1. Diverguy83

    Diverguy83 New Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    does anybody know what the ball sizes are for .45 cal long rifle and .36 cal colt navy?
    from what i could find the .45 is .445 or .475, and the .36 is about .380 im trying to cast my own but there are several diameters for them... any help would be great.
  2. Oldbull

    Oldbull New Member

    Oct 31, 2008
    Denver Colorado area
    You did not specify the rifle but if you use a patch a .440-.445 diameter round balls will work. The 36 cal revolver uses either a .375 or .380 round ball. Personally I would use a thin patch with a .445 round ball for the rifle and a .375 round ball for the navy. another suggestion would be to find your local Black Powder shooting club and go visit them for some training.

  3. Diverguy83

    Diverguy83 New Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    thanks... i use a patch for the rifle its a kentucky long rifle and the revolver from what ive read said to use a felt patch as a barrier but not wrap it around the ball as the ball will fit snug into the cylinder.
  4. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

    Jul 13, 2007
    For your revolver, the old 'tried and true' technique is to select the ball that leaves a thin sliver of lead around the cylinder opening as you press it into place.

    For the musket, you might want to have the barrel slugged or sized by a competent gunsmith.

    Even the originals had a pretty wide range of 'exact' calibers, my ".44" works best with a .475 round ball.
  5. eka

    eka New Member

    Dec 28, 2008
    I use .375s in my .36 cal. replica revolver.

    Now, for the .45 Kentucky. You can slug your own bore easy enough. Just get yourself a length of brass rod at your local hardware. It should be obviously smaller than bore diameter. Cut a short length of it and place it down your barrel. Then drive a egg fishing sinker (the one's with the hole in the center - it alloys the displaced lead somewhere to go) into the bore. You only have to go far enough to fully engage the rifling and fill the grooves. The bore is then tipped down quickly and the length of brass rod acts as a slide hammer and drives the slug back out. You then measure with a micrometer or caliper the raised areas, which is the groove imprint, and you have successfully slugged your barrel.

    You are going to need either a .445 diameter ball with a .010 patch or a .440 ball with either a .015 or .018 patch. I prefer the .440 ball, as I find I can more easily find patch material of thicker sizes, rather than thin material. Go to Wal-Mart and get yourself a yard of pillow ticking and cut it in strips the approximate width of the outside diameter of your barrel. Now, lube it up with your favorite lube. After the powder charge, you lay it across your bore, put a ball atop it, and short start it just inside the bore. Then cut your patch strip flush with the bore. Use you short starter to get it on down and then finish with your rod. Just like the old timers did it. With the small exception of the Wal-Mart part.

    Good luck, have fun, and I hope that helped.

  6. Diverguy83

    Diverguy83 New Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    i did some research and got a .375 mold for the .36 colt navy and a .445 mold for the longrifle... the patches i make myself out of clean cotton painters rags that someone left and they seem to do a good job, everything else i try and make myself liek my ball starter, ramrod, and the measure.
  7. eka

    eka New Member

    Dec 28, 2008
    That's a good choice Diverguy. That ball will give you a tight fit, which usually results in better accuracy. A rubber mallet in your range bag may help you avoid a sore palm from striking your short starter. I, like you, enjoy making as much of my accessories as I can. You can look around the fabric section at dept. stores and get some different patch material if need be. Irish Linen is also a possibility. While your there, pick up a couple of yards of diaper flannel for cleaning patches. You may have to wipe between shots to facilitate loading. If you want you can also make your own cleaning solution: equal parts Murphy's Oil Soap, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Rubbing Alcohol. For patch lube try: cutting oil for NAPA automotive stores. Mix that one part oil to ten parts water. It will look white and is referred to as moose milk. Another thing is to wash any store bought material in the washing machine before using it. The fabric has sizing in it and will not as readily accept the lube if you don't. Moose milk will work on the patch material wet and will also work just fine if it dries on the patch material.
    That's a bunch of info., I know. Some of it may or may not be useful to your situation, but that's just some small things that I've picked up along the way. Hope it helps you.

    Keep your powder dry.

  8. Diverguy83

    Diverguy83 New Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    the moose milk is a great idea that i will try ive just been using a small amount of bore butter or stick it in my mouth just before loading but when im hunting i made a ball and patch holder that will hold 5 rounds and with that i use the bore butter, also the cleaning solvent i have read somewhere before but i just havent made any yet as i use hopps #9 black powder solvent.
    i finally got my lead pot yesterday its a lee bottom pour and tonight i made some ingots since i dont have flux or bullet lube to lube the mold (what would work for that?).
  9. eka

    eka New Member

    Dec 28, 2008
    Don't clean your lead in your bottom pour pot. You will clog up the pour spout in short order. I use a propane turkey fryer and a cast iron dutch oven. A coleman stove will work also. I know a guy that uses a propane weed burner also. He stacks bricks and has a metal plate with a slot cut in it to keep the weed burner pointing up. He then puts another stack of bricks and the cast iron pot on top of that.

