The Survival Podcast Forum

Armory, Self Defense, And EDC => Black Powder and Primitive Weapons => Topic started by: mangyhyena on September 09, 2011, 01:32:37 PM

Title: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: mangyhyena on September 09, 2011, 01:32:37 PM
What I mean is, if civilization permanently fell apart and no more bullets could be manufactured, would you be able to continue using a black powder firearm, even after your supplies for it ran out?  I've read that black powder can be made at home.  Can the other components also be made at home, like the lead ball and wadding?

What is the best black powder rifle in terms of DIY shooting materials, if this can be done?
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: endurance on September 09, 2011, 02:14:33 PM
It can probably be done if you could still scavange, but you might be better off with a flint lock rather than a percussion cap black powder rifle.  Percussion caps are much more reliable, but they're not something you could manufacture with the materials around you, like you could with black powder itself (which isn't easy, but I've heard of folks successfully making it or something very much like it).

Lead could easily be recovered from wheel weights and car batteries, so I think they'll be around for generations.  You just need the proper mould. 

For calibers, generally .32 is the equivelent of a .22 and good for small game.  .50-.54 calibers are for big game. 
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Storm on September 09, 2011, 02:25:15 PM
Caps for a percussion one would be your biggest issue I think, but forethought on your part can leave you with a large supply of them. Powder can also be an issue. Whether you plan on storing it or actually learning to make it, and have the resources available, is one way to go. My great-uncle made all of his own hunting supplies years and years ago. I have several percussion cap rifles, but a flintlock would be handy in a pinch.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: soupbone on September 09, 2011, 02:44:09 PM
I've heard tell that a flintlock musket around .50 cal is the ultimate survival gun. Whatever you can stuff down the front, you can shoot out again. For smaller game, you can load it down, for the larger, you can go "loaded for bear".

It's this versatility that kept (keeps?) them so popular in remote areas. Muzzle loaders were a common sight in Appalachia, until war surplus rifles became so inexpensive.

In so far as making your own black powder, yes, we all know the 3-2-1 formula, but where will you get sulfur? Or saltpeter? And even if you had the components, how do you mix them safely and how do you get the grain size you need to function in a musket without blowing it up? This will require some study and homework now, while everything is still available. (Please check the applicable laws to see if you can legally experiment with making your own black powder.)

A musket is preferable to a rifle because a rifle fouls easily and is more difficult and time consuming to load. As far as accuracy, I've seen a properly loaded, Chesapeake Bay custom made smooth-bore put 3 shots into a group with all holes touching at 50 yds.

Couple the musket with a similar caliber flintlock pistol (or two), and you will be much better off in the years after an event than your buddy with a tricked out M-1A/AR/AK/FAL, and no ammo.

soup
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: mangyhyena on September 09, 2011, 03:38:23 PM
Interesting.

I've read that muskets can be loaded with birdshot, like a scatter gun.  Is that true?

How would you all rate a flintlock against a big bore air rifle, for the long haul during a time when ammo & replacement parts may be unavailable?
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Bradbn4 on September 09, 2011, 03:56:47 PM
Interesting.

I've read that muskets can be loaded with birdshot, like a scatter gun.  Is that true?

How would you all rate a flintlock against a big bore air rifle, for the long haul during a time when ammo & replacement parts may be unavailable?

While big bore air rifles are "neat" - and can be used for extended time periods, the ammo used for the big bore is harder to make.  Lets say you had a time period of 5 years could a PCP big bore air rifle work?  Yes, full charged scuba tank would last that long.  I would expect ammo supplies to be good to go.

For the good small game rifles the ammo would be almost impossible to mfg - while some of the larger air rifles can use standard molds.   For past 10 years I would rate flint log a somewhat better deal.  While gun powder is not hard to make, it's hard to make safely.   I would think that the seals necessary to support the big bore rifle would go down hill and make that choice less suitable. 

At this point someone who knows the story of Lewis and Clark will point out that they took an airgun on their trip.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: soupbone on September 09, 2011, 04:57:02 PM
Yes, smooth-bores can be loaded with shot. The Tower Musket - the Brown Bess - was patterned after a high grade fowling piece of the early 1700s, IIRC. I've often wondered what it would be like to get a smooth-bore  in a modern caliber, say 20 ga or .410. That way modern slugs could be used for big game, and shot wads, etc., could be used for small game.

An air gun is also a good idea - although not in the big bore class. Big bores are usually pre-charged pneumatics - they store a 3-4,000 psi charge of air, and have seals that will wear out over time. A .25 cal. spring gun can be had for @ $400, and stored indefinitely if left uncocked. .25 cal is powerful enough for medium-small game at short range, and in a pinch can be used for self defense. (Better than a Sharp Stick School of Self Defense.)

