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Thread: 4f black powder

  1. #1
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    4f black powder

    i was in the wrong place to ask about this so im putting it here. is it acceptable as a charge behind a roundball? is it dangerous? i have done it with really good results but did it only one day as i was in the unknown. i used 80 grains by volume behind a patched 50 cal round ball. it cracked when fired and was very consistantly accurate and the bore had no need to wipe between rounds. again is it safe? also i think i read once that using it in a 45 long colt case ruined some nice saa colt frames. im more interested in a side lock precussion rifle. please give me all the input you can, even pressures as compaired to 3f or 2f. thanks before hand.

  2. #2
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    Well for starters 4f is a flint lock priming powder,
    Side locks or more traditional black powder firearms are designed to handle 2f and 3f as main charges. I used to use 3f in all my black powder firearms.
    Look at this way Ruger made a black powder pistol that could handle 40 grains of 3f powder as a maximum charge and anyone that knows anything about Bill Ruger knows he over built most of what he sold. So if his over built pistol was only safe with 3f powder just what does that tell you about everything else that uses black powder.
    When using 3f in side locks above .45 caliber it is used with 10-15% less powder than when using 2f. It will burn cleaner than 2f. When I had muzzle loaders all the way up to .58 caliber I used 3f with rb and patching.

    YMMV, but for me I like to go home after a day of shooting, but what do I know I only played, studied and asked questions of those smarter than me the 40 years I shot black powder.

    I will drop into one of the groups I am in that shoots only muzzle loaders and get their ideas on using 4f black powder as a main charge in a .50 caliber rifle.
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    I remember a guy was selling his load info with 4F in ML's. I never looked in to it. If I were going to experiment, I would start at about ten grains, and work up from there.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
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  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    in my 69 cal smooth bore, the load listed up to 70 2f or 50 3f. that pretty much tells me not to use 4f.

    Only time I have put 4f into a bp gun was when a buddy dryballed one once, we pulled the nipple and got about 8gr of 4f stuffed in and was able to pop the ball out and watch it roll down the range.

    otherwise.... 4f is pan powder for flintlocks.

  5. #5
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    I was thinking that 4 F might have some use in the Colt 31 cal revolvers or other small calibers. What did they used to load .32 SPL with?

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    .31 colt used 3f 10-14 grains
    .32 special would be 1f-2f
    here is a table of some various calibers and bp loads
    http://www.goexpowder.com/images/Loa...idge-Rifle.pdf
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    I guess it's like anything in life - you can do it but is it the wisest thing to do? You can load a 45 Lonf Colt full of smokeless but you know what the results will be - if you are lucky and don't get hit or killed with he shrapnel.

    I've been shooting BP for over 50 years - pistol, rifle, smoothbore, full size Civil War cannons and Siege Mortors. There are "accepted practices" and hey are "accepted" for a reason.

    4F is granulated for flintlock priming. If a dealer stocks BP they usually stock all the granulation so why not just buy and use the correct and accepted granulation for the firearm you own? I also load BP cartridge and the smallest graduation I ever use is 3F and that is usually in my 38 Colt Short loads. But I also know that the pressure that creates will work fine in my firearm.

    So you have used 4F and didn't have to wipe the bore? Is it really a big issue to wipe the bore between shots? I never have found it to be so in the thousands and thousands of rounds I have fired over the years.

    You can get the best accuracy out of your firearm by working up the load with the correct granulation and the ball/projectile/patch that you use.

    I really don't mean to be critical but it always amazes me "why" people, whether it be BP or smokeless loading, want to "push the envelope". I was taught how to shoot BP by an old gunsmith who was pushing 90 when I was a kid well over 50 years ago - and at that time, we used original guns not reproductions. The first lesson he taught me was to "use enough powder to get the job done but not so much as to waste it".

    Today's reproductions come with recommend loads and yes, most are "lawyered". But it's a little too late "after" a mishap has occurred when proper loading and methods are ignored.

    In the end, you can load your gun anyway you want to . . . but do others a favor and if you are going to "play" with other than recommend loads and play with un-recommended granulations, etc. and basically "fly by the seat of your pants" . . . let those around you know so that they can take cover.

    And for those that will use the argument of "modern metallurgy" - just remember, there have been many firearms that have blown with standard loads due to a production flaw.

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    ok, you did not read what i wrote, again you did not read what i wrote and im probably even older than you. did i say i wanted to push the envelope. one thing in life is this for me, never ever ever put words in my mouth. and you just did for our lack of reading what i wrote. i said i did it one day and did it with very good results. then i asked for the science of the information and asked if there was a pressure problem. you came on like gangbusters talking down to me about your 50 years of experience, so why did you give me facts instead of what you did. if you want to scold someone do it somewhere else. waksupi gave a short but interesting answer, you could have done the same. so if you want to turn this into a argument about your 50 years of experience and not being able to read or answer correctly, go for it. now again, does any body have any data on pressure curves of 4f compared to 3f and 2f.

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    if it were that great the boys at friendship would use it

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    beats me! I am the wrong one to ask, I am using between 160-220 grains of bp, 3 and 2f in a couple of my bench guns. I would imagine the 4f charge would have an initial higher initial pressure spike/initial impulse, reduce appropriately

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Lyman listed 4f loads for revolvers in their 1st black powder manual and I've used them. I think the power's too fast for rifle situations.

