Black Powder Shelf Life?


December 18, 2004, 11:53 AM
I have a 16oz can of Goex FFg Black Rifle Powder that I purchased in 1997 (7 years ago). It's been stored accordingly in a cool dry place.

Would this powder still be reliable for this deer muzzle loading season? Or should I dispose of it and purchase new? I don't want to see the big one and the gun goes "snap" instead of boom.



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Ruger Redhawk
December 18, 2004, 12:59 PM
Wags as long as it's been kept dry you won't have any problems with it.I have BP here that's over 20 years old and I wouldn't hesitate using it for a minute.Guns have been found over a 100 years old still loaded and surprise the person when it fired.I really don't think BP has a shelf life.Since I got my Knight Discs I've switched over to Pryrodex Pellets just for the convenience. When I shoot my traditional rifles BP is used in them.

Ruger Redhawk

4v50 Gary
December 18, 2004, 01:38 PM
If you don't want it, meet me at Friendship, IN and I'll be happy to test all 1 pound of it for you. :p Go ahead and use it. Black powder if kept dry will last forever. :)

December 18, 2004, 02:31 PM
As long as you have kept it out of moisture it will shoot no different than the day you bought it.

Jim Watson
December 18, 2004, 06:14 PM
I have heard it said that, kept dry, black powder improves with age. Solid state diffusion just gets the ingredients into better and better contact as it sits.

December 21, 2004, 12:51 PM
I harvested a deer this month using BP from a can that I opened at lease 20 years ago. Been stored in the unheated garage in Indiana since then. The ffg worked fine in the rifle, and the ffffg flashed just fine in the flinter.

I concur with the previous comments on keeping it dry. In the can should be fine - I used both some from the can and some that had been in a powder horn all this time. ffffg was in a brass dispenser.

It was really something using the flintlock to get a deer. My first deer.


December 24, 2004, 04:36 PM
I've loaded a couple .45-70 rounds with the stuff, and they fired just fine. Truthfully, they burned better than the new Goex blackpowder I use for my .45-70 Creedmoor loads. ;)

December 25, 2004, 06:17 PM

December 25, 2004, 06:36 PM
Gewehr - nice piece of history there.

My oldest BP is, approx .... 25 years old ... and is as far as I can tell - absolutely A1 for function. Good storage means near infinite shelf-life IMO.

I do believe BP has been dug up in archaeological digs and found to be viable, if it was in a sealed container.

Ruger Redhawk
December 25, 2004, 08:37 PM
Gewehr98 I have a can just like the one you have shown. Do you have any idea how old it is?

Ruger Redhawk

December 25, 2004, 08:51 PM
I know it can't be any older than July of 1924. ;)

Ruger Redhawk
December 26, 2004, 11:47 AM
I'll have to dig mine out and see if it has any dates on it.A old friend gave me that can probably 20 years ago.In fact he just died a month ago ,so the can means more then ever to me. Thanks for the info.

Ruger Redhawk

4v50 Gary
December 26, 2004, 12:49 PM
Neat can. Looks like a flask (hic!). :p

December 26, 2004, 12:58 PM
Maybe it allowed field carry?

Redhawk, look at the very bottom of the label on my picture. There's a date given on the last line, probably a patent date. Since time-travel isn't widely available yet, you know that the label cannot be any older than the date printed. That's why I gave the July 1924 date as my best guess. ;)

Perhaps your can of powder will have a date printed, too.

December 26, 2004, 01:41 PM
I figure the shelf life to be about 100 years or so.
We got a Springfield 58 rifle in the shot in August that was loaded for at least that long. We capped it and fired. Took 3 caps before it fired.
To the knowledge of the owners it had not been handled since 1960 and highly likely that the previous owner had never fired it. He acquired it in the 30's.


December 30, 2004, 04:46 PM
It doesn't look like a patent date to me (no patents on gunpowder?), it looks more like a lot number to me.

December 30, 2004, 08:44 PM
When the USS Cairo, a city class gunboat,was sunk in 1862 by a electric mine one of her 13 cannon went off. When she was raised in 1975 the remaining cannons were found to be still loaded. When the loads were pulled it was found that the powder was still potent! :what:

Livin in Texas

December 31, 2004, 01:40 AM
Black powder, unlike smokeless is a mechanical mixture. The components can physically separate but do not degrade. Theoretically you can shake a can of black until the grains break and the sulpher, nitrate and charcoal seperate into layers. Mix 'em back up and it is black powder again.
Smokeless is a chemical compound that can degrade over time especially id there is any residual acid in the mix. Black lasts forever.


