Powder loads

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

TFoley

62 Cal.
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Messages
6,087
Reaction score
3,691
Trying to re-invent the wheels is how some folks get their personal excitement, I guess. Reading through this thread yet again, to see if there is anything I've missed out, it makes we wonder why the people of old who shot these type of guns because they HAD to, not for the fun of it, didn't shoot the finest grain size available anyhow - after all, no matter how BIG it was to start with, it all ended up as very fine powder, grain-size speaking.

But they didn't.

They experimented, I'm sure, and settled on the size of grain dependent on the calibre of the gun in which they were shooting it.

Did they get it ALL wrong?

Me, I don't think so.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
9,780
Reaction score
12,106
Location
England.
Trying to re-invent the wheels is how some folks get their personal excitement, I guess. Reading through this thread yet again, to see if there is anything I've missed out, it makes we wonder why the people of old who shot these type of guns because they HAD to, not for the fun of it, didn't shoot the finest grain size available anyhow - after all, no matter how BIG it was to start with, it all ended up as very fine powder, grain-size speaking.

But they didn't.

They experimented, I'm sure, and settled on the size of grain dependent on the calibre of the gun in which they were shooting it.

Did they get it ALL wrong?

Me, I don't think so.
That sir is not the argument.
The question was can you use 4f. Yes you can.
Where an argument arises is from is the presumptuous statement alluding to it being dangerous. Where upon there is no data, evidence to support that statement.
It is therefore an assumption, presumption.
However, there are instances whereupon people have reported using 4f and been perfectly ok.
Now, if I maybe permitted to be presumptuous for a moment, if I were a mountain man or frontiersman, I would want what ever gave me the most shots per pound despite what someone writes in a journal probably not from a mountain side or frontier!
Considering that early guns used a powder called meal, I understand but please correct me, a dust like substance was used but did not destroy the users enough to cause them to stop development of the firearm I presume, yes presume, it is quite safe.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2009
Messages
2,230
Reaction score
2,164
i'm an Explosive Ordnance Disposal guy, i specialize in blowing stuff up. Been doing this stuff for over 60 years. Decades ago i participated in research with black powder and smokeless powder in pipe bombs. We blew up hundreds of identical pipe bombs loaded with every type of black powder and smokeless powder available at that time.

Black powder cannot generate 120,000 psi outside of a bomb.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 26, 2021
Messages
703
Reaction score
938
Location
W. KY.
Interesting read, This is not my work, nor do I claim it as so. I'll admit I don't understand the math. This is not my work, nor do I claim it as so Internal Ballistics

Exert copied from the article in the link.

"It is quite surprising that in spite of the long (30") barrel, 2FG powder is relatively inefficient when compared with 3FG powder. In this example, a 49-grain charge of 3FG powder would yield about the same muzzle energy as a 60-grain charge of 2FG powder. A similar effect has been observed with .50 and .54 cal round balls. The only conclusion we can draw is that 3FG powder is the more economical choice as long as we use moderate powder charges and round balls. However, we should not forget the peak pressure! If we are using long projectiles (except small calibers), very large calibers (= heavy round balls), or heavy powder charges, we should rather play it safe and use 2FG powder.

So, what have we learned? In terms of energy-efficiency, long barrels are better than short ones, large calibers are better than small ones, and long projectiles are better than round balls. In general, a slow powder is good for long barrels, large calibers, and heavy elongated projectiles while a fast powder is particularly good for small or medium calibers and round balls. Further, a fast-burning powder and/or a heavy projectile produces a high peak pressure (which the ordinary shooter can neither measure nor calculate).

The powder weight recommended for a given caliber, projectile type, and barrel length depends on the muzzle energy required for the intended purpose, e. g., hunting (big game, small game) or target shooting. Knowing the desired muzzle energy, we can solve equation 7 for the powder weight, mp, to get a first guess of the latter (eq. 9):"
 

Erwan

45 Cal.
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
812
Reaction score
757
Location
Absurdistan (or Macronistan)
No they can not, in a normally loaded muzzleloader.
Sure it can't : it remains to be noted that the test pressures for black powder guns rarely exceed 800 to 1000 kg/cm² (580 to 725 bars or ~4.86 to ~6.47 tons (short) per square inch, unless there is an error or omission of my part in the convert) at the Gardone test bench (Italy) or Eibar (Spain) for example...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
9,780
Reaction score
12,106
Location
England.
Interesting read, This is not my work, nor do I claim it as so. I'll admit I don't understand the math. This is not my work, nor do I claim it as so Internal Ballistics

Exert copied from the article in the link.

