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deerslayer303
February 4, 2013, 03:25 PM
Hey ya'll I hope everyones Monday has been as good as possible. Well I got the thinking (yeah I know....uh oh...:rolleyes:) Anyway the .303 British was originally a B.P. Cartridge. SO, I got this old lyman Ammo Maker kit from 1959. It has a mold for a 205gr. boolit and .313" diameter. I'm thinking of casting up some of those boolits and propelling them with real Black. So I know I should fill the case. Should I use FFFg or FFg. And should I figure out where the bullet sits in the case at the right COL and say make a mark on the case and fill to that point? Any lastly will good ole Pyro work as well? Thoughts?

10851Man
February 4, 2013, 03:28 PM
@deerslayer303,

I have loaded my 7.62 X 39 level full of Pyrodex and seted the bullet, compressing the charge. Less recoil and report than smokeless, but surprisingly good accuracy.

I did this only to see if I could use BP as an apocalyptic substitute...FWIW

Hawg
February 4, 2013, 03:35 PM
You're going to have to compress the powder a couple of times before seating a bullet. The original British round used a 71 1/2 grain pellet and a wad that was inserted into the case before the neck was formed.

deerslayer303
February 4, 2013, 04:21 PM
Good Stuff Guys,

You're going to have to compress the powder a couple of times before seating a bullet.
How do I do that? Seat a bullet and pull it back out? And also, these bullets are for gas checks, can I leave the gas check out, since I'm using B.P.? I think this will be fun!

Strafer Gott
February 4, 2013, 04:21 PM
Cordite was an awesome improvement. I keep forgetting how old this cartridge is. I'm not sure a compression plug will help you much with that bottleneck. Better get the vibrator out.

wogpotter
February 4, 2013, 04:24 PM
I've tried this, but the sucess was at best iffy.
Heres the trick, try to get as much powder in as you can. Then try to add a bit more..........., then some more......

Theres no way you can duplicate the original load as it was a solid pellet dropped into the case before the neck was formed. (Imagine a factory doing that today):eek:

Long, very long, drop tube, shake vibrate & so on to settle as much as possible. Top up case & seat bullet. I got about 38 grains in, but the original was 43 IIRC. Gas check? You won't need no steenkeen gas check! the 215Gr load was about 1850 FPS IIRC & you may get 1/2 to 2/3 that.

DO remember to clean for B/P afterwards.:D

deerslayer303
February 4, 2013, 04:36 PM
You won't need no steenkeen gas check!
LOL ^ thats funny right there! I have to try this at least once or twice! :D I may take a wood dowel or something to try and pack the powder down. So FFFg should be my best bet to get as much in and compressed as possible, right?

Logan5579
February 4, 2013, 04:55 PM
Yes
Smaller granulation means more powder will fit in a given volume, and more surface area to "burn" when you light er off :D

deerslayer303
February 4, 2013, 05:03 PM
YEEEHAAAWW, gonna turn old W.W. (whitetail widowmaker) into a SMOKEPOLE!!!:D;)

deerslayer303
February 4, 2013, 06:57 PM
Here's the plan Stan! I have a 15lb chunk of Lead that I used to weight a Racing Go Kart. Its hard as crap, so I'm gonna smelt that down and cast the 311299 bullet. I'm gonna go ahead and gas check em, since they are designed for it I guess. And maybe it will help. Then I will lube them with beez,parrafin,tallow, and cut em out with a fired case. Then I will fill, vibrate, fill, and shove a boolit in there. And try er out!

wogpotter
February 5, 2013, 08:37 AM
Be careful "crunching down" B/P with dowels & suchlike, it can be ignited by impact!:eek:

We'll hold yer beer.:D

Logan5579
February 5, 2013, 09:09 AM
Everytime I've heard "hold my beer and watch this" I knew it would be something funny...and maybe a trip in the ambulance :eek:

But I never seem to have a video camera handy...:p

Mike Irwin
February 5, 2013, 09:18 AM
the British black powder load was a pellet, but does anyone know how they pelletized it?

