Information about the Smokeless Powder Capable Savage 10ML II
What I am discovering is that there is a small window, at least for the Dead Center Duplex .357, 195 grain I tested today, where the best groups are produced.


I now have my own Savage ML10-II muzzleloader .50 caliber. My first goal is to work up some loads using smokeless powder. My Savage ML10-II seems to like SR 4759 powder quite well. What I am discovering is that there is a small window, at least for the Dead Center Duplex .357, 195 grain I tested today, where the best groups are produced. Today, 1 May 04 I got my best 100 yard group (click to see group) using 40.5 grains of SR 4759 powder. I will continue my testing later by increasing the load by .5 grains until it starts spreading out again.  Here is another group using 42.5 grains of SR 4759 (click to see group), shot on 12 June 04; temp was in 90s.

On 19 June 2004, I shot two groups with the Dead Center Duplex .357, 175 grain bullets in my Savage, using 38 and 40 grains of SR 4759 powder. (click here to see first group) and (click here to see second group).

14 Aug 04, I tested some Dead Center .40 260 grain 50 Cal bullets in a friend of mines ( Brian Roberts) Savage 10ML II.  I used Magnum Sub Bases.  Click image to enlarge. Brian was happy with the results!

I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I am now a big fan of Dead Center Bullets. 

I went on a Elk Hunt in New Mexico this October and took with me one of the new Savage 10ML-II Muzzle Loaders capable of shooting smokeless powder along with a blister pack of your .44 X .50 260 grain Dead Center Muzzleloading Bullets. With a charge of 44 grains of XMP it pushed the Dead Center out the tube at 2,256 f.p.s with 1.5 inch groups at 100 yards. To make a long story short I shot a big 5X5 Bull Elk at 146 meters (according to my range finder) hitting him broadside in the left shoulder. The Bull ran, or rather walked, 15 yards and fell over dead. Upon inspection of the Bull the bullet went through the left shoulder breaking bone, entered and destroyed the lungs, hit the right shoulder, again breaking bone, and lodged just under the hide on the right side. All of this and it still maintained right at 60% of its weight. What more could you ask! You can believe that I am taking this combination with me on next years hunt. I’m spreading the word on your bullets wherever I can. 

Thanks, Todd Norris

 I received this email on 14 Aug 04 from Frank Langston of Allen TX:  So far my best 3 shot group came with the Dead Center .40 240 gr. 50 cal using 44 gr of AA 5744.  1st shot 1905 fps; 2nd shot 1848 fps; 3rd shot 1840 fps for a 1.58 inch group @ 100yds. I am using a stock Simmons 3x9x40 scope. When the barrel gets broke in the groups will shrink. Cleaning with a saliva patch after 5 rounds will get velocity and grouping more consistent.  Click graphic to enlarge.

Here are some neat stories concerning the Savage ML 10 II smokeless powder muzzleloader from Savage Arms.  I was so impressed that I had to order me a Savage ML 10 II with Accu-Trigger.  My Savage ML 10 will have a laminated stock and stainless steel barrel.  Savage Arms has outdone themselves on this one!


As I'm sure most of you know by now, my muzzleloading rifle of choice these days is the Savage Model 10ML II. Not only does this rifle give me added velocity, knockdown power and slightly more range than any other .50 caliber in-line on the market thanks to the smokeless loads that can be shot through the muzzleloader, this rifle also allows me to use the same rifle to test loads with other "traditional" powders, such as Triple Seven and Pyrodex. There is a lot to be said for a test rifle of this versatility, making it easier to obtain a true read of a projectile's versatility at different velocities from around 1,600 f.p.s. to 2,300+ f.p.s. - out of the same bore. 

Recently, I have heard from a large number of HIGH PERFORMANCE MUZZLELOADING viewers who wanted to know more about the accuracy and performance of the extremely aerodynamic saboted swaged lead bullets produced by PRECISION RIFLE Custom Muzzleloader Bullets, of Anola, Manitoba, CANADA. While I do know a number of very successful and knowledgeable muzzleloading shooters and hunters who love these bullets, I personally have not had the opportunity to do much shooting with them.

Click on photo to enlarge.
Loaded with a variety of different powders, HIGH PERFORMANCE MUZZLELOADING found the Precision Rifle 275-grain "QT" bullet to be exceptionally accurate out of a Savage Model 10ML II test rifle. By loading a sub-base formed from the obturator cup clipped from the base of a Winchester 28-gauge "AA" shotgun wad, the pure lead bullet even shot very well with smokeless powder loads.

Click on photo to enlarge.

This 3-shot 100 yard group measures just .830" center-to-center. It was shot with the 275-grain saboted .451" diameter PRECISION RIFLE "QT" bullet ahead of 44 grains of VihtaVuori N110 at 2,325 f.p.s., generating 3,300 f.p.e. To insure proper ignition of the smokeless load, the gas seal from a 28-gauge shotgun wad was loaded as a sub-base between powder and sabot.
When you do as much shooting as I do every year to test bullet performance (7,000+ rounds annually), the easy maintenance of the Model 10ML II can make a lazy man out of you. With the smokeless loads, I often shoot a rifle on two or three different range sessions before giving it a thorough cleaning. However, when shooting other "traditional powders", such as Triple Seven and Pyrodex, the rifle has to be cleaned the same day as shot. But, you all know that. What many of you probably don't know is that soft, pure lead bullets just don't tend to perform all that well with smokeless powder loads. Anyway, since shooting the Savage muzzleloaders for the first time about four years ago, I have not gotten them to shoot lead bullets worth a hoot when loading with ANY smokeless powder that performs well behind saboted jacketed bullets like the Hornady SST. Well, not until now. The bullets from PRECISION RIFLE have opened my eyes to what can be done with a swaged soft lead bullet when a little thought is given to how it is loaded - even with smokeless powders in the Savage 10ML II.

