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Old April 15, 2019, 09:12 PM   #1
HillBilly Willy
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Which powder and how much shot should I use?

First, I apologize for all the questions I'm about to ask. I'm new to this world of black powder.

Now that I've shot the "wallhanger", I want to do it again, except better.

I have read that with a larger bore size, you want a slower burning powder such as 2F. But with such a short barrel, there is less time for the powder to burn up before exiting, so would this mean you might want a faster burning powder?

I'd think normal powder and ball loads go out the window with a 15 7/8" barrel.

Now take a look at the screenshot I grabbed from the video of when I fired it.



Can you say flamethrower?

Today on the way home, I picked up a 100 ct. box of .375 round ball bullets, each of which weighs 79 to 80 grains. How many would be appropriate to load in the "wallhanger" with 75 grains of 3F? Is there any point to trying 100 grains of 3F?

As I have stated before, I am not comfortable with loading a .80 round ball in the barrel, just because I really do not know anything about the overall strength or condition of the steel, or even the maker. I would like to keep the pressure down, which is why I will shoot the .375 round ball as shot.

I did measure the outside diameter of the barrel tonight.

At the muzzle end, the o.d. measures ~.894, and for the sake of argument I will say the inside diameter measures ~.804, since the measurement varies a little due to the pitting in the barrel. .894 - .804 = ~.090. Divided by 2, this gives a barrel thickness of ~.045 at the muzzle end.

At the lock end of the barrel, I got an O.D. of ~1.326, which after doing the math, gives a barrel thickness of ~.261, which would be about 1/4 of an inch. Am I doing this right, and does that sound like an appropriate barrel thickness?

Finally, I did find what appears to be some letters on the side of the barrel, two sideways "O"s and maybe an "N" as well. Any ideas? Wishful thinking? I really wish I could get the barrel out of the stock, and hopefully find a manufacturers mark somewhere, but it just won't budge.



So, given all the variables I have mentioned (very short .80 caliber barrel of unknown manufacture, with current supply of 3F BP, and .375 round ball), what would you load in this old beast? I was thinking 70 grains of 3F, and maybe six to eight .375 round ball bullets at 80 grains each, but I'm just guessing because I'm new to this whole black powder thing. I really don't want to guess any more than I have to.

Finally, if you had to choose a powder, which one would you choose, and why? 2F, 4f, or stay with 3F? (In case I ever use up my current supply and decide to get more.)

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Last edited by HillBilly Willy; April 15, 2019 at 11:07 PM.
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Old April 16, 2019, 06:15 AM   #2
HillBilly Willy
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After sleeping on it, does it make sense that the barrel was "cut down"? To be so thin at the end, wouldn't it make more sense that the barrel was made this way?

Or do barrels of that era taper only at the lock end, and then are of uniform thickness the rest of the way out?
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Old April 16, 2019, 07:23 AM   #3
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After sleeping on it, does it make sense that the barrel was "cut down"? To be so thin at the end, wouldn't it make more sense that the barrel was made this way?
It may have been a long barrel originally, and was "swamped" (thicker at each end, but thinner in the middle). When cut down, it would be thinner at the muzzle. Not sure of the history of swamping barrels though, or if they were common during the period your gun was made. That said, be safe!
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Old April 16, 2019, 10:08 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by noelf2 View Post
It may have been a long barrel originally, and was "swamped" (thicker at each end, but thinner in the middle). When cut down, it would be thinner at the muzzle. Not sure of the history of swamping barrels though, or if they were common during the period your gun was made. That said, be safe!
This makes sense. Reading up on swamped barrels, it was a common practice. Thanks!
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Old April 16, 2019, 10:26 AM   #5
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Good thinking !!!

Quote:
But with such a short barrel, there is less time for the powder to burn up before exiting, so would this mean you might want a faster burning powder?
For being new to this "Great-Adventure" you are asking a very good question. Yes, 3-F should be fine and the object is to burn as much propellant inside the barrel but you will always have "some" unburned powder. I'm not entirely sure what you have there and frankly, I'm not comfortable with what I see. I would definitely cut back on the grains until I did more homework. Can you read any information on the lock-plate? Can you see rifling or is it a smooth-bore?? ….

Quote:
It may have been a long barrel originally, and was "swamped"
I have seen various configurations of "Swamped" barrels but they have all been octagon barrels. …..

Be Safe !!!
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Old April 16, 2019, 11:00 AM   #6
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Adding weight to the “projectile(s)” adds pressure as well. If you aren’t comfortable shooting a full bore ball adding pellets that outweigh that ball would increase the pressure over what that one large ball would produce.

In a sound gun I’d be quite comfy using 3F powder. But 2F powder would produce a little less pressure and create that pressure a little slower.

