This time Jessica A, from Virginia wrote to us on FaceBook concerning the Remington 700ML/MLS 209 Shot Shell Primer Conversion I performed on her bolt. Check out her nice buck below!
Thanks a million! I had no worries about my gun firing this year. The Remington 700ml 209 conversion did the trick! Jessica A, Virginia
Jessica reached out to us a few months back via our contact form. She had a lot of good questions. I answered them via email and gave her my phone number. She called. During our chat she mentioned that she'd missed a few bucks due to miss fires and was ready for a better solution. She purchased our Remington 700ML kit with installation, and sent me her bolt. I converted it and sent it back with the breech plug and other accouterments. It's always great to have happy clients... most especially nice when they share that they bagged nice trophies! It's great to have clients that 'like us' on FaceBook. It really helps to build a business and we aim to please!
I'd like to interrupt my normal blogging about our Remington 700 ML 209 conversion kit and post this in remembrance of a classmate, Brian R. Hoke, USNA '96 (Who pummeled me in Plebe boxing, but still was my friend through graduation.):
A Virginia community is mourning the death of a former Navy SEAL.
Brian Hoke, 42, of Leesburg, Virginia, died in Afghanistan, his father confirmed.
No details were released about the cause of Hoke's death.
Hoke was a 1996 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. He went on to become a Navy SEAL. He left the military in 2002 and had worked for the U.S. State Department, with many overseas deployments.
Hoke's funeral was held Sunday [30 Oct 2016] at the Naval Academy. He is survived by his wife and three children.
American flags lined the streets of Hoke's neighborhood on Monday in his memory.
Source: Virginia Serviceman Dies in Afghanistan | NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Former-Navy-SEAL-Killed-in-Afghanistan-399377071.html?_osource=SocialFlowFB_DCBrand#ixzz4OnCw1DWN
Rest in Peace Classmate.
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.
A few days ago I got a call from a very nice fella out west. He wanted me to send him an entire new bolt. Always wanting to help, I assured him I could build and send him a brand new bolt for his Remington 700ML, but I wasn't convinced he needed to spend that much. I inquired further. Seemed he was having some trouble because the bolt was frozen and wouldn't come apart. He said the worst part was that he let a "gunsmith" that promised to convert it to 209's take a crack at it, but he had failed, damaged it severely, and promised him there was no hope for it.
He explained that the bolt plug was torn up and not serviceable and the cocking piece was frozen in it. I let him know that the standard 700 bolt plug would work, and I had them on hand. Once I saw the bolt and got into it I'd know what was usable and we'd talk about converting it or just sending an entire new bolt out.
When the bolt arrived a few days later it was clear that the bolt plug was unscrewed from the body but the firing pin was stuck inside the body, and the body was packed solid with old fouling and years of corrosion. Seeing the firing pin would rotate but not move in nor out, it was free of the mainspring but the mainspring was bound to the bolt body.
The customer was right: whoever clamped down on the bolt plug had squished it so much the cocking piece couldn't move. They also hammered on the back and deformed it. Getting the cocking piece to protrude enough to expose the cross pin was going to be a chore! But first things first, got to get the mainspring to move in the bolt body. It was corroded solid and wouldn't budge.
So I started the over night soak in penetrating oil. And got on with other things.
After having my coffee and breakfast the next morning I went out to the shop while it was still cool and got to work. I held the bolt in my vice with some rubber jaw pads so I wouldn't add to the marring. Then some persuasion was applied by a hammer directly to the face of the stuck firing pin. I used an old firing pin out of my junk bin as a punch. I got the firing pin to move along the axis of the bolt body and compress the mainspring just a bit. That was all I needed.
Still firmly held in the vice with rubber jaw pads, the nose up, and the plug down, I tied on some wire onto the bolt plug. Then hung a very heavy weight on it to counter act the main spring and always have a 'firm hand' pulling the firing pin out of the body. Then I added some more penetrating oil and a few more taps. Followed by rapidly lifting and dropping the weight to create a pumping action via the mainspring. The movement increased ever so slightly as the crud pumped out. The penetrating oil filled the tip of the bolt with brown-orange corroded mess which I cleaned out and replaced with fresh penetrating oil, and repeated the love taps and lifting and dropping the heavy weight. Each tap sprayed a bit of penetrating oil, but who doesn't love the smell of penetrating oil in the morning?!?!?!
