View Full Version : Black Powder in modern guns

February 14, 2002, 01:04 AM
I've started to get the itch to buy a BP muzzle loader, probably nothing fancy but just something to target practice with for fun. The problem is that I don't want to put money down on a new gun if it turns out that I can't stand all the smoke and smell of BP. So I've come up with the idea to reload some ammo in black powder to try out and see if it is worth investing more time and money in. Also it is my understanding that some of the guns I own now are chambers in cartridges that were designed for black powder, the .303 Brit and the 12 ga. shotgun. I just can't find any load data or information of differences from the loading of smokeless powder.

Some things I've learned so far are:

1. I can't use any powder measuring device intended for smokeless powder to measure BP, it would be dangerous.

2. BP is measured by Volume, not weight. I read somewhere that for loading rifle loads you add just enough powder to have a slight compression from the bullet.

3. For shotguns you just use a 1/4th inch fiber wad instead of a modern shot cup. Also the hulls you use will only last a reload or two tops, so I've saved some cheap promo ammo hulls because I wouldn't want to use a hull that could be reloaded many more times anyway with smokeless.

4. For my uses FFg would be the proper powder size. I've already bought a pound for the pyrodex version of that, but if it turns out that I can't use it I guess I just might have to buy a BP rifle for it so it doesn't go to waste, I did the same thing a while ago with a couple of 30 rd. AR mags I had laying around my house and I just love my like new pre-ban M4 with Trigicon night sights, A3 upper and Olympic Arms ultra match lower :).

Thats it though, and if that was all I knew about reloading smokeless I wouldn't even touch it. I am wondering if you guys could fill in some of the holes that I've got, like the actual ammounts of powder to use, and saftey precautions I need to know before hand. I am also not sure about the differences between pyrodex and normal BP other than they can be used interchangably and pyrodex is more common because it is classified as a propellent and not an explosive. Also if what I'm trying to do is not same then let me know, because I do prefer to avoid hurt where ever possible :).



February 14, 2002, 03:23 AM
Do not use petroleum based lubricants and oils on any firearm that will be fed BP loads. The fouling will become really bad and cause probems if you use petroleum based oils and lubricants.

Use a BP lube like Borebutter (TM) for lubricating bullets and use Ballistol (TM) for cleaning and oiling the firearm.


Personally I recommend that you get an inexpensive Hawkins rifle from CVA for learning about BP. Then move up to a BP cartridge rifle.


Mike Irwin
February 14, 2002, 01:03 PM
Well, if you want to see what the stink is like, simply pour a small pile on the ground and touch it with a punk (STAND BACK!), and then stick your nose down and get a good whiff.

If you have a .38, .357, .44, or .45 revolver, you can load some black powder rounds and see how they do. Use lead, not jacketed, bullets, and REALLY clean the gun well in lots of soap & water.

I've fired .38 Spl. BP loads out of one of my revolvers before just for grins & giggles.

February 14, 2002, 01:29 PM
Hehehehe, could you imagine how long an AR-15 would function with black powder? :D

February 14, 2002, 01:34 PM
National Muzzle Loading Association (http://nmlra.org/)

I recommend that you check out the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association. They are a worthwhile organization that lobbies for our second amendment rights and they organize many ML shooting competitions and rendevouz.

They publish MUZZLEBLASTS magazine for their members. It is packed with technical information on muzzle loading firearms.

ed mason
February 14, 2002, 09:00 PM
If you want to ck out how it will shoot in a shotgun its not to hard to load up some loads.You can use a black powder measure
and start with about 70 grains of black powder and use the same amount of shot in the same powder measure.
They aren't that expensive.

edited for correctness

Jim Watson
February 14, 2002, 10:35 PM
Uh, Ed, no way will a .38 Special hold 38 grains of powder. The original 1899 .38 Special load was about 21 grains. The .45 Colt was introduced with 40 grains of black, later reduced to 35. And they are compressed loads at that.

As one Darkside shooter over on the SASS Wire said, a convenient load for 12 gauge is two .45 loads. 70 grains, like you said. He pointed out that you can use an AA hull, a red AA wad, and an ounce of shot. Adjust if necessary to get a good crimp.

Meister sells cast bullets with SPG black powder lube.
The usual blackpowder load for a straight case revolver or rifle caliber is however much it takes to fill the case up to where seating the bullet compresses the powder charge as much as possible without deforming the bullet. At least 1/16", better 1/8" or even more. Target rifle shooters will use a compression die to pack it even more without risking damage to a very carefully cast bullet.

Mike Irwin
February 15, 2002, 12:14 AM
The original .38 Spl. load was 21 grains of BP in a balloon head case, too.

Figure on a modern, web head case holding about 18 grains of BP.

April 15, 2002, 12:48 PM
I recommend the Ballistol lube for any gun that will be used with blackpowder.

Ballistol (http://www.alliancelink.com/users/frontier/ballistl.htm)

April 15, 2002, 03:16 PM
I recommend Crisco :)
No, really, it works! I use it as a patch lube, and as a cast bullet lube at the range. All of my bullets ride a hot river of soybean oil down the barrel. I never get burnt patches with it, either.

April 16, 2002, 11:00 PM
Where does one find information on loading modern cartridges with black powder? Could it be used in the 9mm Parabellum?

April 17, 2002, 05:58 AM

If you got a 9mm revolver then fine, but I would not use a BP load in an automatic.

Blackpowder Cartridge Reloading (http://www.m-s-co.com/sso/how.html)

Cowboy Action Shooting (http://www.coon-n-crockett.org/cowboy.htm)

April 20, 2002, 08:18 PM
I'm shooting dead soft swaged 450gr bullets out of my .45-70 Ruger #1, on top of compressed duplex blackpowder/smokeless loads. I also have a Wonder Wad between the bullet and powder charge. Since I started using Crisco as the bullet lube, there's not even a hint of leading, although it smells like a Chinese takeout kitchen after each shot. :D

April 21, 2002, 09:54 PM
BP in a modern gun?


I was able to purchase a .50 cal BP rifle for my father a few years ago for the princely sum of $75 a few years ago. (As a Christmas present, which I have since borrowed back.... Because he bought a new BP rifle.)

For that kind of investment, Why do anything else? Buy a kit (Gander Mountain sells some, so does Cabelas) that has the whole deal.

Even if you only shoot it at the range one a year it will be worth it. (and you won't shoot it only once a year, ask me how I know...)

Ask someone local who has a BP rifle to take you to the range once so you can shoot some, and AHEM see if you like it.