Black powder comes in "F"s, where Fg or
"one F" is the coarsest = biggest grains, progressing through FFg, FFFg to
FFFFg or "four F" = very fine small grains.
In very general terms, F is used for
the largest bore rifles and big smooth-bore guns; FFg is used for big bore
rifles and pistols, FFFg is used for small caliber rifles and pistols, and
FFFFg is used for priming charges in flintlock guns.
Black powder is said to almost explode
rather than burn like smokeless powders, so some suggest that shooters
should limit the amount of black powder kept on hand and/or store black
powder in an outbuilding rather than in the house. I have kept as much as
four one pound cans of black powder in the cellar without any problem, but
it takes only one surprise to make a convert. Or a corpse.
There are several substitutes for black
powder on the market now, such as Pyrodex and Triple 7; both Hodgdon
products. I have used Pyrodex and it seems to work just like black powder.
Opinions differ about these black powder substitutes; some shooters claim
that they aren't as accurate as black powder; others claim wonderful
accuracy with the substitutes.
Some say that Pyrodex, and maybe other
black powder substitutes, is more corrosive than black powder. One shooter
says that Pyrodex exhibits the characteristic that after cleaning and
oiling the gun, some remaining fouling rusts the barrel.
Black powder, and to some degree the
substitutes, is very corrosive in gun barrels. The residue or fouling is
said to be "hygroscopic", a highfalutin word meaning that the fouling
absorbs water out of the air. It also contains a lot of salt residues from
the gunpowder. This water/salt fouling mixture is what so corrosive,
causing rust. Cleaning should involve a lot of very hot water and patches
and then thorough oiling. This isn't a problem, just takes a little time
and elbow grease.
There is a lot of agreement among
shooters with the Thompson Center (TC) story that petroleum based cleaning
products should not be used with black powder or the substitutes.
TC sells special "Bore Butter"
lubricant and a cleaning product.
Paul Brasky: "You can make moose
milk(patch lubricant) from 5-7 parts water to 1 part water soluble
machining oil with a capful of Mr. Clean/Lestoil added. It will also clean
44Man: "Don't use any smokeless
solvent in the BP barrel. Clean with plain water, Birchwood-Casey BP
solvent, Simple Green mixed 50-50 with water, Anti Freeze mixed 50-50 or
any other type made for BP. Once clean it will rust fast so run hot water
through it, dry it and coat the bore good with something that will prevent
rust. (The anti freeze mix is the best to keep rust down, but make sure
you still oil.) LPS-3 works good as does Birchwood Sheath, Ballistol,
M-Pro 7 CLP or even a good gun oil."
R. J. Talley: "Clean using simple
hot water and dish soap. Cheap and really effective. With the hooked
breech on that gun simply remove the barrel wedge and remove the barrel.
After removing the nipple, set the breech end of the barrel in a bucket
filled half way with very hot water and a teaspoon of dish soap. Take a
patch and wrap it around a cleaning jag and then pump it up and down in
the bore. You will feel the water flushing through the barrel. Then,
change over to clean soap-free hot water and do the same again. Run a
couple of dry patches through, let it sit 10 minutes or so to dry
completely and then coat with either Balistol or Crisco. Wipe the exterior
down with a damp rag, oil with any good gun oil, (petro based is OK here)
reinstall the nipple and you're good to go. Water and BP are brothers.
Nothing cleans it as well nor is anything better at removing
fouling. Some guys make their own lube using Crisco and bees wax or lamb
fat and bees wax. I've used both and both are very good. The easy route is
to buy some TC lube. It works well."
A product called "Ballistol" is
frequently mentioned; it is not petroleum based and is recommended for
cleaning and then oiling/preserving BP guns. Ballistol may be successfully
substituted for the water soluble machining oil mentioned above.
In the black powder world the word
"cartridge" has three meanings.
First is the cartridge made for muzzle
loading military or hunting rifles and for the revolvers. This is a paper
device meant to hold the powder and ball and speed up reloading. In the
case of the military rifles it was ripped open with the teeth, the powder
was dumped down the bore, the paper followed, and the bullet was rammed
home on top of the powder and paper. The revolver cartridges were placed
in the chamber and rammed home.
Second is the cartridge made for breech
loading rifles such as the early Sharps, that is put into the chamber
whole. These are made of (nitrated) linen or paper, sometimes with
The plan for the Sharps linen cartridge
was for the block to shear off the rear of the cartridge as it was closed;
exposing the powder to the percussion cap or other primer.