If you get a scope for a springer, make sure its an air gun scope. Normal rifle scopes cannot withstand the forward and back recoil of a spring gun, and will be ruined in short order. Likewise, NEVER dry fire a spring gun. The act of getting the pellet moving down the barrel cushions the piston at the end of its stroke. Without this cushioning, the piston slams into the end of the cylinder. This will ruin the gun in 2 or 3 shots. Airgun ammunition is inexpensive enough that you can conceivably stock up several lifetime supplies in no time.

Sorry to go off on a tangent...........

soupbone
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: d0j0w0 on September 09, 2011, 06:36:51 PM
As to the question of wadding; this can be made with any number of nonsynthetic materials: cotton, canvas, wool, paper, foil, cardboard and maybe even leather.

Balls can be made out of car batteries, wheel weights, lead flashing, still used on roofs from time to time, and plumbing fixtures,  some lead/tin solders could be used.  Molds should be purchased ahead of time but in an emergency could be made from clay, wood, or plaster (results may vary). 

For around $200 bucks a large amount of black powder and primers and lead balls could be put up for years of shooting.

True black powder can lasts for many many years as long as it is kept dry and in a sealed container.  Black powder substitutes are also available but I'm not certain of how long they last.

I'm sure black powder can be made at home, but I don't think I would try. (OK, I would try) 

Smokeless powder SHOULD NEVER BE USED IN A BLACK POWDER FIRE ARM.
(NO REALLY, NEVER!)

*I posted a similar response earlier, but I don't know where the hell it went?"
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Storm on September 09, 2011, 06:54:51 PM
Interesting.

I've read that muskets can be loaded with birdshot, like a scatter gun.  Is that true?

How would you all rate a flintlock against a big bore air rifle, for the long haul during a time when ammo & replacement parts may be unavailable?

I've got a few smaller airguns and while they're great for what they are, I'd never really depend on them in any kind of long term survival situation.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: jasperg357 on September 09, 2011, 08:01:39 PM
I own a 50 cal. percussion rifle and I make my own bullets which is pretty simple if you have the right molds.
As far as using it in a SHTF situation I can see were it would come in pretty handy if civilization is pretty much knocked back 100 years with no chance of recovering in are life time. Black powder if stored properly will last a very long time. But why not just store extra ammo for a modern weapon? If properly stored it will last pretty much just as long. And I would hate to been in a gun fight with some one with a Ar-15 and me with only a one shot black powder rifle.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: mangyhyena on September 10, 2011, 12:22:20 AM
I own a 50 cal. percussion rifle and I make my own bullets which is pretty simple if you have the right molds.
As far as using it in a SHTF situation I can see were it would come in pretty handy if civilization is pretty much knocked back 100 years with no chance of recovering in are life time. Black powder if stored properly will last a very long time. But why not just store extra ammo for a modern weapon? If properly stored it will last pretty much just as long. And I would hate to been in a gun fight with some one with a Ar-15 and me with only a one shot black powder rifle.

Just hit what you aim at and you can add an AR-15 to your supplies.  Oh, and you should probably ambush Mr. AR-15 guy from behind. 
You've got to look at situations like that in a more positive light. ;D.

I agree with storing regular ammo, which I do.  I was just wondering about the sustainable angle for future generations.  Also, I think flintlocks are pretty neat and knew I'd learn something from you all if I posted about them.

What I'd really like to own is one of those black powder pistols with the blade under the barrel.  It looks slightly larger than a Derringer and I think I read somewhere it was a pirates' type gun for boarding and repelling a boarding.  No big survival reason for wanting this, I just want it some day because it looked unique.  I'd also like a BP Derringer for the same reason.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: LdMorgan on November 25, 2011, 11:04:04 AM
A person can make their own black powder--but it's a fairly tedious & complicated process if you want a quality product with consistent performance.  Caking and grinding, for example.

If not percussion, then flintlocks. If not flintlocks, then matchlocks.

Shot can be made without molds--it just requires a shot tower, a little gravity, and some water down below.

If technology dropped back a hundred to two hundred years, I'd probably just say heck with it and go back to bows and arrows. Crossbows for hunting maybe, and longbows for war.

Longbows are more accurate at longer ranges, fire faster, don't reveal your location, and don't obscure your vision with clouds of smoke.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: bdhutier on November 25, 2011, 11:43:45 AM
A flintlock weapon is probably one of the most sustainable projectile weapons available.  It really doesn't matter whether it's a musket (military weapon) or not, rifled or smoothbore.  I guess the smoothie does have the advantage of a good shot pattern ve. the rifle, but when talking roundball, it really doesn't matter.  Blackpowder is all I would hunt with, since it's the most sustainable, but my home/personal defense weapons are all centerfire. 

FYI, patches are wrapped around bullets, and can be made of damn near anything as long as it's a natural material (no polyester, etc.).  Wadding goes between powder and shot, or under balls in revolvers (if you choose to use them, which I don't).  Bullet molds are cheap, and a must for survivability.  And yes, I know of many people who hunt rabbit and squirrel with a .58 or bigger with reduced loads.

