Just wondering, Trailboss


September 18, 2011, 07:34 PM
I know one should only use black power or its substutes, but could one use Trailboss to load a Ruger Old Army?

What are the pros and cons?


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September 18, 2011, 08:02 PM
I would NOT. Pressure is the main problem. The ROA holds a lot of powder. I know trailboss is low density, but it is NOT 1:1 by volume equivalent with BP as are most of the subs and it's not safe to just go dump it in a cylinder, should be measured by weight. I know the ROA is a strong gun, but I would NEVER load one with ANY smokeless powder. Buy a .45 Colt Blackhawk. I have one, it's fantastic. Reserve your ROA for pyrodex or 777 or BP if you can get it. OR, buy a conversion cylinder and fire your Trailboss in .45 Colt brass.

September 18, 2011, 08:05 PM
One problem I have with hot loads of 777 that would be a problem with any sort of smokeless loaded to hot levels is ball creep. You can crimp a .45 colt case into the bullet to prevent this.

September 18, 2011, 08:32 PM
... buy a conversion cylinder and fire your Trailboss in .45 Colt brass.
This. I think TB would be an excellent powder for this application. Of course, you won't get the satisfying cloud of white smoke that ought to come from a ROA ...

September 19, 2011, 12:11 AM
What I heard somewhere...

"You can bring black powder up in history but you cannot bring smokeless powder back in history"

September 19, 2011, 01:18 AM
I'm kinda wonderin', what happens to the Trail Boss pressure spike with a compressed load? It would be hard to not have a compressed load with a cap and ball. I suppose you could load like 6 grains, top it off with cornmeal, then seat the bullet. But that said, I still don't recommend it. If you decide to try it, please use a vise and a long string to pull the trigger, just in case.

September 19, 2011, 02:04 AM
just use 30gr 45cal pyrodex pellets. They work perfect in cap and ball revolvers.

September 19, 2011, 11:09 AM
Triple Seven is mighty hot stuff. even out o a small pocket pistol you can get some pretty good velocity going. haven't tried it in anything too big, but i would like to sometime. i use APP in my revolver and that stuff isn't too hot. if you wanted hotter Triple Seven is the way to go!

September 19, 2011, 11:35 AM
The problem with smokeless in a BP gun is seating depth. Mainly, you don't have good control of it. BP burn rates are pretty much controlled by grain size and not very affected by pressure. OTOH, smokelss burns faster as pressure increases, which in turn causes faster burning and again more pressure.
When loading a smokeless cartridge, bullet seating depth is measured to 0.001. Even a small increase in seating depth can drive up pressures substantially. You simply do not have that kind of control in a cap and ball or other muzzleloader.
Theoretically, IF you could seat the ball in the same place every time and IF you had a ballistics lab with all the proper pressure testing equipment and safety devices, then you could create a load that is within the safe pressure limits of the gun. Short of that, you are potentially holding the trigger to a grenade.

September 19, 2011, 06:03 PM
I've chronographed a compressed load of 777 behind a 220 grain Lee conical in my ROA. It shot just over 1300 fps. THAT is magnum handgun territory. Why go hotter? It's SO hot it's pretty impractical as by the third shot, the cylinder is beginning to tie up from the bullets that pull forward from the recoil. I usually have to help the last round rotate into battery with my off hand. Only reason I'd load the gun this hot other than testing is for if i were hunting with it. But, I've yet to hunt with my ROA. I've killed game with my Blackhawks, but not my ROA.

September 20, 2011, 04:12 PM
I agree with McGunner... 777 or Swiss are potent enough. BTW remove all lubricant from the bullet when at high loads... Put some lube in front of it AFTER having it seated.

I have never heard of a BP load having blown a gun... But I have read on this forum about a guy having blown his own (and some flesh) with trailboss...

September 21, 2011, 09:28 PM
I have been using trail boss for years. just like anything though you use common sense. you dont go filling up the case and compress the load like trail boss. Trail boss is a O type powder that fills up the case better and throws more consistent loads with smaller amounts of powder. the kick from trail boss is very very mild and is more gun friendly however like anything if you try to make your own formula and fail to follow loading charts your going to be in a world of hurt. You can use Trail boss in a ruger old army if you are using a cartridge convertor. i would never recommend any smokeless powder in a cap and ball unless you have some way of duplicating exact loads with out pressing in the ball to deep and only shooting it behind a glass shield with the gun in a holder to proof the results

September 22, 2011, 10:24 PM
Just because Trail Boss is intended for CAS shooting that doesn't make it a substitute for black powder.

