View Full Version : Bizarre question......I guess.

03-13-2007, 09:46 PM
I tried a number of queries in this forum and a lot on the net. My question will sound pretty sacraligious (sp?) but has anyone heard of experimenting with BP in modern firearms, or even tried it?

Seems to me the worst that would happen is you'ld have sub-par performance and probably gum up a clean weapon. But it should work.

Part of this is personal "what if" he other part is background for a book I'm trying to write........what if you HAD to use BP because there wasn't anything else!?

03-13-2007, 10:47 PM
I know of some one that had to bring some 4F into Africa loaded as 375 H&H ammo. Could not find local 4F for a flinter. said they shot OK, but fouled out the bore quickly. I would suspect the same to be true for most modern rounds.

03-13-2007, 11:47 PM
If you read the patent number off of a bottle of Pyrodex and look it up, you'll find some bizarre data on shooting a .222 Remington with 50 grain jacketed bullets and Pyrodex containing various amounts of water up to something like 20-25%, where it was a wet paste. The patent claim was for an amount of moisture to be left in the powder to modulate burning. I can't believe the Patent Office granted that one, as all powders contain residual moisture. And the further claims of the patent covered basically any imaginable combination of solid fuels and oxidizers in a firearms propellant. Gave an example of a mixture that's surely close to the real Pyrodex, consisting of about 40% real blackpowder ingredients in their standard proportions, and the rest being a mixture of potassium perchlorate and sodium benzoate (which perusal of websites on forensic analysis of powder residues will quickly confirm are the main ingredients of Pyrodex.) The patent is of course long ago expired.

In the early days of "modern" military rifles the British and the Russians loaded copper-nickel jacketed bullets on top of compressed charges of black powder in bottleneck cases. The .303 British and the 7.62x54R that was surely inspired by the .303. The Russians loaded their Mosin-Nagants with black powder till 1908. The early Swiss 7.5mm cartridges were loaded with some sort of semi-smokeless powder until 1911.

03-13-2007, 11:57 PM
And of course, any of the common revolver cartridges with lead bullets will work just fine with black powder. Many were originally blackpowder cartridges, but the ones that weren't (like .44 Magnum, for instance) are of the same basic design and work just dandy with it. Auto pistol cartridges used smokeless powder from the beginning because of the blowback of gas into the action, which would tend to gum them up. Considering some of the tests that were used in the acceptance trials that resulted in the adoption of the M1911 .45, though, it might just work with BP. They filled those things with mud, sand and salt water, let them sit and then fired them. How bad could some black powder fouling be? I'm not going to put my nice Colt Government Model to that test, though. There were recoil operated machine guns such as the Maxim and Hotchkiss designs built to run on black powder ammunition in the early days, and they worked satisfactorily. Gas operated designs would be problematic, but some of the early designs using muzzle caps to trap gas, and the Colt "Potato Digger" design with an external lever operated by gas blasting out of a port in the barrel were used with BP. Ian Hogg's book Machine Guns contains some info on that.

Don't try it in your AR-15. :mrgreen:

03-13-2007, 11:59 PM
I'm not sure just what you mean by a "modern" firearm but .303 British started out life as a black powder cartridge with a 215 gr. cupro nickle jacket bullet. It must have worked reasonably well as the British hung onto the .303 and later replaced the black powder with smokeless.

.303 British isn't a particularly large cartridge but did hold 70 gr. of black so no pipsqueak. It is also basically a "modern" design with a large body, shoulder and necked down to a relatively small bore. There were a few other cartiridges that were similar as well. Some used paper patched boolits, some jacketed and some lead.

With a cast boolit, large grease grooves and a soft lube it should be fine in a bolt or lever action, or single shot.

I have shot lots of black powder in a Marlin 1895 .45-70 with good lube on a lead boolit with no caked fouling build up - more like black mud - and I have shot black in a .44 mag Marlin 1894 with similar results.

If by 'Modern" firearm you mean semi auto that is a different story. You wouldn't want to be shooting many black powder loads through a gas operated semi auto! Or if you do I wouldn't want to be cleaning it.

Just my thoughts.


03-14-2007, 12:03 AM
Well, look at that. While I was writing Ricochet beat me to it! And with even better examples!

That's what makes this fun and informative.

I know I learn something every time I log on.

Old Ironsights
03-14-2007, 09:58 AM
If by 'Modern" firearm you mean semi auto that is a different story. You wouldn't want to be shooting many black powder loads through a gas operated semi auto! Or if you do I wouldn't want to be cleaning it.

Just my thoughts.


Beat me to it.

I shoot BP and BP Subs in my .357 Rossi M92 Levergun all the time.

And in keeping with Riccoche't examples:

Yes, a Mil Grade 1911 works fine with BP.

So does an M3 Greasegun and the Ingram MAC-10.

Below .45ACP though, blowbacks don't seem to work well with BP unless you grossly reduce the spring-strength/bolt-mass.

Don't ask. Read Phillip Luty's book and make your own inferences. :twisted:

03-14-2007, 11:48 AM
A buddy of mine picked up some of my loads for his 1100 Remington and got them from the wrong box. An 1100 does not like b/p at all, 4 shots and it stuck solid. Boy did he have a fun time cleaning and replacing o rings.

03-14-2007, 12:13 PM
"Back in the day" it used to be considered "fun" to slip a shotgun shell loaded with BP into the shell pocket of one of the "serious" trap shooters. It was startling, to say the least! We (er-r-r, THEY had lots of fun with this one)...

Today, with the rather complex mechanisms in modern auto shotguns, I would be hesitant to do this sort of thing. Practical jokes that have the potential to damage someone's firearm is not my idea of fun.

However, On Topic, I have shot lots (and I mean LOTS) of BPCR silhouette in a "Modern" single shot and of course, LOTS, of BP in my Ruger Vaquero's. Frankly, as most of you already know, the .45 Colt with BP is hardly a pussycat. A 250 gr .45 caliber bullet at 1000 fps out of a 7.5 inch barrel is hardly a "mousefart", that is for sure.

I've threatened, more than once, to take a deer with my 5.5" Ruger Bisley Vaquero and black powder. I KNOW that it will do the job, I just haven't done it, yet.

Prudence would suggest that you only shoot black powder in a firearm that is easily taken apart for thorough cleaning. Cleaning up after black powder is often represented as a "great task". In a firearm that can be easily dismantled, it is a breeze and hardly more than properly cleaning after using smokeless.


03-14-2007, 01:18 PM
Part of this is personal "what if" he other part is background for a book I'm trying to write........what if you HAD to use BP because there wasn't anything else!?
Have always loved 'what if'...

In a proposition that asks 'what if there was nothing but BP available' I would have to assume all of the smokeless had been used up...which means a fair amount of time had elapsed while reaching that point. After that long, it might also be presumed that the BP is home made.

Cartridge guns require cartridges, and cartridges eventually become unusable.
In addition, it's easier (I think) to make percussion caps than primers.

So, if the planet was forced to return to the BP era...'modern' firearms would have limited value, even if their ammunition could be loaded with BP.

03-14-2007, 03:08 PM
I have fired black powder in 30-30, 303 British and 30-06. All of them fouled fast but then I was not lubing the bullets with BP lube. The very first metalic cartridges I ever loaded were 303 British. I loaded them with BP and winged musket caps and reclaimed bullets. It occured like this. One winter years ago I shot off a lot of 303 in the snow. The next spring I picked up a couple hundred bullets that looked like new except for rifling marks. Later that summer the supply of surplus 303 ammo dried up in my area. So what to do.

A little looking at the British berdan primed brass I had showed that the primer was about the size of a winged musket cap (minus the wings). So with an ice pick I poped out the berdan primer, cut the wings off a musket cap and pushed the primer into the primer pocket. Low an behold it was a slip fit. I added a drop of glue to hold it in place, filled the case to the bottom of the neck with BP and pushed a fired bullet into the case. The bullet was a bit loose but I crimped it in place with a pair of cutting pliers. This round looked so good that I loaded up every bullet I had and ended up with over 200 rounds. Off to the range I went and every round fired and after I found that I needed to elevate my sights to 800 yards I was right on at 100 yards. I even shot almost as well as factory loaded ammo in my rifle.

My rifle was very dirty when I got home but I washed out the bore with hot water and disassebled and cleaned the bolt and all was well with it. At every shot the firing pin pierced the primer and two holes corresponding to the flash holes were melted in the caps. The bolt head was not damaged at all just dirty and I got no gas in my face at all. Later I tried BP in both my 30-06 and 30-30. You see I was not afraid of blowing myself up with BP but I was worried about smokeless pressures.

Old Ironsights
03-14-2007, 03:11 PM
That sounds like somthing Junior would do....

03-14-2007, 05:07 PM
That sounds like somthing Junior would do....

