View Full Version : Why did I buy a powder flask with a measure?

June 22, 2010, 11:57 AM
I got to thinking this process through & can't come up with a good answer:o

I shoot a 58 Remmy in .44 & my loading process is to take the measured charge from the metering spout in the flask, dump it into a brass "transfer case" (a .44 Mag shell casing) & then drop that into the chamber, top off with wad & ball then ram. I do this to avoid the possibility of an in-flask KABOOM!:rolleyes:

Step & repeat 5 more times & then cap.

Isn't this redundant, as in if I just dumped powder into a different sized case (.357 mag for 29 Gr by volume) & put that into the chamber aren't I doing the same thing:confused:

June 22, 2010, 12:12 PM
Cartridge cases [and spouts] may not provide quite as much of an accurate and versatile option for making calibrated adjustments to the powder charge or filler if you ever decide to try another load.
The same applies if you ever try to work up a load for a conical bullet or using different powders
And if you ever buy another gun that has much more or less room in the chambers, then you won't need to hunt around for or to construct the right size of a fixed volume powder measure from a cartridge case.
A graduated powder measure may not be absolutely necessary to shoot black powder guns, but it doesn't hurt to use one or to at least have one on hand for experimentation or a contingency.
I use a plastic funnel when filling the chambers, not because I need to but because it helps me to not spill as much powder as I would otherwise.
So sometimes there's an actual benefit for using some luxury item. ;)

June 23, 2010, 06:53 AM
Like arcticap said a measure is not absolutely necessary but it really helps for working up loads. When you find the load your revolver likes then you can file the spout on the flask or the brass case to that size.


June 23, 2010, 07:29 AM
It may seem like two steps when one will do but the reason is safety related. It is possible for lingering burning embers of black powder to remain in the cylinder (or rifle barrel) after shooting. From experience and observation, I know these can last more than five minutes. If you pour directly from the flask you run the risk of having a large quantity of black powder explode in your hand in front of your face. These were used in times of war for speed where strict safety considerations were not observed. Pouring into a measure from the flask then from the measure would only cause a heart-stopping flash off if an ember ignites the charge. BTW anything can be used as a measure if you know the size of the thing.

June 23, 2010, 09:49 AM
I shoot a 58 Remmy in .44 & my loading process is to take the measured charge from the metering spout in the flask, dump it into a brass "transfer case" (a .44 Mag shell casing) & then drop that into the chamber, top off with wad & ball then ram. I do this to avoid the possibility of an in-flask KABOOM!

With revolvers
i use a flask and a 25 0r 30gr spout and pour the charge into the chambers using the flask and spout directly. If I'm working up a load or shootin' a rifle only then do I use a measurer.
you can use anycontainer to fill your chambers, accuracy depends on repeatability and the same charge in each chamber everytime ...the numbers are basically referance points.
That's how I see it anyway... :O)

Fingers McGee
June 23, 2010, 11:34 AM
With revolvers, I load directly from the flask. Chances of having it go ka-boom are a lot less than winning the lottery.

With single shot rifles and pistols, I use a funnel topped powder measure like in MCBs post, or an elk antler tip drilled out to a preset amount.


June 24, 2010, 10:26 AM
Interesting set of answers:D
I'd worked up my load before trying this, so that is probably not a huge issue for me, but I do have the ability to come up with a "custom load" if I feel the urge as I can use the flask as a non-measuring type & I do have a measure with me.

Now I have to go blow up some teabags as well, will the torture never stop?:)

June 24, 2010, 10:20 PM
Because it is cool and what was used for many decades.
If you really want to worry about having an accidental ignition, use paper cartridges and ram a new paper cartridge along with its ball directly onto the smoldering paper of the previous cartridge!:eek:

June 25, 2010, 08:14 AM
Thanks, but I'll pass on that experience:eek::D

June 25, 2010, 08:40 AM
Fingers said: "With revolvers, I load directly from the flask. Chances of having it go ka-boom are a lot less than winning the lottery."

Fingers, I hope you keep your fingers. Even you acknowledge there is a chance of things going "ka-boom". Those embers can last. It is not a matter of statistics. It is a matter of bad things happening from carelessness. You are taking a terrible risk.

Fingers McGee
June 25, 2010, 10:58 AM
There's also a chance I'll get hit by a meteorite chunk; but that doesn't mean I'm gonna wear a helmet when I go outside. Carelessness has absolutely nothing to do with it. Thank you for your concern rifleman; but it isn't necessary. By the time I get around to recharging the cylinders on my revolvers at a CAS match, any ember that might have been present - not saying that there have been one to begin with - would have long since gone out.

There's a BIG difference between hot residue left behind in a 1 1/2 inch chamber of a revolver and that which is left behind in a 10 inch barrel. Air exchange rate is much greater in a revolver chamber than a single shot barrel which ensures that any possible glowing embers go out rapidly

June 25, 2010, 11:00 AM
Okay- now the debate begins. I have done a bit of reading on the topic and in historical diaries, etc you actually run across the occasional frontiersman who was injured pouring a charge down the barrel of a rifle- directly from the powder horn. BUT.... I can't recall the same with revolvers. What's more, I can't ever remember seeing any sort of measure in a cased set of percussion revolvers. Why? I have no clue. I THINK maybe on a rifle there is a lot more fouling in the bore- just run a clean cloth up and down. On the revolver- I can't remember looking into a chamber and finding all sorts of fouling- maybe the best bet is to pull off the cylinder and run a cloth swab in all the chambers to check for fouling.
ANYHOW, I started over 40 years ago on revolvers, always loading from a flask, everyone did, BUT at the same time always using a measure on a rifle.
SO...has anyone had or actually heard of a actual accident with percussion revolvers in loading from a flask?

June 25, 2010, 02:10 PM
There was a report of an incident right on this forum, just a month or so back.
That was what got me thinking of not going from measured 'shot" from the flask to the chamber directly.
It might be rare-ish, but IMHO it only needs to happen once to be something I'd prefer to avoid.

June 25, 2010, 05:01 PM
Do you remember any of the particulars on the accident? Such as powder-ball-lube or powder-wad-ball, or black powder or substitute, etc. If an accident is possible (that is, such has occurred) then it is worth the extra second to use a measure. If I go that route I think I'll still use the measured- measure on the flask and pour that into a bigger than needed measure so that I don't lose any of the powder, and then pour the charge from the bigger than needed measure into the chamber- probably possible to come up with some special design just for a percussion revolver.

And....do some flasks have a better cut off system than others? What I am getting at is I wonder if a cheap flask has more gaps, etc to cause the flask to explode if a flash of flame is present. Do the better flasks have a tighter fit, etc to help ward this off? Just wonder'n

June 26, 2010, 12:43 AM
I think that accident with a flask being referred to involved a long rifle and not a revolver.
See post #16 in the following thread:


June 26, 2010, 01:16 AM
Thanks Arcticap on the old post. There was a good point raised, namely that years ago a cold gun was often loaded up, put in a holster and carried. Unless there was a gun fight- reloading a just-fired percussion revolver may not have been that common, so...just because there doesn't seem to be much noted about a flask blowing up doesn't mean it can't happen. Still, (and I realize we may have a small group following this thread- has anyone ever heard/read/etc of a flask blowing up while reloading a percussion revolver? If you look at a lot of the loading manuals from the 1960's and 1970's- reloading a percussion revolver directly from a flask seemed pretty common.

June 26, 2010, 05:50 AM
My experience: in 35 years of shooting black powder I'm not aware of any incidents in which a revolver ignited a charge being loaded into a chamber, whether or not the charging was done directly from a flask. This includes any anecdotal experience. For comparison, I have witnessed one incident of charging a long rifle directly from a flask result in the flask being ignited, and I've read about a small number of similar events, all involving long rifles.

However, I do not take that experience to mean it cannot happen with a revolver. I believe it would be a very, very unusual incident, though I can't reasonably assign any comparative probability.

