View Full Version : shooting black powder cartridge loads in modern guns.

February 18, 2011, 10:09 AM
so the other night i was thinking it would be fun to shoot some black powder 38 special loads out of my 357 mag. really wouldn't serve any purpose other than making smoke and experimenting with black powder cartridge a little. My question is would it be safe to fire such loads in a modern gun such as my Ruger blackhawk. Obviously i would have to take it all apart and clean the hell out of it afterwards but would it cause any long term damage. Im not worried about excessive pressure as the Ruger is built like a tank to take the hottest smokeless loads but im wondering if im over looking something.

February 18, 2011, 10:18 AM
Safe as houses. Dirty as sin. Funner 'n a barrel of monkeys!

Magnum Wheel Man
February 18, 2011, 10:24 AM
only suggestion I'd offer, is to try not to put a 38 special load in a 357 magnum chamber ( for example ) "that" often talked about "carbon ring" that can build up just past the case mouth, can be even harder to clean up un the black powder cartridges...

I guess I quite often do Trailboss loads in many different cartridges, & those are fun... but they do lack the added enjoyment of the smokey black powder loads

February 18, 2011, 10:51 AM
ive shot quite a few .38s through my .357 and never had any problem. i shoot a lot of both and it gets well maintained so maybe that's why ive never had problems. I have shoot some trial boss loads out of it which are a blast (kinda like shooting a 22lr) but i think blowing big clouds of smoke would be fun. The black powder wouldn't harm the barrel at all as long as i cleaned it good right? As this is a very accurate gun and i don't want to mess that up.

Magnum Wheel Man
February 18, 2011, 11:10 AM
it shouldn't hurt the gun... as long as proper clean up is done

February 18, 2011, 12:51 PM
My question is would it be safe to fire such loads in a modern gun
That would depend on the loads.

Black powder does not behave the same as modern smokeless loads, so it isn't loaded the same. Now if you're talking about store bought factory black powder loads then yes, they will be completely safe very dirty & a lot of fun.

However if you're thinking of whipping up a bunch of handloads using BP yourself make sure you know what you're doing before you do something daft without knowing you did. The most obvious difference that comes to mind is that unlike modern powders which are fine with big air spaces in the case, Black powder loads need to have no air space at all.

February 18, 2011, 03:10 PM
I fired some Winchester .22 blanks through a cheap tacklebox revolver. At the time I did realize that the blanks were factory assembled using black powder. But I didn't realize what a mess they would make and how much they would contaminate parts of the gun that were inaccessible to cleaning. Some minor rusting caused me some slight heartache although it was nothing serious. But I decided that would never fire any black powder loads through a modern cartridge revolver again. It's just not worth it to me, not even .22 blanks.

February 18, 2011, 05:32 PM
Sometimes I wonder about you Matt. I have all the equipment and supplies to load you up a batch of black powder loads for just about any thing you want to shoot. Sounds like we need to get out of the shop and get to the range. Give me a call when you can.


February 18, 2011, 07:08 PM
well i get bored during the day and instead of doing stuff productive i think up wild ideals.

February 18, 2011, 08:05 PM
Black powder works great in .38 special/.357 magnum ammo. You can not possibly put enough black powder in a .357 magnum case to come even close to blowing up a modern gun.
Black powder should be slightly compressed in the case, no air space. You can determine the load by putting some powder in a unresized empty case and seeing how far you can push the bullet in before it compresses the powder. When you have enough powder so that you have to compress the powder a sixteenth of an inch or so in order to seat the bullet, that should be a good starting point for your powder charge.
I suggest using fffg but ffg will work if that's what you have on hand.

The bad news is that black powder is really dirty and the fouling is corrosive, the gun must be cleaned after you are through shooting, in fact, you may have to wipe the bore between every or every other cylinder of bullets.
The good news is that black powder fouling practically rinses off with good old water and the patches come out clean and white after only a couple of patches.

I think the .38 special was originally loaded with black powder when it was invented and thus the size of the case is just about right for black powder to duplicate standard .38 special velocities with a slightly compressed load.