Too Much Powder ?

Discussion in 'Percussion Rifles' started by Sinner, Feb 6, 2019.

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  1. Feb 6, 2019 #1

    Sinner

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    I'm no wanting to start any arguments. I know there is a lot of indepent thoughts on whether or not you can have "unburnt power" if you load too much in a muzzleloader barrel.
    The following words are from a premier black powder rifle barrel manufacturing company, Colerain. Just something to think on...

    "Now, the advantages of gain twist rifling. For the person that wants to shoot only round balls through their black powder rifle you will not be handicapped, if fact you can realize greater accuracy potential and power. As the ball travels through the bore the increased resistance from the increasing rifling twist will allow for a longer and more even pressure curve. If we think of it this way, black powder or black powder substitutes burn the entire length of the barrel. If fact you can load too much powder and literally blow unburnt powder out of the bore. This is why muzzleloaders have such long barrels, to allow the powder to be fully consumed in the barrel and not on the ground. Gain twist rifle barrels help take advantage of the long powder burn time."
     
  2. Feb 6, 2019 #2

    Carbon 6

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    True, but not for any reasons listed or alluded to.
    As the ball travels down the barrel velocity increases and pressure decreases. Resistance from gain twist rifling would in theory increase pressure as the twist gained, or in this case prevent it from dropping off. In theory there should also be a velocity gain.

    The highest pressure is at the breech.

    Their analogy about un-burnt powder being blown out the barrel is is an extreme scenario, well beyond any reasonable safety standard.

    The sum of what you quoted is confusing and misleading as written. Everything written is technically true, but misleading as presented.
     
  3. Feb 6, 2019 #3

    Patrick Thomas

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    Carbon,
    Just so I fully understand. Are you saying that to get to the point that one would have unburned powder exit the bore, one would have loaded an unsafe amount of powder? Unsafe for the integrity of the rifle?

    Thank you,
    Pat
     
  4. Feb 6, 2019 #4

    Carbon 6

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    Essentially yes or you would at least be beyond the maximum recommended load, First you need to define what un-burnt powder is because it has different meanings and definitions for different people.
    How would you determine if you have un-burnt powder?
    Keep in mind powder today is made to both a different formula and more exacting specifications than powder of the long rifle era.
    There is a difference between un-burnt powder and utilizing it to the fullest.

    When powder burns it produces gas, heat, and pressure, but the pressure produces more heat which in turn produces more gas. it's a feedback loop until the fuel is spent, then hot gas will continue to expand until it begins to cool.
     
  5. Feb 6, 2019 #5

    Patrick Thomas

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    Completely understand the feedback loop of which you speak. I just acquired a custom .54 cal Plains rifle. It is lightly used but new to me. The former owner stated that it likes 80 gr of 3f and 530 ball. I plan to start there and work up to a more powerful but accurate load. I want to use it for black bear and elk and found this thread useful for that.
     
  6. Feb 6, 2019 #6

    tenngun

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    Sam Falada tried to blow up a gun, and went to ridiculous charges, but could only blow the gun with a bore obstruction.
    Now the question is why go to ‘magnum’charges? Does it help down range?
    I hunt with smoothies now and wouldn’t push beyond fifty yards. But that’s accuracy issue and not power issues. A .62 ball through the chest of a deer three hundred yards away would be deadly, but I wouldn’t try it at a hundred. So all I need is a charge that will kill at fifty.
     
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  7. Feb 6, 2019 #7

    hanshi

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    Black powder just can't survive its trip down the barrel and out the muzzle, no way. Too much powder is wasteful but usually not at all dangerous. I've never loaded really heavy but do load lighter than I once did. Once accuracy is achieved you've usually found your efficient load.
     
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  8. Feb 6, 2019 #8

    Kansas Jake

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    I think you are spot on gandhi.
     
  9. Feb 6, 2019 #9

    Rat

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    One has to consider that as soon as un-burnt powder starts to leave the muzzle, velocity gain does not suddenly cease. If you use a chronograph you would see that the velocity increases start to decrease. They don't stop all at once. Eventually they would, but that would be a really insane powder charge. Some seem to think that once unburned powder is noticed on the ground (or snow to really see it) that velocity totally stops increasing at that point. ?? Did that make sense?

    Or in other words, if you keep adding powder, after the point where all the powder in the charge is not burning, velocity will continue to increase, but in smaller increments. Diminishing returns. Not "NO returns, all at once". !!!

    I believe that 100 grains in a .54" is very reasonable and powerful, better than 80 for shooting at elk. I don't disagree with those who use less, or are more into efficiency. I shoot 110 grains of Swiss in my .62", as I hunt in a Grizzly recovery area. I hunt elk too. If I only hunted deer where there was no grizz, I'd drop down to 90 grains probably. Black bears aren't hard to kill, but for elk I'd be using 100 grains in a .54".
     
