best measure of powder


September 22, 2006, 05:26 PM
Hello all, what is the best way to "measure" a load? I have 2 measures but they really don't do much. It seems I use a 30 grain spout then add more by sight, I fill up the chamber 3/4 with pyrodex. It seems to be the right load for my Rem. I'm thinking of finding something to just fill, like a spent cartridge, but what size? Any photos of what 30 grains in a Rem. chamber looks like would be cool. I don't think i'm overloading, just trying to find the easiest and most well hey the most easiest way to measure a load...thanks dom

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Loyalist Dave
September 22, 2006, 06:37 PM

You really need toget an adjustable measure, and figure that out for yourself. If your "30 grain" spout seems too light, perhaps it is. Eyeballing it isn't such a good idea, and neither is an air gap, which might be possible if you have too light a load. Please be safe!


September 22, 2006, 10:23 PM
to measure your loads.

.38 Special
September 22, 2006, 11:08 PM
I sort of agree with Doug, or at least see his POV. "Weight by volume" has always struck me as galactically stupid.

And yet it does work, at least as long as we're all using the same powders. Dunno if it still works out for 777 and whatnot, but don't care, because I'm one of those freaks that insists on using blackpowder in blackpowder guns.

All of which is a long winded way of agreeing with Dave. Spend ten bucks on an adjustable powder measure. End of story.:)

Plastic Cowboy
September 23, 2006, 12:49 AM
I like this kind:

They are very accurate, have a spout to avoid spills, clear so you can see exactly what is going on, and very cheap (about $12)

Don't use a scale or balance-- different kinds of black powder have different volume/weight ratios. Always measure black powder and substitutes by VOLUME!!

And remember 777 is about 15% more powerful by volume than other muzzle loading propellants so keep that in mind.

By the way-- you really can't overload a modern cap and ball replica. The high quality steel used in these can easily withstand filling the cyclinder right to the rim and mashing a ball down on top of it. The trick is to vary the load to find one that is the most accurate. If you want big smoke and flame-- dont be afraid to fill that sucker right up to the rim!!! >:-)

September 23, 2006, 02:43 AM
high quality steel used in these


It's not high quality by any stretch, but it sure is better than what BP was developed with.

September 23, 2006, 03:58 AM
Black Powder and substitutes have always been measered by volume not weight. 100gr of BP by volume does weigh 100gr by scale...but the substitutes like 777 and Pyrodex weigh much less...therefore you can overload a Rev with 777 by weighing it. I don't know a soul that brings a powder weighing scale or electronic scale to the range or takes one shooting with them. That to me is insane.
Get an adjustable measurer and find the spout size you want or get 2 or more of them...find out what the Rev likes with the adjustable one. Concistancey in each chamber is what you are looking for whether you use an old .45LC or a .38 Colt shell to pour or a fancy measurer by volume. As long as it shoots accurately and you know the volume, weight don't mean "Dootaleeswat"...(Outlaw Josey Wales Quote)
And that's a fact!

Just to add that a 30gr spout measures out to 28gr with your finger pressin' on it. .44cal loads .22-.28gr, .36cal loads 15-22gr by volume of lack pawder fffg. Those are pretty accurate and safe loads to shoot. Anything with more powder is alot of fun but steady diets of 35-40gr BP in a 1858 or 1860 ain't real healthy for the rev. Get a Dragoon or a Walker and shoot 40gr to 50gr all day....(smirk)

September 23, 2006, 08:54 AM
I use the same measure suggested by Plastic Cowboy about from Midway. At least it looks like that. The problem is still that somehow you have to get the BP or substitute from the can/bottle INTO the measure. Frankly, that extra step is a pain in the you know what. So, even though it gives more accuracy loading by measure most times I just use my flask and fill around 30gr. Just easier and quicker.BP loading is long enough without adding extra steps... and since I shoot mostly for fun and smoke with my coffee next to me that accuracy is fine for me.

For excellent accuracy I use my conversion cylinder with my homemade secret load :o

September 23, 2006, 12:11 PM
Buy a 40 grain spout and cut/file some off a little at a time until you are throwing the charge you like.

