. Some are simple, common sense, and easy to follow (and I expect easy for their game wardens to enforce). Others, require someone to have a law and engineering degree to determine what they can take to the field for any given hunt.
So if you are considering our conversion, I hope to help those who live in those troubled states with some simple facts:
1. Our system uses 209 shot shell primers
2. It completely seals the 209 primer into the breech plug
3. You can use any Black Powder or black powder substitute with our kit (Pellets, loose powder, whatever... just follow the Remington manual/directions on the bottle for quantity of powder to use)
(You can read more about our 209 conversion by clicking the image above)
So for most states and most hunts, you won't find a better option than our 209 conversion. It will take the old Remington 700ML/MLS and turn it into a reliable big game harvesting brute. But you are responsible for researching the rules for your individual state. The main question should be "Do the rules allow 209 shot shell primers? Next question would be "Does it prohibit sealed in-line ignition systems?" As far as I know Canada, and most of the US allows sealed breech 209s. I think Idaho and Oregon are the only exceptions to sealed breech 209's (and that is only on some dedicated muzzle loader hunts... ie you can use a sealed breech muzzle loader during the regular firearms seasons there). So long as you can use 209's and seal them up, you won't find a better option for your rifle.
If you hunt somewhere where you can use sealed ignition on one hunt but not another, we sell entire bolts so you can swap the rifle between sealed 209's and the original leaky OEM system.
Trying to better understand our clients' needs, I've spent the last few hours reading the various rules the 50 states have for muzzle-loader hunts. I lack the literary skill to describe the dull throbbing pain those regulations produced in my skull. I appreciate simple common sense approaches to regulations, so I feel it's time to get on my soap box:
It seems traditionalists with lofty notions have hi-jacked hunting regulations in some states, and verbose rule writers dominate most others. To me, hunting regulations should be simple and boil down to promoting the safe and effective harvesting of the right number of game animals in a jurisdiction. I believe in individual freedoms, and always felt hunting, and the choices I made while hunting were a great expression of that freedom. So I don't understand why anyone would stand by and allow their state to -force- people into using ignition systems, powders, or projectiles that would be anything other than those most probable to make a safe, quick, humane kill. I'm all for those who want to do it like their forefathers did. But to force anyone to hunt in that manner, especially if it is less effective, is nuts. There is a reason we developed better ignition systems, better powder, and projectiles: its called progress. Today we have better options that kill better, make better wound channels, and tend to produce less lost or wounded game. These same better ways are safer, and don't blast the shooter with blow back and primer fragments. Those traditionalist ideals seem to have produced regulations that go counter to safe, humane kills, and true liberty.
Some would argue that complex regulation that forces old, out-dated, less effective means, reduces the number of game taken. I can see restricting someone to a single shot rifle with open sights doing that, but other wise, I doubt that prohibiting modern sabots, hand gun bullets, etc will reduce the number of game shot at.
So I'd argue that the rules that force traditional solutions probably increase the number of animals wounded and lost. And thus they probably reduce the number of game that get drug out of the woods. On the surface that produces statistics that say the number of animals taken was reduced. The significant difference being: the wounded animals that are not recovered are not recorded as kills. Wounded animals typically suffer a slow painful death. Making regulations that encourage wounding game is a shame. It's especially shameful quoting tainted statistics to make the case.
I haven't seen a state with ideal regulations but I think Wyoming's was as a simple as they get. You can be sure sure you are in compliance, and game wardens know what to enforce:
“For taking of bighorn sheep, elk moose, mountain goat, black bear, grizzly bear, deer, mountain lion, antelope or gray wolf by the use of a firearm a hunter shall use:
Any muzzle-loading rifle or muzzleloading pistol handgun of at least .40 caliber and firing a lead or expanding point bullet using a charge of at least 50 grains of black powder or its equivalent.”
And while I don't endorse the stuff below that prohibits multiple barrels, or restricts propellants (some rifles are designed to use smokeless powder: they produce more energy, and thus are more humane killers). Anyways I am partial to how Utah's reads and gives solid guidance on projectile selection to promote humane kills:
“To hunt big game with a muzzleloader, your muzzleloader must meet all of the following requirements:
It can be loaded only from the muzzle and can use either open sights, peep sights, or fixed or variable zoom scope. It can have only one barrel, and the barrel must be at least 18 inches long.
It cannot be capable of firing more than once without being reloaded.
The powder and bullet — or powder, sabot and bullet — cannot be bonded together as one unit for loading.
It must be loaded with black powder or a black powder substitute. The black powder or black power substitute cannot contain smokeless powder, but may contain some nitrocellulose.
To hunt big game, you must use a lead or expanding bullet or projectile that’s at least 40 caliber in size.
If you’re hunting deer or pronghorn, your bullet must be 130 grains or heavier, or your sabot must be 170 grains or heavier.
If you’re hunting elk, moose, bison, bighorn sheep or Rocky Mountain goats, you must use a 210-grain or heavier bullet, or a sabot bullet that’s at least 240 grains.”
Truly over all, I favor Virgina's rules; I wish all 50 states would adopt them as I feel they are a good balance on allowing freedom of choice but guaranteeing common sense, killing power (sorry muzzle loading pistol guys), and safety. I think they do a good job of bringing clarity to folk who are familiar with the issues and variety of rules from across the nation:
“Only muzzleloading firearms, .45 caliber or larger, loaded from the muzzle of the gun. Muzzleloading firearms must be single shot, capable of firing only a single bullet or saboted bullet (.38 caliber or larger). Flintlock, percussion, or electronic ignitions are permitted. It is unlawful to have in immediate possession any firearm other than a muzzleloading gun while hunting with a muzzleloader. (See exception for valid concealed handgun permit holders on page 18.) It is unlawful to use muzzleloading pistols. Must use at least 50 grains of black powder or black powder equivalent. Smokeless powder is allowed in muzzleloading firearms designed for it. Never use smokeless powder of any type in any quantity in a muzzle-loading firearm that is not specifically designed for it. Scopes are permitted. For the purposes of transportation in a vehicle, muzzleloading firearms are considered “unloaded” when all powder has been removed from the flashpan, or the percussion cap, primer, or battery has been removed from the firearm. For complete safety, shooting into soft ground should empty a muzzleloader”
I'm sure any state could care less about my opinion. If you live in a state with crazy muzzle loader regulations that just don't make sense, I urge you to engage your legislature and adopt a simple solutions that promote quick safe humane kills over traditional ideals like those I offer above.