  10. Feb 7, 2019 #10

    zimmerstutzen

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    A 54 cal doesn't really follow the normal graph for diminishing returns anyway. the bore is large enough in diameter that increasing amounts of powder experience very few to no velocity drops. One of the reasons why a 54 is a better all round caliber than a 50. IN a 50 caliber of 26 inches the diminishing returns point is about 85 to 90 grains of powder. A hefty hunting load anyway. after that point increased powder loads do not have the same proportional increases in velocity, but in a 54 caliber, the increases stay more normal. Whether the powder is all burned within the first few seconds at the breech or continues until muzzle exit, is a subject of some dispute. Either way, the bullet is accelerated down the bore by the pressure of the oxidizing powder. As it accelerates, the pressure behind it keeps pushing until muzzle exit. within the first couple inches of the muzzle, as long as the pressure behind the ball is greater than in front, acceleration will continue. Now, there is also dispute about whether all is burned in the bore, mostly burned in the bore and what if anything is ejected.

    When we get to the point of ridiculous loads, per the Lyman Black Powder Handbook, 1st Ed in a 50 caliber or 45 caliber gun, we reach a point where 50% more powder can mean only 5% more velocity. Then add air resistance, and the increased powder actually gives such slight improvement down at 100 yds, that the powder is basically wasted, wherever it may burn. For instance in a 45 caliber 28 inch barrel, 100 grains pushed a round ball at 2037 fps. 150 grains pushed that round ball at 2096, only a 59 fps increase for 50 grains of powder. The difference in energy at 100 yds was only 17 ft lbs. pretty much insignificant for 50% more powder. A 50 caliber gun acts much the same.

    A 54 caliber isn't subject to the same limitations. in a 30 inch 54 caliber barrel, 100 grains pushing a round ball produces 1639 fps and 150 grains produces 2024 fps. It is still not great but is certainly a much better increase of approximately 25% more velocity for 50% more powder. 100 yds energy was better too (508 vs 712 ft lbs) In either case 150 grains is an insane load and should require a mental check of anyone using such loads in a sidelock.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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  11. Feb 7, 2019 #11

    Sinner

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    You won't blow up your rifle with too much powder, just waste the powder. I am just addressing the "dispute" of whether you can have un-burnt powder remaining. Some say yes and some say no. I'm just adding the words from a well-respected barrel manufacturer.
     
  12. Feb 7, 2019 #12

    Patrick Thomas

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    Sinner,
    My apologies if I’m hijacking your thread. This is good stuff gentlemen.

    Pat
     
  13. Feb 7, 2019 #13

    tenngun

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    I referenced Sam Falada earlier. Had to go and look it up.He tried to blow a gun and took a .58 with 1 inch barrel. This left walls of about 3/8 inch thick. He shot after several starters, 500 grains 3f under three 600 grain minnies.... 1800 grains of lead, about 1/5 of a pound. No damage. He did blow the barrel with much lighter charges with a Minnie not all the way down. He also blew guns with smokeless,
    Being slow of wit I might double charge some day, but would never charge half that 500, and a round ball not a conical.
     
  14. Feb 7, 2019 #14

    Zonie

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    Ummmm......o_O

    If it was a .58 caliber bore in a 1 inch barrel, I think the wall thickness would be .210". That's a bit over 3/16", not 3/8".

    The way I figure it, (1-.58)/2 = .420/2 = .210 :)
     
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  15. Feb 7, 2019 #15

    Black Hand

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    Why? That load is perfectly adequate.
    Shot placement is critical, and no amount of "up-loading" will make a difference if you can't keep the ball on target.
     
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  16. Feb 7, 2019 #16

    Zonie

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    Like Black Hand mentions, accuracy is the most important thing to consider whether your hunting deer, elk or black bear assuming your using a good hunting load like 80 grains of powder under the patched roundball.

    Roundballs loose a lot of velocity when they are traveling at speeds above the speed of sound and the faster they fly, the faster they loose their velocity.

    Take a look at the graph below. It shows the velocities of a .54 roundball fired at different muzzle velocities. The first dots on the left are the muzzle velocity and each dot to the right represents 20 yards.
    The grains represents the powder load.

    As you can see, there is a steep drop off of velocity until it reaches about 1200 fps. Then, the curves become more horizontal meaning the drop in speed for every 20 yards is less.

    Also note, at distances around 100 yards the ball that left the muzzle at a very high speed has dropped to something just a little faster than the ball that was shot at a lower muzzle velocity.

    upload_2019-2-7_11-34-59.png
     
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  17. Feb 7, 2019 #17

    Sinner

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    I agree, that accuracy and shot placement is of utmost importance. And, as also stated by others, there is a point of diminishing returns on higher charges. My point being that just putting more powder in doesn't equal a more powerful load. My personal experience has been 80 to 110 grains for my particular .54 caliber rifle. I'm throwing powder away at anything above that, and honestly, can't think why I'd ever want more powder than that anyways.
     
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  18. Feb 8, 2019 #18

    tenngun

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    Right:)
     
  19. Feb 8, 2019 #19

    RedFeather

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    Velocity gains aside, one thing that unburned powder will increase is recoil as it adds weight to the ejecta mass.
     
  20. Feb 8, 2019 #20

    Black Hand

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    In light of a very recent discussion - can you prove that unburned powder is still present (evidence suggests there isn't any unburned powder)? Considering the weight (in grains) of powder is a fraction of that of the ball weight and that a good portion of the original powder mass appears to be converted into gas (the propellant), I contend that the amount of ejecta weight would be rather insignificant which would have a rather insignificant effect on recoil...
     
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