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Old May 28, 2018, 10:01 AM   #1
Prof Young
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Reloading with black powder?

So as I'm reloading some 357 magnums and pondering all that extra space in the case, I understand that the size of the case comes from the days when it was filled with black powder. (Right?) So does anyone still reload with black powder? I understand there are drawback to using black powder. Just curious.

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Old May 28, 2018, 10:04 AM   #2
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No, 357 was developed well after smokeless powder was used. 38 Special was originally made with black powder and the 357's case was made longer so no one put it in a 38.
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Old May 28, 2018, 10:10 AM   #3
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From what I read

I don't reload with black powder, so apply the requisite grain of salt.

My reading indicates that many folks who are reloading metallic cartridges are using Trailboss or other subs.
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Old May 28, 2018, 10:35 AM   #4
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BP in 357

For some years I used a Ruger Old Army in BP Matches. To keep the handgun in top condition it was necessary to strip the gun after each event or use.
Hot water was used to remove residue. It was rumored that some members would put the gun in the dishwasher. That is, if wife was out of the house.

The old cartridge cases were "balloon headed" with more volume that modern brass.

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Old May 28, 2018, 11:01 AM   #5
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You don't want an airspace with bp, use a vegetable based bullet lube and modern bullets won't hold enough lube tho you may get by with a revolver. Cleaning bp is actually easier than smokeless but a lot of people get wacky when it comes to putting a nice gun in a sink full of hot soapy water.
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Old May 28, 2018, 11:33 AM   #6
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"...gun in the dishwasher..." Grips off first. Been hearing that for eons. No soap is required as it's the water that cleans off the BP salts. The soap does nothing.
Oh and rule number one with BP is that it's loaded by volume not mass.
Really can't imagine why you'd want to load .357 with BP though. There was no such thing as a .357 until 1934/5. Only hillbillies used BP then.
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Old May 28, 2018, 12:17 PM   #7
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Hillbilly!

Hillbilly: I resent that! What a terrible thing to say. BP in a cartridge gun is less trouble cleaning. For ease of cleaning share that information with somebody trying to resurrect a Trapdoor.
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Old May 28, 2018, 02:43 PM   #8
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I'll use black in a 1911.
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Old May 28, 2018, 04:07 PM   #9
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Didn't know that . . .

FITASC: Really? Wow. Didn't know that. I do know it's true that you can shoot your 38 and 38 special out of a 357, but not the other way around . . . right?

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Old May 28, 2018, 04:33 PM   #10
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Correct, 357 will not fit in the chamber of a 38 revolver.
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Old May 28, 2018, 07:32 PM   #11
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Prof - The 38 Colt Short was the parent cartridge of the 38 Colt Long

The 38 Colt Long was the parent of the 38 Special

The 38 Special was the parent of the 357.


The 38 Colt Short and Long were originally BP cartridges - originally, the 38 Colt Short was designed to ge used in conversions of the 1851 Navy - such as the Richardds and Mason conversions - The 38 Colt Long evolved as it went to an internally lubed slug - used by the US Military up until around 1909 as it was ineffective cartridge as proved durning the Philippine Insurrection.

I load all four of those casings - 38 Colt Short, 38 Colt Long, 38 Special and the 357 with Goex. When loading BP cartridges, care must be taken to make them a "compressed load" - i.e. no vacant airspace in the casing. I also,of course, load all of those with smokeless as well. All I shoot is lead that I cast. All of them in BPwork well out of my Uberti 357 Bisley as well as my 357 Handi Rifle.

Google the individual cartridges - i.e. "38 Colt Short Cartridgel Wikipedia" and you'll get a pretty good history on them as well as the specs of the cartridges.

Remember that the 1851 was bored .360 and THEN rifled - thus the need for a "heeled bullet' in the 38 Colt Short and the same for the 38 Colt Lngwhich was used in such revolvers as the Colt 1902 Army. Those firearms designed for 38 Special and 357 are of course a bore size of .357.

Current productions of such revolvers as the Uberti Richards & Mason 1851 Navy, etc. that are chambered in 38 special are made with the modern day .357 so all the molds we use to cast bullets for 38s & 357s will work. IF, you have a C & B that was made in percussion and you use a conversion cylinder, the bore size will require the use of a "heeled bullet".
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Old May 28, 2018, 09:09 PM   #12
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Thanks . . .

Hey Bedbugbilly! Thanks for all the great info. Much appreciated.