Regulations change, and errors can be made. Please read your states rules and don't rely on anything I posted here as being infallible.
We always love feedback on our products. Especially when its positive... here is what Mike C from Vermont had to say about his Remington 700 ML we converted to 209 primers and sent back to him:
Thank you so much, got my bolt today. Installed the new bolt, and breech plug, off to the range I went. 100 grains by volume of blackhorn 209, CCI standard shotshell primer, and a Hornady SST low drag sabot 300gr bullet. You transformed my gun into a tack driver, hard to believe it’s the same gun!!!! No ignition problems at all, and clean up was a breeze, do not understand why any one would use something other than Blackthorn 209 powder. Thanks again for the install. Mike
With our Remington 700 ML 209 conversion kit, we get very few complaints or requests for assistance compaired to the number of kits sold and installed. The few instances usually are tied to not fully comprehending the kit's components and how to maintain them. Of these, most center around the Badger Ridge Hunter 209 Breech plug. There is a good section in our FAQ on the breech plug and how to maintain it.
The other complaints center around not understanding the subtle differences when using Blackhorn209.
TROUBLE SHOOTING AND COMMON MISTAKES
You must read and understand the Remington 700ML owners manual prior to using our conversion kit. Using our 209 conversion replaces the breech plug; so you have to apply what the Remington 700ML Owner's Manual says about nipples, flash holes, and caps to flash channels, vent liners, and 209 primers.
Failure to Fire, Misfires, Hang-Fires, Bloopers, etc:
Typically these sorts of malfunctions are caused by one or a combination of:
-1. Using blackpowder primers with Blackhorn209
-2. Obstructions or contaminants in the flash chamber (improper maintenance)
-3. Failure to seal and compact the charge when using Blackhorn 209.
-4. Not replacing the mainspring during conversion/poorly installed conversion, improper firing pin protrusion, using oils/grease that gel when cold, etc.
First and foremost: The mainspring should be replaced during conversion. The original configuration subjected the mainspring to lots of corrosive blow-back, heat, and extra cycles. All quickly reduce its effectiveness. If not replaced, light and inconsistent primer strikes are probable. Also if the firing pin protrusion was not set properly, or there is a bur, rust, or crud causing the firing pin to hang up, failures to fire are probable. We always replace the mainspring as part of our installation service. If you did it yourself and are having trouble with detonating the primer: Take the rifle to a competent gunsmith to remedy these or any other unsafe or abnormal condition.
Use only standard shotshell, full powered 209 primers with Blackhorn209. I recommend and use standard CCI’s!!!
Remedies for obstructions or contaminants in the flash chamber/improper maintenance:
-- Clean the flash channel of the breech plug with a 7/32 drill bit (only use your fingers and light pressure... do not remove metal!!!) Use standard bore cleaning solvents to dissolve any remaining contaminates and remove. Clean the flash channel of the vent liner with torch tip cleaners. Break cleaner works well to remove oils and greases and any remnants.
Remove any lubricants, greases, or oils in the flash channel prior to loading.
-- Keep anti-seize only on the threads of the breech plug and vent liner; anti-seize or any other lubricant will reduce primer heat and cause ignition problems when in the flash chamber, or face of the breech plug.
-- Swab out any excess oil left in the barrel with a dry patch before loading
In cold climates avoid greases and oils that gel or congeal when cold
-- We use and recommend only dry PTFE lubes on the firing pin assembly
If you are using full powered primers and doing the above maintenance and still having issues only when using Blackhorn209 (typically diagnosed by successfully and repeatedly igniting a load of other easier to ignite black powder substitute), the cause is most likely a poor seal on the primer or projectile. Poor primer seal can also be diagnosed by having soot or blow back on the sides of the 209 primers; only the primer’s face should have soot on it:
-- Seal Primer: full power 209 shot shell primer swaged and sealed properly into the breech plug; one should feel some resistance when closing the bolt with a primer in the nose. This is because the primer is being swaged into and sealing the breech plug. Failure for the primer to seal is commonly caused by over or excessive breech plug tuning, or poor primer fit. Correct by changing to a larger size brand of primers (some European manufactured tend to be bigger), or purchase a new breech plug & do not over tune.
-- Change projectile: Powerbelts, Bore Locks, Minet, Lubed conicals, Minnie-balls, Hornady FPB etc do not fully seal (aka obturate) until the powder charge expands and presses them into the rifling grooves. Use snug fitting sabots with properly sized bullets with Blackhorn209.
-- Change powder: Black Powder and its other substitutes will combust easily and work OK when not completely sealed, but Blackhorn209 needs a good seal for proper ignition. Changing powders when one has a a poor seal is circumventing the problem rather than fixing it.
So in summary:
1> You need to make sure your 209 conversion kit is properly installed
2> You still have to clean the crud out of the flash channel like you would any muzzleloader, it just requires a few different tools. In many ways it is easier than taking care of a side lock. Dry PTFE lubes work great on the firing pin and action at all temperatures (hot and cold).
3> When you change to Blackhorn209 those weak 209 black powder primers aren't going to do it.
4> And the old school, easy load, seals with combustion, projectiles don't work well with Blackhorn209 neither.
