Tips on shooting black powder?


April 4, 2011, 04:53 PM
ok so no one in my family has ever shot black powder and i recently aquired a pistol which i have rebuilt and its a CVA prospector and uses No. 11 caps a .440 round ball and cloth and im told to use 20 grains of 3F or 3F equivilant powder now all i have is the gun so i need to know a list of supplies and i need to know what are good brands of powder what some saftey tips are and how to measure the powder and so on i thank you in advance for your help

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April 4, 2011, 05:26 PM
There is a sticky on the Black Powder home page, read it and then ask what you don't understand.
You need to get an adjustable powder measure, there are different varients as well as making dippers from spent cartridge rounds, you should also get a short starter that has the long side long enough to load your gun.
I think your gun is a varient of the Tingle that was discussed here a while ago, post some pics.

April 4, 2011, 05:42 PM
How to best use a cap and ball revolver - THR (

The above URL should be required reading.

April 4, 2011, 05:54 PM
Yes it is a tingle copy however my computer gave out on me so I cannot post pics (no photobucket) and if I have a starter do I need a ramrod? And I don't think it accepts cartridges like I said all new to this it is rifled But I was told to use a round ball which I didn't think could use any cartridge

April 4, 2011, 07:27 PM
I suggested a starter because the ram rod that comes with pistols is difficult to use. The starter will have a large ball on the end to make it easier to ram the ball home.
No, it won't take a cartridge, I said to use an empty cartridge for a powder measure.

April 4, 2011, 07:34 PM
Because the Prospector is a .44 caliber pistol and not a .45, it wouldn't use a .440 round ball.
A smaller than bore size ball should be used so that the cloth patch will fit around it inside the bore.
Read post #11 in the following thread for some loading info.

April 4, 2011, 07:40 PM
You need a volumetric measure because BP is not measured on a scale. So you can get an adjustable volume measure and then make some spent case dippers calibrated to dispense X grains. It usually takes some tweaking to find what charge your piece prefers.

You'll also need patches and lube for them. I like to use something simple for lube like a mix of beeswax and olive oil. Everyone has a preference though.

A loading stand would be nice to help steady it.

Cappers are handy

Pick for the nipple, and a spare nipple.

I like to keep a little mini-flask full of 99% rubbing alcohol to help field clean, plus some dry patches.

April 5, 2011, 08:27 PM
One last question the ball goes over the patch correct? Powder then patch then ball

Norton Commando
April 5, 2011, 08:32 PM
Yup, powder, patch, ball.

Dave Markowitz
April 5, 2011, 09:01 PM
One last question the ball goes over the patch correct? Powder then patch then ball

The patch goes around the ball. The ball should not actually touch the bore. What you can do is after putting the powder down the barrel, lay your lubed patch material over the muzzle, then the ball, then seat the ball flush with the muzzle. You then cut the patch material with a knife.

You can also use pre-cut patches. I like to use pre-cut patches when shooting patched round balls in my rifles. I found that a JFK 50 cent piece is about the same diameter as a patch cut on the muzzle of one of my .50 caliber rifles. So, I used on of them as a template then cut out patches ahead of time with scissors to save time at the range. These patches would work well in your .45 caliber pistol as well.

