Author Topic: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?  (Read 36532 times)

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #30 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.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #31 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.

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #32 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.

Offline Jim H

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #33 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).

Offline trekker111

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #34 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.


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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #35 on: September 16, 2014, 09:42:01 PM »
+1 thanks for the thorough answer!

Offline Rangeboss

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #36 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.

Offline Carl

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #37 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.

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #39 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.

Offline TexDaddy

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Offline Carl

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #41 on: September 17, 2014, 05:30:42 PM »
Matches will be easy to get after the end of the world hits the fan.   ::)

Offline Mortblanc

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #42 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.


Offline joeinwv

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #43 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.

Offline Carl

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #44 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

Offline joeinwv

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #45 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.

Offline Carl

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #46 on: September 17, 2014, 06:29:27 PM »
I like the idea.

Offline trekker111

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #47 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.

Offline KeithH

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #48 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.



Offline scoop

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #49 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

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #50 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.

Offline scoop

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Re: Are black powder rifles/pistols sustainable?
« Reply #51 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: