Lead round ball or roundball is one of the original muzzleloader projectiles and still the mainstay of traditional black powder shooting.
Roundballs are a short range projectile first used in smoothbore muskets but once rifling was added to the bore (rifles) then accuracy was realized at much greater distances. With the right twist rate in a rifle, generally (1 / 66), an average, well constructed gun in the hands of a skilled shooter will have big-game killing energy and accuracy out to about 125 yards, smoothbores out to about 65 yards.
Cast Lead Roundball.
Cast roundball will have a flat spot on one end known as the sprue, this is where the lead is trimmed from the casting mold. For good accuracy the sprue end must be loaded facing forward toward the muzzle when it is loaded.
Swaged Lead Roundball.
Swaged roundball are formed in a press under pressure this assures that there are no air pockets or other deformities in the ball. Swaged lead roundballs when patched properly will have quite exceptional accuracy.
(50 caliber ball weight 179 grain.)
Lead Conical Bullet:
True conical bullets are made of lead as are roundballs for ease of loading in muzzleloaders as they must conform to the rifling in the bore when being loaded. Conical bullets were the first step in gaining long distance accuracy in muzzleloaders.
Today there are so many designs of conical bullets a person could easily be confused as to what may or may not work in their black powder gun. There is a limiting factor as to how fast you can push pure lead conical bullets down a barrel. If you have a high quality barrel, you can use good conicals up to about 1800 fps with little or no leading.
Buffalo Ball-et Conical Bullet.
The ball-et conical bullet is a short bullet with a rounded nose much like a roundball. The ball-et is actually a half ball and half bullet but has more energy than a round ball, easier to load than a sabot and has a higher velocity with much less recoil than a traditional conical.
(50 caliber bullet weight 245 grain.)
CVA Buckslayer Conical Bullet.
The deep skirt reduces weight, increases bullet length for stability and increases expansion into grooves of barrel to maximize bullet spin. The stable weight forward design holds tight groups even at maximum range. The efficient weight, and deep skirt help utilize moderate powder charges.
(50 caliber bullet weight 300 grain.)
Hornady Great Plains Conical Bullet
Features a three diameter bearing surface, the base diameter is smaller than the bore which makes it easy to start, the middle diameter is slightly larger and engages the rifling, the top diameter imbeds in the grooves of the rifling which greatly enhances accuracy. Upon firing, the thin skirt of the hollow base expands to engage the rifling and seal the bore.
(50 caliber bullet weights 385 grain, 410 grain & 460 grain.)
Saboted Based Bullets: Big Bore Express company claims they were frustrated with hard loading black powder sabots, and inconsistent accuracy of old style conical projectiles so they came up with a belted bullet design that gives consistent gas pressures which is provided by the PowerBelt™ base and gives almost identical bullet velocity every time. The Parrott black powder projectile patented August 20, 1861 employed a sabot made of wrought iron, brass, lead or copper and was attached to the projectile base. When the projectile was fired, the sabot expanded into the rifling and a perfect gas seal was made therefore obtaining consistent distance and accuracy.
Sabots are not bullets, a sabot is a plastic cup that holds or contains a bullet within and the relatively soft plastic sabot grips the bullet and rifling and or is attached to a bullet to create a gas seal and seperates from the bullet once exiting the bore down range. The sabot offers muzzleloaders a chance to experiment with a much wider bullet selection for better down range trajectories.
Note: Many states that have special seasons for black powder muzzleloaders are starting to rule out the use of any plastic used with projectiles in those special seasons.
Sabots And Pure Lead Bullets.
Several companies make pure lead muzzleloader bullets in a wide range of weights and diameters for sabots that work well, very accurate, higher velocities and better trajectories but the muzzleloader hunter is still disadvantaged by over expanding pure lead projectiles which limits the velocity advantage, however trajectories are flatter even at reduced velocity.
Sabots And Pistol Bullets.
Jacketed pistol bullets expand to deliver energy and stay together when heavy resistance such as bone is encountered. The disadvantage is they are designed to expand at pistol velocities, around 1,500 fps. Most muzzleloaders can push these bullets over 2,200 fps, and the result of over-expansion and loss of penetration returns.
Sabots And Partition Bullets.
Partition bullets are a copper jacketed, lead core bullet that has a separate front and back section. The front section of the bullet mushrooms like any other jacketed bullet, upon encountering hard resistance, it will stop expanding at the partition and the remaining core of the bullet will continue to penetrate deeper.