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Captain Bill Burt

Black Powder and substitutes

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I recently made a deal on an 1873 in .45 Colt that I plan to use to get into Wild Bunch and also as a black powder rifle.  I've never loaded black powder and only shot it a few times.  This may open a can of worms, but I would like to hear from the BP shooters on this.

 

If a shooter is using .45 Colt and has the following priorities (in order) what is the best BP substitute?

 

1. Can not be corrosive

2. Good smoke

3. Minimal fouling

4. Low recoil

5. Easy to load

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1.  They are all capable of causing corrosion, some quicker than others.  You will still need to clean your guns after shooting a match.

2. I used  several brands when testing the volume of smoke produced by the minimum standard 15 grain powder charge and there was no discernible difference in smoke volumes.

3. Substitutes generally produce less fouling than real Blackpowder, in my experience.  They tend to be more expensive than real BP.  Substitutes generally can be stored like smokeless powder whereas real BP is classified as explosive; there are likely to be local laws for storage, particularly for more than a pound or two.

4. Recoil is mostly determined by bullet weight.  Lighter bullets can result in incomplete burning/more fouling.  One of the recommendations for reducing fouling blowback in a .45 rifle is to use heavy bullets.  You are also going to learn about fillers if you try to use less than a case full of powder.  I never had good luck with any filler I tried.  In my opinion you should embrace the manly recoil generated by a 250 grain bullet over a case full of propellant when shooting the .45, and go with the .38 Special when you want less recoil.  :D

5. I load BP and subs with dippers, so they all have the same ease of loading.  Sorry I cannot advise you on using a powder dispenser with BP, except to say many who have tried it regretted the mess.

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If you can still get BlackMZ from Sportsmans Warehouse at $9.99/lb, it's the cheapest and easiest way to go.  Besides lower cost per pound, I load far less to get equal smoke and power.  Then add,  you don't need goopy lube on your bullets.  I cast, size and load bullets with no lube at all!

 

I ran three tests of BlackMZ vs Goex FFg,  Goex Cannon and Grafs Reenactor to compair smoke an flame. Here is one.

 

 

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APP hands down, although MZ is less costly if you're going to shoot it a lot.

It will perform well with a reaonable amount of filler in a .45 Colt case.

Winchester brass is thinner than most and will expand easier to help seal the chamber for less fouling.

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APP and Black MZ are the way to go with substitutes as others have stated.

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So if APP is the best option, is 3FG the way to go and how do you handle adding fillers?

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Just now, Captain Bill Burt said:

So if APP is the best option, is 3FG the way to go and how do you handle adding fillers?

I use 777 FFg in shotgun and cartridges.  If you are going to use APP then you'd want 3F.....2F in APP is too bulky, not ground as smooth and won't meter well.  I hand dip all my BP rounds and use filler in some.  You can contact me offline sometime and I'll be glad to discuss fillers.  Some folks use grits and such, I just use old tumbler media (walnut shells).

 

Kajun

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I use 2 powder measures. You need to add enough so it slightly compresses the powder so as not to mix with it handling & bouncing around your truck.

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If you're going to use a filler use 3F, as the finer granules won't let the filler settle in with the powder. Instant cream of wheat works well.

If you're loading full case I like to use 2F for 44 or 45 cals.

I use RCBS Little Dandy powder rotors for both powder and filler. Accurate and a lot faster than dippers. If you want loads PM.

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I have been using Goex exclusively for about 5 years, but did dabble in the substitutes when I first crossed over to the dark side because they were cheaper & easier to find.  Pyrodex was OK but I preferred APP.   2FG APP was a lot like rock salt - REALLY big particles.  3FG metered a lot better.  A big plus to APP is that it works well with regular bullet lube.  One downside to APP is that water is the only thing that dissolves the residue so cleanup is a little more involved.

 

Fillers are a pain in the rear.  I did figure out a way to do fillers on my 550 - instead of the powder measure, I used a Lee powder-thru expander & found a funnel that fit the top.  Pull the handle down, dip your powder from one bowl, dip your filler from another bowl, pull the handle up.  It was a lot faster than charging the cases out of the press, but still a real pain.  From what I could tell, in rifle ammo, using filler didn't reduce felt recoil at all.  It only cut down on the amount of powder used.  If you think about it, physics says that is true.  After a while I took Driftwood Johnson's advice & decided to use powder as a filler - that is, just fill up the case with powder & don't worry about it.  Revolver ammo is different - there I use Cowboy 45 Specials.

 

As an aside, about 2 years after shooting BP in 45 Colt, I made a deal on a 73 in 44-40.  Cleanup is a LOT easier - them Winchester guys were right back in 1873.  We switched Kay Sadeeya to a 66 in 32-20 for the same reason.  TIFWIW.

