Which powders for revolvers?

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by 07Kingpin, Nov 3, 2019.

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  1. Nov 3, 2019 #1

    07Kingpin

    07Kingpin

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    Dumb question but it seems like there are different versions of black powder that folks use in replica 44 revolvers.

    In an Italian replica of .44 or similar what is the best type of black powder to use and why?
     
  2. Nov 3, 2019 #2

    Grenadier1758

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    Not a dumb question at all. Unfortunately there are a lot of good answers.

    All powders must be measured by volume. Only when you know the proper volume and that can be converted to actual grain weight. Black weight in grains will be close to the volumetric weight in grains. Get a pistol volume measure of 5 to 40 grains. Your 44 caliber revolver will take a maximum charge of about 30 grains volume depending on your specific chamber. A 44 Army takes less than a 44 dragoon or a Walker.

    Most of us agree that real black powder (3fg) is best to use. By brands in no particular order, GOEX. Old Eynsford, Swiss, Scheutzen, Wano, Grafs, or KIK. Some are more available than others. Some seem to be more energetic and perform differently than others. All are good and in my opinion better than the substitute black powders.

    Some places only have substitute powders available. Because of the fixed max volume of a revolver, the best granule size is 3fg black powder or the pistol granulations of the substitutes as these are the easiest to ignite and provide sufficient chamber pressure to send a bullet or ball down the barrel with sufficient power to perform its shooting task. The finer grained powders seem to have a bit less fouling so you can shoot more before tearing down and cleaning fouling off the moving parts.
     
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  3. Nov 3, 2019 #3

    Woodnbow

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    I shoot Swiss 3f in all pistols. Occasionally I’ll try 777 or Scheutzen but Swiss works for me.
     
  4. Nov 3, 2019 #4

    Kansas Jake

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    I usually shoot 3f black powder in my percussion revolvers. I have also shot a fair amount of Pyrodex in the past with good results. It seems to be a little harder to clean up. It shoots well enough I think because of the short direct flash channel to the powder. If I didn’t have black powder, I wouldn’t hesitate to use Pyrodex P.
     
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  5. Nov 3, 2019 #5

    Goose

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    i shoot a max of 20g of Pyrodex P
    in my Italian 1851 Navy brass frame
     
  6. Nov 3, 2019 #6

    Rat

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    Let me just say this about 777. After shooting black powder in my 1860 Colt for at least 20 years, with no problems, perfect functioning. I tried some 777, and on the second loading of the cylinder, it chained fired, and blew both the front sight, and loading latch off the barrel. Just a warning, based on my experience. Real black powder is best. All things considered, 3f, or fffg, seems to be best suited to pistols and revolvers, but other grades(or how many "F"s you have) work fine.
     
  7. Nov 4, 2019 #7

    07Kingpin

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    Thanks for the great replies. Excuse another dumb question but what is the difference between:

    Blackhorn

    Triple 7

    Pyrodex

    Goex

    etc... etc?
     
  8. Nov 4, 2019 #8

    Grenadier1758

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    The first three are substitute powders that the makers claim work in muzzle loading firearms by volume equivalent to real black powder.

    GOEX is real black powder that works in muzzle loading firearms.
     
  9. Nov 4, 2019 #9

    07Kingpin

    07Kingpin

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    So what is the difference between "real" black powder and a substitute?
     
  10. Nov 4, 2019 #10

    Grenadier1758

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    Real black powder has a lower ignition temperature. It has consistent performance shelf life. Reliable firing by caps and real black powder can be ignited by the flash of a pan in a flint lock.

    The substitutes have a higher ignition temperature which can be difficult to ignite. The salts while less obvious than the fouling salts from black powder are very corrosive.
    The substitutes have a relatively short shelf life unless carefully sealed up in a dry environment. Because of the higher ignition there will be more hangfires and failures to fire. Use in a flint lock is very unreliable to being useless.

    Because black powder is classified as an explosive, the regulations to sell are quite strict and limiting for sale. The substitute powders are much more available and for shooters who use percussion caps, the substitute powders are the only muzzle loading propellants available.
     
  11. Nov 4, 2019 #11

    nkbj

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    07Kingpin,
    "Real" black powder is a term people use to described a variety of formulations comprised primarily of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulfur, usually with a graphite coating, and with the grain size controlled by sifting through screens of graduated sizes. Different formulas of manufacture result in a variety of burn rates and amounts of combustion residues. Like cigarettes and soda pop most everyone has a preferred brand but they all go boom and each is just barely a little bit different enough make a difference in what a given gun does best with, not that most people will ever see impact by the differences in practical use. It is also more forgiving of operator errors than most substitute powders both in loading and in cleaning.
     
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  12. Nov 4, 2019 #12

    Darkgael

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    To further complicate matters....
    One reason that there are performance differences is that different brands of powders have different densities. The same volume of each of the six brands mentioned may well have different weights. The difference can be as much as 20%.
    Swiss has a reputation as an “energetic” powder. KIK powder has a reputation for being “fluffy” (or is that Elephant?)
    This, of course, can change from lot to lot.
    It is an argument for weighing one’s .charges and then finding the appropriate volume on the measure....as opposed to the other way around.
     