Soupbone: .62cal is just a hair bigger than a 20ga (.620 vs. .596).  I've been thinking about trying shot cups in my .72 SxS, but I really don't want the plastic to streak the bore.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: rustyknife on November 25, 2011, 06:37:38 PM
I have a "flinter" and shoot it when I can for the vary same reasons mentioned above. However if you go with a flinter, practice as often as you can in all kinds of weather. Learn to knap your own flints. They are really fun to shoot and I love to read the history books about that time period but they can be finicky.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: madcatter on January 26, 2012, 05:42:22 AM
as long as your a better shot than us you could probably survive
we have ordered a mill and are going to expirement on making our own black powderthis summer.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7SzfrOhaLU
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: hillclimber on January 26, 2012, 09:31:12 AM
Well, I have a modern "inline" muzzle loader because it extends my hunting season by 2 weeks.
I use black powder substitute most of the time, as well as shotgun primers and sabots.
I do have a mold for it just in case. 209 primers are pretty cheap when bought in bulk, and so it black powder. I guess I wouldn't want it to be my only weapon, but it is a accurate and powerful weapon.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: drick on July 01, 2012, 04:18:18 AM
i like 50 cals .
atm mine are cap fired , but with some simple blacksmithing could add a flash pan(thats something i should address now)
have shot 4shot out of my oldest rifle. (can damage rifeling)
DIY powder is doable (be safe and legal)
balls can be made of anything (if SHTF happens there will be useless cars ,no worries)

tools and know how are priceless
just a few thoughts
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: flinttim on July 01, 2012, 08:40:21 AM
Morning folks. I'm new to the forum but think I can add something here. As background, I have been building and shooting muzzle loaders since 1981, having built 50 plus guns of various types. Of the 50, maybe three or four were caplocks, all the rest , flintlocks. Along the way I have also gathered several .22s and shotguns and the last few years took a shine to WW2 military rifles(bolt action). I cast all my own balls for my M/Ls as well as make my own flints . As I shoot in competition regularly I keep a good amount of powder on hand. Likely enough to keep me the rest of my days if it's for food gathering and protection. Now having said all this, what gun ? If you rely on a M/L for your life in the early days of a SHTF situation you'll likely die. You'll go down fast in a firefight with folks carrying Centerfires and even .22s. You'll just be completely outgunned. I suppose I'm way above average when it comes to using a flintlock efficiently and accurately but I would hold out little hope in that scenario for myself and family. I'd surely take some of my flintlocks and would use them for food gathering if I'm in a safe place but for protection I'd rely on my shotguns and my military rifles..Eventually the modern ammo will be used up or be in the hands of honorable people (would there be such a thing ?) and once we are on that more level playing field my flintlocks would be indispensable .
  I also shoot traditional archery a lot. Own several recurves and longbows. They would be my go to stuff for silent hunting .There is no one magic gun or weapon. Have several.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Perfesser on July 01, 2012, 12:19:50 PM
This is a pretty good example of "once we have technology will we ever go back?"

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take long for someone to figure out how to hook up a piezoelectric BBQ lighter to a black powder rifle if needed.
Or one from a cigarette lighter.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Prepper32720 on July 04, 2012, 06:45:24 AM
I am an avid black powder shooter.  My advice, for what it is worth, is to have a smooth bore and a rifle in the same caliber. 
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: chrisdfw on July 04, 2012, 03:48:51 PM
This is a pretty good example of "once we have technology will we ever go back?"

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take long for someone to figure out how to hook up a piezoelectric BBQ lighter to a black powder rifle if needed.
Or one from a cigarette lighter.

I bet if you looked you could find something like that. Hint hint they exist.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: chrisdfw on July 04, 2012, 10:38:49 PM
Any, I wanted to add, that while I considered black powder guns for a while, if you are thinking about a percussion cap model, why not just get one of the revolvers in a caliber that started off as a black powder model.

If you have to stock up on primers anyway, you can go ahead and reload a brass case with black powder.

If you are casting a bullet, cast one to reload a brass case.

