Loading Muzzleloaders For Turkeys

Muzzleloading rifles add challenge, thrill and excitement to the hunt for many deer hunters. For the same reasons, turkey hunters are joining the trend. So let’s go to school on what you need to know to take down your next gobbler with a muzzleloading shotgun.

Load Components

Just like a shotgun shell, all ammunition components will be “in-line” with each other. The shotgun’s hammer is in-line with the primer, providing a spark to the powder, which propels the shot to its target. You put it all together inside the barrel, one ingredient at a time.

  • Powder: Muzzleloading firearms use either traditional black powder, or alternatives such as Hodgdon’s Pyrodex and Triple Seven or Alliant Powder’s Black MZ, which are propellants that foul the bore less and are easier to clean.

  • Gas Seal: You need a gas seal over the powder to create pressure and propels the shot. Use an over-powder wad (heavy card) with a cushion wad (fiber) to create the seal. You could also use a plastic shot cup to seal the powder and further protect the shot. The petals on the shot cup shelter the shot pellets during their ride down the barrel and hold the shot string together a bit longer when it leaves the muzzle.

  • Shot: You have all kinds of choices in type and size of shot, from copper-plated lead to heavy metal-alloy shot and sizes #4, #5, and #6. It all comes down to personal choice.

  • Over-shot wad: Over-shot wads keeps the shot from spilling out of the barrel.

  • 209 primer: Use a standard 209 primer (traditionally used for re-loading shotgun shells) to ignite the powder charge. Hotter burning magnesium and other types of primers are also available to enhance performance.

Load It Up

The loading procedure is done by following these steps:

  1. Pour powder charge into barrel of gun at muzzle. In the field, pre-measured containers, called “speed loaders” work great to ensure an accurate charge and quicker loading time.

  2. (Option A) Insert the over-powder card, then the fiber cushion wad and seat them both firmly against the powder, using the ramrod OR (Option B) Insert the plastic shot cup and seat it firmly against the powder, using the ramrod.

  3. Pour shot into gun. “Speed loaders”“ also aid in this step.

  4. Insert overshot card and seat it firmly against the shot, using the ramrod.

  5. Insert a 209 primer into place in the breech plug. Do not prime the gun until you are ready to fire.

Experimenting Fun

One of the most rewarding aspects of muzzleloading is experimenting with different propellants, over-powder wads or shot cups, over-shot cards and chokes in order to find a combination that creates the best gobbler-killing pattern for your gun. This takes time, but that’s just part of the muzzleloading fun.

JJ Reich




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