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Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

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SWIHARTMARK
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Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#1 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Tue May 15, 2018 9:20 pm

I have read where the British put a clay or wooden plug in the hollow cavity in the back of Minnie balls. I was thinking of using some air hardening clay in the cavity of my ,575 Minnie balls cast from the Lee original mold. I have a three band Snider I would like to use them in and it seems most people just go with a .585 or larger Minnie ball or use .600 round balls in a plastic 24GA shotgun hull. I think this might actually work as well or better since it was done historically. I would guess the British did some testing on this as well.

Any input would be appreciated.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#2 Post by Rapidrob » Wed May 16, 2018 9:12 am

I would make a plug and let it harden. Then smack it with a hammer to see how hard it really is. The plug should be hard to shatter with a light blow.
The plug must leave the cavity after the bullet is free of the muzzle and has done its job of obdurating the bullet into the rifling. For accuracy each plug needs to weigh the same.
Decades ago I tried what your doing and I used a " hydraulic cement " for patching a rain water leaking basement and it worked well when cured. The cement expanded into the bullets cavity and was a tight fit when set. The plugs were found about 40 yards from the rifle when fired and were mostly intact. In combat the little plugs would be deadly as well at close range.
I cannot say that the bullets were any more accurate than non-plugged bullets but I think that was due to our poor black powder quality today. For this reason I got out of black powder firearms.
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Re: Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#3 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Wed May 16, 2018 5:21 pm

Well, this is Crayola Air-Dry Clay, only the best for my Minnie balls. I'll still do it just to fill the air gap if nothing else. I hear it is used to make hand print molds of little kids as its main function in life. I'm guessing this stuff shatters if I look at it wrong. I did not waste any more money on any high end clay. I'm guessing the clay falls out of the cavity more ofter than not once it dries. I'll just put a bit of the wet stuff inside to make it stick as a back up plan.

Got any more information of today's bad quality black powder. I've never heard that before, but don't doubt it.

As for accuracy, I don't think I'm in your league by a country mile, but I want to hit the berm properly. If I manage to whack clay pigeons at 50 yards every once in a while, that would be fine. I'm not holding my breath though.

Thanks for your input.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#4 Post by Smokey » Sat May 19, 2018 5:23 pm

The British Pritchett bullet used a tapered wooden plug in the base to spread the cavity skirts when it was driven into the bullet by pressure. American Minie bullets relied on the pressure in the hollow base to do the job. In trials in 1855, a rifle-musket kept all the shots in a 5-inch circle at 200 yards, and penetrated 11 one-inch pine boards.
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Re: Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#5 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Sat May 26, 2018 9:23 pm

The air hardened clay plugs I used seemed to help as I also shot some rounds without plugs. I'll try to quantify it next time around. The $5 tub of 2.5 pounds of air hardened clay by Crayola is about the cheapest air hardening clay out there. Not exactly a massive investment, but worth it. They did tend to fall out of their bullets when I was reloading. I just had them rest on a beeswax plug I had on the mouth of the case before I seated the bullet and all was well. The Snider converted Enfield shot just fine for her first time out. The rest of the AR-15s on the line couldn't touch her class.

Best Regards,

Mark

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Re: Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#6 Post by Smokey » Sun May 27, 2018 8:04 am

Mark, Very interesting that you're shooting a Snider Enfield. Would love to see more about the cases, loads and especially the rifle. A Canadian Major I worked with has one as a family heirloom. Never saw it, but he didn't know what it was until he described it to me.
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Re: Clay Plug In Minnie Balls

#7 Post by SWIHARTMARK » Sun May 27, 2018 9:03 pm

I made my own cases using Magtech 24GA shotgun brass. I think it is only shipped to the USA from Brazil once a year and to Midway, Graf, and perhaps the Sportmen's Guide online stores. I annealed the top half, ran it through my .577 Snider dies and trimmed about .500" off of the top to size it to 2 inches. I used a drill press and a counter bore cutter to trim the brass. The annealling was done with a propane torch in a dark room, a spinning hand drill with a case holder to even out the heat and a bucket of water to throw the shell into when it literally got red hot. You can do the same to make Martini-Henry brass, but since you can to greatly reduce the neck to .45 cal, it is rather tricky.

I think I picked uo the rifle from a guy selling off his gun collection out in Boston a year or so ago. It was great shooting it next to all those AR-15's. The RSO said they rarely see rifles with any wood anymore. That's truly sad.

Casted up some pure lead Minnie balls for a future outing. I'll see how those do down the road.

Best Regards,

Mark

BTW, I talked with a competition black powder shooter at the range and he said FG powder was likely a good match for her given her barrel's length.

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