I just don't see a big advantage to a cap and ball pistol, if you have to have primers anyway. Get a lee loader and just reload a brass case. There is a reason why technology moved on. Pretty much the same goes for rifles, at least those with a straight wall case.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: bcksknr on July 05, 2012, 08:33:02 AM
Never bring a knife for a gunfight. Never bring a club for a flintlock fight. I guess there are two ways of looking at the question. In the immediate circumstances surrounding a societal collapse you would probably want to have the most up to date and potent firearms, with plenty of ammunition. to counter evil-doers who no doubt will be similarly armed. For the long run, if you can survive, eventally the ammunition will run out and modern weapons will break down. This could take a long time; perhaps a generation or more. Depending on how chaotic things got, our descendants may very well have to revert to simpler technology, for many skills. I shoot blackpowder firearms on a regular basis. We all know how easy it is to make a serviceable black powder (all the ingredients are available at a garden supply store). Flint or flint-like stone is found just about every where. Lead is easy to scrounge from wheel weights, car batteries, old plumbing, etc. I agree that a flintlock may not be the best "high capacity" defensive weapon, but it beats the heck out of a stick. A musket ball will kill you just as dead as a jacketed hollow point! Our ancestors built and maintained these types of firearms by hand without modern manufacturing techniques. They used simple substances (taken from the earth) and chemistry to keep them operating. They put food on the table and protected their families. Our children or grandchildren may have to do the same. Even if we can rely on a stash of modern weapons, we owe it to future generations to preserve, and pass on, the knowledge to survive at a diminished level of technology, if it comes to that. A true survivalist should study the technology of pre-industrial revolution society (by the way thats also the society that made what they needed without raping our planet!). How much of that knowledge could you put to use if you had to; how much could you teach to your kids?
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: bdhutier on July 05, 2012, 10:28:05 PM
Center-fire for defense, BP for hunting.  If you live out a ways, I'd suspect you'd do a lot more hunting than defending in the long run. 

If things are SO bad they last years and years, then your grand kids will probably be shooting the remainder of that 25lb case of 2F you bought.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: mangyhyena on July 08, 2012, 07:02:12 AM
Thanks again for your take on this.  Learned a thing or two.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Lostjagged on September 15, 2014, 04:12:25 PM
Quote
In so far as making your own black powder, yes, we all know the 3-2-1 formula, but where will you get sulfur? Or saltpeter? And even if you had the components, how do you mix them safely and how do you get the grain size you need to function in a musket without blowing it up? This will require some study and homework now, while everything is still available. (Please check the applicable laws to see if you can legally experiment with making your own black powder.)

The charcoal is easy enough to make and I have read that saltpeter can be "made" from manure (I've seen a detailed article on using chicken manure in either Backwoods home or The Backwoodsman magizines) . I do not know of any way to "make" sulfur at this time though.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: iam4liberty on September 15, 2014, 09:19:20 PM
The charcoal is easy enough to make and I have read that saltpeter can be "made" from manure (I've seen a detailed article on using chicken manure in either Backwoods home or The Backwoodsman magizines) . I do not know of any way to "make" sulfur at this time though.

I read that article too.  Near where I grew up there was an old sulfur mine down the road from a huge chicken farm.  The article made me wonder if that was a coincidence or if it evolved that way to support the huge blackpowder industry of the past.

MSB vendor paladin press has a book on DIY blackpowder making.  It goes into sources and extraction methods for the various ingredients.  One interesting one for sulfur is gypsum drywall.

Back to the topic on hand, a single shot center fire shotgun can easily be used as a muzzle loader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES59LtA7XE8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES59LtA7XE8)
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: trekker111 on September 15, 2014, 09:39:31 PM
Sulphur is cheap, like 6 or 8 dollars for a 40lb bag, and it lasts basically forever. Keep it dry and 100 years from now it will still be good.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: mnotlyon on September 16, 2014, 08:32:27 AM
This is a pretty good example of "once we have technology will we ever go back?"

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take long for someone to figure out how to hook up a piezoelectric BBQ lighter to a black powder rifle if needed.
Or one from a cigarette lighter.

About 30 years ago I made a 22 caliber pistol that used black powder as a propellant, and a cox glow plug to light it off. Batteries were stored in the grip, and the trigger actuated a mini switch to light the glow plug.
I built it before the days of CNC's. It takes a bit longer, but it's not hard.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Smurf Hunter on September 16, 2014, 08:57:22 AM
I don't have muzzle loading experience, but have thought considerably about sustainable ammo for some time.

If you're satisfied with either stockpiling percussion caps, or possibly repriming yourself using matchheads, etc.  why not just do the same with centerfire primers and have some black powder compatible cartridge guns?

Any manual loading cartridges guns like revolvers/lever/bolt/pump/break action could cycle a cartridge if BP had to be substituted for smokeless.

My general plan:
accumulate LOTS of primers - this are the most universal reloading component and will always have value
accumulate commercially made smokeless and possibly black or substitute powder if needed
know how to manufacture BP using old school recipes in the event it's needed
know how to reprime a primer

Given that $100 will easily get me 3000 name brand primers, it's feasible to just stockpile for the modern cartridges you already use.  If you want to get into BP/muzzle loading for a hobby - DO IT.  Otherwise you'll start sounding like the guys who drive 1960s pickup for the primary purpose of being EMP resistant.   ;D

There are many low power pistol loads that require only 2-3 grains of smokeless powder.  If you figure $25 for a 1 lbs. jar,  (7000 grains per pound), that's almost 3000 charges from 1 lbs. costing about 1 penny per.