I repeated pumping, cleaning the crud, and refilled with fresh oil. I continued until I could get about a 1/4" of movement on it, but then it just wouldn't go any more. So I went "nuclear" on it!
I made up a jig out of scrap to hold the bolt body between the bolt plug and the body. Made sure it contacted the body, and not the handle (the OEM bolt body handles are only silver soldered on... if you put too much pressure on a handle it will pop clean off... if you break one off, don't worry we can TIG weld it back on for you!). Then I put it in my 12 ton hydraulic press, placed a tip of an old firing pin between the ram and the firing pin and pressed. It wouldn't budge pass the 1/4" of travel I had earlier. So I backed off and repeated applying pressure... by the third or fourth cycle it broke free! I had the firing pin loose!!!
Some times you got to nuke 'em from orbit.
Now that I had it apart it was clear that the bolt had a old "Canadian" 209 conversion. I wrote about how disappointed I was with the "Canadian" 209 conversion I purchased over 12 years ago in one of my first posts to this blog. It seems that someone used the rifle but didn't clean up afterwards, then eventually the corrosive blow back fused the mainspring to the bolt body. By putting the bolt in my vice nose up, and affixing a heavy weight to the bolt plug with some wire I was able to pump the crud out in front of the fused area and got some movement. But I needed the 12 ton press to finish it off.
Remember our kit seals the blow back into the breech plug, so you don't get it inside the bolt body!
Luckily once I got it all cleaned up, there was only some light pitting on the inside of the bolt body. I spent more time cleaning up all the marring and mashed bits on the body with a fine file than I spent cleaning up the massive amount of gunk. Oh, and I had to chase the 1/2x13 threads with tap to fix where all the pounding on the bolt plug previous to me had damaged them. But that also cleaned out all the gunk that had collected in them.
Getting the cocking piece out of the damaged bolt plug was a minor challenge. First I just cut the firing pin's large end off and pulled off what was left of the main spring. Then opened the groove in the bolt plug that the cocking piece rides in with a wedge and some love taps. The cocking piece moved freely now, but was still captured in the bolt plug because the previous "gunsmith's" pounding on the rear peened over the back of it. So I reamed it out with some large drill bits until the cocking piece came out with the little bit of firing pin still connected to it. Then it was a simple placing of the firing pin in my vice and driving the cross pin out. The cocking piece was in really good shaped despite all the mayhem that had ensued around it.
Seeing the customer had the forethought to include a new Remington 700 stainless bolt plug, the assembly from here was the same as any conversion. For details see our online conversion instructions. The completed bolt is below.
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 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? Most do. Next question would be "Does it prohibit sealed in-line ignition systems?" 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 just 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 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. 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 sufrace 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
For an undecided limited time we are including a couple extras in our Remington 700 MLS 209 ignition upgrade kit for the same price!!
As seen above, for a limited time (I'm thinking "Turkey Season") we'll throw in a 7/64 Hex L wrench (made in USA by the way) and a letter "C" drill bit (useful for tuning the breech plug as needed) as part of our Remington 700 ML 209 primer system.
Please click here to visit the item's page in our store for more details!
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.
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 use standard CCI 209 primers. They have never given me any trouble, but it may depend on what powder and bullet you chose."
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 CCI and Blackhorn 209. So I stick with and recommend them."
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. 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."
"So 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. "
If Blackhorn 209 is legal for hunting in your state (and it is in most), I suggest you give it a try, and only with regular full power primers like the standard CCI. It has given me better performance in every way imaginable. But remember Blackhorn209 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 regular 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.
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.
Did you break the handle clean off of your bolt body? It happens more often than most would think!
Most of the Remington 700 bolt handles I've run across are silver soldered (AKA brazed) onto the bolt's body. Its not uncommon for them to separate. When we build up our bolts we TIG weld the handles to the body. We can re-weld a handle on for you for any model 700... not just the ML!!!
If your handle separates from the body we can help. Purchase our re-weld service, and send the bolt to our welding service address. We'll clean up the old pieces and TIG weld them together.
Here's some feed back from one of our customers who contacted us and needed a handle welded back on:
Jim G (from Arkansas):
Recd the weather shroud today so my bolt is complete again & you did a fine job, it looks great. Feel free to use me as another one of your satisfied customers & I will be proud to refer anyone to you if I run across anyone else that encounters the same problem as I did. Thank You!
