Loading a Walker with 2Fg instead of 3Fg?


April 24, 2010, 11:12 AM
So it seems that BP rifles and BP cartridges for rifles typically use 2Fg granulation whereas revolvers used 3Fg. While a Walker is a revolver it can hold a charge (60 grains) approaching that of a rifle cartridge (.45-70) load. I was just curious as to what the net affect of using 2Fg in a Walker instead of 3Fg. Is the issue that the 2Fg is slower burning and thus not a good choice for the relatively short barrel of the Walker? If you put a 20 inch barrel on a Walker then the granulation of choice would then change from 3Fg to 2Fg? Additionally, if you shoot a heavy conical out of the Walker instead of the much lighter .454 round ball would it make sense to shoot with 2Fg?

It would appear that for some, who have a conversion cylinder for their revolvers, the preference is to use 2Fg for their 45 Colt loads. Is this because they are using a 255 grain bullet instead of a 135 grain round ball?

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April 24, 2010, 11:30 AM
You would get less power out of using 2G. The gun would work fine. You might not really notice much difference .... maybe the accuracy would be different.
I have used 2G when I have run out of 3G. No big deal.

Texas Moon
April 24, 2010, 12:07 PM
2F is what I normally shoot in the Walker.

April 24, 2010, 01:18 PM
From an old Colt Industries pamphlet:
"FFG black powder is best for large and medium-size revolvers, and FFFG for the small pocket models, but any grade that is available will work reasonably well."

April 24, 2010, 01:27 PM
But I wonder if that pamphlet were written as pertaining to BP cartridges not cap-n-ball style. Specifically, cartridges using larger bullets (heavier) than their cap-n-ball counterparts.

April 24, 2010, 03:56 PM
I think that pamphlet was written for cap and ball. How does a cartridge bullet compare in size/weight to a conical? I've never had a cartridge BP gun.

April 24, 2010, 08:14 PM
"2F is what I normally shoot in the Walker. "


April 24, 2010, 10:05 PM
According to my old book on the Colt revolvers, FFg is what was normally used in the Walkers during their initial period.
Try both sizes and see which is the most accurate in you gun.

April 25, 2010, 05:26 PM
Not in a Walker, but when loading FFF in a .45-70 cartridge and all other components being the same, the FF is about 50 fps faster and the accuracy is nearly identical.
I have read stories about the .44 Colt Walkers being the most powerful handgun of its time, and capable of shooting out to 100 yards accurately. One gun writer defined the Walkers as the equivalent of the then "most powerful hand gun in the world" .44 Magnum.
Some where in that article, he stated the usual charge for the Walker was 60+ volume grains of FF under a bullet in the neighborhood of 250 grains. this was supposed to give a velocity of 850 fps.
I went looking for the article to back up the statement, but no luck, I did run across some articles by one of my favorite gun writers of all time tho, here is link to the articles on line: http://findarticles.com/p/search/?tb=art&qa=Mike+Venturino&tag=artBody;col1
Go read some of the articles, this fellow got me started in BPCR and other stuff that went hand in hand.


April 26, 2010, 06:58 AM
Some where in that article, he stated the usual charge for the Walker was 60+ volume grains of FF under a bullet in the neighborhood of 250 grains. this was supposed to give a velocity of 850 fps.

Walker chambers are big, but not that big. 60grs and a RB is about I have ever been able to stuff in a Walker. You use a 250gr conical and you are going to have to reduce the powder by about 10grs at least, more like 15grs. A fully charged Walker may come close to a mild .357 but never near a .44 mag.

April 26, 2010, 12:36 PM
Well, FWIW, I sometimes hunt with a .44 caplock rifle shooting .431 roundballs over 60 grains of 3f blackpowder. I've used the same load, except for using a .454 roundball, as a maximum load in my Walker. I've yet to chronograph the Walker, since I've only had a chance to shoot it once since I got it, but the caplock averages about 1850 fps. Next time I have the Walker out, I'll bring the chronograph along and try both 3f and 2f. With the short barrel, I'm betting the 3f will be the faster of the two powders, but not necessarily the most accurate.
Also, while 2f is more efficient in bigger bore ML rifles, say .50 or larger, some people swear by reduced charges of 3f.

April 26, 2010, 01:14 PM
So which of the following factors mostly dictate using 2F versus 3F?

1. Caliber (.50 or larger)
2. Length of barrel (pistol vs rifle)
3. Weight of projectile (140 grain round ball vs 250 grain conical)

Is there a circumstance with rifles or pistols where using 3F instead of 2F (or vice versa) becomes a safety issue?...or is it more of an efficiency and accuracy issue?

April 26, 2010, 02:20 PM
whether in a rifle or pistol. Back around 1965 when I first started shooting black powder, the general rule was 2F in 50 caliber or larger riflles and pistols and 3F in 45 caliber or smaller. The larger 1F was used for large smooth bore shotguns and cannons.

