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Old March 1, 2008, 08:35 PM   #1
berkmberk1
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What's the diff' between powders?

While reading up on various loads, and powders of the BP kind, I observed that for specific loads of any one granulation (f, ff, fff) writers have referred to the differences between brands as throwing more or less weight because of their particular makeups/densities/manufacturing processes. Does this make any appreciable difference at the shooting line when you're just busting caps and punching holes in paper for fun?

I just received a Treso flask to charge my Navy Colt (44 type). The spout on it is supposed to dispense 30 gr. Now, if Pyrodex fffg is different from Goex which is different from American Pioneer which is different from etc. etc., what, if anything would I notice, realistically?
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Old March 1, 2008, 10:57 PM   #2
jtaylor
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Well, only black powder is black powder, the others are substitutes that came about when BP started to be more regulated and expensive to ship and store.
Substitutes are entirely different compositions and are much less dense than commercial BP which is pressed to 1.7g/c3 . By weight, your typical charge of BP takes up much less volume than BP substitutes. This is why it's recommended to measure by volume and not weight with BP and substitutes.
As far as black powder, the performance variable is the type of wood used for the charcoal. Goex uses maple and other hardwoods, not ideal, but cheap and abundant. Swiss and GOEX express use Alder and or Willow. These are the two choice woods for super fast, hot and clean Black powder. Manufacturers used to offer many different BP formulas with varying ratios of KNO3, Sulfur and Charcoal. Every business, military organization or blasting company had their own criteria and formula for powder. The most commonly used ratio is still 75% 15% 10%, KNO3, Charcoal, Sulfur.
I notice a difference in recoil, sound, smoke and corrosion when using different substitutes. Most substitutes are designed to be used and loaded just like BP, so you can usually keep the same powder charge size. As far as granulation, in revolvers, FFFg and FFg are interchangeable to me, no major difference in lighter loads. In a rifle, I'd stick with FFg or Fg depending on how big a charge. Smaller granulations have more surface area per charge, so the whole charge is combusted faster and has a higher pressure spike.
Out of all the substitutes I've tried, the only one I'll ever use is 777 and that's if I run out of BP. 777 has a quick impulse and should be reduced 10% from your normal charges. I don't like it's smell, it's high pitch crack or the way it compresses when loading, but it's clean, non corrosive and reliable.
As long as it's possible, I'll take real BP anyday

Last edited by jtaylor; March 2, 2008 at 01:09 AM.
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Old March 1, 2008, 11:28 PM   #3
Hawg
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Just measure it by volume and not weight and you'll be ok, except reduce 777 by 10% as was mentioned. I use pyrodex as real bp isn't available here and pyro is cheaper than the others, half the price of 777. Don't charge your chambers directly from the flask. If there's a hot ember left in a chamber you're holding a live grenade in your hand.
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Old March 1, 2008, 11:44 PM   #4
scrat
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FG (1F) - Is used in large gauge shotguns and cannons.
FFG (2F) - Is used in most muzzleloading shotguns, large bore rifles, and pistols .45 caliber and larger.
FFFG (3F) - Is used in rifles and pistols .44 caliber and below and all revolvers.
FFFFG (4F) - Is used only for priming flintlocks.
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Now with this. If your shooting a bp hand gun regardless of it being goex pyrodex, 777 it has to be the type you need in FFF.
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Old March 2, 2008, 12:02 AM   #5
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I use 2F or Pyrodex RS(2F)in .44's all the time.
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Old March 2, 2008, 02:40 AM   #6
arcticap
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Since real BP has a lower ignition temperature than BP substitutes, wouldn't it be safer to use substitute powders in revolvers even if only to reduce the possibility of chainfires?
Also if BP is supposed to be impact sensitive and more explosive, then using it really may increase risks while producing lower velocity and less shots per pound of powder, at least when compared to most of the subs.
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Old March 2, 2008, 05:59 AM   #7
Hawg
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Subs chainfire too. I know of one anyway that chained with 777 that never chained with real bp. Bp doesn't give lower velocity than subs except for 777 at least not to my knowledge. I never chrono'd any of it but 30 grs. of Pyro doesn't feel as strong as 30 grs. of real bp to me. Yeah you get more shots with subs, 30% more with Pyro by weight but not by cost. So it's actually cheaper to use bp if you can get it. From what I gather bp is now around 11.00 per pound. I pay 16.00 for Pyro per pound and 777 is 26.00 per pound.
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Old March 2, 2008, 08:56 AM   #8
mykeal
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I don't believe real bp is impact sensitive. This is the first time I've heard that. Can you cite a source?
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Old March 2, 2008, 09:25 AM   #9
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I don't think it is either but Remington says it is. Course that could be just to keep the lawyers of their backs.