Third is the brass cased cartridge as
we know it today, as used in the later Sharps, Maynard and Remington
rolling block rifles for example.
Charges, Weight vs. Volume
It has been said that with BP, for
accurate shooting, consistent charge volume is more important than
consistent charge weight. The explanations have to do with the BP
absorbing water, and/or the BP having "fines" = very small grains.
Powder absorb moisture out of the air?
I experimented with GOEX FFFG twice.
The powder gained 7% and 8.4% in weight
in 24 hours in a container with 1/2" of water in the bottom, powder in a
The powder returned to it's original
weight in six hours in a dry atmosphere.
Dry powder would not gain weight
outside in a very humid Florida atmosphere.
I conclude that black powder will not
absorb (much) water in any reasonable environment.
"Historically, black powder has always
been a volume measurement. Pioneers didnít carry powder scales with them
to measure the amount of powder to pour down their rifle barrels.
However, to obtain good accuracy from
black powder, one other factor is pivotal when loading a firearm. That
factor is compression.
With muzzle loading firearms, the
amount of powder used was a resultant of how much velocity the shooter
wished to obtain. In reality, the muzzle loading firearm provides an
unlimited chamber with the only velocity limit being how much powder can
be burned within the barrel.
Cartridge firearms using black powder
alter that concept because they have a very limited chamber capacity.
Increasing the powder amount and the compression; substituting a finer
granulation of powder or decreasing the weight of the projectile will
provide additional velocity. Those changes will also affect accuracy more
in a cartridge rifle than they would in a muzzleloader.
The initial advice given to any new
muzzleloader is usually to start with a low powder charge and keep
increasing it until you get the desired accuracy for a desired distance.
The second instruction should also be to maintain the same amount of
compression for each loading. Long-range muzzleloaders often use a
spring-loaded device that fits over the end of their ramrods to easily
show them the amount of compression they are applying. Straight-line force
limits the amount of compression they can achieve.
Black powder cartridge loaders on the
other hand, have unlimited compression available to them through the use
of compression dies in presses with compound leverage. Is that a benefit?
All nineteenth century black powder cartridge manuals unequivocally state
that when loading cartridges, the powder should be compressed but not
crushed. When heavy compression was required, the manuals recommended
using powders that were specifically created for the government using
heavy compression and not sporting rifle powders.
Following the guidelines of the
nineteenth century manuals Iíve had very good success loading black powder
cartridges. Volume and compression are the criteria I use to develop a
quality load. I first determine the maximum overall length that my
cartridge may be and still fit into the chamber. Then I determine the
weight of a powder charge on a scale that will give me a powder column of
a height that will allow me to add the desired compression I want. The
compression amount will vary with the powder granulation and manufacturer.
I use the weight of the powder (to get as close as possible) the volume I
desire for THAT PARTICULAR LOT OF POWDER. That brings us to the weight
versus volume issue.
Each lot of black powder will not weigh
the same amount per volume as other powder lots. You have suggested that
one reason for the difference is the water content and I wonít go into
that issue because it has already been debated in this thread. Two factors
not touched upon are the
density of the charcoal used in making the black powder and the amount of
compression used to force the water out of the mixture to form the cake.
The type of wood selected to make the
charcoal affects charcoal density. In addition, the amount of moisture the
wood had access to during its growing cycle also affects its density. A
dry growing season provides a more dense wood than a rainy growing season.
Nature controls the wood density.
Black powder is a mechanical mixture
and water is a major part of the manufacturing process. The water is
forced out of the powder mixture by a pressing process. If the mixture is
compacted very hard to extract the maximum amount of water, the process is
considered hard pressing. Lesser pressure results in light pressing which
produces a less dense powder cake and a powder that is less dense.
It is not uncommon to get powder from
two different lots that will be very close in weight and volume. However,
I have experienced volume variations of a quarter inch while obtaining
identical charge weights. The black powder cartridge shooter who wishes to
maintain accuracy should weigh the powder charges to obtain a specific
volume. Once that ideal volume is determined, the weight of future powder
lots should be adjusted to provide that ideal volume. I advocate weighing
the powder charge because unlike the muzzleloader, the cartridge rifle has
a very limited chamber. Depending upon your skills with a powder measure,
a significant weight deviation can also result in a significant volume
deviation. Remember that the powder is initially dropped into a chamber or
charge tube (one volume measurement) and then into the cartridge case (a
second volume measurement which might not be identical to the first)."
feather on ASSRA
"I've shot with shooters in State;
National; and World Championships and have found that some weigh charges,
while others measure by volume when loading black powder cartridges.