Plastic Cowboy
September 23, 2006, 02:39 PM
Yea- DrDirk- I fill my powder flask ahead of time then use the flask to dump into the measure since I can't seem to get a consistant throw from the flask alone. It works pretty good and I can load all 6 cyclinders and be ready to fire in less than 2 minutes.......Look out confederate soldiers!!!;)


September 23, 2006, 02:46 PM
I just change the cylinder in my 1858 Rem in 9 sec. and firing...LoL!
I know that's cheatin'
Cowboy that a dang good reloadin' time you have there...:eek:

September 24, 2006, 01:33 PM
Despite what may be marked on the brass spouts for flasks, they almost never throw the charge they were made for.
But it's close. Perhaps the old phrase should be amended to, "Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and black powder measures." :D
Some years ago, I got curious about how much Goex FFFG black powder my flask spouts actually threw, so I screwed them into a flask nearly full of such powder.
I threw 10 charges each, weighed each charge, and then averaged the 10 charges.
As I threw each charge, I returned the powder to the flask so that the amount of powder in the flark remained consistent.
I calibrated my spout-stopping finger by gauging it in my left nostril. :neener:

Here are the results from my particular spouts:

Goex FFFG Black Powder
35 gr. spout --- 33.3 grains
30 gr. spout --- 27.8 grains
18 gr. spout --- 17.5 grains
Long spout that originally came with Remington pattern flask --- 26.4 grains
40 gr. spout --- 41.3 grains
27 gr. spout --- 27.7 grains
20 gr. spout --- 19.3 grains
24 gr. spout --- 24.3 grains
Long spout that originally came with Colt pattern flask --- 22.3 grains.
Tiny spout on flask for 1849 .31 Colt revolver --- 7.2 grains. (This flask is often used by flintlock shooters, for priming powder, hence the small spout. In truth, the 1849 Colt uses about 12 grains of FFFG powder.

So, you see, what you buy is not what you get. But that's okay, because having an exact charge weight is not nearly as important as consistency.
Having each load identical to the next is what matters. Consistency is the key to accuracy in all firearms, not just black powder arms.
When I shoot, I don't worry that my 35 gr. spout only throws 33.3 grains. I'm more concerned about the lead ball going where I aimed it. Similarly, I don't wring my hands over velocities. I don't hunt, so it doesn't take much velocity or energy to pierce a tin can or paper target.
Black powder is far more forgiving than smokeless powder, when it comes to weigh variations.
The late gun writer Elmer Keith, who was taught in the early 1900s how to load a cap and ball sixgun by Civil War veterans, never recommended a specific load. He simply said to fill the chamber nearly full, leaving just enough room for a greased felt wad and ball.
In his 1955 book, "Sixguns" Keith devoted a chapter to cap and ball sixguns. It's still very good reading. He did some remarkable shooting with his cap and ball sixguns. I believe Keith's book is still in print, in its upteenth edition.
Incidentally, Keith's book is the earliest reference I can find to the use of greased felt wad twixt ball and powder.
I have every American Rifleman magazine from December 1928 to the present. In the 30s there were numerous articles about shooting cap and ball sixguns, and every article advises to smear grease over the ball. No mention of a greased felt wad is made.
However, I've found the greased felt wad --- especially when lubricated with Gatofeo No. 1 Lubricant --- to be best.
Hard, felt wads containing Gatofeo No. 1 Bullet Lubricant, or just the lubricant itself, may be purchased from Big Iron Barrels at

Remember, whatever means you use for measuring powder it must be consistent. You could hand-weigh each charge, and bring charges to the range in little bottles, but that would be a waste of time considering the forgiveness of black powder and the rudimentary sights typically found on cap and ball sixguns.
Rather, use the old designs as the old-timers did. If you must tinker and wring your hands over miniscule powder weight variations, buy a .38 Special target revolver and load wadcutters.

September 25, 2006, 12:47 AM

You might peruse this DL, page 74, to see an earlier reference to a "greased wad".

The Whitworth Rifle, tallow and wax impregnated wad.

Was going to post a link, it seems to no longer work.

