Is a .45 round-ball enough for deer?

Discussion in 'Black Powder' started by Anonymous, Nov 5, 2004.

  1. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I snagged a used T/C Hawken in .45 caliber for a song at my local toy store, mainly because the price was too good to pass up. But now I'm being told that the gun's set up for round-ball, and a .45 may be too light for deer-class game?

  2. huntswithdogs

    huntswithdogs Moderator


    The round ball will work as long as you understand your limitations. You may try other styles and find they work just fine. Some of these sidelock style guns will not do well with pelletized powders. Granualar will probably work much better. Be sure to pull the nipple off and clean out the back end of the barrel. Buying USED black powder guns is an iffy deal. You never how well the last guy took care of it. Good luck with your newest "toy".


  3. Logjam

    Logjam Super Member


    You can get some little mirrored cylindrical slugs that you can put into the bore and then peek in around the beam of a flashlight. Brownell's catalogue show such things.

    If, however a patch slides smoothly down and back up the bore, your bore maybe just fine. I suggest you don't start pushing patches down that bore until you get a good worm (TC stocks them) and maybe a slotted jag (also provided by TC). You'll need a nipple wrench too.

    Certainly zillions of deer have been killed with a 45 caliber ball. Your twist is one turn in 48 (probably) so it'll stabolize a round ball, or a maxi ball, which will shoot very hard, and they are definitely enough for a deer hunt.

    Those rifles were made to shoot either round or maxi balls. You can buy the maxi balls ready cast. BTW: they are hard to force down the bore. You have to hammer them down with you short starter and then pound them pretty hard with the ram rod.

    Ninely grains of 2F or 3F black powder will work fine. It'll kick pretty hard with that maxi ball. Practice with a .440 ball. You can buy them from Speer, or Hornedy. You can use those round pillow ticking patches that TC sells, make sure you lub them, you can buy patch lub too.

    In addition to your patches, lub, balls and short started you'll need a powder horn and a powder measure. You can buy one that adjusts from TC (again, or Dixie) or just use an old 45/70 case. The case will throw about 75 grains of black.

    After five or six shots I suggest that you run down a wet patch and pull it out. You can wet it in your mouth. Don't reuse those patches, as black powder residue tastes as bad as it smells.

    With round balls your gun will be quite comfortable to shoot, but with the maxi ball it'll kick about twice as hard.

    If you want a real canon you can jam 130 grains of black down there and stuff in a maxi ball. After you get back up you will understand that a 45 caliber Hawkin with a maxi ball is plenty of rifle for deer, or bear, or even elk.

    BTW: You don't need a patch with a maxi ball. So lub them, pushing the stuff into the lub rings before loading one.

    Those .45 Hawkins are fun to shoot, as you can load them with maybe 45 grains of black with the round ball and hunt rabbits, then adjust with the maxi ball for big stuff.
  4. uglydog

    uglydog Super Member

    A .45 caliber round ball would work on deer, especially on broadside shots. I wouldn't trust it to punch through a quartering away deer and it may have a bit of trouble with a hit in the shoulder at ranges over 60 yards or so. With a conical bullet like the the mentioned Maxi-Ball your effective range will be much greater. I would contact T/C for an owner's manual for your gun. Mine contains a fair amount of basic info and load recommendations for all their guns. The loads mentioned above are much greater than those printed in the manual I have, my manual is more than 15 years old so maybe loads have changed.
    With the used guns I've bought, all I did was run a wet patch down the bore and check for rust. If it is a light amount, a good cleaning is usually all that is needed. If the patch is difficult to run down the barrel and/or comes out heavily stained with rust, I would be leery on the outcome. Clean the barrel good with solvent and a wire brush followed up with lots of patches. It may take several hours of work to end up with a clean barrel. When the barrel is clean, go shoot it. Experiment with powder amounts, often one powder weight will be more accurate than the others. BP hunting is a fun pasttime, it has extended my hunting season greatly.
  5. Logjam

    Logjam Super Member

    Ug Dog: I know that I mentioned 130 grains of black in a Hawkin. I bought my rifle in 1968. It was one of the first made. I was 23 and had no sense whatsoever.

    So, I'd load my Hawkin with all kinds of loads, but I don't think I ever loaded it with over 130 grains of black. But when I did it sure would kick!

    I guess one could blow one of those things up. I suppose the nipple would give out first, stripping the threads and shooting it back into the shooter's face. Not all that cool!

