View Full Version : New to black Powder shooting

January 2, 2009, 02:37 AM

I have a few black powder rifles that were passed on to me after my Dad's death. I have shot a couple of them when my Dad owned them and him helping me with the proper loads and such. That was quite a while ago and of course I don't have any idea
how much powder and what primers and all the other stuff. I don't have any paper work on these guns that tells me what to shoot in them. I need to know what amounts of powder and what kind of ball or minnies to use etc. I need to know if there are generic starting loads for all b/p guns or if each one has a specific starting load and type of ball to use. Don't whant to blow myself up!

one is a EuroArms Lee Enfield .58 percussion three bander.
second is a Traditions 50. cal Shenendoa flintlock
the third is a Springfield Hawkins 50. cal which I think is a Traditions but it doesn't say anywhere on the gun. It does say "Spain" on it though.

Does anyone know what the twist is on the Hawkins? The other two have it stamped on the barrels but nothing on the Hawkins.

Thanks for any help.


January 2, 2009, 06:34 AM
My three bander does great with .577-578 minies and 70 grs. of powder. It requires musket caps. The Hawken is most likely 1:48. Put a tight fitting patch on your ramrod and push it down the bore. Mark it at the muzzle with a sharpie or piece of tape. Now pull it out allowing it to turn with the rifling. Once it makes a quarter turn measure the distance between the mark and the muzzle and multiply by four. That will be your twist rate. If it's a 1:48 a patched round ball with 70-90 grs. of powder should work well with it. Lube the patch with anything vegetable based. Spit works well too. Conicals will also work well with that twist but have a little more recoil. It takes #11 caps. The flinter will only work with real bp. The subs have too high of a flash point. If you can get real bp it takes FFG or FFFG for the main charge and FFFFG for the pan. Don't fill the pan completely up. Just to the bottom of the flash hole is good. Too much and it will slow fire.

January 2, 2009, 04:02 PM
Get the Lyman Blackpowder Handbook, for a start. It has what I think is the best beginners info for black powder. Some will recommend Sam Falada's books, but I think the Lyman is a better beginner's book.

Amazon has them from $6 to $20. Of course, Lyman has them, too. Get the latest one you can afford.


January 2, 2009, 04:12 PM
Here's a TC sidelock manual link:


There's many suggested loads at the end of it.

You can find the list of Traditions owner's manuals at the very bottom of the linked page. The box is located below their list of schematic diagrams.


January 2, 2009, 09:54 PM
Thanks everyone for your input. That's good info! I'll see if I can locate some of those books.

Hawg Haggen, you mention black powder and "if you can get it". I've seen that phrase mentioned quite a bit surfing around different forums.
I take it that you can no longer stroll into a gun shop / sporting goods store and buy over the counter?

Lucky I have a few cans of 2/3/4 f that I got from my dad with the guns. Are there limits as to how much you can have or anything like that? How does one get powder now?


January 2, 2009, 10:12 PM
Real bp has been reclassified as an explosive and the restrictions are so great that not many want to fool with it. You can buy it online up to 50 lbs. per shipment. However there's a 20.00 hazmat fee that goes with it(per shipment). If you can afford to buy enough at one time to negate the hazmat fee then all's well and good. I can't afford to buy that much so I stick to Pyrodex.

January 2, 2009, 10:40 PM
Thanks Hawg,

Sounds like it would be best for a few guys to make a joint buy? They make things tougher every day.


January 2, 2009, 11:48 PM
I take it that you can no longer stroll into a gun shop / sporting goods store and buy over the counter?

No, you can buy it over the counter. It's not been prohibited or restricted. However, finding someone who still sells it is the difficult part. The Class E status plus the insurance and local government regs about storage of Class E have made it difficult for retailers to stock it. It's possible to find it, but you'll have to search fairly hard. I suggest you ask about in the forums if anyone knows a retailer in your area.

Internet mail order purchases are increasingly popular but the haz mat fee chases many folks off. It's not as bad as some make it out to be, however. It's often cheaper than local purchases even considering shipping and the haz mat fees.

Sounds like it would be best for a few guys to make a joint buy?

Many people do just that. However, it's illegal to sell bp without a license, so if you get involved in a group buy, be sure it's agreed in advance who gets how much and for what price, and who the buyer will be. The key words are 'in advance'. If you get in on a group buy after the bulk purchase has been made it can make the seller appear to be 'in the business of selling black powder' which will get them into trouble.

