Why not smokeless black powder?

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  • Last Post 12 December 2019
cove posted this 05 December 2019

For the past 3 summers I have been experimenting with shooting wadcutters in a cap and ball revolver (an article describing this endeavor should appear in TFS in the near future). The shooting has been a lot of fun, but I find the cloud of oily smoke obnoxious.  Then there is the clean-up, which we all know is not fun.  So, my question is:  "Since they make a powder for every other  condition know to man, why don't they make a smokeless powder with burn rate/ pressures that duplicate  black powder?"  It would be much appreciated by those of us who enjoy shooting more than cleaning.  I called Hodgdon and the fellow I talked to didn't think there would be much demand for such a powder.  I disagree, and think a lot of black powder guns would come out of the closet if a smokeless b lack powder substitute was available.  Any comments?  Should we start a revolution? We could call it "Citizens for a Smoke Free America". - Bill Duncan

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cove posted this 12 December 2019

It appears that the title I used "Why Not Smokeless Black Powder" was misleading.  Sorry about that.  I did not mean black powder(or substitute) that did not produce smoke, what I meant was a smokeless powder such a W231, IMR4227, or IMR Trailboss that produced burning/pressure characteristics similar to those of black powder.  I don't want to overdo the subject, but I still think there is a need for such a powder.  Cove

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Squid Boy posted this 07 December 2019

I think what you are saying is why not use smokeless in these old BP guns? I use it a lot in my Damascus shotguns and spent a lot of time and money doing the ballistic testing that went with it. Can I recommend it? Not without some liability and there is the problem. All the replica guns are marked not for smokeless as far as I know and antiques are always questionable. I believe that developing safe smokeless loads can be done if every aspect of the pressure curve is considered and the gun is known to be sound. I have a friend who's business is to x-ray welds and he processes all my barrels as well as magna-fluxing. I know for a fact the ringing double shotgun barrels is not an indicator of their soundness. The liability for you and others is the biggest deterrent I believe. Thanks, Squid Boy

"Squid Pro Quo"

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Coydog posted this 07 December 2019

I was told by my gunsmith that he was told about 50/50 of Murphy Oil soap and rubbing alcohol and make sure the barrel is off the stock and spay that in the barrel and then use a brush then patch to clean, I also run some patch with the rubbing alcohol and then oil if I am store the gun.It dose not take long to do it this way, and clean the gun up good .Make sure you get all the mix clean off and in the gun.  That is where the rubbing alcohol will clean and dry with out any problems. Not take long also. 

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Millelacs posted this 07 December 2019

There will always be those who will shoot Holy Black in muzzle loading, black powder cartridge rifles, flintlock and caplock firearms.  And that is good (sounds like something out of a movie).  It's part of the history and culture of firearms.

Yet, as time goes on, tastes change.  Interest expands into other areas.  That leaves a smaller slice of our limited time for black powder firearms, to pass on to the next generations.  Many cartridges that were originally loaded with black powder:  .45 Colt, 45-70, 38-55, .38 S&W (which went on to be a military cartridge with smokeless powder), etc. are listed in modern loading manuals for use with smokeless powder.

Why not muzzle loading rifles and shotguns, and black powder handguns?

Easier and quicker clean-up, means that they will be taken out of the safes more often and played with.

I confess, my 1851 Colt Navy and 1858 Remington Army replicas cry out to me at night saying "Play with Me !!!".

More shooting with these old guns and their replicas is what it's all about.

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R. Dupraz posted this 06 December 2019

My Ballistol experience exactly except for the garden hose, with muzzle loading rifles, pistols, percussion shotguns and the BPCR for over twenty years. Bores are still bright and rust free. 

 

R. 

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SavvyJack posted this 06 December 2019

Black powder clean up never bothered be but the wife won the battle over the stink. When I would get home from a long days CAS shoot I would turn on the water hose and rinse all of my firearms down and blow them off with compressed air. This got most of the dirty mess off and out of the barrels/cylinders ...everywhere. Then I would spray down with 50/50 Balistol/Water and swab/clean. Blow excess water off again. If all looked well the water would dry off and leave the oil. Touch up as needed with 100% Ballistol.

15 years later, still no rust!

Even with petroleum based powders, I still clean with Ballistol when needed but I use 100% without water.

 

15 years later, still no rust

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cfp4570 posted this 06 December 2019

One of the things about black powder substitutes that makes them less appealing for shooters of traditional ignition (percussion, flint) firearms is their ignition characteristics. If a substitute could be made that lights off as easily as black powder, I'll bet a lot of people, especially hunters, would use it. I shoot and hunt with both modern, scoped inlines and traditional percussion guns and I still use black powder in all of my guns, and I don't mind the stink and clean-up, but I can see the allure of a non-corrosive powder with the same properties as black.