10. NEVER POUND THE RAMROD. Black powder and PYRODEX are impact sensitive and could ignite from impact. Keep the ramrod directly away from your face or body.

http://www.remington.com/safety/safe...fety_rules.asp
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Old March 2, 2008, 11:28 AM   #10
jtaylor
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Black Powder is not impact or friction sensitive. I load BP rocket engines and fountains and it's done with a wooden mallet and aluminum or stainless rods that fit around the spindle ( core former ). You can pound BP all you like. It's not even a true explosive, it's been classified that way, but it's a deflagrant ( it burns end to end, not all at once ). I trust BP safety a little more since it's been around so long and we all know it's characteristics well. I have a friend who had pyrodex ignite from static or friction once, he was using newspaper to funnel some into a flask and it went up. Luckily it just flared up in the flask and he had only minor burns on his hands.
I've never had ignition problems with BP, I have with pyrodex and 777. Both pyrodex and 777 are more hygroscopic, they absorb moisture from the air easily becuase they use sugar based fuels like fructose. BP uses charcoal as the fuel, more messy and smoky, but more reliable ignition and dryer powder.
777 is a good substitute, I'd like to see Pyrodex phased out by Hodgdon so they can save money in production and start selling 777 for a reasonable price.
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Old March 2, 2008, 12:47 PM   #11
berkmberk1
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Seems someone else disagrees..........a Federal agency.....

http://cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/14053

From what I've read, I make it out to be a case of friction of the components - their being impacted with a certain force and/or frequency that could raise internal temperatures enough to ignite it.......or at least something like that..... That would explain being able to handle it in small quantities, or mixing it, in most cases, without mishap.
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Old March 2, 2008, 01:31 PM   #12
Hawg
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I wish I had some real bp. I'd put a small amount on a concrete slab and whack it as hard as I could with a hammer just to see what happens.
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Old March 2, 2008, 02:36 PM   #13
mykeal
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From the NOAA data sheet:
Quote:
Reactivity Profile
Black powder is usually composed of a reduced material charcoal/sulfur and an oxidizer either, potassium or sodium nitrate. These materials are physically mixed together. Black powder is sensitive to impact, friction, and sparks and generally burns as an explosive deflagration. Under certain conditions has been known to detonate. (NOAA REACTIVITY, 2007)
This is an incorrect statement, despite the 'Federal agency' authority. Black powder reacts to heat, nothing more, nothing less. It may ignite under impact, friction or sparks but only insofar as those environments serve to provide heat at or above the ignition temperature.

I would not attempt to test the impact theory with a hammer unless you had a very small sample or adequate protection was available, as the impact might generate heat, depending on the material properties of the hammer and the surface the powder was placed on.
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Old March 2, 2008, 03:34 PM   #14
Hawg
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Well yeah it would be a small amount. I may be crazy but I'm not stupid.
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Old March 2, 2008, 04:05 PM   #15
jtaylor
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Mykeal's right on that one. That statement about " has been known to detonate".... BP will self confine at around 500lbs. This means it's exterior mass is enough for confinement to create an explosion. Real explosives only require the resistance of surrounding air!! BP is a fuel oxidizer mix, unlike most explosives, BP burns from end to end rather than going all at once like a primary or secondary explosive would.
Also, keep in mind how BP is made; with milling, either in large ball mills with lead/ceramic or SS media, or with large milling wheels. Lots of friction and impact going on here and this has been the primary method of production for 100's of years now.
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