LOL.............you are right.........it does.:-D


John Boy
03-14-2007, 05:48 PM
Here's some numbers I have shot through the chronograph, using 'modern' RVSSBH's - 4 5/8" barrel with Goex:
40gr FFFg 250gr 833
40gr FFg 250gr 779
35gr FFFg 250gr 792
35gr FFg 250gr 718
30gr FFFg 250gr 696
30gr FFg 250gr 631

Starline Brass
CCI LP Primers
PRS BP bullets with a soywax based lube
Crimped using Lee Factory Carbide Die

Uberti Cattlemen 4 3/4" and 5 1/2" revolvers produced comparable velocities

03-14-2007, 06:02 PM
Interesting thread. 45 acp has been mentioned as a reasonable candidate for BP, and I bet it would! It would sure be easy to clean up as easy as 1911's come apart. That would make an excellant experiment. Anyone have any idea where to begin with FF (and a 225 gr LRN).

Old Ironsights
03-14-2007, 06:14 PM
That's easy.

The rule for BP is.... FILL THE CASE. That's it. If you don't fill the case you have to top off with filler. Leave no air behind the bullet.

03-14-2007, 06:22 PM
Thanks. I've never yet loaded BP into a pistol case but do have a LB of FF down there given to me by a friend.

I wonder how many ol slabsides wiill take before failure from crud. I bet it's a lot, especially in my non tightened stockish version.

Ah, another project for de summer..

One more thing...Whats special about BP lube? How is it different from straight ALOX (which I have some lubed up with right now.)

Ed Barrett
03-14-2007, 06:42 PM
Alox with black powder will make something that will make epoxy look easy to clean. With black powder only use animal and vegitable based lubes. I bought a very nice set trigger percussion rifle that had alox used as a lube. I thought I got it cheap after the second of trying to clean it I didn't think so. Finally got all the crud out of it and it wasn't a bad shooter, but if I had to do it over again I would pass.

03-15-2007, 02:02 PM
A long time ago I had a M98 in 458 Magnum. I refered to it as my 460 Belted Express rifle.

As I recall I was able to get something like 80+ grains of FFg under the 405 grain lead. Made a nice boom and knocked down a couple of deer.

I experimented with other cartidges and found I preferred the straight ones for BP as the bottlenecked one just did not seem right to me. The 06 for example, seating the bullet did not give me the same feeling of compression I wanted or expected.

Also, I was doing this before the good BP lubes were available. Whoever said Alox + BP = epoxy has it about right.

Of course most revolver cartidges can be loaded with BP. Once,I used BP on the 7 yd line of a PPC course. I stood upwind. After all the cussing we all had a good laugh. Same score as if I used my Bullseye load, just more fun.

Old Ironsights
03-15-2007, 03:50 PM
I load .38 "mousefarts" with BP. Almost dead silent out of my 20" .357 Rossi, and fun out of my 2" SP101.

Not as useful as a BP .45/70, but fun.

03-17-2007, 12:06 PM
I load .38 "mousefarts" with BP. Almost dead silent out of my 20" .357 Rossi, and fun out of my 2" SP101.

Not as useful as a BP .45/70, but fun.

That sounds like something I would like to try with my .357 Low Wall....I have not loaded with BP so would you please tell more about your load...thanks :)

03-17-2007, 01:47 PM
So Alox + BP = epoxy. I sure am glad to hear that beforehand. Thanks a bunch you guys. I'm off to get some BP lube and start pan lubing them.

03-18-2007, 02:25 AM
[smilie=1: OK, my experience. Someplace on the web I read about loading BP cartridges. The guy does cowboy shooting. He used the lightest lead bullets he could find and took the original lub off. Put his own animal or vegetable base lub on. Then when he loaded his cartridges he used magnum primers, and compressed the BP by about 1/8th inch. You cannot overload BP except only to deform your brass while compressing the BP. I tried it in my S&W model 15 (38 special). What a mess. My grandson sure liked it. Down at the range I was nicely asked to use the end shooting station so I wouldn't smoked everyone out. A small boy commented to me "You sure have a powerful gun there mister". That made the whole smoky mess worth it. Anyway, I soon learned to drop my empty BP shells into a bottle of water with a little dish soap in it. Cleaned them up nicely. Just don't forget to rinse well. Just a word to the wise, my barrel go really hot really fast. It's fun but I promised myself after that BP was gone I would never use BP again.
I read somewhere that BP works in semiauto pistols too, you just have to operate the slide every shot. Not enough recoil. There's my 2 cents.
Deano :veryconfu

03-18-2007, 12:25 PM
Ihave done 12 gauge shotshells with pyrodex and I have made blank 12 gauge shells by filling the entire shell with 2f black no shot no wad. but I have never tried it in metalic cartridges. I have wondered about triple 7 or pyrodex as a way to keep a 10% loading density and have a reduced velocity load with paper patch boolits.