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.
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