"It is quite surprising that in spite of the long (30") barrel, 2FG powder is relatively inefficient when compared with 3FG powder. In this example, a 49-grain charge of 3FG powder would yield about the same muzzle energy as a 60-grain charge of 2FG powder. A similar effect has been observed with .50 and .54 cal round balls. The only conclusion we can draw is that 3FG powder is the more economical choice as long as we use moderate powder charges and round balls. However, we should not forget the peak pressure! If we are using long projectiles (except small calibers), very large calibers (= heavy round balls), or heavy powder charges, we should rather play it safe and use 2FG powder.

So, what have we learned? In terms of energy-efficiency, long barrels are better than short ones, large calibers are better than small ones, and long projectiles are better than round balls. In general, a slow powder is good for long barrels, large calibers, and heavy elongated projectiles while a fast powder is particularly good for small or medium calibers and round balls. Further, a fast-burning powder and/or a heavy projectile produces a high peak pressure (which the ordinary shooter can neither measure nor calculate).

The powder weight recommended for a given caliber, projectile type, and barrel length depends on the muzzle energy required for the intended purpose, e. g., hunting (big game, small game) or target shooting. Knowing the desired muzzle energy, we can solve equation 7 for the powder weight, mp, to get a first guess of the latter (eq. 9):"
The author is in that snippet assuming a high peak pressure is some how bad but some how negates the high pressure that is generated by his choice of powder granulation!
It's yet more presumptuous nonsense.
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2020
Messages
4,656
Reaction score
11,123
Location
On the Border in Idaho looking at BC
I sometimes use 3Fg in my .62, but I mostly have used 2Fg. If I'm using 3Fg Swiss, I reduce the charge by 25% over Goex 2Fg. The accuracy with Swiss is as good, or better than Goex. If I'm shooting my .50 T/C Hawken, I find 3Fg more accurate. I have never used anything but 3Fg in my .36.
One thing I can't conferm is what granulation did they use during the flintlock era. What was the potency at the time? They had to have different granulations unless everything other than the screened powder was rejected. I'm sure there was quality powder then, as it is now. I'm also sure there was inferior grade powders. Did they really use urine as the salt peter?
if you have a year to play , and have a very understanding spouse, and no close neighbors , you can turn urine and other components into KNO3. it takes urine, manure, straw, and wood ash.
 

Erwan

45 Cal.
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
812
Reaction score
757
Location
Absurdistan (or Macronistan)
if you have a year to play , and have a very understanding spouse, and no close neighbors , you can turn urine and other components into KNO3. it takes urine, manure, straw, and wood ash.
Yes, during the Napoleonic wars, in the countries but not in towns, a majority of houses had a "Salpétrière" buided like this somewhere in their garden, and the agents working for the "Service des poudres et explosifs" cames to harvest the fruit of the hard and urgent (after night sometimes is some urgency... ;)) work of the men and women of the morning all year...
It should be noted that they only harvested the salts and that the filtration, as well as the drying, remained the responsibility of the owners of the "Salpetrières"...

This isn't a joke, but the reality of the 1800's... :)
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2020
Messages
4,656
Reaction score
11,123
Location
On the Border in Idaho looking at BC
I sometimes use 3Fg in my .62, but I mostly have used 2Fg. If I'm using 3Fg Swiss, I reduce the charge by 25% over Goex 2Fg. The accuracy with Swiss is as good, or better than Goex. If I'm shooting my .50 T/C Hawken, I find 3Fg more accurate. I have never used anything but 3Fg in my .36.
One thing I can't conferm is what granulation did they use during the flintlock era. What was the potency at the time? They had to have different granulations unless everything other than the screened powder was rejected. I'm sure there was quality powder then, as it is now. I'm also sure there was inferior grade powders. Did they really use urine as the salt peter?
once the formulation for BP was established at 75/15/10 the potency was pretty standard. when the powder was screened for the different graduations the "reject" powder can be and was re-caked, corned, ground and rescreened.
one can, and i have many times, taken a pound of fffff (basically meal) re-caked it. ground and screened it to 2f or 3f.
a pound of fg has exactly the same energy potential as ffffg etc. what changes is the speed that it converts.
 

