Sifting powder?


September 15, 2008, 07:54 PM
I know that there was a thread in the past dealing with the topic of sifting black powder and other propellents to increase accuracy and velocity. I was wondering if anyone has done some experimentation in this matter? If so, what were the results?

I was contemplating getting some brass screens of 30 or 40 mesh and sifting some H777 to see if there is an increase in velocity and accuracy in my guns.

Any comments would be welcomed. Thanks

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September 16, 2008, 12:17 AM

After looking at the grain size of 777 fffg with the naked eye,
my first impression was that sifting really wouldn't matter very
much because the individual grains all look to be so very small
to begin with.
After zooming in on the picture of grains and looking at them magnified,
even though I can see that some of the irregularities
in the grain size is noticiable, I'm still not sure how much
difference it would make to sift it.
Even if a slightly larger volume of powder could be squeezed
into the confined space of a cylinder chamber or a few extra
grains into a powder measure which resulted in a nominal
amount of velocity increase, the increase in feet per second
may not result in better accuracy at all.
Too much compaction may actually result in less velocity
with 777, and additional velocity can result in worse accuracy.
Whether a hotter cap produces higher velocity and accuracy
is something else that can be experimented with, but I
wouldn't advocate investing much time or effort into trying
that either.
What's the point? In almost every shooting discipline, higher
velocity is less accurate and target loads are usually lower
I guess that a person could have both, but those high
velocity and extremely accurate loads are usually relatively
very small calibers, like the .17 Remington for example.
The Savage muzzle loading rifles do get better accuracy
pushing bullets faster by using smokeless powders. But
maybe the smokeless powders have better formulas and
more consistency than 777 could ever have. People don't
advocate sifting smokeless powders.
It's the same with Olympic rimfire rounds. The powders,
bullets, the cases and the priming materials, and
manufacturing specifications
are all of a higher quality, not just the result of
the brand of powder or trying to attain more velocity.
If a person was shooting with competition in mind, then sifting
might be worth trying and it may have a favorably noticiable
result in some guns. But then it may not have a noticiable
result in other guns. Why? Because there's just too many
other variables to control to prove if the accuracy was
actually improved upon. Higher velocity could be proven,
but accuracy and consistency can vary from one jar of
powder to the next, from one bullet to the next and from
one human pull of the trigger to the next.
Imagine if 2 people were competing against each other
using the same gun, bullets, powder & everything. After a
number of shots, generally one person would score higher
than the other. What reason would explain the difference in performance?
That's the reason why I really don't think that sifting 777
would really matter with regards to performance in any
specific gun. Will it harvest game better or be more accurate?
Even if it was, would it be noticiably or measurably better?
How does anyone go about measuring it?
Doing tests in a windless tunnel using a machine rest and
shooting flawless bullets?
After all the testing was over and the methods are used in competition,
what would the reason be if the non-777 sifting
opponent ends up being victorious in the end? What would
the reason be, because the wind was blowing 1 mile an hour
harder when a particular shot was fired, or their bullet wasn't
perfect enough, or they didn't use a device to measure how
much they compacted their powder?
Maybe there's just too many other factors out of anyone's
control besides whether someone did or didn't sift their 777. :)

Jim Watson
September 16, 2008, 12:27 AM
I don't know about the fake powders, but I have heard of people "socking" their black powder to remove the fines. That is, they would dump some in a sock and shake it to screen the fines out through the cloth.

Ned Roberts describes screening old DuPont Bulk Smokeless into three fractions. The fines were discarded, the coarse and medium were used for straight loads and duplexing schuetzen ammunition.

The 777 illustrated is really pretty uniform, as such things go.

September 16, 2008, 12:57 AM
i'd think a sock could create static electricity, but i could be wrong. as for sifting, i've always run my pyrodex thru a bit of brass screen due to finding wierd chunks of plastic in the bottles before.

English Bob
September 18, 2008, 02:25 PM
Cal Graf sell a nice 'Powder Screen' for exactly this purpose.

September 18, 2008, 11:23 PM
If the various grain sizes are uniformly mixed, it would seem uniform velocity would follow, especially considering how inefficient BP is, and how little difference small variations in loads make in the end product....also, would be concerned handling/sifting would cause as many problems as it solves due to messing up the graphite coating on the kernels....

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