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Old March 28, 2012, 09:47 AM   #1
EricBella
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Black Powder reloading

could someone help me out here. does anyone know what powder charges to use for 45 colt 255gr round and 38 spl 160gr round? thanks
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Old March 28, 2012, 10:19 AM   #2
Jbar4Ranch
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Real black powder - to the base of the bullet, plus maybe thirty to a hundred thousandths of an inch more. Usually, a little compression helps combustion and accuracy.
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Old March 28, 2012, 12:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Usually, a little compression helps combustion and accuracy.
Compression is "required" to keep from losing fingers, eyes, and such. Line the bullet up against the shell and see where the bottom of it will seat. Make sure powder goes above that level so it will get compressed a bit. If you want to use less powder, add cream of wheat or corn meal to take up the gap.
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Old March 28, 2012, 02:01 PM   #4
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It is also possible to use a lubed wad cut from durofelt or a lubed vegetable wad from Circle Fly.
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Old March 28, 2012, 03:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noelf2
Compression is "required" to keep from losing fingers, eyes, and such.
It is generally, but not universally, agreed that cartridges (or muzzleloaders for that matter) loaded with black powder should have no air space between the powder and the projectile. It has been reported that high pressures can result from such an air space, resulting in damaged or destroyed firearms. For safety, do not leave any air space in your cartridges. Compression is NOT required for safe loading, just 100% loading density with no air space between powder and projectile.
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Old March 28, 2012, 03:52 PM   #6
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"Generally agreed" upon in this matter is good enough for me. Not something I want to learn the hard way. Just figured I would let him know there's a bit more at stake than combustion and accuracy issues.
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Old March 28, 2012, 04:25 PM   #7
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No air space with no compression is difficult to accomplish.
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Old March 28, 2012, 07:33 PM   #8
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Old March 28, 2012, 08:26 PM   #9
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Lee that's a lot of powder for a 45 Colt with a big bullet like a 255gr. I've used 35gr fffg (volume) under a 250 rnfp bullet and it crunched the powder quite a bit. In fact, i pulled a bullet from one round and I had to scrape the powder out. It was almost like a solid mass, and wouldn't pour.
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Old March 28, 2012, 09:03 PM   #10
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I use a 2.2cc Lee dipper for loading .45LC cartridges with BP under a 255 gr RNFP. According to Lee's Dipper Capacity Chart, the 2.2cc dipper holds:
35.00 gr FFFG
32.40 gr FFG
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Old March 28, 2012, 10:32 PM   #11
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If my memory serves, I used about 18grs in the 38 and 22grs in the .357mag. That was FFFg Goex under a 158gr RN (Lyman 358311 w/SPG lube). I found that if I put 2 discs of medium brood core beeswax sheeting* under the bullets I could shoot them all day withut fouling the end of the bore (20" Rossi) but I got 4-6" groups at 50yds. If I left out the wax discs I got 1.5" groups at 50yds but needed to do a wet swab "pull through" between stages and got my shirt cuffs blackened. I went to 15grs 777 and got 1.5" groups and all day shooting, no fouling out & no pull throughs needed.

*medium brood core is the same beeswax sheets you see in different colors at craft shops in the candle section where you roll the sheets into candles. It has a honeycomb pattern impressed into it and is normally put into bee hives for the bees to start making honey comb on it. I prime & charge my cases then press the sheet over the mouth of the case to leave a disc of the wax in the mouth then seat the bullet on top.
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Old March 28, 2012, 11:32 PM   #12
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Historically, the .45 Colt started out with 40 gr of real black; probably FFg, they seem to have used coarser powder per application than we do now.
Loads were soon reduced, some say cylinders were failing proof test, some say recoil was too heavy for the cavalry. Any road, they went all the way down to 30 grains, back up to 35 in the 1880s.

The .38 Special was special because it contained a whopping 21.5 gr powder charge and a monster 158 gr bullet... relative to the .38 Long Colt at 18 gr and 150, respectively. Loads varied by brand and era but that is the number I go by.

Modern drawn solid head brass is thicker and holds less.
It really doesn't matter as long as you don't leave a gap.
Non-gunpowder fillers are used for light loads to avoid airspace.
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Old March 29, 2012, 01:18 PM   #13
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Old April 3, 2012, 11:17 AM   #14
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45Colt loads

First keep in mind that the 45 Colt loads that were with 40 grains of powder were loaded into balloon head cases which hold more powder than today's cases.
I shot the 45 Colt with BP for a few years in SASS before going to the 44WCF.
A very easy way for a new shooter to get his feet wet with loading real BP is to use the following system to find his load.
Take a 1/4 inch piece of dowel rod and lay your bullet on it's side. Put the bottom of the dowel even with the bottom of the bullet. Now go up the dowel and when you get to the crimp groove put a mark of red ink or similar mark at this spot on the dowel. Now fill the case with 2F powder until you can put the dowel into the case and barely see the red mark over the edge. This will be your correct load for that bullet. Weigh the charge and record the weight so that you may make your adjustments on your measure.
Remember that all BP brands and lot numbers will be different and you have to reset if you change lot or brand.
To give you a good example is the Swiss powder which is finer in grain size that the Goex of the USA. In fact almost all black powders have different sizes when you compare the USA powder to them.
The posting by Jim Watson is I'm sure an typing error on his part as the gun powders of the mid to late 1880's were finer in size and not coarser as he posted.
All BP is the same with the difference being in the grain size and shape of the grains. All BP burns from the outside surface in. If you have a very smooth and even shaped grain then it will burn faster than one that is all irregular and rough on it's surface. Glad to see you on the Fun side of shooting. You will most likly find your loads to be some where in the 33-35 grain area.
If you choose to shoot lighter loads then just use the 45 Schofield case with a 200 grain bullet with the revolvers. The loads are about 26-28 grains. Very fun to shoot.
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Old April 3, 2012, 11:36 AM   #15
Jim Watson
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Quote:
The posting by Jim Watson is I'm sure an typing error on his part as the gun powders of the mid to late 1880's were finer in size and not coarser as he posted.
Actually, I was going by reports from people who have pulled bullets from old factory BP cartridges. They described relatively coarse powder.
You are saying it is the other way around? What calibers have you examined?

There is one gunzine author who decrees that the .45 Colt was never ever loaded with the rated 40 grains. Says him. I don't consider CotW to be a primary source for the 40 grain number, but Ed Ezell agrees at 40 grains, even if he did metricate everything and call it 2.6 grams.
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Old April 3, 2012, 12:05 PM   #16
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I've always heard it was coarser back then too. I've got some vintage cartridges in my collection, but I'm NOT pulling the bullets to find out! I've got a relic 1849 Colt plowed up by my grandfather here back in the early 40's with a loose ball in one chamber, and the powder is definitely coarser than current 3fg.
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Old April 3, 2012, 01:37 PM   #17
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original load for the 45 colt was 40 grains blackpowder and a 250 gr bullet in a balloon head case .
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Old April 3, 2012, 02:19 PM   #18
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Original powder is coarser.
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Old April 3, 2012, 08:46 PM   #19
Jim Watson
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Quote:
in a balloon head case
Actually in a folded head case or, for military ammunition, in a Benet inside primed centerfire case. There was a LOT of development done in ammunition design in those days, with construction that looks strange now.
What we now call a balloon head case was originally listed by UMC as "solid head" because the rim was a solid flange instead of folded and rolled like a rimfire, even though the primer pocket still protruded into the powder space.
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