Keep it simple: Use our kit with modern sabots and properly sized bullets, standard 209 primers that swage and seal, and you'll nearly certainly be malfunction and blow back free.
A few weeks back my dad came and visited. He brought a 54cal 700 MLS down that he picked up cheap. I put our 209 conversion on it and we went to the range. While sighting it in, I decided to use up a few of the older CCI 209M (magnum) primers I had. I handed him my phone as I knew I could get a bit better quality video than my last attempt at a video (last time I was alone with an old camera and a tripod).
I knew I'd have a few stuck primers, especially at light loads (80 Gr by vol of Blackhorn209), but figure I want to be straight and put this kit out warts and all (though these really aren't warts... if you go light with the wrong primers they may stick..) But I wanted to be straight up with the performance: zero blow back, and solid ignition, even with Blackhorn209 is easy. If you get a stuck primer, just dry fire. I use standard CCI's with zero stuck at all normal powder charges.
Anyways it shot OK... about 3" at 100 yds with zero load development.
The video below was my first attempt at making a YouTube video... in it I use my Badger Ridge 209 Converted 50 Cal rifle, 120 Gr by volume of Blackhorn209, 240 Gr. 44 cal Hornady XTP's, green sabots and CCI standard primers. Not one stuck primer and zero blow back as well.
I often am asked what loads I recommend for Remington 700 ML's with our 209 conversion kit. When I compose my reply I try to stick to generalities, because it doesn't matter much what I like, but what shoots well. And you can't know that without some serious range time. Thus I like what makes sense to me and my rifle shoots well.. but that is in my rifle. Will it work in your rifle? Really what matters is what delivers the damage desired to your target. Also here, I'm not an expert, but I consider myself fairly well read. So I stick to generalities that make sense to me and in developing loads for my rifles what I read seemed to hold true.
Lets handle this in a manner I learned from a wise counselor. In such matters there are typically not absolutes, but ranges. And I like to stick to these three: Good, Better, and Best. Of course if something is "Better or Best", it fulfilled the requirements of "Good" and did better or was the best. Also "Good" could probably be called "Good Enough." To keep it simple, I'll just stick with "Good" on this post.
For me, in regards to firearms, "Good" really means safe and effective. So owners of a Badger Ridge 209 converted Remington 700 ML we need to start by looking at what the Remington Owners Manual says about performance and safety in regards to bullets, primers, sabots, and powder. If you've never read the owners manual, you should! Right now! (Same is true for you Ruger 77/50 owners... read your manual!)
Excerpt below is from page two of the Remington 700 ML Owner's manual, "Safety is Critical to Performance" (I added the bold and underline for emphasis):
"A superbly crafted gun is only as good as the hands that hold it. You can never be too careful. Shooting accidents are often caused by careless oversights such as failing to control the direction of the muzzle, failing to fully engage the safety, leaving ammunition in the chamber or using improper loads. These oversights can result in the destruction of life, limb or property. There’s no calling back a bullet once it’s been fired, so it’s critical that you know the principles of safe gun handling and storage before you ever take your new Remington firearm out of the box.
The proper use and performance of your firearm depends on correct assembly and maintenance, so it’s critical that you familiarize yourself with the information in this instruction book. Even if you’re a veteran shooter with a collection of Remington firearms, take the time to read this literature. Not all firearms are the same. That means the first step in safe handling is to learn the features and requirements of your new Remington."
Ok, that's a lot of good stuff there, but lets emphasize that if you use an improper load you are making an unsafe act. You may get a way with it for a time... at least until you don't. I don't consider this "Good", thus it could never be "Better" nor "Best"
So what is an acceptable load? Well first lets see what the manual says about loading... and here we have to remember that the manufacturer of the rifle never tested it with powders like Blackhorn 209 that were not available while it was in production (the same could be said for many other black powder substitutes that came out after the 700ML was designed and tested). Back then there was essentially only black powder and Pyrodex.
Also there are so many good options out there for bullets, sabots, etc now that were not available then. Factor in that with our 209 conversion you have changed the priming method and breech plug and you should realize that you do need to run what it says through the filter of progress in regards to percussion caps, and powder. Please take the time to read the excerpt below.
Below is excerpted from Page 6 of the Remington Owner's Manual, please take the time to read through it... my comments will be in blue and italics
SPECIAL SAFETY RULES FOR MUZZLELOADERS
In addition to the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety, there are several guidelines specific to black powder guns that muzzleloaders must observe at all times to ensure their safety and the safety of others. The following is a brief overview of these guidelines. For full details, thoroughly read this instruction book.
MUZZLELOADING SAFETY RULES
1. NEVER smoke while using your muzzleloader or while near any quantity of black powder or PYRODEX.® (Same is true for any powder)
2. BEFORE LOADING, MAKE SURE THE FIREARM IS NOT ALREADY LOADED. To make sure it is unloaded, insert the ramrod provided with the rifle into the bore to the breech plug and note its position at the muzzle. It should be approximately 1/4 inch below flush with the end of the barrel if the rifle is not loaded. (Badger's Note: that is with the OEM breech plug, with our breech plug your ram rod should sit just above flush with the muzzle on and uncharged rifle).
NOTE: Nothing can be attached to the ramrod while using it in this way. USE ONLY THE RAMROD PROVIDED.
