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Old December 6, 2012, 07:39 PM   #1
Join Date: August 11, 2012
Location: Southern Arizona
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Corrosive in what dirrection

We all know black powder is corrosive.
I shoot Pyrodex RS-(FFG equivalent)
Can i leave a cleaned rifle loaded with a pyrodex powder charge without damaging/corroding my barrel?(un capped of course). How bout with a paper cartridge? ....
I live in a dry a** climate too so moisture isn't much of an issue either. Comments Gentlemen?
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Old December 6, 2012, 08:01 PM   #2
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I've left my 50cal loaded for the entire B/p season with no ill results. The corrosive potential is from the burned residue and available moisture in the air. Even wood ash is corrosive when moisture is added. I have also not cleaned my B/p pistols for 2 to 3 days due to an emergency and they cleaned up fine, they were stored in air tight ammo boxes with a cup of dessicant, no moisture, no corrosion.
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Old December 6, 2012, 08:31 PM   #3
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In B/P sulfur when burned releases corrosive sulfuric acid fumes which coats your barrels bore Snail &/or its firing channel also. I think the same situation is seen with Pyrodex too.

Last edited by Sure Shot Mc Gee; December 6, 2012 at 08:33 PM. Reason: add pyrodex
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Old December 6, 2012, 08:44 PM   #4
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so its safe unburnt? sweeeeeeeet!
I assume even if its wet its still safe as long as its unburnt?
I leave the thing loaded full time, ready for action
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Old December 6, 2012, 08:47 PM   #5
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Don't dismiss the nitrates!

The other main component of black powder is potassium nitrate, anyone that has ever seen the inside of a gravity fertilizer spreader knows how corrosive nitrates are to steel! Again keeping moisture off the powder is the key.
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Old December 7, 2012, 07:31 AM   #6
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Is it really wise to do so? No, I don't think so.

As Darkroommike mentions, black powder contains potassium nitrate, which is hygroscopic.

It also contains sulphur, which when in contact with water forms either sulphuric or sulphurous (can't remember which) acid.

The moisture is bad enough, but the acidic component is just insidious as well.
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Old December 7, 2012, 11:19 PM   #7
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Agree with others. Wet is bad.
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:30 AM   #8
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It's the "Salts" that hurt.

In B/P sulfur when burned releases corrosive sulfuric acid fumes which coats your barrels bore Snail &/or its firing channel also. I think the same situation is seen with Pyrodex too.
Because of the sulphur of BP and Pyrodex, when burned, produces various "Salts". I've read descriptions where chemists find the process, hard to define. Even the Chinese were confused/surprised at the reaction when they first discovered BP. ....

If left sealed and un-fired, it will do little or no harm. However, you can't take it for granted or let it go too long. I may start a season loaded and if bad luck has it, it stays unfired, I will pull or push the load out at the end of the season with no ill effects. I once pull a load for a buddy who kept his loaded for 5-yrs. He wanted to sell it and still claim that it had not been fired. ...

I tested the powder and it still ignited just fine. The following cleaning, indicated no rusting. The walls of the sabot just showed black and again, no sign of rust. ...

Note that in Iowa, an M/L is considered un-loaded as long as it is not capped.

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Old December 8, 2012, 11:40 AM   #9
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another option

Just get you one of these (you can find em for about $20-25 if you search, or fleBay) and blow it out every week or so while you're watch football (or whatever) at night and reload. All you lost is one charge of powder (and any moisture it collected) and you don't have to do a full cleaning (or wake up the neighborhood by discharging it by firing it) and you'll take away the concern that it's sitting there rusting while load.

(forgot to mention: [if you haven't seen one of these] you can catch the pooted-out (technical term) ball/bullet and patch in a box of rags/newspapers and can reuse)

Last edited by Beagle333; December 8, 2012 at 02:05 PM. Reason: forgot somethin'
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:52 AM   #10
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Beagle333 + 1

Back in my early Buckskinner days, I'd fire the round out and then gripe about having to clean. Thankfully, those days are gone as I now pull or push the load out but still follow up with light cleaning. I own two pushers, one like the one Beagle listed and the other, is an older TC. They work great and have also pushed stuck ramrods. .....

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Old December 8, 2012, 01:18 PM   #11
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Same here Pahoo...and yes the CO2 kits posted by Beagle are nice as well. Especially away from home.

