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Has anyone here loaded blackpowder cartridges? I think I know how, but would like to hear from someone with hands on experience.
Specifically .45colt, single action.
I shoot a .44 cap and ball pistol that is a hoot to shoot and I know that prior to 1895, cartridges were loaded with black powder.
Love that smoke and smell. :fart:
 

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Smokewagon said:
would like to hear from someone with hands on experience.
I can quote two well known writers with hands on experience - one an old time loader and one someone he helped. One dug out a historical method and the other referred to him as the one who solved a serious problem with fouling and loss of accuracy. You be the judge.

First a disclaimer. The guy who dug out the methods said he could only make sense of part of it, but it works.

1. Use a drop tube to put in the powder.

He could think of no reason why this helped, and admitted that many loaders refused to take it seriously, but it has solved fouling problems for a lot of people since he published it.

2. Use a soft lube liberally on the grooves.

He explained this, but I don't remember it.

Several people have said these simple, if odd, steps have pushed firing limits from under 20 to several times that.

JimL

PS One of the articles mentioning the above was by some guys that made a .577 revolver out of a Redhawk fairly recently. They were getting something like 8 or 10 firings before it crudded up beyond use.

PPS I haven't found the name of the guy. Maybe he's on here??????
 

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The soft lube is to keep the the residue soft. You can virtually fill the case as much as it'll hold. A drop tube would dump a little more in the same space. I'd just use a Lee powder scoop, myself. That's what I use with my Ruger Old Army cap and ball when I don't wanna mess with the powder flask.

Having played with cap and ball revolvers for 35 years, I'll use smokeless in my .45 Colt, thanks. :D BP is fun, fun, though, make no mistake! There are plenty of reasons to do it with a .45 colt beyond even SASS competition. Still, I get my thrills with the ROA and a .31 Remington CVA I have. I'd like to get another Remington, but no cap and ball can come as close as a Ruger Old Army for perfecton. It'll shoot better than a LOT of smokeless cartridge guns and it won't crud up even in 100 firings without cleaning. Accuracy remains at about 1.5" at 25 yards with a 220 grain Lee cast conical. The cylinder has a flange at the front designed to keep fouling out of the cylinder pin area. I had a Colt Navy clone that would crud up around the cylinder pin in about 50 rounds and slowly freeze up requiring cleaning. No matter, easy to pull the barrel off, and it ain't like you can reload it in any semblance of speed. LOL! My old stainless old army, before it got ripped off, was neat. I had a rubber pachmayr on it. I'd come home, pull the cylinder out, stick it in the dish washer, and it got spotless! :D I mean, how easy can clean up be????
 

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NativeTexan said:
The soft lube is to keep the the residue soft. You can virtually fill the case as much as it'll hold. A drop tube would dump a little more in the same space. I'd just use a Lee powder scoop, myself. That's what I use with my Ruger Old Army cap and ball when I don't wanna mess with the powder flask.

Having played with cap and ball revolvers for 35 years, I'll use smokeless in my .45 Colt, thanks. :D BP is fun, fun, though, make no mistake! There are plenty of reasons to do it with a .45 colt beyond even SASS competition. Still, I get my thrills with the ROA and a .31 Remington CVA I have. I'd like to get another Remington, but no cap and ball can come as close as a Ruger Old Army for perfecton. It'll shoot better than a LOT of smokeless cartridge guns and it won't crud up even in 100 firings without cleaning. Accuracy remains at about 1.5" at 25 yards with a 220 grain Lee cast conical. The cylinder has a flange at the front designed to keep fouling out of the cylinder pin area. I had a Colt Navy clone that would crud up around the cylinder pin in about 50 rounds and slowly freeze up requiring cleaning. No matter, easy to pull the barrel off, and it ain't like you can reload it in any semblance of speed. LOL! My old stainless old army, before it got ripped off, was neat. I had a rubber pachmayr on it. I'd come home, pull the cylinder out, stick it in the dish washer, and it got spotless! :D I mean, how easy can clean up be????
So what you're saying is just fill the case? I know not to leave an air space. In my cap and ball I can't put to much powder in it. If I do the only problem is that I can't seat the ball.

Or, should one use fillers in the cartridge to eliminate the air space? ;D
 

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NativeTexan said:
A drop tube would dump a little more in the same space. I'd just use a Lee powder scoop, myself.
I know better than to argue with anyone about reloading. And the closest I've come to black powder is at a civil war demo. I'll just repeat what these guys repeatedly repeated. Something about using the drop tube slowed fouling dramatically, much to their shock, surprise and astonishment when almost forced to try it on the .577.

JimL
 

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mike venturino at handloader magazine does alot of blackpowder cartridge shooting. another guy you might try is ranch over at handloads.com. even greybeard at greybeards outdoors.

i myself have no experience,although that may change. i understand some states allow 45/70 loaded with blackpower cartridges during their muzzleloader season.

good luck dan
 

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50/50 said:
mike venturino at handloader magazine does alot of blackpowder cartridge shooting.
I think Venturino is the one who found the drop tube/anti-fouling connection, but I didn't want to say that without relocating the article first (still haven't).