My own personal philosophy is to avoid any possibility of an inadvertent light off if I can do so, within reason. In this case it's a simple matter to always use a powder measure or speed loader to charge any black powder gun, long rifle, pistol or revolver. I think there's simply no reason not to. I would also not permit the practice on any range under my responsibility as a range safety officer (this is consistent with the NMLRA rules).

Having said that, I do not criticize Fingers (or anyone else who chooses differently on this issue). He's a very knowledgeable and respected practitioner. and there are a lot worse practices out there.

Doc Hoy
June 26, 2010, 06:14 AM
.....over this topic some time ago because I told a new guy that I load directly from the flask to the chamber much as Fingers and Smokin gun do. My error was to failed to point out the obvious dangers involved when the weapon has been recently (Within the last five minutes) fired.

I do this but have adopted a process which I feel minimizes the risk to a level which I am willing to accept.

I am of the opinion that there are plenty of folks who won't load a revolver from a flask on the strength of the argument that it is dangerous (which it is)but who also smoke cigarettes, exceed the speed limit regularly, speed up to make a yellow light on yellow, fill their lawn mower from a gas can that holds more gas than is needed to fill the tank, or wash their revolvers in the kitchen sink while the missus isn't looking.

I hasten to admit that when I shot long arms, I never used a flask to load. Always a measure which I made from an empty casing dipped into the powder.


June 26, 2010, 07:26 AM
Hello doc & all

I am using cap & ball revolver since 20 years and i have always loaded them with a flask. I want to tell you i am not practise in official meeting, but just to fire for my enjoy. And i have all my fingers yet !
My english is not very good, so i put there a video that should give you some answer to load your revolver as secure as possible. And you are true about this point of view : Security is the most important thing you have to do !


June 26, 2010, 08:03 AM
I long ago stopped beating myself up trying to convince those who are determined to use dangerous practices. I'll advise best I can and that's it. There are cases of revolvers and flasks blowing up from direct loading. Published in both American Rifleman and Muzzle Blasts, and maybe others. If you are in an ml competition and use that method you will be told to stop or leave. I don't particularly care if someone injures themselves after a warning. It is innocent bystanders I am concerned about.
I have seen just too much with the "It ain't blowed up yet" crowd. They can't be educated and don't want to be.
This is my last input on this issue. If you do injure yourself, I hope you go to my son's hospital. He is an emergency physician and loves the money you bring in.

Fingers McGee
June 26, 2010, 11:28 AM
Rifleman. If you can cite me one documented case of a flask going off when loading a revolver where a burning ember in the chamber ignited the powder being poured in, I'll take it under advisement. Every thread that I have read on every forum that I monitor has never cited first person experience. To date, all the naysayers have only referenced third person anecdotes - my cousins neighbors stepson heard about one that went off at a range - or that some other unsafe activity, like pouring powder while smoking, or using combustible cartridges and not checking for embers - or that the event was in actuality from a long gun or single shot pistol. Those events prove nothing in regards to revolvers. BTW, I've been an NRA member for over 30 years and a NMLRA member for 20. Do not recall a revolver blowup article in that time.

June 26, 2010, 01:30 PM
One would have to shoot purdy fast to or use paper carts to even concider an ember being close to being warm and still not enough to lite a poured charge from a flask spout in any revolver.
A Long gun is a differant story...one shot and a rapid reload. I load from a horn and measurer.
But a Rev flask w/ a flapper valve and spout is not dangerous to load from if one knows what they are doing.

June 26, 2010, 03:06 PM
Single shots use round balls with cloth patching or shot with wads, bits of which could be left smoldering in the barrel. This is not the case with revolvers (unless using paper cartridges). A flask also generally has a cut-off valve unlike a basic powder horn. While it may be remotely possible for a flask to blow up, it seems very unlikely.

June 26, 2010, 03:17 PM
A flask also generally has a cut-off valve unlike a basic powder horn. While it may be remotely possible for a flask to blow up, it seems very unlikely.

