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Old October 29, 2000, 01:51 AM   #1
Cosmoline
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Since cartridges such as .44-40 and .45 LC were originally designed for black powder, and since even the old Peacemakers worked well with the stuff, what's wrong with just loading up your brass with black powder instead of smokeless? Is there a problem with modern primers or something? Surely a modern handgun primer will work as well or better than a cap. And modern steel is, of course, much stronger.

Assuming there's nothing wrong with this, my next question is, where can I find a manual for it? I've got a burning desire to make my smoke wagon really smoke!
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Old October 29, 2000, 05:09 AM   #2
Hal
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Nothing wrong with using BP at all. It's just that the stuff is a general royal pain in the tail to deal with. Cleanup becomes a major issue with black powder. Once you ignite the crap(said loveingly, since I'm a BP junkie from way back), the residue becomes sulfuric acid in the presence of moisture. I loaded exactly one round of .45LC using 38 gr of BP under a 250 gr cast lead bullet and fired it in my Blackhawk. That was years ago, and the thing still stinks like a dog fart The manual on BP is simple. Fill the case with as much as will fit under the bullet you use. You don't want any air space at all between the bullet and the powder. BP is graded according to the size of the granuals. The more "F"'s, the finer the powder, the finer the powder, the easier it burns (read faster). For both .44/40 and .45, FFG should give you the best burn rate using standard primers. Magnum primers aren''t recommended since the hotter flash would be counter productive. You want the load to burn as slow as possible. When you handle BP, you have to be careful to avoid anything that can cause static electricity. BP burns at a constant rate, either in the open or confined, so a spark can set off an explosion. Unlike smokeless propellant, BP is a true explosive. Before you start, pour a small pile of it outside and toss a match to it. Stand back though,,,waaayyyyy back.
If you want to deal with the mess and the extra handeling precautions, the rewards are going to be a billowing cloud of smoke, that will literally bring tears to your eyes, and a throaty BOOM, instead of a crack. Black podwer sounds like, well honestly, it sounds like the difference between a Harley and a Honda. I would strongly suggest you find someone that can do a hands on with you instead of going it yourself for the first time.
Black powder is a great deal of fun, but it's a bit too much work for my tastes right now. Usually when I get the urge to make smoke, I use a cap and ball pistol. They're made with the thought of stripping them down for cleaning. Those brass frames on most BP arms aren't just for show and cost cutting in mfg. The brass frames don't turn to rust 30 seconds (Ok, gross exaduration, but it always seems like it) after you pull the trigger.
One last word of caution. When you do load it up and shoot, please shoot it outside. This time of year always brings out the muzzle loaders for their yearly sight in at the indoor range. LOL! I get a LOT of low light practice in, and feel ready to deal with any mace attack.

[This message has been edited by RAE (edited October 29, 2000).]
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Old October 29, 2000, 10:00 AM   #3
Mike Irwin
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I've done it numerous times with .38 and .357 just for the hell of it. Now that I have a .41 Mag., I just may do it with that gun, as well, again just for the hell of it.

As Rae said, though, clean-up becomes 5 million times more important, as if you don't get all the nooks and crannies clean, you'll get rust.

I know several cowboy shooters who use BP reloads. Remember that modern brass has a smaller case capacity than old brass.

If you decide to do this, you MUST dipper your powder charges instead of throw them, unless you have an old Belding & Mull all brass thrower.

Most modern powder throwers use steel, and a spark is always a possibility. And what you'll get away with when using smokeless powder will cause you a lot of heartache and grief when using black powder.

Also, you should have a minimal amount of black powder out at any one time, again to cut down on the possibility of problems.
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[This message has been edited by Mike Irwin (edited October 29, 2000).]
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Old October 29, 2000, 01:50 PM   #4
Cosmoline
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Thanks for the advice. What about a stainless revolver? Is cleanup any easier? Will it still rust so quickly? Also, should I avoid a tight crimp?
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Old October 29, 2000, 06:36 PM   #5
Mike Irwin
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Cleanup is much easier with a stainless revolver, as it won't rust nearly as quickly as a blued gun.

Stainless will still rust, it just takes longer, and is not nearly as severe.

You should use a firm crimp, but nothing excessive. A firm crimp promotes good ignition of the powder, and a little better burning.

If you do do this, you probably want to use bullets that have been lubed with Alox. You need a pretty soft bullet lube in order to keep the powder fouling nice and soft, which means better accuracy.
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Old October 29, 2000, 09:25 PM   #6
handgunhunting
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Please remember that black powder is corrosive not only to the gun but to the cases too. So you will not be able to get as many reloads out of then and you should not reload them with smokeless powder after you have used black powder. you c\an go to hodgen powder web page and get reloading data for their pyrodex.
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Old October 30, 2000, 06:04 AM   #7
Hal
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Good point about the cases.
The November 1999 issue of Handguns magazine had a good article about loading BP cartridges if you can find it.
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Old October 30, 2000, 01:22 PM   #8
Dimitri
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What everyone fails to mention with black powder is that clean up is not just a matter of getting at the nooks . . . You need to take the gun apart completely -- all the screws, springs, parts. Then clean thoroughly. Soap and water works well, or Formula 409. Then you lube the parts with a preparation like Bore Butter and reassemble the gun.