3. ALWAYS CHECK AND CLEAR THE FLASH HOLE THROUGH THE NIPPLE BEFORE SHOOTING. ALWAYS CHECK THE BARREL FOR OBSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LOADING AND SHOOTING. Before checking for an obstruction, put the safety mechanism in the ‘S’ position and open the bolt assembly and remove the percussion cap and residue from the nipple. Water, snow, mud or any other material can obstruct the barrel and cause barrel damage. (with a 209 conversion you must realize the same is true, but instead of caps and nipples we have primers, flash cambers and vent liners)
4. USE BLACK POWDER OR PYRODEX® ONLY TO LOAD YOUR MUZZLELOADING FIREARM. Never use even small amounts of smokeless powder, even if it is black in color. The use of any other propellant may cause injury or death to the shooter or bystanders and damage the firearm. (So by using other black powder substitutes you are operating under the engineering of the powder manufacturer, not the rifle manufacturer. If you read page 12 you will see why Pyrodex is OK... so you'll have to read and understand the same for whatever black powder substitute you may choose... like Blackhorn 209. )
5. NEVER EXCEED THE MAXIMUM RECOMMENDED POWDER CHARGE CONTAINED IN THIS BOOK. To do so could result in injury or death to the shooter or bystanders. (Pages 16 and 17 state 120 grains (by volume) as the max, older versions of this manual had a 150 gr by volume for the MLS or "Magnum" version... I recommend you stick to this safer, more conservative 120gr by volume max... also if you choose Blackhorn209 you see it's manufacturer lists 120 gr by volume max as well).
6. NEVER POUR POWDER DIRECTLY FROM A POWDER FLASK OR CONTAINER. A sudden powder ignition from a lingering spark could cause the entire flask to explode. Use an individual charge from a powder measure when loading your rifle. Read and follow your powder manufacturer’s procedures for powder storage.
7. NEVER USE THE WRONG AMMUNITION COMPONENTS. Only use ammunition components that exactly match the caliber markings on your firearm and are meant to be used together. Use only pure lead or Remington® brand loading components when shooting lubed conical bullets. Do not use any other lead alloys with lubed conical bullets as they may be too hard for proper and safe use in your muzzleloader. (so when you use other bullets you are no under the engineering of Remington, but your own or the bullets manufacturer... only use 451-452 bullets in a 50 cal rifle with black sabots... etc)
8. WHEN LOADING, BE CERTAIN POWDER, PATCHES AND PROJECTILES ARE IN THEIR PROPER
SEQUENCE AND THAT THEY ARE COMPLETELY SEATED AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. Serious personal
injury or death can result if space is left between them. To provide a reference mark for future loadings, mark the ramrod at the muzzle once a projectile has been loaded to the proper depth. NOTE: Be sure to recheck the ramrod mark if you change loading components or alter the ramrod. See Picture 13 on page 15. Never attempt to shoot out a projectile that is not firmly seated against the powder charge or does not seat to the proper depth. Remove these projectiles following the instructions on pages 18 and 19. (witness marks are key to safety!!!)
9. ALWAYS USE COTTON PATCHING. The use of non-cotton patching could build up a static electric charge possibly creating a spark that could ignite the powder.
10. NEVER POUND THE RAMROD. Black powder and PYRODEX are impact sensitive and could ignite from impact. Keep the ramrod directly away from your face or body. (Another reason I like Blackhorn209 is that detonation from impact is much less probable when compared to Black powder or Pyrodex... that is why you have to use full power 209 primers to set it off!)
11. KNOW THE RANGE OF YOUR FIREARM. Muzzleloading projectiles have a range of more than one-half mile.
12. IF THE FIREARM FAILS TO FIRE, BE PREPARED FOR A HANGFIRE. Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction and wait no less than one full minute before opening the bolt. A spark may have reached the powder without any sound. The rifle could fire at any moment during this minute. If the rifle does not fire within a minute, carefully follow the directions on how to handle a misfire on pages 15 and 16. (With 209's this is typically caused by failure to properly maintain the breech plug and vent liner... see our FAQ and owners instructions for our kits for more info here).
13. RENDER YOUR FIREARM INOPERABLE WHENEVER YOU ARE NOT SHOOTING. Never place the percussion cap on the nipple until just before firing and remove it immediately if you do not fire. Never carry or store a loaded firearm in a building or a vehicle. Unload it by firing it into a suitable backstop before returning to your vehicle, entering a building, crossing or climbing up or down any obstacle that may prevent you from keeping full control over the firearm, such as a fallen tree, fence, treestand or slippery area. Failure to follow this rule may cause serious injury or death to the shooter or bystanders.
14. BLACK POWDER LEAVES HEAVY CORROSIVE RESIDUES. A thorough cleaning and lubing are absolute necessities before storage and prior to loading and shooting. Follow the cleaning instructions starting on page 19. Always carry loading and cleaning equipment with you in the field. (Another reason Blackhorn 209 is better, no fouling, and a less corrosive residue that cleans up with standard gun cleaning solvents)
15. NEVER USE THE WEATHER SHROUD FOR REPEATED SHOOTING. It is intended for single shot usage. Always disassemble and clean the bolt assembly after shooting with the weather shroud. See page 22 for bolt assembly cleaning instructions. (Our 209 conversion totally eliminates this component)
16. WARNING: Discharging firearms in poorly ventilated areas, cleaning firearms or handling ammunition components may result in exposure to lead, a substance known to cause birth defects, reproductive harm, cancer and other serious physical injury. Have adequate ventilation at all times. Wash hands thoroughly after exposure.
WARNING: Failure to follow any of these muzzleloading safety rules may cause personal injury or death to the shooter or bystander and damage to property. Do not use a muzzleloader firearm until you fully understand and practice the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety and the safety guidelines specific to black powder shooting, to your black powder firearm and to your black powder ammunition components. If you are unfamiliar with black powder firearms, seek professional instruction from a qualified organization such as the International Black Powder Hunting Association, National Muzzleloading Rifle Association, National Rifle Association or your State Hunter Safety program. If you have any questions about the safe use of a Remington® black powder firearm, write to us at Remington Arms Company, Inc., Consumer Services, P.O. Box 700, Madison, NC 27025-0700 or call us at 1-800-243-9700.
