The sequence of loading your muzzle-loaded rifle after checking to make sure there are no obstructions in the barrel is to do the following:
Inline: Clear the breech plug and place the hammer at half cock.
Caplock: Clear the nipple vent and place the hammer at half cock.
Flintlock: Clear the flash-hole and place the hammer at half cock.
Charge the rifle with gunpowder, either by inserting premeasured pellets, pouring in loose measured powder, or by inserting a pre-measured bag of gunpowder usually called a "cartridge", gunpowder used is typically blackpowder or blackpowder substitutes like Pyrodex.
Powder Safety Rules:
a. Pour powder from container or flask into powder measure.
b. Pour powder from powder measure into the rifles bore.
c. Anyone handling black powder are well advised to wear cotton clothing as this reduces static electricity, which deters accidental discharge of black powder.
Accuracy Tip (1)
Always use a over powder wad of some sort on top of your powder charge for consistent velocity and accuracy as this protects the base of the projectile from extreme heat.
Bullet Loading: As you can see by the diagram above the sabot has to bend and reshape itself to configure to the lands and grooves in the muzzleloaders bore. How you orient the sabot in the bore is critical for accuracy. The splits in the sabot must be loaded in direct center alignment to the bottom of the groove in the bore which allows the full complete petal of the sabot to have even pressure against the bullet and the lands in the bore, which increases muzzleloader accuracy.
When bullet loading the rifle, only one at a time is loaded.
a. Patched round balls, the patch is wrapped around the base of the ball, the purpose of which is to grip the rifling and impart spin to the loose fitting ball.
b. Pre-Lubed bullets, no wad is used as the projectile has a hollow base or gas rings which expands to grip the rifling and is already lubed, however using a wad at the base of the bullet does in some cases increase accuracy.
c. Saboted bullets, no patch or lube is used as the projectile has a concaved base which expands to grip the rifling, however using a wad at the base of the sabot does in some cases increase accuracy.
Accuracy Tip (2)
A bullet is held firmly in place by a sabot, however the pressure against the bullet has to be even for the bullet to be accurate and accuracy in the bore of the muzzleloader rests mainly on the lands of the rifling so sabot to bore orientation is important for accuracy.
This alignment procedure will give you more accuracy from your muzzleloader, because of bullet length and or sabot length, plus rifling twist rate you can further tweak your accuracy by ever so slightly adjusting left or right alignment. Once you have this tuned for maximum accuracy simply mark the end of your barrel with a little dab of paint for permanent reference for accurate loading of saboted projectiles in your muzzleloader.
Accuracy Tip (3)
Always use a premium grade bullet for top performance when hunting this would include the use of premium swaged lead round-ball as they will have better penetration when used on animals.
Accuracy Tip (4)
This is the one thing that can have a serious impact on accuracy and that is always make sure the bullet is fully seated into the sabot as you load the bullet and sabot into the barrel. I normally seat the bullet into the sabot then grab sabot and bullet firmly at the sabot petals then start them together into the barrel.
To seat the charge, a tool called a "ramrod" is used to push the items down the barrel and then seated firmly together against the breech, at this point the muzzle-loading rifle has been charged with powder and bullet and not fully loaded.
Accuracy Tip (5)
Always use a slow, steady, even and firm pressure on the ramrod to seat the bullet against the wad and powder charge.
Accuracy Tip (6)
Because of the plastic noses on todays bullets, great care must be taken when seating the bullet in the barrel so as not to damage the bullet nose, if damaged you will have loss of accuracy and the bullet will not perform as it was designed to do. You will most likely need to add a proper diameter bullet seater to your ramrod for your imparticular bullet choice.
Priming the rifle completes the loading process.
a. The inline rifle is now primed with a 209 shotshell primer or a likeness thereof at the rear of the breech.
b. The sidelock percussion cap rifle is now primed by placing the hammer in half-cock position which exposes the nipple and a cap is placed on the nipple.
c. The sidelock flintlock rifle is now primed by placing the hammer in half-cock position which exposes the frizzen pan which is now charged with priming powder.
The muzzle-loaded rifle has now been loaded and ready for firing.