View Full Version : Nitrated Paper, a Crazy Idea

12-19-2005, 12:48 AM
I have an Encore 209X50, I've never hunted with it but will be during January. Looking into speed loaders, the idea struck me.... Would it be possible to wrap a powder charge in nitrated paper/linen, drop the charge into the barrel follow with sabot, prime and be ready to fire again? Seems me that a couple of Civil War breech loading rifles used powder charges so wrapped, just curious if it might work with a muzzle loader too. Thoughts? Experience?

12-19-2005, 07:26 AM
..................Can't think of a reason it wouldn't, especially with that 209 shotshell primer. I'd be leery of ramming another down there until yuo knew for a fact that there wasn't any smoldering remains to cause excitement :D

The CW paper cartridges were not usually rammed down the barrel. The end was torn off and the powder dumped and then the Minie' was rammed.


12-19-2005, 07:59 AM
I've used cigarette paper in paper catridges for something like this in my 1858 revolver. Seemed to work alright. Just a pain in the neck making em. Should work in a rifle as well. 8mmshooter

12-19-2005, 08:09 AM
Get a couple of T-C quick loaders. They work fast and easy.

12-19-2005, 10:34 AM
John, If you're intent on nitrating paper, try something a bit stronger and more porous than cigarette paper, e.g., filter paper or coffee filters or perhaps those coarse brown paper towels (mostly because of their size). While KNO3 is great, NaNO3 would be more active, but more hygroscopic too.

12-19-2005, 11:59 AM
I've used that paper that comes with a new shirt to be the best for nitrate paper and have used it successfully.


12-19-2005, 02:21 PM
A fellow here took and glued a couple of sticks of powder to the back of a sabot and bullet and he loads that way. I told him if he could just encase the load in brass and attach a primer...

12-19-2005, 11:10 PM
We used 9# "onion skin" paper with 25% cotton fibre when loading for a .54 Sharps Carbine breach loader. Closing the breach sliced off the tail of the paper and exposed the powder.

If you are using this in a muzzleloader, I'd suggest forming the breach end of the paper in a semi pointed, kind of round nose shape. That way it splits when the ball is seated and the powder is at least more exposed to the primer flame.

IIRC, this was the basic shape of the preformed pistol charges carried by Cavalry troopers, and others, during the Civil War.

Frankly, I think using plastic rebar caps of the appropriate diameter is MUCH better. Pour your powder into the cap, insert a lubed Minié in the open end, and store in a pocket, possibles bag, cartridge box, or whatever.

Pull the "cartridge" out, pull the Minié out with your teeth, pour the powder down the barrel, insert the Minié, put on the new cap, cock, and FIRE! The old CWSA Skirmishers did it like that for years, to good effect.:cool:

12-20-2005, 01:03 AM
Like C1PNR said the onion skin works well.I use it untreated in my Sharps.Pages out of the phone book work ok too Lot of guys use the rolling papers plain also but they are too fragile for my fat fingers.One of my buddys got real funny looks buying them e-z widers by the carton.Have nitrated adding machine paper,regular ole putter printer paper too. To make solution: I just keep adding a tea spoon of salt peter to warm H2o.Couple oz.to the pint is enough. dip the paper and hang to dry. Get somthing to catch the drips as it hangs.It makes a mess in the floor.The dripings can be reused.
With that big 209 primer I would think that untreated would work OK as is.I would make a wood dowel as a former to roll paper cartridge,close and glue end like a shot shell crimp.
Know of one guy that tried a Pyro pellet glued to a .50 boolet in his smith carbine. I was thinking of trying it out on the Sharps.

12-20-2005, 02:26 AM
I'm definitely with Junior on this, if you need a second shot while you're hunting, seconds count and you don't need to be standing there dubbing with something while the deer are making for the next county. There's nothing better than the quick loaders by TC and others. TC even makes some with the short starter built right in and they work great.
On the target range, sure, have a ball, play with new things, get a better understanding of how it was for our G-G-Grandfathers, and tell us about all your experiments and how they work out. I don't know so much yet that I can't still learn a thing or two! I really like the idea of what you're trying to do, I just doubt its practicality when deer are involved.
If you're hunting with an Encore (an inline) you aren't exactly going the traditional route anyway and you might as well use modern loading technology along with the modern 209 ignition you already have while you're out in the field. As my brother once said, "If you get things too goddam complicated, you're better off carrying a camera than a gun!"