    But those Hawkin barrells are steel, not iron as were old guns barrells. I think you could probably load one to the muzzle and the barrell'd survive. Course most of the powder would be blown from the barrell before it ignited. Maybe it'd burn in the outside the muzzle. I've never tried it.

    I think a maxi ball loaded with, say 100 grains of 2F would shoot that slug at 1500 fps or more and because of it's long shape I think it'd drive deep into a deer when hit in the chest from the front. (Depending upon the size of the animal.)

    That maxi ball, I think has about the same energy as does a 45/70 loaded with a 405 jacketed bullet and driven at trapdoor velocities, and few would hesitate to shoot a deer with one, even a largish black bear.

    Interesting conversation.
  6. mike .308

    mike .308 Well-Known Member

    A 45 caliber should work fine on deer.
  7. Maser

    Maser Super Member

    yea a .45 caliber ball should be fine as long as it has a large enough powder charge n also that the shot isnt taken to far away from the deer

    btw u didnt say if u were gonna be hunting small deers like whitetails or large breeds like elk
  8. Mule

    Mule Well-Known Member

    A .440 round ball will kill whitetail if you do your part. I have taken several with the .440 patched ball.

    I have found that 70gr of FFFg is plenty. Though your results may very. I have had trouble getting consistant ignition with Pyrodex and #11 caps in cold weather. i.e. deer season. Though dirtier, real FFFg black powder ignites better with #11's and is accurate enough for my needs. And I have to clean the gun anyway!

    Love that smoke!!
  9. luv2safari

    luv2safari Moderator


    You are using an old and good trick, learned many years ago when there was no such thing as breach loaders. Most mountain men went to using 3For 4F powder for better and more reliable ignition. They carried only one powder for their rifle and pistol, and often carried the same caliber rifle and pistol, so they could use the same size ball.

    A well patched .440 round ball in a rifle with a very SLOW twist with a sufficient charge will kill deer, if shot within a reasonable range and into a heart/lung area. Don't try to break shoulders down. Get close; pick your shot, and have fun... :D

    In the late 70's I shot a doe mule deer with a 54 cal TC Renegade with a 230 gr (I think that was the weight) round ball, and she went about 50 yards before she dropped. The Renegade had a bit too fast of a twist, but it shot OK with round ball...just OK...
  10. JPShelton

    JPShelton Well-Known Member

    I sure hope a .45 round ball is enough for deer.....

    Otherwise, there were two little Cherokee County whitetails that wound up in my freezer for nothing!

    And I didn't push the two balls that did the deeds with a whole bunch of powder, either.

    I used .454 swaged balls in my Pietta 1860 over a Wonder Wad and 28 grains volume of Pyrodex P.

    The first was a 120 pound (estimated) buck, who got double-lunged at 20 yards.

    The next day, a 90 pound doe got double lunged with a single ball from the Pietta at 15 yards.

    And I was on the ground, back up against a tree, dressed like a freakin' popsicle with my Army Ranger jacket turned orange-side out and a bright orange band on my Stetson Fedora.

    Two shots. Both bang, flops.

    But I only used it because it was all I had. My .50 Great Plains Rifle was still in California during the last Primitive Season here. Now that it is here, I'll be using that next year -not because it is more powerful or will kill them deader, but because it is easier to shoot under poor early morning light conditions with its better sights.

  11. thumbuster

    thumbuster Super Member

    You need to find out the twist of your barrel. Early Hawkin's rifles had a 1 in 48 twist. This was believed to stabolize round balls and Maxi-balls. It does a good job on maxi-balls and a pretty good job with the round ball. A 1 in 60 or 66 is best for the round ball. Some of these rifles have a 1 in 28 twist which will stabolize a long bullet, but not a round one.

    So you need to know what you've got. I'm a big fan of the Maxi-ball fired from a TC Hawkin with a 1 in 48 inch twist. load that baby up with say, 110 grains and she'll shoot clean through a deer.
  12. ssettle

    ssettle New Member

    45 caliber is fine for deer but placing your shot is very important. I killed several deer with my flintlock and one thing I've found out is most times a round ball will just punch a hole. Sometime they will drop in their tracks other times they'll run with very little sign of a hit. If you have just a round ball barrel it will have a slow twist 1 in 48 is both round ball and bullet. Good luck with your new toy. :) SS