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Thread: Combustable paper cartridges

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Question Combustable paper cartridges

    Hi to All,

    I am new to black powder shooting and only fell into it as a side line to the licence I required to be able to buy NC for reloading (I live in Germany) which also enabled the purchase of black powder. I presently own and shoot a Zoli .58 Navy, cheap and cheerful I know, but delivers plenty of fun.
    Whilst reading online about my new found interest, I came across combustable paper cartridges for pistols....That got me thinking and Googling deeper. My question is, can I make and use these with my rifle? I have Googled until my fingers started to bleed, but could only fine some very vague references to them for rifles and there usage. Is there a specific reason why they are not made and used? The making of them looks very simple if the pistol process is a template to go by and this appeals to my inner child of fine details.

    Thanks in advance
    Matt

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    You can certainly make paper cartridges for your muzzleloader, but they are meant to be torn open, the powder poured in separately and the bullet and paper rammed down on top of it. There is no need for this paper to be combustible.

    Combustible paper cartridges, where the whole thing is inserted, are only practical in breech loaders like the Sharps, or cap and ball revolvers. These allow you to see whether the “combustible” paper is still smoldering in the chamber before adding another cartridge. Even heavily nitrated papers can do this sometimes.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I will have to disagree with BR.

    You may make and use paper cartridges with your muzzle loader rifle with great effect and convenience, and they need not be torn open. Nor do they need to be made of nitrated paper. You are not going to war with your rifle, so you can use paper cartridges without regard to the additional time their use requires.

    As BR correctly notes, even nitrated paper will leave residue and that could be smoldering. The danger is that when the next cartridge is rammed home, this causes ignition. That would be bad. But since you are not required by the exigency of battle to produce three rounds per minute, this is not a concern. After each round, use of an appropriately sized bronze brush to remove any residue from the chamber will address any concerns about paper cartridges. If absolute certainty is required, a moist patch on a jag after the brush not only assures no smoldering residue but helps clean fouling out. Again, since you are not engaged in battle taking the time after each shot to run a brush and moist jag down the barrel is no big deal. The cleanliness and certainty of the paper cartridge on the other hand is a nice convenience.

    Cartridges are made the same way as for your pistol, although finding cigarette papers big enough for a .58 cal may be a challenge. For .50 cal, regular Bugle brand cigarette papers formed around a tapered wooden dowel (with the wider part filling the barrel at the top and the slightly narrower bit where the twist is made at the bottom) work quite well. Once formed. cut the end of the twist. For smaller caliber paper cartridges, once the twist is cut off, placing the paper still on the dowel into an appropriate brass case (like 45 LC, for example) is very helpful. With 58 Cal, that will be impossible. Two options to consider: cut down 20 ga plastic hulls ( but they may be too large) or get some wooden trays made up with @ .60" holes drilled about 5cm deep. Cut the twist leaving no tail and place the paper hull the tray. Load powder into paper hull and top with a .60" card wad. Twist shut and cut off tail at top. I like to put a dollop of black powder lube on top and cover with another card wad. And done. A couple of wooden trays with two rows of ten in each will hold 40 cartridges. Remove, drop, ram, etc.

    When loading, the tapered bottom end will drop right into the barrel while the top end will be a tight fit. Ram home. The ramming will split the bottom end of the cartridge ensuring ignition. Load ball on top of cartridge, making sure it is sitting on compacted paper cartridge.

    There will be some unburned paper after firing. Simply run a bronze brush down, twist and remove. The paper will come out. For extra assurance and to help reduce fouling, ran a dampened (not wet) patch down and back.

    Enjoy.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

    rancher1913's Avatar
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    there are numerous threads about this on castboolits. use the little search bar just below where you log in, I typed " paper cartridges" in and a whole list of threads showed up, even one on how to make them. read and enjoy.

  5. #5
    Banned

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    I can't speak for paper cartridges for rifle or muzzle loaders, but I have used quite a few of them in Ruger Old Armys. I would take that thin paper that new shirts use to be boxed in and I would just make up a watery solution of water and black powder. I would soak the paper then leave it to dry. You have to play with how much BP you put with the water and get it to really dissolve well. Actually if you can get some potassium nitrate and make the same watery solution you will have much better paper cartridge.

    As to shooting them in my cap n balls I've never had any residue stay in the cylinder. I made a tapered wood dowel with the small end being a round nose and would form my paper over this. I then filled it with the right amount of BP I was using and twist the open in and glue it into the back of a hollow cavity Remington bullet specificallly for the Remington New Army cap n ball using just Elmers white glue. You could very well glue the open end around a round ball. It made the loading and shooting much more fun.

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Many thanks for all the answers.
    As pointed out by RPRNY, I will not be firing at a civil war rate, so I think I will be giving this a go, it appeals to the engineer in me (aviation). As for the paper, there is a company here in Germany that sells combustable paper in large sheets.... https://translate.google.com/transla...duct%3DP000117
    I also have access to a lathe for turning a taper, it looks like a new project has just appeared for my table...
    rancher1913....I tried that, but was constantly directed to a Google search.....however upon trying again it now does show forum thread links...

