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Black powder guns blowing up

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by rick_reno, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. rick_reno

    rick_reno member

    There is an interesting (long) thread on the hunting.net forum. You can read it here
  2. P95Carry

    P95Carry Moderator Emeritus

    As mentioned there - too few folks know what they are doing! Pyrodex pellets maybe are in part some of the problem. Do folks add ''one more pellet - for luck''.?

    IMO there is no excuse for these happenings. It is a bit like the handloader with metallic cartridges - striving for the ultimate velocity - not good!!!

    Read manuals ... do NOT strive for ''uber loads'' ... very often a lower load is even more accurate. My two band Enfield musketoon, in .577 cal ... will take from 2 1/2 drams to 3 1/2 drams powder charge. I have found the low load with my cast 533 grain Minnie to be just fine - NO need at all to ''stoke it up'' ... apart from the comfort factor.!

    Complacency and laxity are to blame - and that blame comes down IMO to the shooter - not the gun maker.
  3. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Well-Known Member

    Seems to me that everyone there agrees that overcharging is to blame, only sometimes is it obstructions in the bore.

    Gee, I shouldn't load 150 grains of loose FF? Why not?!
  4. 444

    444 Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I don't have time to read the whole thread: I have to go to work in a half hour. But I didn't realize this was an issue. When I first starting playing around with muzzleloaders in the late 70s, I was told that you couldn't blow one up. If you loaded an excessive amount of powder, it would just blow out the barrel, unburnt. People would tell you that the way to work up a load was to shoot the gun over snow. If you have unburnt powder showing up in the snow, back off the load until you don't. I have to admit that I had to try it. I tried my guns back then with some pretty serious loads of powder. I believe at the time, T/C used to list a load in the owners manual for their .54 Renegade that was 120 grains of powder. We used to think that was a HUGE load, and of course we had to try it. The only game I have taken with a ML was whitetail deer and every one I ever shot was penetrated completely by my T/C Maxiball and less than 100 grains of powder: including at least one that was facing me. The bullet penetrated end for end. That was plenty of powder.
    However, this was before the days of pellets, and sabots.
    I think some of those guys hit the nail on the head. I think people are following in the same steps as many rifle shooters. Shoot a light bullet as fast as you can. They couldn't get the kind of velocity they wanted so they went to a saboted pistol bullet.
    I am not sure if pellets and sabots are at the root of the problem or not. But, I never heard of anyone blowing up their ML back in the day.
  5. rick_reno

    rick_reno member

    444 - I got the same advice you did, that you couldn't blow one of these things up. We never had snow when I started shooting these things, I was told to put a big piece of cardboard down and to look for unburnt powder. I never did find any - it wasn't clear to me how far out the cardboard needed to be.
    I still have never shot a pellet or a sabot, I'll stick with what works.
  6. RugerOldArmy

    RugerOldArmy Well-Known Member

    It seemed the conversation was focused on the load. Other factors can come into play too. For example, if the charge wasn't fully seated (or a heavy conical or sabot moved toward the muzzle, leaving airspace..), a double load (I did this once, talking, during competition...was lucky).

    There can be no doubt, however, that marketing and the 'handloading' aspect of muzzleloading can get a newbie into trouble. Although I'm not drawn to the inline muzzleloaders, I have one. I don't believe that some of the really hot saboted loads really buy you anything worthwhile. They should still be considered 100-yard guns. I've gone back to the flintlocks and the caplocks. And the whole concept of load development, in 50 grain increments, with the pellets is insane. Who in their right mind would think this is an ideal method of finding an accurate load?

    Hunting skills are still required. Isn't the goal to realize the challenge of the stalk? There is no purpose, and only risk, in adopting the goal of making a .30-06 out of a muzzleloader. If that's what you want, more power to you, just buy a .30-06!

    What the numbers do not show is that a .54 roundball on 95 grains of powder, or a 500 gr maxie ball on 80 gr of FFg still has some serious power. Lewis and Clark were hunting Grizzly bears with these kinds of loads (Don't try this as a weekend shooter!)

    Muzzleloaders are effective because they throw BIG HEAVY chunks of SOFT LEAD at moderate velocity. This is a combo that is suprizingly effective within 100 yards.

    What more could you want, and would it be worth it.

    My $.02
  7. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Like P95Carry says, don't go for uber-loads and inspect your arms. You'll be just fine.
  8. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Well-Known Member

    I find that my .50 flinter trade rifle shoots best with a patched round ball over 60 grains of ffg. Sure I could get more velocity with a stouter charge, but why sacrifice accuracy for a few more fps.