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Old May 28, 2018, 09:18 PM   #13
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Fill the case up with 2 or 3F black powder, so that the seated bullet just touches or slightly compresses the powder. But now you need a big lube bullet designed for black. The Snakebite Greasewagon is a great one for 38/ 357. You can buy a mold and cast/ lube your own or buy them from someone who casts them. You can make your own lube with a 50/50 mix of Crisco and a wax toilet ring. Just Bing or Google it.
I'm a CAS shooter and shoot BP class. I've loaded and shot 1000's of BP cartridges. I'm really giving you the Cliff notes, do your own research. A good place to start is a forum called The Darksiders Den on the CAS City website. www.cascity.com
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Old May 29, 2018, 06:32 PM   #14
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I load brass with GOEX FFFg blackpowder. .45 Colt generally takes up to around 37-38gr and a full 40gr if you use a drop tube and a compression die. Then there's the .45 BPM that takes up to 60gr for maximum smoke-n-boom. There's no reason why you can't simply fill-er-up with FFFg and push it down with a bullet. Just make sure there's no air gap. Use BigLube bullets for best lubrication for BP loads. And, if you don't want maximum smoke-n-boom then use some corn meal or grits to take up the extra space.

Last edited by ClemBert; May 29, 2018 at 07:35 PM.
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Old May 30, 2018, 04:51 PM   #15
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I actually have experimented with 38 special and black powder.
Using a 158 grain SWC and enough FFFg black powder to fill the case with a slight compression. Shot out of a Ruger Blackhawk.
They all fired , about like shooting a cap and ball revolver. Lots of smoke and accuracy wasn't bad. After 25 rounds the sooty build up was getting evident, it didn't stop the single action Ruger but it was grungy. Makes Unique look like the cleanest burning powder ever.
The downside was clean up of both gun and brass cases....the cases were so sooty black inside and outside that I never tried that experiment again and the blue steel revolver had to be carefully cleaned....I cleaned it the next day a second time because I didn't want the rust fairies getting to it. Rust is not your friend . I tumbled the brass cases and got them fairly clean but they never came "as new" shiney clean .
That ended my black powder in 38 special shooting. Can be done just have to clean well. I now see why smokeless powders won out over black powder.
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Old May 30, 2018, 08:24 PM   #16
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Howdy

I have been loading all my CAS ammunition with Black Powder for years. Currently I load 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40, 44 Russian, and 38-40 with Black Powder.

These are the components I use for 45 Colt. I usually use Starline brass, Federal primers, 2.2CC of Schuetzen FFg powder, and a Big Lube PRS 250 grain bullet sized to .452. These bullets are lubed with SPG, which is a good Black Powder bullet lube. When I was pan lubing regular hard cast bullets I used a home made lube of 50% Beeswax and 50% Crisco. There are lots of recipes for BP compatible bullet lube, but if you use regular hard lube that comes on most bullets today you will probably get hard fouling building up in the bore that will quickly ruin accuracy. Big Lube bullets are specifically designed for Black Powder, they feature a huge lube groove that carries enough BP compatible lube to keep any rifle barrel lubricated for its entire length.

The correct amount of powder is the amount that will be compressed by 1/16" - 1/8" when the bullet is seated.






For some cartridges, I precharge all my brass using a dipper and a funnel. The piece of paper is to scrape off the powder from the dipper so all charges will be the same. If I am using this method, I load all the rounds on a regular single stage press.






But most of the time I load my BP ammo on my Hornady Lock & Load AP Progressive press. I have a Lyman Black Powder measure mounted on the press for my Black Powder loads. The Hornady press does not automatically cycle the Lyman powder measure, I have to remember to throw the powder measure handle for every load.






Whenever I find an old Lyman powder measure at the white elephant table of a gun show, I buy the powder measure. The powder rotors are interchangeable with the Lyman Black Powder measure. This way I can keep separate rotors set up for the powder charge of the various cartridges I load.






Here is a close up of 5 rounds on the shell plate of the Hornady press. The shell closest to the camera has just been charged with powder, you can see the top of the charge. In a moment I will place a bullet on that shell and pull the handle to seat and crimp the bullet. The round with the bullet is finished and will pop off the press into the plastic box when the press is cycled.






Regarding cleaning cases that have been fired with Black Powder: They will never be shiny again, unless you polish them with some sort of abrasive. It is not worth the effort. I always say stained brass shoots just as well as shiny brass, shiny brass is just easier to find in the grass. I dump my spent brass into a jug of water that has a squirt of dish soap in it. This must be done within 24 hours or the brass will begin to corrode with verdigris (green brass corrosion). When I get home from a match, I rinse the brass thoroughly, over and over again until all the fouling has been washed away. Guys will tell you that you need to 'neutralize' the acids or bases left behind by the powder fouling. That is baloney. What you are really doing is diluting the fouling by rinsing over and over again until it has all been washed away. After the brass has been rinsed I set it out on cookie sheets covered with paper towels to air dry for a couple of days. Then into the tumbler with Lizzard Litter. The same stuff as walnut shell media, but much cheaper. You can buy it in pet stores.

