The conical bullet started out in rifled muskets of the 1850s but is still with us today in modern cartridges. So what muzzleloader bullet should you choose?
The lead ball of the last several centuries lacked the range and had to be a tight fit to work in a rifle, but in the late 1840s the first conical bullets came onto the scene. They were undersized for easy loading and featured a hollow cavity in the base to expand into a gun's rifling.
They were longer and more aerodynamic than their predecessors for real, long-range potential. This bullet, called the Minie bullet, is the direct ancestor of all modern bullets, both lead and jacketed.
Today a huge variety of conical bullets are available for muzzleloaders in common calibers and allow the muzzleloader to reach great potential. But the conical is not perfect.
Here is the good and the bad of the conical bullet:
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The conical bullet comes in many varieties today and allows for better accuracy, less drop, and further reach than the old lead ball. The elongated nature of the bullet means it retains its energy and is not as affected by the wind. Penetration and expansion are also improved over the lead round ball.
Your gun may not be able to stabilize the slug because of a slow twist while it is very hard to destabilize a lead ball. Also, conical bullets are not quite as cheap to make or buy as its lead ball predecessors.
So is the conical right for you? If not, check out Part 1: The Lead Ball. Stay tuned for Part 3, where we will explore a modern twist on old technology.