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Old May 6, 2008, 10:47 PM   #1
jdscholer
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Loading Pyrodex in Cartridges

Have any of you guys loaded Pyrodex, or other black powder substitutes, in cartridges?
I'm interested in creating safe and gentle reloads for my top break S&W.
I've got a bunch of 125 gr. Laser Cast SWC's, and a pound of fff Pyrodex.
Any advice, encouragement, discouragement?
This little gun is a fun and accurate shooter with these bullets and 2.5 gr. of Unique, but I worry about thrashing it with smokeless powder pressures.
Less grains of Unique seems short on poop, and prone to ignition problems.
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Old May 6, 2008, 11:01 PM   #2
DIXIEDOG
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Why take a risk with the corrosive Pyrodex on a gun you are worried about damaging???? It would be better to find a reduced load with smokeless powder that won't cause rust in all the orifices that you don't quite get clean during normal cleaning.
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Old May 6, 2008, 11:59 PM   #3
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I didn't know Pyrodex was that corrosive. Any better alternatives?
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Old May 7, 2008, 12:33 AM   #4
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American Pioneer powder.
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Old May 7, 2008, 11:28 AM   #5
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Depending on the age of your break top, it might only be suitable for use with black powder.

Smokeless powder, even the new smokeless substitutes, can batter a black powder frame to uselessness very quickly.

As for powder for the old cartridges, I prefer Trail Boss.
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Old May 7, 2008, 01:05 PM   #6
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The only way to load black powder (or Pyrodex) is to fill the case to the base of the seated bullet - perhaps compressing the powder slightly.

If that is too much of a load, and for a top break I'd err on the side of caution, reduce the amount of powder by 20% to 40% and then fill the rest of the airspace with corn starch or cream of wheat or something else inert. I would avoid anything like granulated plastic, I'm not sure how it would burn and effect the pressure curve.

In no circumstance should you leave any open space in the cartridge or have loose black powder in the case. One gets either squib loads with bullets in the barrel or pressure excursions where the charge detonates catastophically instead of burning rapidly.
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Old May 7, 2008, 07:47 PM   #7
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Pyrodex has an undeserved reputation fostered by people that don't use it. I don't usually clean my bp guns for two or three days after using Pyro and have gone as long as nine days with no rust or corrosion. Full cases of bp or Pyrodex is fine in a top break.
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Old May 7, 2008, 08:48 PM   #8
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I mostly use Goex now but I've never found Pyrodex to be corrosive. The fouling does attract moisture however, which will lead to rust if not cleaned up quick enough. And some of the newer subs like 777 and APP are hotter than BP and might defeat your purpose of a soft load.

You do need to fill the case, and a full case will pack more punch than your light smokeless loads. As Archie said, top off the case with cream of wheat if you want to reduce, so that the bullet compresses your charge a little when seated.
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Old May 7, 2008, 11:53 PM   #9
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"The fouling does attract moisture however, which will lead to rust if not cleaned up quick enough."

That's the entire point.

Black powder residue is also hygroscopic, and that causes rusting.
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Old May 7, 2008, 11:57 PM   #10
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So, I'm back on this thread after a long hard day at the salt mine. I'm happy and grateful to read all the above advice. Now, more questions.
Even though a full case of bp or Pyro packs more punch than a light load of smokeless, do ya think that it creates as much pressure as the smokeless; even a light charge? I guess I've always had the impression that smokeless creates some magical pressure spike that bp just doesn't do. Am I right, or--all wet.
My revolver is a S&W, double action, 4" bbl, 38 SW, top break. The last patent date on the barrel rib is 1889. Serial no. 595xxx on butt and cylinder.
I believe It's called the Double Action Third Model. Any info would be appreciated. If the nickel finish was in better shape, I wouldn't shoot it. Mechanically it's great, and the bore is perfect. It groups five shots in three inches or a tad less at 25 yards, and I want to have fun with it. I just don't want to ruin it.
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Old May 8, 2008, 12:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
do ya think that it creates as much pressure as the smokeless; even a light charge?
BP peaks out at about 20,000 PSI, smokeless powder will contim=nue right on until failure of the firearm. BP has a very gradual pressure rise and long pressure drop, smokeless has a sharp pressure rise and a fairly sharp drop called a pressure spike. Whe BP destroys a firearm, it is typically because the firearm was not strong enough to begin with or it was loaded improperly. When smokeless powder destroys a firearm, it could mean the firearm was inadequate or that too much powder was used, or the wrong type of smokeless powder, or many other things.

Load that baby up with American Pioneer powder and let it last a long time.
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Old May 8, 2008, 07:35 AM   #12
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Black vs Pyrodex, American Pioneer etc. Pressure Difference?

Is there any pressure differences between bp and the common bp substitutes that a cartridge reloader should be aware of?
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Old May 8, 2008, 08:41 AM   #13
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The problem with trying to use smokeless for black powder applications is that the area under the pressure curve sets the velocity.
Black powder has a larger area at lower peak pressure (big 'hump').
Smokeless with the same area almost always has a higher peak pressure (sharp peak).
If you have an old BP gun that has any real value just use BP (or a substitute) and clean up.
I will not even try to use smokeless in my 1866 .50-70 trapdoor, or the other BOP cartridge guns I have.
It is not worth the risk of damage.

And yes I know people 'do it all the time'.
That does not mean they have ANY real pressure data.
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Old May 8, 2008, 10:31 PM   #14
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Thanx for all the good info, guys. I'll be trying my Pyrodex, can't find any American Pioneer around here. I don't mind a little clean-up.
A lot of folks might think I'm kinda silly to make such a fuss just to shoot my old relic, and they might be right. And my wife might agree.
After I figure this out I'm liable to put this pistol away, and move onto my next silly project. At least I'll have plenty of satisfactory reloads to grab and go with when I get the urge.
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Old May 9, 2008, 10:27 AM   #15
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I drag the BP cartridge guns out a couple times a year just to have some fun.

The 'whap' of a 450 grain slug hitting the berm from a .50-70 always attracts a crowd.
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Old May 9, 2008, 05:06 PM   #16
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Quote:
Pyrodex has an undeserved reputation fostered by people that don't use it. I don't usually clean my bp guns for two or three days after using Pyro and have gone as long as nine days with no rust or corrosion. Full cases of bp or Pyrodex is fine in a top break.
Actually pyrodex is MORE corrosive than black powder. Hawg, if you waited nine days to clean, you were extremely lucky you did not have a ruined, rusted bore.

JD, be damn sure you get in EVER nook and cranny of that old revolver. Any fouling left there will rust it, unless you get it wet and removed. Use OLNY water based cleaner, the old standby is soap and the hottest water you can get. Then physically remove every trace of fouling.
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Old May 9, 2008, 05:33 PM   #17
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You could try jim shockey' gold.
goex pinnacle.
T777.
these are all sub's and they are clean powders.
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Old May 11, 2008, 12:45 AM   #18
jdscholer
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Thanks again for more info, guys. Y'all aint helpin my indecision though.
This morning I reloaded one shell with Pyro, and shot it into a stack of magazines. It felt good, and penetrated about 5 deep. Reloaded 15 more and went shootin. They shot pretty well, though don't group as well as my last loads with Unique. Recoil was very comfortable, and if my hand is any kind of judge, I think they are pretty gentle on the pistola.
Came back home and loaded up 100 of em. So now for better or worse I've got that many to shoot and clean up after.
By the by, my powder load was 6 gr. of Pyrodex fff to fill the case up to the bottom of my 125 gr. Laser Cast SWC. CCI 500 primers.
Oh yeah, I cleaned the revolver with some Hoppe's "Elite" gun cleaner that I picked up the other day and really knew nothing about. Gotta say, it did a pretty good job. The barrel was kinda crusty, and there was plenty of carbon where ya would expect, but a bronze brush on the bores and a tooth brush everywhere else pretty much took care of business. Finished by douching her down with WD, and will probably follow up with Rem-Oil. I'm already thinking of other cleaning variations, but you know that no three of us will ever agree on that.
I think I need to come up with a better bullet-.360 dia. with more lube, and would like to try American Pioneer. Have been told that triple 7 is higher pressure. Any truth?
Later, jd
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Old May 11, 2008, 09:56 AM   #19
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Is this the elite cleaner you used?

http://www.hoppes.com/products/elite...r_solvent.html

Or is this the elite you used?

http://www.hoppes.com/products/elite_gun_cleaner.html

If it's the first one, you're good to go. If it's the second one, you will have rust, no matter what oil you cover it with. Gun cleaners made for smokeless powder will NOT neutralize the salts left behind when pyro burns. Black or pyrodex powder need a water based cleaner to dissolve the salts that are hygroscopic. They draw moisture from the air which then rusts the steel.
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Old May 11, 2008, 11:42 AM   #20
jdscholer
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Well Snuff, it was the second one. Looks like I might need some follow-up work.
The stuff I used seems to be a kind of soapy, watey liquid, so I thought it might be OK. It doesn't have any descriptions or instructions on the container. Kind of funkey.
I still would like to try another powder if there is a better choice.
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