We've had a lot of requests to build and sell entire bolts, and now we are happy to be able to meet that need!
Live out west and have a season where you can't use a sealed breech or 209's, but then have another where you can? Don't want to go through the trouble of converting your original bolt? Bought a rifle that is missing a bolt so you don't have one to convert? Not a problem! These bolts are for you!
We scratch build our own stripped bolt bodies out of old production Remington OEM Stainless Steel bolt bodies (in the white) with new production Remington Stainless Steel bolt handles TIG welded on. Then we media blast them to a nice dull patina and press on our 209 conversion bolt nose. We build up our firing pin with brand new PTG and Remington components. That's right: a new 209 converted bolt scratch built from the best components we can find!
You have your choice of saving a few ounces with light weight aluminum PTG bolt plug (6.9 ounces, in the white or gloss black anodized), or the standard Remington black mat finished steel (10.1 ounces).
Our 209 converted bolts don't work with the original breech plug, so if you don't already have one of our 209 hunter breech plugs, remember to add one on to your purchase in order to have a complete, sealed breech 209 conversion.
Remember that You may need to 'tune' your breech plug to your choice of primers (click here to see a tutorial on the process). This is done by gently reaming the breech plug's flash chamber with a letter C drill bit. We offer US made, HSS, letter 'C' drill bits for sale as an 'add on' item. To get free shipping on add on items you must purchase something else with free shipping (or at least $50 in products).
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? PLEASE READ OUR FAQ BEFORE CONTACTING US!
We have lots of 700 ML parts and accessories. Don't forget to add on some important things to your cart to save on shipping like:
- MMP Sabots
- Letter C drill bits
- Hex L wrenches
- A breech plug
We build these as they are ordered, so turn around time will be a few days. It is our recommendation to convert your bolt by buying our 209 conversion kit rather than buying an entire new bolt unless you hunt in an area that has a season that requires open percussion cap ignition.
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!
Got a bad bolt body? Need a new one? We make these out of the Remington over-run bodies and TIG weld new production Remington 700 stainless handles to them. So these are as close to OEM originals as you can get in stainless!!! These fit and function just fine, but aren't media blasted nor polished. They are still in the white; so you can you use them as is, or finish to your desires.
Don't want the standard Remington 700 handle? You can ship us a bolt handle and we'll weld it to a bolt body and return it you.
Want a 209 nose pressed on? No problem.
These bolt bodies come with free USPS shipping to US, AK, HI, & PR!
Always happy to hear from customers. Here is an email I received from David T in Michigan after completing the Remington 700 ML 209 shot shell primer conversion on his bolt:
Just a follow up to let you know I am very happy with your 209 conversion on my Remington 700ML. A superior system compared to stock, it provides piece of mind knowing that the rifle is going to fire every time I pull the trigger. Your product and craftsmanship are top of the line. Your conversion takes a marginal performing muzzleloader and turns it into a highly reliable hunting firearm.
Thanks for the kind words Dave! Glad to know you are enjoying your rifle.
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
AKA How Trying to Make Oranges Out of Apples Gives You Lemons
In the course of answering questions about the Remington 700 ML/MLS 209 Conversion kit I've been getting some reoccurring questions. I updated the FAQ and realized I wanted to say more here as well.
Q: Have you considered making a Remington 700ML conversion that can use a 45 ACP primed case instead of a 209 primer?
A: "Yes, but in the end it didn't make sense and did not make it off the drawing board."
Q: Then why does Remington use a 45ACP/30'06 like primed case in it's new 700 Ultimate muzzle-loader?
A: "The 700 Ultimate is an entirely different rifle from the 700ML. Those cases have head diameters that are too big for a proper breech plug in the 700ML. Primer carrier ignition has been done in the 700ML with smaller cases like the 25ACP and 32ACP, but the kit would cost more to produce. What would anyone gain over what our current kit does with easily obtainable standard 209 primers? The only answer is that one who is set up to reload could save a small amount by using Magnum Rifle primers. Saving a little on primers with added complications like de-priming and re-priming hard to find cases isn't for everyone. So, it did't make sense to produce a cartridge based primer carrier kit. A simple, solid, effective, reliable kit is what we sell, so we are sticking with just a 209 kit."
Q: What about 209 shaped primer holders that use Magnum Rifle primers (the holder is reusable)?
