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Smokeless in Black Powder revolvers - Moved

capguncapgun Member Posts: 1,848
On another site some experienced BP percussion shooters talk of shooting light target/plinking loads of unique in their repro percussion Colts. Loads that develop far less preesure than black powder loads. I know, never use anything but BP in BP guns. But is it really unsafe in very light loads, or do manufacturers just figure there are too many ignorant people who would use the wrong powder or too much powder. The pressure curve actually favors smokeless, as it does not peak as quickly in the cylinder. I know inexperienced people would be blowing up guns by filling up the chamber with smokeless powder, so it is just easier to say do not use it. The smokeless loads I am thinking of give less pressure than standard black powder loads, approx. 600-650 fps. I have never seen or heard of a test where smokeless was tested in a BP revolver. Maybe they are afraid a test would show that in light loads it is safe.


  • MMOMEQ-55MMOMEQ-55 Member Posts: 13,134
    edited November -1
    Go on and try it. Just make certain you have a video camera going at the time.[:p]
  • capguncapgun Member Posts: 1,848
    edited November -1
    Does that mean that you have some factual information to indicate that it is unsafe? Or did you just want to say something.
  • givettegivette Member Posts: 10,886
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by capgun
    Does that mean that you have some factual information to indicate that it is unsafe? Or did you just want to say something.

    I've been following the original string.

    We would be loathe to recommend a smokeless/nitro powder load for use in firearms designed for blackpowder on a public forum.

    That's why you had to re-submit the aren't getting anything substantive in the form of an answer/recommendation from me (us?). Best, Joe

    P.S.--If you need such information, I believe the starting loads of cartridges originally designed for BP such as 45-70, or .45Colt, etc. would suffice, as the engineers working up the loads have taken into consideration that the firearm may be either reproduction, modern, or a period piece.
  • SoreShoulderSoreShoulder Member Posts: 3,040 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Bill Ruger did it himself. He said the nipples had to be drilled through because the ignition was too weak and slow.

    Spend a little time googling it. You will probably find something.

    We are of course talking about the Ruger Old Army here. It is made from the same stuff as modern guns. I am sure even one of the better repros might burst.

    If you must try it, I would definitely load one chamber at a time. Maybe improvise a machine rest.
  • 1911a1-fan1911a1-fan Member Posts: 51,193 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    smokeless powder is designed to be used in a case, in that case there is what they call "boiler room", it is the amount of empty space left inside the case, and believe it or not the room is very very important, not just for overloading, but under loading is just as dangerous, it has been proven, and i have seen it myself in person while trying to manufacture low power loads it does just the opposite, the room vs powder ration is a very delicate procedure


    i have loaded a .45 say 4.0 grains xxpowder, get 850fps, then 3.9 = 825fps, then drop it to 3.6 and get 1050 fps along with a blown up case , same powder, same projectile {this example, i have exact data somewhere around here, so dont split hairs its an example}

    black powder characteristics vs smokeless is nothing to be toyed with, if it was some major manufacturer would be marketing it as such, one of the advantages of capitalism, let them take the risk , don't be a fool and think your going to change the history of firearms {not trying to be jerk}
  • FrancFFrancF Member Posts: 35,278 ******
    edited November -1
    Duplex or BP substitutes anyone?[:D]
  • MMOMEQ-55MMOMEQ-55 Member Posts: 13,134
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by capgun
    Does that mean that you have some factual information to indicate that it is unsafe? Or did you just want to say something.

    Seems you have already formed an opinion so why even bother to post this? Trying to get your post count up?

    For the past 45 years that I have been shooting BP guns i have always been told never use smokeless in BP guns. This by smarter men than me. I personally like my eyes and fingers and will not take a chance on losing them.
  • MMOMEQ-55MMOMEQ-55 Member Posts: 13,134
    edited November -1
    A little something from a G&A article written a few years ago:

    "Naturally black powder guns can still be blown up with some effort by the user. If you used a ridiculous amount of powder with a bullet that may have been forced in the barrel or oversize that will cause a gun to burst. Another thing is if you seat a bullet an inch or so from the powder that will also cause an explosion. I have an example where a guy used one of those plastic wads in a 45 caliber with 70 grains of ffg of black powder. The wad allowed the bullet to move forward causing the explosion. There is a crack along the barrel for about 18O and the forend was blown off in pieces. The shooter required some medical attention to get some wood and metal particles out of his arm. (See photo) ItOs important to make sure that the bullet is firmly seated against the powder. Years ago I bought a used muzzle loading rifle in 45 caliber. I put a regular load in it and upon firing I felt a stinging on my forehead and had some blood coming out. I was sprayed with some hot gas and the hammer had recocked. Upon examination I found that the nipple was for a pistol and had too large of an opening allowing excess powder gas to come out the opening. The correct nipple solved the problem. I wasnOt seriously hurt but was more cautious on buying used guns. Also never use smokeless powder in a black powder weapon. Smokeless generates much more pressure then the gun was designed for. Also if you have an old shotgun with Damascus barrels if you insist on shooting it have it thoroughly checked out first by a competent gunsmith. The same goes with by any other older firearm. It should go without saying that smokeless powder should never be used in such a weapon."