Colloidion?

Ran it through a rabbit?

Rifleman1776
February 5, 2013, 09:32 AM
Be careful "crunching down" B/P with dowels & suchlike, it can be ignited by impact!

False.
This is a myth many seem to want to believe.

mykeal
February 5, 2013, 10:10 AM
^^^^^^^^
What he says. The man knows what he's talking about.

the Black Spot
February 5, 2013, 11:00 AM
U can drop in a charge of bp and top off with cream of wheat then seat bullet. Smells like shooting cookies when u fire off!

wogpotter
February 5, 2013, 12:43 PM
Why would you do that when you're desperately trying to cram every last itsy-bitsy-teensy-tinsy bit of powder in the case?:confused:

wogpotter
February 5, 2013, 12:45 PM
the British black powder load was a pellet, but does anyone know how they pelletized it?
I heard they just damp moulded it during manufacture. Once dried it was dropped into the primed cylindrical case which was necked down over it.
OSHA would have a heart attack!

Doc Hoy
February 5, 2013, 02:13 PM
When I travel to FL about once or twice per month I go to a Wednesday night auction in 301 near Zephyrhills.

At about 7:00 pm they start auctioning off firearms. Since I am not an FL resident I am not even permitted to touch the modern weapons. I bid only on the antiques and BP stuff. But when I was there three weeks ago they had 5 .303 British in original configuration. Most were substantially complete. One was missing the bolt. None of these rifles brought more than $90.00. The one with the missing bolt went for 65.00. The tears were rolling down my cheeks.

I say this just to make you FL guys aware.

Hardcase
February 5, 2013, 03:59 PM
Doc, that would sure make a C&R license worthwhile!

indy1919
February 5, 2013, 06:45 PM
This image of the Black powder pellet for the 303 ammo, has sparked my imagination, Does anyone know how big this Pellet is/was
????

deerslayer303
February 5, 2013, 07:03 PM
Indy,
I've searched google and I can't find an image of a pellet or an old black powder loaded .303 round. It is very interesting indeed. I did see an old Cordite round disassembled, now that was cool. The Cordite was in like strips kinda like little pipe cleaners.

Hawg
February 5, 2013, 07:39 PM
This image of the Black powder pellet for the 303 ammo, has sparked my imagination, Does anyone know how big this Pellet is/was

The same size as the inside of a .303 case.

indy1919
February 5, 2013, 08:26 PM
deerslayer303.. I was searching also found nothing.. have also seen those disassembled Cordite 303 rounds and it was very very cool. I would almost have not believed it if I had not seen it..

Mike Irwin
February 6, 2013, 07:31 AM
The amount of impact needed to ignite black powder is FAR higher than anything you're going to get by tapping on it with a dowel.

Mike Irwin
February 6, 2013, 07:41 AM
"I did see an old Cordite round disassembled, now that was cool. The Cordite was in like strips kinda like little pipe cleaners."

Cordite for small arms ammunition was extruded through dies and cut to length.

In the case of rifle rounds, it was then bundled and tied with a small cloth ribbon which, I believe, was nitrated so that it would burn away.

As others have noted, it was then intserted into the unformed case, which was then necked and trimmed to length.

I'm not sure how cordite for handgun rounds was formed and loaded.

Cordite was an amazingly flexible propellant. With relatively minor formulation changes, it could be used to propell a 200-gr. revolver bullet or a 1.5 ton 15" shell out of a battleship gun.

Earlier Naval formulations were found to have a nasty tendency to sweat nitroglycerine, not unlike dynamite, which is thought to have contributed to, or caused, peacetime loss of two British warships.

