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Black Powder Basics

Black Powder Basics

Elmer Keith in 1936 writing in his book Sixgun Cartridges and Loads, recommended the novice reloader start out with black powder; he basically said just fill the case, crunch the bullet down and shoot. Yes, loads can be assembled the way he says, however if you’re looking for accuracy with black powder it’s necessary to add several steps and follow some basic guidelines. In fact, loading black powder successfully requires more time and knowledge than using smokeless powder.

When loading smokeless powder I can get excellent results with commercial machine cast bullets of hard alloy matched up with a very hard lube, loaded over a proper charge, crimped and then fired. Quite often, loads thus assembled will shoot as good if not better then loads carefully assembled with home-cast bullets of the “proper” alloy and matching soft lube. But black powder needs more attention.

Reloaders have long argued whether standard powder measures should be used with black powder. Lyman offers the #55 Black Powder Measure, and this powder dispenser is designed to prevent the possibility of a spark igniting the black powder in the hopper. Powder measures designed for smokeless use should never be used with black powder, due to the danger of electric sparking. This has not been proven under laboratory conditions — nor has it been disproved. Some manufacturers of BP substitutes now approve the use of a standard powder measure, so check with them individually.

WEB BLAST EXTRA

Specially Selected Black Powder Loads
Cartridge Bullet Weight Charge Sixgun MV
.45 Colt 250 gr. 37.5 gr. FFg Colt SAA 7-1/2” 930 fps
.45 Colt 250 gr. 37.5 gr. Pyrodex Colt SAA 7-1/2” 990 fps
.45 Schofield 230 gr. 30.0 gr. FFg Colt SAA 7-1/2” 860 fps
.45 Schofield 230 gr. 30.0 gr. Pyrodex Colt SAA 7-1/2” 900 fps
.44-40 200 gr. 35.0 gr. FFg Colt SAA 7-1/2” 860 fps
.44-40 200 gr. 35.0 gr. Pyrodex Colt SAA 7-1/2” 1,000 fps
.44 Russian 250 gr. 20.0 gr. FFg Colt SAA 7-1/2” 695 fps
.44 Russian 250 gr. 20.0 gr. Pyrodex Colt SAA 7-1/2” 775 fps
.38-40 180 gr. 35.0 gr. FFg Colt SAA 7-1/2” 975 fps
38-40 180 gr. 35.0 gr. Pyrodex Colt SAA 7-1/2” 1,120 fps

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