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Magicians use flash paper!

    https://www.google.dk/search?q=magic...HOr06ASV8LeYCQ

    Works a treat for any cariridge

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub Owen49's Avatar
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    I'm no expert. I have made paper cartridges for my .44 calibre Remington style cap and ball revolvers. I used cigarette papers.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Unless you can get some special import "super Magnum Joint Paper" from Jamaica, i suspect it will to small for rifle cartridges

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    lots of people use the jumbo end wraps from a beauty salon, the salons use them for permanents, but they work really well for paper cartridges.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Amongst the cleaning products in any Supermarket there are moisturised Wipes for most Jobs.They are made from a cellular product and are ideal after drying to make Paper cartridges.the material stretches one way more than the other so make sure you have the stretch length wise.They can be nitrated and dried and make a less flimsy Cartridge.A friend uses them all the time for his Calisher and Terry Capping Breach Loader with much success.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I've been making paper cartridges off and on over the years and one of the best papers I've found to date are "perm" papers, as in the paper slips used in doing a permanent on someone's hair. They seem to be somewhat out of vogue these days, so the big box "marts" may not carry them, but any hair care store geared to the ladies will have them. They are thin enough to be consumed without being treated, just over .001, but tougher than any paper of similar thickness. This paper type has durability, which is a requirement for successful and satisfactory field use, but you'll still want a container to protect them. A sucrets or altoid tin works well. It comes in boxes of a thousand slips for $3-$4 in sizes large enough to accommodate rifle-size cartridges. For use in revolvers, the slips can be cut in half. Omnivore called my attention to it, who also has probably the most easily workable revolver cartridge method I've seen so far. There might be some pointers there.
    Last edited by yeahbub; 12-11-2017 at 10:01 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
    John in PA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 17nut View Post
    Magicians use flash paper!

    https://www.google.dk/search?q=magic...HOr06ASV8LeYCQ

    Works a treat for any cariridge
    Dittos on magician's flash paper, but best if you find the heavier weight paper. The regular stuff is like tissue paper, and so is very fragile. Back in the early '80's I used a product called Pro-Glo, but I doubt that brand is still available. Try magic supply houses. The reason flash paper is best is that it combusts instantly, with ZERO residue.

    Since it is nitro cellulose, I always wondered if any additional pressure resulted, but had no means to test. I used it in a Shiloh Sharps model 1863 rifle with fine results.

    Plain nitrated paper in a muzzleloader exponentially increases the chances of a cook-off. With a blank charge, this results in a loss of eyebrows. With a live round, disaster can result. Remember, until your bullet is fully seated on the powder charge, your holding an attractive PIPE BOMB, not a gun.
    John Wells in PA

    Peabody's and Peabody-Martini's wanted
    Also shoot a 10-PDR Parrott Rifle in competition

  14. #14
    Boolit Master AllanD's Avatar
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    The point of "paper cartridges" for cap & ball revolvers is it makes it possible (but still a PITA)
    to reload a revolver while on horseback.

    But as I outline in another thread the more usual method
    and less of a PITA Method was to swap in a spare (Loaded) cylinder

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    You can nitrate your own paper, but that's not a super simple thing; Nitrating anything's exothermic (produces heat) so you need to do it slowly and usually cool the solution to prevent exciting issues. (Mythbusters in one episode showed how NOT to do nitration, but then while entertaining they aren't an ideal science learning show...)

