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Powder Choices And Observations

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#1 cayugad


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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:27 PM

We constantly hear people question powders. They want to know the good and bad points of different brands. Much of what we as forum members can offer them is based upon personal experience and of course personal preference. Here are some of my thoughts on the powders. And I would like for you to add any comment of the different powders you have. Maybe we can get a real comprehensive idea of just what each powder can do and can accomplish.

This might sound simplistic and for that I apologize. I am not someone that gets excited because one powder can push the same projectile 200 fps faster or less. I worry more about accuracy. I also am not one that gets all excited about how CLEAN a powder is. So I will break it down this way.

Pyrodex RS or P - in loose or pellet form. Excellent shot to shot consistency. Very accurate when the right load is found. Some of my best groups were shot with Pyrodex RS loose and pellet form powder. Produces soft fouling which is easy to remove by swabbing. Not the easiest powder to ignite, that being black powder, but not too far off. Unlike some of the other subs that can get a little finicky in the ignition area, Pyrodex is comparatively easy to ignite. Normally priced in a range that makes it easy to afford, it is a common powder so can be had just about anywhere. The bad points... not the fastest powder on the market (doesn't impress me on that point as I noted). Very corrosive when compared to the other powders - while this is true, that if you leave a rifle fouled with Pyrodex it will produce rust faster than almost any other powder.. I don't leave my guns dirty. I clean them at the end of the day. Also Pyrodex can be cleaned with simple soap and water. Water actually if you want. So this to me is a mute point. I rate this an excellent powder. Where I live it sells for $18.00 a pound when not on sale.

Triple Seven Powder in both loose and pellet form in 2f & 3f - Triple Seven is a popular powder with a lot of shooters because of the excellent power spike it produces. For instance, when I shoot conical bullets I like to shoot Triple Seven powder to get them moving and expanding in the bore to catch the rifling. With sabots it is normally an excellent powder. In comparing equal amounts of Pyrodex VS Triple Seven LOOSE powder you find that the Triple Seven is approximately 15% stronger or more powerful if you will. This is not true in pellet form as the weight of the Triple Seven pellet was reduced so it matches the power of the Pyrodex RS pellet. This powder is a little harder to ignite then say Pyrodex RS or black powder, but nothing to get overly concerned about. It seems to withstand moisture in hunting situations well, if the rifle is addressed to the conditions you face. Triple Seven is easy to clean. Simple water will clean it. I like to use Windex when I clean it. The draw backs are; itís a little more expensive then other powders... $24.00 a pound where I live, it is not as common as some other powders. But availability is changing and I see more and more of it in the 2f variety in stores.

The other draw back is when fired in some rifles it can cause a very hard fouling, commonly called a crud ring. The "crud ring" is a collection of unburned powder and carbon that forms near the breech of the rifle. Normally a careful swabbing of the bore between shots will remove it. Some people do claim they have to use a bore brush to work the crud ring out of the bore. I have never experienced that extreme and have shot Triple Seven in over 40 different rifles. It does clean up well through. As I mentioned this seems to be a very good powder for hunting. And it too is very consistent although some ignition problems because of the crud ring force people to use a weaker primer. For instance the Remington Kleenbore Primers or Winchester Triple Seven primers are a reduced charge primer made to lower the flash in the ignition chamber and thereby reduce or eliminate the crud ring. This powder is not as corrosive as many of the other powders. Therefore you can shoot a rifle and leave it fouled or loaded for longer periods of time they claim. You can do it with your rifle, but not with mine.

American Pioneer and Jim Shockey Gold powder in 2f and 3f in loose and stick form - This is a sugar based powder. It is not as consistent as come of the other powders I shoot. Although when you do find a load with it and stick to that you normally have excellent consistency and accuracy. Being a sugar based powder there is no swabbing between shots required they claim. That is not exactly true. Having shot (and still shoot) many pounds of it have proven otherwise to me. You will see a white or gray area start to develop near the muzzle of the rifle. This can make starting a sabot difficult, but a simple swab worked down about 10 inches into the bore from time to time takes care of this. Cleaning is again, done with water. This is not a particularly corrosive powder although if the rifle is left fouled, it will eventually cause rusting in the bore. Face it, any powder left untreated will eventually cause rusting in the bore. I am currently paying $24.00 a pound for this whether 2f or 3f. I like the 3f as it shoots well in revolvers, and the 2f is such a coarse powder, like fish tank gravel, that it will not pour evenly out of some of the funnel measures we use. You must use an open end measure when using this powder because of that. I do not like this powder for hunting. It reacts to moisture as many claim, which is never a good thing to have happen. But my reason for disliking this powder is the lack of shot to shot consistency. Although it does shoot roundball well for me. And it is one of the better powders to shoot in cap and ball revolvers and clean up is easy, and you can shoot all day without breaking the weapon down for a field clean.

