Minie bullets in handgun?


May 18, 2006, 12:18 AM
In a .50 caliber single shot percussion pistol, would it be safe to use a minie bullet (360gr) with 30-35 gr 2fg? If not, is there a safe load?

For reference, a .495" RB is 180gr, so it would be quite an increase in weight of projectile.

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May 18, 2006, 12:28 AM
For comparison sake, I use 60gr BP in my .58 cal 1863 Rem Zouave with a 500gr Mini ball.
In a .50 ca Tennessee Poorboy I shot 60 to 70 gr of BP with either a patched R.B. or a 370gr maxi Ball...same powder load.
So I would figure 30-40 starting with 30 would be ok. When in doubt start low. But I'd do it the Pistols are proof tested anyway, right?
That seems like what I used in my frontier pistol anyway.

May 18, 2006, 12:33 AM
Not proof tested - building from scratch with good parts, solid Ohio patent style breech, nice thick hardened/heat treated barrel of 4140 steel, etc.

I suppose if it's safe in the Italian guns, and the Lymans, then it'll be safe in that. 30gr starting it is! Still a few weeks to a couple months from shooting it, though.

Is that 10:1 rule really just about true, being for every 10gr of projectile, use 1gr of powder (of correct granulation)?

May 18, 2006, 12:35 AM
I have a .50 cal CVA plains pistol that I shot 350 grn. T/C MaxiHunter (sorry I misspoke, REAL bullets are Lee brand but are close to the Maxi) out of. Even shot a near Howdah load of 45 grns of fffg behind said bullets:eek: . Recoil was to put it charitablely "brisk". Did not have enough bullets to work up a load for it and may get a lee mold to cast them for my rifle and for the pistol. 30-35 grn ffg behind a 360 grn bullet should be a safe load if you like recoil:D .

May 18, 2006, 12:36 AM
If I ever go boar hunting, it'll be with traditional BP rifle/pistol and spear. If there's a boar charging me, I want it to stop. 360gr of nice soft expanding lead ought to do that. :D

Besides, I happen to love overly powerful firearms.

May 18, 2006, 01:38 AM
Heat-treated 4140? You could probably pack the thing from stem to stern with FFFFG, triple-compressed, then completely seal the barrel shut and fire it, and the only problem would be the huge jet of fire coming out of wherever the percussion cap goes...

May 18, 2006, 01:39 AM
Heh... good. After Jule told me about some manufacturers using 1018 mild steel, unHT, nothing, for barrels, I nearly cried. If those barrels can withstand normal loads.... :D

May 18, 2006, 02:24 AM
I don't know about a 10:1 grain rule, but if you used it you'd have to concider the barrel's caliber, wouldn't you?
A .58 cal 500gr Mini Ball would only be 50gr a BP...and it ain't enough I have tried it.
A 138gr round ball .44cal would be 13.8gr a BP that ain't enough.(at least 25gr)
A 180gr round ball .50cal would be 18gr a BP not even close.(at least 50-60gr)

I'd just put 25-30 in for the first test.

May 18, 2006, 03:02 AM
the only problem would be the huge jet of fire coming out of wherever the percussion cap goes...

Wouldn't that turn the thing into a black powder rocket? :D

May 18, 2006, 10:47 AM
With the "sealed barrel Bp Rocket" that would be one way to reduce recoil! Seriously, with good barrel/breeching you could not blow it up with FFg or FFFg, too much powder in a pistol barrel the excess will burn out front for one great flash. You could have the barrel tear out of the stock or tweak your wrist a bit. The British used to use a "Howdah pistol" for repeling tigers from the back of the elephant, 10 or 8 bores with lots of powder. You could expect to survive a broken wrist, not a tiger chewing!

May 18, 2006, 03:49 PM

Check out this link to an article by Bill Knight on BP.

If you scroll down about half an inch on the scroll bar, you'll find where he says generally under 45 cal, powder is about 1 grain per calibre, 45 to 54, about 1.4 to 1.5, and over 54, about 1.5 to 1.6 grains per calibre.

So a 45 is 45 grs, a 50 is 70 to 75 grs, a 60 is 90 to 96 grs. Not an iron clad rule, just diminishing returns. Not much increase in velocity compared to the increase in the charge weight, and heavier recoil because the powder weight is part of the mass that gotta leave the barrel.

Innyhoo, read the article, the man seems to know wherefore he speaks. He probably did as much as anybody to put BP to where it is today.



May 18, 2006, 04:00 PM
He's also talking about rifles, with the shorter barrel (and lower weight) I doubt I'd get anything but a HUGE fireball with much over 50gr of powder.

I still bookmarked that link, though... some of that is bound to be useful to me eventually.

May 18, 2006, 10:37 PM
It gets useful when you get into a friendly discussion on these boards.

Beyond that, it is damned interesting in its own self. Go down to the part about fouling. Damned interesting.

Also the part about powder manufacture. Lots of guys (well, relatively ) have been talking about trying to make theri own, and much of the information they are trying to get across is just plain wrong.



May 19, 2006, 11:08 AM
No kidding regarding manufacture - powder is not a simple mechanical mixture - there are many, many steps to go through. Since I'm not yet 21, it's still worth it to me, though... :)

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