Ok... that's a lot of words there, but you really should read the entire manual and understand it... the only problem is that the OEM system had serious blow back and by using our conversion you must keep in mind that some of it has changed. So back to the original point, what is "Good" and what is "Better" and "Best"
For a Badger Ridge converted 700ML I think you could throw out #15, and summarize that the basic safety above could be condensed to:
1. NEVER SMOKE while using your muzzleloader or while near any quantity of black powder or Black Powder Substitute.
2. BEFORE LOADING, MAKE SURE THE FIREARM IS NOT ALREADY LOADED.
3. ALWAYS CHECK AND CLEAR THE BREECH PLUG and VENT LINER'S FLASH CHANNEL BEFORE SHOOTING. ALWAYS CHECK THE BARREL FOR OBSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LOADING AND SHOOTING.
4. USE BLACK POWDER OR BLACK POWDER SUBSTITUTES ONLY TO LOAD YOUR MUZZLELOADING FIREARM. Never use even small amounts of smokeless powder
5. NEVER EXCEED THE MAXIMUM RECOMMENDED POWDER CHARGE of 120 grains (by volume)
6. NEVER POUR POWDER DIRECTLY FROM A POWDER FLASK OR CONTAINER.
7. NEVER USE THE WRONG AMMUNITION COMPONENTS.
8. WHEN LOADING, BE CERTAIN POWDER, PATCHES AND PROJECTILES ARE IN THEIR PROPER
SEQUENCE AND THAT THEY ARE COMPLETELY SEATED AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. USE A WITNESS MARK!!!
9. ALWAYS USE COTTON PATCHING or SABOTS MADE FOR YOUR CALIBER BARREL AND BULLET.
10. NEVER POUND THE RAMROD.
11. KNOW THE RANGE OF YOUR FIREARM. Muzzleloading projectiles have a range of more than one-half mile.
12. IF THE FIREARM FAILS TO FIRE, BE PREPARED FOR A HANGFIRE.
13. RENDER YOUR FIREARM INOPERABLE WHENEVER YOU ARE NOT SHOOTING. Never place the primer on the bolt nose until just before firing and remove it immediately if you do not fire.
14. BLACK POWDER AND MOST SUBSTITUTES LEAVE HEAVY CORROSIVE RESIDUES. EVEN BLACKHORN 209's LIGHT RESIDUE WILL PROMOTE CORROSION. Proper and thorough cleaning and lubing are absolute necessities before storage and prior to loading and shooting. Always carry loading and cleaning equipment with you in the field.
15. ONLY SHOOT IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA, PROPER RIFLE RANGE, ETC., AND WASH YOUR HANDS
Again, before you read on you really should read the entire OEM manual, with emphasis on Pages 12-17
But at this point I'm sure most have dozed off or skimmed down to the conclusion, and honestly that worries me... you really need to read and understand all of this before you try to load, prime, or fire your rifle... but here's what i think is 'at least good' for bullet, primer, powder selection for a Remington 700ML with a Badger Ridge 209 conversion:
GOOD (aka Good Enough)
- Lead round balls of appropriate sizel, with cotton patching, and proper lubrication (50 cal: 179Gr)
- Lubed conicals, Minet projectiles, power belts, bore-locks, etc (but probably not with Blackhorn 209 as they don't always get the best initial seal)
- Plastic sabots sized for the caliber of the barrel, with lead or jacketed bullets of a size that matches the inner portion of the sabot (200 to 400 gr) (work well with black powder or any black powder substitute)
- 2F (FF) or FFG black powder
- Pyrodex RS, TripleSeven, or other 'stinky chemistry' black powder substitutes
- Blackhorn 209
- Black powder specific 209 with any black powder/substitute (except Blackhorn209)
- Any non corrosive modern 209 shot shell (full power) primer with any black powder/substitute
Its not hard to do BETTER:
PRIMERS: Any standard 209 primer can work with our breech plug if properly tuned. Some folks play with primers after working up a load and have reported improved accuracy just by changing brands. Again your mileage may vary. But, hands down I've found the older copper standard CCI primers worked the best. Mostly because they always feed and have never stuck in a bolt nose on me. The new CCI 209's are silver and I haven't played with them much to endorse them. If I couldn't find the old copper colored CCI's I'd use Federals, Remington STS, or CCI Magnums. Anyways, I've had primers , even CCI magnums stick at low powder charges and require a dry fire to remove. Winchesters are the worst in our Remington 209 conversions as far as sticking in the nose. However, a dry fire has always removed any stuck primers for me.
My rifles shoot good enough, with my older CCI's, so I'm not fiddling with primers until I shoot through my stash: I'm sticking to what I know works.
Bottom line: Any Standard 209 shot shell primer will ignite any black powder or substitute.
POWDER: Any modern black powder substitute is better than black powder in my opinion. I found that Blackhorn 209 works the best: I get the best accuracy, faster velocities, no fouling between shots, and its easier to clean up. It does cost more, but sometimes that's how it is: quality costs.
BULLETS: You probably will want to stick with sabots and jacketed hand gun bullets; handgun bullets are designed to be accurate, and expand at velocities your muzzleoader will produce. There are lots of pointed hand gun bullets now like Hornady FTX's that have improved ballistic coefficients. There are also jacketed 'muzzle loader' bullets that frequently come with sabots that work well. 200 to 350 gr bullets are typically used in modern inline muzzleloaders with success. You may find that pointed bullets require special loading jags or their points get damaged and accuracy can suffer. My Remington's have always liked heavier bullets (250gr or more).
I recommend you stay away from .458 (rifle) bullets as they typically have thicker jackets and do not expand and perform as well at muzzleloader velocities. But if you can find .458 bullets that are made for a muzzleloader then you may have a great bullet.
I absolutely recommend that you forget round balls; they have horrible ballistics and poor performance in larger game, especially at longer ranges.