Otherwise, you're gonna get corrosion. Your brass may not corrode, but the primer will, also you don't want to get the residue of the brass on your dies and press. So, wash the brass in soap and water. Or the ol' soap, water, vinegar, salt, lemon juice mixture.

You sure you really wanna do this?

[This message has been edited by Dimitri (edited October 30, 2000).]
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Old October 30, 2000, 05:46 PM   #9
Mike Irwin
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Dmitry,

I take it one better.

I strip the gun COMPELETELY down, and boil the parts in several changes of soapy water, followed by a bath or two in clean water as a rinse.

After that, all of the parts are hot enough that they flash dry nicely.

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Old October 31, 2000, 01:24 PM   #10
Jack Straw
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One excellent source for info on loading black powder pistol cartridges is Mike Venturino's book "Shooting Colt Single Actions". He has a section on smokeless powder and another for blackpowder for each caliber. If you are serious about getting into this you might want to check out either MV's book or another one like it. Loading BP is a bit trickier than using smokeless and it would probably be worth it to learn some of the tricks of the trade so that your results are more satisfying.

BTW, Lyman makes a powder measure that can be used with BP. I assume it could also be used with smokeless. Just a thought in case you get addicted.

Jack
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Old November 1, 2000, 05:00 PM   #11
Rezdog
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I used to shoot a black powder .45-2 7/8 Sharps (about 90 grs of FFg). To maintain the cartridge cases, I would take a large peanut butter jar half full of soapy water to the range with me. Immediately after extracting the fired case, I'd drop it in the jar. Returning home, I would wash the cases in hot soapy water and scrub them out with a small bottle brush. The sulfur in the powder and residue are corrosive to brass and steel (as noted above, it makes sulfuric acid). In the old days, primers contained mercury (fulminate of mercury) which severely deteriorated the brass; coupled with powder residue it made a real mess and case life was very short.
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Old November 2, 2000, 08:46 AM   #12
DAW
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Greetings. I load Black Powder frequently in my 44-40 guns. I use a Ruger Vaquero, two Uberti 1873 Cattlman (Peace Maker Clones) and a Uberti 1873 Sporting Rifle (1873 Winchester Clone). Now I am working up a load for 12 gauge shotgun. I highly recommend the Uberti clones. I use the Ruger for hunting (with flavorless powder) because of the firing pin safety style. Also popular guns for the task (CAS) are Cimarron, American Western Arms, Colt Model P, EMF Hartford. I do clean up well, but I don't break down the guns into pieces and boil them every time and my guns look good but not new. I break them down once or twice a year. Each time I shoot I clean with soapy dish detergent, spray on Remmington or KG-2 bore cleaner, then oil like all get-out! I also come back and clean the bore once each day every day for 3 days (it will be clean about the 4th time). Then I gun-grease the bore and put it away until my next outing. Every 30 days I check and reclean and grease the bore. If you shoot BP and let a gun stand idle, the bore will rust and pit very, very fast! The brass and the guns must be cleaned the same day as it was used, or it will rust all the pretty parts. Brass turns green over night.
The brass: I use Winchester or Remmington (and I hear Startline is great stuff)for 44-40. I load with 36 grains of FFFg with a Large Pistol Primer (CCI or Federal). I use a soft lead (20-1) bullet at 200 grains with lots of deep grease grooves filled with SPG Lube. I fully resize the shells, then expand the inside neck diameter of the case to bulet size minus .001, and factory roll crimp. In my Ruger a Truncated Cone works best, RNFP work better in my Uberti. If you go the route of 45LC check out SASS for load directions. Don't use grease cookies or wads in bottleneck shells(ok in straight wall like 45LC). Last things: slug the bore and note the groove diameter and cylinder diameters. On a well made wheelgun the barrel of a 44-40 with have a groove diameter of .427, and a cylinder mouth of .427 Plus (which is perfect IMHO), then use a bullet sized to .428 and test for accuracy. The BP designed bullet should be .001 larger than groove diameter. Sometimes a little more powder compressed will help, or a different bullet sytle. I don't generally compress BP because it can blow up in your face while compressing it. Don't do it unless you are sure you know what you are doing, and use only a powder compression die for the task. IF YOU COMPRESS BLACK POWDER MORE THAN 1/8th INCH YOU RISK DETONATION. Note that the crown and forcing cone must be in good shape for POA accuracy.
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Old November 2, 2000, 11:02 AM   #13
Southla1
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Hey guys, I have a replica .36 Navy Colt and also now and then shoot some 255 grain lead bullets with FFFG black powder in my .45 Ruger Blackhawk convertable.
Sure clean up is (or can be a mess) but what I do (when the wife is not at home ) is strip the weapon down completly and let Mr. Whirlpool (dishwasher) do my gun cleaning for me. It works like a charm for the cleaning and the dry cycle dries it completely, all you need to do then is apply a liberal dose of gun oil to all parts. I use 3 in 1 oil in an aerosol can for that to make sure i get all the areas covered, then wipe it down.

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Carlyle Hebert

[This message has been edited by Southla1 (edited November 02, 2000).]
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