View Full Version : BP newbie needs help

January 29, 2009, 01:33 PM
Ok my uncle gave me a colt 1860 replica black powder revolver. I have found number 11 Caps fit it. Its .44 cal., But I don’t know what the proper powder charge is. I have a can of FFFg If that sounds right. Anyone know how much of charge to put in it?

January 29, 2009, 02:08 PM
Fill it with powder just leave room for the ball. 20-25gr. is a good place to start. Good choice useing 3ff and not that Pyrodex crap.

January 29, 2009, 02:20 PM
As Freedom475 mentioned, you could do that & be safe with the powder that you have but it's always recomended to use a powder measure & load the powder that way, partly for safety & mostly so that you can taylor your load to the best accuracy.

20-30gr. of FFFG Black Powder will be the best loads for it, I normally shoot 22gr. & a .457 ball for target & 30gr. & a 220gr. conical for hunting in my '58's.

Hawg Haggen
January 29, 2009, 05:50 PM
I've been using Pyrodex for years. Nothing wrong with it.

January 29, 2009, 10:47 PM
not that Pyrodex crap.Now I have to agree with Hawg. I shoot both and there are days I just don't want the clean-up hassles associated with BP. I have had no problems with Pyrodex. And in some areas of the country, sellers have ceased to sell BP and Pryodex is all we can get locally. It is a 140 miles for me to get BP.

As you are just starting and not into all that realism. Pyrodex will work fine and it may be all you can get locally.

As for loads, you have been given good advice. One other thing you may consider are wads or lube pills. This is another thing that will stir up a hornets nest. There are those who do not use either. Others that will use cornmeal as a filler. And there are those who swear by Crisco placed liberally over the ball.

You will have to find out what you are comfortable with.

Hoss Fly
January 30, 2009, 06:45 AM
You will have to find out what you are comfortable with.

Also a +1 on Pyrodex - been usin it for yrs :rolleyes:

February 8, 2009, 10:30 PM
I'm new here and I found my way here as a result of picking up a used Pietta 1860 Army at a local gun show. I have always wanted one (actually I wanted an original Colt, but that's another story). I wanted to learn about the old blackpowder guns.
So I get the gun home, clean it and set out to determine what I need to actually shoot it. Powder, projectiles, and percussion caps. I downloaded the Pietta manual and discover that although it's a "44 caliber", it needs 0.454 lead balls. My 44 mags use 0.429. First lesson, I suppose.
When I got to my local gun shop and ask for percussion caps, they automatically ask "What size?" The Pietta manual doesn't specify a size and makes no mention of it. I buy what they have (size 11).
Powder? The only thing my local shop has is Pyrodex which says it's equivalent to FffG which is what the Pietta manual says I need.
So far, I'm good. I can live with this.
Then I consider just how much Pyrodex to use. The Pietta manual says 12-15 grains but it's not clear whether this is the blackpowder equivalent volume or how this relates to what I should actually use. The Hogdon website also uses the funny 'equivalent blackpowder volume' sort of vernacular as well as a 'black power measure'. The Pyrodex loading information suggests a much higher grain weight loading based on the equivalent blackpowder volume.
Other sites suggest loading as much as you can leaving just enough space for the .454 ball.
I did load using 13 grains of Pyrodex FffG and shot the gun (I like it) but I have no idea (and no chrono) whether this was a reasonable load, if I could / should go higher, or if I was just lucky not to blow the thing up.
I read some folks aren't fans of Pyrodex but that's all my local shop had. What else is there? Can anyone help me understand the "equivalent volume of blackpowder" concept? I don't have and from what I'm lead to believe, can't actually buy real blackpowder so I can see what volume 12-15 grains occupies to match it with Pyrodex.
I'll be eternally grateful to anyone who can help.

February 8, 2009, 11:22 PM
As I stated earlier, there are locations, susch as where I live, that the gun shops do not sell BP. In Oregon we basically have one dealer left who will put up with the red tape in order to sell BP. So we shot Pyrodex. I have never experienced an foul up or problem with it. So I would say, "Use it."

Now as for the proper load, that you and your revolver will have to decide. But 13 grains is a bit light. I have two 1860 revolvers and I can say without any problem that you can shoot safely 20-25 grains. I have packed in 30 grains onces and it fired without mishap. But for the accuracy I wanted, 22-25 grains worked best in my revolvers. But to each their own. But feel free to experiment with higher grains.