Shooting two stainless steel Model 10ML II rifles, one with loads of FFFg Triple Seven and one with several different smokeless loads, it did not take me long to experience the inherent accuracy of the poly-tipped spire-pointed PR bullets. During this initial testing of the bullets, I primarily shot the 275-grain .45/.50 "QT" and the .45/.50 300-grain "Dead Center" bullets, plus did a very small amount of shooting with the company's unique duplex sabot design that allows a small .357" diameter bullet to be shot with a sabot, or rather two sabots, out of a .50 caliber fast-twist bore. One problem I ran into almost immediately with the smokeless loads was a very high rate of misfires due to the fact that the Precision Rifle saboted bullets loaded just a little too easily. Smokeless powders require adequate compression for positive ignition and an easy loading sabot and bullet does not quite provide that compression. However, this was remedied by simply running a sub-base, formed from the gas seal or obturator cup of a 28 gauge Winchester "AA" wad, down over the powder first, then seating the sabot and bullet directly on top of this. Ignition was 100-percent once the sub-base was added to the load. My first group with the 275-grain "QT" bullet, which is something of a belted bullet with a boat-tail, was shot with a moderate 42 grain charge of IMR-SR4759. My Shooting Chrony showed the load was good for 2,253 f.p.s. And those first three shots at 100 yards printed a very nice 1 1/2-inch cluster on the target paper. That was the best group I'd ever shot with the Savage using smokeless loads behind a soft lead bullet. But after that, it got better... The next three shots with the rifle were with 44 grains of VihtaVuori N110 behind the same bullet, again using the sub-base to insure ignition. Those three 275-grain PR "QT" bullets whizzed across the screens of the chronograph at an average speed of 2,325 f.p.s. And, they printed a tight .830" group on the hundred yard target. Precision Rifle gives a .274 b.c. for their 275-grain .44 (.429") "QT" bullet. Since the one I was shooting has a slightly larger .451" diameter, my guess is that the b.c. will be down around .250. With the 2,325 f.p.s. velocity, the energy produced at the muzzle is right at 3,300 foot-pounds. If the .250 b.c. proves out, it means this bullet will still be flying at around 1,700 f.p.s. out at 200 yards, and hit with a little over 1,750 f.p.e. In anyone's book that's a good whitetail load. Heck, it's a darn good elk load! The 300-grain "Dead Center" also shot well with the same smokeless load, but not quite as good as the lighter "QT" during this initital range session. Three groups were shot at 2,247 f.p.s. that were all right at 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches across. Again, the sub-base was used. This load is good for 3,360 f.p.e., and again it is one great elk load. This poly-tipped spire-point has a b.c. of .270, and at 200 yards this load will retain about 1,650 f.p.s. with right at 1,800 foot-pounds of knockdown power. Both of these bullets also performed great with hefty loads of FFFg Triple Seven. With a 110 grain charge, the 275-grain "QT" left the muzzle of the 24-inch barrel at just over 1,900 f.p.s. (2,211 f.p.e.). The two groups shot with the powder charge averaged around 1.3" center-to-center. The 300-grain "Dead Center" showed a slight accuracy edge with FFFg Triple Seven. A 110 grain charge gets the bullet out of the muzzle at 1,880 f.p.s. (Precision Rifle ballistics), for 2,354 f.p.e. One group shot with the load printed just under an inch across, the other was right at 1.3" center-to-center. I shot one 130-grain charge of FFFg Triple Seven behind each bullet, and both groups were inside of 1 1/2 inches. (The sub-base was used for this heavy load.) Velocity with the 275-grain "QT" was 2,086 f.p.s. (2,650 f.p.e.), the 300-grain "Dead Center" crossed the skyscreens at 2,012 f.p.s. (2,700 f.p.e.).

Precision Rifle makes and sells a tremendous range of saboted bullets. Easily the most "unique" of their line would be a sabot-inside-a-sabot "duplex" arrangement that allows the .50 caliber owner to shoot light .357" diameter bullets at hyper speed. The company offers the arrangement with a 175 or 195 grain bullet. I did get in a little shooting time with the 195-grain duplex sabot/bullet and was very pleased with my initial shooting with FFFg Triple Seven. A 130 grain charge got the long cylindrical poly-tipped spire-point out of the Savage muzzle at 2,327 f.p.s., for 2,340 f.p.e. This bullet has a b.c. of .375, meaning that at 200 yards it would retain a velocity of close to 1,900 f.p.s. and still hit with 1,560 f.p.e. Now, if I can get this extremely aerodynamic lightweight to shoot with smokeless out of the Savage Model 10ML II at around 2,500 f.p.s. with accuracy, there won't be a whitetail in the world that's safe at 250 yards! Watch for my follow up report early next month.  - Toby Bridges, HIGH PERFORMANCE MUZZLELOADING