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Black Powder Substitutes and Users Deserve Respect

03lover03lover Member Posts: 67 ✭✭
Black Powder Substitutes and Shooters Deserve Respect Also

First I want to say thanks to the Black Powder shooters. Without them I doubt those of us that enjoy the Black Powder Substitutes would be having our fun. I have tremendous respect for black powder shooters. They will maintain the traditional form of shooting black powder firearms as our forefathers did while having to endure the smoke and smell along with the awful clean up during and after all shooting sessions. I would hope the black powder shooters could show some respect for those of us that find a place in our black powder firearm shooting for the use of substitute powders. The use of the substitute powder does have its place for many shooters in a number of black powder firearms. It is determined by the shooters needs and desires and can serve the shooter well.

I see the major advantage of the Black Powder Substitutes as being long extended shooting sessions with my Ruger Old Army's without having to stop and perform a messy cleaning every 25 rounds to keep the gun operating. I don't have to be concerned about having to clean the gun as soon as I return home. My firearms are kept in a room with a dehumidifier that maintains relative humidity below 50% and rusting is not a problem. I clean at my convenience.

I feel there is a place for the Black Powder Substitutes. After shooting Black powder, I prefer the substitutes for use in my Ruger Old Army. They don't measure up well to black powder in rifles and I admit that. I don't miss the stink of Black Powder. I don't miss the many breaks in a shooting session for the frequent clean up required of the revolver to prevent the gun from freezing up due to black powder fouling. I don't miss the smelly clean up in the kitchen sink with my wife telling me never again. I do enjoy the long shooting sessions with little more than about every 20 to 25 rounds I run a damp patch down the bore. I do enjoy not having the bore so crudded up that accuracy goes away in just a few cylinders being fired. I do enjoy not having to rush home to clean my cap & ball revolver or lose it to rust. The next morning or the next day is fine and if you live in a dry climate perhaps next month or not until the next time it is used. If you live in a humid climate, clean it soon after shooting. This where I do disagree with the advertisements suggesting no clean up required after shooting their substitute powder. No sulfur no salts to cause rust. Your conditions may suggest otherwise. Powder residue that attracts water left in or on a steel gun is not a good combination.

I find the attacks on the Black Powder Substitutes and those that choose to use them, totally undeserved. Even many of the respected gun writers bash the Black Powder Substitutes. They are especially critical of the substitutes that clean up with just water. Isn't water a main item in cleaning a black powder gun? It always was when I cleaned my black powder rifles. They always go on to say the substitute powders that clean up with just water, attract water like a sponge rendering the powder useless in a short period of time. These critics also like to talk about the water attracting nature of the fouling left from shooting a Black Powder Substitute causing guns to rust like crazy due to the moisture attracted by the powder fouling. Hog wash with proper care.

So, can anyone tell me why normal gun care, perhaps the same as if you had fired real Black Powder, is not in order. What ever happened to the saying, "Keep your powder dry." Proper storage and the use of proper sealed containers prevents any powder from being affected by moisture in the air. Proper and timely cleaning of Black Powder firearms, even when a substitute powder is used, prevents all the problems the critics of Black Powder Substitutes suggest. Maybe what is really missing in the use of Black Powder or the Substitutes is common sense. Use whatever powder pleases you and use some common sense after your shooting session and you can avoid all the problems either powder can create.

I store all of my powders in the original containers. I place my frequently used containers in air tight ammo cans and my longer storage powder will have a desiccant bag added to the ammo can. Years of storage in this manner has shown no change in the nature of any of my powders.

I will admit the ballistics provided by most Black Powder Substitutes is not up to the level of good black powder. That isn't necessarily all bad. In the case of my Ruger Old Army's, I have two, and my shooting buddy has one, all three will shoot one ragged hole, ten shot groups at 50' with 20 to 25 grains of American Pioneer. I don't care how fast those round balls are going or not going when I am punching holes in paper, but I do care that they are not only all on the paper, but all in one ragged hole. I don't hunt with my Ruger, I shoot target and a number of different targets. Even Bowling pins.

These Ruger Old Army's do not like being pushed to high velocities with any powder. Accuracy falls off fast as the powder charges go up. My favorite 50 to 75 foot load is 19.1 grains of FFFG American Pioneer with 13.4 grains of corn meal on top of the powder and a .460" diameter cast pure lead ball seated on top. These charge weights are actual scale weights, not volume measurements. This combination provides the right amount of compression of the powder charge when the ball is rammed as far in as the rammer will permit. Some times I use a 1/8" thick dry felt wad on top of the corn meal. I am still not sure if the load with the wad is more or less accurate, the difference is too little. Also, when the wad is added, the bore stays squeaky clean through the entire day. This also makes for very consistent shot to shot compression. No grease on top of the ball. I have never had a chain fire. Use CCI number 11 caps. I found Remington caps to be very poor. Ignition inconsistent and accuracy poor.