As for conicals, power belts, bore-loc's, minet's etc... I personally I've seen better results with sabots and good jacketed hunting bullet, but the conicals are an option, just not with Blackhorn209. I just have always done better staying away from them; I've read a lot of bad things about some of these as they don't have copper jackets that control expansion. However your rifle may like them. Blackhorn209 has trouble with these sort of projectiles that require the initial expansion of the powder charge to seal them to the bore... especially in a Remington 700ML. If you are using Blackhorn209 you should stay away from these and use sabots!
SABOTS: My rifles generally shoot the best when I use the largest handgun bullet I can get a sabot for in the rifle's caliber:
- In a 54, you can get purple sabots that let you shoot .50 caliber handgun bullets.
- In a .50 cal you can get black sabots that let you shoot .451-.452 hand gun bullets
- In a .45 cal i'd try for sabots that use .40cal hand gun bullets
Remember what I said about .458's above... you can get them to shoot well, but are they the bullets with thinner jackets that are made to expand? If so then if you can find sabots for them in your .50 you may have good results.
This approach is to insure the thinnest sabot petals. In general I've found the thinner the sabot petals the better the accuracy. I've read in various books that its because the sabot separates from the bullet 'cleaner' and quicker with thinner petals... I've also heard its because the thinner petals allow for better concentric alignment of the bullet to the bore. Honestly, thinner petals just seem to work; I don't claim to know why, nor do I really care because I've seen it prove out at the range.
This is counter to what some would like... ie the smallest diameter bullet, with the highest BC, going at the fastest speed (requires thick sabot petals). From what I've seen accuracy is all about thin sabot petals. And its accuracy that lets you reach out and hit distant targets. High velocity and fast flat shooters help at range, but only if they are accurate to start.
I know my 50 cal rifles shoot black MMP sabots with 45 cal bullets better than they do green MMP sabots with .44 cal bullets... or with harvester crush rib sabots... but not by all that much. I haven't proven this with my .54 yet, but so far it shoots purple MMP sabots with 50 cal FTX bullets very well. So well I don't know if I'm going to do any more development... I'll probably just use it as a loner/back up rifle and hunt it as is.
All that said, I have clients that swear their 50 cal rifles love the 44 cal bullets with green sabots. So your mileage may vary!
I have one 50 cal rifle that likes 250gr XTP's better than 250 or 200gr FTX's... I wish it didn't because I like the idea of slighly flatter shooting (of the pointed FTX). I still load it with XTP's when I'm shooting at deer... because that is what that rifle shoots best. At this point I think I'm rambling and you can see that we may be splitting hairs when it comes to BC's and velocities in muzzleloaders.
Bottom line: Stick with Sabots, handgun bullets, full power 209 primers, and Blackhorn 209 and you'll definitely be doing better and perhaps even best...
How do you get the best out of your rifle?
I suggest you take a few of the better options above, go to the range, apply the safety rules and procedures you find in the Owner's Manual and see what your rifle likes.
If you don't own any muzzleloading components yet, I encourage you to convert your Ruger 77/50 or your Remington 700 ML to our 209 kit, and pick up some MMP Sabots from us. Then go to your local sporting goods store and get a box of correlating size quality handgun bullets, 209 Primers, and Blackhorn 209 (along with standard black powder accessories like a powder measure, flask, starter, etc). Read the owners manual and the directions on your powder bottle. Then go to the range and work up your loads as they direct.
Hope this helps and sets you on a good safe path. Truth is that you have a lot of choices to make. In general, if you pick better components and work up per the manuals, you will probably quickly find out what works best.
Always follow the ten commandments of shooting and special muzzle-loader safety rules!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again (because I mean it): I like to hear from satisfied customers! Here's one more that said he didn't mind if I posted his email:
Just wanted to provide you with some positive feedback on the bolt and breech conversion you did for my Remington 700ML. This gun has never shot as good as it does now. I have switched to CCI magnum primers,100 gr blackhorn powder and 300gr Harvester Scorpion PT Gold Polymer Tip bullets. I actually enjoy hunting with this gun now not having to worry about misfires and excessive cleaning with the old 209 conversion kits. Thanks again for the quick turn around and a great product.
Thanks for taking the time to write in. It's my pleasure to help. Hope you get a big one!
Gabe R, from California took the time to write the email below, so I thought I'd share:
Good evening . I finally got a chance to try out the new Badger Ridge Primer system a couple of weeks ago. Here's how it went:
I made a trip out to the local desert and used the following components for my test:
Winchester W209 primers were used for a couple of reasons:
1. They required the least amount of reaming to fit the breach plug (as compared to Remington and Cheddite),
2. I have about 5000 on hand so these saved me a trip to the local sporting goods store.
Overall, the results have been very promising with the three tests yielding the following average velocities:
80 gr. powder - 1552 fps*
100 gr. powder - 1795 fps*
120 gr. powder - 2000 fps*
All loads were chronographed using Competition Electronics, ProChrono Digital.
There was no soot or blow-by on any of the fired primers, however there were some issues when using 80 -100 gr. of Blackhorn powder. In two cases, the primer backed out and became stuck in the bolt face. These were cleared by dry firing the spent primer. There were no issues when firing 120 gr. loads with all six primers easily dropping out of the bolt face when the rifle was canted to the right.
Overall, the Badger Ridge Hunter 700 ML 209 conversion kit has resurrected my Remington 700 ML. I am looking forward to using this rifle in upcoming muzzleloading hunts.
Thanks for the great product and service,
*I asked Gabe, and he reported he shot one 3 shot group at 80gr and 100gr, then two 3 shot groups at 120gr to get his average velocities.
Your are welcome Gabe! Thank you for your candid feed back from the field. I trust our Remington 700ML 209 conversion will serve you well, and wish you the best of luck on your hunts!
Also it is common for the Winchester primers to blow out the back of the primer cup (aka balloon) and frequently require a dry firing to remove. That is why I recommend and use CCI.
Copyright 2015, www.BadgerRidgeInd.com
Randy Wakeman reviewed a Badger Ridge 209 converted 700 MLS.