12-20-2005, 11:05 AM
When the Pryodex pellets came out and in forming my own pellets of the Holy Black , I used to use a Lee 200 grain conical and a drop of hot glue to stick the bullet to the pellet. This worked great in my 58 Remington. To protect the pellet I used to roll it in a Zig Zag paper and stack um in my ammo pouch.


12-21-2005, 01:26 AM
Hey Edgeofthewoods
How mdid you make your own B/P pellets? I know that the fireworks guys use a hydrulic press and die to make stars for their shells.Makes me a bit nervious to put black under 3,000 lb of pressure though. I hope you have a better [safer] way.

12-29-2010, 02:44 PM
after reading in the hodgdon manual about plastic wrap as a wad, I tried it with pellets.

I wrapped 2pellets 1boolit laid out, and twisted it up at the top.

Never had a misfire.

so I tried some CigPaper , untreated with loose. Worked the same, no misfires.

made a tube with a dowel, and used a dab of elmers wipe on glue stick to hold the bottom together.

Just made sure I rammed them to the same depth on my rod as normal

I wonder if we have to worry about paper holding a spark. the chamber has more carbon buildup than paper and after a spitpatch wipe, I doubt there would be any fire down there. if that was a truism, I would think we'd see more discharges due to the carbon holding an ember. and I have never seen nor heard nor read a warning about that

but again, I use a spit patch to wipe between shots, a la that Epps guy in Manitoba. www.prbullet.com

12-29-2010, 04:37 PM
Back when I fooled with BP revolvers a lot I made combustible paper cartridges for them. A bit of a PIA, but they worked quite well. I turned small, tapered, wooden mandrels around which I wrapped the paper cone, gluing the edges with that "glue stick" stuff school kids use. I found after a lot of experimentation that the best paper to use was lightweight rice paper I bought at an art supply store. I mixed up a super-saturated solution of saltpeter in water and soaked the sheets of paper in it, then clipped them on a clothes line to dry. After drying I used a cardboard template to cut out the papers for the cartridges, wrapped them onto the mandrel, glued down the edges, fill with the powder charges, drop the balls or conicals on top sealing them in place with more glue stick glue. As I recall the biggest hassle was working out the shapes of the templates for cutting the papers, plus how to efficiently fold the ends to make as thin a barrier as possible between the powder and the percussion cap.

To load, I just dropped them in the chambers and seated them with the rammer just like with loose powder and ball- no biting or tearing the ends off first. I don't remember having any hang-fires or failures to go off. Those tapered combustible paper cartridges were identical in size, shape, and function to original Civil War pistol cartridges.

I don't fool with that stuff anymore. I'm pretty sure I still have the mandrels for making them. If anyone is interested I'll dig them out and you can have them. Warning: I'm PRETTY sure I still have them, but no guarantee!! If you twist my arm I could turn some more out of wood, if I can find the old ones to use as patterns because I don't feel like working out the dimensions by trial-and-error again!!! (How's that for lazy?!)

12-29-2010, 05:26 PM
I made nitrated paper cartridges for a cap & ball similar to gnoahhh's. The only problem I remember is the paper setting the grass on fire. I was planning on using them in my rifle but that changed my mind.


12-29-2010, 06:48 PM
Okay, my only question, and this is the same question I've had since I was about 14 or 15, is where the hell do you get Salt Peter/Potassium Nitrate?

12-29-2010, 07:53 PM
Okay, my only question, and this is the same question I've had since I was about 14 or 15, is where the hell do you get Salt Peter/Potassium Nitrate?

Most grocery stores will have some, or Ebay always has some for sale.

12-30-2010, 09:46 AM
If I remember correctly the Dixie catalog has an article in it about making paper cartridges from nitrated paper. You might check that out.