If at home, I've found I can use my garage air compressor with a rubber tipped blowgun to achieve the same thing.
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Old December 8, 2012, 01:27 PM   #12
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Pyrodex contains charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate (KNO3) as in real black powder, plus potassium perchlorate (KClO4). I gather the perchlorate increases the oxidation process to the point that most of the fouling is burnt up or blown out and they can advertise that you do not need to clean between shots.

None of these things are corrosive when DRY.
Charcoal is very inert and elemental sulfur is not very reactive, either.
But the KNO3 and KClO4 are hygroscopic and will absorb moisture from humid air. Each such material has a Critical Relative Humidity at which they will absorb enough to cause trouble. It is usually pretty low, and the CRH of a mixture is usually lower than the ingredients'. So unless you live in the desert, there is potential for rust. Does the patched or saboted bullet seal it off enough to protect from humidity? Apparently so, at least in some cases.

When the gun goes off, the rules change. Some of the combustion products are gases. Charcoal burnt to CO and CO2 and nitrogen released from nitrates as they oxidize the fuel are inert and long gone. The sulfur is mostly burnt to sulfur dioxide, SO2 with a little reacted into potassium sulfide, K2S. If there were any moisture around at the time, the SO2 could be absorbed to form sulfurous acid, H2SO3 which is much less corrosive than sulfuric acid, H2SO4. A small amount of sulfur trioxide, SO3 might form which would produce H2SO4 if there were any water in the 2000 degree environment. But there isn't, so what is not discharged in gaseous form to give the distinctive black powder smell reacts with the large amount of potassium present to form potassium sulfite and sulfate, K2SO3 and K2SO4. These are hygroscopic salts, but there is not going to be a lot left there.
Most of the potassium goes to form potassium carbonate, K2CO3 which is a bit alkaline. So any of those hypothetical acids would be neutralized on the spot. Carbonates are not very corrosive even when damp, either.

Adding KClO4 in Pyrodex changes the rules again. It burns to a residue of potassium chloride, KCl; just like what you get from a chlorate/corrosive primer. I have read reports of nasty rust from neglected Pyrodex guns when the humidity is up and am surprised there are not more. One early report described a concreted hard fouling in a gun left a week after shooting Pyrodex, even though it did not rust in a dry climate.

Of course this is all theoretical and small changes in conditions can have large effects in the field. The safe thing to do is to clean early and not leave your gun loaded. I wonder if the old tompion muzzle plug would preserve a loaded gun between hunts.

It sure would be nice if some enterprising gunzine writer would run some real tests on this sort of thing instead of just rewriting press releases on the latest product from his rag's advertisers.
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Old December 8, 2012, 03:05 PM   #13
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O.K. "Safety Sam" is going to chime in here . . . ;-)

When I was hunting, I'd often leave a load in my rifle (uncapped or unprimed of cours) and seal the nipple or touch hole. Actually, over the years, I've worked on a number of antique rifles and it was not uncommon to find them loaded - I've run across a number of them. Several, after unloading and pulling the breech plug, looked pretty good. Others, where moisture hand gotten to the powder over the years, were pretty crudded up. I think one of the biggest problems that might occur in leaving it loaded is if you have it out in the cold and then bring it in to a warm area which will probably promote condensation. If you cover the nipple or touch hole though, you should be fine. I always uncapped and placed a couple of cleaning patches or a lightly greased patch onthe nipple and then lowered the hammer on it. On a flintier, I used a section of round toothpick - just be careful not to break it off in the touchhole.

Yes, you know your rifle is loaded if you leave it that way . . . but when you're done hunting, UNLOAD it. I was on the line one time down at Friendship when a younger kid (probably 20) walked up next to my station and he had his CVA. When the range officer gave the OK to snap caps before the match, this kid capped his rifle, pointed it towards the ground and when he pulled the trigger . . KABLOOM. To me, it sounded like I was standing next to the 10 pound Parrot Rifle I used to fire. Needless to say, I was not happy but not as unhappy as the range officer. The response of the kid? "Ahhhh . . . I guess I forgot to unload it after deer season." I chose to step back and not shoot next to him.
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:20 PM   #14
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I have had no problems with the steel cans that Goex comes in corroding, even though I have some that are many years old, nor have I had problems with metallic cartridges loaded with black powder corroding before shooting them.
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:39 PM   #15
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Left a new Englander loaded for almost a year,,cap on it with a thick patch
between hammer & cap. Next season took it out hit target bullseye,, Cleaned it up loaded again & wen hunting.

When I cleaned in between shot No rust at all, i seasoned my barrels with Bore Butter,, Great stuff IMO

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