If you watch his video, I ask that you please watch the entire video. I did send this rifle (my 209 converted hunting rifle) to Randy fully cleaned and coated with oil... so that explains the first hang fire (oil soaked powder). Randy shot it as it came; he didn't dry up the oil I left it coated with. The second shot, I agree with Randy: those new Federal B.O.R. LOCK MZ™ bullets (or even power-belts) and Black Horn 209 don't always work well with Remington 700ML barrels (because the Remington barrel is a bit bigger and they don't always seal well). Blackhorn 209 needs a good solid seal for proper combustion.
After Randy fires those first two shots he uses sabots and Blackhorn 209. Now you will see the true performance of our 209 conversion kit: It shoots and works well. And that rifle is not a ringer... its just my deer rifle with a simple fixed 4 power scope. It is the same rifle my dad gave me over 12 years ago. Also, Randy is not shooting my primer/load/bullet/sabot combo, so its not even sighted in for that load!
Note the lack of blow back on the sides of the primer randy shows in the video. I tuned that breech plug to feed and seal the CCI's I use in the rifle. Randy used Winchester and Federal primers. Each brand will vary a little and seal in a little differently. I use and recommend CCI, but you are free to chose what you like.
You can read his write up here:
To see the same rifle with CCI's, 120Gr Blackhorn209, 44 cal 240gr XTP's, green sabots, and zero blow back check out this video: https://youtu.be/ELohSHuJkGA
I, just like every shooter I know, grew up shooting smokeless powder.
Other than accompanying my dad to the range and again on a very frigid muzzle-loader hunt one December (before I was old enough to hunt on my own), I didn't really have any exposure to black powder rifles. And besides my dad used Pyrodex so that wasn't a real black powder experience... according to the purists I knew.
Black powder was just a footnote in my hunter safety class. My first interaction with 'real' black powder was when I took my model rockets to my Grandfather's farm. Yup, that’s Badger Ridge. We were having trouble getting consistent ignition on the rockets via the standard “solar igniters”. My Grandfather told me to hold on; he’d be back. He left me and the rest of the family in the hay field with all the gear I hauled up. He came back with a tin of FFG Goex, filled the rocket nozzle with it, inserted the solar igniter and sealed it with some scotch tape. My problems with consistent ignition on my model rockets was solved with a bit of Grandpa's extra smokey oomph! Too bad my mom wouldn't let me do that anywhere else but at Badger Ridge. My Grandpa also was known to have saltpeter and blasting cap solutions to stubborn stumps.
(But as usual I digress, and am forced to put in some sort of disclaimer: Badger Ridge does not recommend nor condone the use of flammable firearms propellants for purposes out side of the legal purpose they were designed for. Always follow the manufacture's instructions and all safe practices... OK I feel better now.)
Before I shot my first muzzle-loader I had put thousands upon thousands of smokeless rounds down range. Albeit most were .22LR via my participation as a small bore competitor; I did my share of shooting service rifle as well. All those rifles got cleaned regularly with standard gun cleaning products. So when I found out I had to use soap, water, and stuff that smelled like wintergreen to clean and protect my muzzle-loader I had a bit of an adjustment to make. But I did it; I made up a special muzzle loader tool kit with all the necessities so that I could grab it and be certain I had what I needed to take care of my 700MLS.
I smelled the stink of Pyrodex with my dad, and a similar but weaker stink when I first started muzzle loading on my own with Triple Seven. I never got nostalgic about the stink and non petroleum based cleaners I put to work on cleaning my rifle. To me shooting should smell like nitro cellulose (smokeless powder). So while I never got nostalgic on the stink, I will admit I thought about rubbing bore butter on to 'freshen' myself after a few days of hunting.
I honestly found it difficult to clean with soap and water at the more rustic hunt camps. It down right sucked to get all wet when it was so cold outside. I knew my breech loaders didn't need the urgent clean up, and could be made good with a few patches of Shooters choice or Hoppe's and bit of oil. That all changed, and things got back to normal once I discovered Blackhorn 209.
See, all other black powder substitutes that I know of use stinky chemistry that just doesn't work with modern petroleum based gun cleaners. Other black powder substitutes tend to have sulfur in them (which stinks) and need plain old soap and water to clean up.
Black powder chemistry doesn't do well when burning in the presence of petroleum oils and greases. I always thought about the incompatibility of anti-seize and black powder; so I worked to keep the two separate but they were always in close proximity on my breech plugs.
But Blackhorn 209, uses the same chemistry (nitrocellulose) as smokeless powder. Hoppe's # 9, Shooters Choice, Break-Free CLP, Mobil1, or whatever your favorite bore cleaner and oils work just fine with it. Also it's residue is not inherently corrosive, or at least no more than normal smokeless powder. So I don't have the same sense of urgency in cleaning that muzzle loader. Remember though, the residue is hygroscopic... or in other words it attracts water from the air. And water on a metal promotes corrosion. So you do want to clean your rifle, just not quite as urgently!
Remember my separate gun cleaning kit for my muzzle-loader? It got merged with my normal gun cleaning box and that’s that. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Those other powders foul and leave deposits that are not only corrosive, but gummy messes. Though I do have to acknowledge that my experience with Triple Seven confirmed it was better than what I had seen with others who used black powder or Pyrodex. But Blackhorn 209 blows them all away. No more fouling than what I've seen in my smokeless guns. Never any trouble pulling my breech plug, though I still use a bit of anti-seize on it. No swabbing between shots at the range. No changes to accuracy as the rifle fouls itself into a constricted mess (Triple Seven was an improvement here too).
About the only thing you still shouldn't do is leave your muzzle-loader charged for a while or go a long time with out cleaning (see the picture for a breech plug that was in a rifle that was fired multiple times and then left charged for about 8 months). The 416 stainless steel plug in the picture came out just fine with no trouble, but it had some surface pitting. It was cleaned and scrubbed with steel wool before the pic below was taken. Any other powder would have wrecked that rifle and froze the plug in the breech.
