Bp shot shells


September 12, 2009, 04:52 PM
I shoot a vintage BP,1870, double 12, exposed hammers damascus barrels. Gun, visual inspection, appears safe..no rust, bores bright and clean, wood is excellent, mechanically good, locks up tight. I buy and use, sparingly, custom BP 00 shot shells, 2 1/2 inch, 3 drams of BP which I been told is a standard powder amount as per period loading recommendations.

I'm a little concerned about the possability of exploding this old gun so my question is "Would it be possible to lower the amount of powder in the shell to where it would still maintain sufficent power to be deadly at about 50 feet?" I am thinking less powder will take some stress off this old gun and if this were true could anyone recommend what amount of powder to reduce the shell down to and still be in the 50 foot useable range. The 50 foot range is sufficent as this is a 20 inch barrel length weapon handy for greeting possible uninvited guests.

Thank you for any help regarding this issue.

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September 12, 2009, 05:50 PM
I don't know about buckshot.

But, a "light" load in the old days was 2 1/2 dram BP and 1 oz shot.

I also don't know about using BP for a serious social HD gun.
Clouds of BP smoke obscuring the bad guy would be a very poor way to start a gun fight.


September 13, 2009, 01:34 AM
Deadly on what? Deer, people, pigs?

The below loads have accounted for a couple of turkeys & some small game, I believe it'd do for deer & sure as all get out I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of any of it!

I've fooled around with my Granddad's old single bbl'd "Shattucks Perfection" with the same trepidation you express about stout loads stressing the oldtimer.........Decided to avoid ANY smokless loads, even tho I've ran more than a few hi-brass buck loads in the thing, it's somewhat loose and I feel a great deal better cobbling up BP loads......best results I've had have revolved around 70 to 80 grains of fff for buck (no.#1), slugs and shot. Shot and buck loads, other than for the powder are assembled with modern components. Slugs (Lyman's Forster design) are charged similarly, but I have a fairly good supply of old Alcan card wads that seem to work fairly well.

Also played a bit with Pyrodex & shot loads..... my charge is around 53 grains using WW red wads & 7.5's......all the foregoing are safe to my satisfaction in MY gun.........use with your own descretion! I have not tried the Pyrodex with slugs & can't comment on it's usefulness for such.

If you've been using black then you know just how messy the stuff is, if you intend to reuse your shells you'd best wash and dry 'em soon as you can.

September 13, 2009, 08:45 AM
Everything I have read or learned over the past 45 years of shooting indicates that shotguns with damascus (twist steel) barrels should not be shot even with extremly light loads. Chemical reaction from the salts generated by black powder combustion over the past years has weakened the steel and the barrels could "let go" on your next shot. Please do yourself and bystanders a favor and hang it on your den wall and admire it and not shoot it.

September 13, 2009, 10:03 AM
Dixie Gun Works Inc.Frequently Asked Questions http://www.dixiegunworks.com/faq.php catalog has a converson chat for drams to Grains. 3 drams equals 82gr of Bp. 2 1/2 drams=68 grains. Don't say what type? FFG my guess. I had 2 guns dont remember what my loads were. How to tell if your shotgun is shooting hard enough. (shot sized for rabbits) Shoot at a regular tin can at 20 yds. To lite a load pellets will not penetrate the can. Increase powder till pellets penetrate. You can go as light as you want as long as the wads clear the barrel and you get a good crimp. Over all, best to make them wall hangers IMO. Also, there is a difference between brands of black powder. Some produce higher pressure/velocity with the same grain weights. Less shot, less pressure.

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