Question about loading light. New to it.

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Orion8472, Jul 16, 2021.

  1. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    I'm thinking about getting into black powder loading and shooting [have two revolvers so far]. I've been asking in several different sections here about getting a less loud "bang"

    So with that in mind, what is the least amount of powder you can charge your cylinder with and still safely launch the ball out?

    I've been watching quite a few videos on loading black powder and I think I get the idea of them pretty well now,....so I might attempted it at some point,...but want light loads for sure.

    What I have so far is [both from Pietta] a 1851 Snub Nose with birdshead grip, and the "1858" Remington New Army. I might be getting another long barrel 1851 as well. All of these are .44cal and for the New Army, I also am getting a 45 Colt cylinder [that I probably won't be using much].
     
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  2. beag_nut

    beag_nut Member

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    Excellent question. I am also interested in light loads. I hope others have some suggestions.
     
  3. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    I shot 9 grains of 3F for years. Gone as low as 7 grains. Use Cream of Wheat as a filler.
     
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  4. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    I'm not an expert on light loads, but I have played around with loads in my .44 caliber '58. I have shot down to 21gr 3f. My accurate target load is 29gr 3f.
    A word of warning #
    Use caution with light loads as the rammer lever might not push the ball deep enough into the chamber to compress the powder and eliminate any air gap between the ball and powder. You can use c.o.w. or a wad to fill the gap.
     
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  5. bear166

    bear166 Member

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    Biggest thing like others mentioned is to use a filler. It's easy enough to push a ball out of the barrel (especially out of a revolver) if you go too light, but you need to be very careful not to leave an air gap. I just wanted to emphasize that point even though it's been stated, because it's important.

    Anyway, I can't contribute much as far as actual load info. Even a standard 25 grain charge is easy enough to handle and not especially loud, so I don't see much point in going lower than 20. If you really want a mild shooter, I'd suggest you get that next '51 in .36 caliber. Almost as easy shooting as a .22, and historically accurate to boot. Just my two cents. If you're set on loading your .44s light, Mike's advice seems sound to me.
     
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  6. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    I'm currently bidding on a .36 caliber 1851.

    But yeah, for me, it isn't at all about the recoil, just the loudness of the charge. But as I said, I'm kinda getting interested in it more after watching several on YouTube,....like duelist1954.
     
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  7. bear166

    bear166 Member

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    Well if the loudness concern is for the consideration of your neighbors or something to that effect, then that's understandable. Otherwise I find black powder to be far more tolerable than smokeless regarding the noise produced (low boom vs. sharp crack). Not that I'd ever forget to put on my hearing protection... But if I "hypothetically" did, I would note that even a hot 45-70 does not bother my ears. o_O
     
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  8. bear166

    bear166 Member

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    And to add, the duelist is a great resource in all things black powder. I also recommend Guns of the West and Duke Frazier, if you aren't already familiar.
     
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  9. 792mauser

    792mauser Member

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    There's always the little .31 caliber revolvers.
    They take pipsqueek little charges.
     
  10. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    Best idea yet^^^^
     
  11. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    I regularly have used 10 grains of 3Fg, with two .44 felt wads, then with a .451 ball in my brass framed Pietta .44's. I also used 10 grains of 3Fg and 10 grains of corn meal in my Remington 1858. These were "plinking loads". IF I wanted to do a Cowboy Action Shooting Match, I'd up the loads to 18 grains, and use a felt wad for taking up space in both revolvers' cylinder chambers. It's important that you use .451 ball and not .454 for the light loads, as they provide the least friction, so less chance if you get for some reason a "squib" load, for the bullet to get stuck in the barrel.

    IF you ever get a squib load, you must immediately stop and ensure the barrel does not have a stuck ball.

    As for .45 Colt, I've used 15 grains of 3Fg, and then added a felt wad or two, so that the level of the powder and the wad within the brass was higher than the depth where the bullet will be seated. This is important as they make lighter lead bullets for the .45 Colt and Cowboy Action Shooting than the old standard 250 grain, and these are shorter than the old standard, so are not seated as deep. Again these were plinking or "parlor" loads. For Competition I used 20 grains of 3fg.

