Questions about paper patching the 45-120

  • Last Post 08 April 2008
2frogs posted this 02 April 2008

Ok-I just got my hands on a 45-120 browning rifle and I would like to try my hand at the paper patching..Where does one get the template to cut the patch? What paper do you suggets be used? Should a grease grooved bullet be used or a smooth sided? Should pure lead be used or something different for alloy? I suppose the case mouth needes to be flared to prevent the paper from tearing.. Where can I get more information on this.. Thanks for any and all ideas or suggestions.......John

Attached Files

Order By: Standard | Newest | Votes
PETE posted this 02 April 2008


  Templates - Most of us make our own templates as those you buy will more than likely have to be modified slightly for the particular bullet you have. Buffalo Arms does sell templates for .45 cal. IIRC, plus they have patching paper to.

  The problem with patching paper tho is we usually have the cart before the horse. We start out with a bullet and try to find paper that with two wraps will give us a diam. about .001” over groove diam. We also dont have the supply like the old timers had where you could get several different paper thicknesses so you could get an exact fit. What we usually do today is take a known paper thickness and custom order a mould so we will end up with the correct diam. when wrapped.

  If you are going to be authentic the only paper to use will be a 100% cotton bond. In the old days the supplier of paper to the mint also had paper available for patching. You could try using dollar bills! :) Most of the guys today use 9# airmail, or just plain old 25% cotton typing paper.

  I would recommend you use a straight sided bullet especially made for paper patching. You can use a GG bullet of course but they don't look as sexy as the real thing.

  With PP'ing alloy can actually be anything you want. I've used everything from pure Lead to Lino with good results from all of them. It will depend on what you want to use it for. For hunting go soft, and for target whatever alloy you find gives you the best accuracy. I've pretty well standardized on 1-25 Tin/Lead for all PP bullets.

  Yes. The case mouth should be expanded for the reasons you cite. When seating the bullet your seating die can be set up to straighten up the mouth, but don't crimp it. You can also leave the mouth flared slightly as this helps center the case in the chamber. This is especially good in the old BP guns as they are usually cut with large chambers.

  There's not much written on PP'ing but Paul Mathews has a book on it. If it's still in print you should be able to get it from Buffalo Arms to.


Attached Files

2frogs posted this 03 April 2008


Thanks for your reply.You make it sound like it could be diffcult to do..But I am willing to try it.I have heard that some use grooved bullets,but I have never seen this,xcept in pictures.. I appreciate your replys as well.Sounds like you have a lot of knowledge when it comes to black powder..I have learned over the years that there are some who don't want to share with anyone else..Right now my bullets are at .4585 dia...If I were to try some just for the heck of it,what dia. would you suggest I use...Thanks....John

Attached Files

PETE posted this 03 April 2008

 2 frogs,

  Well yeah, guess I do have a little experience with PP'ing. :) Pretty close to 40 yrs., off and on. As for passing on what I know...... I think you'll find on here many will tell you everything they know in order to help you out. You might not gert many replies on PP'ing because it's kind of a dying art(?). Much easier to throw some lube on a GG bullet and start shooting. The reason I like PP'ing is it's the transition between “naked” and “jacketed” bullets, and is a whole 'nother ball game. Besides..... As a friend who plays with them to says........ When you seat them in a case  “They are really sexy looking!". I agree.

  I can imagine if you've never done it PP'ing can seem a little overwhelming. Just try and think of it like when you got into casting your own bullets. Quite a bit to learn, and equipment to get before you could even start. With PP'ing you're already halfway there. All you need to do is get/make a template, and find some paper, and if you decide you want a regular PP bullet, a mould.

  I've never tried patching a GG bullet but feel more like it's something to do until you decide this is something you'd really like to get into. Then go for a proper bullet of the correct size.

  The reason we make our own templates is due to the fact when you wrap the bullet the end has to exactly match the joint of the first layer. If the patch you cut is a little bit to long you start a third layer and this will affect accuracy. A little to short doesn't seem to make any difference. Also the templates you buy are plenty wide so you might have to trim that down for a given bullet.