    Handy technology though

  16. #16
    Boolit Man

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    Youtube is your friend. Many videos of how to make paper cartridges for your bp cap and ball revolver. Simple, cheap and less hassel than taking all the accessories you need for bp shooting with you to the range.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
    Texantothecore's Avatar
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    Sally Beauty Supply is a good source for end papers.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Grapeshot's Avatar
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    I used to shoot with N/SSA and had a .50 caliber Shiloh Sharps Percussion Carbine. Great gun and I made my own cartridges from both nitrated paper and nitrated cotton sheet material, (old bed linen).
    To start out I got the correct paper cartridge kit from Dixie Gun Works. It included a mandrel that was the same diameter as my bullet, a small pad of nitrated paper and a glue stick.
    I found out the hard way that the best way to make the cartridge was to make the tube the length of the chamber so the end would be flush with the breech end of the barrel.
    To do this so you DO NOT have a tail to shear off when you close the breech block is to add this step.
    Once you have your paper/linen cut to the proper length and width take a one inch square of silicone eye glass cleaning tissue. (I use this because it is stronger than TP and super thin.) Apply the one inch square to the end of the mandrel and form a cup. Fold it against the mandrel and apply glue from the glue stick on one short end of the precut paper and along one edge. Take the precut paper and lay the unglued side against the mandrel making sure that the glued short end is applied against the silicone paper cup on the end of the mandrel. As you wrap the paper around the mandrel snugly the glued edge will overlap the precut paper and form a tube with one end closed.
    Put this aside. Repeat these steps until you have as many as you want or need.
    Once the glue is dried, pour in a .7 cc Lee dipper full of 4Fg or 3Fg. This is your ignition charge. Then pour in the amount of powder you plan to use leaving enough room to seat your bullet into the tube. At this point I would run a bead of Testors model airplane glue around the circumference of the paper/bullet juncture.
    After letting everything dry, I would load them into the chamber and thumb them in until the end of the cartridge was flush with the breech.
    Close the breech block and put the cap on the nipple.
    When the trigger was squeezed, the hammer would fall setting off the cap.
    The fire will then pierce the silicone paper and ignite the ignition charge which will ignite the main charge. Somewhat like the bag charge in modern day 155mm howitzers. The Nitrated paper would be consumed and leave nothing in the chamber but some ash. I never had and burning embers using the nitrated paper. If you don’t use the nitrated paper, you risk having glowing embers in the chamber that could ignite the next cartridge you chamber. That is not fun, especially in the heat of competition when you are shooting in a team match trying to cut a pole in half before the other team does.
    When done like this, I never had a misfire with my Sharps.
    Nitrated Paper and Bed Sheet Material:
    I used typing paper that had a 25% rag content and old sheet the wife was going to throw out.
    I cut the sheet into 8.5 inch x 11 inch sheets. Using a ball point pen and a straight edge, (a steel 12 inch ruler is best) I would draw lines that, when I cut the sheets later, would give me the correct size rectangles to form the cartridge tubes. Be sure to use a pen that has waterproof ink.
    I used a large Pyrex casserole dish to put the sheets (paper or cotton) into it and boiled up 2 cups of water in a separate sauce pan. Buy a new one so your wife doesn’t have a fit about ruining her cooking utensils. As the water boiled I added Potassium Nitrate I got from the pharmacy and poured it into the water until I couldn't get it to dissolve any more. I then poured the super saturated solution into the Pyrex dish and let it sit for a half hour. This gave the sheets ample time to absorb the Potassium Nitrate from the super saturated solution.
    After the solution cooled, I took the sheets out and hung them in the shower to dry. Once dry, I smoothed them out on a smooth plastic cutting board and cut them to the correct size for my carbine.
    I stored them in an airtight/water tight ammo can until I was ready to make them into cartridges. I stored the completed cartridges in the same ammo can in a small plastic container that I bought at the Grocery store that were sold to store leftovers.
    Listen! Do you hear it. The roar of cannons, the screams of the dying! Ahh! Music to my ears!

  19. #19
    You might not want to fire three shots a minute, but there is nothing unusual about wanting to start reloading within twenty seconds of firing. The use of a bronze brush doesn't seem a very fruitful way of getting to use a device aimed at saving time and trouble, especially in the hunting field, and if you have only one rod. Besides, it wouldn't eliminate growing fragments in the nipple threads, and might crush them down into a mass that would glow longer. If you do anything of the kind, you must never, ever, load directly from a flask.

    People often get confused between nitrating with acid and impregnating with nitre, aka saltpetre. The latter does indeed make things more likely to burn, but it can slow them down. That is how cotton string can be made into slow fuse. Nitrating with nitric acid - if you can get it - is basically turning cellulose into guncotton. In the early days guncotton used to be liable to spontaneous ignition, because acid residues hadn't been fully removed - and how thoroughly can you wash paper? The chances of this happening might be very slim indeed, but if it happens, it will happen at the worst possible time. Magician's flash paper sounds like a good solution, as they would be in hot water if they hadn't eliminated all possibility of accident.

    Those combustible revolver cartridges were frequently dipped in collodion, which is simply a solution of nitrocellulose in ether or alcohol. It is waterproof and appears to have burned away instantly. There are various grades of nitrocellulose, according to how much nitrogen is in the different compounds, and this would be a rather low-grade one, extremely combustible but not a great contributor to pressure, like the old-fashioned nitrate film stock. I did a check on eBay, and there are plentiful supplies of rigid collodion, used to make impressive scars for theatrical purposes, and this might be the best kind for the job. I'd test what happens to a loosely packed wad of the stuff behind a bullet, before I tried loading immediately after firing such a cartridge.

    In theory you could make a solution from smokeless powder, as I think the effect of that small amount on pressure would be minimal. There is no magic strength about a breech-loader that makes it safer with smokeless than a muzzle-loader. The danger with using smokeless powder in the latter arises from the unknown amount to which it may be compressed, and when special muzzle-loaders have been designed for smokeless, I believe they had a shouldered chamber to make sure the powder space was ample and constant. You can't compress what is in a thin layer around the black powder charge.

    I wouldn't do any of that, though. I would carry measured black powder charges in little screw-topped tubes, which you can buy in quantity on eBay, rather like the wooden "Twelve apostles" on bandoliers which D'Artagnan and his musketeers much have known.

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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