powerful black powder loads for 357?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by justin22885, Dec 31, 2015.

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  1. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    I've considered the idea some in the past. I've shot black powder in several cartridges just because I enjoyed it, but not 38/357. If you think its a real likelihood, buy a gun that just works well with black. It doesn't have to be your everyday gun, but if you feel a world without smokeless powder is coming, then having something that works well with it would seem prudent.

    I came so several conclusions about black "in an emergency". Its been successfully used in different 45 auto guns among others. If its a necessity for some reason to use black in otherwise unsuited cartridges, just do it. I'm not losing any sleep or brain power thinking about the likelihood of it.

    If you have primers to light off your black powder loads, why not just buy another can or two of decent smokeless powder to go along with it? That's my main conclusion on the using "black in an emergency" thoughts. After the first couple times I ran out of primers or powder, I never have come close to running out again. I've always bought ahead of my use, and didn't shoot unnecessarily if I didnt have supplies to stay ahead.

    In 45 Colt, I use 8 1/2 grs Unique. To get similar loads with black require 35-40 grains. NOT very cost efficient. I get WAY more loads per pound of smokeless than black, so stocking even a couple pounds of smokeless away would likely last the rest of my lifetime if things were as dire as not being able to get smokeless powder.
     
  2. justin22885

    justin22885 member

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    ya know what?.. i think youre right, i have a 44 caliber 1860 army that in a pinch would be a lot more effective than a 357 mag loaded with black powder, doesnt require a loading press to load, doesnt require brass either, and making small brass or aluminum cups filled with mercury fulminate or similar chemical would be a lot easier than sourcing boxer primers.. i havent really given the cap and ball revolvers much thought because it seems to be their only use.. but heck, they are REALLY good at that one use

    i have an 1860 army, but i believe if im going to have a cap and ball around as a serious survival tool that i want something else, an 1858, or perhaps a walker/dragoon for the raw power
     
  3. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    Just get a conversion cylinder for your 1860 Army and reload either 45 Long Colt or 45 Schofield with black powder. Then you'll have enough for medium sized game.
     
  4. swathdiver

    swathdiver Member

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    In its first year the .38 Special was a black powder cartridge. Its performance was not equaled in that configuration until smokeless +P loads came about, albeit with much higher pressures.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  5. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    Any revolver chambered for 357 Mag will easily digest 357 Mags loaded with Black Powder. The pressure developed by Black Powder will be nowhere near what is achieved with Smokeless loads.

    I don't load 38 Special or 357 Mag with Black Powder, but I can quote you some 38 Special data from Mike Venturino's book Shooting Colt Single Actions.

    Test Gun: Colt SAA 7 1/2" barrel
    Bullet: 158 grain Flat Nose

    Goex FFg 19.0 grains 799 fps
    Goex FFFg 19.0 grains 863 fps
    Elephant FFg 20.0 grains 676 fps
    Elephant FFFg 20.0 grains 783 fps
    Pyrodex P 14.0 grains 899 fps

    You can tell this is old data, Elephant powder has not been made for a long time. The book was published in 1995.

    For comparison, I have a reprint of a Smith and Wesson catalog from around 1900 that lists the 38 Special as having 21.5 grains of powder (no granulation is mentioned) under a 158 grain bullet.
     
  6. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    +1.

    A black powder .38 special is a potent little cartridge.
     
  7. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Can you state where you saw that information? I don't load 38 Special with Black Powder, but I have friends who do. With a case full of FFg their loads do not appear to be barn stompers. The data I posted from Mike Venturino does not seem to indicate very powerful loads.


    Yup, nobody ever said using Black Powder was cost efficient. My usual Smokeless load for 45 Colt is 7.5 grains of Unique. My normal BP load is about 35 grains of FFg. That is only 200 loads per pound of BP, vs over 900 rounds for a pound of Unique. I ain't done the cost analysis because I don't know what Unique costs these days, but I know it costs me a heckofalot more to shoot Black Powder.
     
  8. ofitg

    ofitg Member

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    After you learn to make black powder, and percussion caps, you might start wondering..... what if the government bans the sale of potassium nitrate? and potassium chlorate?
     