A: "Not worth it in our opinion. They would require fitting to seal the breech properly, and add another level of complication for a very low savings. That savings is only achieved after many firings (you have to buy the 209 magnum primer adapter then factor the savings over the price difference between magnum primers and 209's). The use of standard 209 primers is effective and simple."
A complete detailed answer:
First, one can not compare the 700ML to the new Remington 700 Ultimate (AKA 700 UML, or 700 UM). That is plainly apples to oranges. Remember that the 700 Ultimate was designed to use more powder, and shoot farther more accurately than other muzzle loaders. It was a ground up design based on custom guns with this goal. It uses a standard 700 action (its a modern fire arm that requires 4473's and whatever else your state requires legally buy it from a gun dealer). From what I've read it is an awesome muzzle-loader; but it does this with a trade off in cost, length and weight (and complexity from where I stand). With the 700ML we are trying to leverage a readily available, out of production, slightly flawed rifle, that is shorter and handles well: and modify it into a great rifle. The 700 Ultimate is around double the cost of a 700ML with our conversion kit combined!
Also, would you compare the Savage 10 ML-II to the 700 Ultimate? To answer that you get into smokeless powder muzzle loading vs black powder (the 700 Ultimate is a black powder only rifle). So that's apples to oranges again. Apples to apples is comparing our originally leaky apple (the 700ML) to the more expensive, more capable, but not leaky apple (the Savage 10 ML-II). Our kit makes our apple better, but still a black powder rifle, and gives up on turning an apple into a lemon.
The real issue is, if you made a cartridge case based system work in the 700ML (and it can be done) what do you gain over our conversion kit and 209 primers? We concluded: "Nothing except being able to buy and stock less expensive magnum rifle primers." What do you lose? Conclusion: "Simplicity." Not a good trade from where I stand: lemon.
So while in the design phase of a case based primer carrier solution I reached the conclusion that it doesn't make sense in the 700ML. Simply the 209 system Badger Ridge offers is simpler, effective, less expensive, and seals the breech just fine. I shoot 209 primers with BH209 without a problem why re-invent the wheel? So just go buy our kit... oh you want more... OK read on:
Second, the diameter of the 700 ML OEM barrel's breech is too narrow for a strong, simply removable breech plug with a .45ACP/30'06 case head. The guys who have made the cartridge case carrier system work for the 700ML tend to use .32 ACP and .25 ACP due to their smaller case head. Those cases are hard to find, cost a bit more, and require the shooter to be a re-loader and have hard to find dies, not common shell holders, etc to size/de-prime and re-prime. You also have to get the head spacing just right between the case web and nose of the breech plug to get consistent flash through the breech plug and into the powder charge. Definitely the realm of the motivated tinkerer. Randy Wakeman recently told me that in developing the 700 Ultimate from its custom gun roots, Remington changed the case to breech interface a little in the ultimate to improve this, and thus you can't just use any case and its easiest just to get the right ones from Remington. He mentioned that to make them 'right' yourself that the case web and primers flash hole had to tweeked. That was definitely a concern of mine as I drafted the plans for a cartridge carried based system. Not insurmountable by any means, just more costly and complicated. Again making that work in the 700ML is the realm of the tinkerer.
Truth be told, every deer I've shot at with my 700ML was hit and killed. The only ones I didn't take a shot at were to far away for 'me' to take a shot at in those conditions (about 200 to 350 yards); Will changing the priming source increase range or accuracy? I'm convinced it will not. What does it gain me beyond using marginally cheaper primers in a much more costly and complicated system? I cant think of one legitimate thing. Some would argue the case based systems seal the breech against elements better. I've hunted in the rain and didn't have a miss fire. With our 209 conversion kit, the 209's seal the blow-back in and the elements out.
And as for using our kit with the hard metal primer carriers that allow you to put a magnum rifle primer inside to shoot from a 209 system; you'll have to do some precision work to tune them to our breech plug or the breech plug to them in order to get them to seal properly. As designed, the 209 conversion kit we sell and install swages a 209 primer slightly to get a sealed breech, I doubt the hard metal carries will swage satisfactorily. Using the feeding action of the bolt to swage a standard 209 into the breech plug and then discarding the discharged 209 is simple and effective.
KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid
Consider all the issues with the case type primer carriers. Then factor in that our 209 system (as developed by Fred) is already an effective, simple to maintain, cheaper to make/buy, no reloading equipment needed, sealed breech system that uses the OEM breech plug wrench (or a standard 7/16 socket).