  The hard part of patching is the forward edge of the patch has to be in exactly the same place on each bullet. You know this from shooting GG bullets. You want the bullet to be tight into the rifling, or wherever you want it. In PP'ing the bullet itself will be well under bore diam. and the patch will be the forward edge you use to “fit” the bullet into the throat. You can see if this varies to much there will be a different engagement in the rifling and this will affect accuracy. I've made a little jig so I get this alignment right.

  Here's something that will blow your mind when you see what kind of production you get when you patch your bullets. The record for patching bullets by a girl at the Sharps factory was 12,000 in a 10 hour day. Bet you can't do that many in a month! :) Takes me about an hour to do a 100.

  To go strictly with PP'ing and a dedicated PP bullet, with a two wrap, of say, .004” paper, all you need to do is subtract 4 thicknesses of paper from your groove diam., or bore diam. if you want to go that route. There will be a little shrinkage when your patch dries so whatever you come up with add another .001". Also, what I do is run my patched bullets thru a sizing die of the diam. I want. You'll find that its about impossible to wrap exactly the same diam. for each bullet, so a sizing die “evens” things up.

  If I'm using fixed ammo I lube my bullets before sizing. This imbeds the lube in the patch and “wipes” off any excess. If I'm breech seating for target shooting I don't lube till I'm at the range. I roll the bullet on a hard surface, to loosen the patch on the bullet. You'll find when a patch is dry and you try and take one off it's really on there tight. I've had patches that didn't come off till they went thru the 100 target. Kind of neat to see a patch sticking out of the target. Then I roll the bullet on a pad that is impregnated with the lube I'm using.

  There are two ways of looking at PP'ing a bullet. Some like their patches wide enuf so they can twist the tail and tuck it into the hollow base. I don't do that because I use flat base bullets and feel that twisting a tail can cause the patch not to separate from the bullet at the muzzle. My patches are just wide enuf so that when I fold them over the base they just meet in the center...... or a little short. Doesn't seem to affect accuracy.

  Also there are advocates of patching the bullet to bore diam., and/or groove diam. I will be in the process this Summer of finding out which gives the best accuracy. My gut feeling is the groove size will prove more accurate.

  With smokeless powder a groove sized bullet won't cause any problems, but if you want to shoot BP it will necessitate wiping out between shots. The old time Buffalo shooters preferred bore sized bullets so they could shoot indefinitely without wiping out. Of course minute of Buffalo is a long way from MOA. :)

  Well, that's kind of a rundown of PP'ing. It covers most of the “tricks of the trade". But I'm sure you've got more questions so feel free to ask and I'll try and answer them. Be sure and get Paul Mathews book on PP'ing. I don't agree with all he says but it's not a bad place to start, and you won't go wrong doing it his way.


Attached Files

R. Dupraz posted this 03 April 2008


This PP thing is really not as intimidating as it might seem. And it goes pretty fast once you get the hang of it. Also it can eliminate the sizeing and lubeing step.

There are two methods of PP. One is patching a groove size bullet and the other is patching a bullet up to bore size. Like anything else in this shooting game, there are some universal basic steps and then after that, it all depends on what one gets to work for themselves in their particular rifle. It mostly depends on what you're after or how far you want to go. Target, hunting accuracy or just for the fun of it.

There is a wealth of information on the Shiloh Sharps forum on the  paper patching of these big old rounds.

I am basically a target shooter and use grease groove as well as PP in  my .45x2.4 shiloh Sharps. And the accuracy with PP bullets and BP is really quite amazing even out to 900-1000 yds. The following is what I use and what shoots very well for me. I patch to bore size.

PP template-- need to decide what diameter you want your bullers to be. Can get them from Buff. Arms Co. I made my own. Two wraps of 100 % cotton bond around my .442” smooth 535 gr bullet will bring the diameter up to .450", the bore size of my rifle. The width of the patch is just enough to go over the ogive of the bullet* and to overlap the flat base some. To get the correct patch length-- Wrap a strip of paper a little longer that what you will need around the bullet and then cut a diagonal with a razor blade through both layers from top to almost the bottom edge. Unwrap and discard the ends. Result, perfect patch length for the bullet.

