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Ambush Andy

Dipping the toes into frontier cartridge and frontiersman

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Howdy all.. I'm pretty new to the game, about 6 or 7 matches in, including our yearly shoot here in Memphis.  I got myself all set up with smoke wagons and an 1873 in 38, and having a blast.  That said, I get such a hoot watching the black powder folks, and I am just head set on heading that way.  I ordered an 1860 army from longhunter to start playing cap and ball. 

 

That said, in searching the interwebs, there's so much mixed info on some things, so I thought I'd ask the experts..  is there any reason I shouldn't just load bp in the 38 and use the guns I have now?  Is it ok to switch back and forth between smokeless.  I read so much about folks frightened about messing up their guns and such.. is it better to get a gun for bp and keep the 73 for smokeless?  

 

I had a plan to eventually get another 1860 to shoot cap and ball and find an 1866 in 45 so I could go frontiersman, but since I probably also will need to load shotgunshells too (I don't think anyone sells commercially bp shotgun shells, do they?), I guess it will be a while before I can put all that together (I can only hide so much from the wife at one time), so for now just wanna have some fun with the smoke.  Any wisdom for this young buck appreciated.

Edited by Ambush Andy
Grammar

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What you have presently will do just fine with black powder. I dabble back and forth all the time and other than my cap guns, I have nothing that is designated only smokeless or only black powder. Have fun with what you have. 

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Use what you have! I switch between frontiersman and frontier cartridge using the same rifle and shotgun. Rifle in 38 and shotgun in 12 gauge. Just load up some with   black powder or a black powder sub. 

You'll have a blast!!!! Just go for it!

 

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I use a variety of guns with both BP and smokeless.  Ballistol plays well with both, so I keep the guns lubed with Ballistol.  Clean BP with Moose-Milk (Water/Ballistol 7/1 plus or minus), clean smokeless with straight Ballistol.  It dissolves smokeless fouling more slowly than some bore cleaners so apply and let it sit a while.

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Just make sure you clean your guns before switching between them, and if you are using real black powder it doesn't play well with smokeless lubed bullets. Your guns will work fine with either.you on the other hand may never want to go back to smokeless after shooting black.

Rafe

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I personally have a separate set of everything just for black powder, but that is just me.  I only shoot 3-4 matches a year with black powder and wanted to use 44-40 for those.  However, I have on occasion shot smokeless through my black powder firearms.  I think that helped to clean the black powder out some.  I have a shotgun that I sometimes use for either with no problems.

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You will get a lot of information. Unfortunately some will be conflicting because no two black powder shooters do things exactly the same way.  We don’t do it to confuse you intentionally, we just have different experiences.  You will eventually devise procedures that work for you and that’s part of the fun!

 

Start by loading cartridges with BP or a substitute readily available.  Basic principles: 

 

Don’t allow an air gap between the top of the powder and the bottom of the bullet (or shotcup in a shotshell).

 

Use a lubricant on the bullets that is compatible with your brand of powder.  Non-petroleum based lubricants like beeswax mixed with Crisco or canola oil, or  SPG commercial lube are common.  Use Ballistol or water- Ballistol during the match if your guns start fouling up.

 

Prep your guns with a BP lube like Ballistol before the match to keep fouling soft.

 

Clean the guns thoroughly to remove BP fouling within a day or so after the match.  Soapy water followed by dry patches and Ballistol work well for a lot of us. Wash, rinse, dry your brass before reloading.

 

Check your guns and brass in a few days.  If you see rust or corrosion do something different.

 

Enjoy the learning experience.  Folks shot BP daily 150 years ago — how hard could it be?  :)

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Shooting black powder with the guns you have will work just fine. The 73 is easy to clean up after black and your pistols as well. I use a double or my 87 lever shotgun but would stay away from a 97 shotgun because it is not easy to tear down to clean. Try it with what you have and if you want and if you want new guns that is also OK. I shootC&B most of the time and it is a acquired way to shoot. Welcome to black powder shooting. DC

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Put on your grown up pants and stay with the cap guns.  As I've said before, suppository handguns are nice... but, nothing is quite the thrill that c&b revolvers provide!  The secret's been out of the bag for quite a while... clean up with BP is actually easier than with smokeless.  Just a little hot water and a dry towel... then season with a oily rag and your guns'll be ready when you are!  (J-bar is right, stay away from petroleum based lubes...), you'll have a much more harmonious outcome!   I've never had an issue with leading in any BP firearm...  Same guns, same bullets, even the same lube, and I sometimes have to scrub away to get the lead out with smokeless.  Not always, but often enough that I'm more careful with what I feed thru the guns with smokeless.

