10 Second Muzzleloader Reload!  – Answer to “The Second Shot”

in Authors, GA Guides, Gear Reviews, Paul Helinski, Reloading Guide

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

I intend to get the bullet into the barrel within 10 seconds, for heaven’s sake!  Not the whole process of reloading. And honestly on the video, it took me 15.  But compare that to a plastic dump tube muzzleloader reload kit that you would buy at Walmart or Cabela’s. This idea is an absolute game-changer for muzzleloader hunters. The powder and bullet drop right in. You can’t screw it up.

10 Second Muzzleloader Reload!  - Answer to “The Second Shot”
On my first try it took me about 15 seconds to remove the cartridge from the wallet and drop it in the bore.  Try that with powder containers and loose bullets!

My overall reload, with zero practice, the first time I tried it, was under a minute from shot to shot, and though in the video I took my eyes off the target, with a bit of practice this would not be required. I also think you could cut that time in half.

Reload With Paper Cartridges

This system uses paper cartridges, made out of beauty supply hair “end wraps” (Sold on Amazon, used for perms and dies), cigarette papers, and a glue stick. These are similar to the ones many of you have seen me test throughout this Black Powder Project series here at GunsAmerica Digest, specifically the cartridges for the inline 12 Gauge shotguns from American Guncrafters.  As I have explained before, the company that makes these kits is run by my kids, and I am the primary engineer in designing the kits.

My feeling is that we knocked it out of the park with this kit. It absolutely revolutionizes the second shot for inline muzzleloaders.  Even the best of us miss. All kinds of things can happen to throw off that first shot. And there is nothing more exasperating in life (that isn’t dealing with a female) than finally seeing your intended game, and missing…with a muzzleloader.

I can’t say that a quicker second shot will get you the animal, but I have always wanted to find a system that makes the chance of it much more likely.  Fumbling with taking out and dumping powder, digging out a bullet, and then dealing with the cap, is too prone to error. With adrenaline pumping and having just dumped a bunch of that when you missed, the chance of that reload going well is very slim.

Video Example/Overview

Unsuccessful Alternative – Powder Pellets

Powder pellets didn’t really help either when I tried them. Hodgdon makes them in both Triple Se7en and Pyrodex, and they come in 50-grain tabs. So you have to fumble with two of them, without dropping one. I’ve tried it at the range and even without the adrenaline it still does not go well. I tended to crush them or have half of one of them fall off. Then the bullet would fall out of the plastic sabot.  And if I rushed at all, I sometimes forgot that I had to replace the cap.

When I personally hunted whitetails in New England, I never missed with a muzzleloader, but I always knew that if I did, it was not going to be worth trying to reload the gun.

With the pellets, you technically at least don’t have to take your eyes off of the target. With a little practice, it could be done blind. But I have had other issues with the pellets. For Triple Se7en and Pyrodex, the package is not sealed well. Black powder substitutes are all somewhat hygroscopic, and over time, if exposed to open air they can lose velocity over time. For me, the pellets bought new at Walmart (back when they carried them), did not have the same velocity of the same amount of grains out of the bottle. I tried some Pyrodex pellets that had sat in the shed for a while, and they didn’t even go off.

The Reload Cartridge Kit

10 Second Muzzleloader Reload!  - Answer to “The Second Shot”
This is the new packaging prototype for this kit in the new Cartridge Kits retailer program. Pretty soon you will see these kits at your local gun dealer and big box stores.

The kit to make these cartridges has a powder dipper included, measured for 100 grains of Triple Se7en. Black powder and substitutes are measured for grains, not weighed, and the dipper matches a purchased measure.  If you are someone who tunes loads, less than 100 could be marked on the inside of the dipper. In my experience, more than 100 grains offers little gain in ballistics with Triple Se7en at 50 cal., and the accuracy falls off dramatically.

I am also a big fan of the Traditions inlines. They have an unscrewable breach, and more than 100 grains tend to make the threads lock up.  This paper cartridge load is all you need for big game hunting in America at muzzleloader range.  In the video, you will see the cartridges with both a 250-grain Hornady sabot slug and a 300-ish grain cast TC Maxi-Ball.

Using The Cartridge Kits For Reloading

Paper cartridges ready to reload with
A paper cartridge contains the bullet and powder in one self-contained package. So there is nothing to pour. And no bullet to fumble with.  This paper cartridge kit, at cartridgekits.com, works great with plastic sabot slugs, cast bullets, and even roundballs.  The cartridges are made from what are called hair end wraps for the barrel, and the end is made of thin cigarette paper.

Making the paper cartridges is fairly easy. If your hands work well enough to shoot a smoke pole accurately, most likely you can make paper cartridges.  There are video directions on the cartridgekits.com website.  The hair end wraps are used for the barrel of the cartridge and the cigarette paper for the end, where the 209 primer burns through. This makes for a durable package that stays together well and ignites easily.

A paper cartridge to be used for reloading
The slide top two-round wallet drops the cartridge and primer into your hand at the same time, allowing you to palm the 209 primers while inserting and pounding down the bullet. The newer version of the wallet holds two primers per round.