After a few hours of tumbling my brass is clean, but it is still stained. It will never be shiny again. The insides of the brass will always have a slight, powdery residue left inside. That does not matter, the inside of the case does not have to be perfectly clean.

Been doing it this way for a long time.

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Old May 30, 2018, 08:29 PM   #17
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Quote:
My reading indicates that many folks who are reloading metallic cartridges are using Trailboss or other subs.
Trailboss is NOT a Black Powder substitute. That is a common misconception. Trailboss is a Smokeless powder formulated to be very bulky so it fills up large cases, such as 45 Colt or 44-40, leaving less airspace in the case than a standard charge of most Smokeless powders.

The pipsqueak loads used by some in CAS to reduce recoil do not always function well in large cases with a large amount of airspace inside, so Trailboss was formulated to take up most of the empty space.

But it is not a Black Powder Substitute and should NEVER be used as one. Particularly in antique guns not made with modern steel.
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Old May 31, 2018, 08:53 AM   #18
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I load black in my 45 colt and 44 special.
My 45 colt carry load is a 250 gr soft lead wadcutter over 3f black
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Old June 1, 2018, 12:16 AM   #19
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I shoot 15grs (weighed) 777 in the .357mag case under a 158 or 150gr lead bullet lubed with whatever in the rifle and no problems. It's hotter than a BP load of about 22grs FFFg with the same bullets.
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Old June 2, 2018, 04:55 PM   #20
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Quote:
Trailboss is NOT a Black Powder substitute. That is a common misconception. Trailboss is a Smokeless powder
Actually, smokeless was the original black powder substitute.
But, no, you should not even consider using it in a muzzle loader.

Actually, you can load black powder in just about any modern straight case and even slightly bottlenecked cases and it will work well. .458 Winchester Magnum? Sure, why not. It'll be about as powerful as a hot .45-70 round. You could even load it into the .22 Hornet and re-invent the .22 Winchester Centerfire, the parent cartridge of the .22 Hornet.
I have even loaded .357 cases with .360 diameter round balls, worked quite well, as do .433 roundball loads in the .44 Magnum.
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Old June 4, 2018, 11:44 AM   #21
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Quote:
Actually, smokeless was the original black powder substitute.
But, no, you should not even consider using it in a muzzle loader.
The modern definition of a Black Powder substitute is one of the powders specifically developed to take the place of, and be safe to shoot in original and modern firearms of antique design. Pyrodex was the first of the Black Powder Substitutes, being formulated to create clouds of white smoke while keeping the pressures down so that the metals used antique firearms would not be over stressed. Some others are American Pioneer Powder, and Hodgdon Triple Seven, although 777 develops about 10% more velocity than real Black Powder.

The very early Bulk Smokeless powders were developed to keep the pressure down, while still filling up the case, much as Black Powder did.

I state again, Trailboss is often mistakenly called a Black Powder substitute, because it was formulated for light loads in Cowboy Action Shooting, but it is not a BP Sub, and should never be treated as one.
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Old June 24, 2018, 03:57 PM   #22
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Using 777

I tried BP, and several substitutes in .45 Colt brass for the cartridge conversion cylinder in my Ruger Old Army. Finally settled on 777 because it actually made more smoke, and isn't that the point! Tried dippers, but too much variance. Determined 24 grains by weight behind a 200 grain bullet shot the best. Trimmed a batch of cases to the minimum just for these. Doesn't quite fill the case, but have never had any inconsistency in report or accuracy. Now shoot the same load out of my Vaquero, too. Makes the gun hot to touch and soots up everything, but man, that's shootin'. Brass cleans up with 50/50 vinegar/water soak and rinse. (Don't try that on your blued gun!)
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Old June 27, 2018, 07:30 AM   #23
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The advantage of using the Big Lube bullets is that it keeps the fouling soft so that your revolver cylinder doesn't start to bind after multiple shots. You can shoot a 2 day match, 120 rounds, and just wipe your pistol off till you can thoroughly clean it. At cleaning time the softer fouling cleans up easily with Dawn dish soap and water. I find the bore cleans way easier than with smokeless powder. I throw brass in a jar of dish soap and water, let it soak, shake it up from time to time.
In cap and ball revolvers, I lube over the ball, not nessisarilly to prevent chain fires, but to keep the fouling soft for easy cleaning and trouble free operation.
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Old July 5, 2018, 12:36 PM   #24
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I never thought if reloading 357 s with no he he I'm going to try it
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