December 31, 2004, 01:48 PM
I didn't see anything that says "Patent" or "Patent Pending" near those dates, either.

What would interest me is where that factory flask of FFFg traveled over the course of 80 years. ;)

December 31, 2004, 02:28 PM
Gewehr98, I thought about it for a moment:
1. Gunpowder was a well known formula. You might be able to get a patent on a new type of mill, but on a grade of gunpowder?
2. Lot numbers are old hat. It would of been even more important back then, when variences between lots were generally a bit more than now.

Superfine blackpowder, FFFg
Lot No:23752, 29 July 1924
Manufactured in Rothda by
E.L. Dupont DE Nemours & Co Inc based in
Wilmington, Deleware, USA

January 29, 2005, 01:57 PM
Over 30 years ago an old collecter showed me a marlin revolver in .38 standard he had foolishly fired. as he was also an Ammunition collecter, he had the proper cartridges for the revolver. Upon fireing, the cylinder bulged and destroyed the gun. . He told me then, that he had been told to NOT shoot old cartridges, (black powder) as they never degrade. they get more potent with age.
check this site out.

January 30, 2005, 09:20 AM
oddly enough, the can in the post Antique Dupont..... Is ffg but has the same
23752 number as the one in this string. Apparently there is no help dating this powder. It has though,been a long time since this type can was used and it might be intersting if somebody knew when they changed

January 30, 2005, 05:43 PM
the lot number in this message thread is the one I took off the can of FFFg powder I pictured above. Or do you mean you have your own can of DuPont black powder with those numbers?

I have a really hard time believing that black powder would become more potent with age. As stated above, black powder is a purely mechanical mixture. What chemical transformation would take place that would make it more potent over time? Let's not forget, however, that the black powder of the latter 19th century is considerably better stuff than we have nowadays, both in granulation and burning qualities. It was also measured into "Balloon Head" brass, which gave a larger case capacity than the stuff we use now, for a greater velocity. I have several hundred pieces of .44 Special Balloon Head brass, and I save it for my black powder cartridge loads. Also, certain makes of black powder were prized way back when for their soft fouling characteristics. Those formulations have fallen by the wayside, and recreating them has become something of a lost art since smokeless became the "new fad". (Taking liberties from Mike Venturino there...)

The only thing I found odd about 100+ year old cartridges loaded with the stuff is that the powder column essentially becomes one large grain after all those years of compression. I learned that first hand when I disassembled, or at least tried to disassemble, an ancient .45-70 round that had failed to fire. :what:

January 30, 2005, 06:07 PM
I will say this to you. The same date and number appear on the above as on a can of FFG can we used in a comparison with a NEW can of Goex FFG. The exact same number and date. Other cans of different granualtion in the possession of the owner of this can of DuPont FFG also bore the same numbers and the date July, 1924.
This Can:
It seems unlikely that the number 23752 would be a LOT NUMBER since it appears on canisters containing different granulations of powder which seem to have been purchased at different times.

The velocities measured with the new Goex FFG were 60 feet per second faster than the Dupont product clocked under the same loading conditions and on. the same day . We do not know how old that the DuPont powder in this can is. Apparently, the numbers and date are meaningless in that regard. It does appear that Dupont has not used this type of powder can for a couple of generations.

Although their are many experts on the internet. None of them have been able to supply the approximate time frame of the Dupont Black Powder in these cans.

January 30, 2005, 08:31 PM
As I stated above, unless H.G. Wells' time machine was in operation, our cans of DuPont can't be any older than the July 1924 date on the label. In other words, one wouldn't stamp a future date on a pound of black powder. ;)

Maybe it was a patent date granted to DuPont for improving one of the processes that produced the finished product, be it mixing, wetting, corning, crumbling, glazing, or screening. :confused:

February 2, 2005, 05:10 PM
I don't know the answer to the number 23752 but US Patent 23752 is for a "sewing machine thread waxer".

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