Tuesday, January 25, 2011
BlackHorn 209: On the range
With muzzleloading season closed in north Louisiana it was time to hit the range and sight in the scope on the Traditions Buckstalker. I have been pushing 2" groups at 100yds using my old standby with its rotten egg smell and cleanups that almost got me kicked out to the dog house. Once I was setup on sandbags at the range I started measuring out 80gr ( by volume ) loads into quick loaders, I was fully intent on trying the whole no swabbing claim right from the start while working up a accurate hunting load. One of the first things that struck me was the very consistent, tubular grain structure of this powder. It seemed to make it very easy to measure into equal powder loads.
With my targets set at 100yds on a very calm, cold early morning I fired my first 240gr, target plinkers down range pushed by 80gr of Blackhorn 209 and touched off by Remington Premier STS 209 primers. Quickly followed by 5 more rounds and to my very pleasant surprise every round seated with roughly the same amount of effort, no swabbing was needed and I was able to walk my scope in to where it needed to be.
After the first 6 rounds I unseated my breech plug to make sure it was not stuck by fouling and it broke over like I had never fired a single round. I was starting to really like the stuff and quickly began raising powder charges in 10gr increments. Before I realized it I had put 15 rounds down range in less than an hour and not touched my patches or range rod. At that point I realized I need to quit burning powder for the sake of shooting and actually put some hunting rounds into the target and fine tune my scope. I swabbed the barrel for the first time with CLP and true to the advertisement the fouling came out easy and was not heavy gunk on the patches.
I then setup with 90gr and Hornady's 250gr SST with red Easy Glide sabots and started shooting like a meant business. Accuracy was not all I had hoped for after my first 3 round group so I stepped up to 100gr powder charges. Like magic I had found the Buckstalkers sweet spot, 100gr Blackhorn 209 pushing the 250gr SST's I laid down 7 shots on 3, 100yd targets and came up with 1" groups on two targets and 1 1/2" on the third. This is the true versatility of loose powder. Every gun shoots different with different powder loads, pellets do not give you the ability to adjust. Something as simple as a 5 grain change in powder can mean the difference between shooting confidently out past 150yds or limiting your shots because of flyers.
In all I sent 35 rounds down range in less than 2 hours with 2 quick swab cleanings and liberal use of a nipple pick. I honestly believe I had more fouling from the Remington Premier STS primers than the powder charges themselves. The Remington primers worked extremely well with Blackhorn 209 and you do have to be sure to follow directions and use shotgun primers due to the fact that Blackhorn 209 does have higher ignition temperatures. Also per Western Powders it is not to be used with any primers other than 209's. While I have no intention of testing the claim of being non-hygroscopic, Wester Powders does state that Blackhorn 209 has an extremely long and stable shelf life if stored properly. When cleaning due not use water, use a good petroleum based cleaner like Hoppes solvent or CLP. Once fired the residue while not corrosive, can attract moisture and raise the risk of rust forming inside the barrel.
Western Powders has truly revolutionized the modern in-line muzzleloader experience with Blackhorn 209. It is a high performance, high velocity and easy cleaning powder that backs up all the claims made on the packaging with real, measurable results. It has found a permanent home in my ammo can.
Links and more can be found in the Muzzleloading Reference.