Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 63

APPROXIMATE DROP OF MUZZLELOADER BULLETS
45- to 58-caliber roundballs at 1,800 to 2,000 fps
0 yards
.45 -8 inches
.58 -8 inches

50 yards
0 inches
2.5 inches

100 yards
-5 inches
0 inches

125 yards
-12 inches
-6 inches

45- to 58-caliber conical bullets at 1,400 to 1,600 fps
0 yards
.45 -8 inches
.58 -8 inches

50 yards
+2.3 inches
+5.2 inches

100 yards
0 inches
+5.8 inches

125 yards
-8 inches
0 inches

NOTE: These approximations are modified by bullet shape and densities. Pointed
bullets with narrower diameters and greater density will have less trajectory
drop. Lighter bullets and those with blunt noses are more affected by wind.
But before you primitive roundball
shooters despair, here is the rest of the
story. Roundballs shot from flintlocks
will mushroom back and release all of
their energy inside a whitetail while
moving only 900 feet per second. This
is caused by the plastic nature of soft
lead which causes soft tissue destruction. Consider that most flintlock
hunters are using a 50-caliber patched
roundball, and driving it out of the
barrel between 1,600 and 1,800 feet per
second. For those who love ballistics,
kinetic energy is calculated by squaring
the velocity, dividing by the number of
grains in a pound, dividing again by the
acceleration of gravity, and multiplying
the results by the bullet's weight.
In the case of the .50 roundball, it
will still have 566 foot pounds of energy
at 90 yards. Illinois and other states
use 500 foot pounds as the benchmark
for energy necessary for dispatching
whitetails. Furthermore, it has been
JANUARY 2014

calculated that the minimum speed
necessary for a soft lead bullet to damage soft tissue (skin and organs), is only
163 feet per second; while bones will
break at 213 feet per second. While I
don't recommend shooting at distances
that would bring the roundball down
into this domain, it does reveal the
bullet's lethality.
OK, so a 50-caliber flintlock is a
good gun for shooting whitetails a
football field away, right? Yes and no!
It does have the necessary energy, but
I don't believe most hunters have the
ability to hit a paper pie plate when
shooting in the off-hand position
(such as hunters often find themselves
in when hunting deer.) If you can't be
sure of a lethal shot, why squeeze the
trigger?
Hunters who use the .54 roundball
will find that they have plenty of energy out to 150 yards, but again by the
limiting handicap of open iron sights.
63



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 2
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Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - 64
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - A
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - B
Pennsylvania Game News - January 2014 - Cover3
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