For all these reasons we decided our 209 sealed breech system comes out ahead, and dropped development of a cartridge case based primer carrier system before even turning the first part. Figured we were on the path to turning an apple into a lemon during our quest for an orange.
Check out the YouTube video below of our system in action. We think you will agree that the mission has been accomplished.
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).
Can You Make It Shine? Yes! and Here's How!
In my last post in The Badger's Den I detailed how my first encounters with a "Canadian 209" modification on my Remington 700 MLS and subsequent years left me disappointed. I knew the rifle could be more. Over the summer of 2012 I began a journey through forums of dedicated muzzle-loader enthusiasts to find that there was a better solution; I just didn't know about it. The solution was a bit buried in forums full of customization, tinkering, some bad ideas, and dead ends. I hope to spare you all the details, cut to the chase, and share with you the product that has finally let me love my 700 MLS.
The kit I found and fell in love with was developed by a guy named Fred, who sold it on a few dedicated muzzle loader forums. It was called just a bolt nose kit. But what we offer is more than just a bolt nose, ours is the complete kit. So here at Badger Ridge we call it the "Hunter Remington 700 ML/MLS 209 Conversion Kit, by Badger Ridge".
First let me truncate and summarize years of posts over many forums and years of development: Fred developed the kit to modify the OEM Remington 700 ML/MLS black powder muzzle-loader to work properly with 209 primers. At first he made the parts for himself and a few friends. Then the friends started sharing on the forums their success and general pleasure with the kits and from there it grew. Then people started tinkering with smokeless modifications to the 700ML/MLS. That required a barrel swap and and the original bolt nose was too short for the breech plugs that fit the smokeless barrels, so a second bolt nose was made just a bit longer and was called a "Smokeless" like the one you see below the OEM and the smoker, but... ah... well I promised to keep it simple... and now I'm rambling... so I'll explain the "smoker" (standard black powder) modification kit we sell.
Like I said, I'm just going to focus on making your "Smoker" work. I suggest you keep it simple as well, and leverage the work and info I'm putting in this blog and my reference section... and end up with a great black powder rifle without breaking the bank.
FINALLY THE WAY THE 700 ML/MLS SHOULD BE!
The Badger Ridge Remington 209 Conversion Kit is all you need to modify your 700 ML/MLS to use 209 primers without blow back, no special tools to carry in your possibles bag, and it protects the primer from weather (without plastic shrouds to lose). Any questions? No? Good, Now rush off to Our Products and buy it! Oh, wait you got questions... OK so read on:
Back to what makes this kit so great:
Those familiar with the successful Savage ML-II may recognize some of it's innovative features applied to the Badger Ridge Kit. First should be the bolt nose. The original 700MLS bolt -needs- our bolt nose placed over the bolt body. Its a firm press fit that is also held in place by loctite so it won't move on you (unless you put a torch and a wrench to it). The nose holds the primers firmly in place and 'feeds' them into the breach plug. It works a lot like a single shot rifle, except you slide the primer into and out of the bolt nose. No back pressure will be able to push the primer back and blow combustion gases all over the action because the bolt nose holds it firmly into the breech plug.
Next is the breech plug. The original Remington breech plug was designed for percussion caps, not 209 primers. So with this kit the original breach plug is removed and discarded. The kit's breach plug is used in its place. The kit's breech plug is noticeably longer with a nose that protrudes in to the barrel. Thus a specific breech plug is required for each caliber; each kit is caliber specific. The longer length (and larger internal diameter) creates a much larger 'flash chamber' that allows the 209 primer to reach its maximum effectiveness with minimum blow back through the breech plug. And even so, the flash chamber is sealed by the primer so that it functions as a sealed breech system; the primer keeps any blow back inside the flash chamber.
The kit's breech plugs have the hole for the primer purposely tight. This is so that it can be 'tuned' to the particular brand of primer you choose. See the info in the references section for more info on tuning your breech plug with a letter "C" drill bit.
Also your OEM breech plug wrench (or a 7/16 socket on an extension) can remove or install the kit's breech plug. So no new or additional tools are required.