    As an earlier reply stated, I have a feeling that Pyrodex pellets may be the culprit. "If two are good, then three are...."
  9. foghornl

    foghornl Well-Known Member

    I haven't shot it a lot, but my Lyman "Trade Rifle" in .50 Flintlock works well at 60-65 grains of FFg backpowder and a patched ball.

    Less than that really gives the rainbow trajectory, and more gives a harder recoil push with lower accuracy.
  10. GrayBear

    GrayBear Well-Known Member

    Light loads -

    I started out strong, then found 60 gr. of either 2f or 3f will put a round ball through a deer and that's all I've needed so far. No use in punishing my shoulder and maybe my gun for no good reason.

    By the way, as far as saying something about "My 2¢ worth" did you know you can get a ¢ sign by holding down the Alt key and typing 0162? You must, for some reason, type the 0162 on the keypad, not on the top row.

    I often use degrees as in 32°F. That's Alt 0176. Others are © = Alt 0169 and Alt 0188, 0189 and 0190 for ¼, ½ and ¾.

  11. cracked butt

    cracked butt Well-Known Member

    That was a real interesting thread that I kept coming back to every day to see which inflated egos would show up to claim that it was the rifle manufacturers' faults and not operator error when a barrel is stuffed full of pellets and lead, then fired, with little knowledge of what they are doing. :rolleyes:

    My Lyman flinter likes 80 grs of FFg with a RB for 100 yard shots, I often shoot with 60 gr loads for plinking.
  12. redneck2

    redneck2 Well-Known Member

    Let's see...

    I'm loading for my .223, and they recommend 34.0 of Varget. I think I'll increase the load by 50% and go to 50 grains and see what happens... :what:

    Dunno if it's true, but I heard the term "loaded for bear" meant the old-timers used double charges of powder. I know guys back in the "young and dumb" days that double charged their rifles on purpose. Never toasted a gun, but the recoil and muzzle blast was interesting.

    Pyrodex, pellets, probably change the equation. Gotta remember, there's guys that could tear up an anvil with a rubber mallet.
  13. Mike Weber

    Mike Weber Well-Known Member

    A lot depends on the design of the firearm in question too. Most octagon barreled muzzleloading rifle barrels are pretty stout. I saw a repro Brown Bess musket on display at Rendevous a couple years ago. The barrel had come apart quite dramatically at the breech area. I was told that this was from a combination of an overcharge of 777 combined with a short started load. The bullet must be seated firmly atop the powder charge. I've only seen one other blown up blackpowder gun and that one was one of the cheap brass framed Colt 1851 clones that a guy bought in a box of reloading supplies at an auction sale. The box included several cans of unknown smokeless powder a tin of percussion caps and a box of .375 dia roundballs. The guy charged it up from one of those cans of smokless seated the bullets "No Grease seal or overpowder wad" then he decided to take it out on the woods to try it out. When he touched it off it chainfired and the cylinder came apart like a grenade, The barrel wedge shattered sending the barrel assembly downrange. He never did find all the pieces of the cylinder, and amazingly he didn't get a scratch with all that schrapnel flying around. I saw what was left of the gun when he brought it into a local gunshop attempting to sell off the parts. Those stories about it not being possible to blow up a blackpowder gun are a myth. Most blackpowder guns made today are made to tolerences exceeding the originals in regards to the metalurgy. There were plenty of gun blow ups in the blackpowder era. Most shooters of that era were familiar with the limits of their guns.
  14. carpettbaggerr

    carpettbaggerr Well-Known Member

    Because if it holds 150 grains of FF, it'll hold 150 grains of FFFFG. :uhoh:
  15. Gewehr98

    Gewehr98 Well-Known Member

    I've said it before, I'll say it again...

    Poppycock. (Whoever comes up with this arbitrary crap, BTW, sure's hell wasn't talking to our rifle-carrying ancestors!)

    Know what your rifle is capable of, and the trajectory needed to make the connection. Proceed accordingly.

    That's something that Union Generals William H. Lytle and "Uncle John" Sedgwick experienced firsthand from the Confederate Whitworth .45 rifle. 100-yard guns, my a$$.

  16. vanfunk

    vanfunk Well-Known Member

    I don't have anything meaningful to add, except that my Brown Bess sure does love to launch 480 grain round balls ahead of 100 grains of FFg! That's my firewood-splittin' load for when I don't feel like swinging an axe. :)

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