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Captain Woodrow Cahill, SASS # 54363

Pyrodex In Shotshells

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I've heard that Pyordex is hygroscopic and will absorb moisture from the air.

If it's left sealed in the original bottle I imagine it will last a long time, but what about in loaded ammunition?

 

Since shotshells are more "open" than brass cartridges I suspect they're more susceptible to environmental conditions, particularly humidity.

How long can Pyrodex be expected to remain good in a shotshell before it becomes non-ignitable?

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I've had some work well after a couple of years, and some fizzle and squib after a month or two in more humid conditions. Have quit using it in shotshells. Never had similar problems with Goex or Diamondback.

 

Good luck, GJ

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So what's the best defense against this problem?

 

Would storing the completed shells in something like a GI ammo box (or one of the new plastic ones) help fight this?

 

How about using magnum primers since they burn hotter?

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Never had the necessity to try it out, but how could moisture/humidity be a problem in an air tight sealed ammo can???? Steel or plastic. Just don't see how that could be a problem.

 

RBK

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So what's the best defense against this problem?

 

Would storing the completed shells in something like a GI ammo box (or one of the new plastic ones) help fight this?

 

How about using magnum primers since they burn hotter?

 

Best defense - Don't use Pyrodex. It's the least capable of any of the subs. More corrosive, less reliable. You might read through Capt. Baylors treatise on BP Subs in Cowboy Shooting.

 

Magnum shotgun primers? Haven't seen any for sale. Unless you are talking the hot primers used for in-line muzzleloaders, that are not recommended for shotshell loads.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Conversely, I have never had any trouble using Pyrodex in SG. Some of my ammo is left for perhaps a year or more as I don't shoot BP all that often. I use it because it loads more per can than any of the others, it is bulkier. While regular BP gives me around 110 loads per pound, I get 140 rounds from pryodex using the same volumn.

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Guest diablo slim shootist

I have never had any problems with it -but i shoot it up as fast as i make them :)

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I store ammo either in military cans or closed plastic containers but do not add dessicant packets to the containers. Never have had any moisture problems. You could "waterproof" your ammo by sealing the primers with the special sealer made therefore and, if you crimp really well, and put a teensy dab of wax/sealant where the crimps meet you would have waterproof shells. Check the BPC and DeGraf catalogues for some of these products. Have never had any problem with Pyrodex or any powder. "Keep Yer Powder Dry" I usually just keep my poweder in its original cans including Pyrodex and jsut make sure that the cans' lids are closed tightly. And it gets plenty hunid where I live in the Summertime.

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At my recent purchase of $6 a pound I will be using Pyrodex this year. Never had a moisture problem in the past?

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As to Hot/Magnum primers, there are basically two such primers.

 

The Federal 209A primer is a very hot primer, but would work well in BP loads as well as reduced power Smokeless loads. There is also the CCI-209M, which is classed as a Magnum primer, but is basically about the same strength as a Federal 209A. In the low pressure, reduced loads we use in CAS, either of these primers could be used without problems.

 

RBK

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back in the early 60s I was given a few hundred rounds of 12 and 16ga ammo mostly all of it black powder by the widow of an old wing shooter in my town now some of this ammo had swollen the paper so it would no longer chamber and this (I know dumb but I was young and some how survived), once I had sanded it down to fit, even this went bang with authority.

 

Most of it had either the shot/load info printed on the over shot wad or on a label on the wad I do not recall any of it being star crimped. the ammo was at a guess between 50 and 80 years old at the time so if you have concerns about BPSubs going off when loaded in shot shells then just shoot the real stuff... it smells better anyway and seems to last forever.

 

Just wondering when did large scale loading of Black Power Shot shells by the majors stop in the US? 1920?

 

Cheers

Windy

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The most interesting failure of Pyrodex in 12 gauge loads that I encountered, and a pard I shoot with also had happen to his loads, occurred in July about 3 years ago. July is the rainy season in New Mexico, as much humidity as we ever get (which isn't all that much).

 

Anyway, loaded shells in early July for a match in early August. Pyrodex had been working well in a load that was about square (same volume powder as shot). Loaded four boxes from a jar of Pyrodex RS that had been tightly closed and had never failed before. Loads were in STS hulls, with red claybuster wads, and if I remember right, Winchester primers. Loads were stored in a garage with no water problems (drain leaks, roof problems, etc).

 

When fired at a state match, about 30% were good power loads.

About 40% were "standard squibs". Low velocity shot column, usually the wad left the barrel OK.

About 30% were "melters". The shot exited in a low velocity column, but when the hulls were ejected from a double barrel gun, the plastic of the case was found to be melted down to one quarter of the original length - just a stub of melted plastic left in front of the brass case head. Got pretty messy as well as being impossible to hit most shotgun targets successfully.

 

Could not figure out what was causing that problem. Was not worth the effort to do a lot of research. Had not heard from other shooters on the Wire that they had seen similar problems. So, switched to real BP for shotgun and have not had the problem EVER again.

 

My pard had been having the same things happen, except with Fiochhi hulls. Then he tried STS hulls, and had same problems. He switched too.

 

Strange, for sure.

 

Good luck, GJ

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The most interesting failure of Pyrodex in 12 gauge loads that I encountered, and a pard I shoot with also had happen to his loads, occurred in July about 3 years ago. July is the rainy season in New Mexico, as much humidity as we ever get (which isn't all that much).

 

Anyway, loaded shells in early July for a match in early August. Pyrodex had been working well in a load that was about square (same volume powder as shot). Loaded four boxes from a jar of Pyrodex RS that had been tightly closed and had never failed before. Loads were in STS hulls, with red claybuster wads, and if I remember right, Winchester primers. Loads were stored in a garage with no water problems (drain leaks, roof problems, etc).

 

When fired at a state match, about 30% were good power loads.

About 40% were "standard squibs". Low velocity shot column, usually the wad left the barrel OK.

About 30% were "melters". The shot exited in a low velocity column, but when the hulls were ejected from a double barrel gun, the plastic of the case was found to be melted down to one quarter of the original length - just a stub of melted plastic left in front of the brass case head. Got pretty messy as well as being impossible to hit most shotgun targets successfully.

 

Could not figure out what was causing that problem. Was not worth the effort to do a lot of research. Had not heard from other shooters on the Wire that they had seen similar problems. So, switched to real BP for shotgun and have not had the problem EVER again.

 

My pard had been having the same things happen, except with Fiochhi hulls. Then he tried STS hulls, and had same problems. He switched too.

 

Strange, for sure.

 

Good luck, GJ

 

I had that happen as well but the Pyrodex in question had been stored in a humid basement in the press container on a Lee Loadall. Not a smart thing to do but I realized about 2 hours before shoot time I didn't have enough ammunition for the shoot. I ran down to the basemen and loaded several from the unsealed container(had to stir it to get the lumps out). Had some pretty spectacular flaming fireworks.

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I just put one of my Pyrodex shells into a glass of water. I will leave it in there for a week then I will take it to the range. Report will follow (hopefully the report will follow a report!).

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Pyrodex made by Hodgdon will tell you that if exposed to high humidity or loose tops it will cause the powder to lump and not be reliable. Just as a side note Pyrodex is the most Hygroscopic of all powders both real black and subs. It makes a high rust chemical upon firing that is very bad. This info is available on the web.

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Have since done some poking around on other sites and forums, and the villian in this little drama seems to be one of the additives to Pyrodex, potassium perchlorate. Apparently by adding this and a dash of graphite to a basic BP mix it's able to be classed as a flammable instead of an explosive for DOT and HazMat purposes.

 

On one site I ran across it claimed that Pyrodex works best with a moisture content of 1% to 4%. However, the perchlorate has been shown to absorb up to about 6% moisture. Not being a chemist or pyrotechnitist, I'm guessing then that it's possible for the moisture content of Pyrodex to hit around 5% and then it gets into the clump and fizzle mode.

 

I just figured I'd give it a try, since it is $10 a pound cheaper than Triple 7. I did stop by the local shop today and picked up a surplus ammo can to store the Pyrodex shells in, and with winter humidity being pretty low they ought to keep fine until I can shoot them up. Hopefully. I suppose I could use up those magnum primers too.

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Update:

 

Well, about three hours later the pound of experimental Pyrodex is all used up. Using the modified Lee bushing (see other thread for details) I got 164 shells loaded for an average of 42.6 grains weight / about 62 grains volume each. Ought to be enough oomph to take care of those pesky knockdowns with 7/8 ounce of 7.5 shot.

 

Stored safely in a waterproof GI ammo can, it should all hopefully go *boom* instead of *pffft* this season.

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I had the same experience as GJ at the same match - Pyrodex-loaded SG shells with poor ignition and melted hulls. It was a bad experience. Unfortunately I have quite a supply of Pyrodex left over from a discounted lot I bought at Wally*World and still need to consume. I'm using it up by storing loaded shells in an ammo can (with an intact water seal) AND a big desiccant package. I remove the shells I need the day of a shoot and return any unused shells promptly to the can. My method is working well. (APP too is hydroscopic and is packed with dessicant packages in the bottle.) I have strong ignition and no more "melters." I use the same technique with shells loaded with APP (for my wife) and they too work well. When the Pyrodex is gone I'll just load real BP for myself but will continue loading APP for the wife. I'm only shooting real BP SG shells at the state match at the end of this week. I can't take chances with a hydroscopic powder.

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