    Throw in your lead, dirt and all. I use paraffin wax that you buy at the grocery. It's cheap and does a great job. After your lead melts, stir real good to get the crud loose from the bottom of the pot. Throw in a small chunk of wax and then I use a grill lighter to light it off. It will light and burn. It will eventually light off by itself, but I don't like the surprise. While it's burning stir and scrape the pot. When it burns out, you will see gray ash debris on top of the melt. Now, skim that off and you will now have a shiny mirror bright surface. Start pouring your ingots with a ladle. I use two RCBS ingot pans while I'm filling one, the other is cooling on a wet towel. Then I switch them.

    Add only clean ingots to your bottom pour pot. If your ingots are clean, you will not need to flux your lead in your pot if you do this next step. After filling your pot with molten lead, put a layer of cheap kitty litter on top of the melt. This prevents oxygen from getting to the lead. No oxygen = no need to flux. When your lead level gets a little low, drop an ingot right through the litter, which stays on top. Another tip, the rod in the bottom pour pot has a tendency to float a little and cause drips. Use a pair of vice grips clamped on top of the rod to add some weight, problem solved. If your are using pure lead, and I assume you are for your muzzle loader, crank the temp. all the way up. Don't let the level in your pot get below half full. That away you keep consistent flow pressure.

    Now to your mold. You don't want any lube around your mold. You can lube the sprue plate hinge with a teeny tiny micro amount of wax, but that's it. Wash your mold with hot soapy water to get any petro. products off of it first, then hit it with carb. or brake cleaner to make sure it degreased. Now smoke the cavities with a butane lighter. Finally, use a lead pencil and color the top and bottom of the sprue plate as well as the top of your mold. This will provide the dry lubricant you need to keep the sprue plate from galling against the mold. The sprue plate should swing under it's own weight. You may have to drop a dozen of so drops before you start seeing good bullets or balls. Drop them on a towel to cool. When your done, fill your pot all the way up and cut it off. You leave it full of lead.

    Here is a link to a buddy of mine's help site:


    Also, my main hang out:


    If you haven't figured it out yet my main addiction is cast bullets. I don't shoot anything with a jacket on it. Well, does a paper patch count? Anyway, I cast for all my rifles, handguns, and muzzleloaders. I cast in the neighborhood of between 5,000 and 10,000 cast bullets a year, mostly for use in my rifles, because I'm a rifle man. So, give me a shout here or at castboolits if I can help you with anything as you begin casting.

    Take care,

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2009
  10. polishshooter

    polishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Not all .45s are .45s!

    My Numrich "Hopkins Allen" rifle is "supposedly" a .45, but in reality slugs at .437. making it REALLY a ".44." You REALLY need to "slug" the bore if you can to be sure. Each rifle is different.

    .440 balls with no more than a .010 patch will work for two shots, but after that I need to clean or use a mallet.

    For hunting I use a .440 Speer ball with a clean bore for the first shot, and ONE reload, but carry .437 Speer balls for any more, and for target shooting.

    Get a Dixie Gun Works catalogue just for their tables and tips, they list many different firearms and suggested ball sizes and loads.

    For example, many different .44 1860 COlt .44 replicas use DIFFERENT ball sizes, either .451 up to .454.

    I was lucky with my Traditions 1860, it takes a .452, so I am able to shoot my 200 gr. HG #68 .45 ACP bullets through it with good accuracy, as long as I am careful to seat them squarely. Which is cool since I have like 5000 of them left since I quit shooting IPSC.:)

    Incidentally, my son's CVA 1851 .36 uses .375 balls.
  11. Diverguy83

    Diverguy83 New Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    went to the range the other day and shot some casted .445 balls and she worked like a dream... i started swabbing the bore between shots and i got about 15 shots or so before she became too dirty to shoot right i got alot of missfires but the hawkins .50 i got around 30 shots and never had a missfire once so i was quite happy with it.i think the touchhole on the .50 is a little larger.
  12. Jmg198

    Jmg198 New Member

    Nov 10, 2007
    I'm confused! How can you use a .375 or .380 ball in a .36 cal rifle/pistol? Wouldn't the balls be wider than the diameter of the .36 cal? (I'm new to ML and rifles.)
  13. glocknut

    glocknut Active Member

    My exwife knew far more about this subject than i do...... :D:D:D:D

  14. armedandsafe

    armedandsafe Guest

    "Caliber" has nothing to do with micrometer readings. :D

    .36 Pistol is usually .355 - .368 ball
    .36 Rifle is usually .375 to .380 ball.
    .38 S&W is .357 ball
    .50 cal can run from .457 to .502, depending make, model and how onery the toolmaster was feeling.
    .45 can run from .437 to .452
    .40 can run from ... you get the idea.

    The names for the calibers were made up to confuse and defuggle people. The guns are never confused and will tell you what they need, with a little work on your part.

    Slug your barrel. Use pistol bullets that leave a little ring of metal behind, all around the cylinder mouth. Use a rifle bullet that is stiff to load, but doesn't take a 10 pound sledge to drive it home. Make sure you get the bullet down on the powder. Seat it quite firmly for black powder. Seat it firmly for most substitutes. Seat it just on the powder for 777. 777 likes to be wadded, but doesn't like to be compressed. (Compress the wad just a little against the 777 powder, but don't actually compress the 777 powder.)

    Welcome to the joy of shootin' dirty. :D

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