As noted the peak pressures from using almost any smokeless powder that results in the same velocity will spike to a higher pressure than for black powder. Even if you could replicate the needed air space to avoid an overpressure situation it would likely still be a higher pressure than actual BP or proper substitutes. And since the loads mentioned for shooting TB powders in cartridges rely on a known and constant volume adding cornmeal or other fillers will again mess up the pressure spike.

In short, don't do it.

Mike 56
September 25, 2011, 11:02 PM
Trail Boss is the stuff. I have been loading 45 Colt with it for my Colt walker with a conversion Cylinder. Both 230gr and 200gr shot well with it very accurate. I also reload 45 acp and 38sp with Trail Boss. It performs very good in 1911-A1 and Ruger GP 100.

Foto Joe
September 27, 2011, 02:19 PM
Listen to Scrat, I think he still has all of his fingers!!

I use Trailboss for smokeless low pressure cartridge loads once in a while. It's about the most foolproof smokeless I've found but IMR states quite plainly that it doesn't like to be compressed. They don't say what will happen but I have read reports that it does "Strange" things.

When it comes down to it, unless you are trying to disprove Darwins theory of survival of the fittest, I would suggest that using ANY type of smokeless powder in a cap and ball gun is a recipe for learning to use your non dominant hand or worse.

45-70 Ranger
September 28, 2011, 10:12 AM
Trail Boss in a BP wheelgun.....last year a friend of my son loaded up full cylinder of a brass '51 navy in .44 cal. The idiot was told use BP or BP subs by everyone, but "Hillbilly Boy" knew different and besides, he liked the picture of the cowboys on the can! The number of braincells he had could be counted on one hand!

Goober blew off chunks of his hand. Tore a hole in his head, but the steel plate in his head from an earlier act of stupidity, kepts some of the parts that flew back from digging too deep in his skull. The weapon simply exploded in his hand with the cylinder being in pieces, the hammer went off into the ozone, and the barrel was found some distance out in the field.

I know an ROA is a fine stout weapon, and the idiot that used TB in his weapon was a brass frame, but I call that lessons learned. I am retired now from gunsmithing, but still keep up with things as best I can. I know that in my .45-70, 12 gr of TB with a 350 gr bullet will net something like 21K in pressure (If I remember right) and it is safe there. I'd never even attempt to use any smokless in a BP weapon period.......

Just my 2 cents worth....Wade

Jim Watson
September 28, 2011, 10:50 AM
It is dumb and dangerous to put any form of smokeless in a muzzleloader.
Savage did not do the sport a favor by bringing out their smokeless rated bolt action muzzleloader. It gives people funny ideas about what they can do with other muzzleloaders.

Trail Boss is an interesting and useful product in its place, light cartridge loads.
It is so bulky you would have to be pretty wild to get in trouble with it anywhere close to the data and guidelines. But you should bear in mind that it is really a fast burning pistol powder (close to Green Dot on the charts, and faster than Win 231.) Which is why rifle velocities with it are so low. It does have its limits.
I think it would be good if they would use the same approach to make a powder of a burn rate suitable to straight wall rifle cases and bulky enough to nearly fill them. 4759 and 5744 are attempts at this but are not perfect.

October 1, 2011, 01:38 PM
No, no, a thousand times no. Smokeless in a BP gun is never a good thing. Period.

October 1, 2011, 10:51 PM
Hi Vmtz,

Notwithstanding the well-documented facts about what powder Ruger used to proof-test the ROA, as you note, these guns are intended for use with black powder and black powder equivalents only. No one would ever urge otherwise, as I note that you acknowledge.

That said, I know someone who tells me he's experimentally done what you ask about (and worse) (and I believe him) with the ROA and hardcasts (not seated with the ROA loading lever, of course - he figured out a good answer to the seating-depth issue mentioned above). Interestingly, he wound up going back to a black powder equivalent (777), as he found that it gave the best velocities from the ROA due to the absence of crimp in the muzzleloaded cylinder (which did not allow adequate pressures to develop to take advantage of the smokeless powder).

So, it would appear (from what this fellow tells me) that there is actually no benefit to the specifically not-recommended course of action about which you wonder. Triple-7 might be worth exploring: my 7.5" ROA throws both Hornady 143-gr round balls and Buffalo Bullet 190-grain conicals at over 1100 fps average with Hodgdon's wonder powder, which is cooking with gas. :)

I've used Trail Boss (and Unique and HS-6) in .45 Colt cartridges loaded into a Howell's conversion cylinder for my ROA, of course.

cheers, erich


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