Saturday, March 17, 2012

Want A Look At The Next Likely Trend In Saboted Muzzleloader Hunting Bullets?

Top Photo Above - Those of you who shot with saboted .44 (.429-.430" dia.) bullets during the late 1980s and early 1990s probably realized quickly that the .50x.44 sabots and bullets of that diameter did not produce the best groups. Three-shot groups of that period with that sabot-bullet combination, on a good day, rarely stayed inside of 4 inches.

Center Photo Above - Shown at the right side of this line up is the Harvester Muzzleloading green .50x.44 Crush Rib Sabot and the 300-grain Hornady .430" diameter XTP jacketed hollow-point bullet. Note the different degrees of sabot opening exhibited by the recovered sabots. More powder and higher velocity continues to more completely open sabot sleeves.

Bottom Photo Above - At 2130 f.p.s., the 300-grain .44 XTP, paired up with the green .50x.44 Crush Rib Sabot, produced excellent 100-yard accuracy with a Knight Rifles .50 caliber Long Range Hunter - like this sub 1-inch three-shot cluster.

For a look at the most common problems associated with loading and shooting saboted .44 caliber bullets out of a .50 caliber rifle, and how to overcome those problems - go to the NORTH AMERICAN MUZZLELOADER HUNTING report at the following link -

Also...Discover the advantages of a slightly smaller diameter bullet...and what likely lies ahead for today's modern muzzleloading hunter.

Toby Bridges


  1. Dear Toby

    First a quick follow-up from the earlier .45 caliber modern in-lines rifle article. I saw that Knight Rifle has decided to use a 1/ 30" twist. IMHO, this twist would be more properly fit the Little-Horn model, facilitating reduced loads while accepting a more limited range. But by foregoing the emulation of longer distance "Whitworth" or "Sharps" rifle performance (using a 1/ 20" twist), I’m afraid that the .45 cal in-line will ‘wander off into obscurity’, AGAIN. However, I still hope to see recommended loads/ velocities for the new .45 muzzleloader (Knight support/ BH_209/ NAML sites?)

    I’m also glad that you are looking at the potential improvement in .50 caliber performance by going to the smaller .430” bullet. “…the .430" diameter 300-grain bullet has a significantly higher ballistic coefficient than the "fatter" 0.452" diameter bullet of the same weight.  The smaller diameter bullet is also a bit longer, in order to be of that same weight.” (which also yields a higher SD)

    I believe that you properly identified the linkage of 44 caliber (saboted) accuracy to sabot petal opening; I suggest that it is more likely linked to the sabot to bullet length fit. I took some quick measurements of HARVESTER .50”/.43” and HARVESTER .50”/.40” sabots and found that HARVESTER .50”/.40” sabots had ~1/16” longer petals. I did an estimation of ‘sabot shedding’ performance for various bullet/ sabot combinations (table below).
    If you are going to revisit 44 caliber saboted bullet testing, the 265 gr. 444 Marlin FTX might offer ‘acceptable’ accuracy with currently available sabots, OR longer petal sabots could be developed for longer(300 gr. +) bullets. Alternately, sabot makers could reverse bevel the petal slots, to enhance rotationally induced petal to bullet lift-off. And then there’s always the ‘quick & dirty’ lubricated 3/8” orthodontic band in the cannelure groove, to spring the petals open, once the bullet/ sabot clears the barrel rifling.

    (I need to send you the table in a different format; SORRY)

    Hopefully you will find something useful here for future 44 caliber saboted bullet testing.
    Thanks again for your time, and for sharing field-proven lessons.

    Greg Walcutt

  2. Thanks for chiming in Greg...we can all learn off of each other. I plan to shoot both days this weekend...with tipped and non tipped 300-grain .430" XTP bullets.

    I've found that when this bullet is seated over the powder charge, with the bullet bottomed out in the sabot cup, the top edge of the petals/sleeves of the Harvester .50x.44 Crush Rib Sabot tends to align pretty much with the center of the upper cannelure. I believe this helps get some air forced down the inside of the petals/sleves - aiding in getting the sabot to open up and pull away from the bullet. I do believe, as you suggest, that if the inside front edge of each petal/sleeve featured beveled edge (longer side to the outside)...the sabot would perform even better.

