Grain size

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BellinghamBP

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I'm new here so I apologize if this question has been asked repeatedly. I have a cheap 1851 Navy and am shooting black powder. I understand that commercial powders vary in grain size (F, FF, FFF, etc) but does it really matter? The powder is crushed in the cylinder when the ball is pressed in. I would think that any grains would be crushed in the process, rendering their size moot. Smaller grains do make the powder more dense, allowing for a larger charge to be loaded into the cylinder. Otherwise, I'm not seeing how it matters. What am I missing?
 
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BallBoy

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Read this thread from 2015 to see if it answers your questions.
 

BellinghamBP

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Thank you to both of you who responded to this. I appreciate your time. I seem to have been unclear in my original question though. What I am trying to get at is this; if we crush the powder during the loading process, why does the grain size even matter? It's being crushed to dust with the ramrod anyway. A distinct possibility is that the homemade powder I'm using crushes while commercial powder does not. If that's the case I'd love to know. I can load the cylinders of my 1851 almost full, put a ball on top and push it down half an inch. That's 22 grains by weight, 40 by volume with my powder measure. If commercial powder doesn't do that please let me know. I made my own since none of the local shops had black powder, or a substitute. What I made certainly works and is really fun to play with, I'm just puzzled by some basic issues.
 

Dibbuk

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I think the big difference is the surface area. Surface area affects how fast the powder burns. Look up Youtube for "dust explosion" to see examples. I think commercial powder is coated to reduce dust, and is therefore harder to crush to powder than home made. But I may be wrong.
 

Old Hawkeye

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Thank you to both of you who responded to this. I appreciate your time. I seem to have been unclear in my original question though. What I am trying to get at is this; if we crush the powder during the loading process, why does the grain size even matter? It's being crushed to dust with the ramrod anyway. A distinct possibility is that the homemade powder I'm using crushes while commercial powder does not. If that's the case I'd love to know. I can load the cylinders of my 1851 almost full, put a ball on top and push it down half an inch. That's 22 grains by weight, 40 by volume with my powder measure. If commercial powder doesn't do that please let me know. I made my own since none of the local shops had black powder, or a substitute. What I made certainly works and is really fun to play with, I'm just puzzled by some basic issues.
BP is NOT crushed to dust when loading. If you are "crushing" your powder something is very wrong. If you are getting 40 grains by volume & 22 grains by weight you are playing with a time bomb. Get rid of your "homemade" powder before someone gets hurt. Commercial powder doesn't crush to dust when you load it. You merely seat the ball on top of the powder without compressing it. If you can "crush" 40 grains by volume of your homemade powder so that it fits in a 36 cal cylinder chamber made to hold 20 grains having "fun playing with it" may abruptly end someday. Just food for thought.
 

hanshi

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What you hear as a crush is simply the powder grains sliding past one another. Any gun I load (rifle or pistol) has the ball seated down to the point where I hear/feel a very slight crunch. The powder is not being crushed to any great extent or at all. So when you load up do not try to get a crush sound; always seat ball uniformly every time.
 

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