 

I just shot a 12 stage match... and while I didn't set any records, or even challenge the slowest of the slow, I had a blast!  And didn't clean any of my guns for the 3 days, over 12 stages, that this match consisted of!  My pistols:  2nd gen Colt 1851s.  My rifle for this match:  A Uberti 1860 iron framed Henry in .45 Colt.  My shotgun:  A mule-eared TTN 12 ga.  I shot in a second category, smokeless, with the same shotgun... smokeless after BP simply cleans the gun... Although on the 3rd day, my last four stages were with the c&b pistols and BP in rifle & shotgun!  

 

The match ended on Saturday.   Sunday I packed up and hauled the travel trailer home.  Monday I finally cleaned guns.  Actually, just for fun, I loaded up everything and shot them before cleaning... everything worked!  There's no better feeling that completing a match without any firearm malfunction...   Folks that shot with me last year will attest that I had a frustrating 1st day... mainly because my nipples on the cap guns were factory... Another shoot took pity on my and loaned me his Slix-Shot nipples for my cap guns and all those troubles magically disappeared.  Hint:  use good quality aftermarket nipples in your cap guns.

 

I've shot Frontier Cartridge and my age-based category with my 3rd gen Colt SAAs.  Clean up is necessary after the BP, with smokeless, I just put them back in the safe till the next match!  So, maybe it is less work.

 

But, don't let stories from non-BP shooters deter you from using BP in whatever category or firearm type takes your fancy.  I believe that suppository shooters are just jealous, and too cowardly to venture into the past and discover the satisfaction of shooting c&b guns!

Edited by Griff
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This has been my first year on the dark side, so no expert by any means, but here’s a couple of things I learned.  If you use.a powder like American Pioneer Powder (APP) you don’t need to lube your bullets, you can just use a coated one like HY-TEK.  APP will give you lots of smoke (no fire just smoke) just like the holy black.  The guns you have will all play nice with BP and clean up is easier than with smokeless IMHO.  The biggest PIA I originally had was with the SG, this is just my experience, using plastic hulls and wads didn’t work for me.  The hulls only lasted once or twice and the plastic wads would melt in the barrels.  I’ve since switched to brass hulls and fiber wads, now clean up is a breeze.  And when you go to a match make sure you bring a jug of soapy water to throw your brass in, when you get home or the next day empty the jug and rinse the brass with clean water.  After that you can treat them like any other brass case and just follow your usual routine.  Have fun and remember with smoke if it’s thicker you ain’t gunna be quicker.

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17 minutes ago, Tequila Shooter said:

The biggest PIA I originally had was with the SG, this is just my experience, using plastic hulls and wads didn’t work for me.  The hulls only lasted once or twice and the plastic wads would melt in the barrels.  

 

I use AA or STS hulls and cut and roll crimp.  Use Claybuster pink wads. Toss the hulls after one shot.  No problems with "the snake". 

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2 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

 

I use AA or STS hulls and cut and roll crimp.  Use Claybuster pink wads. Toss the hulls after one shot.  No problems with "the snake". 

 

Like I said I never had any luck with that combo.  YMMV

@Warden Callaway hope to see you at Land Run, maybe you can show me your SG load.

Edited by Tequila Shooter

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One of my favorite subjects.  Whenever I hear folks claim how bad black powder is on firearms, I always ask if that was truly the case, then why do we have so many Revolution and Civil War original muskets, pistols, and canons throughout the country?  I'm pretty sure the powder, cleaning or maintenance from that era was not as refined or complete as it is today.  I don't usually get an answer.  :rolleyes:  I myself, use on occasion, an 1865 Burnside for Plainsman.  I get more attention with that, than my shooting abilities!:D

 

As mentioned above, use what you got and have a blast!!  :lol:

 

I've noticed your in the Memphis, TN area.  Research N-SSA in your area.  If you want information on black powder, these folks are the ones to talk to.  They do nothing but black powder using Civil War firearms. They might try and recruit you too.  They shoot muskets, carbines and pistols, but also canons and motars!!  By the way, they are not shooting blanks, but real lead at breakable targets.  I added the last part, "at breakable targets", because, I've been asked about that.  :blink:

 

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One thing all the others omitted is to avoid Pyrodex like the plague. It is highly corrosive and is most likely the source of all the corrosion myths you read about shooting BP.