Here's a neat WW II era picture of a woman worker at the British Royal Navy Cordite factory parceling out sticks of cordite to be packaged and sent for loading into shells.

http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib/30/media-30812/large.jpg?action=e (http://www.iwm.org.uk//collections/item/object/205187240)
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR. © IWM (A 24936) (http://www.iwm.org.uk//collections/item/object/205187240)IWM Non Commercial Licence (http://www.iwm.org.uk/corporate/privacy-copyright/licence)

Jim Watson
February 6, 2013, 09:27 AM
I have read, on one of the old gunboards, that the compressed black powder pellet for the .303 had a hollow core molded in for more complete ignition.


Cordite "load data" was in the form of strand diameter, number of strands, and the length of bundle to the nearest 1/20 th inch. The reel of Cordite was in a separate room, feeding out through a small hatch to the loading room where it was cut to length and dropped in the unnecked shells.

It is a very efficient propellant but erosive to barrels. Production went from Metford rifling, rounded like Glock "polygonal" to a strong 5 groove layout, Enfield pattern. That helped but erosion was still bad so they revised the formula and reversed the proportions of nitroglycerine and nitrocellulose. This was Cordite MD for MoDified. Or is that ModifieD? I can't figure which.
Even with those changes there were cautions about changing from Cordite to nitrocellulose, identified in British military .303 with a "Z" suffix. One should not use a machine gun for overhead fire with Cordite if it had been shot with nitrocellulose. Or maybe the other way around, but the wear patterns were different and could cause wild shots.

Revolver Cordite was just regular Cordite chopped into short granules.

At one time the .458 Win Mag got a bad reputation in Africa. Meant to equal the ballistics of the .450 Nitro Express, it got close with a compressed powder charge and a 25" barrel. When Winchester shortened the barrel to a handy 22" and fudged the load so that overcompressed powder did not pop the occasional bullet out, velocity dropped below 2000 fps. Some PWHs found that inadequate and turned to handloading. They found that Cordite from pulled down .303 got the .458 up to where it was supposed to be. Hot stuff.

indy1919
February 6, 2013, 10:34 AM
Many thanks Mike for this photo, it is very nice... So let me ask how dangerous is that hand full of Cordite, Is it like handling gun powder or is it less stable..???

Mike Irwin
February 6, 2013, 12:00 PM
"Even with those changes there were cautions about changing from Cordite to nitrocellulose..."

Cordite is a nitrocellulose-based propellant, just a very early formulation of it. It used a a pretty high proportion of nitroglycerine mixed with the nitrocellulose.

It's the nitrogylcerine that made it burn so hot. With the nitroglycerine added, it's a double-base propellant.

American double-base propellants, primarily those from Hercules, also had a reputation in the early days of being very hard on barrels.

That was largely due to the much softer steels then in use for firearms.

The US early on concentrated single-base propellants, and eventually settled on the IMR series of powders from Du Pont.

Cordite is as stable as any other kind of nitrocellulose-based gunpowder.

wogpotter
February 6, 2013, 12:15 PM
I have read, on one of the old gunboards, that the compressed black powder pellet for the .303 had a hollow core molded in for more complete ignition.

I found this, which seems to corobberate that:
"The powder charge was pressed into a pellet with both ends slightly rounded and pierced with a central flash propagating hole."

I can't find a picture anywhere though. Possibly because you'd have to destroy a collectable round to even attempt getting the pellet back out. It would seem to support the other information I found where the pill was wet moulded into some kind of die, or mold & then ejected & dried. I guess they did this instead of the "rolling into a sheet, smashing up & screening for grain size technique"?

Funnily enough I used to visit an abandoned plack powder mill in South Wales frequently, but I never found anything other than workers cottage gardens gone wild for a couple of hundred years & riuned masonry.

Mike Irwin
February 6, 2013, 01:06 PM
The central flash hole makes sense just from an ignition standpoint.

With the pellet being molded and compressed, it would likely be difficult, if not impossible, for the flash to propagate through the powder.

Given that black powder has a distinct, and fairly slow, burning rate, what you'd get would be a rocket motor. Not particularly suitable for propeling a bullet.