No way would I use 4F (outside of maybe small charges) in a gun I wasn’t certain about. It creates higher pressures than 3F and does it more quickly.
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Old April 16, 2019, 01:20 PM   #7
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I have seen various configurations of "Swamped" barrels but they have all been octagon barrels. …..
Yes good point. That's what we see now, however, there were full length round and half round (octagon to round) swamped barrels historically, from what I've read.
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Old April 16, 2019, 06:13 PM   #8
HillBilly Willy
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Originally Posted by Pahoo View Post
For being new to this "Great-Adventure" you are asking a very good question. Yes, 3-F should be fine and the object is to burn as much propellant inside the barrel but you will always have "some" unburned powder. I'm not entirely sure what you have there and frankly, I'm not comfortable with what I see.
That's what I've been trying to find out. No one seems to know for sure. Did you see the earlier posts from months ago about this?

https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=597018

The more I researched, the more I came to realize this is a gun made out of parts a long time ago. I'm still not sure that the lock came from a Brown Bess, though it is definitely patterned after one, minus most of the markings. The barrel is the wrong caliber for a Brown Bess, and the stock isn't Brown Bess either. I was hoping someone would recognize what the trigger guard and butt plate came from. Regardless, for someone to modify the lock to fit in a different stock, plus make the barrel, trigger guard, and buttplate fit together as well, it had to have been worth enough to put all that effort into it.

Ohh, and what specifically aren't you comfortable with what you see?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pahoo View Post
I would definitely cut back on the grains until I did more homework.
It takes 50 grains of 3F to cover a toothpick stuck in the touch hole, so that is why I went with 70 grains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pahoo View Post
Can you read any information on the lock-plate? Can you see rifling or is it a smooth-bore?? ….
Take a look at the pictures in my previous thread, and maybe you can tell me. lol I did take a new picture of the lock, and it looks like there might be a small crown under the pan, but I am not sure. I don't see any markings on the inside of the lock. Yes, it is a smoothbore.







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Be Safe !!!
That's the reason for asking all these questions. Thanks!

Last edited by HillBilly Willy; April 16, 2019 at 06:50 PM.
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Old April 16, 2019, 06:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by rodwhaincamo View Post
Adding weight to the “projectile(s)” adds pressure as well. If you aren’t comfortable shooting a full bore ball adding pellets that outweigh that ball would increase the pressure over what that one large ball would produce.
An excellent point. I don't want to shoot a full load out of this barrel.

An .80 caliber ball weighs 767.9 grains, from what I have found on various sites. Eight .375 round balls weighing 80 grains each would be a total of 640 grains, so maybe six would be better as a starting load as that would only be 480 grains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rodwhaincamo View Post
In a sound gun I’d be quite comfy using 3F powder. But 2F powder would produce a little less pressure and create that pressure a little slower.

No way would I use 4F (outside of maybe small charges) in a gun I wasn’t certain about. It creates higher pressures than 3F and does it more quickly.
Thanks.
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Old April 16, 2019, 06:49 PM   #10
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Sorry I missed that !!!

Quote:
Did you see the earlier posts from months ago about this?
Willy,
Sorry about that and I see I missed out on some important information. Okay, it's a fowler so load as such. There is always an optimum load and you will have to determine this. There is also a point of diminishing returns and loading too much propellant will not guarantee your optimum load. If it were me, I'd experiment with 2F as well as 3F. I know that in some cases, you get the same performance and by using "less" 3F. Your short barrel does make a big difference. …..

The experts use chronographs to help determine the optimum load. I don't use one as I load by the book and I may fluctuate plus or minus. ….

Be Safe !!!
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Old April 16, 2019, 06:56 PM   #11
HillBilly Willy
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If it were me, I'd experiment with 2F as well as 3F. I know that in some cases, you get the same performance and by using "less" 3F. Your short barrel does make a big difference. …..
Having seen the flame coming out of the end of the barrel, at this point I'm thinking anything more than 70 grains of 3F would be a waste. Should I change the number of grains if I went with 2F down the road?
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Old April 16, 2019, 07:08 PM   #12
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It is what it is !!!

Quote:
Should I change the number of grains if I went with 2F down the road?
In all likelihood, you will but this old boy, will always be a flame thrower and so be it. ….

There were some nights in our old deer-camp that we loaded hot and loose and lit up the skies even though we wasted a bunch of propellant. …..

Be Safe !!!
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Old April 16, 2019, 07:50 PM   #13
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Thin barrels weren't swamped. I would use 2F in it.
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Old April 16, 2019, 08:06 PM   #14
HillBilly Willy
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In all likelihood, you will but this old boy, will always be a flame thrower and so be it. ….

There were some nights in our old deer-camp that we loaded hot and loose and lit up the skies even though we wasted a bunch of propellant. …..

Be Safe !!!
I plan on getting some better video and pictures when my oldest son comes home to visit with his camera equipment, so I can see the entire flamethrower blast in high def!
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Old April 16, 2019, 08:11 PM   #15
HillBilly Willy
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Thin barrels weren't swamped. I would use 2F in it.
Any thoughts on how I should load it, safely?

I measured an antique marble from my collection at .775, and dropped it in the barrel. It got stuck an inch in, so I gently tapped the side of the barrel until it fell out.

Here is the marble in comparison to the .375 round ball bullets I picked up.