SO - I think the solution might be to identify cartridges that are cheap to hand load and have the functional characteristics you desire.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: joeinwv on September 16, 2014, 09:02:11 AM
I like these scenarios - so things are so bad that we are back to flintlocks - but your food, shelter and water are all so squared away that you have literally weeks of free time and all you need is:
- Sulfur from somewhere (a mine?)
- Saltpeter made from chicken manure (anyone know exactly how this is done?)
- Flint (I don't have an easy source here - do you, can you knap a piece that fits your gun?)
- Charcoal (Have you ever tried making it?)

Get a 45-70 - you can easily swap between smokeless and black powder, just stock up on primers.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: joeinwv on September 16, 2014, 09:08:43 AM
1. Buy 10,000 rounds of 22LR
2. Don't shoot more than 2 rounds per day
3. You are now good for more than 13 years

Black powder is also very hygroscopic and corrosive. Plan well on how to store it long term. And don't blow yourself up.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: endurance on September 16, 2014, 04:31:27 PM
I always wondered about the cased black powder guns, like 30-40 Krag and 45-70 (and .45 long colt?) and whether there are any guns you could use with either black powder or modern smokeless powders.  That seems like it would be a great contingency gun if it was doable, since you could potentially get the quick loading of a cartridge, the reliability of modern primers, and the ability to use either homebrew black powder, modern black powder or smokeless.  ...In theory.  I'm not sure modern guns can actually run either.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Jim H on September 16, 2014, 05:57:34 PM
I always wondered about the cased black powder guns, like 30-40 Krag and 45-70 (and .45 long colt?) and whether there are any guns you could use with either black powder or modern smokeless powders.  That seems like it would be a great contingency gun if it was doable, since you could potentially get the quick loading of a cartridge, the reliability of modern primers, and the ability to use either homebrew black powder, modern black powder or smokeless.  ...In theory.  I'm not sure modern guns can actually run either.

45 Colt works fine in my Vaqueros and Rossi 92 - it is the most popular round in the SASS black powder class matches I've shot. A close second is 357 loaded to 38 special velocities. 44 Special and 44-40 are also popular. 12 gauge works too, but the smoke....

The amount of smoke produced shooting a stage (typically 10 pistol, 10 rifle and 4 shotgun) has to be seen to be believed. In still air. I habitually fire my second pistol in a semi-squat so I can see the targets under the cloud. The shotgun is a real issue - I can usually get the second shot of my double off before it's obscured, but when I have to reload and shoot the next two the seconds wasted finding them can be a real issue.

A lot of fun playing, but if I was using black powder tactically I'd be thinking about shooting through bushes to disburse the smoke. I'd never want to use it indoors, unless I wanted to smoke everyone out.

Black powder also has a very distinctive sound - a deeper boom, rather than the smokeless crack. Also tends to throw a flame out the front, so maybe shooting through a bush might not be such a good idea after all (nothing gives away your position quite like a forest fire).
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: trekker111 on September 16, 2014, 09:28:52 PM
I shoot a lot of black powder in cartridges, namely 45-70, 45 colt, .410 shotshell, and 12 gauge.

Any non-gas operated gun CAN fire black powder, with some caveats.

Many more modern cartridges just don't have the cartridge capacity to be useful with black powder. The old black powder cartridges, the most commonly available today being 45-70, 44-40, 45 colt, 38 spl, all shotguns shells. There are others, but those are the most common. These rounds are just as effective with black powder, as they are in their standard smokeless loadings, and are often loaded to +p pressures with smokeless. The factory smokeless loads in these cartridges are actually loaded to approximate the BP load, and are even down loaded a bit. Some cartridges designed for smokeless powder will suffer piss poor performance with BP, some possibly dangerously so.

Some actions lend themselves better to black powder, any single shot, double barrel, lever action, or bolt action can do well with bp, as long as the cartridge chambered in them is also suitable. Recoil operated gunsncan be dirty to the point the jam in short order, gas operated guns even more so, however, these guns are normally chambered in cartridges that don't work well with BP, the ruger carbine in 44 mag being the notable exception off the top of my head.

Some cons to black powder:

It is dirty, but when fired from cartridges it burns much more efficiently than fired from muzzleloaders.

It is smokey, yet again, from a cartridge it is noticeably less than a muzzleloader.

And , it has to be loaded into a full case, which means if you want to get more power than standard, you have to go to a longer case, less powerful you have to use something to fill the space left in the cartridge. There are extransteps to cleaning then brass when use with bp, I won't go over that here, other than YouTube abounds with info, which is where I learned.

The main  pros: cases last a long time. In my 45-70 I was getting 4 or 5 loadings from my cases with +p+ smokeless loads, 8 or 10 with standard smokeless loads. I have cases that have been loaded with only BP, that have been loaded 20 times. BP is versatile, there is no smokeless powder that I can use, and get good performance out of rifles, pistols, and shotguns. In shotguns, you can use plastic hulls, but I prefer all brass hulls. BP is hard on plastic hulls and components, and are pretty much limited to 1 reload, maybe 2, and you can have some considerable plastic fouling in your bore. BP burns hot and slow enough it melts the plastic.

