Traditions Buckskinner Muzzleloading Rifle

Copyright 2005 by Junior Doughty

Click thumbnails for full size photos

I bought the rifle shown above in November 2003 at the local gun and pawn shop. It was marked $125 but the previous owner had shot it and didn't clean it. I pointed out the rusty bore to the dealer and offered him $75 tops, remarking about the many months it had sat on the used rack. "Sold," he said.

The rifle is a now-discontinued Traditions "Buckskinner" .50 caliber with a 21" barrel rifled in a 1 - 20" twist for conicals and saboted pistol bullets. It weighs only 6 lbs 0.6 oz. With an OAL of only 37" it is short and handy in the thickets where I like to deer hunt. I installed a ring on the stock for one of my saddle ring slings and made the little rifle even more handy.

After I bought it, I scraped the rust out of the bore using Hoppes #9 and a brass-bristled brush. A perfect bore didn't matter to me because the longest shot possible in those thickets was about 50 yards.

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I also replaced the blade front sight with the Williams Firesight you see here. It costs $17.95 today, October 2005. It's Williams # 66061 and in .500" height. The sight also comes in heights of .450" and .550".

Installation was easy. I drove out the old sight, then slipped the new sight in the slot and tightened the screw you see in the photo.

Click for full size popup photoThe rear sight was fine. By "fine" I mean I could see the U notch without reading glasses, so I didn't replace it with a peep.

It did have one problem. There was slack between the rails and the elevation leaf, allowing the leaf to move back and forth maybe .020". That much side-to-side rear sight movement translated to about 3" of horizontal POI movement at 25 yards.

Notice the dimple in the upper rail at its corner. I took a center punch and peened the rail until the slack disappeared. I left maybe .002" clearance so the elevation leaf wouldn't bind.

Having no loading data, I zeroed the rifle at 25 yards using the Lee TL430-240-SWC cast in pure lead, a Hornady sabot, and 4.3cc of Pyrodex RS. All I cared about was hitting an 8" bullseye at 50 yards. The rifle and load did that easily.

Then after owning the rifle for over a year I purchased a Lee C430-310-RF mold for my Ruger SBH. (Read about it here.) I decided to see how a 310 gr bullet shot in the rifle. As I also had on hand a Lee .50 caliber 320 gr REAL bullet mold, I decided to see what it would do, too. To my way of thinking, the 1 - 20" twist should work well with those big bullets.

  • All the following Chrony data shot 10 feet from the muzzle.
  • All target distances = 25 yards.
  • All bullet alloy = pure lead.
  • All groups = 3 shots.
  • All sabots or bullets finger-lubed with Junior Lube. (Read about it here.)

Click for full size popup photo Here, from left to right, we see the bullets and components used.

  • The Lee TL430-240-SWC & Hornady green sabot.
  • The Lee C430-310-RF & Hornady green sabot.
  • The Lee .50 caliber 320 gr REAL & 1/8" dry felt wads. (Read about them here.)
  • I also used Junior Lubed 1/8" felt wads, not shown.


4.3 cc Pyrodex RS (~63 grs by/v)

  • Lee 240: AV = 1163 fps; ES = 72; SD = 37; Group = 3"
  • Lee 310: AV = 1138 fps; ES = 13; SD = 7; Group = 2"
  • Lee 320 & no felt wad: AV = 1023 fps; ES = 164; SD = 89; Group = 5"
  • Lee 320 w/dry felt wad: AV =1018 fps; ES= 125; SD = 62; Group = 3 1/2"

Three things were readily apparent:

  1. The rifle liked the Lee 310 & sabot. No need for further tests with the 240 gr bullet.

  2. The rifle liked the Lee 320 better with a felt wad under it, and I wondered if it would like a lubed felt wad even better.

  3. I wasn't getting much velocity from any of the bullets, especially from a rifle. I needed more powder.

5.3 cc Pyrodex RS (~78 grs by/v)

  • Lee 310: AV = 1217 fps; ES = 33; SD = 17; Group = 1 5/8"
  • Lee 320 w/Junior Lubed felt wad: AV =1195 fps; ES= 73; SD = 37; Group = 1 3/4"

Wow. Both big bullets were now giving plenty of velocity for 50 yard deer. And way good groups, as far as I was concerned. Amazingly, they shot to almost the exact same POI, the 320 landing maybe 1" higher at 25 yards than the 310. That was effectively the same POI to 50 yards.

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Here's the 310 group with a dollar bill for scale.

Click for full size popup photoHere's the 320 group.

Guys, I'm quite happy with my $75 rifle. But I have a dilemma: which bullet will I use on opening morning?

I think I'll go with the 320 REAL bullet. There's something artificial about the plastic sabot used with the 310. Ol' Dan'l Boone never heard of plastic. Besides, I've still got some of the 320 gr REAL bullets I cast over the campfire for Buffalo Hunter 2002.

Yep, it's the 320 REAL bullet here in 2005.

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