black powder in metalic cartridges


September 4, 2006, 07:25 PM
ok - so i have this new vaquero in 45 colt. i've built a few modest loads with universal clays, and a few somewhat more robust with bluedot. still alot of room in that case. been reloading for five or six years. have no experience with black powder or substitutes.

how about a quick and dirty on black powder in metalic cartridges. maybe make it a sticky in this forum.

? is this gonna mess up my gun so i have to clean it in the dishwasher on pot-scurbber cycle?

? use regular primers?

i understand black powder is more dangerous to store and handle than smokeless. that go for b.p. substitutes also?

?anything else to know?

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September 4, 2006, 07:51 PM
I have a LOT of experience with Cleanshot (now called American Pioneer Powder) in .44-40 WCF and .45-70 Govt. It is an excellent BP substitute that won't create corrosive, acidic fouling like black or Pyrodex does. You DO still need to clean your gun, though, since what little fouling there is is hygroscopic and the moisture alone can cause rusting. The only caveat is that the fouling WILL turn brass green. What I do is soak my empty brass in a diluted vinegar and salt solution, then rinse it out thoroughly and put it in an oven on the lowest setting to drive off the water. The guns can be cleaned normally. American Pioneer is a very good bp sub, in my opinion (and I've used a large quantity of it). All the smoke (hack, cough, choke...) of black, with few of the hassles.:)

September 4, 2006, 07:56 PM
use regular primers, btw. 33 grains FFG American Pioneer with a 255 gr. RNFP Lee cast bullet is what someone I know uses in .45 Colt (the powder is somewhat compressed in loading).

September 4, 2006, 08:00 PM
Not sure if Gewehr98 will see this thread but he IIRC loads his 45-70 with BP.

Of course - clean-up issues both for brass and the gun.

September 4, 2006, 08:04 PM
No greasy lubes are needed with APP, either. I just use Lee liquid alox, though I will likely switch to a stick lube once I set up the old Lyman 45 I bought (don't need to wait for the lube to dry before using the bullets). I use the same 33 grain charge of FFG APP with a 205 grain Lee RNFP, cast in wheel-weight metal, in .44 WCF. 66 grains and a 405 gr. Lee RNFP (solid base) in .45-70 makes a nice accurate load in my rebuilt Remington rolling block (original 1870's Egyptian contract action off a wallhanger, with a 30" Badger part-round-part-octagon barrel). I can easily hit a 16" target at 300 yards with that combo.

September 4, 2006, 10:22 PM
Here ( is a site that will give you plenty of info. Capt. Baylor knows what he is talking about.

September 4, 2006, 11:21 PM
hey! thanks. just the stuff i was looking for.

September 4, 2006, 11:32 PM
I load BP in my .44 Special revolvers, too. They're a lot of fun, especially with the Speer round lead balls.

Truthfully, I don't much like the BP substitutes, and am indeed a disciple of the "Holy Black". I understand that in some localities, real black powder is difficult to find due to insurance costs, but that's about the only reason I'd ever go with a substitute. BP is the real McCoy, has an unbelievable consistency in bullet velocity from shot-to-shot (read: accuracy), and I clean all my guns after shooting anyway, BP really isn't that difficult to clean up afterwards. If one goes to the long-range buffalo or silhouette BP cartridge shoots, you won't find too many folks using substitutes, for them it's the real thing or nothing.

I load Goex Cartridge Grade for my 1874 Sharps Business Rifle in .45-70, 70gr compressed 0.30" behind a fiberboard wad and 500gr Marcel spitzer. Brass is NOS Remington-UMC balloon head, from a cache I fell into a few years ago. If I use modern solid head brass, I knock about 5 grains off the load due to the lesser case capacity. Makes for some pretty rounds! :D

September 5, 2006, 12:36 AM
I tried Pyrodex loads in my Gaucho .45 and cleanup was not near as bad as I imagined. I Swabbed the bore and cyl throats with Bore Butter before firing, then used a BP cleaner on patches and fouling just wiped right out. I'll be doing more of it, it's a lot of fun. A full case of Pyrodex P made for a pretty stout load, I've got some loaded up with Pyro RS now but haven't fired them yet. Loaded enough that the bullet gives a little compression when seated, card wad over powder and std winchester LP primers and all of them lit up just fine.

Father Knows Best
September 5, 2006, 03:42 PM
I'm with Gewehr98. I'm a cowboy action shooter, and got seduced by black powder several years ago. At first, I tried the substitutes because they seemed easier and were available on the shelf at Bass Pro and Wal-Mart. I used Pyrodex, American Pioneer Powder (APP) and Hodgdon Triple Seven (777). I hated Pyrodex. It has an acrid, chemical odor, and cleanup was difficult. APP was better than Pyrodex, but it was weak and inconsistent, and produced a whole lot of white smoke but no flames. APP is also very hygroscopic and dusty. My press (Dillon 550) quickly got coated with a layer of fine gray dust, which absorbed moisture from the air and promoted corrosion. The APP also tended to clump and "bridge" in the powder measure, leading to lots of frustration and the occasional case with no powder dropped!

777 was better than Pyrodex and APP, and that's what I used for about a year. It's quite a bit hotter than real black powder, though, so a full case in .45 Colt is quite a stout load. Downloading is difficult, because (like black powder) you can't leave any air space in the case. That requires the use of wads or fillers, which slows down loading and is a hassle. Finally, I kept finding that cleaning was difficult. I often had a baked-on black crud in my guns that was hard to remove. I stuck with it, though, in large part because I had a lot of commercial wax-lubed bullets and Hodgdon advertised that you could use 777 with wax lubes (APP says the same thing).

Finally, I tried real black powder (Goex fffg, actually), combined with bullets that had an appropriate black powder lube. It was great! Real black powder smells better than subs, gives a great BOOOM with plenty of smoke and flames, and is remarkably consistent. My accuracy went up, and the fun factor went WAY up.

My guns were also much easier to clean. When you use the right lube (I use a cheap homemade 50/50 mix of beeswax and crisco), it mixes with the soot and keeps the fouling soft and greasy. Cleanup is easy and fast with plain old hot water -- the soot just rinses away. I can now clean two revolvers a rifle and a shotgun in less time than it used to take me to clean up when using smokeless powder.

I buy my black powder mail order. I just moved to Minnesota and haven't tried to find it locally here, but in Memphis the few places that stocked it wanted $15/pound plus tax. I could buy it online for under $10/pound delivered to my door in case lots, and I use a lot of it (I reload 44-40, 44 Russian and 12 gauge shotshells with black powder). I usually ordered from Powder, Inc.

I do recommend magnum primers with black powder, but I've also had quite a bit of success with Winchester Large Pistol (WLP), which don't come in a "magnum" variety. I've also used CCI350 and Federal Magnum Large Pistol with great success.

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