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weather conditions on rifles

Old 01-05-2007, 11:15 AM
Dominant Buck
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Wisconsin
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Default weather conditions on rifles

Sabotloader and I were talking last year (actually the end of December ) about conducting a test to see if different methods of storing a rifle after hunting all day would make a difference.

intent of the testing - to see if temperature variance extremes when subjected to a loaded muzzleloading rifle would have any degree of change to accuracy and change to ignition quality.

Method of testing -
It was suggested to load a rifle, and leave it outside in the cold all day. Then at dusk, gradually bring the rifle from an unheated roomof the house for two hours, to finally a heated room in the house, overnight. To continue to repeat this pattern over a period of three days. And finally after the third day to shoot the rifle and see if the accuracy was effected. The rifles would be capped and finger cotted during the day, but the primer removed and the cot taken off at night, so the rifle could breath.

Test rifles -
The rifles I used for the experiment were a Knight .50 caliber Disc with the orange primers. This is supposed to seal the breech better during the outside extremes. A piece of "Handi Wrap" was placed over the end of the muzzle during the day while the rifles sat in the unheated woodworking shop on the property. The rifle was loaded with 90 grains of Kik 3fblack powder, and a 300 grain Saber tooth Conical. I chose black powder as it would give the rifle the best opportunity to have the rifle fire after the third day.

The second rifle used in the experiment was a .50 caliber CVA Staghorn Magnum. It was picked because technically the breech is exposed to the elements during the day. I loaded this rifle with 90 grains of Kik 3f black powder and a 300 grain Saber tooth bullet.

The average mean temperature outside was 34 degrees during the day and 22 degrees during the evening. The inside house temperature was 74 degrees.

The Knight Disc was brought into the house during the evening, while the CVA was left outside with the plastic removed off the muzzle and the primer pulled, during the evening. It was never allowed the change in temperature like the Knight Disc rifle was. When the final test to shoot the rifles came, both were supplied with fresh primers.

Firing test - I put a standard Remington Target up at 50 yards. I shot from a bench rest position. The first rifle tested was the Knight Disc. With a fresh primer holder and Winchester W209 primer the test was started. The primer ignited perfect but the rifle did not fire. I then loaded a second primer into the rifle. This time the rifle fired but did not sound as sharp as normal with the report of the ignition. The 300 grain Saber tooth hit almost eight inches low and three inches to the right. I then swabbed the barrel clean, popped another primer through the breech. I then loaded as normal and placed three more Saber tooth conicals into the bulls eye.

The second rifle, the CVA Staghorn Magnum, was loaded with a new Winchester W209 primer. The primer ignited and the rifle failed to fire. The second primer was then placed in the rifle and this time the rifle fired. Accuracy was terrible. The round almost hit off the target itself to the lower right corner. I then swabbed the barrel with alcohol. Then ran three dry patches down the barrel. I then popped two primers. I then fired three shots, all of which hit in or very near the center of the bulls eye.

The kicker - I then cleaned both rifles completely. I then reloaded them except this time used 250 grain Saber tooth conicals (shot off my 300grainSaber tooth, but got more coming to the house) Only this time I changed the rifles out. The CVA was brought into the house at night and the Knight Disc was left outside at night.

All other influences were left the same. The actual temperatures were basically about the same for the next three days.

Test firing - The first rifle shot was the CVA Staghorn Magnum. The rifle failed to fire with the first primer and fired with the second primer. The first hit was about seven inches low but centered. The following three shots after swabbing were all acceptable.

The second rifle, the Knight Disc was loaded with a fresh primer. The Disc rifle that was left in the cold fired with the fresh primer. The accuracy suffered a little. The rifle hit low by a couple inches and right by an inch. I swabbed the bore, dry patched it, and popped a cap again, and the next three hit in or near the bulls eye. More then acceptable accuracy.

Overall observations - The weather conditions were not the greatest. Wisconsin has been suffering warm temperatures during the day but humid. It rained two of the days, and snowed at night a couple times. Other times during the day you would think you were walking is a humid fog back almost. Very over cast, cold and damp. I think the weather had the biggest influence in this whole test. Northern Wisconsin this time of year can be a nasty place to be when you talk weather. The old saying up here is, don't like the weather, just wait five minutes.

It is because of results just like what I experienced, that I now fire off or pull the load at the end of the day, clean the rifle, and load fresh the next morning. Your part of the State or country might effect rifles, powders, and primers totally different. I would not consider my results as anything near what your results doing similar tests would do.

There you go Sabotloader...
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Old 01-05-2007, 11:46 AM
Boone & Crockett
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Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles


Dave, thanks a ton I really appreciate your testing. I wish I had the area to do the same test here - the problem with living in town...

I do have to tell you I am a bit surprised, because essentially I do the same thing but have never had a problem with the gun going boom and nofeeling of a reduced charge. The ONLY difference is Triple Seven for powder vs black powder, but T7 should be worse than black powder...