Reloading shot shells can save on components, and therefore cost. If you have ever taken apart a modern shotshell, there is a lot of dead space inside which the components take up. Reloading a shotshell requires  that then powder charge, wads, shot cup, and shot all come out to the right height to get an proper crimp on the plastic shell. So you are often having to match certain shot cups to certain hulls.

With bp and brass hulls, it is simplified. I use magtech hulls for 12 gauge, and hulls I made for 410, made from 303 British brass. They use Large pistol primers, the same as my 45 colt. I prime the hull by hand pressing the primer into the pocket, then using a wooden dowel to tap the hull down onto the primer on a flat hard surface, then i pour in the measured charge of bp, then seat a cardboard card I cut, usually from non-corrugated cardboard which is destined to be burned or hauled off, using the dowel. Then I put in a couple wads which I cut from Styrofoam meat trays, or from corrugated cardboard. Then I add the shot, either a measured charge of bird shot, or by counting buckshot pellets. Over the shot I put another cardboard card. The card is sealed by running a bead of some sort of glue around the edge. I've used white school glue, wood glue, silicone, and white bathroom chaulk. Technically if they are not jostled around they won't need sealed, but I always do. Load column height matters not. In will usually finish it off by writing the shot size on the top card with a sharpie.

My loads are: 45-70: 70grains of ffg and either a 405gr homecast lead bullet. 45 colt: 40gr ffg and a 250gr home cast. 12 gauge: 70gr of ffg, and either 1 ?oz of 7½, or 9 pellets of 00. 410 is 30gr ffg and ½oz of 7½ or 3  pellets of 000. I haven't started casting buckshot yet.

My bullets are cast from scrounged lead, old plumbing fixtures, corroded fishing weights, roofing lead, old lead pipes, wheel weights. When I see lead, I grab it, and I will go by the scrap yard and buy lead people have sold for scrap. I have a lot of lead melted down, cleaned, and cast into ingots.

Lubricant for the bullets can be made in advance and stored, or beeswax can be used.

Clean up can be simplified too, with black powder. Soap and hot water. You don't need special black powder solvents. Then clean like normal, if needed. I usually just swab out the bore with hot soapy water till the water runs clear, wipe down the outside with a wet soapy rag, and the internal parts, then oil.

You can still use jacketed bullets also.

The NEF/H&R guns jack did a podcast about are great platforms for bp, and they are chambered in several cartridges suitable for bp. (357 mag, 44 mag, 444 marlin, 45-70, 500 s&w, 45 colt/410, and all the shotguns.

Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: endurance on September 16, 2014, 09:42:01 PM
+1 thanks for the thorough answer!
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Rangeboss on September 17, 2014, 12:32:10 PM
I own several BP rifles, all 50 cal... for a reason. I made about 25 lbs of ball for them in the shade of a tree in my orchard. My 7 yo daughter helped. I recently bought some tires and asked about lead wheel weights. The owner was happy to give my a half full 5 gal bucket, about 80 lbs.

I have several thousand rounds of .223 and 5.56.. I would keep ALL my guns of course, but in a SHTF situation, I would only use BP when things really calmed down.

I run a large Youth Shooting program and keep about 50,000 .22 on hand. It would be very useful in that situation. I would have to assume my program would collapse in that situation, but I know all the shooting families in the county who like organized events. I think some planning could pull a lot of us together. We joke about SHTF, but a couple phone calls could put together quite an interesting group, quickly.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Carl on September 17, 2014, 03:04:42 PM
Black powder is not the only powder, there is GREY powder and RED powder made from easy to find components(like RUST from iron or steel...and sugar)...but recipes are not hard to find and the powder is not hard to make. Simple caps for a childs cap gun will fire a black powder gun also. A country boy on a budget used to do that all the time for fun with my...his home made black powder shotgun.

Poor mans James Bond , the anarchists cookbook,and most any Paladin press book will give plenty of detail, the info is not hard to find.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Smurf Hunter on September 17, 2014, 04:01:05 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gYPdNAp9Q0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gYPdNAp9Q0)
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Knecht on September 17, 2014, 04:45:00 PM
I was wondering if it's worth the work and investment to re-bore one of those cheap Ardesa (Traditions) inline muzzleloading rifles for smooth bore. Would be much more versatile, just like the old muskets, while keeping the reliable W209 percussion system and quite care-free stock and ramrod. I have the short Tracker model and like it, just don't think the rifling makes too much difference in accuracy at the distance I'd feel sure using it to hunt. That being said, I can always go primitive with just my old 18mm smoothbore wheellock. But the inlines are so cheap and plentiful and reliable and hard to break...why not try "musketize"one.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: TexDaddy on September 17, 2014, 05:07:57 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gYPdNAp9Q0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gYPdNAp9Q0)
That was a lot of effort for one cartridge.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Carl on September 17, 2014, 05:30:42 PM
Matches will be easy to get after the end of the world hits the fan.   ::)
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Mortblanc on September 17, 2014, 05:32:25 PM
I was wondering if it's worth the work and investment to re-bore one of those cheap Ardesa (Traditions) inline muzzleloading rifles for smooth bore. Would be much more versatile, just like the old muskets, while keeping the reliable W209 percussion system and quite care-free stock and ramrod. I have the short Tracker model and like it, just don't think the rifling makes too much difference in accuracy at the distance I'd feel sure using it to hunt. That being said, I can always go primitive with just my old 18mm smoothbore wheellock. But the inlines are so cheap and plentiful and reliable and hard to break...why not try "musketize"one.

