SABOT HUNTING ROUNDS
A sabot round has a projectile that is smaller than the bore diameter. The projectile is wrapped in a ‘sabot’ to ensure a proper gas seal. Once the projectile leaves the barrel, the sabot drops from the projectile. Sabot rounds have been used by the military for many years.
The concept behind using a sabot round in black powder hunting is that the projectile will achieve a higher velocity, be more accurate due to the sabot having more surface area to engage the rifling and achieve penetration and expansion almost as well as a modern bullet. The use of a sabot round sounds wonderful, but there are some issues to be discussed. The rifling twist rate on most black powder rifles runs about 1 rotation in 60 inches of rifling or more. Modern weapons such as a Remington 270 have a rate of 1 rotation in 10 inches. If the wrong sabot is used, the sabot will not stabilize the round fast enough and accuracy suffers.
Black powder is a ‘dirty’ propellant. Most black powder hunters clean their rifle every few rounds while out hunting, more often if time permits. The plastics used in the jacket for the sabot round can cause plastic fouling in the barrel. This small deposit of plastic in the rifling is only removed by proper cleaning and elbow grease. What is used to clean the black powder residue (soapy water) will not remove the plastic residue left behind in the barrel. Using a sabot will add an additional step in the cleaning process. Once the proper sabot round is found for your muzzle loader, the use of sabots does increase accuracy and penetration. If you are planning on hunting with a muzzle loader and want to use sabot, ensure the rifling rate is compatible with the sabots you want to use.