Erwan

45 Cal.
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
812
Reaction score
757
Location
Absurdistan (or Macronistan)
a pound of fg has exactly the same energy potential as ffffg etc. what changes is the speed that it converts.
Exactly that, all in this way is a question of granulation: I sometimes made my primer (normally 4Fg) simply by sieving another granulation and also by crushing in a small kitchen mortar: even the big musket powder can make an excellent primer when crushed if the base powder is good the priming powder will be good too...
Always keep an old rolling pin, a smooth board, and an old stocking or lady's pantyhose aside, it can help you... ;)
 

Eterry

69 Cal.
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2010
Messages
3,514
Reaction score
2,693
Location
Between Red River Station and Doans Crossing, Tx.
I've posted this here before. About 30 years ago, before the internet was around to tell me I was wrong. I traded for a flintlock rifle but soon traded it. A pound of 4f came with the rifle, and I kept it.

Not knowing any different I filled my horn with it and went shooting. I didn't change my load; a 60 grain charge for my 45 CVA Kentucky rifle. I was a teen, and not match shooting. I could tell NO difference between the 4f and 2f. I continued using it until it was gone.
The only thing I noticed was less fouling in the barrel.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2009
Messages
2,230
Reaction score
2,164
150 grains of Swiss 2F behind a 250 grain bullet generates a pressure of nearly 20,000 psi. Pressure is very close to that of 150 grains of Triple Seven 2F behind the same 250 grain bullet.
 
Joined
Feb 8, 2021
Messages
25
Reaction score
18
The notion that blackpowder can "ONLY" produce low pressures is incorrect, as England's Able and Nobel were able to generate pressures of over 100,000 psi in their experimentation in the 19th Century.

Elephant Brand black powder (now sold under Schuetzen Powder, LLC) once made a FFFFFg (5F) grain size, the smallest known. FFFFg is the smallest popularly employed grain; it burns fast and was used primarily in handguns. FFFFg is considered flintlock pan powder. FFFg and FFg were a bit larger; they have long been used in rifles and shotguns. Fg was the largest: used in very large bore rifles.

By using under-oxidized wood in the powder, the aptly named "brownpowder" gave performance approaching that of the early smokeless powder. Brownpowder contained only 3% sulfur. This was essentially the last development in the blackpowder arena. Coming at the end of the blackpowder age, it was superseded by smokeless powder after a period of ten years or so, and fell into disuse after too short a period to make a lasting impression. Found this today thought I would put here.
 

Erwan

45 Cal.
Joined
Sep 23, 2019
Messages
812
Reaction score
757
Location
Absurdistan (or Macronistan)
The notion that blackpowder can "ONLY" produce low pressures is incorrect, as England's Able and Nobel were able to generate pressures of over 100,000 psi in their experimentation in the 19th Century.
Andrew Noble worked with Sir Frederick Abel on improving the properties of black powder, burning it more slowly to produce more gas and a more constant pressure, which allowed him to increase initial speeds from 1600 to 2100 feet per second, while the energy developed increased by about 75%.
If I believe my calculator, this would give us speeds of :
- 1600 fps or 487 m/s
- 2100 fps or 640 m/s
With standard 3Fg powders (PNF1 & Swiss N°2), in target shooting load (to kill paper at 200 yards in fact), with a Tryon Match Pedersoli with only 60 grains and 500 grains compressible bullets, the ballistic chronograph (V0+5) gives an average of 406 ms or 1332 fps staying far from the test pressures.
Therefore, I am not always sure that the pressures generated by the powders of these two men were as phenomenal as one might think.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
9,780
Reaction score
12,106
Location
England.
The notion that blackpowder can "ONLY" produce low pressures is incorrect, as England's Able and Nobel were able to generate pressures of over 100,000 psi in their experimentation in the 19th Century.
How did they get to that pressure? In a bomb like apparatus or a normally loaded muzzleloader?
I doubt it was the later. In fact, I would bet my wages on it!
If it was not generated in a normally loaded small arm muzzleloader it is a mute point and has no bearing on the original question posed, can 4f be used in a rifle?
The answer from me still stands. Yes it can.
 
Joined
Jan 15, 2009
Messages
2,230
Reaction score
2,164
How did they get to that pressure? In a bomb like apparatus or a normally loaded muzzleloader?

The folks who study explosives and explosions call it a closed bomb test.

Slightly off topic:

In 1976 the US Army had a ball shaped full containment vessel that would withstand an explosion of 40 pounds of TNT. The gas vented through a 1/4" space between the doors. Device was designed for safe transport of homemade bombs. The thing was hauled around the country in support of US Secret Service during the runup to the 1976 election.
 
Top