If you think a spark can't make it past that valve you're wrong. It may be unlikely with a revolver but it is possible.

June 26, 2010, 03:21 PM
We teach, never to load anything from a flask. However, personally, I often load my C&B's from a flask and have no seconds thoughts about it. I still load my other M/L's from a precision measure. I have witnessed accidents but fortunately, have never had one of these. Once wa ramrod go though a palm of a hand.

Be Safe !!!

Doc Hoy
June 26, 2010, 05:42 PM
I am among those who have found no tangible evidence of the explosion of a flask when loading directly from a flask into the chamber of a revolver.

I have asked CVA, NRA, NMLRA and none have any record of an occurrence. Both NMLRA and CVA caution against loading directly from a flask but both of the requirements are general enough that an argument could be built that the precaution applies only to long arms. I have never been at a NMLRA sanctioned event but I have read in this forum of the existence of the prohibition of loading a revolver directly from a flask but that the rule seems not to be universally enforced.


The absense of evidence, as "Rifleman1776" so capably states, does not imply the confirmation of safety. To wait for the thing to explode and then say, "Gee, maybe I should not have done it that way." could be declared to be foolhearty.

On the other hand, if anyone in this forum were to watch the way I load, they would walk away from the experience with the conviction that the likelyhood of a problem resulting from an ember igniting powder in the spout of the flask which then travels to the main reservoir is remote in the extreme.
Unless you have been there any contradiction would have to emerge from either overgeneralization or emotion. Neither should be relied upon as a basis for safety practice.


Loading directly from the flask to the chamber is at least minimally (and possibly significantly) more dangerous than using a measure to transfer the charge. To some that increase in danger is enough to impede them from doing it. It is sufficient for them to interpret NMLRA rules in such a way as to conclude that they apply to revolvers as well as long arms. I can offer no credible argument to the contrary. Do as you like. But don't tell me I am a scofflaw unless you watch how I do it.

June 26, 2010, 07:08 PM
I guess in the past a few folks have sort of implied I am a bit on the reckless side when it comes to safety but that really isn't true; after all- who wants half their hand blown off? As I think about the whole issue I think I usually wait a bit in between reloading because I use the scope to look at the six shots I just fired- I might spend a minute of so doing that. Maybe a lot of other percussion revolver shooters do the same thing.
I have a single shot pistol as well, a "Kentucky" type if that better describes it, and I never pour from a flask on that gun. On the other hand there seems to be more fouling.
In any event, for about thirty plus years I've loaded my percussion revolver straight from a flask and never gave it a thought- at least now I'm thinking about the whole thing. I'll probably at least look down the chambers more often and make sure I wait a bit before reloading. If I ever do hear of such an accident, then its a measure for sure. If anyone else does- let us know!

June 26, 2010, 08:01 PM
Just before I start the powder I take a dry mop sprayed with Dry silicone lube and mop my cylinders. 1 ROA, 2 7.5" 58 NMA's, 2 5.5" NMA's, 3 spare cylinders. So by the time I get back to the ROA it's cooled off still out comes the mop. I have no proof but I think that fouling doesn't stick because of this, I haven't been shooting much lately; just closed on an old house [plumbing, wireing, new doors/windows, etc.] but could these embers be the new fangled powders, and a shortage of 'Holy Black'??:confused:

June 26, 2010, 10:34 PM
Both NMLRA and CVA caution against loading directly from a flask but both of the requirements are general enough that an argument could be built that the precaution applies only to long arms. I have never been at a NMLRA sanctioned event but I have read in this forum of the existence of the prohibition of loading a revolver directly from a flask but that the rule seems not to be universally enforced.

It's more than a 'caution'. It's an explicit prohibition. And it's not 'general'. It's quite specific.

From the NMLRA Rules and Regulations, May 2010 edition:
"1220 POWDER MEASURE - A separate powder measure or holder will be used to carry the powder charge from the container to the muzzle of the gun. Charging directly from the horn or flask is unsafe and is not permitted."