A vent liner is threaded into the end that abuts the powder charge. A vent liner 'focuses' the fire made by the primer into the powder charge. As the vent liner receives a lot of heat and pressure, it erodes over the course of many firings, however it has an 7/64 Allen head that allows removal for cleaning, inspection, and periodic replacement. We provide a Lehigh vent liner with each kit. The Lehigh is regarded by many as the best and is interchangeable with the Savage.
A Real Firing Pin!!!
Finally we get to the firing pin. Yes it is a real firing pin. I couldn't make myself call the OEM nor the Canadian 209 mod's anything but a striker. The OEM striker is removed and replaced by the kit's firing pin. The kit's firing pin is purposely too long; it will need to be shortened to the proper protrusion and shaped to properly discharge a primer without piercing it. Every kit's firing pin requires fine tuning to the individual bolt.
DIY or pay us? You choose!
The bolt modifications may be something you do, something you have a gunsmith do, or you can just send us your bolt and for an appropriate fee we'll do the bolt modification. If you choose us, all you'll have to do is purchase the kit with installation, mail us your rifle's bolt, we'll do the modification (we always replace the main spring with a new one) and send it back with a new breech plug and vent liner (see this installation service page for the details). Once you get your bolt, all you'll need to do is assemble the rifle per the Remington 700 ML owners manual (You may need to tune the breech plug with a letter C bit to feed your choice of primers).
For you bolt mod Do-It-Your-Selfers, you'll need to drill a hole into the new firing pin during the installation (a bit is provided in the kit), and install the cross pin to hold the firing pin in the cocking piece/firing pin guide. In-case you lose the original bolt's cross pin, a spare roll is included in the kit as well. You will also need a vice with jaws that open atleast 6 inches or a hydraulic press, and the ability to file the firing pin to tolerances held to 1000ths of an inch. A detailed Instruction guide has been posted to the reference pages.
Start making Gems out of rough stones!
Our Remington 209 Conversion Kit alleviates blow back by solidly holding the primer into the breech plug. It improves the accuracy and the performance of the 209 primer by using an improved breech plug, it promotes longevity by using a common replaceable, inexpensive vent liner, and strikes the primer with a real firing pin. Now you can turn that rifle you couldn't give away into a real performer.
So get that old 700ML out from the back of the closet and breathe new life into it with a Hunter Kit. Or when you are walking through the local gun shop and see the lonely 700ML/MLS sitting in the corner with the discount sticker on it, go ahead and pick it up. You know how to turn that rough stone into a gem.
Soon in The Badger's Den, I'll get on my stump about the only powder I shoot in my 700MLS: Blackhorn 209.
In 2002 I returned from a 3 year overseas tour. I started my new job as a flight instructor and I started back into my old ways of hunting, fishing, and tinkering with guns. My dad, ever so generous, gave me a muzzle-loader he picked up on the cheap. Remington made a muzzle-loader based off of their bolt action center-fire model 700. The blued steel version was called the 700ML. The stainless version, sometimes called the magnum, was the 700MLS. The benefits of converting a center-fire design to a muzzle-loader were obvious to me:
Before I ever fired it, I read the owners manual, scoured the internet, read forums, and consumed every bit of information I could find. I poured over ChuckHawks article after ChuckHawks article. They were not very kind to the 700ML. I found most who had used the 700ML/MLS had high hopes going in but found it had less than desirable attributes as a muzzle-loader. Hence why my dad was able to pick one up at such a low price. The biggest problems I noted during my research:
(note #3 happens on side locks too, but the orientation of the lock and simplicity of the hammer make it less significant)
Black powder residue is corrosive. Blow back throughout the action caused the shooter to have to remove the bolt, disassemble and clean it after shooting the rifle. Failure to clean would certainly result in corroding the striker, spring, and inside of the bolt. Blow back got all over a scope, and some of the blow back could get into the trigger as well. To clean that, one had to remove the barreled action from the stock. This meant that one could possibly shift the zero after every cleaning. I had doubts as to how much, and made sure I used a torque wrench on each action screw. I then scribed a mark on each screw so that I could put them back with in the same tension after a field cleaning without a torque wrench. I didn't know what more I could do. I wasn't to concerned: I'd know if that was going to be a problem after a few range sessions.
The Savage design was taking over the market in the center-fire modified to muzzle-loader rifle. It had all the benefits and addressed some of the problems I had read about. But I had a free 700MLS in my hand and a desire to tinker. I knew I could and had to modify it.