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Old April 16, 2019, 09:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Thin barrels weren't swamped. I would use 2F in it.
Any thoughts on how I should load it, safely?
With the short barrel I wouldn't go over 70 grains followed by an over powder card, a lubed fiber wad, shot and an over shot card. If you're going to use the .375 balls I'd probably try eight.
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Old April 17, 2019, 12:01 AM   #17
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I'd use six.
Buckshot is loaded in layers. In a muzzleloader, you're just going to have to hope they land right.
You will only get layers of two .375s in a .775" bore, so six will be three layers, which is plenty in an untried gun.
The old timers generally used coarser powder than we put in steel guns, I'd go FFg.

And fire with a string the first use of shot.
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Old April 17, 2019, 02:22 PM   #18
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You may get a group with the .375, but I doubt it, at least at any distance. Buck shot will try to move up into that empty space above it unless there's a filler to keep in place. It'll then come out not round, but some crazy shape and they'll fly all over the place. I had a 8ga and tried .310 RBs in it - 30 of them to be exact with 400grs of 1F. Twenty yards away I couldn't hit a landing goose. I went to#2 BBs and could then kill em out to 60 yds. I shot a lot of " trade gun " matches at one time and 60grs/3F with 1oz of shot or a .715 RB shot nice [ in a 12ga]. 60 of 2F would also work nice. I use to load the RB in my TG like shot. Powder, .135 over powder card, cushion for shot or none for RB, ball or the shot, then a .028 overshot card to keep one or the other in place. You're probably not going bear hunting with it, so keep the loads light and have fun.
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:48 PM   #19
HillBilly Willy
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Thanks for the replies.

I think I'll drop the powder down to 60 grains of 3F with 6 of the .375 round ball, and work my way up to 70 grains and 8 round ball.

I'm not planning to hit anything with it, other than the "broad side of a barn", since I'm not going to be using it for anything other than a bit of fun. With such a short barrel, I'll be very surprised to get any kind of a group except at point blank range.
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Old April 18, 2019, 06:16 AM   #20
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If it were me, I would be using something like 60 gr. 2f and an ounce of #4 shot. You will have a better chance of getting some kind of group and keeping the pressure down. I would guess it would shoot more effectively with less air space between the projectiles too. I would definitely be shooting minimum loads as you don't know how deep some of the pitting in the barrel is, and you might have some really thin areas. Getting that barrel to split is a definite possibility with a stout load...and that could be painful
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Old April 18, 2019, 09:04 AM   #21
HillBilly Willy
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Old Stony, you make some excellent points.

In fact, the only benefit to using the .375 ball is that it would create less pressure than #4 shot because of the greater air space between projectiles, correct?

3F and .375 ball is all I have for now, but based on what I have read about larger bores, and the comments here, 2F is the way to go, in spite of the very short barrel.

I am going to order some 2F, since finding any BP locally is basically impossible these days. I suppose I now have a lifetime supply of 3f for the pan.

Also, after that marble test, I have to wonder if this is possibly a Brown Bess caliber barrel after all with a bore of .75, and that the pitting at the muzzle end deceived me. Any suggestions on a cheap and simple way to determine this? Perhaps a wooden dowel shoved down the barrel?
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Old April 18, 2019, 07:43 PM   #22
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Well, I did it! Shoved a 3/4" dowel down the barrel, and it just barely fit. I really had to give it a good shove to get down the last 6 inches. I guess this means it most likely is a cut down .75 caliber Bess barrel. Had to tug on it pretty darn hard to get it back out too.
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Old April 29, 2019, 08:47 PM   #23
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I got better pictures of the coach gun in action. Had no trouble with shooting the .375 round ball, started with 4 balls and 60 gr. of 3F, and worked my way up to 8 balls and 70 gr.

I did fire a few shots with no ball at the end, as the barrel was getting pretty fouled after about 10 shots. My son said he thought he could hear unburned powder hitting the tree line only 10 yards distant. If that's the case, I don't see any point to loading any more than 70 gr. as the rest would go to waste anyway.

My new goal is to get a few .69 caliber round balls and try that next.







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Old April 30, 2019, 10:27 AM   #24
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Great pics!

What I’ve read a few times is that when people lay out a white sheet or shoot over snow and find what they believe to be unburned powder it is likely to actually be the particles that just don’t burn. This makes some sense to me when you look at the muzzle flash, that huge fireball, and wonder how and powder ejected would not catch and burn outside of the barrel. I guess the only way to know for sure, and it seems as though someone tried it, is to capture the ejected particles and see if it will burn.
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Old April 30, 2019, 10:35 AM   #25
HillBilly Willy
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Great pics!

What I’ve read a few times is that when people lay out a white sheet or shoot over snow and find what they believe to be unburned powder it is likely to actually be the particles that just don’t burn. This makes some sense to me when you look at the muzzle flash, that huge fireball, and wonder how and powder ejected would not catch and burn outside of the barrel. I guess the only way to know for sure, and it seems as though someone tried it, is to capture the ejected particles and see if it will burn.
Either way, that's a whole lot of wasted energy outside the barrel. imo.
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