Seems pretty clear to me. What part of Charging directly from the horn or flask is unsafe and is not permitted is hard to understand or "interpret"?

Are we using the word 'muzzle' to suggest the rule only applies to long guns? The NMLRA considers the chamber mouth of a percussion revolver to be a 'muzzle' for the purposes of applying the rules they administer. Charging a revolver cylinder via a chamber mouth is what they use to define a revolver as a 'muzzleloader' under rule 1070.

During the Range Officer training course this particular rule was singled out for emphasis. We were explicitly told by both training officers that the rule applied to all guns, long guns, pistols and revolvers alike.

I believe any NMLRA nationally certified RO will 'interpret' the rule that way, and if they don't the national organization will help them do so. It was certainly enforced (universally and unilaterally) at Friendship two weeks ago.

And I know for a fact that it will be clear at any range I am obliged to operate.

June 26, 2010, 11:12 PM
Yeah, that's been my experience at shoots, they make you load from a measure :rolleyes: and it should also be pointed out that if a percussion revolver is permitted, and at the matches I've attended in Florida they generally are permitted, you can only load one chamber at a time. I assume the one chamber at a time rule is to put a percussion revolver more in line with a standard, single shot pistol (that is- a "Kentucky" for want of a better word).
so......I guess I sort of lied about ALWAYS loading from a flask :p when using a percussion revolver- I just forgot about the matches because I only shot a revolver at a couple and then got a regular muzzle loading pistol. In any event the question still remains, can loading from a flask when shooting a percussion revolver result in an accident. :eek:
The argument can of course be made-SURE- :mad: if there is an ember in the chamber- so, therefore- always use a measure. I understand the logic but it seems the fired chambers are pretty clean without much fouling.
Now I know- sounds like I'm on the side of loading from a flask- that's not necessarily so. :o If accidents have occurred I'll change however I'm interested in knowing if in all the written journals of the day, or in all the modern day shooting of replica percussion revolvers- in the millions and millions of rounds that have probably been reloaded from a flask (percussion revolvers) has there ever been an instance when an ember remained in the chamber and caused a flask to explode? I've never heard of one. :cool:

June 27, 2010, 02:07 AM
I would also think that the powder itself might make a difference.

The proportions and milling on the commercial powders is very good and consistent. Back yard BP may end up having too much sulfer or insufficient milling, either or both of which would increase the likelihood of an residual ember. I have to wonder how many of the accidental ignitions are attributable to the use of non-commercial powders.

Doc Hoy
June 27, 2010, 07:03 AM

You are certainly the expert on this topic and I am horrendously under-informed.

It seems, though that the rule should stand on its own merit and not rely upon another rule for its interpretation. It would be easy enough to fix.

That last statement has nothing to do with shooting black powder weapons. The issue was clearly resolved in your post. It is more a point of "english" than shooting safety.