Paper -- 100% cotton bond from Buffalo Arms Co.

Groove or Bore Size -- I use a BAC mold that drops a .442” dia. bullet in order to patch to bore. Reason being is that I want to get as close to breach seating as I can for accuracy. Enhanced bore- bullet alignment.

Pure lead or something different - 1/20 tin-lead. Soft to obdurate into the grooves. Soft - bore size, harder - groove. Don't know that it makes much difference in these BPCR's. However, if too soft an alloy is used, it can cause the nose of the bullet to slump in the bore. Not good at the target.

Flaring case mouth - Nothing done to the case at all. The Patched bullets are finger seated on top of Paper wad in the previously fired case for a slight friction fit. Minimizing uneven neck tension to increase accuracy.

More info - Do a search for PP on Shiloh Sharps Forum

I also use a grease cookie between two wads on top of the powder column. A blow tube is used after each shot after which one dry patch is pushed through the bore. 

No lube on PP at all. Sometimes this can cause a patch to stick to the bullet. Not a good thing at the target. After the bullet exits the bore, the patch's job is done and I want them all to come off the bullet near the muzzle. Consistently and at the same time. 








Attached Files

2frogs posted this 03 April 2008

So tell me,just what is breach loading anyway? I have heard of it but never reqlly knew what is was...And when you mention bore dia and groove dia,if i'm right,like in my 45-70 I am using cast bullets sized to .458 inch  This is groove dia right? or is that wrong..I guess I have tons to learn... Also I have read where you have to be sure to wrap the paper in the right direction around the bullet for right or left hand rifling..I f the barrel is right hand then do you wrap in a counter clock wise direction or am I wrong about this to? Thanks for sharing your knowledge...John

Attached Files

PETE posted this 03 April 2008


  Breech seatng is the act of manually, or mechanically, putting a bullet into the rifling ahead of the case. We can get into this if you want. This can improve accuracy markedly, especially in the old original guns which are kind of so-so in there alignment of the chamber to the bore.

  You've got the groove diam. right. If you push a slug thru the barrel the greatest diam. is the groove diam. Bore diam. will be the minor diam., or in common terms the land to land diam.

  Which way to wrap the patch....... Man! This opens a can of worms. You have proponents that favor clock-wise and those that favor counter clock-wise for either right or left handed rifling. You'll get a lot of good reasonable explanations for both. Since all my guns are right hand twist I favor a clock-wise wrap as you are looking at the bullet from the rear. I look at it as when the bullet exits the muzzle the edge of the wrap will catch the wind(?) which will help unwind it. It is imperative that the patch leave the bullet as close to the moment it leaves the muzzle as possible. You'll know you have it right when you find pieces of the patch within 10 ft. of the muzzle.

  A  couple of points I should have brought up in my last message that just occurred to me. When determining the bullet diam. necessary for the patch paper you've got you need to decide whether you want both layers to cut thru or just the outer layer. I favor the latter, but a friend of mine favors the former and we've had some good “discussions” on that point.

  If you favor cutting both layers then you will want your two patch thicknesses to be just slightly thicker than land hgt. If you favor only cutting the outer layer then one patch thickness should be about the hgt. of the lands. It's why I favor the .0045” patch paper I use since my land hgt. is about .003". 9# airmail paper and the paper you can get from Buffalo Arms runs about .002". In any event you have to have paper thick enuf that it doesn't cut completelty thru or you'll get Leading along the land driving edges.

  The 2nd point is if your decide to go with a bore diam. bullet it should be set up to be about .001” to .0015” larger than the bore diam. If you decide to go with a groove size bullet this should wrap up about the same amount as above.

  Whichever way you decide to go just remember that you subtract 4 thicknesses from your bore or groove diam. (whichever way you decide to go in that instance) plus .001” and that will be the diam. of the bullet you need before patching.

