Author Topic: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder  (Read 3235 times)

Offline Taylor3006

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Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« on: October 11, 2013, 04:18:04 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?
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Offline trekker111

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 05:07:54 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

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 05:19:26 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.
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Offline trekker111

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2013, 01:46:49 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

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2013, 10:11:39 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

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2013, 10:31:25 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

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2014, 07:32:48 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.
 
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Offline The Sage of Monticello

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2015, 12:37:11 AM »
Just started pyrodex metallic cartridge loading. After cleaning gun down I rechecked it for cleaning then found heavy caked rusting on ejector rod and spring. Had to completely disassemble my six gun and found brown rust on my internals including leaf spring.

I load 35 grains pyro P under a light crimp 200 grain round nose. Tombstone is my problem I'm not doing a complete disassembly or is it the light crimp? Is this normal? I am in high humidity South East Oklahoma.
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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2015, 05:15:10 AM »
You are not thoroughly cleaning the firearm...that is the problem.
The nitrates and other powder components attract moisture and promote oxidation (rust)
I BOIL small arms,with wood grips removed,for 20 - 30 minutes and change out the soup for
fresh water and bring to a boil again...the use hotdog tongs to place the hot gun on a towel
to dry and relube ...replace grips when cool.

  The boil insures you get all of the chemicals,dirt ,and old lube out of the firearm...My method
of cleaning came from a very old book of skills for the independent woodsman...I will see if I
can find a digital copy as even the name escapes me now.
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Offline Mortblanc

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2015, 07:53:08 AM »
I break mine down and place the metal parts in the dishwasher, the small parts in a mesh bag in the silverware tray.

I take them out while hot and dry as Tombstone directed, then spray with a water displacer like WD40, then lube and assemble.

Be careful when disassembling, the hand spring that is attached to the hammer is very delicate and so is the two finger spring that controls the trigger and lock bolt.  Those are the two most common failures of the SSA design.

Offline The Sage of Monticello

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2015, 10:20:27 AM »
Thank you gentlemen. I will try the boiling method.
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Offline trekker111

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2015, 10:39:09 PM »
And pyrodex is more corrosive than black powder, which means even more cleaning attention.

Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2015, 07:52:55 AM »
trekker is right, Pyrodex is very corrosive.
As far as the crimp mentioned earlier, a tight crimp is better than light in black powder.
Also, stick with a non petroleum based lube, as it will clean easier and make life nicer.
The trigger/bolt spring can be had in a wire spring and is much more durable than the factory unmodified flat spring.
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Online Carl

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2015, 08:05:29 AM »
Besides being corrosive ,black powder and it's modern replacements tend to be hygroscopic and attract moisture and add to the corrosive tendency ...the possible separation of chemistry and weakening of powder and case components (like the PRIMER) so it is best not to store loaded cartridges for long term and use caution with weakened shells though about all they do is hold components together...but they do have to seal the chamber in the modern revolver.
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

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I am 100% in favor of TRIGGER CONTROL.

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Offline RipTombstone

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2015, 08:26:41 AM »
Black powder substitutes like 777, Pyrodex, and especially American Pioneer Powder (APP) are extremely hygroscopic. I used to use APP for my loads as I could meter it well off of my Dillon press. Well, all the little bits of dust that float around in that process end up making lots of little rust spots on equipment. Not too mention its performance wasn't that good compared to old fashioned real black powder.
I save the sub powders for my shotshell loads now, as its pretty easy to clean out a smooth pipe.

Not sure how long term you are talking for storing loaded cartridges, Carl, but I have some that have been loaded better than 5 years and they are still shooting fine, with no signs of lube contamination or weakening of powder. BUT, they are also stored well and not left in the hot car, etc.
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Online Carl

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2015, 09:01:47 AM »
In Louisiana ,with an average 80 to 90% humidity,long term is more like 6 months.
Stop complaining about life and start Celebrating it .

I've reached the age where there is little left to learn the hard way.

I am 100% in favor of TRIGGER CONTROL.

Your best piece of survival gear is your brain,
you should carry it with you every day.

Offline trekker111

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Re: Reloading modern revolver metallic cartridges with black powder
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2015, 04:09:50 PM »
Regardless of ammo type, smokeless, bp, or bpsub, I feel it is best stored as separate, unhandled, components.

I store cans of BP, 1lb ingots of lead, and primers, and only keep around 100 rounds of 45-70, 200 45 colt, and 20 or so shotshells loaded and ready. I have several pounds of pyrodex and 777, but only because it was clearanced and super cheap. I think I give less than $5 a pound for the triple 7, but its like my no other option, or barter reserve.

I always hit the clearance isle of Walmart after deer season is over and there always seems to be muzzleloader cleaning supplies, cans of propellant, and even projectiles that I can buy cheaper then lead and melt down. I use hot soapy water to clean up after bp normally, but will use some store bought stuff while on hunts, especially when spending a week or two in the swamps hunting pigs.