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    thanks guys, some interesting info.

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    furthermore, i see no need for 4f bp in the pan for those flintlock folks hunting or into woods walk type shoots. i like keeping it all as simple, consistent, and accurate as possible. 3f in pan and tube. easy patched ball loading, no ball starter, and no to little fouling control needed. i don't have a need for extreme trad ml target shooting, with heavy guns and hammering tight patched ball loads down the tube. i respect what the target boys do, but that ain't my thing nor idea of ml fun.

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    To add to Mr. Peabody's comments: The Lyman 4F loads in revolvers didn't impress me with huge increases in pressure with it's use. I use FFFg in my 58cal rifles if it gives me the best accuracy and power (i.e. 90grs FFFg under a 430gr 575213-OS minie bullet in my Zouave). If your rifle is heavy barreled you probably can get away with it. Val Forget killed and elephant and a hippo with a 58cal Hawken style rifle shooting 180gr FFFg under a 610gr minie bullet. That rifle was 1 1/8" across the flats. They tested it with 200grs FFFg but it was not as accurate at that load. I think your using a PRB gives you some leeway with its lightness. A heavy bullet might blow the gun.
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    In a .40 or so diameter it might be fun to compare the curves for powder charge versus chrono results for FFg, FFFg and FFFFg with all other factors being the same. I might do that some day. And include Jacks Battle. But to measure the pressure, don't have the instrumentation for that.

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    thanks again for the input.

  17. #17
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    According to the Lyman Black Powder Handbook (they don't have 4f load data as its not meant to be a main charge) 80gr of FFFg, a .490 round ball from a 28" barrel with a 1:48 twist produces 9500psi of bore pressure. Comparatively a .50 cal 350gr buffalo bullet produced 11,700psi of pressure with the same charge of FFg. More loads.........120gr of FFFg in a .54 cal with a round ball from a 32" barrel with 1:60 twist produces 8300psi of bore pressure. A .54 cal Lyman 335gr sabot with the same 120gr charge produces 17,200psi of bore pressure with Pyrodex Select. As bore diameter increases the volume of the rifles bore increases as well. As bore volume increases the bore pressure usually decreases with a given load depending on brand of powder. Also a faster rifling twist increases bore pressure because there is more resistance. It takes more force to push the projectile down a fast twist barrel than it does a slow twist round ball barrel. To illustrate this a 200gr .45 cal Lyman sabot load produces 27,400psi with 100gr of Pyrodex RS from a 22" 1:24 twist barrel. Round ball loads are always on the low end of the pressure curve that muzzleloader barrels are designed to handle. Conicals produce higher pressures because they are heavier, and sabot loads are the highest on the pressure scale because the plastic sabot produces a great deal of resistance to movement. The test pressures produced with sabot loads is truly eye opening and startling. I bet they are much higher than 90% of sabot shooters think they are. Muzzleloader barrels can safely take more than you think they can. I recommend everyone get the Lyman Black Powder Handbook and Loading Manual by Sam Fadala and read it cover to cover. It has load and pressure data for almost all loads from .32 to .75 caliber rifles. The load data is also broken down into barrel length and rifling twist rates. There is also much more useful information to be had in the book.
    Last edited by jjarrell; 02-23-2017 at 05:05 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shdwlkr View Post
    Well for starters 4f is a flint lock priming powder,
    Side locks or more traditional black powder firearms are designed to handle 2f and 3f as main charges. I used to use 3f in all my black powder firearms.
    Look at this way Ruger made a black powder pistol that could handle 40 grains of 3f powder as a maximum charge and anyone that knows anything about Bill Ruger knows he over built most of what he sold. So if his over built pistol was only safe with 3f powder just what does that tell you about everything else that uses black powder.
    When using 3f in side locks above .45 caliber it is used with 10-15% less powder than when using 2f. It will burn cleaner than 2f. When I had muzzle loaders all the way up to .58 caliber I used 3f with rb and patching.

    YMMV, but for me I like to go home after a day of shooting, but what do I know I only played, studied and asked questions of those smarter than me the 40 years I shot black powder.

    I will drop into one of the groups I am in that shoots only muzzle loaders and get their ideas on using 4f black powder as a main charge in a .50 caliber rifle.
    Actually the Ruger manual states you can stuff it full of 4F. Maybe you should have read it prior to posting. Also the Lyman Blacklowder Handbook shows 4F loads as well:

    %5BURL=http://s1255.photobucket.com/user/rodwha/media/IMG_0937_zpsfutnctei.png.html%5D%5BIMG%5Dhttp://i1255.photobucket.com/albums/hh640/rodwha/IMG_0937_zpsfutnctei.png%5B/IMG%5D%5B/URL%5D

    And then there's the Hazard's Pistol Powder cartridges (.44 cal) from the Civil War that contained 4F powder with a conical. And the museum curator who took apart pre 1900's cartridges, including large caliber, that contained powders even finer than 4F.

    Oh, and Swiss powder, known to be among the most energetic, shows 4F as designed for pistols:

    %5BURL=http://s1255.photobucket.com/user/rodwha/media/IMG_0933_zpsefvyeqcx.png.html%5D%5BIMG%5Dhttp://i1255.photobucket.com/albums/hh640/rodwha/IMG_0933_zpsefvyeqcx.png%5B/IMG%5D%5B/URL%5D

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    now we are getting some good input from every one, thanks again.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check