    "Black powder has a slow burn rate and makes much less pressure than smokeless powder. The burn rate of black powder is only controlled by the particle size. There are over 100 COMMON smokeless powders. All have different burn rates and pressure curves. If a particular powder will work for a particular load, another powder may require a much different amount or not be suitable at all. If smokeless powder is ignited in the open, it burns slowly. In a cartridge in a chamber, it burns faster. If you take the same amount of smokeless powder and confine it in a smaller area and then ignite it, it will typically burn much faster and provide much more pressure. For instance, if you have a load for a .357 Mag cartridge and use a .38 Special case, and shoot it in the same .357 Mag gun, the results would probably be catastrophic since the .38 Special case has less volume."

    WARNING: Never use smokeless powder in a black powder gun. your gun will blow up!
  • fideaufideau Member Posts: 11,887 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    It's all been said. Small loads are dangerous. How the powder happens to be distributed in the cylinder at ignition also affects pressure.

    There is a reason some have used a filler like cornmeal in some loads.
  • stegsteg Member Posts: 871 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I think that the guy who instigated this discussion has made up his mind in advance as to what he is going to do, namely use modern smokeless powder in a modern made blackpowder gun. He really believes that by reducing the amount of powder it will be safe. IMHO, anyone who does that has no respect for his or others safety and is out of his rabbit a**ed mind!
  • GatofeoGatofeo Member Posts: 230 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I hasten to add:
    Anyone who uses smokeless powder in a muzzleloader or cap and ball revolver is an ignorant moron.
    The warning against this practice has existed -- unchanged -- for well over 100 years. There's a reason: sooner or later, and very likely on the first shot, the firearm will be damaged and the shooter could be seriously injured.
    If anyone tells you it can be done, or they've done it, then they're the same type of person who smokes while reloading, fires a new gun without removing preservative grease or oil from the bore and chamber(s), disregards warnings about maximum loads and stands in a puddle of water while working with electricity.
    There are certain people who will do things proven to be dangerous, when there is no need to do so, just to show off.
    These folks have earned the title of Moron. Avoid them.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    I believe the nipple to be the weakest link in percussion guns.
    Take a look at those nipple threads and imagine what it would take to blow that nipple out into your face.
    Ask yourself if you'd feel safe suspended over the Grand Canyon by about 3/16" or 1/4" of 1/4-20 or 1/4-28 thread?
  • flyingcollieflyingcollie Member Posts: 197 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by v35
    I believe the nipple to be the weakest link in percussion guns . . .

    That, and the "boiler-room" space are the best arguments against attempting such a foolish thing as using any kind of smokeless nitro powder in a BP weapon. Compound that with the precision necessary to insure that powder loads are within tenths of a grain when loading cartridges, and imagine how you are going to control that when loading a "front stuffer" in the field.[xx(]
  • jeffb1911jeffb1911 Member Posts: 2,110 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    IIRC, the phenomenon of the "boiler room" space in the case is referred to as DETONATION. Have just a little powder in a huge case, and it falls below the level of the primer. The "fire" from the primer travels across the top of the powder, and ignites it all across the top instead of from the back. At this point the powder closest to the bullet is creating pressure at the same instant that the powder at the back of the chamber is creating pressure. Well, the pressure closest to the bullet is creating a "dam" of sorts, impeding the pressure from the back of the chamber from escaping. In cartridge firearms, this over pressure will overpressure the brass case to the point that the structural integrity of the firearm will fail, sending pieces of the gun out like grenade fragments. In a black powder gun, no matter the make, there is either a touch hole with nothing keeping that pressure in check, or a thin piece of tin foil quality metal held down by a hammer and spring arrangement. In other words, there is not NEAR the strength in muzzle loading guns to handle such pressures. Even a tiny ammount of a smokeless powder is dangerous.

    Know how we have recently (some more so than others) have re learned about using natural products on black powder? Seasoning the barrel, etc? Because people have survived shooting this way for years. Maybe the reason that the questions of shooting smokeless high pressure powder in low pressure firearms is that the original persons who tried such did not survive and live to warn others.
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