I love muzzle-loading except for having to force down the bore tightly patched balls and cleaning the mess of black powder afterwards. In contrast, my new Buffalo Classic is a breech-loading cartridge rifle. All I need are the right combinations of bullet, powder, primer, case and tools to assemble the rounds…
I’ve worked that out many times. The BC is no different. In this calibre, one has a flexible range of loads available with smokeless powder and black can be used as well. Since I’m not hunting T-Rex or shooting 1000 yards, I don’t need 500 grain bullets. The lighter 300 grain bullets will do just fine. I like the specs of Hornady’s 300 grain jacketed hollow point. It can withstand 2500 ft/s muzzle velocity, certainly the upper limit of the recoil I can stand. At 2200 ft/s I can zero for 200 yards and stay well within the vital zone of a deer with ample energy remaining. At 2500 ft/s, 250 yards, about the limit of my ability to hit a deer off-hand, is equally feasible. So, I think a near-maximum load behind a 300 grain JHP will be my “open country” round. When I’m guarding a smaller space or stalking, I can use just about any bullet loaded down to ~1500 ft/s, with a trajectory much like a .22 rimfire but way more lethal. I can even use cast bullets for that close-in work. It may be feasible to purchase them instead of making my own because buying in bulk is economical.
For propellant there are many choices ranging from Unique for plinking cast bullets, to H4198, IMR4064, H322, IMR3031 etc. to really drive bullets all the way down that 32 inch barrel. The action is strong enough to hold any of the hot loads out there but there’s no need to punish me or the action to get to 2500 ft/s or a bit lower. Most of the published loads are for 22 to 26 inch barrels and the 32 inch barrel with a slower powder will get ~20 ft/s per extra inch, ~120 to 200 ft/s more with the same load or what I need with a lighter load. H4198 is very popular in 22 inch barrels but I expect H322 or IMR4064 will do better in the longer barrel. It will be fun to confirm this because it’s 11 months to the next deer-season.
UPDATE Well, my relationship with the Buffalo Classic was short-lived. When there finally came a break in the weather, we headed out to a gravel pit for some target-shooting. Amazing things happened:
- Despite bore-sighting, the rifle shot a bit right and far too low.
- Twice, with moderate loads, the action gently opened on firing.
Needless to say, I disassembled the rifle after cleaning and examined the lock. The dog that’s supposed to slide over a ledge on the barrel wasn’t making it. It or the ledge was canted so that the two surfaces crossed and the dog was hanging up on the edge of the ledge, barely holding on by a finger-nail. On firing, the lock had plenty of room to move which explained the weird placement of bullets.
I contacted the Canadian agent for the maker and was given a return-authorization and sent my dear rifle off to Quebec. A few days later I got the news that they could not fix it and that I should telephone to choose a replacement. With dread I dodged time-zones and made the call. I was offered a more expensive Marlin 1895 in .45-70… If I didn’t love long barrels and the simplicity of single-shot, that would be absolutely wonderful… 😐
I thought about it for a few hours and called back to accept the offer. The Marlin suffered some of the same problems as H&R upon acquisition by Remington but they’ve had time to sort them out. Basically, Remington loves a nice efficient assembly-line instead of assembly by skilled artisans… The BC needed a lot of care to assemble. That’s why I didn’t even think about reassembling it myself. It would have been a lot of trial and error to come close. The Marlin assembly line has shipped a lot of schlock 1895s since Remington got it but the ones I see these days are beauties. For the price, they should be. Local dealers are charging 50% more than I paid for the BC.
So, I’ll be able to re-use my reloading components and tools but it’ll take awhile to learn to love a lever action. Way too many moving parts, needing to crimp bullets, damned short barrel (22 inches) and damned “buckhorn” sight. I expect I will single-feed it a lot. There’s no need for a second shot at a deer with such a round. I can mount a scope fairly easily. Weaver makes decent see-through mounts. One of the dangers of this lever-action is that the trigger is not carried by the lever and it is possible to impale one’s trigger finger by the trigger… Joy.