JimL
 

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I'm sayin' you CAN fill the case and not have an overcharge. The SAA is a stronger design than a Walker and the Walker could hold more powder than the .45 case. What I'd do is measure with a Lee scoop an appropriate amount of powder to fill the case to the bottom of the seated bullet. Use FFFG or Pyrodex P. I don't know for sure what sort of performance you'll get out of it, but it should push a 255 grain bullet 800 fps or so I'd think, maybe close to 900. You can't put enough FFFG in a .45 case to overpressure anything, though. Danger like that really didn't get to cartridge guns until the advent of smokeless powder.

I haven't measured, but I'll bet my Old Army holds as much powder as the Colt case or close and it pushes a 220 grain bullet to near 900 fps with Pyrodex P and something under 30 grain by volume IIRC, like around 26 grains.
 

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Just took a 2.8 Lee scoop that I know holds about 40 grains BP and filled a case with it, so total capacity of the case to the rim is about 40 grains. Figure load 25-30 grains by volume and seat a 250 grain slug over it. If you reduce loads, use filler. That should perform pretty well. I'd start out with 25 grains by volume and check accuracy and velocity and work from there.

Not sure what you're talkin' about a "drop tube". Usually I'd think of a tube meant to pack more powder into a case by dropping it a distance, read about that once. Or, could be the measuring tube on a powder flask. That would be a FAST way to measure BP into your cases, just as you would with a cap and ball. I have one that holds about 26 grains, too. ;D
 

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NativeTexan said:
Not sure what you're talkin' about a "drop tube". Usually I'd think of a tube meant to pack more powder into a case by dropping it a distance, read about that once. Or, could be the measuring tube on a powder flask. That would be a FAST way to measure BP into your cases, just as you would with a cap and ball. I have one that holds about 26 grains, too. ;D
There was a picture of a small funnel with a tube that went to the bottom of the case. A scoop put the powder into it. I don't recall if he measured it or weighed it.

I got the impression it might keep any smearing from occurring on the sides of the case. But what do I know. I really have no clue, nor has anyone who has declared it works.

BTW, I've heard that it is really bad news to put too much pressure on smokeless with the bullet. Is black powder that touchy?

JimL
 

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Re: Found it

JimL said:
There was a picture of a small funnel with a tube that went to the bottom of the case.
OK, I found the first article. It was by Mike "Duke" Venturino.

I left out one point he made about black powder reloading. That is to use bullets with wider, deeper than average grease grooves.

Here's a short quote from when he first mentioned the tube thing.

"Whereas the bullet lubricant is the most important component, there is likewise a most important reloading technique for black powder handgun cartridges. That is dispensing the powder into the cases by means of a drop tube. Why this helps the black powder burn more cleanly is anybody's guess. I honestly don't know, but it sure does. Lyman, Hornady and now RCBS all sell specific powder measures for black powder and all have aluminum drop tubes included." American Handgunner Magazine, Nov/Dec 2007.

JimL
 

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The drop tube really isn't necessary. The wider lube grooves would be helpful. You wouldn't wanna use a tumble lube bullet from Lee.

BTW, I've heard that it is really bad news to put too much pressure on smokeless with the bullet. Is black powder that touchy?
You can't get enough BP in a case to over-pressure it. And, volume metering is the way it's done. Old buffalo hunters would sit in camp and reload their cases in their spare time with hand tools, measure with the scoop. Things got more complicated when smokeless came along, needed to WEIGH the powder charge. A slight overcharge can be bad news.

Thread sorta reminds me of the movie "Quigley Down Under". :D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I hope you guys don't cause me to blow up my Vaquero. :drool:
 

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You're worried about blowing up a RUGER with BLACK POWDER????? BWAAAAAAA, HA, Ha, ha, ha!
 

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Mike Venturino has two very good books out on loading black powder. One is Shooting Colt Single Actions Of All Kinds, it deals with BP loads in Six-guns. The other is Shooting Buffalo Rifles of the Old West, it deals with loading the black powder rifle cartridges very thoroughly. Both are very good reading, well written, & explain the process clearly. I would recomend them to anyong who is interested in reloading BP cartridges.
Black Powder likes to be compressed a little about 1/8 th of an inch. I have loaded it in the .45 Colt & can get about 36 grs into modern cases. I use SPG lube it's soft & helps keep BP fouling soft. I have gotten 3" 5 shot groups @ 25 yards after running 20 rounds through my chronograph. That load 36gr averaged just under 900fps from a 5-1/2" SA bbl. I was using a .452 255gr SWC lubed with SPG.I should have shot for accuracy before I shot for velocity. It's fun to shoot the old loads, & don't ever believe they were pipsqueak loads, they were not. Frank
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Loaded some black powder cartridges yesterday and gave them a try. Most fun I've had with my single action in a while. May never shoot smokeless in it again. And no they are not pipsqueak loads. Man what a sound! :thumb:
 

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LOL Addicting, ain't it? Reloading .45 with BP would be a little easier at the range than shooting the old cap and ball, but I sorta like that Old Army. :D Been thinking a lot about getting a Remington replica to add to the meager cap and ball collection.
 
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