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Posted: 10/22/2004 7:53:05 AM EST
First off is black powder easier to make then smokeless or is the process simply different.
Secondly, is black powder more corrosive? Is it nosier?
Also could black powder be used in a semi-automatic weapon?
Lastly, how did casings (cartridges) work back in the day, did they have primers like they do today or was that different? (Like the Springfield trap door guns)

Thanks.
Link Posted: 10/22/2004 8:11:47 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/22/2004 8:12:23 AM EST by Green_Canoe]
The process to make black powder is different and easier.

More corrosive.

Typically a little less noisy. operates at lower pressures.

Typically won't give good performance in semiautomatic weapons due to the large amount of residue black powder generates.

Cartridges worked exactly the same. Some were rimefire most were centerfire. The main difference was they had balloon head cases where the the powder camber went to the very back of the case and surrounded the primer pocket (i.e. the primer pocket protruded into the powder space). These were very weak by modern standards but stong enough for b.p..
Link Posted: 10/22/2004 8:23:38 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/22/2004 8:32:03 AM EST
Black powder isn't very difficult to make. People used to make it at home at times or in a pinch. Quality control is the problem with that. BP is sulphur, saltpeter and charcoal, in the right proportions. Most modern powders are a formula of nitrocellulose, which is more difficult to make.

Black powder, and black powder fouling/residue is VERY hygroscopic, and contains lots of salts. Failure to quickly clean a barrel after shooting can lead to very serious rust, very quickly.

I load black powder cartridges, and they're very similar to modern cartridges. I use modern cases and primers, with cast and lubricated bullets. Black powder is sensitive to how it settles in the case, and how it is compressed. Some black powder works better with some or a lot of compression, and some does not like to be compressed at all. Compression doesn't have much affect on pressure as it does in smokeless loads. Most black powder cartridges will also have a wad over the powder in the case. Some people actually still paper patch bullets, instead of using grooved, lubed bullets. To each his own.

Black powder shooting is very fun and satisfying, and the sport of competition in BPCR is growing. Check out the forums, and the site, at Shiloh rifle company.

Link Posted: 10/22/2004 12:33:22 PM EST
Dont forget that its a ton of fun to shoot. Weapons make a low boom, recoil a ton, throw a huge chunk of lead downrange, and make soo much smoke that the other shooters at the range cant see. Its awesome.
Link Posted: 10/22/2004 2:28:52 PM EST

Originally Posted By CFII:
Dont forget that its a ton of fun to shoot. Weapons make a low boom, recoil a ton, throw a huge chunk of lead downrange, and make soo much smoke that the other shooters at the range cant see. Its awesome.



hehehehehehehehe so true, got to love that.....

and you also get 2 booms per sqeeze, the initial pop of the primer, followed a milliesecond later by the boom of the black powder ignition, love that.....
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 3:47:22 AM EST
I never notice two booms... firing a blackpowder cartridge isn't much different than a modern cartridge. There are not two sounds... there is no delay in the firing...

Recoil isn't bad in my rifle. 405gr lead bullets over 70 grains of black powder (.45-2.1, or .45-70 as commonly known) doesn't recoil harshly at all. Of course, my rifle weighs 13lb. Blackpowder loads give you more of shove than a kick. Mine doesn't feel like much more than a 20ga shotgun. When you go to the larger cased .45 cartridges, like .45-90, .45-110 or 120, the recoil can get to where it rattles your teeth! I'd not recommend more cartridge than you need. A .45-70 will get you to 1000 yards with good accuracy, and with only a few matches going beyond 1000 yards, a .45-90 is quite adequate for the rest.

Link Posted: 10/23/2004 3:54:49 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 7:11:38 AM EST

Originally Posted By TomJefferson:

The residue of black powder has a high affinity for water, and BP firearms are very prone to corrosion unless cleaned immediately after use. I would think the noise issue is a wash.


Just to add to Raf's post, gunpowder contains sulpher. Sulpher after combining with moisture leaves a dilute supheric acid which is hell on barrels. Neutralizers such as amonia are used in the cleaning process.

Tj



Hot water with or without some dishsoap works fine, too.
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 8:23:45 AM EST
Blackpowder rifles are almost as much fun as my AR's! There's simply something to appreciate about dumping 100grs of powder behind a 350gr chunk of lead, and then see the huge cloud of smoke after you pull the trigger. Flintlocks (or "Flinch" locks) are even better, as you get the flash of light and then the recoil.

My T/C hawken kicks harder than any other rifle I shoot, especially with a full load behind big bullets. Round balls are pretty tame, but actually can do some damage. Then again, anything .50 caliber at 2000fps is going to do some damage!
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 10:43:24 AM EST

Originally Posted By Matthew_Q:
I never notice two booms... firing a blackpowder cartridge isn't much different than a modern cartridge. There are not two sounds... there is no delay in the firing...





I have to disagree, I notice the first sound, the primer, and then the ignition of the blackpowder when out in the woods.

I can tell when a hunting buddy has fired his blackpowder.
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 10:56:23 AM EST
Oh; Black Pow(D)er...never mind.
Link Posted: 10/23/2004 11:46:01 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/23/2004 11:50:41 AM EST by ProfGAB101]
Black powder - as stated above can be easily made at home. Problem is quality of components and consistancy of lots.

True "smokeless" type propellants are single or double based nitrocellulose compounds. Again if you tried to make this yourself you again face the problem with quality of components and consistancy of lots. Not to mention the processes are very dangerous without automated equipment and monitoring.

Also of note: Several items required are on lists of flagged items used for production of controlled substances (drugs) as well as explosives both of which can make you very popular with various law enforcement. ( They won't be smiling! )

As it is - there are all sorts of storage requirements and quotas depending on where you live. Be smart, do all your homework research before considering starting any such project.

EDIT: I would add that if you required something of "smokeless" type propellant the easist one to make would likely be "Gun cotton" - all of the above still applies - do the research, be safe.
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