View Full Version : Why the wads?

Uncle Buck
July 25, 2010, 12:10 PM
I am loading some .45 Colt rounds with FFFg and I have placed the felt wads between the powder and the bullet.

What is the purpose of the felt wads? Are they absolutely required? (I am using Muzzleloader Originals.)

I remember using them when I was a kid and watching the old man load his cap and ball revolvers, but never fully understood why they were needed.

Thanks guys.

July 25, 2010, 12:35 PM
I don't use wads with cartridges. Wads with cap and ball help prevent chain fires. They do help keep the bore cleaner but I never saw the need for them with my 44-40's.

July 25, 2010, 12:54 PM
Nope....some people do....some people don't. It's one of many ways to get some lube in there for your BP residue. I load 45 Colt with and without lubed felt wads. I also used Walter Wads and I also put my own lube in the bullet grooves.

Uncle Buck
July 25, 2010, 08:12 PM
So I guess the biggest thing to make sure of is there is no space between the powder and the bullet.

Wads are nice, but not necessary.

July 25, 2010, 08:27 PM
I use heavily lubed felt wads to keep the fouling soft.

But, I can shoot several cylinders with no wads and the gun shoots fine.

July 26, 2010, 10:12 AM
Helps to prevent chain fire.

Fills the space between ball and powder.

Depending on the thickness of the wad, and how much powder, can aid in placing the ball closer to the mouth of the chamber ( although this is also accomplished with filler materials of various types ).

July 26, 2010, 10:22 AM
Hey fellas....the OP is specifically asking about using felt wads (I assume lubricated) between the power and bullet (not ball) in a 45 Colt BP cartridge. I think he wants to know if he should be using a felt wad in a cartridge. The answer for cartridges and the answer for cap-n-ball could be a little different.

July 26, 2010, 11:12 AM
I've used them if there would be space between the bullet and the powder in the case. Otherwise, no.

Tangential to the topic, I also use thick wads in brass shotshells to fill up the stack - I can't stand to see the overshot card way down in the shell. Just an idiosyncrasy, I guess.

Fingers McGee
July 26, 2010, 11:23 AM
I always use them in C&Bs. I tried them in .45 colt back when I started shooting CAS. I could see no difference between using them or not using them in a CAS application. Accuracy didn't seem to be any different, and they didn't keep the pistols or rifle any cleaner IMNSHO. They might make a difference in a precision shooting though.


Uncle Buck
July 27, 2010, 10:55 AM
Again, Thank you guys.

I have some nephews comming at the end of August who have never seen a black powder round being fired, so I figured this would be a good chance for them to see, feel and smell what the old rounds were like.

Now I am even considering a set of cap and ball pistols....

July 27, 2010, 03:51 PM
Now I am even considering a set of cap and ball pistols....

Just remember...a "set" is an indeterminate number! :D

Fingers McGee
July 27, 2010, 06:41 PM
Just remember...a "set" is an indeterminate number!

Boy, aint that the truth. Just getting a set of normal production 2nd Gens is over 40. If you count the less than 100 limited edition and one of a kind models, the total goes over 60

July 27, 2010, 06:57 PM
If your bullets have grooves for lube, there is really no reason to use a wad unless you want a slightly reduced power load.

July 27, 2010, 07:37 PM
Unless you are using BigLube bullets the grooves are rather small and don't hold much lube for BP shootin'.

July 27, 2010, 07:40 PM
im no expert here but if your talking cap and ball pistol. isnt there some kinda goop that you put in the cylinder holes, like you scoop it out and fill it in there to prevent the chain fire.

July 27, 2010, 08:29 PM
Unless you are using BigLube bullets the grooves are rather small and don't hold much lube for BP shootin'.

Not if you're using the right bullets.

The standard RNFP 454190 was made for BP, and Keith's old 454424 has a huge groove. No problems here so far. Besides, only the lube in the thin edges of the wad does any good. All the rest of the lube in the wad is a'wasted.

July 27, 2010, 08:38 PM
I cast RNFP's out of a Lee mold and have no lube problems.

July 28, 2010, 08:23 AM

I suspect the "goop" you're talking about is Bore Butter. But there's a lot of people who use Crisco. It's placed on the mouth of the chambers after the ball has been pushed down into place, and used as a sealant against chain fire. It will also serve as a lubricant to reduce fouling ( it's says it's supposed to, anyway.....)

July 28, 2010, 08:50 AM
A consideration is: The wads will often stick to the base of the bullet as it travels down range. No big deal with pistol rounds at short ranges but can be a killer of rifle accuracy.

July 29, 2010, 02:17 PM
I use smokeless in my 45 Colt rounds but I've always been told on muzzle loaders and cap and ball pistols to seat the ball so there in no air space- a big no no. I never thought about black powder cartridges- does having an air space in a black powder cartridge create a hazard? Thanks.

July 29, 2010, 04:37 PM
does having an air space in a black powder cartridge create a hazard?

Absolutely! No air space with any BP load, cartridge or not.

July 30, 2010, 02:00 PM
Goes to show how dangerous it is to get "comfortable", such as reloading with smokeless powder and then thinking about using black :eek:, never assume anything. Thanks.

Uncle Buck
August 2, 2010, 12:44 AM
Well I loaded some of my .45 Colt rounds with felt wads and some without. I noticed no real difference in performance.

I enjoy cleaning the pistols and did not notice a lot of gunk or lead build up.

The biggest concern I really had was about leaving too much space between the black powder and the bullet. I understand that this is a no-no! I will use the felt wads to take up space on the rounds I make in which the bullet does not reach and compress the powder when I seat it.

Thank you to everyone who helped me with this.