4fg in small bore

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Johnm1, Apr 25, 2021.

  1. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    This has probably been hashed over a lot but maybe the specifics of this question gives it enough of a twist to make it a viable topic.

    I picked up BP while it was recently available at Graff's. In that group I picked up 1 lb of 4f for the priming of the single flintlock I own. A turn off trade pistol that predates 1816 when they stopped importing them from England.

    I do reload 22 short in black powder for a H&A revolver made for black powder and wonder if the finer powder would be more appropriate in the 22 short case. What I have read in my search is that some do use 4f in 22 caliber. I expect the 4f would be more energetic and that is a drawback for this little revolver. It never has to go fast. But i wonder if it would be a little more consistent than the 3f I have.

    I have a Remington pocket in 31 caliber, have my eyes on an 1862 Colt in 36 caliber and either a 31 or 36 Kentucky long rifle hopefully in the future. Are there any applications for 4f in any of these?

    I also have both 32 and 38 S&W top break revolvers that were made for black powder that I want to load for. None of the above needs to be a high pressure/high speed.

    I did a basic search here on THR and the use of 4f as a main charge seems to be done despite the basic '4f is for priming only' rule. In my mind using 4f in the smaller calibers follows the basic premise of larger calibers use courser powder. Cannon 1f, muskets/big bore rifles 2f, pistols 3f. I dont want or need higher pressure/speed.

    EDIT - changed the end date to the correct 1816 for the Turn Off Flint Lock pistol. Duh....





     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
  2. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    I have recently started using 4f in my 1861 Navy, before it was shooting about 6 inches to the right of point of aim. Now it shoots point of aim. It feels like I'm shooting . 38 special loads so definitely more energetic. I do believe a lot of the old black powder pistol cartridges were loaded with a fine granulated powder. Just as a tip, I prime my flinters with the same powder as the main charge.
     
  3. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    Thanks for the tip(s). I haven't shot the Turn Off pistol yet. I'm still trying to get the barrel to 'twist off'. 204 years old (at least) so I may have some time before I can actually get it to twist off. But I'm patient. Not 200 years patient, but patient.
     
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  4. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    One reason 4fg is more energetic, ! is that with the same volume as a more coarse grain, you are using a greater weight of powder. Or, "more" powder. That is why when you pour 40 grains of 2fg into a colt case, it might overflow, but if you pour in the same weight of 4fg it won't. Make sense? I suppose there are other dynamics involved, but volume to volume, the smaller granulation will weigh more. So, you can just reduce volume if there is any concern about "over-energetic".

    To my mind, 4fg would be more "appropriate" in a tiny .22 short case, than would 3fg. Using 3 or 2fg in a .22 kind of like loading 1fg in a .45 Colt case. ? or not.
     
  5. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    Changing granulation will indeed sometimes change POI. Going to 4fg in my '62 did, brought it down about one inch or so, and put it EXACTLY where I wanted it.
     
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  6. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    The Hazard’s paper cartridges for revolvers used 4F that was as powerful as Swiss. There’s also a museum curator who disassembled metallic cartridges for display and found even large calibers had 4F powders, some cartridges having even finer powder. Lyman’s 1st edition has load and pressure data even in .44 cal 1860 Army using 4F Goex.
     
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  7. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    All very interesting responses.

    That is the way it seemed to me as well. But with the consequences of being wrong it made sense to discuss it here. Load development is an interesting part of our hobby and I enjoy it.

    @Ugly Sauce I was hoping the quote/reference in my first post would draw you into this conversation.
     
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  8. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    And that makes sense. I wonder if the surface area of the finer particles also adds to the energy?
     
  9. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    I think so, one of the "other" dynamics taking place.
     
  10. Johnm1

    Johnm1 Member

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    I've actually loaded the 22 shorts with 2F and they go bang every time and are relatively soft shooting compared to the smokeless loads. I'm not sure what we will get with 3f and 4f, but it seems a worthwhile effort as long as I don't run the risk of blowing something up. And so far I don't think that is going to be the issue. This is the firearm that posed the initial question. A Hopkins & Allen XL No. 1:

    H&A 22 Short 2.JPG
     
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  11. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    That is very cool. The only pistol I know of, that you could blow up with black powder was the Walker.
     