I took the burs off of the tip of my Bolt Stop Screw with a file, and used a stone to work away the burs and abrasions on the bolt that I made when i misaligned and tightened up the screw. I lubed bolt and the slot the bolt stop screw rides in with anti-seize grease. No problems now, check off #2.
I also knew I had 'better' options than black powder. My dad had always used Pyrodex in his traditional side locks. I further researched and decided on Hodgdon Triple Seven. It was available in pellets and granular powder. It also was reported to be 'less' corrosive than black powder and Pyrodex, but still corrosive. I was suspicious of the claim of being "less corrosive" as a possible sales pitch. But when I realized Hodgdon made both Pyrodex and Triple Seven I wasn't as worried; they had a solid reputation. I chose the granular powder because it was cheaper and allowed me to work up a load in smaller increments and see what my rifle would shoot best. For bullets, my research pointed me to MMP sabots and jacketed 45 caliber handgun bullets. I bought rings and put on a solid 4x32 scope.
The thing that really needed to go was the #11 percussion cap system. So off I went on my internet search to find a 209 modification for it. And at that time the pickings were slim on conversions (and still are). I found and purchased online what I'll call a "Canadian" 209 kit. There really wasn't any other 209 options. The kit came with a special tool to remove and replace the firing pin/striker with the included striker. It also had a new main spring, a 209 nipple to replace the #11 percussion cap nipple, and a fork to install the nipple and remove fired primers. Once I got the kit, I followed the instructions and I thought I had it whipped... but I really didn't.
I went to the range and followed the Remington 700 ML/MLS Owners Manual as I worked up loads. I found that my rifle shot the best at 80 grains. Also there was still a bunch of blow back even at low charges, that worsened as I stepped up the load. As charges increased I started to find fragments of primers in the cavity around the primer holder. So, for many years I used 80 grains of Triple Seven, black MMP sabots, and .45 cal 250gr Hornady XTP bullets. I deformed primers and had blow back, but the rifle was accurate at 80 grains. It was the best I could make of it; hotter loads weren't an option.
I killed deer, cleaned the rifle, set the screws back to their scribe indexes and had no problems with point of impact shifts.
MY FIRST ATTEMPT (Canadian kit) WAS LESS THAN I HAD HOPED
I was disappointed with the amount of blow back I was getting, and the labor it took to take the rifle apart and clean it. I was always a bit worried I missed something in the bolt and would have a failure to fire at a critical moment... say when the shoulder of a Boone and Crockett trophy was in the cross hairs. Also, after shooting a deer, gutting it, and hauling it out of the woods, I was beat. The last thing I wanted to do was tear down a rifle and clean it. But I did.
I had to understand what was happening with the 'Canadian' 209 modification if I was going to do better. The replacement firing pin ended with a large cylinder that had a nipple that fired the primer. The 'Canadian' kit used the original OEM breach plug, but had the replacement 209 nipple threaded into it. It was a bit tricky to get a primer in and the kit came with a fork to remove the spent primer that was also the wrench to snug up the nipple into the breech plug. Extra tools to carry in the field didn't sit well with me, but I put them in my possibles bag.
There was a small slot across the face for the fork to engage and a large cut out in the side for a spring to hold the primer in place. When cocked to fire, there was a gap between the striker face and the 209 primer. Nothing held the primer in place besides the spring on the nipple. Also the primer was exposed to the weather unless I used the OEM plastic cover. I had read that the weather shroud was not to be used with 209 primers somewhere, and had entered the land of operating outside the manual.
When the rifle fired, the striker sprung forward and struck the primer. With ignition came large pressures that blew the primer out and back against the face of the firing pin. With the firing pin being only held against the primer by spring pressure, the primer could move aft, unseat, and spray blow back. Not to mention the nipple holding it was slotted so that pressure could blow the primer out that way too. It was obvious why I was getting blow back, deformed and blown up primers. This explained why it worsened as I worked up powder charges.
So the Canadian 209 modification worked... but was messy, and the primer was exposed unless I took a perceived risk of adding the plastic weather shroud. I also lost the shroud on a hunting trip and had to purchase another. I knew that my rifle returned to zero after I cleaned it. I killed deer, and never had a hang or a miss fire. I loved the trigger, and the feel. But I still wasn't happy with the blow back.
I had to find a better way, so I again searched high and low. Eventually I found the best Remington 700ML 209 modification! And that is the subject of my next Badger's Den.
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