There seem to be a few in each group
that turn in some impressive scores.
I measure by volume and only weigh
several thrown charges to write down the data.
I measure the gap in the powder measure
so that I can reset for that exact charge the next time I'm loading that
particular cartridge. By setting the powder measure to .001" on the gap
you are pretty well assured of throwing the same volume the next time that
you reload. You must keep pretty good notes for each rifle that you load
for, as each is an individual in its own right.
If you switch from one "lot" of powder
to another "lot" of powder, though it's the same manufacturer and the same
grade of powder, it will be a different load.
Some of the shooters that are going to
the big matches and using some of the black powder made overseas claim
that they don't have that variation from "lot" to "lot." Me, I'd rather
buy American powder, if we don't support our one last manufacturer and it
goes out of business it makes it that much easier to cut off our supply.
Each different "lot" of powder must be
worked with to find the right combination for your particular rifle.
There are many different cast bullet
designs out there to choose from, some have worked for me, while some have
In preparing for a big important match
my shooting partner suggested trying a can of his "lot" of powder that had
been exceptional for him. It worked out much better than the "lot" I had
been using. In calling the manufacturer, I asked about a recent "lot" that
had come out with as identical results from their testing as the earlier
"lot." I was given the recent "lot" number and gave a distributor friend
of mine a call, he checked his magazine and found that he still had some
from that "lot" in stock and my order was placed.
To make a long story short, the powder
arrived and loading it exactly as I had using the can of powder that my
friend gave me, it didn't work the same. By varying the charge with an
additional few grains, the load came together nicely.
I place a card wad over the volume
measured powder and then run it through the press utilizing a compression
plug. The bullet rests on the card wad and retains the same OAL.
The method mentioned in the old loading
manuals talks about using a scoop to dip into the powder and then scraping
the top off, before pouring the powder into the shell.
Even the early Duplex powder measures
dumped charges that were volume measured.
In going to a long weekend match I'd
take 400 rounds and sometimes come home with nearly that many empty shells
Volume measure for black powder works,
as does weighing each charge for some shooters.
I'll probably continue to volume
measure for my shooting pleasure, but you can weigh yours and we'll go to
the range to enjoy the day burning black powder together. My all your
shots be center hits!"
Remington Raider, ASSRA
"I loaded up some loads and shot them
over a chronograph and recorded the load and taped that on a glass pint
wide mouth jar and covered the jar with window screen and set it on a
shelf out in the machine shed for several months to see what happens to
black powder sitting open with extremes climate changes.
After a couple of months I loaded some
rounds and shot them over the chrono graph again and found the same
velocity's within 3 or 4 fps + or - as before the powder was left out.
Now mind you I don't have the test
equipment as a test lab has to measure the moisture level but my test told
me enough that I wont worry about leaving a can of powder open for a day
or so. "Kurt on MSN BPCR.
BP has varying
" I have come to the conclusion that
the reason b.p. is recommended to be measured by volume is because not all
black powders have the same density. In other words an = volume of Goex
and Swiss typically do not weigh the same, and there can even be
differences between lots. For example, if I set my powder measure to
dispense a certain volume, these are the actual weights in grains of the
powders / lots I have on hand:
Goex FFG =
Kik FFG =
Swiss FFG =
I have found the best thing to do, is
to determine what volume is required for my particular application. I
shoot a fair amount of .44-40 and .45 Colt b.p. cartridges.
If I'm using Goex, I like a volume that
will require a compression of .18"-.20" on a settled powder charge. If I'm
using Swiss, I shoot for about .06-.10 compression of a settled powder
Once I have determined the volume
needed of a certain powder, I will weigh it for reference. Then, when I
load additional cartridges using that same powder and lot no., I will
double check the actual weight to make sure that the powder measure is set
for the correct volume.
I can then choose to either weigh each
charge or load directly from my powder measure set at the required volume.
Works every time"
W30WCF on the CBA forum
"The relative amount of "fines" in
powder is something that varies with brand. I use Swiss almost exclusively
and for all practical purposes, it doesn't have any fines. Some of the
less premium brands I suspect have more. Some folks have discussed
"screening" their powder to eliminate the fines.
High wall Jack on MSN BPCR
"A lot of shooters are now putting
their powder through brass sieves in order to removed fines from the likes
of GOEX and Elephant brands."
can only offer the following experience that I had with one lot of powder.
This particular lot of powder had numerous fines throughout every can.
When a charge was poured through a drop tube into a cartridge case, all
the fines would be at the mouth of the case. Because they were lighter
than the specified granulation, their progression through the drop tube
was slower than the larger, heavier granules. What was actually produced
was a duplex load of 2F powder against the primer and an unmeasured 4F
charge against the base of the bullet. Targets shot at with this
ammunition showed patterns and they werenít even close enough to be called
groups. The powder only became usable after I sifted the fines out of each
feather on ASSRA
Short Range Round Ball Muzzle Loaders
Most agree that for short range muzzle
loading round ball shooting, charges dispensed by volume work just fine.
"Keep in mind RB shooters can and do
measure by volume, when a grain difference doesn't affect the accuracy,
it's just too dang easy to go by volume."
'The statement "I recognize that the
precise volume or wt. of BP isn't critical, or so I'm told" is correct
when used on muzzle loaders because the ball or bullet is always rammed
down to contact and stop against the powder. It may or may not be true
loading BP cartridges."
Black Prince on Cast Boolits
BP and Target
"In my experience BP in a round ball
off hand muzzle loader 2 gr makes little difference on the target, however
in a round ball bench gun gr can make a difference at 50 or 100 yards.
Now a slug gun is a different beast; 1
or gr can and does make a difference; it can make a 10 ring group into an
X ring group at 200 yards, I have seen a half grain do the same, though
that has only happened a couple of times in 18 years. Temperature and
humidity is crucial in a slug gun as they are the most temperamental guns
I have ever shot, must be why I love shooting them. Most of the slug
gunners weigh their charges, while round ball shooters use volume
"I used to weigh my charges for my
Rigby ML and, after a year or two, switched to volume charges with no
I used Pyrex glass test tubes with cork
stoppers which made for easy use on the range. I always loaded down a dry
tube (after wiping one wet, one dry per shot) with a small funnel soldered
I also went from weighing and swaging
to just weighing the bullets, again with no discernable loss of accuracy."
"I have seen it suggested that
volume measuring is sufficient is done CONSISTENTLY as BP burns relatively
inefficiently so minor variations are of little consequence."
"In a cartridge, volume is more
important. The amount of space filling the cartridge will have a greater
affect on accuracy than the weight of the charge. Weight matters, volume
is a hold over from the old days when everyone carried a powder horn with
a measure attached. You will find that most shooters who are serious are
weighing charges for a match."
"Years ago, when I got my second lot of
elephant powder I loaded it by weight and came up with a charge that was
much smaller in volume than I got from the previous lot. The new lot was
denser. Instead of having .15" of compression I loaded the same weight and
got about zero compression. It shot terrible.
As I upped the charges it shot better
and better. Maybe a coincidence, but when my charge was the same volume as
I had for the first lot, I got the best accuracy. In establishing an
accurate load for lot #2, volume was a much more important factor. It
doesn't always happen that way, but it does often enough to get folks
thinking volume is everything.
However, once a volume load is
established, I'm still going to weigh each charge - again, because my
volume throws are not consistent enough in weight for me."
Al on MSN
"What is important is that the powder column, no matter how you measure
it, is sufficient to make a minimum of contact with the bullet
base. If you use a wad, it counts as part of the column. If you compress
the powder, you'll have to factor that in. Don't worry about powder
absorbing moisture. Take reasonable care of it and you'll be fine. Take
reasonable care in your loading techniques and procedures and you'll be
fine. Leave an air space between the bullet base and the powder and you
may not be fine."
Black Prince on Cast Boolits
"Since granules of BP vary in size much
more than smokeless (unless screening your BP) the concern is to have the
proper volume so as to seat the bullet without any air space. It can be 58
grain or 60 grains by weight, as long as the volume is the same per
cartridge. Better BP's are more consistent in weight/volume ratios.
Screening is even better."
WBH on Cast Boolits
"I would also say that from a PRACTICAL
standpoint, there will NOT be a measurable difference on the target when
charges vary by as much as 0.2 grains or a bit more in weight... IF...
powder compression is kept constant.
However, when charge volume variations
cause a powder compression change, then we see immediate changes in MV and
group size in rifles. This is likely due to the primer brisance getting
through the powder column differently when there is a change in the grains
My own tests indicate that with a given
size BP charge a slight variation in compression of the "settled" powder
column height does affect chrono speeds in a small but measurable amount.
Therefore in order to obtain minimum variations in MV it is vital to start
with a reasonably consistent charge volume not having more than 0.2 gr. to
perhaps 0.3 gr. weight difference between charges."
My conclusion, after reading the
responses to the question on various forums, is that what matters is the
load column height; the height of the powder and wad/s and bullet.
Consistency here, with powder VOLUME
constant even if powder weight varies, gives best accuracy.
With long range and target muzzle
loaders capable of fine accuracy, including slug guns; the powder weight
is more important. In these guns, the load column height is controlled as
the gun is loaded, by the shooter.
I think that the volume vs. weight
controversy results from varying densities of BP within a brand as lots
change, and between brands of powder.
I think it's all about those varying
densities and the need to maintain constant and proper column height and
compression in cartridge rifles; and has little or nothing to do with
How to reload
black powder cartridges
Black powder is an explosive, unlike
smokeless powder. If a pile of smokeless powder is ignited, then it burns.
If a pile of black powder is ignited, then it explodes. (I'm told.) Great
care must be taken in storing and handling black powder. It is said that
black powder should not be metered through a powder measure with a plastic
hopper because the plastic could generate static electricity and a spark,
exploding the powder. To solve this problem, Lyman makes a black powder
measure with a metal hopper. Iíve thrown thousands of charges of black
with a Lyman 55 powder measure with a plastic hopper, with no explosions.
Maybe Iím just lucky.
Cartridge cases and rifle barrels shot
with black powder will corrode if they are not cleaned right after use.
I drop fired cases into a plastic jug
of water with some vinegar added. When I get home I decap the cases and
wash them in soapy water, rinse and dry; and have no problem with case
I clean the rifle barrel with patches
wet with a solution of water and dish soap, and then oil the bore. When I
get home, I clean the gun again with Marvel Mystery Oil, and have no
problem with bore corrosion. (I think other bore cleaners would work as
well as the Marvel Mystery Oil, but they donít smell as good.)
It is generally but not universally
agreed that cartridges loaded with black powder should have no air space
between the powder and the bullet. It has been reported that high
pressures and damaged rifles can result from this air space. For safety,
do not leave any air space in your cartridges.
Fairly soft cast bullets are used in
black powder cartridges. Bullets of 20:1 lead: tin or softer are
frequently reported. I have had reasonable results shooting bullets cast
of wheelweights in black powder rifles.
Black powder leaves a lot of residue or
fouling in the barrel after firing. This fouling will quickly destroy
accuracy if it is not dealt with. The fouling is hygroscopic = loves to
absorb water, and varies in hardness with the humidity of the air. Wiping
the bore with a wet patch after each shot will solve the problem, but is
sort of inconvenient and takes time. Using proper lubricants in proper
quantities can minimize but not eliminate the fouling problem. The hot
lubricant at this time is ďSPGĒ lube, many shooters swear by it. It has
been rumored that SPG lube is Darr lube.
Many shooters use a ďblow tubeĒ to
soften the fouling between shots. The blow tube is a cartridge case with a
piece of plastic tubing finagled onto the primer end of the case. The
primer hole is drilled out much larger. After the shot the blow tube case
is put in the chamber, and the shooter blows a set number of times through
the plastic tube and on through the barrel. The water in the breath is
absorbed by the residue, which is softened and blown out of the barrel on
the next shot.
Black powder burns more consistently,
and accuracy is improved if it is densely packed into the case. Many
shooters use a ďdrop tubeĒ to increase powder density. A drop tube is
commonly a 30Ē piece of metal tubing with a funnel on one end. The bottom
end goes into the case-only into the mouth of the case-and the powder
charge is poured into the funnel. The difference between using the drop
tube and not using it can be readily seen; there can be a difference of an
eighth inch or more in the height of the powder in the case.
Some shooters compress the powder
charge in the case using a die or some other mechanical arrangement. A wad
is used over the powder before compressing it.
Various materials and thicknesses of
wads are used over the powder. Materials include card (like postcard or
cereal box), cork, plastic and grease. Some shooters contend that a grease
wad should be separated from the bullet base by a card wad, lest the
grease wad stick to the bullet and affect accuracy. A grease wad should
always be separated from the powder by a card wad. Wads can be made with
the appropriate arch punch from your good hardware store, or can be
purchased. Grease wads can be punched out of the sheet of grease with the
cartridge case mouth-these sheets of grease can be purchased or made with
an extruding machine. I have made grease sheets by melting the grease in a
big frying pan, dipping the bottom of a Pyrex cake pan in the grease and
taking the Pyrex pan out and letting it cool upside down in the
refrigerator. When the grease is cool I remove it from the Pyrex pan with
a putty knife, making a pretty big sheet. Some experimenting is required
and the Pyrex pan must be cool.
Some shooters use a filler between the
bullet base and the top of the powder for shooting reduced loads. Since
there can be no space between the powder and the bullet base, some filler
is required if a reduced load is desired. (Shooting fully loaded 45/70
cartridges with 525-grain bullets wears on me very quickly.) I have used
Cream Of Wheat as a filler with good results for reduced loads.
There are substitutes for black powder
that donít require the expensive shipping of black, and are less corrosive
and safer to store. The most common is Hodgdon's ďPyrodexĒ. These
substitutes can generally be used volume for volume for black, but read up
on the substitute before using it. In some matches these substitutes are
ďDuplexĒ loads have a small priming
charge of smokeless powder put in the case first, followed by the main
charge of black powder. A smokeless charge of ten percent of the black
powder charge is often used. Duplex loads burn much cleaner than straight
black powder loads, and frequently are more accurate. I have used H110,
RX7 and SR4759 as priming charges; I thank any but the fastest powders
will work well. Again, in some matches, duplex loads are not allowed.
The overall length of the cartridge is
established by trial and error. Youíve got to fiddle with the amount of
powder and the height of the powder column in the case affected by the
drop tube and/or compression, the wads used, and the bullet. The cartridge
has to be short enough to fit in the gun and be removed without pulling
out the bullet. The cartridge should be long enough to have he bullet near
The beginner might start with FFg black
powder and a well-lubricated bullet, with a card wad over the powder. Keep
the bullet tightly on top of the wad and vary the charge to find the
maximum practical overall length. Wet some patches with soapy water and
push a patch through the bore after each shot. Shoot the next shot with
the bore wet. WRITE IT DOWN, and experiment from that base.
All black powder is hydroscopic, and
will absorb moisture from the air to one degree or another. (See above
discussions.) The cry of ďKeep your powder dry, boysĒ wasnít just good
advice for Daníl Boone or the colonial Minutemen, it was an absolute
necessity. Damp gunpowder either burnt very poorly, or it didnít burn at
all. Picture yourself facing the enemy with a gun that wonít shoot and
nothing but a bayonet to fight and defend you and yours with - especially
if the enemy had dry powder, and their guns WOULD shoot.
Though modern guns are vastly superior
in materials and tolerances, they still depend (for the most part) on
exactly the same BP propellant. And it is still just as sensitive to
moisture as it ever was. A flintlock isnít the best choice for hunting in
rainy weather - and I speak from sad experience.
Iím not too philosophical when Iím
annoyed. I have a tendency to try to do something about the problem if I
can. And I thought I could fix this problem too. I was a paint chemist,
and I had access to a huge inventory of commercial chemicals and materials
to work with. Pigments are used for many purposes in paints, and there is
an incredible variety of types and properties. One type is called ďArc
SilicaĒ, and itís available from companies like Dupont and Cabot. Itís
strange stuff. A bag holding five pounds of arc silica is bigger than the
average guy. ďFluffyĒ isnít able to even give you an idea how light it is.
And interestingly enough, it comes in grades with all sorts of properties.
One of them is the ability of some grades to provide waterproofing. I
recall one advertisement that said that you could just dust a bit of this
grade of arc silica on a page of newspaper, and use it for an umbrella in
a driving rainstorm. And by golly, it really worked too!
So I took a small dish of FFFFg, and
stirred a little bit of hydrophobic arc silica into it. It completely
disappeared, and the powder looked unaffected. So I spread it out in a
thin layer and added a drop of tap water. It beaded up like Iíd put it on
waxed paper. I thought about this a bit, and scrapped the edges up to form
a low containment dam, and poured more water in. It just set there. I
waited about four hours, and there was no apparent change. The water just
sat there, and the FFFFg seemed to ignore it. So I touched the powder off,
and it burnt completely, and the water then scattered. But the powder
actually burnt out from underneath the layer of water, showing that it
hadnít been affected.
The really neat thing is that this
stuff will waterproof your pan, frizzen and flint too! Just dust them with
a little arc silica on a bit of tissue, and you can laugh at the weather.
And still, it doesnít affect cleanup: Soap will enable water to remove it
Some caveats: It doesnít take a whole
lot of arc silica to do the job. You CAN overdo it. I once tried to see
just how much arc silica I could get on the granules. Why? I donít know!
Waterproof is waterproof. Maybe I thought it would make it ever better. I
donít know, but I did it, and the powder took quite a bit. But when I
tested the heavily treated granules, I found to my surprise that they were
harder to ignite.
Another caveat is that this was all a
long time ago. I donít remember proportions, and I donít remember exactly
what grade of arc silica I used, but Iím pretty sure it was from Cabot.
Thatís probably not too important, because suppliers come and go, as do
product grades. There are probably other manufacturers now, with other
hydrophobic arc silicas. Just look them up on the internet, and check out
their product listings. Samples are usually free for the asking, and even
a little will go a loooong way! Take a priming flask worth of FFFFg and
stir in perhaps a quarter teaspoon of whatever you happen to get. Once
itís well stirred, drop a few granules into a glass of water. If they
dissolve, add a little more and try again.
Spotted Pony on Cast Boolits, R. Dale McGee
Now as memory serves, one important
function of a lubed patch (or greased slug) was help keep fouling soft for
easier removal. Being close to a small town, the local sporting goods
store has a very small inventory of any BP supplies hence prime interest
is in mix it yerself. For many years I've used Crisco, beeswax mix & just
recently started adding a bit of olive oil all heated in a dbl boiler &
allowed to cool. at room temps 75 to 80 (love our wood stove lol) its
solid but soft enough to be worked with fingers if necessary.
4 oz Crisco by weight
1/4 oz beeswax
1 or 2 tsp olive oil
Then to lube patches I lay out a piece
of Plexiglas I use, & smear enough of the lube on a hunk of my patch
material with a plastic scraper, to penetrate the material well yet not be
messy. fold the material in several layers and smooth it with said scraper
and lay it in the freezer for a few minutes before using my patch cutting
punch to punch out my patches. 4 or 5 raps on 6 layers laid on a hardwood
scrap and the patches come out clean as a whistle.
Being the cheap errr uhhhhh frugal
person that I am, I've come up with a nifty patch cutter too, I found a
piece of hard steel, thin wall pipe 1 1/8" id, laying around in the shop,
cut off about 6 inches, beveled one end at about 45, & sharpened it with a
Dremel & welded a plug in the other end, to add some weight and give a
hammer surface to strike without mushrooming the pipe end. it works like a
charm. Spotted Pony on Cast Boolits
I am going to address preparing patch
material. I "borrow" my wife's rotary cutter (designed for precision
cutting of cloth for quilts, etc). It looks kind of like a pizza cutter
but is literally razor sharp. I buy a yard of proper patch material (100%
cotton and I prefer sail cloth or pocket drill). You really need to take a
micrometer to the fabric shop to get the proper thickness. Then I lay out
the material on a cutting board and cut strips clear across the material.
Their width will vary depending on which caliber they are intended for
(make a trial run of small pieces before you commit to the whole yard)
After you have the strips cut, take a
putty knife and press on the semi solid lube. It is desirable to coat the
entire surface with as thin a coat as possible. After you have the strips
completely finished, roll them up, put a small number of them in a zip
lock bag (be sure and leave the bag open so any moisture can escape). Put
them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds (start slow and experiment). The
microwave will melt the lube and it will be distributed perfectly through
the cloth strip rolls. Be careful as you do not want to overheat the lube,
nor start a fire, etc.
After they come out of the oven, store
them in zip lock bags to keep them clean and so they will not dry out. Use
as you would any patching material (lay over the muzzle, push the ball in
flush with muzzle and use a patch knife to remove excess).
I currently use Wonderlube or Bore
Butter for lube. Use just enough lube to saturate the cloth - you don't
want any lube to "stand proud" of the cloth.
One more thing - you cannot depend on
the manufacturer's label to guarantee that it is 100% cotton. There is a
simple test. Ask the clerk to cut a sliver off the bolt of cloth that you
are interested in. Tell them you are going to take the sliver outside to
test if it is 100% cotton. Go outside, light the sliver of cloth with a
match or lighter. If it melts at all, it is not 100% cotton. It should all
burn leaving no or very little residue. THAT is 100% cotton. Then go back
inside and buy the cloth.
I just use the strip, cutting the patch
at the muzzle of the gun when I load. If I were hunting, I would consider
a round patch, pre-lubed, to speed the process. However, it you use my
method with a loading block, you don't need to carry extra patches or fool
with round patches for hunting. So, that's what I do.