No real need to re-bore, the traditions rifling is so shallow it will have little influence and most the guns you find in used condition have been neglected to the point that the rifling is rusted out completely anyway.

If the bore is rough just find a 13mm reamer and run it down the tube.  You might have to weld a section of round stock to the reamer to reach the bottom of the barrel.

On the American frontier there were a lot of rifles that were used for decades and "freshed out" so many times they could no longer have new rifling cut into the barrels, they would be reamed smooth and used for either shot or single ball.  Many of those beautiful "Kentucky rifles" you see in the historic books are actually smoothbores for this reason.

The gunsmiths on the frontier often kept very good records and one will find that they made smoothbores, or "smoothrifles" as they called them, at a rate of 4 smoothrifles to 1 rifled gun.

Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: joeinwv on September 17, 2014, 05:53:52 PM
Get a NEF / HR 45-70 and then ream it to 45-120 - the extra case capacity will help greatly with blackpowder cartridges. Lots of people do this for silouette shooting. Though at 500+ yards they do have quite a rainbow in trajectory.

Read up on revolutionary war guns - the 70cal smooth bore was fast to load but garbage for accuracy. Rifling is a huge advantage and was a reason armories were major targets - to get rifles.

When you see any renenactors - they will talk about musket accuracy, but in practice can't hit a man sized target at past 50 yards.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Carl on September 17, 2014, 05:57:19 PM
Get a NEF / HR 45-70 and then ream it to 45-120 - the extra case capacity will help greatly with blackpowder cartridges. Lots of people do this for silouette shooting. Though at 500+ yards they do have quite a rainbow in trajectory.

Read up on revolutionary war guns - the 70cal smooth bore was fast to load but garbage for accuracy. Rifling is a huge advantage and was a reason armories were major targets - to get rifles.

When you see any renenactors - they will talk about musket accuracy, but in practice can't hit a man sized target at past 50 yards.

   :jaw-drop:  The QUIGLY...an experimental gun with an experimental ammo ...we're not worthy, we're not worthy
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: joeinwv on September 17, 2014, 06:25:40 PM
   :jaw-drop:  The QUIGLY...an experimental gun with an experimental ammo ...we're not worthy, we're not worthy

Well, I mean you could stop at 45-90, but in for a penny....

Over on greaybeardoutdoors they have a HR forum and some of those guys are doing some very cool stuff. Lots of 357 Maximums - which is a great gun for preppers - can shoot max rounds for hunting, 357 for defense and 38 for practice.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Carl on September 17, 2014, 06:29:27 PM
I like the idea.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: trekker111 on September 17, 2014, 09:14:31 PM
Get a NEF / HR 45-70 and then ream it to 45-120 - the extra case capacity will help greatly with blackpowder cartridges. Lots of people do this for silouette shooting. Though at 500+ yards they do have quite a rainbow in trajectory.

Read up on revolutionary war guns - the 70cal smooth bore was fast to load but garbage for accuracy. Rifling is a huge advantage and was a reason armories were major targets - to get rifles.

When you see any renenactors - they will talk about musket accuracy, but in practice can't hit a man sized target at past 50 yards.

H&R makes a rifle in 45-70 called the buffalo classic. Long barrel, globe target sights. I have kicked around the idea of cutting the chamber to 45-110, but the nef/ h&rs i have shot have a lot of felt recoil. I wish the buffalo classic barrel was available in the accessory barrel program. There are a few barrels I would have fitted to my topper deluxe. A long barrel for 45-110, preferably, with a scope mount in addition to iron sights. And an 18" 12ga barrel with screw in chokes, both with the intention of shooting mostly bp cartridges in them. I am not concerned about historic authenticity, so I could care less about my long range black powder cartridge rifle having a steel crescent butt plate and case hardened receiver. The stainless receiver of my topper deluxe and a good rubber butt pad suit me just fine.

I would add a 16" 45 colt barrel as well, but I think for the roll that rifle would fill, a Rossi m92 lever action would be a better fit.

The guns I am running bp cartridges in are a marlin 1895g 45-70, a ruger vaquero revolver 45 colt, a H&R topper deluxe in 12ga, and a bond arms Texas defender 410/ 45colt.

