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Flask Powder Measures - Dangerous to Use?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by DougB, Oct 1, 2006.

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  1. DougB

    DougB Member

    Jan 5, 2003
    I think most flasks sold for use with black powder revolvers come with powder measure tubes attached. Different sizes can be purchased or made (by shortening the longer tubes). I've seen similar setups on some old powder horns for rifle use. These always seem like they'd be a very handy setup (just cover the spout with a finger, tip up to fill the spout, close the valve, and pour measured powder into gun). BUT, I've read many times that it is dangerous to pour powder directly from a flask or horn into a firearm due to the danger than a remaining spark from the last shot could cause the whole thing to explode. They always say to pour into a seperate measure, and from that into the firearm. This seems to eliminate the advantage of having a measure built into the flask.

    So, I'm curious, does anyone pour from the flask measure directly into the firearm? I suspect this was the original way of loading (maybe when the danger of having a flask explode was relatively much less than the danger of being killed by whoever or whatever you are shooting at). Is this really dangerous? Has anyone had a powder charge ignite when pouring it into the barrel? Will a flask or horn really explode if ignited? Does it matter if you are using Pyrodex or some other substitute? Is there some other way of using these measures that I'm not aware of?

    Note: I don't own a flask with a built-in measure and have no experience with them - I'm just asking questions, not advocating any potentially dangerous practice. I'm wondering because I'm thinking of getting a flask to go with my new 1860 Army revolver.

  2. Steve499

    Steve499 Member

    Dec 7, 2005
    Central Missouri
    After seeing how a small, uncontained charge of black powder goes up, I've no doubt a horn or flask full could blow quite well enough to send you to keep the great mystery if it happened to go within 8-10 inches of your face. I haven't heard of it actually happening, though. I sometimes load directly from a flask, but never in a firearm which has been fired with a patch or paper wadding. I swab between shots with a wet and dry patch when shooting my target rifle so the danger of premature ignition there should be minimal. In revolvers you should be able to visually inspect the chambers before reloading. Should you load directly from a flask? Probably not. Do a whole bunch of us do it? Yep. Some are too politically correct to admit it though, I suspect.

  3. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Orange County, CA.
    When I was new to the game, I read everything I could about the flask vs. measure business. Heard an awful lot of second-hand "my cousin's friend" kind of stories, but never actually came across anyone who had had it happen or personally seen it happen. In point of fact, I never came across anyone who had even had a charge poured from any kind of device "flash" during pouring.

    So I decided to pour directly from the flask and have never, in 20 years of experience, seen anything to change my mind.
  4. Plink

    Plink Member

    Apr 5, 2006
    I poured directly from the flask for most of my 30+ years of shooting but that doesn't mean it's safe. I have since switched to a seperate powder measure. Better safe than sorry. I'm curious if there have been flask/horn explosions. Most events won't allow direct charging from the flask for safety reasons.
  5. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

    May 5, 2006
    People's Republic of Maryland
    OK folks, now you know somebody who's seen it happen first hand.

    July 1979, while at a Civil War reenactment, one young man thought that the valve on his brass flask was safe enough, and was out of pre-rolled cartridges, so was loading from the flask. He would load the spout, release the valve, and then pour the contents of the spout into the rifle by upending the flask with the spout in the barrel of his .58 caliber artillery carbine. He would then remove the flask, cap, and fire.

    He had fired several shots with blanks prior to his starting this procedure, and was firing rather fast, when the fresh charge cooked off. Luckily it launched the flask a few feet away before popping the flask apart, and luckily the fask was a cheap copy with very little powder remaining and with bad solder on the seam. A fellow participant was overheard to say 'Hey as#*ole, no rifle grenades!".

    In June of 1992, at Fort Frederick State Park during the Governor's Firelock Competition, a reenactor was loading his bess with 100 grains from a pre-rolled cartridge, and he had a cookoff, that took off the nail from his right thumb.

    I witnessed both situations, and both have one thing in common. Very rapid fire, with numerous shots, prior to the cookoff. Probably wouldn't happen with a normal rate of fire, but as I've seen it, I won't load from a flask, and when I'm the range officer, won't allow others to do so either.

  6. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

    May 21, 2004
    "Land of (dis)Enchantment"
    I always load rifles/muskets/shotguns from a measure. I load C&B revolvers from the flask, and have never had a problem.
  7. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Remote Utah desert
    I've been shooting cap and ball sixguns since 1970, always loading from a flask. Never had a problem. But then, I use powder only and not paper cartridges.
    In the past, when I made paper cartridges, I used a powder measure to be on the safe side --- just in case there was a fragment of smoldering paper left in the chamber.
    But after firing one load of loose powder in the chamber, following a paper cartridge, I went back to using the flask. I figured that after shooting a charge of loose powder, it would have incinerated any fragments of nitrated paper.
    But again, I rarely use paper cartridges. It's loose powder for me, delivered from a flask.
    In a rifle, I use a powder measure and don't measure from a flask. I feel that there is a greater chance of an ember in that long barrel than in a handgun. And if I used a rifle with paper cartridges of any sort, I certainly wouldn't load directly from a flask.
  8. sundance44s

    sundance44s Member

    Feb 6, 2006

    I load my revolvers from the flask ..but i use a cylinder stand and that slows things up quite a bit ... I never load my rifle from the flask ..cause i`ve seen smoke rolling out the end many times before i drop a charge .
  9. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

    May 5, 2005
    Garrettsville, Oh.
    My .50 and my .36.

    When loading my .50 I use a measure because I don't swab between shots. I have seen a flask that had exploded, although I wasn't there when it happened.

    My .36 gets loaded directly from the flask because I run a spit patch followed by a dry patch after every shot. No chance of embers there.
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