  9. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    That wasn't exactly what I was implying, more that a larger cartridge that had more power with black would seem a more useful choice.

    I haven't figured out how a percussion gun would be superior so long as we are talking simply loading black in cartridges is the comparison baseline. I'd prefer to have a 1911 45 auto loaded with black than a percussion revolver. The 1911 and glock in 45 will run for at least a box of shells worth before needing attention (I sloshed a Ruger 44 mag around in the river to free it up after clogging it up with black. Just shook the water off the cylinder and barrel/frame and put it back together, it functioned fine), which would get one through most difficulties, and be simpler than reloading percussion guns, or even carrying two. 44 spl, mag and 45 Colt also aren't too bad with black. Broken cap pieces being one potential issue. If the choice is bows and arrows or percussion guns, that's a different story, but so far, I think laying hands on primers is going to be easier than caps. I havent priced caps recently, but I think laying is a rainy day supply of primers, like a few cans of smokeless, would be relatively cheap and simple. It would hardly be a bump in the road for those that stay supplied ahead of their use.

    I'm still not on board with the idea that supplies are going to be such that we are going to have to load black as a matter of necessity. I gave up on the doomsday ideas (whatever variation on the theme one may follow) a few years ago. Its an interesting intellectual exercise, but not one I take very seriously.


    Yes. The main idea being it would be relatively simple and inexpensive to stock some stuff ahead and be able to keep shooting rather than relying on black for your cartridge guns in a pinch.

    Black is all sorts of fun to shoot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
  10. swathdiver

    swathdiver Member

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    Sorry I cannot remember exactly.

    However, that old load data you posted shows 3F and Pyrodex just a bit ahead of regular .38 Special loads for a 158 grain bullet.

    The use of Swiss or Olde Eynsford in 3F should easily kick velocity up to or slightly past 1000fps, +p territory.
     
  11. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    As I read through this I see a lot of "what if's" in actual implementation. Primers, caps, brass; all things that won't exist if you cannot get other modern conveniences in a very short time. Perhaps you should order a 58 caliber flint pistol from Pedersoli so you can really go paleo.....
     
  12. ofitg

    ofitg Member

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    I'm still wondering, where is the blackpowder (or even potassium nitrate) going to come from?

    Down at the corner store?

    If somebody is planning to use blackpowder (or potassium nitrate) they have stockpiled in advance, I'll have to agree with Malamute - it's just as easy to stockpile smokeless powder and modern primers.
     
  13. Gaucho Gringo

    Gaucho Gringo Member

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    Nitrates can be extracted from human or animal wastes. Think bat or bird guano.That's the way the Confederates manufactured black powder.
     
  14. BSA1

    BSA1 member

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    Equally important or maybe important than trying to figure out how to cram another grain of blackpowder in the case is the bullet you are using. Blackpowder guns give the best accuracy and run the longest with a soft lead bullet with wide grease groove using a natural lube.

    In the O.P.'s scenario of using blackpowder if supplies of smokeless powder becomes available he will have to forego using of jacketed bullets and hardcast lead bullets with petroleum based lube.

    To keep things simple he can use jacketed bullets exclusively with smokeless powder and lead bullets only with blackpowder. Along with keeping inventory simple he can tell at a glance which ones are loaded with blackpowder.
     
  15. ofitg

    ofitg Member

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    I've read that bat guano can be mined from caves and processed to yield nitrates.... that stuff has been "curing" for years already.

    On the other hand, in days past, fresh human/animal wastes were collected and required several months for bacteria to convert the precursor chemicals into nitrates. Very time consuming.

    Some months ago, Officer's Wife posted that earthworms can produce nitrates in a matter of weeks. That sounds fairly reasonable.

    Whichever technique is selected, if a person is serious about going "paleo", it might be a good idea for him to get some actual experience with this before his life depends on it.
     
  16. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Member

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    Potassium nitrate can be bought at the local hardware store (look up stump remover). I made some crude blackpowder for my son's science experiment using charcoal briquets, sulfur flower and KNO3. Mind you even with proper techniques, the quality of the charcoal is extremely important and virtually nothing you make yourself will be anywhere near as good as commercial BP. You'll just be making smoke and noise and getting your gun real dirty. Hopefully you will be shooting this in a stainless revolver.