June 27, 2010, 11:54 AM
Well I don't know if Wogpotter has really gotten an answer to his question. I suppose safety is a personal thing to some extent- we all have to be within our own comfort level. We can shield ourselves with a panoply of certificates, rules, regulations, etc, etc so we are "safe" but do these things make us safer- sometimes yes sometimes probably not. Do I myself feel safer around someone that overdoes the safety aspect, no just the opposite. To me it's a red flag that I may be in the presence of an accident prone individual. I watch him like a hawk.
In any event I started shooting percussion revolvers 40 years ago, I was a young kid and there were no rules about gun control where I lived, so I scraped up $58 and bought a Navy 36 Replica. The books and magazine articles that gave instructions on shooting a percussion revolver showed loading the chambers directly from a flask, I can't ever recall any that used a measure however on a long arm or single shot muzzle loading pistol a measure was always used.
So I did what the books showed, loaded from a flask. I never thought about an accident so I guess I was in happy land. Now that the issue has been raised I guess it is fair to say I'll never be that carefree again about loading from a flask when shooting a percussion revolver. The first time I ever ran into using a measure with a percussion revolver was at the State Shoot in Florida. I wasn't signed up for pistol because I thought you had to have a single shot and a guy said if I had a percussion revolver I could use it. At the range I was told to use a measure, EVERYONE had to use a measure, no exceptions, it didn't matter what type gun you were using. Fine, I used a measure but I sort of thought it was ridiculous. I didn't feel safer, in fact pouring black powder from one container to a measure and to the chamber was just one more step where a bit of powder could spill or what not, as I said it has the aura of safety but I wasn't sure if I was really more safe.
So where am I on this issue? Sort of confused to be honest. Gone are the carefree days of old- now I am not sure and as everyone says- might as well use a measure- it only takes a second and at least it MIGHT be safer. I'll probably use a measure because that is the logical thing to do but I'll still have issues.
Which brings up sort of a funny thing that happened to me the other day. My car was in the shop and I needed a ride, this guy at work, Leo, said he would give me a lift. Leo is a laugh a minute, sort of a little short guy, maybe 5'8" or so and shaped like a pear with a bald head and he's the nervous type. He looks about half way between Ed Asner and Don Rickles, and as I said he jokes around a lot.
Well Leo gets into his car and starts wiggling his butt back and forth and messing with the rear view mirror- like you see some gals do when they get into a car- so I thought he was clowning around. Leo turns around and stares at me and starts ranting that driving vibrations can knock a rear view mirror out of alignment, "Don't you remember your driving classes, you ALWAYS check your rear view mirror alignment before operating a motor vehicle"
"Sure Leo" says I, "not a problem"
Well then Leo starts checking his two side mirrors while simultaneously asking me if I have securely fastened my seat belt.
"Yep, all strapped in" I replied, still wondering if this was all some sort of a joke.
Next Leo turns around looking into the back seat.
"What are you doing now Leo" I ask.
"Looking for loose objects man, if a guy cuts me off in traffic and I have to slam on the brakes loose objects can become flying missiles. People have been KILLED that way"
"Oh yeah" I chimed, "I think I recall hearing that before"
Leo then stares at me, "Are you going to keep talking man, this isn't any pleasure thing, the goal of the driver is to insure all occupants arrive safely at their final destination" beads of sweat were rolled down Leo's contorted face and his eyes were spaced apart, then Leo added,"if you have anything else to say, say it now before I start operating this vehicle"
At that point a strange feeling came over me, Leo was doing everything right, every single thing he did was right out of the book, safe as safe could be but as I looked at him I decided I really didn't feel that safe in a car with a guy like that so I said,
" Yeah, just one more thing Leo, go back inside and grab a cup of coffee, I'm taking a cab"

June 27, 2010, 01:24 PM
Well I don't know if Wogpotter has really gotten an answer to his question.
That's the funny part, I haven't.:D The whole thing swerved into a safety discussion which was nothing to do with the OP.

Originally I was just asking why there would be a difference (if any) depending on how I measured powder, either from a volume flask & transfer (seemed a bit of a double step) or just pour into a measure from a flask & use that to check volume before loading chamber.:eek:

June 27, 2010, 01:35 PM
You'll get more accurate loads out of a measure but that also involves losing a bit of powder with every load. I seriously doubt you'll notice any difference one way or the other.

June 27, 2010, 03:14 PM
OK I'm curious how that works.
Isn't it the same (assuming good consistent technique) wherever the volume is measured?
My thought was that you could maybe lose a little powder when tipping from a flask into a measure once in a while, but if you cover the end of the flask's spout & tap, rattle or whatever then the same volume should be dispensed, no?:confused:

June 27, 2010, 04:52 PM
The standard deal with the flask is to put your finger over the end of the spout and there is likely a little variance each time this is done- that is your finger may stick into the end of the spout at different depths. On a measure with a cut off top you lose a bit of powder but the volume ought to be more uniform. A lot of the shooters use the cut off type measure.

June 27, 2010, 05:33 PM
This is what I use.