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· Gold Bullet member
2,123 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've dipped my toe into the muzzleloading pool, and have an Armi Sport repro 1863 Springfield rifle on the way.
.58 caliber. I've plenty of pure lead, and tin if I need it...but no molds.
I'd like to shoot a minie ball, as I have read that this rifle was designed for these. Is there one that I could start out with, or should I just wait a bit until I have the rifle in hand to check bore size? Does one size these giant things like a normal boolit, or shoot them as cast?
I have read about a crisco/beeswax mix for lube, so I can whip up a batch of that easily.
Also, I would love to begin with a Lee mold, as I don't want to spend a ton of $$ on this to find out that I'll only shoot it once a year.
I plan to use real black powder, love that cloud of smoke!
Any other advice would be very welcomed as well.
Thanks for the help...

· Moderator
8,120 Posts
First, throw the tin away, use pure lead only for the Minié ball.

Second, wait until you have your new rifle musket in hand and slug the bore. Find a mould that will cast slightly over .002 under bore diameter then size appropriately. if your bore is exactly .58, you will want a Minié that is .578 in diameter.

And don't forget to drag out your scales, weigh each round to get consistency in weight for maximum accuracy.

Good for you using black powder rather than the ersatz (substitute) powders, it's much easier to clean than any of the others.

· Registered
2,754 Posts
There are some sellers on Gunbroker that have sampler packs of miníe balls at reasonable enough prices to make it worthwhile to try a few different styles before investing in a mould.
TP is right, slug the bore, and use pure lead without tin for casting.

· Registered
877 Posts
I started shooting Rifle-Muskets with Minie Balls in 1962 and have learned a few things over the years.

Mr. TP Moderator is 100% correct when he says: (1) Determine your bore size and size your Minie Balls .002 under your bore diameter. (2) Cast your Minie Balls out of PURE Lead (3) Weigh your Minie Balls. Your "light" ones will probably have a hidden air bubble in them-they go back in the pot. Also visually inspect the inside the cavity of every Minie Ball and discard the ones that have holes and all other defects.

The Lee Improved Minie Ball Mould is a fine mould. MidwayUSA has them in stock and they usually have good prices on thembut it never hurts to check around.


Whatever you do, order at least one pack of these plastic cartridge tubes-they make shooting your rifle-musket fast and easy:

You can use them over and over. When they get dirty, wait until the wife is out of the house and throw them in the clothes washer with a little liquid dish detergent and run thru a wash cycle. Then put them out in the sun to fully dry and they are "As Good AS New."

Here is how you load your cartridges. What you do is to dump your measured powder charge in them,(Rifle-Muskets usually shoot very accurately with a charge somewhere between 45 and 54 Grains of FFFg black powder. You have to try out different powder charges to find the one that delivers the smallest group off the bench. )

Next, when loading your cartridges: Insert the Minie Ball NOSE FIRST to close the "cartridge."

Next, using the Double Boiler method dip the Minie Ball end of the cartridge in the melted lube. Then set the cartridge aside, base down, on a piece of aluminum foil for the lube to harden. "PRESTO" you have a loaded cartridge.

I recommend you get one of those G.I. Ammo cans, make sure the neoprene seal is still in place on the lid. You can store your cartridges in the ammo can and carry them to the range in them.

A good lube I recommend is 60% real Beeswax and 40% Bore Butter. Apply it by the "Hot Dip" method. You can get the Beeswax at Michael's craft stores in the candle making section. The Bore Butter is available from Dixie Gun Works.

Here are some other hints:

For best accuracy, you need a TIGHT Tang Screw. Loose tang screws allow the barrel to flop around in the stock too much, producing lousy accuracy. It wouldn't hurt to glass bed the breech and tang of your rifle as the Italians usually inlet the stock rather sloppy. Matter of fact, you might note a dramatic improvement in your accuracy after a glass bedding job.

On your trip to the range, you will probably find that your rifle-musket shoots way HIGH at 50 yards and possibly even high at 100 yards.

The "Cure" is a taller front sight.

The sights on Rifle-Muskets were designed for shooting "Brigade Size Targets" on the battlefield and not precision accuracy. Have a gunsmith knock off your soldered on factory front sight and cut a dovetail and install the taller front sight. Then head to the range and shoot off the bench.

To "Zero" your Windage, simply tap the front sight in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION of where you want to move your point of impact on the target. To take care of your Elevation, simply file the front sight DOWN to move your point of impact up until your bullets are hitting in the "X" Ring.

Triggger pull-probbly lousy out of the box. You want a Trigger Pull between 3 and 5 pounds. You can grind or file down that little "V" Spring (the Sear Spring at the inside, rear of the lockplate) to make your Trigger Pull "Lighter." Just don't get it too hot when grinding. Hold it in your fingers and when it gets too hot to hold, drop in cold water for a moment.

After shooting, this cleaning rod makes cleaning out your barrel easy. Just drape G.I. cleaning patches (or cloth cut the same size) over the jag end of the cleaning rod and run it down into your barrel and pull it out. Do this several times until the patches come out clean.

The jag end of the cleaning rod is threaded to accept a standard 20 Gauge Shotgun Bronze Bristle Brush available at Wal-Mart in their gun section.

If you live East of the Mississippi River, then join a North-South Skirmish Association team in your area. THE N-SSA IS NOT A RE-ENACTMENT OUTFIT, but fires "Live Ammo" in Individual and Team Competition.

For some reason the N-SSA website id down tonight, but wait a day or so and try it, it should be back up by then.

If you have any other questions just go to the N-SSA Bulletin Board, then the the "Civil War Guns" page and post your questions.

Now, go out and have FUN, FUN, FUN with your new Rifle-Musket!!!

· Gold Bullet member
11,812 Posts
Susan, glad to see I'm not the only one heading down this path of learning, though you will probably have more time and resources into it.

There's a guy online who sells his own cast Minie bullets that he claims work well in his Armisport 1853 Enfields, which I would assume might also work well in an Armisport 1863 Springfield.

PM me if interested. I've bought a couple boxes from him, but haven't had a chance to try them yet. I just don't foresee being able to cast my own anytime soon.

· Gold Bullet member
2,123 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you, guys, lots of information there. I will wait until I have the rifle, I just got excited I guess.
This is a whole new learning curve for me....

· Platinum Bullet member
20,982 Posts
Although mine is .54 cal, I've cast the Lee Improved Mini for over 3 1/2 decades. I've tried other styles fellow shooters have cast, and they have tried some of my Lee's.

Consensus is that the Lee Improved Minie is a great performer.
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