    Unless this is a "Kirk vs. Gorn" thought exercise, you'd be way better off spending the time buying a pound of Power Pistol and loading up 1000 rounds of .357 if you want deer for dinner. I can't imagine any other "no other choice" real life situation where you wouldn't already be prepared with a thousand rounds of mid range to full house .357 loads. If you are in survival mode, that should last you the "rest of your life" or until you won't need it any more. You won't be plinking at the range anymore and if you have a means to reload and have the bullets and primers, it's not hard to squirrel away an extra pound of powder for another thousand rounds.
     
  17. Branko_D

    Branko_D Member

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    Well, a Uberti / Remington 1858 Navy in .36 caliber, 8", loaded with a 125gr bullet and 22gr of more energetic Swiss powder produces a muzzle velocity of about 980 fps for about 266 foot-pounds.

    A Uberti / Remington 1858 Army in .44 caliber, 8", loaded with a 200gr bullet and 28gr of Goex FFFG (same as what fits in a .357 case) produces a muzzle velocity of about 765 fps for about 274 foot pounds.

    I'd imagine a 357 case with 28 grs of Goex FFFG, fired out of a 5" barrel would achieve something similar in terms of foot-pounds, in the region of 270-ish with Goex and 320-ish with Swiss. These are effectively speaking .38 Special +P ballistics.

    So yes, you could hunt with it, but it'd require precise marksmanship and fairly close range.
     
  18. swathdiver

    swathdiver Member

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    I'm fairly certain anyone hit with both a .38 special and a .44 could tell the difference and would certainly be less happy about the .44 than the .38!

    Numbers aside, in real life, our cap and ball sixguns kill all out of proportion to what the ballistics numbers tell us.

    BTW, that .44 load is really wimpy, step it up with Swiss or Olde Eynsford at 37 gains with a 141 grain round ball or 30 grains with a 240 grain conical. Those loads drop monster hogs all the time in here in Florida with one shot.
     
  19. justin22885

    justin22885 member

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    the idea is to have a supply of smokeless powder, but to be fair the ~700ft/lbs of muzzle energy you can get out of a 357 is overkill for what i need, my goals are only around 400ft/lbs which with smokeless, a 9mm easily handles using much less powder to do so

    ive already determined that if i wont have smokeless powder available, i probably wont have brass or primers either, so i will be using a 44 caliber cap and ball revolver as backup should i need to use black powder
     
  20. swathdiver

    swathdiver Member

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    With fire and scrap lead and a mould we can cast round ball.

    We can make our own black powder from items found in the woods and with fire.

    We can make caps from scrap metal with a small die and press and mix up the compound from items around the house or neighborhood or woods.

    Finally, we can make the lubricant from natural tallow, beeswax and oils.

    In closing, everything can be and was at one time made without electricity and with homemade tools.

    I cannot imagine however, how much one would have to invest to produce brass into ingots and then into shells.
     
  21. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    I've used jacketed bullets in 45-70 with black. I don't recall any problems.


    Pretty much all that would apply to making components for cartridges. Primers can be flattened out and refilled. I cant imagine all the brass cases would disappear, no need to try to make them. They last for ages if taken care of. Black doesn't bother them much, I'm still using 45-70 and 44 spl cases I loaded with black in the 80s.
     
  22. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    Again I will suggest that flint is the only answer to your question.
     
  23. Malamute

    Malamute Member

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    How much would a decent flint gun cost?
     
  24. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    Here is a list from Dixie Gun Works: http://www.dixiegunworks.com/default.php?cPath=22_92_186_190&sort=2a&&page=1
    These are all finished guns; you can also buy many of them in kit form to finish yourself. I have purchased a Brown Bess musket and a Hawken style flint rifle from Pedersoli in the kit form from them. I also have a Harpers Ferry flint pistol that I built from a kit. You can get a nice shooter from just under $500 to over $1500 depending on what you desire or can afford. I have to warn you though, flint can be addictive.....
     
  25. Branko_D

    Branko_D Member

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    What manner of charcoal burning isn't addictive? :)

    I can just see myself sitting on a collection of reproduction pistols and rifles from mid-18th to mid-19th century, some 10 years down the line.
     
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