Photos by Sheryll Garbe
A quick glance at the equipment list for this year’s Creedmoor 150th Long-Range competition showed that the Pedersoli Gibbs .45 Long-Range muzzleloading rifle was used by no less than six out of 14 muzzleloading competitors. Having owned a Pedersoli Gibbs myself, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the barrel, not to mention the general fit and finish of the firearm. The rifle was very accurate with the grease groove bullet mould that came with it.
My good friend Robby Robinson, has a Pedersoli Gibbs .45 that he has been shooting with paper patch bullets. I thought, given the Gibbs popularity, that it would be interesting to review Robby’s loads and techniques. In conversations with him, Robby has many times stated that the Gibbs is his most accurate bulleted muzzleloader. Of even more interest is that he has fit it with a 6X Parsons scope in Lyman mounts which has materially aided in shooting small groups.
Parsons 6X scope with Lyman Target Spot mounts.
The Gibbs rifle from Pedersoli comes with a 1-18 twist, five land and groove 36-inch barrel measuring .450 on the lands and .456 in the grooves. The barrel appears to be choked for about four inches at the muzzle, which can be felt when loading. Pedersoli advertises that the barrels are broach-cut, much like the old Badger barrels that many of us have used in the past on black powder cartridge rifles.
Robby initially did load development using a 490-grain grease groove bullet but quickly began experimenting with a paper-patch slug weighing 500 grains that he purchased from Buffalo Arms Company. These pure lead bullets measure .441, are swaged and have a cupped base. Patched, the bullet measured .448, which made for a nice fit in a fouled barrel.
500 and 540-grain paper-patched bullets used in the .45 Pedersoli Gibbs.
To load, 80 grains (weight) of Swiss 1½ Fg powder was poured down the barrel using a drop-tube. A felt wad greased with Bore Butter was pushed down on the powder and then the bullet was seated on the wad. RWS caps were used and a platinum high-pressure nipple was a replacement from the factory nipple. The high-pressure nipple is a very important upgrade, as standard percussion nipples will be burned out in relatively few shots, resulting in serious blow-back and stringing of shots. Platinum-lined nipples are also available from Buffalo Arms Company.
Consistent cleaning technique is an important ingredient for precision shooting. The rifle was cleaned with one water-soaked 2-inch patch on a .45 caliber jag and then dried with a clean dry patch, using both sides. The bore was not oiled after the drying patch and a cap was snapped to dry and clear the breech before loading. Some shooters will not clean down to the breech between shots, preferring to pour the next charge, push down the wad and wipe the bore only to the wad. This has the advantage of not introducing water or solvent to the breech. However, Robby has found that his particular rifle shoots the best when cleaned to the breech face. Muzzle loading rifles notoriously have their own personality when it comes to cleaning and what works for one may not work for another. Shooting is the only way to really determine what technique works best in a particular rifle.
Freezer paper scope shield keeps fouling from building up on the mounts. Note excellent wood to metal fit on rifle lockplate.
After mounting the scope, a problem soon became evident. The cap-flash was fouling the rear mount of the scope and making a mess of the micrometer mounts as well as restricting the free movement of the scope to slide under recoil. In my conversations with Robby, he recommended moving the scope block forward to get the mount away from the cap-flash. He may well do that in the future by tapping the barrel for another rear mount. At present, Robby uses a disposable shield made from freezer paper that kept the mounts clean and functioning during a shooting session.
As the accompanying targets show, the Gibbs is capable of excellent accuracy. Mounting a scope, especially for load development, eliminates of a lot of sighting error.
200-yard targets shot with the Pedersoli Gibbs .45-caliber long-range rifle.
In searching the Internet for available rifles (and they are scarce) I noticed that Pedersoli makes several variations of the Gibbs. There is a slower twist version in .45 caliber (1-21 twist), a .40 caliber (1-16 and 1-24 twist), a .72 (1-75 twist) hunting rifle, as well as a deluxe engraved model. There are even Gibbs models in 12-gauge smoothbore. Inventory seemed to be limited with Buffalo Arms Company and Dixie Gun Works being the main suppliers. Cherry’s Fine Guns featured the Gibbs models in their on-line catalog but “Call for Availability” was on each model description. Very few used rifles were listed on the various gun auction or on-line suppliers; looks like the folks who have them are keeping them!
The Pedersoli Gibbs rifle is an affordable solution to the problem of getting started in long-range muzzle loading with competitive equipment. Long-range shooting is a demanding sport, and using a sub-standard rifle will only lead to frustration. The Gibbs rifle is basically an out-of-the-box, competitive rifle requiring only a few simple upgrades to be match ready. Buffalo Arms Company and Dixie Gun Works are two US suppliers that try to keep the Pedersoli Gibbs in stock, but given our new post Covid-19 supply chain realities, back-ordering may be necessary.
Dixie Gun Works
Cherry’s Fine Guns