    LD
     
  12. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    Thank you, Loyalist Dave, and the rest of you, for this information. I really appreciate quality data to work with.

    So, as I am seeing this,....the issue with light loads is when you don't take up the extra space in the cylinder that would have been there with regular loads. I can see that. So using an extra wad or corn meal, and using a lighter ball is the key.

    And from what I'm hearing, this should also be the case if you're reloading 45 Colt? Using 15 grains and then inserting extra material before the bullet. I'm guessing that using felt wads in cartridge loads would work the same as black powder? In these cases, are you still using black powder, or smokeless powder?

    Again, I really appreciate the information. I've become less interested in shooting things like "9mm semi-auto pistols" and more so with revolvers like what I currently own.
     
  13. bear166

    bear166 Member

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    He was just referring to black powder cartridges, smokeless .45 Colt can be loaded as you would any other straight-walled smokeless cartridge.

    But yes, regarding black powder cartridge reloading, that's the general process. Only thing I would add is that most people would not be using lubed wads for BPCR, because extended contact between the lube and powder could interfere with the powder's effectiveness. Although maybe that is less important if you're also using filler in between. Nevertheless, your bullets will need to be covered in BP-friendly lube, which makes the lube on the wad unnecessary anyway. And you have other choices for the wad. I just use card wads myself. Other people don't even bother.

    If you're looking to get into BPCR, I highly recommend the Black Powder Cartridge Reloading Primer by Garbe and Venturino. Pretty quick read with almost everything you could possibly want to know (assuming you are familiar with the reloading process already, otherwise you will need to learn about that first). The neat thing about BPCR is that it can be as scientific as you want it to be... I start by finding the amount of powder necessary to mostly fill the case and just dump it in there - simple as that. But you can be far more technical about it, if you want to be. You probably do if you're looking for light loads. That book will get you sorted out.
     
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  14. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    YES Bear166 is quite correct, and I'm sorry I failed to mention those two points..., I was only talking BP or a substitute, and dry wads (I keep forgetting there are lubed wads; I've never used them) :oops:

    LD
     
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  15. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    I appreciate all the comments. :)
     
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  16. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I recall CAS discussions of caulk backer as a filler in reduced .45 LC etc.
     
  17. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I like cornmeal or rice flour as filler. The rice flour is especially great, since it actively soaks up moisture, keeping the black powder dry. You can shoot as low as a grain or two and still have barely enough oomph to launch the ball out the barrel. If I wanted to shoot the minimum possible powder charge, I would load one at a time, starting with one grain + filler, knocking the squib out of the barrel with a hammer and brass rod, and working up one added grain at a time until the ball leaves the barrel on its own, then add one extra grain to that minimal charge as insurance against squib loads.

    I must say though, that I don’t understand the logic of loading so small. These are meant to be shot as guns, not curios. I load my .36 no less than 18 grains at the range. For serious use, I load no less than 25 grains. The thought of loading a .44 less than even a weak .36 charge boggles the mind and feels like a waste of lead. I don’t imagine it would be much fun at the range either. The few weak detonations I’ve had sounded like a sparkler going off and the ball was going so slow, I could feel the ball’s friction in the rifling pulling the gun out of my hand. Not accurate, the ball barely punched paper, and the sound and feeling of shooting were unimpressive.

    The better use of filler in my experience is as a three grain hygroscopic buffer under the ball to protect the powder from moisture over extended loading.
     
  18. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    gtrgy888, it's about protecting my hearing as long as possible, so using less powerful loading is what I'd need to do. For me, it would all be about just the fun of shooting these types of revolvers. Anyway, that rice flour thing sounds like the best to use!
     
  19. gtrgy888

    gtrgy888 Member

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    I hadn’t thought of that reason. Be sure to use hearing protection regardless. The caps alone can get my ears ringing without the headphones, especially the magnum ones they all seem to make these days.
     
  20. Orion8472

    Orion8472 Member

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    Definitely will be using ear plugs and ear muffs.
     
  21. Lyle

    Lyle Member

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    My home made caps will make my ears ring. Ear protection is a must. The powder load doesn’t matter for the need for ear plugs.
     
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