Shame, he had a bunch of books scanned. If you want them, let me know, I might be able to set up a DL, or burn to CD and mail.

Anyhow, jnthe 1850's, he recommended a wax and tallow wad between the ball and the powder.

Why's everybody pushing the Bigiron wads, anymore? I make my own for next to nothing. You have a recipe for next to nothing, you are pushing very high priced waste oil as the cat's meow.I'll never understand how some people can be so compromised.



September 29, 2006, 11:46 PM
The use of greased wads in rifles is well documented in the 19th century. However, I find no such references to the use of a greased, felt wad for use in cap and ball sixguns. That was my point. I know about greased wads in rifles but can't find a reference to greased felt wads in cap and ball sixguns.

Oh sure, you can make your own wads and Gatofeo No. 1 lubricant for minimal cost. I've posted the recipe and instructions for years. However, some people don't want to go through all that. For them, Big Iron Barrels offers the lubricant and greased wads.
Folks can choose.

Mutton tallow is hardly "waste oil." I've tried to find an inexpensive source on the internet for years. You can find it highly refined for cosmetic or medicinal uses, but finding large amounts (a couple of pounds or more) for less than $20 has eluded me. My only source remains Dixie Gun Works.

What have I compromised? My integrity? My honor? My dignity?

A gunsmith called me and asked to use the Gatofeo name in connection with an old lubricant recipe someone began dubbing the "Gatofeo No. 1 Lubricant."
I entered into a business agreement with him, to allow the use of the name Gatofeo. Incidentally, that name is awaiting confirmation of Trademark. When it is trademarked, I'll let everyone know. At the moment, all rights are reserved.
I wasn't the one who named it "Gatofeo No. 1 Lubricant." In fact, every time I've posted the recipe I've made it clear that I stumbled across the recipe and did not invent it.
The recipe is easily found by searching the internet. I've been posting it for about four years, perhaps five.
It's remarkably effective and versatile; I've used it on lead bullets, felt wads in sixguns and rifle cartridges, and as a patch lubricant with round balls.
The darned stuff works --- and work better than a host of other lubricants I've tried in over 35 years of shooting black powder.
So, the gunsmith makes a few bucks from the use of my moniker. In turn, he's gentleman enough to pay me for the use of the Gatofeo name.
People can still make this lubricant on their own, if they wish.
I don't feel I've compromised a thing. If anything, by allowing a gunsmith to market it, I've made it more available to those who want to try it with minimal bother.

September 30, 2006, 12:24 AM

I can't fault you for that.

And, I know you have been posting the formula, from, I think, a 1943 Rifleman mag, for a good while.

A good while back, I posted an e-bay seller who was saying the same as you. Why buy 7 buck a 100 Wonder Wads when you can make your own for next to nothing?

Your post was the same. MAKE YOUR OWN, for next to nothing. In fact you located a source of felt that was ideal, and relatively inexpensive, and posted it.

I really shouldn't care. If you can get a few bucks out of this, all well and good.

If they can make a few bucks out of this, I wouldn't really care, either, IF they were to sell them at LESS than the Wonder Wads, but they AIN'T.

Without searching for it, I think the grease is something like 25 bucks a pound, to use as lube, or to make your own wads.

I know you and everybody else swear to them, and I use my home made wads, too, but the God of BP shooting, Sam Fadala, in the BP Handbook, Pp 140 to 143, says there is NO grease that will soften fouling, from sperm oil to mutton tallow, or any combination of them.

The other is the "Vegetable Fibre" wads. What are they, coconut fibre, corn silk? NO, they're Vellumoid gasket paper. What, 2 bucks a square yard?

Look at the pics of them who sell them, you can see the Vellumoid printing on them.

Again, any grease is as effective as mutton tallow. You don't have to bake a lamb to get mutton tallow, take the chicken fat or the fat from a beef or pork roast and use it. Or deer or buffalo or moose.

I shouldn't even mention this anymore, them who want to buy them , go right ahead. Myself, when I finish up the quart I last made, and soaked the felt with, then punched out the wads, with a 3 buck set of punches, will make my next batch with Pomace olive oil instead of the EVOV I always have in the house.



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