When shooting bowling pins or other heavier targets, I go the 35 grains of FFFG American Pioneer. Accuracy is not quite as good as 20 grains, but with the ranges being shorter, hitting a pin is not a problem.


  • mbsamsmbsams Member Posts: 1,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    good lord what a rant -- but respect for corruption? I don't think so! They call'em black powder guns for a reason!
  • cbyerlycbyerly Member Posts: 689 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Storage of powder in sealed ammo cans is not a good idea. The NFC requires that the containers for exposives like powder be made of a material that will blow apart without acting like a hand grenade. Wood boxes are the preferred type.
  • anderskandersk Member Posts: 3,825
    edited November -1
    Oh come on ... they are called Muzzle loaders! Use whatever powder you like best. Myself, I love to shoot, but the clean up is not my big favourite activity. So I use Hodgdon 777 most of the time! I do not feel the need to apologize about it. It is my choice. I've tried most everything ... and I think I'm on target for my hunting and shooting values!
  • mazo kidmazo kid Member Posts: 648 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Well, to each his own. I would be a little careful in your rather casual cleaning regime as I believe the substitutes are just as corrosive as black powder. As far as being disrespectful, I have never done that as I know some areas are pretty much black powder-less. The substitutes are much more expensive than black powder; I have only bought one bottle of American Pioneer as I was curious...cost me nearly $20.00 at a time when black powder was selling for $8.00. Now I just order a case at a time and it gets delivered to my door for under $12.00 a pound. Black cleans up just as easily as the subs. Sorry, I didn't mean to carry on, just meant to say that you should shoot whatever you want. I'll shoot what I want and we will both be happy.
  • machine gun moranmachine gun moran Member Posts: 5,198
    edited November -1
    I agree, to each his own, and that even extends to anybody's fantasies. Ever wonder what would happen if cowboy shooting champions were suddenly forced to use .45 Colt revolvers with full-house black powder loads and 255-grain bullets? But if they want to shoot at sub-22LR energy levels, or even use blanks in competition, and call it cowboy shooting, that's up to them. They have their fun. And I have mine.

    The larger issue, I think, is to stop the fratricide and concentrate on the problems that Pelosi & Co. are going to cause for us, jointly.
  • anderskandersk Member Posts: 3,825
    edited November -1
    I said that I'm pretty much satisfied with the powder I use (Hodgdon 777) ... it works fine for my hunting and my shooting. I have used The real stuff (Goex Black Powder) and Pyrodex but from my experience Hodgdon 777 is easier to clean up. As we all know, they are all corrosive, but some are definitely worse than others!

    Please feel free to try them all and use what works best for you. Don't just go along with the mooing herd! [^]

    Another thought ... I use as a BP cleaning solution this green stuff called "Drover's Black Powder Solvent." It is made by a friend, and he is not telling anyone what he puts in it! [:D] His little cottage business is called "Black Powder Solutions." It make the clean-up a whole lot easier no matter what you're shooting! So try some different clean up liquids, too.

    I always tell people the shooting muzzle loaders is a tinkerers sport. So, keep on tinkerin' and makin' plenty of noise and smoke!
  • 03lover03lover Member Posts: 67 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thanks to all for your responses.

    I need to explain one thing. I was not at all concerned about myself being respected or not. I really wanted some to understand that the black powder substitutes have their place in the shooting game also. For those that choose to use the substitutes, they have their reasons and very often it is easier clean up. For me it is much longer shooting without the need for cleaning in addition to easy clean up.

    Black powder, similar powders and substitutes will all cause corrosion, but for different reasons. They all attract water in varing degrees and that will promote rusting. Proper cleaning is still required no matter what powder you choose.

    The recommendation to use whatever you prefer is the best advice. If it makes you happy and performs well for you, great. I just haven't cared to see so many bashing other products that they choose not to use and at times without any sound reasons or the reasons are the same ones for the black powder they feel is the only right choice. It was the product bashing I was complaining about, not a lack of respect for myself.

    I use both black powder and substitutes. I prefer the substitutes for my Ruger Old Army revolvers. That is my choice for reasons that please me. I continue to try new products on the off chance something even better will come along.
  • bull300wsmbull300wsm Member Posts: 3,289
    edited November -1

    I always tell people the shooting muzzle loaders is a tinkerers sport. So, keep on tinkerin' and makin' plenty of noise and smoke!

  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    I first used Remington caps in Colt Armies in about 1955 and they were inferior then.
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