2f vs 3f

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Southernfi

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Historicly, at the time of the AWI it worked like this:
There was basically two powders coarse (1F) and fine (2f). The coarse was used for cannons and the finer grain for muskets. When rifles began to be used more by the military, experiments showed that a more finely ground powder worked best. This lead to the development of what we today call 3f by the German and British military. Ref: De Witt Baily's book "British Military Flintlock Rifles" I use 3f in all my rifles, largest being .62 cal. It seems to foul less.
 

deermanct

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My old friend George gifted to me about 7 pounds of 3f goex several years ago. At the time, I only used 2f in my 50's. When I ran out of the 2f, I started to use the 3f. Been using it ever since. Works good for me.
 

jager43478

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I was taught that .50 and below, you use 3f, and for any caliber larger than .50, you use 2f. I have seen people, however, use 2f in smaller gauges, and 3f in larger gauges. Is there a huge difference? If I had one or the other could I still get by with it? I shot my .45 pistol the other day at the range with 2f and it performed marvelously.
Some shooters are using 1f in pistols and shotguns. It's all what works the best
 

Sidney Smith

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I for one am sticking to the old ways and use only 2fg in my large calibers and smooth bore and will use 3fg in my .32 when it's done. All this experimentation using 3fg in large calibers is being done by individuals with no scientific background who are merely trying things on their own. That IMO is not a reason to abandon proven procedures and methods. I'm frankly surprised that so many people are turning to doing things that could potentially be dangerous. I'm reading of mixing granulations, using straight 4fg as a main charge, what's next going half black half smokeless? No thanks.

Unless I see it in writing by one of the powder manufacturers thats it's ok to go against the old grain, I'm going to stick with things they way are as I've had no problems up till now., Not going to change simply because somebody I don't even know decided to and he had some luck with it. Luck tends to be finite.
 
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Bledfor Days

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Its actually quite easy. I keep it in a plastic Goex container half full and rotate it a couple of times before I put it in my powder dispenser. I'm only target shooting and not using a horn. The dispenser I'm using has a spring loaded valve/spout on it and I only fill it half full also. The 2 and a half F doesn't jam up in the spout. No violent shaking needed to mix it. I started winning ribbons around the same time I started doing this, so its partially superstition now. It sure pours nice!
I'm currently shooting a .45 TC Hawken right now and am planning to do the same with a .36 Seneca and a .32 Cherokee.
 
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Eterry

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The first Lyman black powder handbook showed where they tested equal volume measurements of ffg and fffg. The fffg had significantly, (iirc almost 40%) increase in velocity over equal volume of ffg.

An old well respected NSSA skirmisher i met years ago suggested fffg, stating a lot of skirmishers do likewise, and reducing their load, thereby getting more shots per pound. It made sense to me, I've been using fffg for over 10years.
 

stank

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I switched to 90 grains of 3f in my 62 caliber smoothbore and shot and ball both pattern better. I know that’s a pretty hot load but it’s shoots well.
 

DBrevit

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I for one am sticking to the old ways and use only 2fg in my large calibers and smooth bore and will use 3fg in my .32 when it's done. All this experimentation using 3fg in large calibers is being done by individuals with no scientific background who are merely trying things on their own. That IMO is not a reason to abandon proven procedures and methods. I'm frankly surprised that so many people are turning to doing things that could potentially be dangerous. I'm reading of mixing granulations, using straight 4fg as a main charge, what's next going half black half smokeless? No thanks.

Unless I see it in writing by one of the powder manufacturers thats it's ok to go against the old grain, I'm going to stick with things they way are as I've had no problems up till now., Not going to change simply because somebody I don't even know decided to and he had some luck with it. Luck tends to be finite.
From Lyman, note .54 cal with 3F.
Maximum Loads Lyman Black Powder Guns The following loads are maximum combinations of propellant and projectile for Lyman Black Powder guns except for the Mustang Breakaway Rifle which can be found on page 44. Do Not Exceed!
Plains Pistol .50 - .495" RB 40 grs. 3Fg .54 - .535" RB 50 grs. 3 Fg
Rifles .50 .495" RB 110 grs. 2Fg or 90 grs. 3Fg 240 gr. Sabot 100 grs. 2Fg or 90 grs. 3Fg 335 gr. Sabot 100 grs. 2Fg or 80 grs. 3Fg 420 gr. Maxi 100 grs. 2Fg or 80 grs. 3Fg
.54 .535" RB 120 grs. 2Fg or 100 grs. 3Fg 335 gr. Sabot 110 grs. 2Fg or 90 grs. 3Fg 450 gr. Maxi 110 grs. 2Fg or 90 grs. 3Fg
Round Ball Selection Guide .50 cal. .490"/.495" .54 cal. .530"/.535" Note: Equivalent loads of Pyrodex RS, Select, or P are acceptable. Pyrodex pellets are not recommended with Lyman side hammer guns due to difficult ignition. Lyman Products 475 Smith Street, Middletown CT 06457 Phone: (860) 632-2020 Fax: (860) 632-1699 www.lymanproducts.com
 