12-30-2010, 10:49 AM
Okay, my only question, and this is the same question I've had since I was about 14 or 15, is where the hell do you get Salt Peter/Potassium Nitrate?

Drug store.

12-30-2010, 12:21 PM
I've used cigarette paper in paper catridges for something like this in my 1858 revolver. Seemed to work alright. Just a pain in the neck making em. Should work in a rifle as well. 8mmshooter

I've done the same thing, and you're right--it's a pain in the neck making them. You can get away carrying revolver rounds in wrapping them in alum. foil and putting them in a small matchbox, but a rifle round will be bigger. A way to carry a few without them breaking and spilling out powder would be required. Speaking of powder, I always used to use real black--don't know how these newfangled repro powders would work.

12-30-2010, 12:27 PM
I made nitrated paper cartridges for a cap & ball similar to gnoahhh's. The only problem I remember is the paper setting the grass on fire. I was planning on using them in my rifle but that changed my mind.


My cigarette paper cartridges never set grass on fire, they always completely combusted right out of the gun. I've set some grass and leaves to smouldering while using other types of paper as ML shotgun wadding, though. Use Zigzag paper, and don't worry about the cartridge breaking up while you're ramming it into the cylinder. It's all going to be inside the chamber anyhow, and the paper will burn up with the powder--in my experience at least. Use a good hot percussion cap and genuine 3f black powder.

12-30-2010, 01:39 PM
I think the key to complete combustion of paper cartridges is how much saltpeter you infuse into the paper. I used a super-saturated solution to soak mine: hot water with the saltpeter stirred in until it wouldn't take anymore. Using hot water allows more of the compound to go into solution than when using cold water. (I didn't sleep through all of my chemistry classes!) Granted it's been a few years now, but i don't remember having any smoldering bits flung out on the ground. I used lightweight rice paper for it's porousness and ruggedness to withstand abuse.

Josh Smith
12-31-2010, 05:32 PM

Old idea.

Nitrated paper does have a slightly higher risk of leaving a live ember in the barrel, so swab well before reloading. Most cook offs result from using nitrated paper.


12-31-2010, 06:46 PM
The vast majority, if not all, paper cartridges used in the issue .58 and .69 muskets during the Civil War were rolled using plain paper. Nitrated paper cartridges were issued for revolvers.

In the illustration above, the two cartridges on the left are a round ball (presumably .69) and a "buck and ball"- one round ball with 3 buckshots on top. During the flintlock period the tail of the cartridge was torn off, some of the powder charge used to prime the pan and the rest- paper, powder, ball and all- rammed down the bore. The balls were sized so as to provide plenty of windage (what the old timers called the difference between bore diameter and ball diameter) to allow easy loading of the whole kit-and-kaboodle even as the bore fouled from repeated firing.

The two on the right, containing Minie balls were handled a little differently. The tail of the cartridge was torn (typically bitten off) and the powder dumped down the bore. The ball was then shucked out of the remaining paper and loaded naked on top of the powder. A little slower than with the smoothbore flintlock, especially when factoring in the time it took to re-cap the nipple. Not enough "windage" to allow the paper to go along for the ride in the rifled-muskets.

English Enfield cartridges were a little different in that that bullets didn't have lube grooves, and were loaded upside down in the paper cartridges. After dumping in the powder the bullet, still in the paper- which was greased to provide lubrication an waterproofing- was rammed home. There is evidence that these were changed to plain paper and the un-grooved bullets had lube packed in their bases and presumably shucked out of their paper hulls and loaded naked. I've seen Enfield cartridges in collections that went both ways.

(Side note: that was one of the instigators of the Sepoy Rebellion in 1855(?). The colonial troops in Britain's Indian Army got the idea that their paper cartridges were lubed with pig grease- a taboo in their religion- and that their white English masters were having some kind of gross joke at their expense. Not true by the way.)

Regardless, starting fires on the battlefield from glowing paper embers was the last thing anybody was worrying about. There is speculation that 's how the horrible fires that burned so many wounded guys at the Wilderness got started. Who knows?

12-10-2012, 06:36 PM
Dad soaked silk-span in Potassium Nitrate, I'm not sure what that did for him.
I still haven't mastered his Hawken