January 3, 2009, 12:20 AM

Thanks for that info. I'll check around. I have a can of 4f, four cans of 3f and one of 2f. That should last me a while. After that, I have access to 20 more cans of mixed grinds, most of it 2/3f. The thing is, they're all about 8 years old. All stored in an ammo firebox inside a shed. All the cans look like they just came off the factory line. No rust / corrosion on the cans. No odd smells. All unopend. I have been told this powder should still be good and I'm hoping so. Save me a lot of money.

Opinions and comments would be welcome.
Also, is it legal for the home owner to have this much?


January 3, 2009, 04:28 AM
It's legal under Federal laws.
But some states, counties and municipalities have their own restrictions.
One could always ask a Fire Marshal with jurisdiction, or take the "Don't ask, Don't tell" route.
The choice is yours. :)

January 3, 2009, 03:34 PM
they're all about 8 years old. All stored in an ammo firebox inside a shed. All the cans look like they just came off the factory line. No rust / corrosion on the cans. No odd smells. All unopend.

They should be just fine. I've fired black powder that was over 100 years old, stored in a wooden barrel in a garden shed. I've fired black powder that had gotten wet, then dried and reground. Still in closed cans, I would not be the least bit worried.


January 3, 2009, 04:09 PM

Where in No.Calif are you ? In Calaveras Co.(San Andreas) Rusty's Gunsmithing sells black powder and in Sonora there is a gun shop that sells B/P. B/P is illegal in Sacramento Co.(to sell)
I would suggest that you look in your local yellow pages in the gun section and make a few calls. You could possibly find a local purveyor,I always try and support the local guy as much as possible.
Then you might have to go the internet route if you want real B/P.Real B/P is a superior propellant for cap and ball,it is easier to ignite and has more consistent pressures.
If the substitute powders are so great then why do the BPCR and LRML use nothing but real B/P ? Substitute B/P is legal for sanctioned matches but no one uses it.
Use the substitute stuff in the in-lines,works best there.

January 3, 2009, 08:46 PM
Thanks Guys,

Armed&safe, if you can do that with no problems then I'm not going to worry about mine. Thanks.

LongRanger, I'm in Stockton and I just cruised around today localy, looking in our few gun shops or what passes for em.
Very little BP stuff period and what little there is, is mostley aimed at the inline crowd.

I'm up in Sonora quite a bit and sometimes go through San Andreas also so I'll check em out. I also get down to San Jose pretty often and ther's a couple of good shops down there that cater to BP shooting or used to anyway.
I don't think I'll need powder for awhile, but I need a lot of the other stuff that goes with BP shooting.

Thanks for the info.


P.s. I did find and buy Lymans Black Powder Handbook & Reloading Manual all new snd edition written buy Sam Fadala. cost me 21 bucks. :)

January 3, 2009, 09:16 PM
Good for you. Your adventure begins. The one thing I can say for this site, the ole' boys are most helpful. If you encounter a problem, drop a question. Somewhere, somehow, these ole boys have encountered it.

Inhale the smoke and exhale the clean air.:D

January 3, 2009, 10:35 PM
Yep. If you can find a mistake one of us hasn't already made and corrected it'll be darned unusual.

January 4, 2009, 01:39 PM
The Enfield 3-Band is probably a 1:48 twist
Using 505 gr Buffalo Bullet and navy arms Musket cap here are some loads:

Black Powder
70FFg MV 1004 ME 1131 Vel @100 yrds 870 (Target Load)
100 FFg MV 1195 ME 1602 Vel @100 yrds 1028 (Big Game Load)

Traditions Pioneer Rifle 1:66 Twist
177 gr Round Ball w/ Patch CCI #11
50 FFg MV 1560 ME 957 (Plinking)
110gr FFg MV 1976 ME 1535 (Optimum Load/Big Game/Max Load)

Lots of variation of .50 cal Hawkins from 40 Gr FFg to 110 gr FC

Source: The Gun Digest Black Powder Loading Manual Copyright 1991 (MCMXCI) BY DBI Books, Inc

There is one on ebay for $12 http://cgi.ebay.com/The-Gun-Digest-Black-Powder-Loading-Manual-by-Sam-Fa_W0QQitemZ200292949792QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Nonfiction_Book?hash=item200292949792&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50