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Powders for Black Powder Cap and Ball Revolvers

Filed in Articles, Black Powder Shooting, Black Powder Supplies by on August 14, 2014 0 Comments • views: 4976

black powderWith the dire shortage of common smokeless reloading powders for pistol, many people are taking up a new facet of the hobby: black powder cap-and-ball pistol shooting.  The choices of powder can be confusing for the beginner, and so this article is an attempt to break down that confusion.

Measure by Weight or by Volume?

If you have been reloading conventional firearms using smokeless powder then you know that the conventional way to measure powder is to do so initially by weight (to calibrate your powder measure) then all subsequent charges are measured by volume. (That’s an over simplification).

With black powder and black powder substitutes (see below) it’s a little simpler. Most powder measures – like the one shown here – are already pre-marked with measurements in grains.

Charges for black powder substitutes are specified in volumetric equivalents.  For example, of you want to substitute Pyrodex for a 25-grain charge of black powder you would fill the powder measure to the 25-grain mark with Pyrodex even though Pyrodex weighs less than black powder.

Black Powder Granulations

Traditionally, black powder comes in different granulations. Each granulation has a different burn rate:

1f or Fg Largest granuation. Used for large caliber firearms

2f or FFg Used with .50cal and larger firearms and 10, 12, 16, 1n3 20 ga shotguns

3f or FFFg Used for .50 caliber and smaller revolvers

4f or FFFFg Used for  flintlock primers only

Black Powder Manufacturers

black powderThere are several manufacturers of black powder, the most well know of which is GOEX.

Other Black Powder Manufacturers:

Black Powder Substitutes

Due to HazMat and other regulations, it is difficult to find black powder these days. Fortunately several manufacturers produce Black Powder Substitutes.  Most black powder substitutes are actually smokeless powders that have been treated in such a way as to be suitable for black powder firearms. Here are the black powder substitutes suitable for our cap-and-ball revolvers:

Pyrodex P

PyrodexPyrodex P is intended to be a direct replacement for FFFg Black powder when measured volumetrically using a black powder measure. The principal uses for Pyrodex P are in muzzleloading pistols, cap and ball revolvers, and in small bore, muzzleloading rifles.

NOTE: Do not confuse Pyrodex P with Pyrodes RS or Pyrodex Select.  They are formulated for rifles and shotguns, and are not suitable for use in a cap-and-ball revolver

Pyrodex Pellets

pyrodex_pelletsProbably the most interesting and convenient black powder substitute is Pyrodex Pellets.

Pyrodex Pellets are measured charges of Pyrodex that have been formed into a cylindrical solid pellets. The are offered in various sizes.  The sice suitable for for cap-and-ball revolvers is the  40-45 caliber 30 grain pellets.

Note: There are no pelletized black powder products available for .36 caliber cap-and-ball revolvers.

Hodgdon Triple 7 FFFG

Triple_Seven_FFFG_01Though more expensive than Pyrodex, the attraction of Hodgden Triple Seven (Triple Se7en) is that you can clean your gun with soap and water

As with Pyrodex, a charge of Triple Seven is volumetrically equivalent to black powder.  By this I man that if you want to substitute Triple Seven for a 25gr charge of black powder then fill your powder measure with the same volume of Triple Seven as would be occupied by 25gr of black powder.




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