BlackHorn 209 - A relatively new sub powder to the market. It is actually from what I understand a smokeless powder base with some additives to make it legal and to slow down barrel pressures for the muzzleloader market. Made by Western Powder, BlackHorn 209 is taking the inline market by storm it seems. All you read is the praises of this powder for its power, consistency, and no swabbing. You do not clean this powder with any water products; this powder requires a solvent to clean properly. BH209 is a powerful powder. One of the most powerful, so please consider this in developing your load. This powder is made for rifles in excellent condition. Also the shot to shot consistency of the powder is exceptional. The price can vary. I have seen it sell for $27.00 for 10 ounces (that right) all the way up to $37.00 for the same jug. Consider the price differential when you purchase this powder. Also consider that this powder, due to ignition properties, can cause a lot of headaches.

This powder is not meant for open breech muzzleloaders like a T/C Black Diamond, or Knight Wolverine, Bighorn, or some of the older technology open breech or hammer breech rifles. This powder demands a good locking action like the Knight Disc, Knight Mountaineer, T/C Omega, T/C Triumph, CVA Optima or CVA Accura - all good examples of rifles that do well with BlackHorn 209. Aside from the type and make of the ignition to consider, also pay attention to the primer you are shooting. This powder demands a hot primer. The CCI 209A, Remington STS, Federal 209a, or Winchester W209 are examples of primers that work well. Reduced power primers such as the Remington Kleenbore or Winchester Triple Seven primers are not a good choice for this powder. It is hard to ignite, so the hotter the primer the better. Also understand that some breech plugs work better with this powder then others. If you try BlackHorn and have ignition problems, the breech plug could well be the culprit. Also the fire channel can and probably will become caked with carbon deposits. So before you throw that breech plug that does not work away, get some drill bits and push them into the fire channel and turn them. The bits will scrape the carbon out of the plug and make it work again. Some people claim they have to use a drill bit on the breech plug after 5 shots. When I tested it, I got 4 shots before the bit was required. Each rifle/plug combo may be different but all plugs require this cleaning. When you clean it, use solvent. And make sure the breech plug is clean and oil free when using BH209 for best results. This is good powder if you have plenty in your wallet as well as the rifle, breech plug and primers to shoot it. I personally have been testing it and am not convinced itís the best darn powder in the world...

Goex, Swiss, Graf's. Schuetzen, and other black powders - Black powder is the easiest of all powders to ignite. One reason it is considered dangerous. I personally like the powder. Cost effective wise, it is one of the cheapest powders to shoot. Consistency wise, it is one of the most consistent powders to shoot. Shot to shot, once you find your load, you are set to go. One major complaint of the powder is fouling. Yes it fouls Ė so what? I swab the bore and get on with it. The fouling is soft and cleans with water. I do not find this powder any harder to clean than all the other powders. And yes this is corrosive, but I clean my rifle at the end of the day and all is well in the world. When a rifle will not behave with other powders, I turn to black powder and it seems to make them behave. This powder is not easy to find because of the HAZMAT status it carries, which is a shame. If you see this powder in 2 or 3f pick a pound up and give it a try. This is a great but misunderstood powder IMO.

Black Mag, White Hots, Pinnacle, and other powders.. all of these powders are hard to find. They are easy to clean. They are IMO not as consistent shot to shot as other powders but those that use them ... like them. I do like Pinnacle. It is a good strong powder and easy to shoot and clean. The costs of these powders vary. I have not tested any of them, other then Pinnacle, enough to give opinions on. But they are fun to try.
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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:18 AM

First of all Cayugad I very much enjoy your posts. I trust your judgements and when you post it is always thorough and well thought out. Since my shooting of front loaders is predominately with a flintlock much of my experience with powders has been with real BP. The most common black powder for sale around here is Goex. Not having an ignition system on my rifles that supports good ignition on any of the substitites my experience is quite limited with them.

Pyrodex. A few years ago I played with pyrodex powder in a flintlock. My personal experience was a little less than stellar with ignition of this powder. I was told that good ignition could be had by duplexing the load by first putting some black powder in and then the pyrodex. After consideration of this procedure I dismissed that proposition when hunting. Just too many steps. I was given some pyrodex pellets but have yet to try them at the range. My neighbor tried them in a flintlock but got such poor ignition he just gave up on them. In my limited experience I saw little difference in fouling between pyrodex and real bp and not enough advantages to perk my interest in further investigation.

APP My only experience with app was the regular app in 2f in my sidelock percussion. While the residue was less than real bp residue there was definately residue left by this powder. I had some difficulty with ignition and found this powder to be less powerful than bp. I shot it at 50 yds and point of impact was over 2 inches lower than with equal amounts of bp. Perceived recoil was also noticably less than with bp. My conclusion when compared to real bp was that regular app powder was rather enemic and was not an improvement over real bp. A serious hangfire caused me to miss a buck of a lifetime may be influencing my thoughts of this powder.
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#3 cayugad


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Posted 07 February 2012 - 10:52 AM

It is exactly information like you just gave that made me post this. All the time people ask me.. I have this rifle. What kind of powder should I use? And I hate to tell them... brand X because all rifles and shooters have such different experiences. As for your APP.. I agree. I'd never hunt with the powder. But it is fun to shoot and I love the smoke from it. Clouds of it. In my flintlock experience.. if its not black powder, I am not going to shoot it. Black powder still is the best powder on the market in my opinion.
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, a total wreck with a big smile on your face."

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