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Old January 22, 2011, 01:30 AM   #1
gundoc1
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Black powder reloading

So Im an old reloader but new to the whole black powder cartridge thing I have a 45-70 winnie 1886 and want to load up some traditional loads do I need a drop tube and why?? why not use a powder measure or a powder laddle and drop a 70 gr charge right into the case? what would be a good start off range for this load, can you load 70 gr in todays cases?, also want to load up some 45 colt for my six gun any sugestions there as well?
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Old January 22, 2011, 01:45 AM   #2
Model-P
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Drop tubes allow the powder to settle in a better orientation, I guess. You can get more powder in the case, which equates to cleaner burning and more power. Also, the more compact you get it to begin with, the less likely it is to settle and form a potentially dangerous void. The larger the capacity of the case, the more important a compact, compressed load is. You definitely do NOT want any air space in the cartridge. The bullet should compress the powder about an eighth of an inch or so.

Since you should be loading pure lead for BP loads, it helps to pre-compress the powder (even after using a drop tube) using a compression plug in a reloading die so you don't deform your bullets.

No case sizing necessary when reloading BP catridges, unless you run up against chambering problems when using different guns. Otherwise, you will get better accuracy if you don't size. No neck tension is needed, and the powder keeps the bullet from seating back in the case, and the crimp keeps it from moving out.
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Old January 22, 2011, 06:35 AM   #3
Hawg
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You're not going to get 70 grs of real black in a modern case unless you do use a compression die. Personally I've never used a drop tube but prolly would if I had one.
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Old January 22, 2011, 12:52 PM   #4
Foto Joe
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As stated above, you're going to have to compress to fit the 70gr in but, regardless of the load weight, you need to compress. You'll find that your charge burns significantly cleaner and more consistantly. Since you're just starting out on Black Powder cartridges, I would suggest that you make a compression tool using a dowel rod and a piece of wood drilled to accept the dowel as a handle. Simply compress the powder using the dowel and try to get a uniform pressure of say 15 to 20 pounds. I'm not a fan of the compression plugs simply because I found it hard to get a uniform pressure. I took the $40 hit and bought a Montana Precision that I can adjust.

Drop Tube
A drop tube isn't a must, especially if you are not loading full loads. For instance a 45 Colt Gallery load that I use is 20gr 3f Goex or Swiss, a .060 veggie wad, compress with dowel, fill the brass to the top with cornmeal, then compress with compression die to correct depth, thumb seath a 150gr El Paso Pete Ultra Gamer (EPP) and lightly crimp. If you wanted to you could also substitute a round ball instead of the EPP, but the EPP's are lubed and cheaper.

You will find quickly that "Historical" loads aren't necessarily going to give you the best results. I've managed to cram 40gr of 3f Swiss into a 45 Colt case and seat a 235gr RNFP and I can assure you, they will slap the snot out of your hand when they go off, not exactly comfortable to shoot.

Hopefully you will have fun with Black Powder Cartridge loading. I personally will put Black Powder in any cartridge I can get my hands on with the exception of auto's for what should be obvious reasons.

Black Powder Cartridge Loading Can...
Be Labor Intensive
Cause Filthy Dirty Brass that needs to be washed before it can be tumbled.
Take twice as long as Smokeless reloading.
Be difficult to find supplies for, (BP lubed bullets, powder)
Use more components than Smokeless loading

And...

And puts one the biggest grins on my face as well as others when I fire them, that make it all worth it!!
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Old January 22, 2011, 02:07 PM   #5
Hawg
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Quote:
Black Powder Cartridge Loading Can...

Be Labor Intensive
Cause Filthy Dirty Brass that needs to be washed before it can be tumbled.
Take twice as long as Smokeless reloading.
Be difficult to find supplies for, (BP lubed bullets, powder)
Use more components than Smokeless loading
Not much more labor intensive.

If you take a jug with windex in it and drop the empties in as they're fired you wont need to wash. If you don't you'll get permanently blackened brass.

make your own bullets and lube. Black can be hard to find but you can get it in bulk online or use Pyrodex which is pretty easy to find.

Other than a drop tube which I don't see as a necessity I don't see the need for extra reloading components. Cases, bullets, lube, primers and powder. Same as smokeless.
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Old January 23, 2011, 11:06 AM   #6
Foto Joe
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The "Component" I was referring to was the powder. Loading smokeless pistol ammo you're using say up to 8gr, with Black Powder about the only thing that I load with only 8gr would be 38 S&W.

I haven't tried the Windex trick other than once with amonia Windex and realized that brass and amonia don't like each other. I'll have to grab a jug of the vinegar stuff at the store and give it a try.
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Old January 23, 2011, 01:03 PM   #7
Claddagh
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Several years ago, when Hamilton Bowen was trying build a "modern" version of the rare old British .577 revolvers (and who but he could/would do that "just for grins" ?) and was having trouble putting consistent, accurate BP ammo together for the project, he asked Mike Venturino for his advice.

He stated that IHE loading BP cartridges for both rifles and handguns, he always uses a drop tube to charge the cases. The resulting loads have proven to his satisfaction to be enough more consistent, accurate and deposit less fouling to be worth the extra trouble.

He recommends the use of Magnum primers in both. Ignition is said to be markedly better resulting in more efficient burning of the charges, consistently better accuracy and less fouling.

He uses very "soft" alloy for all his bullets: no more than 1/20 tin-to-lead, IIRC. He also prefers bullet designs with ample lube grooves and using BP-specific products in them. "SPG" and Lyman's "Black Powder Gold" were mentioned specifically.

He also recommended always using a vegetable fiber wad between the charge and the projectile.

Mr. Bowen reported in his article that once he'd followed these principles while putting ammo together for his project his revolver began to shoot much smaller, much more consistent groups and that many more rounds could be fired before functional issues due to fouling build-up began to occur.

I very seldom load BP or Pryodex in anything other than C&B revolvers or my single muzzleloader, but when two fellas with experience and credentials like theirs speak on a subject, I tend to lend an attentive ear to their opinions. Just my $0.02.
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