At the tail end of the blackpowder era came brown, or cocoa, powder, which used incompletely charred charcoal.

This slowed down the burning rate considerably, but it allowed for greater velocities (slower burning equals longer push on the projectile).

Because it was more difficult to ignite, manufacturers wet molded it and often included piercings to assist in ignition and in burning.

European Prismatic Powder and American Hexagonal Powder were both shaped like hexagons of varying lengths depending on the size of the gun in which it was used. Prismatic powder had multiple piercings while Hexagonal (developed by Du Pont) had a single central piercing, which made it look like a nut.

Jim Watson
February 6, 2013, 03:10 PM
Cordite is a nitrocellulose-based propellant, just a very early formulation of it. It used a a pretty high proportion of nitroglycerine mixed with the nitrocellulose.

Original Cordite was more nitroglycerine than nitrocellulose:
58% NG, 37% NC, 5% mineral jelly (think Vaseline, mean to cool the flame.)
Cordite MD reversed the ratio,
30% NG, 65% NC, 5% mineral jelly. Still pretty erosive but that and Enfield rifling got the British through two World Wars and a lot of small nasty stuff. Although they did use a lot of Zed ammuntion with straight nitrocellulose from the US and other allies.

Elmer Keith described a 500 Nitro express whose right barrel showed erosion from shooting many critters with Cordite ammunition. The left barrel hardly any because it seldom took a second shot.

Bullseye is the highest nitroglycerine American powder, I think 40%, but is only used in small doses for pistol ammo. One of the Good Old Boys said he and Bubba got one of the old cubical cans to go high order with a blasting cap and eradicated a stump. But I haven't seen it.

The famous (or infamous) Hi-Vel No 2 was 15% NG. A typical ball process powder is around 10% NG.

Mike Irwin
February 7, 2013, 09:57 AM
Yes, early cordite contained more nitroglycerine, but it was still nitrocellulose-based for one very important reason...

You can have an all nitrocellulose powder, but you can't have an all nitroglycerine powder.

You MUST have nitrocellulose. It modifies the explosive rate of the nitroglycerine into a burn rate suitable for use in firearms.

Some of the other very early US smokeless powders also had very high nitroglycerine content, many of which went by the wayside even before World War I.

wogpotter
February 7, 2013, 12:29 PM
I salvaged a grain of naval gun propellant from a first word war wreck's 5" naval rifle. Its a cylinder about 1/2" in diameter & 1" long. It has not one but 6 small holes passing through it longtitudinally.:eek:

I was told they were there to regulate the burning rate by giving a bigger surface area exposed to combustion.

mwells72774
February 7, 2013, 02:05 PM
the cordite in a 303 round is little rods. got a couple on hand. pulled one a while ago, and in a stroke of... not genius but something else, lit one cord. it burned hot like a fuse, but slow. pretty cool to watch. only time I did something ignert like that

deerslayer303
February 7, 2013, 03:51 PM
I wonder if those big powder "cakes" (?) for the big deck guns on battle ships were Cordite? I watched an episode on the military channel once of them loading a 16 incher, I think it was. The charges were wrapped in like a white paper so couldn't really see what was in em. And some loads were two or three of them cakes, or what ever you call em. I know we have some retired navy guys here that can answer this.

wogpotter
February 7, 2013, 04:15 PM
The Brits called them "Charge bags", they were once silk so they'd burn completely. IIRC they came in different weights, a #1, a #2, & a #3. You could calculate a formula for range by mix n' matching the bags.
http://www.dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/images/thumb/1/1a/12-inch_Cordite_Cartridge.jpg/300px-12-inch_Cordite_Cartridge.jpg

The Brits used cordite, but the U. S. navy had some kind of granular powder like I described.
This perhaps?
http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/Gun_Data_USN_Grain_pic.jpg

"Known as SPD, this new propellant was first produced in 1908 and adopted as the standard propellant formulation by 1912. SPD was found to have good stability characteristics when properly stored, with some lots manufactured prior to World War I staying in storage for as long as twelve years without loss of stability."