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3 hours ago, Tequila Shooter said:

This has been my first year on the dark side, so no expert by any means, but here’s a couple of things I learned.  If you use.a powder like American Pioneer Powder (APP) you don’t need to lube your bullets, you can just use a coated one like HY-TEK.  APP will give you lots of smoke (no fire just smoke) just like the holy black.  The guns you have will all play nice with BP and clean up is easier than with smokeless IMHO.  The biggest PIA I originally had was with the SG, this is just my experience, using plastic hulls and wads didn’t work for me.  The hulls only lasted once or twice and the plastic wads would melt in the barrels.  I’ve since switched to brass hulls and fiber wads, now clean up is a breeze.  And when you go to a match make sure you bring a jug of soapy water to throw your brass in, when you get home or the next day empty the jug and rinse the brass with clean water.  After that you can treat them like any other brass case and just follow your usual routine.  Have fun and remember with smoke if it’s thicker you ain’t gunna be quicker.

I've never loaded shotgun shells before.. any recommendations on a setup in general?

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AA, Duelist1954 on YouTube has some videos how to load shotgun shells without a press.  See Part 1.  I load mine on a MEC Jr I bought just for reloading BP shells.  Other use a Lee Load All.  Yes, BP and the subs ruin the crimp on plastic shotgun shells.  I mostly load Gun Club hulls I get for free and toss after one firing.  I use plastic wads and have to remove the snake.  It's an easy task.  +1 on Ballistol though some use olive oil.  Regarding the subs, APP is most popular though I use Triple Seven and the discontinued MZ.  Avoid Pyrodex as SD warned.

Edited by Edward R S Canby, SASS#59971
better wording
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51 minutes ago, Clueless Bob said:

One of my favorite subjects.  Whenever I hear folks claim how bad black powder is on firearms, I always ask if that was truly the case, then why do we have so many Revolution and Civil War original muskets, pistols, and canons throughout the country?  I'm pretty sure the powder, cleaning or maintenance from that era was not as refined or complete as it is today.  I don't usually get an answer.  :rolleyes:  I myself, use on occasion, an 1865 Burnside for Plainsman.  I get more attention with that, than my shooting 

 

This is great, and what I keep thinking everytime i watch a video or read a thread about how awful bp is on firearms!  

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I converted to black powder (BlackMZ) years ago.  I'd shoot and turn to see John Bear's face.

 

1473864501_JohnBearApril2019.jpg.7e636952ee25229eb71f8e8da480cd5f.jpg

 

He wanted to shoot black powder but said it was too much of a mess to clean up.  I told him use water.  Hot water if available.  He couldn't bring himself to clean his guns with water.  One match I pulled him aside and had him look down the barrels of my CZ-USA coach gun.  Black..  I took a bottle of water and poured some down each tube.  Pulled a bore snake through.   Had him look again.  Swinney as a Cadillac grille.  He smiled and shook his head like it was a magic trick.

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Andy, all good advice above. Use real B/P, no air space between bullet and powder, Ballistol,  bore butter and b/p lubed bullets are your friend.  BUT ,,, here's the real story for your wife. Honey ,,,,, if you've been shooting smokeless powder in your guns ,,,, and try to shoot b/p in them, no matter how much you try and clean them,  they'll get messed up, and I'll have to take them to a gunsmith to get them fixed. Ya see b/p gets in the metal and there's a special machine used to draw it out, and it cost a little bit. Sooooooooo, " I  NEED  TO  BUY  NEW  GUNS" ,,,,, Now that's your story ,,,, stick with it. :rolleyes: Feel free to deviate. 

Q: Did it work for me ?

A: Didn't have to ,,, no wife ,,, kids were grown.