 

Holler

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I load APP 3F in the cartridges and Black MZ for the shotgun.

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Black MZ. $9.99/pound.

They're all going to be various levels of corrosive, but Black MZ/APP/Pinnacle (discontinued) are going to be the least corrosive. All three are manufactured using the same patent process. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Pyrodex is absolutely horrible stuff - clean, clean again, then look for the rust spots the next day and clean a couple more times.

 

Low recoil? Use fillers and the lightest bullet that works.

100_2267.JPG

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Captain Bill Burt said:

1. Can not be corrosive

 

Why is it that so many shooters think Black Powder is so corrosive?

 

Yes, BP fouling is hygroscopic, meaning that the fouling will suck water vapor out of the air. When moist BP fouling rests against metal, corrosion will occur.

 

But if you don't clean your guns the same night after shooting Black Powder, they will not turn into rusty piles of junk.

 

I have been shooting Black Powder in CAS for almost 20 years now.

 

Black Powder is no where near as corrosive as many shooters think. Back when corrosive primers were being used, the combination of corrosive primers and BP fouling was pretty bad and corrosion could be bad.

 

But we no longer use corrosive primers and BP fouling without corrosive primers is not as corrosive as many think.

 

I am lazy. I seldom clean my guns the same day I shoot them. Just plain lazy. I try to clean them within a week. No, I do not spritz them with anything, they go into the safe dry and crusty. If I clean them within a week, there is no corrosion . I am loathe to admit how long I have sometimes gone before cleaning my guns, suffice it to say it is much longer than a week. Once cleaned, they do not show any corrosion.

 

Get familiar with Ballistol. It is the BP shooters best friend. Here is a little known fact. If you saturate BP fouling with oil, it cannot absorb any water vapor from the air. Think of it as a sponge that is already saturated with water. It cannot absorb any more water. I have lots of antique rifles and revolvers with old, pitted bores. It is next to impossible to clean out every molecule of BP fouling from every little pit. So when I have swabbed out as much as I can, I liberally coat the bore with Ballistol, preventing the tiny bits of fouling down in the pits from causing any more corrosion.

 

Simply accept the fact that shooting BP (or a sub) requires a bit more dedication than shooting Smokeless.

 

 

Other than that, I have no opinion about the subs, I have only used APP a couple of times. I have not tried any other subs. To me the advantage of APP is you don't need bullets lubed with BP compatible bullet lube. That's the only advantage I can see, other than you can buy the subs at many stores that do not carry real Black Powder because of storage rules.

 

Filler: Don't bother. An 1873 rifle is a heavy rifle. Adding a little bit of filler will not appreciably reduce recoil with a heavy rifle such as the 1873 Winchester. I tried using a bit of corn meal as a filler a long time ago. Just not worth the extra effort.

 

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, J-BAR #18287 said:

5. I load BP and subs with dippers, so they all have the same ease of loading.  Sorry I cannot advise you on using a powder dispenser with BP, except to say many who have tried it regretted the mess. 

 

Sorry, I had to start another post for this quote, couldn't get it to paste into my previous post.

 

Dippers are fine. I still use them for a few cartridges.

 

Ready%20for%20Dipping_zpsqw6uudel.jpg

 

 

 

 

However for most of my BP cartridges, 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40, and 44 Russian I use a Lyman Black Powder measure mounted on my Hornady Lock & Load AP.

 

Hornady%20LampL%20BP%20Setup_zpsssgqze3f

 

 

 

 

The metering rotors from standard Lyman powder measures are interchangeable with the rotor that comes with their BP measure. I buy old Lyman powder measures whenever I find them and cannibalize the rotors for my BP loads. I keep each rotor set for the specific powder charge for a specific cartridge. So far I have rotors for 45 Colt/44-40, 45 Schofield, 44 Russian, and 45-70. The only cartridge I am still using dippers for is 38-40. One of these days if I find another old Lyman powder measure, I will set up the rotor for 38-40.

 

Lyman%20Powder%20Rotors_zpsn86qdwb0.jpg

 

 

 

 

Been doing this for a long time now, I don't regret it, and the only mess is if I forget to put a rotor in the BP measure before I dump the powder in.

 

I learned a long time ago to remove the rotor, when the press is not in use, or fine powder dust on the rotor can cause it to corrode and get stuck to the iron body of the measure.

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
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Blackhorn 209 shows promise.....

 

IT IS NON_ CORROSIVE and non-hygroscopic and guns can be cleaned with oil based solvents.

 

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19 minutes ago, Ace_of_Hearts said:

Blackhorn 209 shows promise.....