It was ignited by a 30-40 Krag blank inserted seperately into the breech of the rifle.

Mike Irwin
February 7, 2013, 06:00 PM
"I wonder if those big powder "cakes" (?) for the big deck guns on battle ships were Cordite?"

Yes. The British used Cordite for everything from handgun cartridges to the largest artillery.

It may have burned hotter than hell, but it was flexible.

deerslayer303
February 7, 2013, 07:10 PM
Wow, Thanks guys! That stuff is so awesome! I bet you felt it in your soul when they set them guns off. At fort jackson I was once about maybe 200ft from them firing a Howitzer, They were demoing it for our Summer Camp Platoon way back when I was in JROTC in High School. When that thing went off I felt that, so I can only imagine a Deck Gun

Jim Watson
February 7, 2013, 07:18 PM
If cannon grain Cordite is big, think about single grain Cordite rocket motors.
As Mike said, the stuff is versatile.

I don't think the US used Cordite in naval guns or other applications. We had our own powders.

some lots manufactured prior to World War I staying in storage for as long as twelve years without loss of stability."

Yes, but there was hell to pay then, or even sooner.
In 1926 the Lake Denmark Naval Ammunition Depot in New Jersey blew up with several million pounds of WWI propellant exploding and burning as safety distances between storage bunkers turned out to be inadequate. There was considerable loss of life and property.

Mike Irwin
February 7, 2013, 08:07 PM
The US never used cordite as a military powder. It was examined and tested, along with German Ballistite and French Poudre B.

All three were rejected for various reasons and the US military turned to both military and commercial research sources to develop the first smokeless powders in America.

B.L.E.
February 8, 2013, 07:39 AM
Many thanks Mike for this photo, it is very nice... So let me ask how dangerous is that hand full of Cordite, Is it like handling gun powder or is it less stable..???

If it accidently lit on fire, I'm pretty sure she would have plenty of time to drop it and watch it burn up the rest of the way on the floor without getting burned.
A bigger issue for people handling large amounts of propellents containing NG might be its toxic effects.
Trinitrotoluene, TNT, was particularly infamous for being toxic to the workers handling it in munitions plants during WWII.

wogpotter
February 8, 2013, 09:41 AM
Headaches from over exposure to nitro & TNT were common. The constant skin contact with the nitro acted as a low-level "patch" leeching a miniute dose of the heart stimulant(s) via skin contact.

There was a (highly irregular & frowned upon) "dodge" to get on sick call in the service. You pulled down a round & shared the cordite with your mates. One round could easily be "mislaid" during a range session with many shooters firing. A little under the tongue would make you look (& feel) like hell. You'd have sweats, discolored skin a temperature & an increased heart rate & pulse. It would wear off after about 30 minutes from removing the cordite. It would also kill you from heart failure if you over did it.:eek:

Jim Watson
February 8, 2013, 05:16 PM
On the other hand, you could get acclimated to it.

When my agency ran a study at Radford, they showed us pictures of the old open vat system of making nitroglycerine. A 500 gallon tank that was filled with glycerine and nitrating acid (nitric + sulfuric acid blend) added gradually. The operator sat on a tall stool and adjusted a hose to keep the incoming acid at the interface between glycerine and nitroglycerine as it formed. They got acclimated to the NG fumes that dialated blood vessels and would come in to work on Monday with a headache from blood vessels in their heads constricting. So as soon as a little nitroglycerine was formed, they would wipe some on their hatbands and put the cap on to get their "fix."

B.L.E.
February 8, 2013, 08:08 PM
From what I have been able to find out, TNT would make people exposed to it pass red urine and would cause skin to take on a yellow color, giving the women who handled it in munitions plants the nickname "canarys".