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Old June 29, 2008, 11:38 AM   #1
Wild Bill Bucks
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Dipper measure ( Just a thought)

I watched a guy yesterday, at the range, using a dipper to measure his powder for his Thompson Encore. I wasn't paying a whole lot of attention to what he was doing, until I noticed, that he was shooting about a 6" spread at 100 yards.

I have owned an Encore for several years, and understand that they can be finicky, but I have never seen one that would not shoot at least 1 1/2" groups with the bullet and sabot combo that he was using.

I had never seen a 90 grain plastic dipper used before, as mine have always been brass measures, but I did notice that he would make one dip, and level it off with a scraper, one time, and then the next time would pack the powder down with the scraper the next time. I mentioned this to him that it might be a good idea to stay consistent with which ever method he wanted to do, since it probably made a 5 or 10 grain difference between each load.

He kind of got P.O'd that I even made the observation, making a mumble to the effect of minding my own business, so I left any more unsaid.

I just thought I would post this to some of the nubees, that consistency in muzzleloading is MANDATORY. It is not an Option. If all loading procedures are not followed as closely as possible, and repeated as exactly, as possible, then you are never going to achieve the potential that your rifle actually has.

Please, when you go to the range, listen and learn from other guys who have been shooting for more years than you have been alive. These guys learned everything they know by doing, and even if you are hearing something you already know, you will generally pick up a little something you didn't. We all have to learn from someone.
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Old June 29, 2008, 11:58 AM   #2
Hawg
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Consistency is best for optimum accuracy but IMHO the difference between loose and packed in the dipper shouldn't result in that big of a spread. Maybe he's just a lousy shot.
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Old June 29, 2008, 12:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
"Maybe he's just a lousy shot"

That's why I left. That was exactly my second thought.
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Old June 30, 2008, 12:00 AM   #4
arcticap
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It sounds like the fellow may have been breaking one of the cardinal rules of muzzle loading. In order to use his dipper, was he dipping into an open container of powder which is a big no-no? There shouldn't be any open containers of powder at the range or firing line. All the containers are supposed to have a pour spout with a cover attached that should be closed immediately after pouring it into a flask. Then the powder in the flask is poured into whatever he's using as a measure.
I don't know if he was using a sub. powder or not, but he would get warned if he was dipping into an open container at my old BP club. Unless he was pouring it into his dipper and that was omitted from the scenario described.
When I pour into my measure, I do it over a plastic box to catch any spillage, and then I use it up before much accumulates.
But having any open container of powder near the firing line is a red flag. If someone's alone then they get away with doing it, but when others are shooting, hot cinders can be in the air which make any open powder a hazard. Buying a pour spout was something I was once warned about when I was a greenhorn, and I only poured from my container to fill up my flask, so that's why I remember about that rule. Especially the old timers, they really don't like to see any open containers.
It was because of all of their years of experience I guess.
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Old June 30, 2008, 12:31 PM   #5
Wild Bill Bucks
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Our range is really no more than a few benches set up, at the corner of town, just outside the city limits. There is no range manager and most rules are pretty much left up to the individuals shooting ( which in most cases are pretty safe about most things)

This guy was keeping his powder covered with the lid when shooting, but was dipping directly out of the container (Black powder)

Several things he was doing wrong, but was just one of those guys that wasn't going to be told anything, by anyone. (You know the type)
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Old June 30, 2008, 04:05 PM   #6
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Not only bad loading practices but ignoring a few basic Black Powder safety rules. When we teach, we teach to load from a calibrated precision measure and that does not mean the one that may be on the flask. We also teach that you don't load from any flask and after filling a flask, you cap teh container. We also teach that when working around loose powder, The Smoking Lamp is Out

That's an old Navy term that needs no explaination. I guess this guy wants to learn the hard way. I also try to help folks like this and sometimes you have to give them more room to learn, say about 20 Ft.

"Front Loading" is safe and lots of fun but like anything else, you have to follow some basic rules.

Please Be Safe !!!
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Old June 30, 2008, 05:00 PM   #7
Oquirrh
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so, what is the best way to use a dipper?

Fill it until grains start pouring over the side into the catch container? Then do you tap or shake it once?
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Old June 30, 2008, 06:17 PM   #8
arcticap
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Sure, the important thing is to do it consistently each time whether it gets shaken or packed. I think that most will shake or tap it. Many volume measures have a funnel top that slides to level the powder before dumping it in the bore, and it needs to spill somewhere so why not capture it?
Some folks like to measure their loads up at home and put them into pill containers like having pre-loads.
Personally, I have several plastic funnels that I place in the bore so I don't spill powder all over the place and ruin the measurement. I like to drop a little extra in too sometimes to make up for whatever sticks onto the walls of the bore, a grain or 3 won't usually matter. And having a funnel in the bore helps me to remember where I am in the loading process because I remove it once the powder is dropped.
I've always wanted to make a powder drop tube so that those smaller powder charges will go right into the breech without sticking to the walls. I've heard a few good ideas about how to make one cheap. One idea was to use a hollow aluminum arrow shaft. It's long enough to bypass a lot of the fouling in most barrels. Only a funnel needs to be added to the top of it.
There's always another experiment to try.
Nothing like the old days though when folks would just pour the powder into their palm until it simply covered up the ball they were shooting...oops...that's about the right amount of powder!
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Old June 30, 2008, 06:23 PM   #9
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I use this. The top slides over to fill and slides back over to level and pour. Even has cap storage in the bottom.



