Muzzleloader Range and Lethality

Consider the .44 Remington Magnum, fired out of a 6 inch vented barrel revolver. One excellent load is by Federal, P44SA, the moves a 280 grain Swift A-Frame out of the muzzle at 1170 fps. There is no dispute that this will drop any deer on the planet, quickly and efficiently, at 75 yards, so long as you put the bullet in the right place. At 75 yards, this bullet is going 1013 fps and the meaningless “kinetic energy” number so often talked about is 638 foot pounds of energy.

It hardly matters what this projectile is projected out of, whether handgun, rifle, or muzzleloader. If it impacts your target at 1013 fps, it will do the same thing and no game animal on the planet cares what kind of tube it came from.

A Parker 300 grain Match Hunter, fired at 2125 fps, has a higher impact velocity at 550 yards than this .44 RemMag load has . . . at the muzzle. In terms of lethality, it is only shot placement, for to say that any muzzleloader or other firearm that does this is a “550 yard” gun is quite easily shown. There no dispute, it is self-explanatory. That is if lethality is what the effective range of a firearm is supposed to be, and no one has a universal definition of what constitutes a “xxx yard gun,” a hazy theory at best.

Another easy and more practical way of determining range of a gun, is what you can confidently do with a center of the body hold and pulling the trigger, with no holdover or other knob-clicking. This is along the lines of the Jack O'Connor approach to “Maximum Point Blank Range Hunting.” The kill zone of a deer is 8 – 10 inches, but field accuracy shooting off-hand or leaning against a tree is hardly the same as shooting off the bench at a stationary piece of paper at a known distance, so a “6 inch MPBR” is used, meaning your bullet will never hit higher than 3 inches above your cross-hairs, or lower than 3 inches below your cross-hairs.

Applying the “6 inch MPBR” method to the same Parker Match Hunter load, you have a 209 yard gun. The rest is a matter of your own judgment, taking into consideration ambient conditions such as wind, and animal movement. As long as you can put the bullet into a 6 inch circle with a single shot at a given range, under hunting conditions without fail, your gun is a 250 yard gun, a 350 yard gun, or a 550 yard deer gun. That's all up to you.

For a very soft shooting load, 80 grains by volume of Blackhorn 209 (56 grains weight) nets you a 170 yard 6 inch PBR load, MV about 1700 fps 15 foot instumental velocity with a 250 grain saboted bullet, ahead of the best slug gun loads available.



Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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