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500 BPE and a Reilly double rifle

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  • 500 BPE and a Reilly double rifle

    I hope it's permissible to copy and past some work I did yesterday with this rifle I've had for 20 years or more. For two decades it has frustrated my efforts to come up with a good BP load. Something I usually have little trouble with. As I would be saying the same thing and, I'm a little lazy, copying and pasting makes sense to me. If it is not permissible please delete the post.


    I believe I've mentioned having an E.M. Reilly double in 500 BPE and, that I've never been able to work up an accurate black powder load for it. Thanks to a friend today that may have turned a corner. A couple weeks ago he sent me some 350 gr., .515 bullets he uses in his Hanquet 12.7 X 44R combination gun. Turned out it is the same Lyman bullet I use over smokeless powder in the Reilly that shoots incredibly well. The difference is the bullets I have that came with the rifle are very hard. Probably 18 to 20 BHN. The ones sent to me are 8 BHN. at 350 grains on the nose. Much more suitable for BP. I have a Rapine, 50 cal. mold at 380 grs. but the rifle doesn't like that bullet over any powder....not even baking powder!!!

    Today I decided to try the bullets sent to me. I don't have a .515 or larger sizing die so lubed the bullets with my fingers. Yes, I could have pan lubed them but that takes longer than I wanted to spend and for 6 rounds it didn't take long to finger lube them. Juggling powder charges I came up with a charge weight of 128 grs. of Schuetzen Ffg. drop tubed into the case. That left room for two .030 card wads and a good sized, I thought, grease cookie and room to seat the bullet while having about .10 compression. Worked fine!!! No way to know how they were going to shoot so with rifle and rounds in hand I headed to my bench.

    In the picture below target #1 shows the results of that load. Disregard the little holes. They're from my Rook rifle and Schuetzen rifle. The cartridge, a 500 BPE, 3 inch is centered and the bullet is at the right. The little case is an 8 X 57 for perspective. Target was fired from 50 yards leaning against a white oak. You don't bench double rifles as we normally do. I didn't highlight the bullet holes in target #1 but they can be seen. The first right and left, 1R & 1L, were better than ANY previous BP load I have tried in the rifle. Brace #2 and #3 while not as good are still better than any previous effort. As can be seen the loads are crossing. That is the right barrel is shooting to the left of the left barrel and vice/versa. Not an uncommon phenomena when using smokeless powder in DR's but, this is the first time I've seen it with BP loads. Usually you can't get them to shoot together with straight BP. Anyway, shots crossing indicates either too much velocity or not enough bullet weight. THAT I can deal with!!!!!!



    Target # 2 is where it gets both interesting and exciting, for me. Bear in mind I was making no sight adjustments if the shots were on the paper. I loaded 6 more rounds dropping the powder charge to 120 grs. and increasing the size of the grease cookie. If a person tracks the shots in order it can be seen that 1R and 1L make a nice two shot group.....except they are still slightly crossing. 2R and 2L are spreading apart and show even more crossing. Here's where I decided to do something I shouldn't have done. I sort of wanted a 10 ring shot so I held at the right edge of the bull for shot 3R. It's centered low. I knew I shouldn't have done that but by now I'm quite certain what's going on. I went back to a center hold for shot 3L. Boy, they REALLY spread out!!! However, I believe I have the answers to make the rifle shoot nice, round composite groups.

    As the shots are still crossing I should be able to alleviate that by dropping the powder charge another 5 grs. to 115 grs. The opening up of the pair of shots I am convinced is a matter of fouling build up because when I cleaned the barrels the fouling was very dry and hard and there was no lube star evident on the muzzles. By dropping the powder charge that will allow me to use an even larger grease cookie and by adding a bit more compression I can get even more lube in the case. If a person looks at the bullet and knows what they're looking at it is obvious this short, 50 cal. bullet carries very little lube in its grooves. With a BP charge of 115 grains it's going to take a lot of lube to keep the fouling soft.

    Preliminary observation is I might be hot on the trail of having a good BP load for this fine old rifle. I hope so. It will be really nice to put it back to work the way it was intended. The rifle:



    "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

    "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

    NRA Benefactor,

  • #2


    SWEET! Can, I have first dibs on buying that(if you ever sell it)? I have some test subjects(deer) in my back 40 that won't appreciate it, as much as I would!

    BallisticBRYAN
    BallisticBRYAN

    Wisconsin Hunter Safety Instructor
    Started reloading with my Dad at age 10(1977)
    It was my Father\'s Olds! Restoring a 1956 Olds 88

    Comment


    • #3


      lol....thanks Bryan but I'm afraid there is two young men standing in line in front of you. Fortunately I have two doubles, one for each son. I'm pretty confident that today will see the completion of load development for the rifle. I will be very surprised if it doesn't. I'm hoping for a nice, round 2-3 inch composite group at 50 yards then I'll stretch its legs a little and see how it does at 75 and 100.
      "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

      "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

      NRA Benefactor,

      Comment


      • #4


        Looks like it is shooting fairly good.
        Very nice looking for sure.
        I do not shoot cartridge black powder stuff but have experimented with all kinds of things with muzzleloaders.