I did a little experiment the other day - I do notknow what I was trying to prove and I even erased the pictures because it didn't seem to prove any thing. I placed a old tuna can on the reloading table (Terry calls it a junk table)in the rec room. Filled it about half way up with cold tap water, then dropped 50 grains of T7-2f in it. Right away after dropping it in some material floated to the surface, not much but some. The granuals were in a nice little pile (inverted cone). An hour later I took another picture, nothing had changed you could still see the granuals. I had expected then to swell up and dissolve. 3 hours another pic everything looked the same you could still see individual granuals around the outside of the pile and the pile was still individual granuals. 8 hours now change and now the water was easily room temp. 12 hours nother picture and observation - no change. 24 hours same as 12 - really did not fit what I thought would happen. What i really wanted to then was get the Turkey baster and suck the water off and let the whole pile dry, but I got frustratedand through the whole experiment out & down the toilet. What does it tell me? I have know ideal...

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Old 01-05-2007, 12:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: TEXAS!!!
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Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles

Dave-great test, thanks again for some very valuable information. If you think your weather is screwy, try Texas. 85 degrees one day and 20 and snowing the next. I feel your weather pains.
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Old 01-05-2007, 12:17 PM
Join Date: May 2006
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Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles

Mike, I suggest you get some Playdough for your downtime.
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Old 01-05-2007, 01:03 PM
Boone & Crockett
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Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles


I suggest you get some Playdough for your downtime.
But I can not shoot that -I do have CLAY dough pigeons that I shoot... just wish i could walk out my back door and shoot like a lot of other folks...I know you can not either...
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Old 01-05-2007, 01:35 PM
Nontypical Buck
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Rivesville, WV
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Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles

I totally concur with your findings. I always empty my rifle, and clean at the end of every day. I normally just push out the bullet, and keep it for practice.

I have done tests similar to this over the years. What I have done is to shoot at 100 yards, under different moisture content conditions. I believe it is the moisture content, or humidity that makes your rifle shoot differently, not necessarily the temperature. I can shoot right off my front porch out to 200 yards. I have a shooting bench on my front porch.

I believe the powder in your rifle was affected by the moisture. I believe the larger flakes of BP absorbs moisture, and sheds moisture.

We have done snow tests, which I am sure you are familiar with. I always sight my rifle inundersnow conditions with high humidity. This assures me that all my powder is burning. IMO this gives ultimate accuracy. I am sure there is a better way, but this is the best we have been able to come up with. Manufactures have convinced BP shooter's that a rifle can shoot 150 grains of powder under all conditions, and IMO it "just aint so".

I hear hunter's say all the time. It shot here today, but over there yesterday. Hunter's expect more out of there BP rifles today than what they did 20 years ago. They want the rifle to shoot dead on like a 30-06 at 200 yards, every time. And with minimal time at the range. "The guy on TV did it, why can't I do it". Knowledgable BP shooter's know better. It takes alot of work, and alot of shooting to maintain a consistent rifle at 200 yards. Tom.
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:18 PM
Giant Nontypical
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles

I just recently done somw testing myself I loaded 3 guns set them out in the pouring down rain [we have a lot of rain this time of year]# 1 Omega with 209 #2 System One with waxed nipple and musket cap #3 Hawken Rifle # 11 cap and waxed nipple at the end of the day the Omega was the only one with wet powder! Boy that was a nasty suprise since it was wet on the 209 end I am looking for a way to seal that end. It is becoming obvious to me that a sabot and 209 are harder to seal up than a PRB with a greased patch and a good fitting #11 or musket cap with a thin coating of wax and to complete info on the test the Omega was loaded with sabot and 452 bullet andlet in water only on the 209 end the Sysem One was loaded with PBR and BB and waxed nipple and Musket cap no dampness and I knew the Hawken was water proof I was using it for a control.
Any ideas on sealing the 209 or Omega breach? Lee
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:31 PM
Typical Buck
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 973
Default RE: weather cpnditions on rifles

You should have been a scientist Dave. Thanks.

My new moto:

Hunting: morning and evening, same day, OK
evening then morning, better heed the warning(add to bolster)
three stands in a row, let the old lead go
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 5,180
Default RE: weather conditions on rifles

So what good are those Plastic primer jackets if they dont seal out the moisture? I always saw them putting a knight rifle into a bucket of water for some time and then showing the rifle going right off. Have you done any tests with pyrodex rs and or T7? Kind of pisses me off when they advertise a product for being able to do something and it turns out not to be true. I was going to shoot my gun today but ol' man winter stopped in to say hello for a 3ed time in 2weeks. I'd like to know what the RS or T7 does.
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Old 01-05-2007, 02:39 PM
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Default RE: weather conditions on rifles

Good test, Cayugad. I must say I am also a little surprised. There has got to be some sort of internal condensation factor going on here. Particularly in the Knight Disc rifle. I generally leave my rifles loaded for the entire season out here in the semi-arid west. No problems. Our MZ season is in September, so we don't get the cold temps like northern Wisconsin in January. Few places do . . . other than Fairbanks AK

I also am a firm believer in tape over the muzzle. Did you use your usual finger cot on the muzzles during this test. Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference . . .
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