Bledfor Days

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I'm getting my best accuracy with 35 grains of the 2f and 3f mix in the .45 Hawken.
.440 round ball and .018 patch lubed with water, dish soap, and TC bore cleaner mixture. No wiping between shots.
 
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Tanglefoot

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I was taught the same as Magungo was -- and it was a fine place to start. I learned through experience that ML barrels are as picky as most ML shooters and they "like" a particular load and perform best when they have what they want. There are a lot of variables that go into a load and one of those is powder granulation. Part of the fun of this activity is to find the combination that your barrel "likes" best. The `2F for .50 and larger, 3F for smaller' is not a rule, but it's a useful place to start.
 

mooman76

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The thing is MLs almost dies out. Then they became popular again and unfortunately allot of the knowledge was not there or lost because it wasn't passed down. So allot of people suddenly became experts because they were the few who knew anything about MLs. I believe allot of them didn't do extensive testing so what they found worked for them and became rules for others to follow. Just my thoughts.
 

torpedo

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3f for both my half stock Hawken cap lock, and my Full stock flintlock, both are .54 caliber. My .50 flintlock pistol also uses 3f. Just received my shipment of Graf's 3f and me thinks it is Goex relabeled. I really like it!
 

ugly old guy

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Good luck keeping the two different granulations well mixed, subtle separation would be constantly on going with any vibration. Just like a box of cold cereal the finer particles move to the bottom of the box.
Don't forget that "FFg" or "FFFg" pr whatever on the lable is the average grain size.
Also recall that the grain size varies by manufacturer. They obviously don't share the screens used to sort the granulations with each other. Manufacturer "A" does not send their screens over to manufacturer "B" or "C" to use when they screen their powders. There will always be a manufacturing variance between one screen and another, in addition to any wear of the screens.

Just moving the powder can/jar can cause the grains inside to bumb into each other and knock small pieces off one or the other or both.

In any given can/jar of whatever granulation there are pieces ranging in size from what the lable says down to dust. (FFFFFFFFFFg?).

It is impossible to have 100% uniformly sized granulations in any container.
Just filling the container breaks some of the individual grains of powder.
The "setteling" during shipping breaks more of the powder grains.
 

hanshi

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Some of the confusion perhaps comes from someone doing things "the ol' timey way", or what they were told 4th hand that it's the ol' timey way. We are now living in the muzzleloading golden age. While some skills are difficult to duplicate because of the modern age technology being substituted for the, now costly, hand work of yore. But the guns are, in general, much better today than the 250 year old guns were in their day. Don't believe anything someone tells you that was told by someone who was told by someone, and on, and on without testing it and researching it. Basically I don't care "iffin hog snout was said to be the best patch lube" or somebody swore they heard that a particular grade of powder MUST be used in this but not in that and always poured directly from a horn, etc. I've been muzzleloading for well over half a century and prefer to do it the way I always found that worked. It is also a good idea to use the forums like this one to hear other opinions and get questions answered by real, knowledgeable people. And just because it was in an old book doesn't make it valid. Books will tell you that Jesse James was a "Robin Hood", a hero; when he was actually a murderous outlaw. Back in the old west when the Colt SSA replaced the cap & ball revolvers that many had carried the cartridges were loaded with black powder about a fine a 4F. That's how they got 900 fps to nearly 1000 fps from a 5.5" .45 Colt.

What I'm getting at is be very careful of believing much of what is taken as yesteryear's gospel truth. Test it and see for yourself. If it works for you, then it's correct.
 

