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Old June 15, 2010, 09:15 AM   #1
TomK
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Join Date: June 14, 2010
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Qustions Questions

Is it safe/advisable to use the "Lee Loader" kit to reload "Cowboy Action" ammunition? (.45 cal long colt in a steel frame Pietta "1860 Army" and a steel frame "58 Remington" ) Both with brand new just delivered never-been-used Howells conversion cylinders

What substitute powder would be best to use for CA reloads since real-honest-to-gosh black has become so darn hard to come by?

What would be a real good reloading manual (something on the order of "reloading for dummies?) The large type version with words of one syllable or less. (When in doubt or hopelessly confused, in final desperation, as a last resort, READ THE DIRECTIONS!)

Thanks; TomK
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Old June 15, 2010, 09:53 AM   #2
g.willikers
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Loading BP and its substitutes is quite different than using smokeless powders.
There are some inherent dangers associated with it.
For instance, leaving any kind of air space under the loaded bullet is ok for smokeless, but drives BP load pressures way up.
It would be best to seek advice from the Black Powder forums.
A general web search on the subject will find them.
Have fun and be careful.
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Old June 15, 2010, 10:24 AM   #3
zippy13
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Greetings TomK, and welcome aboard,

Congratulations on the acquisition of your new goodies! I'm sure, we're all envious. Most of us get our gear one piece at a time.

Which LEE loader do you have in mind? There are additional safety precautions involved when loading black powder with any brand of loading equipment. I suggest you head over to the Handloading and Reloading Forum and check-out the stickey For the New Reloader: Equipment Basics -- READ THIS FIRST

You're correct about black powder being harder to find these days. One reason is the storage requirements, the new regulations are much less restrictive for black powder substitutes than actual black powder. My neighbor just bought his first BP revolver and went through what you're experiencing. After calling a few regional gun shops, his choices came down to Pyrodex-P (substitute) for $25 or Goex (BP) for $30 a pound.

I ran into a fellow at the gun club who was shooting Goex. He sang the virtues of using real BP over Pyrodex. However, when I asked him where he got his BP he became very evasive. I suspect it wasn't through normal channels and may have involved transporting or storing the stuff in quantities exceeding the safety regulations.

As far as powder substitutes are concerned, you're wearing two hats: With your new guns in their cap and ball mode, you're restricted to black powder and black powder substitutes like the previously mentioned Pyrodex. But, when you use your cartridge conversion cylinders, then you are free to load the metallic cases with black or smokeless powder as per the recipes for cowboy loads.

Have fun and be safe.
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Old June 15, 2010, 11:52 AM   #4
wittzo
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I just started loading .45 Colt for my conversion cylinders, I did a lot of research before I bought any gear or even the cylinders to make sure it was feasible with my limited resources. No one carries real BP locally, I've been having to use Goex Pinnacle FFFg for my pistols, Shockey's Gold FF for my rifles, and 777 in both granulations for both. I ordered 10 lbs of mixed grades from Powder Inc. (http://www.powderinc.com/index.html) last week. It's the least expensive for me. Jack's Powder Keg is another good supplier, if you can afford to buy powder 25 lb's at a time for $250.(http://www.jackspowderkeg.com/) They both carry Goex and other brands. I bought 5 lbs of KIK FFF for a tad over $10 a lb, 4 lbs lbs of Goex FF and 1 lb of Goex Cowboy for about $13 a lb including shipping and hazmat.

Last week, I loaded one round with a Lee Loader and ten rounds of .45 Colt using my Lee carbide pistol dies and a Lee Hand Press. I was using once fired brass that had been shot through my Ruger Blackhawk years ago. I had some Large pistol Magnum primers and some .452" 255 LNWC Speer bullets left over from back then. I used 30 grains of Goex Pinnacle FFFg measured through my flask.

The Lee Loader doesn't size them through the whole length and it doesn't crimp the case. The round got stuck halfway in the chamber, I had to use a dowel to knock it out. The same thing happened to the rounds I used with the press. I pulled the bullets and dumped the powder back into my flask and took the decapper pin out so I could resize the cases properly without setting off the primers. Of course I pointed it at a safe direction, without the decapper pin and retention screw, it would be like shooting caps off if it went off. I tweaked the decapper pin so it would resize the case the full length as it decapped.

I also had to tweak the bullet seater to get a good crimp. After shooting 4 rounds in my Pietta Remington, the 5th bullet unseated itself and jammed the cylinder. I was able to squeeze it back in place. The Lee Loader doesn't crimp that round, so I assumed it didn't need it. It does.

I loaded up 35 more rounds the other night. I adjusted the bullet seater so it gave a good crimp. With 30 grains of Goex Pinnacle (which should be the same as 30 grains of BP) there was less than a quarter inch of space to the case mouth. The shoulder of the bullet easily compressed the powder so there wasn't any airspace to give problems. I didn't flare the casings on the second batch, but I should have, just a little.

I ordered a Lee LNWC .452" 200 grain bullet mold and I plan on casting up some bullets tonight so I can load some more.
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Old June 17, 2010, 11:32 PM   #5
Model-P
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Size once, then no more sizing is usually needed with BP. The powder keeps the bullet from seating deeper, and the crimp keeps it from backing out. BP develops such low pressure, that cases don't tend to gain enough permanent expansion to require resizing when reused amongst guns properly chambered to SAAMI specs. In fact, the early Ideal tong loaders had no provision at all for case sizing as they were designed to be used with BP.
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Old June 17, 2010, 11:36 PM   #6
Model-P
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Quote:
However, when I asked him where he got his BP he became very evasive. I suspect it wasn't through normal channels and may have involved transporting or storing the stuff in quantities exceeding the safety regulations.
Anything over one pound without a special permit exceeds "safety regulations" in Kalifornia. So much for keeping a pound of FFg and another of FFFFg for priming a flintlock. Pretty ridiculous, IMO.
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Old June 18, 2010, 12:36 AM   #7
zippy13
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Model-P,

Sadly, in California the fringe has ruled the center for some time.

Did you know…
California's Senior US Senator Dianne Feinstein lives in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 8th District (San Francisco). And, Junior US Senator Barbara Boxer previously represented the 6th District which is directly across the Golden Gate from Pelosi's 8th.
Talk about a concentration of power, Yikes!
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