  Here's a trick I've worked up....... I fudged around with my bullet diam. so with very little sizing I can either wrap a groove or bore diam. bullet for my .38/55. With the Buffalo arms paper I get the right size for a bore diam. bullet and with the .0045” paper I end up having to size it down .001” for a groove diam. bullet.

  As mentioned by another writer on this thread, it's not as complicated as it seems. Just sounds that way. :)


Attached Files

2frogs posted this 04 April 2008

You have to forgive me for being slow to all this....So if my barrel is slugging to like .4585 then I should try to have a bullet approx .450 in dia. for proper paper patching. And should this be a relatively soft bullet,such as lead or maybe 30 to 1 alloy..I suppose it will be to my advantage to do a lot of testing to really find out what it(rifle) likes...Thanks,John

Attached Files

PETE posted this 04 April 2008


  No problem on “being slow". After all you don't want to make a mistake and have to do it all over again. I know I've been there, but had a friend who has cut several moulds for me so not out anything unless I've got the mould casting to large.

  Of course a lot is going to depend on what thickness of paper your going to use and that will determine the bullet size. That's why I wasn't real specific. But......

  The size you've given me (.4585") would indicate that you have given me the groove diam. so you are looking for a bullet diam. that will work with that. If you want to use .002” thick paper then, yes, a bullet .450” would be pretty close. I'd go with a bullet .452” in diam.

  Here's how you look at that. You need a bullet that, when patched, will be .459” to .460. Remember. .001” to .0015” over groove diam. same as for a GG bullet. So, if you're gonna be using .002” paper then four thicknesses of paper equal .008". .008” subtracted from .460” equals .452". Also, don't forget that when your paper dries it will shrink slightly. But if you try for a .460” diam. then the .452” will take that into account and you should end up with a bullet about .459” or very close.

  If you want to go with a more commonly available paper of about .004", then taking the criteria above you'll want a bullet that casts .444". That would be four wraps of .004” equals .016". .016” subtracted from .460” is .444".

  Just keep in mind that whatever paper you can get ahold of all you have to do is add four thickenesses together and subtract that from .460".

  The beauty of PP'ing is that you're not confined to a bullet of any hardness since no matter what alloy you use you don't have to worry about Leading. But for a place to start I'd go with 1-30 Tin-Lead. I'd also try 1-25, & 1-20. One of these should give you the best accuracy.

  The other factor is that since you're going with a slightly over groove diam. bullet you don't have to worry about bump-up, so any hardness you can come up with that gives you the best accuracy is the one to go with. As I've mentioned before I've shot everything from pure Lead to Lino and gotten good accuracy. One of the ones mentioned above will also make an excellent alloy for hunting..... unless you want to try for Cape Buffalo. :) Then I'd go with Lino!


Attached Files

2frogs posted this 04 April 2008

I was checking out the PP bullet molds on Buffalo Arms site,but did not see who made them as far as mold handles..I have lyman rapine,and rcbs...Does anyone know if the handles come with their molds or the make of their molds...Thanks,John

Attached Files

PETE posted this 05 April 2008


  I'd call BA up when placing the order and they will tell you whether their mould comes whih handles or it's something you'll have to order to. They've always been very helpful with any questions I've had.


Attached Files

R. Dupraz posted this 05 April 2008

Saeco Handles, not included, unless BAC has changed things since I got mine. It looks to me like whoever is cutting the molds, uses Saeco blocks. Fine piece of work. Identical in quality to the custom Paul Jones 540 creedmoor that I have for my .45x2.4 Sharps.  


Attached Files

2frogs posted this 05 April 2008

Thanks for the reply-Why didn't I think of that myself????:dude:

Attached Files

2frogs posted this 08 April 2008

So do u think i would be better off to order some bullets from buffalo arms to try befor getting a mold of my own?That is paper patch bullets....

Or do you think I should jusy go ahead and get the mold?Plus the patching supplies which include the template..As soon as time permits i would like to do some shooting with this rifle...It is a browning hunter 1885 model..I also need a tang sight for it if anyone as any ideas where to get a good sight..Thanks for your replys....John

Attached Files