  13. Nov 4, 2019 #13

    Erwan

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    With real Swiss or French BP we can shoot without any difficulty FFFg in revolver. But with a substitute I never did it: no substitutes allowed in France. But a substitut like T7 could be much more nervous that the real BP and could needed some précautions.
    The Pyrodex RS in a rifle (in volume) goes almost like the BP, I've tried it long time ago in England during a a short stay over there...
     
  14. Nov 5, 2019 #14

    07Kingpin

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    Wow really stumbled upon a hornets nest!

    Very much appreciate the excellent replies.

    So to recap my original ideas that were evidently not accurate:

    At some point years ago ppl figured out how to make "black powder" the original gunpowder that fueled flintlock rifles, blunderbusses, cap and ball revolvers etc- you had an 1858 model Rem and you just went down to the local mercantile, bought round balls, "powder" etc. and off you go.

    Now, 2019, you buy a replica 1858 revolver, a flintlock rifle, a 209 primed inline ml, whatever- and you just walk down the aisle to where the little tubs of "black powder" are, buy one and off you go they're all the same.

    You don't put modern smokeless powder in an old blackpowder gun but as long as you measure by volume it doesn't matter which black powder you use, Pyrodex, 777, Blackhorn etc..

    Not so much?
     
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  15. Nov 5, 2019 #15

    Grenadier1758

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    It wasn't all that simple years ago. Several grades of powder were available with different levels of energy and amounts of fouling. There were the differing sizes of the grains from fine to coarse. There was the mil supplied musket powder. Military grade was generally coarse grain, modestly energetic and quite dirty. There was a standard grade used for the fowling guns. Fairly coarse, but a good performer. The top of the line powder was the highly energetic fine grain sporting grade powders for the top performing rifles. In some instances powder testers were used to verify the energy in the powder.

    Nope, powders were not all the same. Dupont started his powder mills because the run of the mill American powder in 1800 was of such poor quality. The wood used to make the charcoal differed. Adler made the best with the least fouling. The source of the potassium nitrate and purity made big differences in performance.

    The powders today also have different levels of performance. You do measure by volume, but the same volume of Pyrodex will send the ball down range at a lower velocity than 777. Now don't let the Pyrodex get stored in a high humidity environment and the bang will become plop.

    Nope, the average purchaser of black powder often had difficult choices to make.
     
  16. Nov 5, 2019 #16

    Erwan

    Erwan

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    For the following of what said Grenadier, I just tell you something.
    Here in France the substitutes are prohibited and we do like by the past and we have to chose trhe right powder for the right revolver, pistol, rifle at the right charge.

    Our powders are:
    - Swiss powder Nr1: hot powder FFFFg and cleaner than others for smallest calibers (31 or 36).
    - Swiss powder N°2: normal powder for revolvers, pistol and small rifle (44 to 50 cal.).
    - Swiss powder N°3 for heavy charges with a big granulation (musket, all big calibers over 50 cal. like 54 and over).
    - French powder PNF4: hot powder but not so hot that the Swiss N°1).
    - French powder PNF2: powder "multi purpose" for pistols and small rifles till 45. cal .
    - French powder PNF1: powder "multi purpose" for small and big calibers.
    - French Mousquet-Tir: powder big granulation and dirty for very big calibers .
    - French powder for Hunting (poudre de chasse) only good for hunting and poor for shooting (target).

    We have (only) to do with all that if we have several arms very different in calibers, very old arms or not and if it's for target or hunting... ;)
     
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  17. Nov 5, 2019 #17

    07Kingpin

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    Wow. Well this is why you ask questions. I have hand loaded for a few rifle/pistol rounds and understand that H4350 has a different burn rate than say H4831 etc or how rifle powder is diffrent than pistol powders but genuinely thought "black powder" was black powder. Glad I asked and thanks for the great information!
     
  18. Nov 5, 2019 #18

    GunnyGene

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    I still have about 1/2lb of FFg Gearhart-Owen from the 90's. I think it's GOEX now? Anyway, I shoot it occasionally in my CVA repro .44 Navy Colt.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jan 22, 2020 #19

    wb78963

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    I still have some Du Pont FFFg in the metal cans with a lot number from the 1970's.
    It shoots just fine and it gets used in revolvers and a Sharps rifle. It will get used in a flintlock rifle as soon as my range is ready. As long as it it stored in a dry place real "Gun Powder", which is what
    DuPont called it, will last indefinitely.
     
  20. Jan 22, 2020 #20

    rodwha

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    You might want to give Goex Olde Eynsford a try. It was designed to compete with Swiss from what I’ve read. It’s certainly cheaper, and supports American jobs. I like it, but then I’ve only used Pyrodex and Triple 7, and one day I think I will have to try Swiss.
     
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