Pete D.
April 5, 2011, 09:55 PM
Here's the procedure: You get ready to go to the range. You have the pistol, a can of FFFg (3F) BP, a small funnel, a tin of #11 percussion caps. You also have an adjustable powder measure, some clean fabric patches (I like cotton), a baggie of shooting patches about the size of a half dollar and about 0.010" thick (buy them at first prelubed; it's easier. NOTE: the simplest lube is to take a dry patch and put it in your mouth and moisten it with saliva), a container of .430 lead round balls, a short starter and a longer ramrod with a cleaning jag on the end, a container of denatured alcohol.
At the bench....make sure that the gun is not loaded - run the long ramrod down the barrel, put your fingers on the rod at the muzzle and take it out, hold it alongside the pistol. The end should go all the way back to the breech.
Moisten one of your cleaning patches with some alcohol. Run it down the barrel and up. This will help to remove any oils that may be in the bore.
Check that the nipple is clear. Put a cleaning patch just into the muzzle. Put a cap on the nipple. Point the gun downrange. Pull the trigger. The cap should blow the patch out of the barrel.
Take the powder measure. Set it for twenty grains (or??). carefully pour powder into the measure from the can or whatever your powder is in. Then, holding the gun muzzle up, pour the measured powder down the bore. Take a lubed shooting patch and place it carefully over the muzzle. Take a lead round ball (LRB) and place it in the center of the patch. Press it in a little with your thumb. Then take the short starter and press it in as far as you can. Use the longer ramrod to press it against the powder firmly.
Muzzle downrange, take a cap and put it squarely on the nipple.
Put the gun on full cock, aim and fire.

After firing - wet a cleaning patch with alcohol and run it into and out of the barrel.
Repeat the loading process.

Go home. Take the barrel off the gun, if possible. Plug the nipple with a toothpick and fill the barrel with warm soapy water. Let it stand for 15-20 min. Then dump the water. Fill a small container with warm water and Dawn detergent. Use the water to moisten patches and run them in and out of the barrel until they come out clean. Then run dry patches in and out until they come out dry. Take a patch and put some oil on it (I like Ballistol - which you can also use, in place of water, as a cleaner) and runone in and out of the barrel. Pull the lock off the gun and run it under t5ghe tap, scrub it with a soapy toothbrush. Rinse. Put it in a toaster oven at 200 degrees until it is dry. Add a few drops of oil when it is dry. reassemble the gun and put it away.
If I have left anything out, someone is sure to add the idea.

April 5, 2011, 10:49 PM
A nipple wrench is used to remove the nipple in order to clean it and the bore.
April 5, 2011, 11:03 PM
Cutting square patches are better. They are easy to cut and are more
accurate than round patches.

April 6, 2011, 12:48 AM
In my humble oppinion, Black Powder is about like bottled water, everyone has their own brand, and everyone tries to market it as some kind of an exotic gourmet drink of some kind. It's water for crying out loud, H2O, Two Hydrogen atoms attached to one Oxygen atom. It's ridiculous to think that there is a gourmet high end water, alot of marketing hype if you ask me.

Ditto, ditto for Black Powder. BP is a centuries old formula, unchanged in all that time, 75% Saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate), 15% Sulphur, and 10% Charcoal. It is ground down to a very fine powder with a little bit of a binding agent, such as Gum Arabic, or Dextrin in a wet mix process. The wet mix is layed out to dry, the chunks broken up into smaller grains, and sized to various grain sizes by passing through a series of sizing screens. The final step in the process is to tumble the powder with a bit of fine graphite dust, to coat and protect the powder grains.

It's a very simple formula, and a very simple process, although a bit time consuming because of all the milling involved, which is done by automatic machines.

All of the modern manufacturers use nearly the same formula and the same processes. What minor differances may exist, if any, are so minor, in my oppinion, as to be insignificant.

The major brands of BP mostly sold are Goex, Swiss, and German (Shuetzen) powders, I just usually go with Goex, it is the cheapest of the brands at most outfits, and works as well as anyone elses. There are several online distributors for BP, the one I use is The Maine Powder House,

They carry all three of the above powders, with Goex comming in at $15.00 a pound, but, you have to pay for the $20.00 hazmat shipping fee, and for shipping, in orders less than 25lbs, at 25lbs and above, the company pays the shipping and the fee for you.

In small quantities, I would suggest just finding a local dealer who carries Black Powder(s) and just pay a little more for the convieniance of a direct purchase, it really doesn't pay to purchase BP online unless you have no local source at all, or, you are buying in quantity in order to get a price break, and a break on shipping and fees.


ElvinWarrior... aka... David, "EW"

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