I am planning to add a stoeger coach gun supreme 12ga, and a Rossi 92 in 45 colt. Probably both in stainless. I have a few 12ga pumps, but cycling can be hit or miss with the full length brass hulls.

As a side note, while typing the last reply, I remembered that the last shells I shot through my H&R were bp shells, and I can't remember if I had cleaned it since, which is probably 6 months ago. So I went and found it, and it was ugly. The action wouldn't open. I had to hold the button and smack the barrel to get the action to open. A look down the bore made me shudder. It looked like the bore was lined with grey fur, I looked at the muzzle and saw my expensive extra full extended and compensated turkey choke. So I started the hot water in the sink, squirted some dawn in the water, hooked a mop on my cleaning rod, stuck the muzzle in the water then pumped the mop up and down the bore. Wiped everything down with oil and it's good as new.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: KeithH on November 19, 2018, 09:15:40 PM
What I mean is, if civilization permanently fell apart and no more bullets could be manufactured, would you be able to continue using a black powder firearm, even after your supplies for it ran out?  I've read that black powder can be made at home.  Can the other components also be made at home, like the lead ball and wadding?

What is the best black powder rifle in terms of DIY shooting materials, if this can be done?
Advantages of a Flintlock Muzzle-loader.
1)   Ammo is less expensive than a modern equivalent caliber firearm.
2)   The smoothbore is very versatile, being able to digest round ball, bird shot, & buckshot, or any combination of two of these (can also use minies/conical slugs).
3)   The fusil is lighter to carry than a modern equivalent sized gun.
4)   You can vary the load if needs be.
5)   The smoothbore will digest other projectiles besides lead.
6)   Lead can be retrieved from downed game & remoulded with a simple mould & lead ladle. This means that you can carry less lead, & more of the lighter gunpowder.
7)   You can make your own gunpowder.
8)   You can use the lock to make fire without using gunpowder.
9)   You can use gunpowder for gunpowder tinder fire lighting if needs be.
10)    IF the lock should malfunction (these are very robust & it is not likely) you can easily repair it if you are carrying a few spare springs & a few simple tools.
11)   If you do not have any spare parts & the lock malfunctions, you can easily convert it to a tinderlock or matchlock & continue using it.
12)   You do not need a reloader, brass shells, caps, or primers. The latter have been known to break down in damp conditions or if they are stored for too long.
13)    Wadding for ball or shot is available from natural plant materials or homemade leather or rawhide.
14)   Less chance of being affected by future ammunition control legislation.
15)   Gunpowder is easily obtainable providing you have a muzzle-loader registered in your name regardless of calibre (NSW).
16)    A .32 caliber flintlock rifle is more powerful than a .22 rimfire, less expensive to feed, more accurate over a greater distance, able to take small & medium sized game, & other than not being able to use shot (unless it is smoothbore), it has all the attributes of the other flintlocks. For larger game you can load with conical slugs, which of course you can make yourself in the field.
17)   Damage from a .62 caliber or .70 caliber pistol or long arm is in the extreme. Wounded prey is unlikely to escape.
18)    By using buck & ball you are unlikely to miss your target. This load is capable of taking out more than one target.
19)    There is less kick-back to a muzzle-loading gun.
20)    Antique Flintlock muzzle-loading guns do not require a license, registration, or a permit to purchase in NSW Australia.

Smoothbores use wads or wading, which is sustainable in a wilderness situation.
Rifles use patches or patch material which is not sustainable in a wilderness situation, but you could use wadding in a rifle with a little loss in accuracy.
Percussion muzzle-loaders are not sustainable.
Flintlocks are sustainable.
In my opinion the smoothbore is far more versatile than a rifle, though you can get smooth rifles.
Keith.
(https://image.ibb.co/ncsuuf/Fusil-17-6-2016-001-REDUCED-2-BEST.jpg)
(https://image.ibb.co/nEcvjf/PISTOL-7-1-REDUCED-SMALLER.jpg)
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: scoop on November 20, 2018, 08:36:55 AM
Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Of course they are, take Capt. Kirk for example.
He was able to gather the ingredients for black powder, just look for conspicuous deposits of charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate.  :)

https://youtu.be/IDD3-2_wLR8?t=113
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: Alan Georges on November 20, 2018, 05:39:35 PM
Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Of course they are, take Capt. Kirk for example.
He was able to gather the ingredients for black powder, just look for conspicuous deposits of charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate.  :)

https://youtu.be/IDD3-2_wLR8?t=113
Well... Australia does have some pretty mean crocodiles.  In particular, watch out for the ones that walk upright and wear a mini-dress.
Title: Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
Post by: scoop on November 20, 2018, 07:34:34 PM
Well... Australia does have some pretty mean crocodiles.  In particular, watch out for the ones that walk upright and wear a mini-dress.
:rofl: