Author Topic: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder  (Read 1046 times)

Offline Taylor3006

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 482
  • Karma: 39
Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« on: October 11, 2013, 05:18:04 AM »
I just bought my first muzzleloader and have been looking over all the stuff written on the subject here, it got me pondering if it were possible to load bp metallic cartridges for say a 357 revolver? Besides all the cleaning that would have to be done, could this be a potential way to keep shooting if smokeless powder is banned? I do my own reloading now so am familiar with the technique just not anything BP related. Anyone else interested in this discussion?
"Can our form of government, our system of justice, survive if one can be denied a FREEDOM because he might abuse it?"    Harlan Carter

Offline trekker111

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 495
  • Karma: 38
Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 06:07:54 AM »
It is completely possible, I load bp loads for my 45 colt. There are a lot of cartridges still around that were originally bp loads. The metallic cartridge predates smokeless powder, and most cartridges that have a - in them, like 32-20, 44-40, 45-70, & 45-110 were originally bp loads. The first number being the caliber, the second the grains of bp.

Pretty much any cartridge could be loaded with bp, but cartridges designed for smokeless will have a performance drop. Bp is bulkier than smokeless, my 45 colt load is 30 gr of bp under a 250gr cast lead bullet. A smokeless load that approximates this load is only has 11gr of smokeless powder.

A 44 mag or 357 may not have the fps with bp as a factory load may, but duplicating the old loads for the old cartridges can actually show a performance gain over factory smokeless loads for that cartridge. You may only get 38 special performance out of your 357.

There are some different procedures for loading bp as well, but there is a ton of info online, and I think it's lyman that puts out a bp cartridge reloading manual.

The chances of smokeless powder getting banned without bp also getting banned is slim, especially since bp is considered to be an explosive, while smokeless is considered as flammable. But if push comes to shove, bp can be made at home with fairly primitive methods and equipment, although the quality and consistency of commercial bp is more elusive.

Offline Taylor3006

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 482
  • Karma: 39
Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 06:19:26 AM »
Yes after I posted, did a bit more googling and found quite a bit of info in the cowboy action shooting boards. BTW I said "banned" just to be succinct, more like unavailable, unobtainable, etc and after reading a bit, black powder seems a bit easier to make than smokeless powder. There is also the the possibility of TEOTWAWKI thingie. Was more curious about what kinds of primers, seems like you may need a bit more heat to touch off bp. Also interested in bullet types, lube info, and real life experience with firing them in modern firearms. Will check out the Lyman manual, sounds like what I am looking for.
"Can our form of government, our system of justice, survive if one can be denied a FREEDOM because he might abuse it?"    Harlan Carter

Offline trekker111

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 495
  • Karma: 38
Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2013, 02:46:49 PM »
I'm pretty sure that the flame from a large or small pistol primer is hotter than that from a number 11 percussion cap, and the distance the flame has to travel is much shorter than even an inline muzzleloader.

Just remember that while the processes will be the same between the loading of full power bp cartridges and cowboy action, with full power probably being easier, cowboy action loads are reduced velocity for cowboy action competition.

With bp, reducing velocity means reducing powder, and something needs to fill that void. Also increasing velocity means increasing powder, which is the reason for some of the massive old cartridges, like 45-110, and why loading bp in many cartridges doesn't work as a replacement for smokeless. There just isn't enough room in a 40 s&w, 308 winchester, or 223 remington to get comparable velocity.

Bp loads are fine in just about any gun except gas operated auto's, as long as you clean them. A gas operated gun would get crudded up fast.

Offline Mortblanc

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 198
  • Karma: 7
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2013, 11:11:39 AM »
Just keep in mind that when using BP you will need to fill the case up to capacity.  There should be no empty space of any air pocket between charge and projectile.

If you absolutely have to have "reduced" loads, then a filler is needed.

Many of the old favorites in their standard factory loadings are simply equivalent loadings to the original BP load.  A standard .38spl load duplicates the performance of the original full case of BP/158 gn slug.   

Offline Smurf Hunter

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1909
  • Karma: 57
Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2013, 11:31:25 AM »
I've not tried this, but have read a bit.

As I understand it, you charge BP based on volume (fill the case), whereas with smokeless it's based on weight.

This is just my hypothesis, but WRT to primer selection there's not necessarily a pressure risk using a "hotter" primer with a lighter charge - this past year I did a variety of tests using alternative primers in my .357mag GP100.  I used small pistol, small pistol mag, small rifle, all from a few brands.  My motivation wasn't just in the interest of science, rather I simply couldn't get the primers I wanted at the time.

The biggest issue I found was inconsistency in detonation.  The rifle primers were harder to dent, and 1/10 didn't go the first try.  All would fire eventually (upside of a revolver).

Evntually I plan to chronograph some powder puff .38spl loads using these different primers.  My bet is there'll be no change in velocity.

Offline RipTombstone

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: 7
    • Plum Creek Leather Works
Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2014, 08:32:48 AM »
I load full charge 45s for cowboy action shooting, and with a lighter bullet (150) I am pushing the bullet pretty quick. I use 3F in a 45 Colt case, filled about 1/8" to the top, then add one of my home cast Big Lube bullets in 150, 200, or 250gr and crimp tight. Works well, and is very capable of taking a deer if need be. Really nice in a rifle, pretty good in a pistol.
 
Sole employee of Plum Creek Leather Works
Life member SASS
http://www.freewebs.com/daltonmasterson/