February 8, 2009, 11:25 PM
I do shoot a little blackpowder but I have not played with cap and ball revolvers.I have read of shooting them.
As I recall.the Lyman Black powder handbook is a good start.It will answer many of your questions in a better way than a forum.

Two things I can offer.There is something about a covering of lube(crisco has been recommended) over the ball after seating the ball.The idea is to seal out any fire which may cause multiple cylinders to fire.

The other general rule is the proper charge of BP is the charge that fills the cylinder or cartridge case.Air space in BP is not good.

Those old time powder flasks with the brass neck and the lever were designed for charging C+B cylinders.
Look around in the Dixie and Track of the Wolf catalogues or sites.There is some to be learned there.

And,maybe if there are any muzzle loader clubs or Cowboy shooters or Civil War re-enactor groups around,you may find some good folks who know the way.

February 8, 2009, 11:56 PM
Thanks to Kirpi97 and HiBC.
Kirpi97: When you say you load 20-25 grains, do you mean that you load (actually weigh the charge of powder) 20-25 grains of Pyrodex and not the equivalent volume of 20-25 grains of blackpowder? This is where I got confused. Hogdon says Pyrodex is less dense than blackpowder but has more energy (they didn't say whether this was based on mass or volume). Another article I've read suggests that Pyrodex FffG loads need to be reduced to 85% of the blackpowder weight (since it is less dense, the volume may be equal?).
I load metallic cartridges and have for 30+ years so the "dump some in / fill it up" loading technique sure seems a little strange. I have yet to blow anything up and don't really need to be able to tell that story.
Thanks again.

February 9, 2009, 12:07 AM
Can anyone help me understand the "equivalent volume of blackpowder" concept? I don't have and from what I'm lead to believe, can't actually buy real blackpowder so I can see what volume 12-15 grains occupies to match it with Pyrodex.

Volume equivalent is what a volumetric powder measure does measure. It measures a volume of black powder and subsititute powders in volumetric grains as opposed to their weight in grains.
In theory, 100 grains of BP by weight equals 100 grains of BP by volume.
Substitute powders like Pyrodex occupy the same volume but don't weigh the same.
That's why whenever amounts of muzzle loading powders are being discussed, it's always in terms of volume and not weight (unless weight is specifically mentioned as the unit of measurement).
There are slight volume differences between different granulations of powder, ffg, fffg, Pyrodex RS or Pyrodex P (pistol) because of the amount of air space between the granules. That difference is approximately 10% that a volume of fffg (or P) would need to be reduced to match an equivalent volume of ffg (or RS).

Thus, 100 grains volume of ffg equals 90 grains of volume of fffg (or Pyrodex P)

Loose 777 should always be reduced by 15% in volume to be equivalent to any volume of BP or other substitute powder.

Thus, 100 grains volume of ffg BP equals 85 grains of volume of 777 ffg.

Otherwise, in theory any volume of BP and BP substitute powders are volumetric equivalents. In reality there are velocity differences. But the pressures are supposed to be pretty equal which make them safe to use interchangably.

February 9, 2009, 02:13 AM
Hi guys all I can add is that you should get a powder measurer, Traditions has a good one the measures 10-120gr and has a handy swivel funnel on the end great for C&B Revs.
I got a bunch a .44's that all like 25-28gr of fffg black powder...try to find Remington caps they have improved them so as I, a hard core CCI user, bought 2,000 REM#11 & #10 recently. Buy a Revolver nipple wrench and have at least a paperclip nipple pic handy. Scaldin' Hot Soapy(dish soap)Water and Scaldin' Hot rinse water works great on cleanup.
Be safe take your time...be sure there's powder in the chamber before you press a ball in.
And it's a must that you have fun...Welcome to the Darkside and the Realm of The Holy Black.

Go here to order Black Powder to your door...10/lb.min 50/lb. max


February 9, 2009, 05:04 AM
I have used both Pyrodex and BP in my BP revolver. They both work.
The only advantage to Pyrodex is that it may be more readily available. I used to be able to buy BP at my local; now, I have to order it by mail.
About cleaning - there is no real difference between cleaning up after Pyrodex (or any sub) and BP. They are all corrosive. They all clean up with soap and water, no need to use anything fancier than that (unless you want to). You gotta clean the gun no matter what you use.
Use a RB that is big enough so that when it is loaded into its chamber a ring of lead is shaved off. I like to use a felt wad between the powder and the ball. Grease is not needed.

February 9, 2009, 06:38 AM
Go straight to Powder inc. and order 25LBs of KIK 3 FFF for 10.75 per pound.

Great powder and will last forever.

Real black powder is more reliable and cheaper to shoot.


February 9, 2009, 11:45 AM
I well remember when Dan Pawlak did what they said was impossible... find a black powder substitute. The pressure constraints had eluded a number of searchers. Pyrodex had its bad points... especially for those of us who shoot flintlocks. Herewith is presented a small portion of a dissertation on black powder that sums up the situation.

"Pyrodex is more bulky then blackpowder so you can get approximately 30% more shots from it, pound for pound. Pyrodex is safer and cleaner then blackpowder, but still delivers a similar cloud of white smoke with each shot. Ballistically it duplicates blackpowder with less fouling. Even though Pyrodex fouling is less, it is still corrosive. Pyrodex is harder to ignite (600º F) than blackpowder and can produce gases at a temperature of 4000º F. Pyrodex RS grade is intended for muzzle-loading rifles and shotguns, P is for use in pistols, CTG is specifically for use in rifle and shotgun cartridges, and C is for use in muzzle loading cannons. (CTG and C grades of Pyrodex have been discontinued for some time.) Pyrodex "Select" grade is a very consistent grade powder for rifle and shotguns."

As far as a 'powder charge' is concerned... simply purchase a pistol flask from Track of the Wolf and get on with it.

I have been shooting cap & ball revolvers and single shot pistols for almost 40 years. If you stick with black powder itself, you will not run into trouble. If you buy into the 'too much mess to clean up each time' mindset... get yourself a modern firearm (which also must be cleaned) and forget trying to use the real thing. No offense to modern thought but I prefer to shoot muzzle loaders the way my forefathers did and not look for ways to get around the definition of muzzle loader or cap & ball firearms.

February 9, 2009, 01:50 PM
Can anyone help me understand the "equivalent volume of blackpowder" concept? I don't have and from what I'm lead to believe, can't actually buy real blackpowder so I can see what volume 12-15 grains occupies to match it with Pyrodex.

You can use the following chart together with a dosing cup, beaker, or dropper to measure your charges. Most pharmacies give them out with liquid pharmaceuticals. Many people already have one in their medicine cabinet. One cc is equal to one ml, so you can substitute ml for cc on the chart. Note that 22.5 grains is almost exactly 1.5 ml/cc and should be a pretty good load to start with. Also rest assured that it is not possible to put enough Pyrodex in the chamber to blow it up using a firmly seated ball.

Grains to CCs
Gr. CC
100 6.62
95 6.29
90 5.96
85 5.63
80 5.30
75 4.97
70 4.63
65 4.30
60 3.97
55 3.64
50 3.31
45 2.98
40 2.65
35 2.32
34 2.25
33 2.18
32 2.12
31 2.05
30 1.99
29 1.92
28 1.85
27 1.79
26 1.72
25 1.66
24 1.59
23 1.52
22 1.46
21 1.39
20 1.32
19 1.26
18 1.19
17 1.13
16 1.06
15 0.99
14 0.93
13 0.86
12 0.79
11 0.73
10 0.66
9 0.60
8 0.53
7 0.46
6 0.40
5 0.33
4 0.26
3 0.20
2 0.13
1 0.07
Gr. CC

February 9, 2009, 02:38 PM
Hamour while in theory it sounds good, in West Virginia it is against the law to posses more than 5lbs of black powder. Poster needs to check local laws before buying in bulk.

February 10, 2009, 05:51 AM
Possession- 4. Law. actual holding or occupancy, either with or without rights of ownership.


So in any State that limits where possessing a set amount of Black Powder, say 5/lbs., carrying around 5/lbs. would be legal at the range(at one time). But if you left 5/lbs. of the 10/lbs. home, that you ordered and was transported under a hazmat permit issued under Federal law, I'd say you'd be within' the State law by the Legal definition of Possession.