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Hunting Whitetails with 500 gr. Government Bullet & Black Powder

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I have never hunted with my Shiloh Sharps 45-70, just punched paper and did some “rock-busting” on my BIL’s ranch in NW Arkansas. I’m seriously considering hunting with this rifle in this year’s up-coming deer season. This rifle has been dedicated for use with black powder and my cast bullets only. That’s all that I ever fired in this rifle, Holy Black and my cast bullets.

The rifle shoots Ok with the Lyman #457193 - plain base bullet (~410-415 grs. with my 20:1 alloy). This is the RNFP 405 gr. (supposed to be) bullet. I can hold 2-3” at 100 yds. with this bullet from a rest. I have taken several hogs and two deer with this bullet fired from my 1895 Marlin, but propelled by smokeless powder. On the other hand, my Sharps rifle really likes the Lyman #457125 – 510 gr. Government Round Nose bullet (the muzzle velocity is 1,175 fps.) propelled by 69 grs. of FFG. Black powder. I have shot numerous 1 MOA or less targets with this bullet (Soule-type sights).

The maximum range where I hunt is ~100 yds., maybe 150 yds. so either bullet should be capable of making an effective broadside shot. I’m concerned about the RN bullet configuration of the 510 gr. RN Government bullet. I am concerned about this bullet’s effectiveness on whitetails. I have no doubt that it will kill a whitetail – I just don’t want to set myself up for a long tracking job!

Has anyone actually hunted whitetails with THIS bullet and Holy Black – at what velocity – and at what range was the animal shot? How did it preform for you? Would you use it again?

Thanks in advance for any helpful insight.




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No different from a traditional muzzleloader. If you don’t break shoulders or a spine with your shot, you’ll likely be following their deer a short ways. Bullets at this speed do not seem to provide the hydrostatic shock of modern high powered rifles that provide that nice bang, flop result we’ve become accustomed to.

Assuming you strike the vitals, you won’t be tracking long distance. Just don’t expect every deer to fall right where he stands.

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I have nearly zero experience with whitetail deer but I’ve killed elk and mule deer with the government bullet. This from a Borchardt rifle many years ago. I don’t know what velocity it was shooting but that rifle wore a 32” barrel and the results were short to no tracking required at all. Good luck with your pursuit. It’s good to see the old guns out there making meat.

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