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 annually, 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. Though the new Hornady Bore Driver bullets are reported to seal well and work with BlackHorn209, I haven't tried them myself.
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. (or with a lot of trial, I may try the Hornady Bore Drivers)
Otherwise, If I was hunting in Colorado, I’d use our kit, choose a heavy projectile (250gr or more) that seals on ignition: Hornady BoreDriver, Thor, minie ball, lead conical, etc. But without a lot of testing, 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 or its aformentioned replacement Bore Driver... and also with Thor bullets. I also had one that said tthe Thors 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 without a lot of testing (like putting a loaded rifle in a freezer, pulling it out and shooting the combo... repeatedly). 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 it is 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.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Need a sealed breech 209 kit? We have them for Ruger 77/50 & Remington 700ML!
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.
Seeing the guns are so old, most folks first question is:
Does this guy really still sell kits & fix these old rifles?
YES WE DO!
(Click here to purchase one)
You may wonder how it works. You can think of having three basic options:
Option 1: Buy a Remington kit and Do It Yourself (DIY).
The is your least expensive option. To decide if you want to pay us to convert the bolt, have your gunsmith do it, or try it yourself, I recommend you study the online installation instructions and see the tools and skills needed.
The most common thing people mess up up during the conversion process and need to replace is the firing pin, and a new one costs more than our install service. So I always recommend you purchase our install service and send me the bolt (I'm getting ahead of myself as that is option two below). Note, there is not an "Option 1" for a Ruger (the Ruger's conversion is too complicated).
Option 2: Send us the bolt and pay us to convert it
You can purchase the kit for a Remington and add installation, or purchase an installed kit for the Ruger. Then ship us the bolt. Let's call this option 2. It's in the middle of cost, but very simple as you just have to ship us the bolt, we convert it and send it back. While the costs differ, this option is basically the same between the Remington 700 ML and the Ruger 77/50. When it comes to option 2: you send us the bolt, it's converted, then shipped back with the new breech plug/vent liner and other small tools. Again, with the Ruger 77/50, there is no option one.
Option 3: Buy a new bolt we build from scratch
Option 3 is the most expensive option: buy an already converted bolt with a breech plug. I only recommend option 3 when people hunt in Idaho, or Oregon (for some hunts in those states they have to use exposed caps, but have other hunts where they can seal the breech and use 209's). This option is also viable for folks who have rifles that are missing bolts. We used to build bolts for both rifles, but right now we only offer this for the Ruger 77/50.
If you have a bolt for your rifle, even if its frozen or broken, our recommendation is for you to purchase a kit with our conversion service (Option 2) and send it to me. I'll look it over and let you know what, if anything, is needed to convert it. I have a pretty good track record on salvaging frozen/broken bolts and keeping it cheaper than buying an entire new bolt.
If you still have questions, you probably can find an answer in our FAQ, or within the archives along the right side of these Badger's Den posts.
Please take a look at the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) before you call or use the contact form: the answers you want are probably there (and you will probably get them quicker via the FAQ. If you aren't finding what you need, you can call us (our number is on the bottom of every web page: 989 795 2526) or use the Contact page by clicking here (or under "More" in the banner above) to initiate a conversation. We'll call you back or reply with an email.
Remember you can always add what you want to your chart, and complete an online check out.
Hope this helps!
Confused about the different types of 209 primers? Your muzzle loader not going off when you want? Blackhorn209 giving you trouble with reliable ignition? I think we have some answers to what works and how we got here.
Welcome to the Badger's Den! If an internet search brought you here searching for Savage, Remington or Ruger muzzle loader solutions, don't worry you found the right place! Stay with us! Keep scrolling, Click here, or Look at the banners at the of the page or the right side etc for what you are looking for!
Yes we still sell items for these old muzzle loaders!
For this installment I'd like to discuss the different types of 209 primers you can use in your muzzle loader and how we got to the point where you have to understand what is compatible with what in order to have a reliable shooter. I'll also be adding this to our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
Q: Why do you recommend I don't use muzzle loader primers in my muzzle loader? Why did the "muzzle loader 209 primer" I tried with Blackhorn209 fail but the standard or magnum 209 primer worked? Why does Western Powders (makers of Blackhorn209) say to use magnum primers, but you say I can use standard primers or magnum primers, but not "inline muzzle loading" 209 primers? Why does the primer say it's non corrosive, but you say I need to clean my muzzle loader soon after shooting because it will corrode? I've got a stainless muzzle loader, do I really need to clean it after shooting?
A: These are all Good questions with seemingly contradictory information.
If you want the short answer, and you have a Remington 700 ML/MLS or a Ruger 77/50, the short answer is: buy our conversion kit, use full powered standard or magnum 209 shotgun primers and pair them with Sabots and Blackhorn209. Clean your muzzle loader thoroughly after shooting.
The short answer also can be summarized as: not all muzzle loader and gun cleaning stuff is compatible with all other muzzle loader and gun cleaning stuff. Read and follow each item's directions. Our kits seal the breech, so they are compatible with any muzzle loader powder, this helps simplify much of the compatibility issues.
If you want the long answer, please keep reading:
The long answer is, well... long:
First lets talk about primers in general and then some history of modern muzzle loader and black powder substitute development. Then BlackHorn209 muzzle loader powder.
Yes: modern primers (and percussion caps) have been non-corrosive for years. Corrosive primers formerly used fulminates, like mercury fulminate: their residues are corrosive, but for quite some time most western countries have used other non corrosive stuff (like lead styphnate). The Eastern Block countries were slower to adopt non-corrosive primers, which is why you are likely to run into old ammo from them that has corrosive primers. So today primers are still labeled corrosive or non-corrosive... FYI corrosive primers that use Mercury Fulminate attack brass and make it brittle. You want to avoid trying to reload any brass fired with corrosive primers... especially if it has had the residue on it for a while.
Regardless of the primer/cap, Black Powder and most substitutes produce corrosive residue (aka fouling). In the unique case of Blackhorn209 it's fouling is not corrosive, but it is hygroscopic (which coats the bore with water that promotes corrosion). So you need to clean any muzzle loader using Black Powder or a substitute soon after firing. Some manufacturers responded to this by offering coatings, like cerakote, nickle, etc... others use stainless steel to protect the gun from the corrosive fouling. Regardless of steel or treatments that may slow the corrosion, cleaning after shooting is still required to protect the metal from the effects of these residues. Also breech plugs and their components (along with bolts in leaky breech setups) can be fused into the rifle by the fouling and its resulting corrosion if not properly protected before firing and properly cleaned after firing.
Further complicating things is that Black Powder and most of its substitutes' fouling builds with each shot, and tend to be sticky. This fouling will bind and cement stuff together, like breech plugs into barrels. Blackhorn209 is the exception here. It has no more fouling on the 500th shot than after the first, and its fouling is not sticky nor does it tend to lock stuff together. See the breech plug above... it corroded but didn't get stuck in the rifle after being neglected. But I'll get into Blackhorn later.
Crud rings became a problem when the venerable standard 209 primer's with so much more priming compound than percussion caps were introduced to muzzle loading. The crud ring forms near the breech (with Black Powder and all its substitutes... except Blackhorn209). It's caused by the organic residue of Black Powder (and its first substitutes) mixing with the inorganic residue of the priming compound.
The reduced powered inline muzzle loader 209's (Remington "Kleanbore", Winchester "777", CCI Inline muzzleloader, etc) were created to combat the "crud ring." The standard shotgun shell is loaded with smokeless powder and smokeless needs a bunch of priming compound to get it burning reliably. So standard 209's are pretty darn hot. With "muzzleloader" 209's, the basic idea is to introduce less inorganic priming compounds because Black Powder and most of its substitutes are reliably ignited by lower charges than a typical shotgun 209 produced. Reducing the inorganic contaminates makes less of a crud ring and makes it easier to clean the crud ring (when cleaning between shots). So that makes these "muzzle loader" primers hotter than a percussion/musket cap, but cooler than a standard 209 primer.
However, the logic runs a bit circular when looked at retroactively... guns were designed to use 209s in order to leverage their hotter ignition and hence become more reliable (and of course they were marketed as such and the industry made money). Then more black powder substitutes that were easily ignited, but had organic chemistry were introduced (777 etc, they were marketed as better than Black Powder and the market made money). But the guns became harder to reload/clean because of the crud ring... so the manufactures created "Inline Muzzle loader 209" primer's that aren't as hot but works well enough to ignite most powders and reduce the crud ring (and are marketed as cleaner, but not as less powerful... and the industry makes money). This frequently confuses folks new to the sport... intuition says use the primers labeled 'muzzle loader' in your muzzle loader. Also a general desire to always have the most powerful stuff would mean folks wouldn't buy the "muzzle loader" primer if they knew it was less powerful: So who would label their primers as less powerful? Folk would want to get the more powerful standard or magnum primer and use that wouldn't they?
So thats starts some confusion and varying advice on what to use in your muzzle loader. We hope to make it clear what to use and why... so keep reading to find out the rest of the story!
Some folks stuck with the more powerful standard primers,,, and occasionally found that if they were shooting easy loading projectiles (aka obturating projectiles that don't seal well or lodge tightly in the barrel until deformed by powder combustion: power belts, bore lock MZ, minie balls, etc), that they lost accuracy with the magnum or standard 209 primers, but when they tried the muzzleloader primers the same loose bullets and powders grouped well. They reasoned they were un-compacting the powder charge before it got fully burning with the more powerful primers. There's so many factors, who knows what the cause is, but the remedy seemed to be using the low powered primer when that rare case arose where full powered primers would not shoot accurately. This also reduced the crud ring.
Still, I always suggest folks try standard or magnum primers first. If they can't get a good group, --and they are not using BlackHorn209--, then try the primer with the name of the powder they are using or another muzzleloader specific primer (ie try full powered primers first; if you are shooting 777 and it won't group, try the Winchester 777 primer... or any other low powered muzzleloader 209 primer). Getting a difficult to clean/load situation from a crud ring? Switch to reduced powered primers.
Why do I suggest that you try magnum or standard 209's before "muzzleloader" 209s? First, the muzzle loader specific 209's have always been about double the price of standard 209's. I assume that is because they just don't make as many. Second, if you can get it to work with more heat, then that seems better to me as more heat will compensate for other issues when you are in less than ideal situations... like its raining or snowing on a hunt and a big buck appears in front of you.
Of course if they are using our kit to seal the breech, I always suggest they stay away from obturating projectiles and use sabots with Blackhorn209 and full powered or magnum primers.. Our kits work with all 209's, and all black powder/substitutes. The real question is whether the propellent you chose is compatible with the projectile you choose. Blackhorn is not compatible with obturating projectiles and is not compatible with weaker "muzzle loader" primers.
After reduced power "Muzzle loader 209's" came out Western Powders introduced BlackHorn209 (which is nitrocellulose based) and needs at least a standard 209. Nitrocellulose is inorganic and cleans up with solvents that also dissolve priming compound residue... so no more soap and water/Windex, no more crud ring, no more fouling in the barrel that builds up with each shot (though you can still get priming compound built up and blocking a breach plug's flash channel... you may need to pull and clean the priming compound residue from your breech plug every 10 or 20 shots or so).
So now-a-days we have "muzzle loader" primers that are not hot enough to set off nitrocellulose powders (like typical shotgun shells use). And now we have a great powder called BlackHorn209 that has a good bit of nitro cellulose in it and needs standard or magnum 209's to go "bang". However the intuition of some folks is to use the stuff labeled the same as the purpose... got a muzzleloader, so you use "muzzleloader" 209's... right? Definitely wrong when using BlackHorn209.
Why bother with BlackHorn 209? Its just a better solution! First, it makes a lot less smoke... you shoot an animal, you have a ton less smoke to look through and watch it run off/fall over dead. Also, because it doesn't build sticky fouling: It doesn't require cleaning until the end of a day, and it cleans with standard gun cleaning stuff like Hoppies etc. Standard gun cleaning stuff was made to clean up priming compound residue and nitrocellulose fouling, copper fouling, lead fouling, plastic fouling etc, but these modern cleaners do not work as well with Black Powder fouling (along with most of its substitutes).
BlackHorn209 performs better. It tends to be more temperature stable than BP and its substitutes... ie it doesn't swing as high or low as they do with large temperature swings... (not saying it isn't affected by temperature... just saying it doesn't swing as much). And is generally regarded safer as its harder to detonate than black powder. Just look at its MSDS if you want the specifics. If you were to chrony 300gr projectiles with equal volumes of BlackHorn209 against any other Black Powder or substitute, you'll find BlackHorn209 has an edge in velocity. All of this is why I use and recommend BlackHorn209 with sabots. But you have to use standard or magnum primers with BlackHorn209.
This further gets hard for the novice as most stores typically stock muzzleloader only things in the muzzleloader section, but if they have a reloading section that is where they put the standard or magnum 209 primers. Then guys who just want to shoot, hear that BH209 is better, or see a new thing on the shelf, and buy some along with the 'Muzzleloader" primers in the same muzzleloader section. Then try to shoot it in a leaky breech or with a projectile that isn't sealed setup... (remember nitrocellulose needs to be sealed/fully contained to burn properly, the simple answer is sabots... and yes there are other more experimental ways to seal a projectile that I won't address).
Because the gun is leaky... and/or they didn't clean the flash channel and burnt primer compound is clogging the breech plug, and/or the breech plug wasn't made to shoot blackhorn209, and/or the weaker muzzle loader primer is used... and/or the projectile isn't sealed (like Bore lock MZ's or powerbelts in some rifles)... Blackhorn209 bloopers, misfires, or hang fires, and folks get upset and blame the powder... when they should be blaming themselves for not reading/following the instructions on the bottle of BH209, and/or walking over to the reloading section and grabbing full powered primers. Or googling it and finding a thread here where I explain how to get it to work in an old muzzle loader built before BlackHorn209 was on the scene (like having us retrofit a vent liner into your old breech plug)... or...
Then you get to today: where some of us make a living helping folks through the mess and getting them to simple effective sealed breech solutions. As most of the mistakes have been made, and most of the answers are in the product's instructions, or posted/explained/sold here.
If you have a Remington 700 ML/MLS or Ruger 77/50 and you want to seal the breech, or shoot BlackHorn209 we have your solution.
As for Western Powders (now owned by Hodgon Powder Company) recommending magnum primers for use with BlackHorn209... all I can do is wager a guess. (I don't work there nor can I speak for them). I --think-- its a combination of: that is what they tested, and tested, and tested. Factored against: if you want it to reliably go off for the best customer experience, have them get the primer with the most priming compound that may correct for a user error (like not fully sealing the breech or projectile, not fully removing oils and contaminates, not cleaning well, etc). Also if hunting in extreme cold, I do recommend magnums myself. Though I must admit, I've never myself seen an issue setting off Blackhorn209 with standard primers that were sealed into our kits when using sabots, but I don't get a lot of negative temperatures to test in.
I hope this has helped you. We specialize in sealing up the Remington 700ML (produced from 1995-2005) and the Ruger 77/50. We also sell many items for the Savage 10 ML muzzle loaders, and modify breech plugs from other guns to get them working more reliably with BlackHorn209. Feel free to call and ask questions; we are here to help.
Perhaps on another installment we'll discuss how all the 209 primers vary in dimension depending on the company producing them! (important for sealing up 209's into the breech!)
Also don't forget that all breech designs are not equal. Leaky breeches not only cover the shooter, the gun's internals, and any optics in that same nasty fouling, but are hard to maintain and not as reliable as sealed breech systems. Keep reading through the Badger's Den for answers and explanations on leaky breeches, why and how we seal them up.
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).
ONE LAST COMMENT ON BARREL SWAPS: IF YOU SWAP THE BARREL YOU OWE IT TO WHO EVER USES THE RIFLE AFTER YOU SELL IT (OR PASS IT ON TO) TO INSCRIBE ON IT SPECIFICATIONS:
#1: its caliber, ie ".45 CAL"
#2: what powder is safe in it: "Use ONLY BLACK POWDER/BLACK POWDER SUBSTITUTES" &/or "USE ONLY APPROVED SMOKELESS POWDERS AT APPROVED QUANTITIES" etc.
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!
Always love to hear from our customers. Here is what Craig G from Massachusetts had to say about the Ruger 77/50 209 bolt & breech plug he bought from us:
I just wanted to let you know that I’m very happy with the Ruger 77/50 bolt and breech plug that I bought recently. They arrived fast and the fit and finish is as good if not better then original. Thank you. Job well done.
You should be proud of the product and service you provide.
Thank you for taking the time to write us! We appreciate the kind words and positive feed back. We are proud of our products and the services we render. We are also proud of our great customers! God has blessed us!
Want more information on our Ruger 77/50 209 Conversion kit? Start here or use the categories listed on the right side of this blog.
If you are looking for a great gift to a Remington 700 ML or Ruger 77/50 owner, look no further. Unless they hunt in Oregon, or Idaho (the last two hold outs that don't allow sealed breech 209's), our sealed breech 209 conversion kits are the best thing they could ever have on their rifles! And if they hunt in Oregon/Idaho you could send me their bolt and I'll deep clean it and change the Remington's mainspring. Or I can build an entire new bolt so that they can switch back and forth between the original system and our system. So we have y'all covered too!
You may wonder how it works. You can think of having three basic options:
Option 1: Buying a DIY kit
You can buy a Remington 700 ML kit as a gift to be installed by the owner or their gunsmith. (option 1) This is your least expensive option. Note, that there is not an "Option 1" for a Ruger as the Ruger's conversion is too complicated.
Option 2: Send us the bolt and pay us to convert it
You can purchase our Remington kit, add installation before you check out, and then ship us the bolt. Lets call this option 2. It's in the middle of cost, but very simple as you just have to ship us the bolt, we convert it and send it back. The costs differ but this option is basically the same between the Remington 700 ML and the Ruger 77/50. When it comes to option 2: you send us the bolt, it's converted, then shipped back with the new breech plug/vent liner and other small tools. Of course with the Ruger 77/50, there is no option one.
Option 3: Buy a new bolt we build from scratch
Option 3 is the most expensive option: buy an already converted bolt with a breech plug. I only recommend option 3 when people hunt in Idaho, or Oregon for some hunts where they have to use exposed caps, but have other hunts where they can seal the breech and use 209's. This option is also viable for folks who have rifles that are missing bolts. We can build bolts for both the Remington 700 ML/MLS and the Ruger 77/50.
If you have questions, you probably can find an answer in our FAQ, or within the archives along the right side of these Badger's Den posts.
If you aren't finding what you need, you can use the Contact page by clicking here (or under "More" in the banner above) to initiate a conversation. We'll reply with an email answering your question along with our phone number (Sorry but we have to use the contact page to screen telemarketers and scammers).
So please take a look at the FAQ before you use the contact form: we'll reply with an email and phone number so you can chat with us.
Remember you can always add what you want to your chart, and complete an online check out.
Hope this helps and you have a wonderful Christmas & Happy Holidays!
I’ve said it here many times. My favorite part of this business is the quality of people it draws. We wouldn’t be here without you, our customer. Our Ruger 77/50 209 conversion came into existence with the help of our first Ruger 209 conversion customer… Here’s how he feels about it.
We also have a similar sealed breech 209 conversion for the Remington 700 ML. If you are looking for Remington information, click the link on the right side.
A bunch of chit chat with Jason was snipped for brevity (we grew up about 20 minutes from each other, but had never met previously… I also have removed personal info such as, last names, addresses, and phone numbers. I also fixed a few spelling/grammatical errors on both sides). Bottom line: This is indeed a true customer and his feed back.
30 Jan 2017
Name: Jason R
Address: Howell, MI
I see you commented on Michigan sportsman forum on a Ruger 77/50 bolt conversion. When will it be available? I have battled misfires since I bought mine years ago. I would love to get it converted.
Badger Ridge’s response (30 Jan 17 ):
Wow that was fast! I just posted that teaser! Figured I'd offer it up to my 'homeland' hunters first (grew up in Waterford... hunted family farms in Marlette and Pinckney, Michigan when I was a kid) ... so I put the first peek there.
Short answer is that I just finished a few tweaks to the kit that should be the end of development and bring it into low rate production. I'm not sure when the shop will be able to get the handful of initial low rate kits to me. Probably a few weeks to a month.
Cost will be about $246 on this one... not cheap but well worth it. And due to the complexity I'm not planning on offering it up as a DIY kit... the $246 includes me converting a provided bolt and shipping it back.
Let me know if you want to be the first one to get this.
Yes I would love to be one of the first. I don't need the bolt until December so let me know when you want it. I am just about giddy with excitement. I was pondering buying a new muzzle loader but my Ruger shoot so well I just hated to. I consider your pricing a bargain versus buying a new Knight which is what I was looking at.
Ok. Sounds good. I agree about the knight purchase. That is why I'm into 700 ML's and now the Ruger. Seems like a better way to get the about the same performance... especially if you already own the rifle to convert.
We wrote back and forth and worked out a couple small growing pains in doing the last bit of developing the kit. (remember he volunteered to be the first customer with this kit and understood it was still needing some final development). Jason was very patient and understanding through out the process. We got it right for everyone here after! Here's what he wrote back to us:
Sept 22nd 2017
[Ruger 77/50] ML shot well. I only shot 3 times, the temperature was 80 degrees with horrible humidity.
My glasses were fogging so I did not want to sit and let the barrel cool down between shots. Thanks for all your efforts, cleaning was so much easier and I was able to leave the leather wrap off my scope.
Just finished cleaning the Ruger after a final sight in before season (15 Nov). I just thought I would drop you a note. Your conversion works very well. Constant ignition shot after shot, no more hang-fires or misfires. This conversion cuts clean up time down by at least 15 minutes.
Thanks again for all your hard work.
Thank you for being an awesome, understanding customer. Your patience helped us to develop the best 209 conversion for the Ruger 77/50. We are proud of our product and our awesome customers!
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.
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