Quote:
I've always wanted to make a powder drop tube so that those smaller powder charges will go right into the breech without sticking to the walls.
Patched ball or bullet will push it down if it sticks.
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Old June 30, 2008, 08:52 PM   #10
Pahoo
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I don't use a dipper. Instead I use basically the same measure as shown by Hawg and make sure it's a bit over the top so when I push the gate over, I have a consistant measure. I don't tap or bounce or anything like that as the level will go down and how would you come up with a calibrated bounce? I do tap the barrel after loading or bounce the buttstock on top of my foot a couple of times. If you have to use a dipper, take a healthy dip and scrape the top with a straight edge. A note on putting measured powder into a plastic container, be careful of any static charges that might be present. You can get into trouble more with Black Powder than the other propellants when a static charge is present. Again, consistancy is the key. Unlike smokeless powder, M/L propellants are very forgiving if you are off a few grains either way.
Quote:
I said a few !!!
Be Safe !!!
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Old June 30, 2008, 10:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Patched ball or bullet will push it down if it sticks.
But if too much of it sticks because the barrel is long or the powder charge is small, it doesn't freely accumulate within the powder chamber to create the fullest ignition [maybe?]. Using a drop tube is how those chunk gun competitors often do it, and they're supposed to be real sticklers for accuracy.
It's probably because I use extra lube in my patches and while most of the excess gets squeezed out at the muzzle, the bore still gets pretty lubed up. Since I don't usually swab at the range, shooting lighter loads helps me to shoot longer by keeping the fouling soft.

So that's why I'd like to try out using a powder drop tube someday. It certainly can't hurt and should only help. Maybe it would even help to promote a little powder conservation by maximizing propellant efficiency.
We should all learn a tip or two from the pro's, right?

Last edited by arcticap; July 1, 2008 at 01:11 PM.
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Old July 1, 2008, 01:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
We should all learn a tip or two from the pro's, right?
Yep.
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Old July 6, 2008, 09:22 PM   #13
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Dippers and powder measures?

I cannot believe that you are all using such primitive methods to measure out black powder.

The method I use I got from an old, now departed, Cajun cook by the name of Justin Wilson. He would measure out salt and other spices just by putting it in his hand, and always seemed to have just the right measurement each time. Yes, that is the absolute way to go for accuracy!

The Doc is out and sitting back to watch the furor now.
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Old July 6, 2008, 09:32 PM   #14
Hawg
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If you practice enough you can do that but who nowadays has that much patience? When I got my first bp rifle at the ripe old age of 13 I loaded it by pouring powder down the tube directly from the flask just like they did in the movies. Needless to say my loads were very inconsistent.
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Old July 6, 2008, 10:33 PM   #15
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I once forgot where I was in the loading process and figured it would be best just to shoot off a primer and be sure there was no bullet in rather than send another down the barrel and take a chance(I was pretty sure I had not loaded one yet). So I set it off and a full pyrodex pellet shoots out the muzzle burning down range ten yards like a bottle rocket. The guy next to me firing cartridges looked at me as if I had nearly killed him. I think he was already peeved by the smoke, but I got there first and there were plenty of open spots upwind of me. Was it really dangerous?
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Old July 6, 2008, 11:09 PM   #16
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DrLaw, I like your sense of humor and I surely would have liked to meet the Cajun Cook who is known by the name of Justin Wilson. I am quite certain the spices and cooked meal were very accurate. But I whole heartedly believe he would spill but once a trail of Holy Black to his shirt pocket and set it ablaze from fired flint spark or cap discharge.


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Old July 7, 2008, 07:40 AM   #17
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Great photo!

That's a real nice photo there, Smokin Gun!

Yeah, it is a sense of humor all right. In real life I would never not have some sort of measure to dispense black powder. Even with flasks I have a pretty good idea of the grain amount - from putting it in a measure!

Justin Wilson had his own cooking show in the last century. There are still some cookbooks available. One of the things that he did do was to measure teaspoons of salt in his hand on TV, and when he poured it into a teaspoon measure, it was right on the mark. Another one of his trademarks was to pour some Louisiana Hot Sauce into his recipes, and then pour more in. I also understand that he was a hunter, too. Don't know if he did black powder, though, but I bet he would have that grain weight right if he tried it!

The Doc is out now.
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