        Friend in Colorado had a large muzzleloader that would not group anything worth a darn.. 6" at 50 yards was a good load for it.

        I was experimenting with wads over the powder. Ones I cut out myself from thick leather probably about 12 oz maybe 8 oz at the thinnest.

        I was shooting groups that were 1/2 the size with leather over powder loads than anything I tried.

        Buddy was giving up on his gun in Colorado..I sent him some leather wads and he figured why not..tried everything else.

        Guess what his groups became tight enough (under 6" at 100 yards) that he kept the gun.

        If you have leather scrap laying around... say a leather belt .. You could make a cutter from an old 12 point socket.

        I took some cheap sockets that were stripped out and took a hard stone in my die grinder and shamfered the inside and outside to make very sharp circle punches.

        I make the wad .010"-.014" larger than the bore.
        You can make them smaller.. and say it is too loose of a fit.

        That is OK as you can tap them flatter with a hammer and they will now be a bit larger in diameter.

        I mixed/melted up candle wax and coconut oil 50-50 mix and lube the wads with it.

        Just set them warm but liquid form mix.

        I used to use bore butter TC1000 and it developed a crud ring in the muzzleloaders.
        Once i quit using that yellow smell good stuff my crud ring was gone.
        Son and buddy experienced the same thing in their guns.
        Just saying if you are using the yellow bore butter you may want to re-think it.

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        • #5


          I made a smooth bullet from a homemade mold.
          I lay it on a formica table top and lay a double cut file on top and roll the bullet.
          This makes a bullet like the hornady swaged bullet. seen here.
          http://www.cabelas.com/product/Horna...ts/1324104.uts

          I then lubed it with LLA and fired it from my muzzleloader. after i sized it to ..499" and it shoots pretty good and loads very well.

          Just saying if you have some bullets that are the wrong size slightly you can roll softly with the file and make the lead stick up and have a fatter bullet... roll a with more pressure pushing down and the bullet can now become a tad smaller.

          I made a sizer from an old Nut.. just drilled it out to the size that allowed the bullet to become .499" when pushed through it.

          Little bit like a lee push through sizer.

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          • #6


            The problem with thick wads in cartridge rifles is the space they take up. My confidence of this morning hit a snag when the right barrel didn't like the load, left barrel loved it. I'm not back to square one by any means but there's some casting about going on.
            "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

            "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

            NRA Benefactor,

            Comment


            • #7


              swampratt wrote:
              I made a smooth bullet from a homemade mold.
              I lay it on a formica table top and lay a double cut file on top and roll the bullet.
              This makes a bullet like the hornady swaged bullet. seen here.
              http://www.cabelas.com/product/Horna...ts/1324104.uts
              I've done this also. Really helps with getting powder coating to stick on a bullet.

              The problem with the Hornady bullets is that they are coated with a dry lube. Leading can be a challenge. I've had good luck using them with an Alox/Johnsons Paste Wax lube. Warmed the bullets with a hair dryer put them in a plastic jar with some of the warmed lube and tumbled them a bit. No more leading.

              I use the 45/45/10 lube found here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-amp-Mess-Free
              If you make this stuff be very careful with the cooking. It is highly flammable. An electric hot plate outside is the way to go if possible. RD
              Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

              Et Canis Manducare Canis Mundi

              Comment


              • #8


                Well..the snag turned into a big stump. Swamp, thanks for your experiences, they pretty much echo mine with muzzleloaders but, there's a considerable difference between muzzleloaders and BP cartridge rifles. Then when you throw two barrels tied together into the mix it becomes even more complex. I've been shooting muzzleloaders since the earliest 1970's and have used wads in some rifles where indicated. Card wads and wasp nesting work pretty good. The biggest difference in my experience is that with muzzleloaders you wipe the bore every time you seat a ball. That was also done with target BP cartridge arms in the early days of competitive BP cartridge competition and carried forward almost to the introduction of smokeless. One of the best and earliest examples I know of is the account of the 1876 long range match between the Irish team of John Rigby and the US team I believe led by Col. John Bodine. The Irish were still shooting muzzleloaders and the US team used Remington RB's and Sharps rifles. We won the match but only because one of the Irish team members put a shot on the wrong target. The point of all that being that with a muzzleloader the fouling is being controlled every time a patched ball is seated, even more so if a liquid type lube is used as compared to a grease type lube. With cartridges the fouling has to be controlled with lube from within the case and on the bullet. Anyway, I digress.

                I ordered the mold for the bullet George sent me and when it arrived I cast up a bunch. Once the mold and melt were hot it started throwing excellent bullets and I kept about 40 after weighing them to within 1 gr. difference. Two weeks and 8 different loads later, changing only one thing at a time produced no acceptably accurate, regulated loads. One load in one barrel would cut the X out of the target at 50 yards and the other barrel would be 6-10 inches out of the group. Different loads performed the same in one barrel or the other. This is the 4th or 5th time I've seriously set out to work up an acceptable BP load for this rifle. With two different NFB loads, one with hard cast bullets and the other of Hawk jacketed bullets, both over 60 grs. of IMR-3031 and an open cell foam filler this rifle will hover around two inches at 50 yards, composite group. So the rifle will shoot and does regulate.