Yes, you may use this in the book -
permission granted. I appreciate being asked, however (just want to know
what goes in under my name for posterity. Dale53
How To Make Combustable Paper Cartridges
Harry Eales, ASSRA
Making nitrated paper isn't difficult,
all you need is a few ounces of Potassium Nitrate. Dissolve this in a
small quantity of hot water until no more will dissolve. (a saturated
solution). Pour this concentrated solution into a plastic or metal dish, a
photographers developing dish is handy. Obtain some 'onion skin' typing
paper and soak each sheet in the tray and hang them up to dry, much like
photographers did with developed film. Let it dry and then cut it to the
required shape to make the cartridge.
Make a slightly tapered former, and
wrap the nitrated paper around it once with a slight overlap and lightly
glue the seam.
I found it helpful when making such
cartridges for a .577 Enfield ML to tie the top of the paper cartridge
into a bullets grease groove with a single strand of strong cotton thread.
Needless to say, but keep the treated sheets well away from anything that
could cause them to ignite. Have fun.
A word of caution though in their use
especially in Muzzle loaders. If there are smoldering remnants of the case
left after firing, a new cartridge may go off when loaded. That's why they
had wet sponges used between rounds on the old muzzle loading cannon.
Better safe than sorry, especially in today's world where Lawyers are
always ready to sue.
I suppose a wet or rather damp, lambs
wool mop down the barrel on the end of a ramrod between shots, wouldn't
come amiss, and it would help soften any powder fouling present.
Cartridges For Muzzle Loading Rifles
Turn a hardwood cylinder about .012" to
.014" smaller than the bore of the rifle and about 6" long.
Roll a piece of wrapping paper about
.003" thick and 3.5 inches long around this cylinder and mark the paper
where it makes two complete laps. Cut the paper off at this point, unroll
it and place it on a piece of tin. Mark the tin and cut the tin to shape
to make a tin pattern for cutting the pieces of paper for the cartridges.
Use the tin pattern and a sharp knife
to make the papers, six to eight thicknesses of paper can be cut at one
Roll a piece of the paper on the
cylinder and paste the end down with gum arabic mucilage.
Slip the paper tube off the cylinder
and allow it to dry.
After a supply of tubes has been made,
slip one over the cylinder nearly to the end.
Place a round ball with the sprue up
inside the tube. The tube should extend about 3/8" over the ball.
Twist the end of the tube, tie the end
with a white thread and slip the tube with the ball inside off the
Place a lubricated, correctly sized
felt wad in the tube, over the ball.
Pour a measured charge of powder behind
the wad and ball, into the tube, and finish the cartridge by twisting the
end of the paper cylinder and tying it with red thread.
Then, with a small brush, apply a light
coat of beeswax to the front end of the cartridge in which the ball is
held, in order to facilitate loading and take the place of the oiled cloth
When loading, the end that was tied
with the red thread is grasped in the teeth, the end of the paper torn
off, the powder poured down the bore, and the rest of the cartridge pushed
down onto the powder with the ramrod.
When loading these cartridges with the
conical bullet for the rifle. the end of the tube was attached with gum
arabic mucilage to the base of the bullet and dried with the point of the
bullet extending from the tube.
How To Make Black Powder Paper Cartridges For Reveolvers
timuchin on THR
Here is everything you
need. FFFg Goex in the flask, 30 grain spout. French light rolling
papers(cigarette rolling papers), though any will do. Some just work
better than others.
Place ball in paper (sprue towards front) about 3/4th of the way down.
Roll paper around ball and
where it touches ball
front end of paper and twist shut gently.
Pour in powder.
the gum along the entire length of the paper. Gently press the paper
together so it sticks. Overlap the end of the paper away from the ball a
little bit so that the edge of the paper runs at an angle away from the
ball. This will form the cartridge into a cone as you shake down the
Grab the end of the paper
away from the ball and shake gently to settle the powder.
the entire length of the
paper past the powder and begin to twist the paper closed. The powder will
form the paper into a cone shape. Continue to twist and shake until the
powder no longer moves. This must be done gently.
This is what it should
look like when you are done.
Clip the tails off, and
you have a paper cartridge.
45 ACP boxes are perfect
This works best if you
let the paper dry after each time you moisten it. If you are rolling 20 or
30 at a time, the first one is dry by the time you do the last one.
Pouring the powder in, moistening the side, and twisting it closed are all
done at the same time, in that order.
Any questions, give me a
holler. Cheap cigarette papers will work, but are more fragile, don't burn
as well, and just more difficult to deal with.
Drop right in a 58 Remington. Colts are
kind of a pain though, due to the rear of the frame being thicker, and all
around less clearance for loading.
Once you get used to loading these at
the range, it's just as fast as ejecting the empties and reloading a
Single Action revolver.