new to BP cartridge reloading


April 20, 2011, 02:17 PM
I have some questions. I joined the BPCR list but still waiting to get activated, I got to ask some questions here.
First I will be loading .45-75 WCF and .45-70 Govt. the first is a M1876 reproduction and the second is a 1874 Sharps reproduction.
I understand that today's cases have smaller capacity than the ones of yesteryear no issues with that, and I do know why.
question number 1 how do you use a drop tube? Exactly how.
question number 2 what is the deal with over powder cards?
question number 3 why don't I read more about using gas checks for BPCR loading?
That should be about enough for now.
BTW I have been reloading since 1972 or so I don't need a tutorial in basic reloading. I shoot a 3rd model Dragoon, a .50 cal TC Hawken, and a 12 ga muzzle stuffer as well.
Thanks Joe

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Foto Joe
April 20, 2011, 05:09 PM
The drop tube (my opinion) should be around 24" long. You can use a 1/2" piece of copper tubing with a 3/4" adapter on the top for your funnel and wrap the bottom with duct tape to get it to fit into your powder through die. By slowly pouring your powder into the tube, it gives the powder time to fall and settle into the case. There are varying opinions as to the effectiveness of this method but it is generally accepted that it does provide a denser powder charge. You will also need to compress the charge via a compression plug or compression die.

Somebody smarter than I gets to handle the last two questions. I use "veggie wads" but I can't give an intelligent answer as to why. It probably has something to do with the "Gas Check" question I would imagine.

April 20, 2011, 10:07 PM
I never used a drop tube, but used a spout valve on the powder can. The 45-70 case fits over the spout and I hold the can upside down, open the valve to let the powder into the case, and I shake /rock it back and forth four times to settle the powder in the case. Then I pull the powder can and spout and the case is ready for the card, grease cookie and bullet.

As for gas checks, I believe the copper would ream the old soft steel bores of some oldie guns.

April 21, 2011, 06:48 AM
Copper is still softer than iron or steel so it can't hurt your barrel. Gas checks are just not needed, an extra expense and they do not help accuracy with BPCR. The base of the lead bullet swages up to fill the bore and a GC would prevent that.

Modern csaes can indeed hold the full compliment of powder. Many competitiors are loading 72 grains of blackpowder in 45-70 cases and still seating the bullet normally. The drop tube helps. On another forum, there is a debate going as to whether a drop tube or case vibrator is the better method of filling a case.

I load with a more relaxed method nowadays. I tend to scoop a measure of powder, drop it in the cartridge, tap it a couple of times to settle it, drop in a grease cookie, then seat a paper patched bullet. I am looking for hunting accuracy and not trying to get the lasy .0000x" of grouping. Books have been written on the "best" way to load for BPCR. Venturino has one, Paul Matthews, Croft, and the Spences also have written good books on the topic.

Here is a link.

April 21, 2011, 12:34 PM
Thanks to both of you.
I read that the wad and grease cookie was to protect the base of the bullet so I figured a gas check would be easier to work with. I will figure the card and cookie thing out.
I will give a try to both drop tube and vibrator methods. I am wondering about the .45-75 bottle neck case more than the .45-70 straight case. I have about 70 .45-70's all loaded up from 15 years ago just never got around to shooting them I do remember I had a hard time compressing the 70 grains of FF in them.


April 21, 2011, 12:59 PM
I've read several folks recommend the drop tube be a minimum of 24". If you are really tall or don't mind using a step stool then the sky is the limit. I'm 6'3" and find that a 24" drop tube sitting in my powder-thru reloading die and a funnel on top of the drop tube pretty much has me at the highest pour point I'm comfortable with.

Here's some pics to replace 1000 words thus saving valuable electrons: ;)

Don't feel like you have to use a drop tube for your cartridges. It is only necessary IMHO when you can't get the powder to fit in the casing. You'll find that with some loads the BP will actually spill out of the casing if a drop tube or some other method isn't used. Some folks might prefer to go with 60 grains of BP in their 45-70 and don't have a problem getting the powder to fit.

The method of using the drop tube is follows. Very slowly sprinkle the powder down the tube as opposed to doing a quick dump. That's it. Some folks are so anal as to time the length of the pour. I just try to sprinkle it at a leisurely rate.

I use fiber wads between the powder and bullet. Why? I don't know...I guess I've been brainwashed into believing that it is necessary to protect the base of the bullet. Protect it from what? I don't know. Maybe someone can be specific to answer that question.

For my application I always want the lead bullet to obturate the barrel. So I count on the gas pressure to smash that lead to the outer most grove diameter of the bore. As stated previously the gas check would defeat that purpose. Sometimes I wonder if the fiber wad would defeat that purpose too. Speaking of which...I've never found a fiber wad laying on the ground. What happens to those little guys?

p.s. Buy yourself a compression plug. It makes life easier. :)

Foto Joe
April 21, 2011, 01:30 PM
I figured that somebody smarter than me was going to answer the wad question, but I guess we use them because "They" said we did.

I did some thinkin' on this last nite.:rolleyes: There are numerous folks who use "grease cookies" under the bullet. If you don't protect the powder from the grease in that cookie, you run the risk of fouling the powder. The veggie wad makes a sufficient barrier so that the lubricant doesn't screw up you powder.

Personally, I like the lubed bullets. It negates having to use grease cookies or hand lube case mouths if you're loading Gallery Loads.

April 21, 2011, 02:45 PM

As fate would have it, both the Easter Bunny, and the Cookie Monster are residents at my apartment building. I asked them both, what happens to the fiber wads in a BP Load after firing, if anyone would know, I figured they would...

According to Messuer East-De-La-Terre-Le-Bunnie, The fiber wads go to the same place that lost laundry sox go to... A reasonable explaination I think, despite his rather flaky appearance, I have found Messuer 'L-Bunnie, to be a rather level headed bloke.

However, the Cookie Monster wildly disagreed with Messuer 'L-Bunnie. He claims that Messuer 'L-Bunnie is a few eggs short of a full basket and can't be trusted to remember his own name, let alone anything else.

The Cookie Monster absolutely insisted that the fiber wads are instantly turned into fiber dust, and are scattered out of the barrel with the rest of the powder smoke. He further claims, that the wad dust, is a main contributor to tree frog posioning, and that it should be banned for enviornmental reasons immeadiately.

In all honesty, I have found the Mr. Monster to be a bit of a hot head, and he does tend to go off half cocked alot, so, I am inclined to go with Messuer 'L-Bunnie's explaination...

Just thought you should know... Just an FYI

"Leaping Toads Batman !!! The BP Fiber Wads are Posioning the Tree Frogs !!!"


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

Mr Woody
April 22, 2011, 07:07 AM
To learn how black powder cartridges work, you may want to read the book sold here:

Then follow up with a a more modern geared manual like this one from SPG:

Do some reading and then have fun.

April 25, 2011, 08:01 AM
I built a drop tube similar to the one at this link:,1.html, from a 30 something inch aluminum arrow shaft that works very well, total cost was about $5.
So I were told by some old guy, the over powder wad is to prevent the burning powder from melting the base of the bullet and thus leading the barrel. I use a 1-40 lead bullet, very soft and it leaves a lead streak if I forget to put the card in. This is also, supposedly, to help accuracy. No melted base is supposedly going to improve that.
Gas checks don't allow the base of the bullet to expand to fit the bore, whether you use BP or smokeless.


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