SDSmlf

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I for one am sticking to the old ways and use only 2fg in my large calibers and smooth bore and will use 3fg in my .32 when it's done. All this experimentation using 3fg in large calibers is being done by individuals with no scientific background who are merely trying things on their own. That IMO is not a reason to abandon proven procedures and methods. I'm frankly surprised that so many people are turning to doing things that could potentially be dangerous. I'm reading of mixing granulations, using straight 4fg as a main charge, what's next going half black half smokeless? No thanks.

Unless I see it in writing by one of the powder manufacturers thats it's ok to go against the old grain, I'm going to stick with things they way are as I've had no problems up till now., Not going to change simply because somebody I don't even know decided to and he had some luck with it. Luck tends to be finite.
Not sure using finer powder is a recent thing. Took apart a Civil War era Smith 50 caliber ‘cartridge’ and found a powder finer than ffff. Some argue the powder was crushed in the case, but the ‘case’ was made out of some kind of rubber. Powder was loose and not clumped - sorry no photo of the powder, lost with Photobucket. Still have some ‘cartridges’ to go with my original Smith, but not breaking any more down. They don’t seem to be making them any more.
9D46B66C-D598-4192-8BEB-2C3D7CB3A887.jpeg
 

JB67

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Don't forget that "FFg" or "FFFg" pr whatever on the lable is the average grain size.
Also recall that the grain size varies by manufacturer. They obviously don't share the screens used to sort the granulations with each other. Manufacturer "A" does not send their screens over to manufacturer "B" or "C" to use when they screen their powders. There will always be a manufacturing variance between one screen and another, in addition to any wear of the screens.

Just moving the powder can/jar can cause the grains inside to bumb into each other and knock small pieces off one or the other or both.

In any given can/jar of whatever granulation there are pieces ranging in size from what the lable says down to dust. (FFFFFFFFFFg?).

It is impossible to have 100% uniformly sized granulations in any container.
Just filling the container breaks some of the individual grains of powder.
The "setteling" during shipping breaks more of the powder grains.
The screens are going to be standardized throughout, otherwise grading will mean nothing.
 

shorthair

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I was taught that .50 and below, you use 3f, and for any caliber larger than .50, you use 2f. I have seen people, however, use 2f in smaller gauges, and 3f in larger gauges. Is there a huge difference? If I had one or the other could I still get by with it? I shot my .45 pistol the other day at the range with 2f and it performed marvelously.
I went to 3f for hunting loads because it seems to ignite more reliably in cold wet weather.
 

Rich

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i have on rifle that will shoot very tight groups on 2f. It wont shoot 12 inches with ANY load of 3f. It just does not like it. Only one like that. Every thing else is just a matter of adjusting the powder charge to get decent groups.
 

Britsmoothy

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Some of the confusion perhaps comes from someone doing things "the ol' timey way", or what they were told 4th hand that it's the ol' timey way. We are now living in the muzzleloading golden age. While some skills are difficult to duplicate because of the modern age technology being substituted for the, now costly, hand work of yore. But the guns are, in general, much better today than the 250 year old guns were in their day. Don't believe anything someone tells you that was told by someone who was told by someone, and on, and on without testing it and researching it. Basically I don't care "iffin hog snout was said to be the best patch lube" or somebody swore they heard that a particular grade of powder MUST be used in this but not in that and always poured directly from a horn, etc. I've been muzzleloading for well over half a century and prefer to do it the way I always found that worked. It is also a good idea to use the forums like this one to hear other opinions and get questions answered by real, knowledgeable people. And just because it was in an old book doesn't make it valid. Books will tell you that Jesse James was a "Robin Hood", a hero; when he was actually a murderous outlaw. Back in the old west when the Colt SSA replaced the cap & ball revolvers that many had carried the cartridges were loaded with black powder about a fine a 4F. That's how they got 900 fps to nearly 1000 fps from a 5.5" .45 Colt.

What I'm getting at is be very careful of believing much of what is taken as yesteryear's gospel truth. Test it and see for yourself. If it works for you, then it's correct.
That's what I did.
I noticed no can of 4f has any warnings on it so cautiously loaded it and it works well for less volume.
i have on rifle that will shoot very tight groups on 2f. It wont shoot 12 inches with ANY load of 3f. It just does not like it. Only one like that. Every thing else is just a matter of adjusting the powder charge to get decent groups.
This is typical of a bedding issue and nothing to do with powder dislikes.
All you have done is dial the barrel harmonics in via powder choice.
It is however a fickle situation and could degrade easily.
It would be far better to isolate the barrel from any other item, supported in the stock well and no indue pressure horizontally from pins or wedges.
 
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