Just tryin' to help out a fellow shooter. :D

YMMV,

Isom

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Shotshells:

 

I used one of the Lee Loaders (table top "whack a mole")  for years before getting a used MEC 600 Jr.  Lee no longer makes these, but you can find them on eBay and at gunshows.  One listed on eBay now for $19.  If you decide you don't like blackpowder you won't have a lot invested in a press.

 

IMG-1239.thumb.jpg.bcfe585f52201dadd2355d8ac77bb94d.jpg

 

I can get multiple reloadings out of Remington STS hulls.  I use plastic shotshell cups.  Cleaning plastic residue out of the barrels is no big deal; allowing soapy hot water to sit in the barrels for a few minutes while cleaning your other guns makes it easy to push the crud out with a wadded paper towel.  You don't have to make a magnum load.  My recipe for 12 gauge is 2.5 CC (about 38 grains) of 2F powder under  one ounce of # 7 1/2 or  #8 shot in a white plastic Claybuster wad.  Plenty of smoke, knockdowns fall, easy on the shoulder.  Bigger powder charges can blow holes in the pattern and just burns out the hulls quicker.

 

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48 minutes ago, J-BAR #18287 said:

Shotshells:

 

I used one of the Lee Loaders (table top "whack a mole")  for years before getting a used MEC 600 Jr.  Lee no longer makes these, but you can find them on eBay and at gunshows.  One listed on eBay now for $19.  If you decide you don't like blackpowder you won't have a lot invested in a press.

 

IMG-1239.thumb.jpg.bcfe585f52201dadd2355d8ac77bb94d.jpg

 

I can get multiple reloadings out of Remington STS hulls.  I use plastic shotshell cups.  Cleaning plastic residue out of the barrels is no big deal; allowing soapy hot water to sit in the barrels for a few minutes while cleaning your other guns makes it easy to push the crud out with a wadded paper towel.  You don't have to make a magnum load.  My recipe for 12 gauge is 2.5 CC (about 38 grains) of 2F powder under  one ounce of # 7 1/2 or  #8 shot in a white plastic Claybuster wad.  Plenty of smoke, knockdowns fall, easy on the shoulder.  Bigger powder charges can blow holes in the pattern and just burns out the hulls quicker.

 

2f in shotshells and 3f in pistol?

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Just now, Ambush Andy said:

2f in shotshells and 3f in pistol?

 

I use 2F in everything.  Not a big deal.  

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I load shotshells on a MEC 600 Jr. I've had for about 45 years...  You can find them used fairly cheap.  I use Winchester AA hulls I pick up free at the range...  and what I keep from new I buy for Wild Bunch.  I probably have a few hundred yet to load.  Claybusters wad # CB1138-12, short column leaves lots of room for powder (I use a #43 MEC bushing for powder), 1 oz of shot and I have a shotshell that takes down any KD, doesn't kick too hard and produces lots of smoke...   Ain't that the whole point of using the ONE, TRUE powder!

 

Yes, 2F in rifles and shotgun, 3F in my .36 Navies.

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Shirttail Bess and I shoot both smokiless and BP and subs. After you shoot BP you should clean your guns. If you shoot smokiless there is NO need to clean your guns before shooting BP. On stainless revolvers smokiless is very hard to clean off the front of the cylinder. Having said that, the easiest way to get them clean is to shoot a match with either BP or BP subs then clean them with soap and water the fouling will remove very easily.

kR

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careful dipping your toes into the darkside its a slippery slope that's tough to climb back out of :D. Most any info you'd need has already been covered pretty well. Just load some up and giver heck. One thing I can add is on shotgun shells. if you're going to use plastic wads and hulls, the hulls are pretty much one and done from the heat but with the wads will tend to melt to your barrel leaving a snake skin type film when you push it out. What i've found to prevent that is 2 things. coat your bore with some bore butter or similar non petroleum type lube. OR you when loading them slap some crisco in the cushion part of the wad. The  part above the over powder cup and below the shot cup. Either one works but the crisco on the wad seems to be better for me especially when there's a lot of shotgun targets. YMMV

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Lots of good info above. Minor point; you mentioned getting a 1866 Winchester in .45 for black powder.  Most BP shooters agree that .45 Colt is not ideal for black powder in rifles because it’s straight wall case allows for more blowback than a slightly tapered case like .44-40 which is considered to be the ideal big bore cartridge for BP. 

 

Seamus

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You can load black powder shotgun shells with improvised tool. Or antique tools. Or spend a lot of money on special dies,  etc.  Here is a video by Mike Beliavau using a nail and dowel.  He made two more using more sophisticated tools.

 

 

 

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The Best Cartridge for use with Black Powder is the .38 WCF ( .38-40 ) seals the bore much better than the rest ..

Lot's of room for powder, I use Goex 3F under 180gr. RNFP Bullets this is the Cats meow for use in the rifle of choice ...

.38 WCF is also legal for WB if you want to play that Game ...

And it is the slickest feeding round for use in problematic feeding guns like Lightnings .....

I use Goex 3F in Shotguns in 16 and 12 ga. and for all rifle and revolvers as well including C & B ...

 

 

Jabez Cowboy 

 

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7 hours ago, Turkey Flats Jack said:

careful dipping your toes into the darkside its a slippery slope that's tough to climb back out of :D. Most any info you'd need has already been covered pretty well. Just load some up and giver heck. One thing I can add is on shotgun shells. if you're going to use plastic wads and hulls, the hulls are pretty much one and done from the heat but with the wads will tend to melt to your barrel leaving a snake skin type film when you push it out. What i've found to prevent that is 2 things. coat your bore with some bore butter or similar non petroleum type lube. OR you when loading them slap some crisco in the cushion part of the wad. The  part above the over powder cup and below the shot cup. Either one works but the crisco on the wad seems to be better for me especially when there's a lot of shotgun targets. YMMV

 

YMMV for sure.  When I load plastic hulls, I use Remington Green STS or Gold Nitro.  With 60-ish grains of FFg Goex I get about 5 loadings per hull.  And I've never had any problem with the plastic snake, comes out of mine (Baikal, TTN, and Liberty II) all very easily, but those are all chrome lined so may make a difference.  Shooting in super low humidity could make a difference, but I rarely do that.

 

As for those folks telling you what calibers work "better" for BP, sure they do but plenty use 45 Colt, just takes some more cleanin', so start with what you've got and have fun!

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The other two videos by Mike on loading black powder shotshell without a press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

 

 And I've never had any problem with the plastic snake, comes out of mine (Baikal, TTN, and Liberty II) all very easily, but those are all chrome lined so may make a difference.  Shooting in super low humidity could make a difference, but I rarely do that.

 

 

My wife shoots a chrome-lined SKB.  I shoot a unlined Stoeger.  Her SKB cleans with one pass of a wadded paper.  My Stoeger sometimes needs two passes.  No big deal, just a little more work.  

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On 10/17/2020 at 9:33 PM, Ambush Andy said:

  I read so much about folks frightened about messing up their guns and such.. is it better to get a gun for bp and keep the 73 for smokeless?  

 

Nah man, it's all good.

 

I've been a darksider for 10 years now, I go back and forth all time.  Just have to remember clean out the barrel, chambers, and cylinder faces after shooting smokeless, and before shooting real black.

 

I ended up getting cleaner that is good for both smokeless and black powder.  I've been using Balistol, Gunzilla, or Qmaxx.  

 

If I'm cleaning out a gun that just used black or a substitute, I just run a bore snake through it, then patches of Simple Green, dry patch, and then a final patch of one of the cleaners mentioned above.  

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If you use a little heavier bullet in your 45 colt it will greatly reduce the amount of blowby and action fouling.

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On 10/18/2020 at 5:58 AM, Ambush Andy said:

I've never loaded shotgun shells before.. any recommendations on a setup in general?

 

I was in the same boat as you only a few months ago, and I started with a Lee Load-All 2. It had everything I needed to get started, and I have APP 3f on hand, so that's what I load in 12ga, .38, and in my ROAs.

 

Surprisingly, I've found the cheap Estate hulls reload very well on this machine with a gray claybuster wad. For APP 3f, I use the largest powder bushing the machine came with, and the 7/8 oz bushing for shot (#7.5). There are no other adjustments to make.

 

I'd normally suggest you save up for a "lifetime" machine, but this one is cheap enough to dabble in loading BP to see if you're gonna like it. I sure have, and now I'm eyeing a MEC 9000.

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