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  12. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    The first Colt 1860s had problems with cylinders blowing apart. So did the Walkers and Dragoons. They were fixed by Colts and the problems were corrected.

    Kevin
     
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  13. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Powder is sold by the pound, regardless of granulation and while we tend to think in terms of volume, in terms of weight one grain of 4F has the same stored energy as 1F. If I were loading 30 grains of 2f by volume and wanted to, for what ever reason, switch to 3F I’d weigh the 2F , throw the same weight in the 3F, then transfer that amount to a powder measure to see what that volume would be.

    I load “square” loads in12 gage for an old Remington double with 2F. If I wanted a bit more velocity I’d use 3F, same volume but the three by weight wold have a bit more powder.
     
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  14. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    You may want to look into Swiss Null-B powder. Its a finer granulation than 4f and it is really clean burning and energetic. I read of some competition shooters using it to reload their .22s for leveractions and they run almost like smokeless and are very clean. check it out if youre interested. Im thinking about switching to 4f only in my .36 cals
     
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  15. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    The smaller the granulation, the faster the powder burns. This might give the impression of "greater power" as in greater velocity.

    This same physics is why wrought iron railings rust slowly, while iron filings sparkle as they burn when dumped on a bunsen burner.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
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  16. TheOutlawKid

    TheOutlawKid Member

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    Their is more surface area with smaller granulations. So 20 grains by volume of 4f will utilize more of the confined space it is in...where as 2f will have more space between grains and not pack as well. Think of it as putting large bearings in a cup, they just wont fit well together...but fill the same cup with B.B.'s and you get a tighter packing and less space between each bearing.
     
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  17. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I’ve shot full chambers of 4fg Goex out of a Uberti 1851 for the past few months. It actually kicks less than 3f Triple 7 with the same volume. I’d say Goex 4f shoots like Goex 3f ought to. I’m not brave enough to try the same with 4f Swiss. When I get a chronograph, I’ll try that someday.

    P.S. I’ve also noticed 4fg burns much cleaner than 3fg powder. To me, that means greater efficiency. More of the powder you load actually propels the ball and less gets blown all over the gun as unburned residue
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
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  18. Lazlo Homer

    Lazlo Homer Member

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    NAA specifies 4f for their mini revolvers.
     
  19. rodwha

    rodwha Member

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    Europeans use it:


    E91282-CD-3-F43-4688-B0-F6-D77674-CC4922.png
     
  20. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    Considering how badly full compressed chambers of 777 loosens screws, knocks down loading levers, and makes my gun rattle around, I would hate to shoot full compressed chambers of 4f Swiss. Especially since historical .36 cartridges with that grade of powder contained merely 17-20 grains. I’m quickly deciding that 21 grains of Swiss, Old E, or 777 are upper limits for an open top .36. Any of those powders at 21 grains will spit a roundball faster than 1,000 feet per second, which is perfectly adequate power for .36. For more power than that, switching to heavier flattop conicals will add significant momentum and energy without shortening the gun’s life. Keep in mind that Elmer Keith’s preferred loading of full chambers under roundball was done with 2fg powder!
     
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  21. Lyle

    Lyle Member

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    What load are you using in your 61 Navy?
     
  22. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    25 grains in paper cartridge under a ball. Has a different feel from 3f, more energetic for sure. Maybe someone with more brains and money than me will do some real testing and let us know the particulars.
     
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  23. StrawHat

    StrawHat Member

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    Elmer was also known to take that 2f and grind it finer. He is also credited with blowing up a couple of revolvers. Probably a couple dozen.

    Kevin
     
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  24. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    For sure! I respect his legacy, but I’m not one to wildcat with obsolescent designs, especially ones I intend to keep shooting for a long while.
     
  25. Ugly Sauce

    Ugly Sauce Member

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    I could be wrong, but I don't think he ever wrecked a gun with black powder. But I stand ready to be corrected!!! (unless it was an original Walker or Dragoon or something like that)
     
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