They drop right in.  The shape of the cartridge is an extreme cone, unlike all of the other Cartridge Kits which are more close to a cylinder. There is no powder to spill. No bullet to find. The cap falls into your hand with the bullet if you use the wallet, which is included in the Deluxe Kit version.

The Basic kit is $24.95 and comes with the forming block, the forming dowel, the 100-grain dipper, and a small powder funnel.  You would need to purchase the hair end wraps, cigarette papers, and a glue stick to make the cartridges. It also helps to have a circle cutter, but for these cartridges, you could also just cut squares, as it doesn’t matter if the corners do not stick to the sides.

A Level Up For The Reload

Pieces included in the basic Cartridge Kit
Making paper cartridges is easy. The Basic kit comes with the dowel, former, a 100-grain dipper, and a powder funnel. The Master and Deluxe kits come with the hair wraps, cigarette papers, and glue stick you would have to buy separately, as well as a circle cutter and the 2 round field wallet in the Deluxe kit.

The Master kit comes with everything you need for 100 cartridges and includes a circle cutter. It is $43.95. The $59.95 Deluxe kit is enough for 200 rounds, and instead of a loading block in this kit like the pistol kits, it contains the 2-round field wallet.  There is room for 2 primers in the field wallet for each bullet, just in case.  The loading block is available separately, as is the wallet.

READ MORE: Paper Cartridges for the Sharps Percussion Rifle (that actually work)

The only caveat that I would warn with these paper cartridges is that for “drop-in” they are strictly for inline muzzleloaders. A sidelock does not have the spark power to reliably burn through the cigarette paper. The flame chamber is much longer on a sidelock than an inline and usually enters the bottom of the chamber from the side, so there is no guarantee that you would even be trying to burn through the cigarette paper and not the end wrap. You could of course prick the end of the cartridge with your finger and drop the whole thing in. I haven’t tried it yet, but I feel like it would be fine. This would also work with a traditional 1:66 twist sidelock with roundballs as with a 1:24 or 1:48 twist of the more modern guns.

Cast Bullets with The Kits

The cast bullets worked as well or better than the sabots with the paper cartridges.  I personally prefer cast bullets in muzzleloaders, and they are dramatically cheaper if you enjoy just shooting these guns.  I think that sabots became popular because they don’t use any lube. They aren’t really that much lighter so they don’t shoot flatter, and the jacketed bullets have no advantage in ballistic coefficient with such a heavy bullet.

10 Second Muzzleloader Reload!  - Answer to “The Second Shot”
The cast bullet I use is a TC Maxi-Ball. They have a ton of lube and fly pretty flat.  At muzzleloader distances the advantages of a pointy bullet in such a heavy bullet are inconsequential. The plastic-tipped pointy bullets were designed by marketers, not hunters. A naked lead bullet in a paper cartridge will not lead the barrel at any velocity. It’s like a free jacket.

In the field, cast bullets are usually awkward because the lube gets all over everything.  If there is snow on the ground and it is cold out, the lube generally stays pretty hard. But muzzleloader seasons start early in some states, and those early days of October can be very warm. Lube gets soft, and it is common for it to fall off entirely.

10 Second Muzzleloader Reload!  - Answer to “The Second Shot”
If you are inclined toward cast bullets, check out the new lube-cutting system at Cartridge Kits as well. It is right there on the 50 cal page. If you are still using a lubesizer for muzzleloader bullets, this is a huge time saver. And if you don’t cast, well get going! You don’t need a lubesizer. They are a waste of energy and time even for alloy bullets.

The paper cartridge holds the lube inside the paper, so even if it melts, it just soaks into the paper. The whole thing gives you a “can’t screw it up” package, which I think is awesome.  Cartridge Kits also makes a pan lubing kit for 50-caliber bullets.  So if you have been spending a lot of money on bullets, check out my casting articles here on GunsAmerica Digest.

Reload With Roundballs

Paper cartridges ready to be used for a reload
This is the top of the wallet, with both a sabot slug and cast bullet cartridge.   I did not include roundballs for this first outing because very few people shoot round balls in an inline muzzleloader.

For roundballs, you would cut the paper about a ½” longer at the end, and back it up on the dowel, the same as you would for a pistol paper cartridge.  Take a look at the paper cartridge videos on the GunsAmerica YouTube channel. There are also instructional videos on the Cartridge Kits website. Just remember, with sidelocks, break the paper!

10 Second Muzzleloader Reload!  - Answer to “The Second Shot”
Note that I have not yet tried this kit with sidelocks, but prior testing suggests that you should absolutely cut the paper before dropping the cartridge in the barrel. Usually, the sparks from a sidelock enter from the side of the chamber, which would attempt to burn through the thicker hair wrap paper in the walls of the cartridge.

Paper cartridges have always been a game changer in muzzleloading firearms, and this kit designed for the modern inline hunting rifle is no different.  Not everyone is going to “get it.”  Maybe they never miss.  But for those of us who do, a blind reload in most likely well under a minute is now not only possible but actually pretty easy.

Bonus Videos

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