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Dukem posted this 06 December 2019

My personal feeling is if you don't like the disadvantages of black powder don't shoot black powder firearms. I wrote and deleted more in an effort not to be curmudgeonly.

Duke 

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Squid Boy posted this 06 December 2019

I heard from Alliant and they have no plans to reintroduce a BP substitute. I personally don't have much experience with the stuff. Extremely fast reply's from their customer service by the way. Thanks, Squid 

"Squid Pro Quo"

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David Reiss CBA Membership Director posted this 06 December 2019

Bill,

I still agree with you and I find people that like to clean their black powder firearms, well.......... different. When I first began shooting over 40 years ago, I did like to clean them because it gave me the opportunity to get to know them better. But now, I want to shoot more and clean less. 

David Reiss - NRA Life Member & PSC Range Member Retired Police Firearms Instructor/Armorer
-Services: Wars Fought, Uprisings Quelled, Bars Emptied, Revolutions Started, Tigers Tamed, Assassinations Plotted, Women Seduced, Governments Run, Gun Appraisals, Lost Treasure Found.
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cove posted this 06 December 2019

 First of all, thanks for your comments.  I didn't want to go into too much detail here since since the details of my loading method will be fully described when my article "Shooting Wadcutters In A Blackpowder Revolver" shows up in TFS'.  As for powder selection, Hodgdon777 is the only powder I can get, and I have had good results with it.  It is energetic producing velocities in the high 600s with a charge of 8,5 grains and a 124 grain wadcutter.  As I mentioned above, my problem with BP and BP substitutes is the oily smoke (I use Bore Butter over the cornmeal filler).  This smoke coats the spotting scope, the red dot sight, and has wreaked havoc with my chronograph.  I spend a lot of time cleaning, but still occasionally find rust on the frame and cylinder, living in a very damp climate (rain forest) exacerbates the problem.  I still feel a smokeless powder with black powder properties has a place in the extensive list of powders for specific requirements, but those of us who need those requirements may be too few.  

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tony1960 posted this 06 December 2019

Cove, have you tried using a different grade of powder? I too shoot WC's out of my BP revolver, and found that by using 4Fg I had a lot les cleaning to do after. I've even shot with a white shirt on, much to the disgust of my dear wife, came out almost clean. I also found that by changing to a lube that is not petroleum base then the amount of residue was less. The only BP substitute I can find in Aus is Pyrodex, have never used it, but it is available.

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tony1960 posted this 06 December 2019

Ahhh "Hoppes por Homme" when you develop it I'll buy a couple of bottles, always reconed it would make great aftershave too. My BP revolver comes out pristine after a quick pass over with my solvent and then a splash down with water. 

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Squid Boy posted this 06 December 2019

I checked with Alliant and they told me that Black MZ had been discontinued a year ago and they would not be developing any more data for it. They didn't elaborate on why it was cut but I asked if there would be a replacement in the future and waiting for a reply. Thanks, Squid

"Squid Pro Quo"

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R. Dupraz posted this 05 December 2019

Cowabunga !!!!!

Smokeless black powder ?

Isn't anything sacred anymore ??

surprisedcryfrowndepressed

 

R.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 05 December 2019

....  gary " onondaga " posted several times here about alliant black mz powder...

go just below these posts here and you will find a search box .... search for       alliant black mz      and the wizard will return several posts from mostly onondaga about that powder.

***********************

sometimes when i want to read about casting, and the forum is slow, i go to the search box and type in something of interest, and am amazed at what comes back ... one benefit is that you wind up with an organized discussion from several shooters  of that subject ....  6 years of discussion all on the same page ( or 33 pages ) ...

ken

 

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Squid Boy posted this 05 December 2019

Funny, I think BP is easier to clean than smokeless because it's just water and a couple of passes and the patches are clean. It does stink up the place quite a bit but then I like Hoppe's for after shave too. Squid Boy

"Squid Pro Quo"

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beagle6 posted this 05 December 2019

I'm not sure exactly what you want, but Alliant Black MZ or Hogdon Triple Seven look like they would meet most of your requirements.

beagle6

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Ross Smith posted this 05 December 2019

I like Holy Black. But that's beside the point. Aren't there several black powder substitutes out there?

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BigMan54 posted this 05 December 2019

Part of the allure of BP is the SMOKE & HB eggs stink.

And the whole experience, cleaning, casting RB, measuring out the charges. Seating, do ya use grease over the ball to seal the chambers or felt wads under the ball.

Trying conicals, if they fit. 

And Rifles, is your rifle set with a fast twist for conicals or a slow twist for patched RB. And figuring out the Lube ?

SPG or Bore Butter ? Or some other concoction of Olive Oil and Lamb Fat ? 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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