April 26, 2010, 04:53 PM
No safety issue going from 3f to 2f (faster to slower powder), but as snooperman said, yes, there is more pressure with 3f. The people I mentioned using 3f in larger bores (.50 and larger) typically reduce maximum loads by 15-20 percent from the 2f load. I would contact the manufacturer of your Walker before using a 250 gr. conical to see if it will withstand the higher pressures generated with that bullet, as the original was designed to shoot a roundball. Also, as far as using a conical goes, I'm not sure if the barrel twist in most Walkers is fast enough to stabilize a bullet in heavier weights. Maybe someone here knows.As far as efficency goes, I would expect a lot of unburned powder to be shooting out the short barrel of a Walker (relative to a rifle) with a heavy charge of 2f, no matter the projectile. And as far as accuracy goes, try both powders in various weight ranges.

April 26, 2010, 06:15 PM
I think the Walker was supposed to use a bullet around 220 grs. Not a round
ball. When Colt sold the 1100 he included a mold for a pointed bullet, not
a round ball. I think. Could be wrong though.

April 26, 2010, 09:13 PM
I read somewhere (and you all know that whatever you read must be true) that the powders of the mid 1800s and before were more coarse. i.e. the rifle powders for muskets was about the grain size of our Fg and the pistol powders were about like FFg. I've also read (must be true too) of folks who dissected old 45LC cartridges and found the powder grains to be closest to FFg. So, FFg is probably closer to what was originally shot in the Walkers. My load is 44grs of FFg with a wad and .454 ball. In the Dragoon, the same but I might also use FFFg if I were shooting other guns that same day.

April 26, 2010, 11:44 PM
The original walker brass bullet mold made a conical bullet of 218 grains and with out any grease grooves. used 50 grains of ffg powder.

They were very hard to get started in chamber straight for lack of much of a straight side.

A lot of men put them in the chamber point first to simpifly loading them. (backwards) <grin>

April 27, 2010, 09:00 AM
Put a white bed sheet on the ground about 5-10 yards in front of you and shoot your 2F load. If you see some unburned powder on the white sheet you need to use 3F powder or less of the 2F. I would be careful when shooting heavy loads in a revolver with heavy conical bullets. I once saw a nipple blown from that. Do your homework before using something other than a round ball, just to be safe. My 2 cents

April 27, 2010, 09:24 AM
My brother in law hunts on my farmland with a Walker sometimes and uses 50 grains of 3F with a round ball. He does quite well with it killing many wild boar at 35 -40 yards. One thing is for sure , the steel being used in our modern replica revolvers and blackpowder guns is much better than the originals . That said, I like to be careful and moderate when loading my guns for hunting or plinking.

April 29, 2010, 12:33 AM
I have heard of at least one Walker shooter sending the barrel assembly down range after shooting a fully loaded chamber charges with 777. The gun gave at the wedge cutout on the cylinder pin.

April 29, 2010, 10:02 AM
Anyone find out who made his Walker? Full cylinder of 777 isn't a good idea with any make but just curious who made his.

April 29, 2010, 11:44 AM
I have heard Hellgate's tale called an urban legend on another thread at THR. How about the theory that loading the original conicals backwards formed a shape charge causing the cylinder to explode as was reportedly "common" to that (original) pistol? Does anyone care to theorize on the danger of a backward loaded conical in a modern Walker?



April 29, 2010, 12:12 PM
The fellow who made the claim regarding the barrel going downrange as a result of 777 was Smokin' Gun, and he did it on this forum as well as The Firing Line. I haven't seen him here in a while and I believe he was having health problems, so I hope he's just recovering and will be back soon. If I see him I'll ask him about the brand of gun.

As for the backwards conical, I don't understand the shaped charge comment, but it seems reasonable that loading one backwards could easily leave a significant air space between the powder charge and a large cross section of the projectile, especially in the hands of an inexperienced and poorly trained new recruit. That's a recipe for an overpressure detonation with black powder; combine that with a structurally weak cylinder and I can see a failure happening. It might even be powerful enough to fail a modern manufacture Walker cylinder. At least, that's my theory.

April 29, 2010, 12:50 PM

Thank you for your comments.

See attached for shape charge comment (I may have used the term wrong).


Jim Watson
April 29, 2010, 01:39 PM
Agree with post #16, I have seen several references to state that 19th century shooters used coarser powders than we do. I load my BPCR rifles in .38-55 and .40-65 with Swiss 1 1/2 Fg, with excellent results.

There was an article in Handloading (or Rifle) magazine in which the author tested the oft stated basis for the .32 Winchester Special. That it was meant to be factory loaded with smokeless, but reloaded with black, because of the lack of data on the newfangled powders. With current production black velocity was low, fouling was heavy, and accuracy poor. He found some 1912 DuPont of the same granulation and it gave 100 fps higher velocity, less fouling, and half the group size. New is not always better.

April 29, 2010, 01:39 PM
Ok, I understand now. I think of a shape charge to be an explosive device that's designed to focus the effects of detonation in a specific direction, like a Claymore mine.

April 29, 2010, 01:40 PM
BTW, when I read "fully loaded chamber" I was thinking 60 grains of 777 or roughly equivalent to near 70 grains of BP. I may have jumped the gun and ASS-U-MEed...mostly ME though. ;) Maybe it is possible with a conical loaded backwards and compressed really good....don't know though.

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