    I hope to get another report on in a week or so.

    Thanks again,


    On the NAMLHUNT website home page, you'll find my e-mail address...if you can, send the chart as an attachment.

  3. Hi Toby, your Vermont friend. Just readind your reports regarding the .430 XTP 300. looking forward to your poly pointed XTP .430 research sometime soon. Ive often thought about the very report you wrote about and yes, putting pointed tips on thoes bullets would in fact make a nice accurate Elk load. until next time, hope to hear some more of those ingenous ideas of yours, especially your report of tightening up a sabot. well, take care and thanks again. kevin from VT,

  4. Hi Toby, just read another report of yours dated 3-26-12 regarding the .430 XTP. I always new that bullet had potential especially due to the high BC of 245. I have not gone into such depth as you w/ the 200 yard testing as mine was only at 100 yards but still quite impressed at my under an inch consistantly. My set up is the Omega,Blackhorn 209 120 grain and the CCI 209M.. I love the looks of the new development w/ the Scorpion PT Gold tips added. I thank Allen awhile back for taking the time to send me the tips I requested. Harvester for sure has a nice, always there for anyone who calls reputation about them. Iv,e been involved w/ shooting the PT Gold for awhile now,it's sure is everything you say it is and deer don't go far. Back to the .430 XTP and I forgot to mention that my set up also has the Hi-Lux Toby model which I like alot but the eye relief " for me " could be longer. Iv'e been looking into the Mueller 3x10x44 w/ the sport dot is really nice. Anyways, it's nice to see that I am not the only one who thought this pistol bullet had some possibilities. Thanks alot for sharing all that you do for everyone envolved in the muzzleloading sport. I still tighten up a few sabots from time to time as well. Your report about sabots,the information regarding Parker bullets,just to name a couple of your reports has pointed me in the right direction more than once. Please continue to guide all of us and thanks again Toby. Kevin from Vermont. PS- currently the jacketed hydra con 300 grain has impressed me a great deal. Nailed a coyote at 160 yards last week and like I said nice bullet. Bob is an awsome man as well. Take care.

  5. Thanks Guys...

    Been running hard lately, so I'm a little tardy in getting back on here. Attended the NRA show in St. Louis...and back in the office first day Tuesday.

    Getting ready to start on a piece that takes another look at the .54 caliber bore...and why it died back during the mid to late 1990s. But...I'm also going to take a look at what it would take to make it every bit the powerhouse as Knight's .52 caliber. Ought to be a good article. Look for it around May 1st...maybe sooner.


  6. Hi Toby, nice to hear from you once again. I sometimes wonder how or when you sleep. Your no doubt a busy man and I believe we all understand when you dont get right back to us in a timely manner. I know your busy and have'nt forgot us and you have been consistantly keeping me informed about what makes the sport of muzzleloading fun and rewarding. How to improve on accuracy ect... Take care Toby and I look forward to your 54 cal. report sometime soon. Kevin

  7. Was wondering if anyone has tried pre-bending the sabot open before shooting it to help facilitate opening once shot.

  8. Hi, I apologize for not understanding the pre-bending idea. I am very intrested myself if you could explain further. Thanks, Kevin

  9. I have tried pre-bending...and I do think it helps some. It seems to reduce the stiffness at the point of the bend. I also have taken a small hand-held hobby saw...and have scribed the plastic sleeves all the way across where they attach to the base cup. By reducing the thickness by appx. half, they do open up better. Later this spring, I'll do a short report on this. Toby

  10. The one method I was thinking of kinda like the break way sabot idea was to cut down through the base across, almost in half but stopping just in time to give the sabot a type of hinge where as you can now open the sabot completely set the projectile in close the door on one side and send it down the bore. Just a thought and hopefully I explained clearly enough to visualize my thinking. I could have already herd this idea from you Toby in the past some where. The pre-bending plan sounds like that would work for sure as the scribing would weaken the pedal allowing it to break away as well. There is always a better way most of the time and it's fun to experiment and not wait for some company to charge you for a new product that you may have already have in your range box. Talk to you later, Kevin