View Full Version : in terms of projectile distance; manual loaded powder vs. pre-measured jacket/bullet

October 14, 2008, 06:11 PM
yo, forgive me if this is a silly question.

i am inquiring into any possible credence to a thought regarding the difference in projectile distance between that of using manual/custom amounts of black powder with ball shot versus that of the controlled and measured propellant amount used within the jacket of a bullet.

would control of the black powder used in a manual loading weapon affect the amount of force behind the ball and thus increase its overall distance? i'd say it would, but my chemistry and physics is crap. just thought that i'd ask people who knew what they were talking about.

oh and this is just theoretical, as i figure messing about with the amounts of black powder used is life-threatening and silly, nor is it something i am going to go off and do once i get the answer. i'm trying to write a period piece and just wanted to know if it was a realistic, if risky, technical advantage to black powder. thanks for any help.

October 14, 2008, 08:54 PM
I think that you might be asking an open ended question.

First off, when you ask "....versus that of the controlled and measured propellant amount used within the jacket of a bullet.", I think that you mean within a bullet case versus loading the black powder manually.

Are you trying to compare the velocity of a patched round ball fired from a muzzle loader to a bullet fired from a black powder cartridge gun, and if so which caliber?
Would it be fired from a rifle, single shot pistol or a revolver?
Please try to provide more details for us to better understand the question and the full context of your hypothetical scenario.
The amount of powder loaded, the length of the barrel and the comparative weights of the bullets and size of the case (if any) are all factors to be considered.

October 14, 2008, 10:15 PM
you hit the nail right on the head with the way you reworded the question of black powder versus the bullet case. so yes, that's what i mean.

i don't really have a weapon in mind, as of yet it was just a thought i wanted some initial feedback on, a sort of "is it possible" thing.

keeping barrel length, bullet weight and caliber as close to the same for both the muzzle loader and the cartridge fed, with the only variable being the amount of black powder added to the muzzle loader, would that be enough to form some sort of estimation on whether the former would fire a ball further than the cartridge fed variant.

October 15, 2008, 04:44 AM
Well if you are limiting the Muzzle Loader to shooting a PRB "patched round ball" then the advantages will lean twords the cartridge shooter in distance due to the ball has only an effective range of maybe 150 yards because of the ball having a lower sectional density & ballistic coefficient than a conical firing out of a cartridge weapon.

For instance:

.45 caliber Muzzle Loader w/ 28" barel 1:48 twist.
.440 128gr. PRB 60gr. FFG Goex
Muzzle = 1614 fps. - 741 ft. lbs.
100 yds. = 965 fps. - 265 ft. lbs.

.45-70 rifle w/ 30" barrel 1:18 twist.
.457 405gr. RFP 60gr. FFG Goex
Muzzle = 1182 fps. - 1255 ft. lbs.
100 yds. = 956 fps. - 820 ft. lbs.

That's just ballistics at 100 yards, then you have to concidder the sights for each weapon where as we moved forward with technology including the area of sights where the average shooter could acquire the sight picture more efficiently than compared to the muzzle loader weapon of the period.

October 15, 2008, 01:56 PM
The saw a Ripley's Believe It or Not about the world accuracy record for a black powder cartridge rifle and the accuracy at around 800 yards or so was phenomenal, especially for an original rifle. The original record holder performing the re-enactment for the show was using a ladder peep and busted balloons after just 1 warm up shot, and the target looked like the head of a pin at that range.
I suppose the Whitworth muzzle loader was also very accurate with it's polygonal barrel rifling and special bullets, but I'm not sure if it could shoot as reliably as that....maybe under the right circumstances depending on the set up of the rig, the shooter and who's making the ammo.
After all, a rifle doesn't shoot all by itself. :D

October 15, 2008, 02:23 PM
The Whitworth rifling was hexagonal and it was exceptionally accurate to 1000 yds. and beyond.

Union General John Sedgwick was killed with a head shot by a Whitworth. The exact distance isn't known but it was between 800-1200 yds.

October 15, 2008, 04:22 PM
Here's what I think (for whatever that's worth). ;)

What you're missing in the comparison is this: A bullet loaded from the muzzle is bore size - groove to groove diameter at best, but most likely slightly larger than land to land diameter, or even land to land diameter or smaller. A cartridge rifle bullet is typically larger than bore size and is swagged down to fit the rifling upon firing. Generally speaking, the tighter fitting bullet will develop higher pressure and greater velocity.

So, a 400 grain bullet fired from a 45-70 cartridge rifle (with 70 grains of black powder in the cartridge case) will generally achieve higher velocity than a 400 grain bullet fired from a muzzle loader with 70 grains of black powder.

Jim Watson
October 15, 2008, 05:27 PM
This is a hard thread to follow because the O.P. does not use standard shooting terminology. Or his shift key. But as best I can tell...

There is no significant difference in the range of a breechloading cartridge rifle and a muzzleloader firing the same projectile with the same amount of black powder.
In the original Creedmoor matches of 1874, the US team, shooting Remington and Sharps breechloaders, only beat the Irish team shooting Rigby muzzleloaders by one point, 931 to 930. If an Irish shooter had not shot a bullseye on the wrong target and been scored a miss, they would have won. The Irish said the only real advantage the Americans had was that their breechloaders were easier to clean and load, but were not more accurate. Ranges were 800, 900, and 1000 yards.

I don't know that anybody has ever done a study of the ultimate "falling out of the sky" range of a muzzleloading bullet versus a breechloaded bullet to compare with the Sandy Hook tests of 1879. Mr Whitworth, if anybody.

Comparing a round ball muzzleloader to a breechloader is apples and oranges, they were not from the same period and were not using comparable technology.