Breech plug left in a rifle fired with multiple shots of BH209 and then left charged with Blackhorn 209 for 8 months before it was pulled. Never leave any muzzle loader charged for a long period, even un-fired powder can promote corrosion. I can't even imagine how it would look if any other powder residue was left on it for 8 months.
But it gets even better. You see Blackhorn is safe to use in modern inline muzzle-loaders and it gets more velocity in that same black powder safe pressure range.
In modern inline muzzle loaders it can be used volumetrically the same as black powder. A by volume charge of Blackhorn 209 will give you more velocity (all other things being equal) than black powder or other substitute. Though I think it is important to note that the BH209 load data stops at 120 Gr, (see the picture of the back of the bottle). So I stop working up loads at 120 Gr. Even in my muzzle-loader is rated for 150 Grains (the 700 MLS "Magnums" were rated for 150 grains of black powder by Remington). I figure discretion and safety rule, so I don't go over 120 grains. You can read more about that on the BH209 site (they recommend a max of 120 gr by volume).
But BH209 gives more velocity for the same volume of powder. I don’t fully understand all the physics of powders burning and pushing projectiles, but I understand more velocity equals more energy and a flatter trajectory. I don’t think you have can too much of either of those.
I need to make it clear. I don’t have stock in Western Powders (the makers of Blackhorn 209) nor am I getting any money from them. I just love the product.
But in everything in life there are trade offs. The first trade off for Blackhorn 209 is its price. Outside of finding it on sale, you’ll almost certainly pay more for a container of it than any other black powder substitute. Also the jug that is about the same physical size as a 1 lb jug will only have 10 oz (by weight) in it. But seeing 100 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209 weighs only 70 grains one could do some math to get volumetric equivalents and find that 10 oz by weight is roughly equal to buying 14.3 oz of black powder, so still more expensive but less significantly when one looks at it volumetrically.
One last drawback is that some state's rules for black powder hunting don’t allow black powder substitutes or may have wording that cause people to worry that Blackhorn 209’s ‘nitro cellulose chemistry’ would put them in jeopardy of violating the law.
For instance in Michigan, where I frequently hunt, muzzle-loaders are not allowed to be charged with smokeless powder for hunting. But the regulations say that “Black Powder Substitutes” are allowed. One look at the Blackhorn 209 label shows that it’s "High Performance Muzzle-loading Propellant". No where on it is it called "smokeless propellant." Thus, it is a black powder substitute with the same combustion classifications as other black powder substitutes. So to me, Michigan regulations are clear; BH209 is allowed. I use it without concern in Virginia as well.
Some other states are not as clear. I've read that folks who have written their state's regulatory agencies for clarification, get obtuse, bureaucratic, indefinite replies. So beware and research the rules in your state.
Nevada has stated its not allowed there; though I think their logic is faulty. BH209 is chemically nitro cellulose (so is smokeless powder) but BH209's low pressure performance, design for volumetric equivalence to black powder, and combustible status ("Propellant Solid") is the same as black powder. Smokeless powder has to be labeled 'smokeless powder' so that you don't use it in your black powder gun and blow it up. I think anyone who reloads would get the difference and recall every can of smokeless powder being labeled "smokeless powder". And once you figure in BH209 is safe in black powder cartridges for those old black powder only breech loaders, how could BH209 be anything but black powder substitute? The law should care about performance not chemistry. So I don't get the hang up.
Also the stuff is just plain safer as its harder to ignite than black powder. So why ban it? Are you against progress? The entire line of thinking that makes BH209 "bad" seems to have parallels to the purists that think that muzzle-loading should be restricted to 'real' black powder, side locks, flint locks, patched balls, and buck skins. I'm having flash backs to when Pyrodex first came out... anyways back on topic: If you want to know more read this. And you can read more here as well.
The last trade off is ignition. Like I said BH209 is harder to set off (and thus safer) than black powder and its other substitutes. So, you need a real honest to goodness 209 shot shell primer to ignite Blackhorn 209. Those “Black powder” 209 primers are really primers with less ‘oomph’ as black powder and its stinky substitutes need less ignition heat to set them off. So you can get away with using a lower powered primer with them. But not with Blackhorn 209; it has to be a real full power, designed for a shot-shell, 209 primer. (I understand that guys using brass cases to feed their ‘Remington 700 Ultimate’ type breech plugs use magnum rifle primes as well, but that is outside the scope of this Badger's Den).
So if you have a standard 700ML without a 209 conversion, BH209 won’t work. Or if you have one of the leaky breech 209 mods for the 700ML, Western Powders doesn't recommend you use Blackhorn209 (just read the back of the bottle). You probably won't get proper ignition; Blackhorn 209 needs to be sealed up in order to properly combust. But even if you do manage to ignite it, you’ll have even more blow back, as as BH209 has ever so slightly higher pressures (that is how it gets higher velocities) than other substitutes.
So to use BH209 in your 700ML/MLS like I do, click here to get one of our sealed breech Remington 700 ML/MLS 209 modification kits.
Want to know more about Blackhorn 209? Visit the web site!
Copyright 2015, Badger Ridge Industries
Made it out to the range today... but forgot the battery on the charger for the good camera. Made due with the bad camera and took one shot with my cell phone.
Hope you enjoy watching a zero blow back video extravaganza... note that I leave the cover off the wind-age knob... I wouldn't recommend that with a non converted gun... (was walking in a new load with 240gr 44 cal XTP's, green sabots, and 120GR of Blackhorn209. I usually shoot 45 cal xtps, but I had these 44's I wanted to play with... strangely enough the POI was to the right of my usual .45 load... I was expecting a vertical change not a horizontal one).
Welcome to the Badger's Den!