                This time out I believe I have discovered why BP loads won't regulate and Wright addresses it in his book, "Shooting the British Double Rifle". The right barrel is more worn than the left. A not uncommon condition in well used double rifles and, this one is from the 1880's. Anyone with much experience in handloading or with muzzleloaders knows each barrel is an entity unto itself. With a double you have that times two. My thought is with smokeless powder the harder bullets grip the tiny Henry rifling much better than the softer bullets desired for BP and the significantly less fouling of smokeless doesn't destroy the accuracy the heavy BP fouling does. On at least two occasions I have tried hard bullets over BP with different lube combinations and the results were abysmal so that isn't a solution. That the rifle still holds it regulation from the factory 130 years ago is indisputable so it assuredly is not the rifle.

                I cleaned the rifle bores to a spotless condition, cut two patches identical and mic'ed them to be certain they were identical then pushed one through each barrel. The difference in bores was discernible. I intend to slug the bores again for confirmation but I'm pretty confident in myself with this rifle.

                I put the rifle back in the safe and have been pondering this for a few days and have a couple ideas. I have an even older German double rifle that required a duplex load to get it to regulate. Those experienced using duplex loads know how well they clean up the fouling. I know the inexperienced will frown on the use of duplex loads. However, I've been using them for close to 40 years and don't care to hear it again. Pressure testing from more than a few highly regarded proof houses show them below BP proof pressures IF DONE CORRECTLY. Anyway, the thought at the moment is to start with an 8% charge of SR-7459 topped by wad and grease cookie column and the same 350 gr. bullet, one load trying softer bullets and another with hard cast bullets. This isn't etched in stone but it is where my experience is leading me.
                "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

                "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

                NRA Benefactor,

                Comment


                • #9


                  9.3x75R, You mentioned that both barrels will group well but with different loads. Is their a load for each barrel that shoots to a similar point of aim? In other words can one treat each barrel as a separate rifle and produce a load for each that shoots to one point of aim for both? I'm sure you thought of that and it might not be practical to carry two loads but they would be easy to keep track of. A junkyard marker to put an R and L on the case heads as appropriate would sort things out rather quickly. RD
                  Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

                  Et Canis Manducare Canis Mundi

                  Comment


                  • #10


                    I have considered that, Rocky and, it is a possibility. There was one load for each barrel that literally ate out the X ring, albeit different loads and I considered precisely what you suggest. I'm just not there.....but I might get there eventually. Hopefully I'll find the magic combination of one load for both barrels...
                    "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

                    "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

                    NRA Benefactor,

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      9.3X75R I've done a lot of research on Reilly's over the last couple of years which has led me to write a New Short History of Reilly of London; there was just so much misinformation about the company starting with Brown's Vol I and III. This has enabled the compilation of a Serial Number date chart which I think will get a Reilly owner to within some 6 months of the date of the manufacutue of his gun. It can be read here on doublegunshop: http://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/...436538&page=20

                      I'd be very interested in the serial number of your Reilly BPE, the name/address on the rib, and any information on the patents in the gun (Anson&Deely?) + the use number. This would add still one more data point to the graph. Many thanks for any historical help you can provide.

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                      • #12
                        Argo, You might try Personal messaging 9.3X75R as he was last on here in October of this year. Many people have their Personal Messages set up to notify their e-mail of a waiting message. Just go to the post above and click on 9.3X75R name under the "photo". It will give you the option to send a PM. RD
                        Every once in a while in life we need a policeman, a lawyer, a doctor and a preacher. We need a farmer three times a day, every day.

                        Et Canis Manducare Canis Mundi

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks Rocky, I tried messaging him but his in-box is absolutely full. Maybe he's traveling.

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                          • #14
                            Argo, no sir, I wasn't travelling. Our power went down about the time I disappeared from the site and for whatever reason I couldn't get logged back on until yesterday. I'm certain it had a lot to do with me and nothing else. I was in the midst of a 12 round chemo therapy regimen at the time and some things lost their priority. I finished chemo a week ago yesterday, Friday the 4th of Jan.

                            I have come up with a load that is acceptable in the Reilly since then and will have to look it up. I'll also get the S/N off the rifle for you. I didn't know my in box was full as I don't have many messages there....I don't think. I wonder if that was because I was off line?
                            "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools". Romans 1:22

                            "Those who fail to study history are condemned to repeat it"

                            NRA Benefactor,

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              9.3...I'm out in Africa for a couple of weeks. Would still like to see the SN of your Reilly BPE when you get a chance. I'll date if for you. Good luck with the Chemo...that can be difficult. Gene Williams

                              The earlier extant .500 BPE I've found is 18,766 dating to 1874. Before that Reilly seems to have built mostly .577...probably so service ammo could be used in India and Africa. Reilly seemed to have built a lot of .500 BPE's in the late 1870's-to 1885....SN's between about 20,000 and 27,000.
                              Last edited by Argo44; 03-21-2019, 03:24.

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