 

IT IS NON_ CORROSIVE and non-hygroscopic and guns can be cleaned with oil based solvents.

 

Quote

Any combination of smokeless and blackpowder (so called duplex loads) is specifically prohibited in ANY category.
(e.g., Blackhorn 209). 

SHB p.27

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"Any combination of smokeless and blackpowder (so called duplex loads) is specifically prohibited in ANY category. (e.g., Blackhorn 209)."

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First THANK YOU for all the informative posts. APP sounds like it is the best fit for me and should be readily available. I’ll look for Winchester brass.

 

Any information on bullets and loads would be great!

 

I’m going to be loading on a 650 and an SL900. If any of you have experience loading BP on one of these I would love to hear it.

 

Holler do you think your approach would work on a 650?

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6 hours ago, J Bar Binks, #47015 said:

"Any combination of smokeless and blackpowder (so called duplex loads) is specifically prohibited in ANY category. (e.g., Blackhorn 209)."

 

Besides,  it's gowd awful expensive! 

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44 minutes ago, Captain Bill Burt said:

First THANK YOU for all the informative posts. APP sounds like it is the best fit for me and should be readily available. I’ll look for Winchester brass

Scarlett Darlin can fix you up with some APP or its cousin Jim Shockley’s Gold.

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59 minutes ago, Captain Bill Burt said:

First THANK YOU for all the informative posts. APP sounds like it is the best fit for me and should be readily available. I’ll look for Winchester brass.

 

Any information on bullets and loads would be great!

 

I’m going to be loading on a 650 and an SL900. If any of you have experience loading BP on one of these I would love to hear it.

 

Holler do you think your approach would work on a 650?

Any lubed or coated bullets you currently shoot will work.   APP loading instructions are here.  I store my APP-loaded cartridges  in a sealed ammo can with a large dessicant pack.  I've had subs go squibby on me when they are exposed to moist air too long.  Caution: APP residue will corrode brass leaving a dark brown stain.   Wash your spent cartridges soon after shooting.  Welcome to the Darkside!  You will now learn how to engage targets through a thick, white cloud.

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28 minutes ago, Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971 said:

Any lubed or coated bullets you currently shoot will work.   APP loading instructions are here.  I store my APP-loaded cartridges  in a sealed ammo can with a large dessicant pack.  I've had subs go squibby on me when they are exposed to moist air too long.  Caution: APP residue will corrode brass leaving a dark brown stain.   Wash your spent cartridges soon after shooting.  Welcome to the Darkside!  You will now learn how to engage targets through a thick, white cloud.

Thanks for the link!  I was wandering about storage.  I'm thinking the same as you, an ammo can with desiccant.

 

So if I go with a 200 grain bullet the instructions call for 22 grains of FFFG, and it's important to lightly compress the powder.  Does that mean use 22 grains, then enough filler to be sure it's lightly compressed, or does that mean 22 grains should get you to light compression and you can cut it with filler to end up with less than 22 grains?

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I use 24 grains ( by VOLUME, not weight) of 3F APP, then filler to compression level under a 200 gr bullet for my "gamer":D 44-40 loads. Make sure you put powder in first, then filler. You do NOT want the powder and filler mixing.

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RCBS also makes a BP compatible powder hopper/dispesor that works on a progressive press.

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44 minutes ago, Beartrap SASS#57175 said:

I use 24 grains ( by VOLUME, not weight) of 3F APP, then filler to compression level under a 200 gr bullet for my "gamer":D 44-40 loads. Make sure you put powder in first, then filler. You do NOT want the powder and filler mixing.

Good to know.  So once you've loaded a round with appropriate compression the filler and powder aren't going to mix even if it is jostled, rattled around in an ammo can?

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45 minutes ago, LostVaquero said:

RCBS also makes a BP compatible powder hopper/dispesor that works on a progressive press.

With this set up you set it to drop the right volume of powder, then top it off by hand with filler?

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CBB if you don't want to mess with filler get some 1/2" or 3/8" foam backer rod and cut it up. It disentigrates on firing.

 

https://www.acehardware.com/departments/building-supplies/weather-stripping/weather-stripping/5395751

 

see here:

 

https://www.curtrich.com/bpsubsdummies.2.html

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OK Capt. BB,

 

I load exclusively on a pair of Dillon 650s.  I don't load much black, but I load a TON of APP.  2f APP will not play well with a Dillon Powder measure.  Lots and lots of bridging.  So for cartridge loading with the Dillons, I run 3f.  Very infrequent bridging.  I DO strongly RECOMMEND the Dillon powder checker die.  VERRY HANDY.  

 

With APP, NO compression is needed nor recommended.  Simply load to the base of the bullet.  I run lots of loads with filler.  My favorite filler is Cream-0-Wheat.  Works very well and doesn't compress.  I remove the case from the press, into a loading block, then when the loading block is full, I add filler with a dipper (very small dipper), cover with the bullet then back into the the press for seating and crimping.

 

I also anneal.  I anneal ALL of my .45 cases.  Whether 45 Colt, 45 Schofield or Cowboy 45 Special.  Annealing eliminates all the hokum about heavy loads and heavy bullets (doesn't work real well anyway).  Annealed cases will seal the chamber for 45s and the rifle will run just as clean if not cleaner than a 44-40.

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6 minutes ago, Captain Bill Burt said:

Good to know.  So once you've loaded a round with appropriate compression the filler and powder aren't going to mix even if it is jostled, rattled around in an ammo can?

 

What happens when you compress the powder is the top 1/8" or so gets compressed. The rest remains uncompressed. I found this out a long time ago when picking out the powder after I had pulled the bullets from unsatisfactory rounds. I would pick out the top 1/8" or so with a sharp tool, the rest would pour out freely. Obviously if the powder was compressed more, more of the top section would be compressed, but the rest remained uncompressed.

 

When using cornmeal as a filler, I found the corn meal itself was being compressed, the underlying powder was not being compressed at all. It did not matter.

 

I never gave the rounds a good vibration test to see if the powder and filler would mix, but the few boxes I loaded it was not a problem.

 

This is similar to the experiences of early manufacturers of Black Powder. It was discovered that when the three ingredients were mixed dry, then stored in kegs, if bounced over primitive roads for long distances the three components of the powder would separate. This reduced the quality and reliability of the powder.  That is when 'corning' was invented. Corning means mixing the three components together wet, then allowing the resulting powder cake to dry. Once dry, the three components would be locked together in a mechanical mixture and would never separate. The powder cake was then ground to the desired granulation.

 

Obviously you are not following my advice to shoot a heavy bullet and forget about adding filler. You will never notice the difference in recoil with a 250 grain bullet under a full charge of powder, and a 200 grain bullet with filler. As I said, to me adding filler was more bother than it was worth.

 

To each his own.

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I forgot.  I DO NOT haul a plastic jug of soapy water around at a match.  I just toss all my fired rifle/pistol/shotgun inna cartridge bag and haul it all home after a match.  Dump all the fired cartridges in my small shop sink with warm water and a goodly amount of white vinegar.  Rinse after 30 minutes, dry, than tumble in lizard litter.  Done.

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1 minute ago, Colorado Coffinmaker said:

I DO NOT haul a plastic jug of soapy water around at a match.  I just toss all my fired rifle/pistol/shotgun inna cartridge bag and haul it all home after a match.

 

+1

 

No point hauling a jug of water around all day. I dump my brass into my jug at the car at the end of a match.

 

I try to rinse it out in a few days. If I wait much longer, the brass gets really black and will never be 'brass' color again.

 

Of course I always say, stained brass does not shoot any better than shiny brass. It is just easier to find in the grass.

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3 minutes ago, Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283 said:

 

What happens when you compress the powder is the top 1/8" or so gets compressed. The rest remains uncompressed. I found this out a long time ago when picking out the powder after I had pulled the bullets from unsatisfactory rounds. I would pick out the top 1/8" or so with a sharp tool, the rest would pour out freely. Obviously if the powder was compressed more, more of the top section would be compressed, but the rest remained uncompressed.

 

When using cornmeal as a filler, I found the corn meal itself was being compressed, the underlying powder was not being compressed at all. It did not matter.

 

I never gave the rounds a good vibration test to see if the powder and filler would mix, but the few boxes I loaded it was not a problem.

 

This is similar to the experiences of early manufacturers of Black Powder. It was discovered that when the three ingredients were mixed dry, then stored in kegs, if bounced over primitive roads for long distances the three components of the powder would separate. This reduced the quality and reliability of the powder.  That is when 'corning' was invented. Corning means mixing the three components together wet, then allowing the resulting powder cake to dry. Once dry, the three components would be locked together in a mechanical mixture and would never separate. The powder cake was then ground to the desired granulation.

 

Obviously you are not following my advice to shoot a heavy bullet and forget about adding filler. You will never notice the difference in recoil with a 250 grain bullet under a full charge of powder, and a 200 grain bullet with filler. As I said, to me adding filler was more bother than it was worth.

 

To each his own.

I actually haven't decided Driftwood.  I just used 200 as an example.  The APP load is the same for both 200 and 250.  I'm really just trying to educate myself before I start buying components and equipment.  I appreciate your input as well as the other posters here!!!!

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