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Thread: Incomplete powder ignition????

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Incomplete powder ignition????

    At our monthly muzzle loader match today I had an unusual thing happen. This was with a Lehigh kit from Muzzle Loader's Builder Supply that I assembled 8 years ago. It is a 50 caliber with a Colrain barrel 42 inches long. It has won me a dozen medals as it shoots GREAT. So good in fact I made an exact copy a year and a half ago, one is brown and one is blue. I usually shoot 80 grains of Goex FFG and have no issues. I wiped the barrel very well before snapping a couple caps and had some good soot down the barrel. After the first shot I wiped the barrel as usual with a damp patch then a dry one and noted some powder grains on the damp one. The gun went bang okay and I won the first part of the match! Each wipe had a few powder grains so I dropped to 70 grains and same thing. Swapped nipple and same thing even though the first one was new. Same powder I used last week shooting my chunk gun and no rains showed up.

    Any ideas what it could be? I pulled the clean out plug on the powder drum and ran the bore scope in and there seemed to be no blockages or build up of sludge although I used my steam cleaner to make sure?
    Thanks, John

    Oh yeah after dropping the load I came in 3rd in the steel portion of the match!
    Last edited by oldracer; 04-02-2018 at 12:43 AM. Reason: add info

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Even my t/c rifles leave what looks like unburned powder. If i hit what i aim at... Im ok with it.

  3. #3
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    how 'bout dropping down to 50 grains and get better complete combustion, or are ya shooting beyond 50 yards? a local feller uses 30 grains of OE 2f in a .50 flintlock for woods walk matches out to 50 yards and he either wins or is at the top of the finals list. it's not like we're hunting critters, and no need to burn (or throw away) added powder. i use 40 grains of 3f in a .54 flinter with quite good results at woods walks, too. i'd use less but GPR's have them danged patent breeches.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Toymaker's Avatar
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    A 50 caliber is borderline for using FFg or FFFg. While I wouldn't worry about a few grains of unburned powder you could try 60, 65 and 70 grains of FFFg. 70 ought to be near equivalent to your 80 grain FFg load.
    What were your environmental conditions? I've found I get a few grains of powder when the humidity is high and/or the temperature is low. But it doesn't mess with my accuracy .......... except when I start to shiver.

  5. #5
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    i use 3f for everything from .40 to .62 in a flintlock. a quality powder such as swiss or OE will allow a better "burn" rate with less fouling residue. whether it's 30 or 60 grains of swiss 3f in a .40 rifle or .62 smoothbore i'll get complete ignition and burn. if the patch and ball are of a good fit and lube, there's almost no need for fouling control, either. worth checking out ...

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I might try 60 grains to see what happens and also shoot both rifles the same day in case I missed some unburnt powder on the newer one? Our match has a small paper target at 30 yards for the medallion and small steel critters at 50 yards. Sometimes other things and such as a steel "ring", pumpkins or cards. I hit the ring a couple months ago at 25 yards and the ball flattened and bounced right back and landed a couple feet from me! Saved it as it was like a round flat piece of lead!

    As you noted, the gun surely hits what I aim at so..........
    John

  7. #7
    Boolit Master pietro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldracer View Post

    At our monthly muzzle loader match today I had an unusual thing happen.

    It is a 50 caliber with a Colrain barrel 42 inches long. It has won me a dozen medals as it shoots GREAT.

    I usually shoot 80 grains of Goex FFG and have no issues.

    After the first shot I wiped the barrel as usual with a damp patch then a dry one and noted some powder grains on the damp one.

    The gun went bang okay and I won the first part of the match!
    Each wipe had a few powder grains so I dropped to 70 grains and same thing.
    Swapped nipple and same thing even though the first one was new.
    Same powder I used last week shooting my chunk gun and no rains showed up.

    Any ideas what it could be?

    FWIW


    Since that shoot is the 1st time your issue raised it's head after years of shooting with the same components, IMHO it suggests that something changed since your previous shoot(s), beit the condition of the propellant (it might have gotten a little moist, even though it wasn't raining out), a slightly worn/eroded flash hole in the nipple/vent, or a lube getting into a portion of the main charge (degrading it).


    .
    Experience is a wonderful thing - It lets you recognize a mistake, when you make it again.

  8. #8
    During a match is not the time to concern yourself with powder burn efficiency. The primary goal is to win. If it costs you a few grains unburnt powder so be it.

    Some other day you can play around with different charges and see if the more efficient charge is also the most accurate. But beware that it may not be. My hunch is that guns are like diesel engines, when you see the diesel belch black smoke it was "wasting fuel", yet it may be necessary to run "rich" in order to gain the necessary horsepower/torque.

    I also suspect that what many people call "unburnt" blackpowder is really small bits of fowling. I've heard stories of people laying bedsheets under the muzzle to catch all the unburnt powder, but I've never heard of anyone gathering said powder and seeing if it actually burns.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks again for the input guys. I'll try the rifle with a different nipple and just let it go and not to worry since the gun has won my match every time I use it. There may have been some moisture since the morning temp was 40 degrees and by the end of the match it had gotten to 74 degrees. A 30 degree temp change can cause issues I was told by my mentor so I guess I shouldn't worry then.
    Thanks, John
    Last edited by oldracer; 04-02-2018 at 10:12 PM. Reason: add info

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    were you compressing the load with the same pressure as before? Getting the load pushed down with the same pressure may help some to.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    The 0.490 ball and a pillow ticking patch fit snugly but I can seat them on the powder with a single push. I then do 3 tamps with the rod to make sure all is seated. The rod is marked with tape so I can insure there is powder and ball in the barrel same place each time.
    Thanks, John

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy
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    I was going to post something similar to pietro. It's not like this is a new gun or your first rodeo. Seems some new or changed variable has entered the equation. Outside of some environmental factor (big temperature swings, humidity, etc.), a worn out nipple would be my first guess. Was this a new set of caps or different brand? Maybe you got a weak batch...

  13. #13
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    Are you sure you're not getting sulphur particles?
    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.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks again for the ideas guys. These caps are different than the ones I used with this rifle the last time I shot it, could be that and I plan to swap to a new nipple to see what happens. I did look at the patches during cease fires and none were shredded or burnt up badly and none had the particles on them. I checked to see if the cleaning patch (damp one) with the particles had any bad smell but just Ballistol smell.
    Thanks, John

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Just a suggestion . . . why don't you try what Turner Kirkland used to suggest many years ago. Bench the rifle and in front of the bench, spread out a white sheet. Fire your charge and then check to see if you have unburned grains on the sheet.

    I've been shooting for 55 years now and I was taught by a 80+ year old gunsmith 55 years ago how to shoot BP guns. As he always suggested . . . "use enough powder to get the job done but not so much as to waste any."

    I am in no way suggesting that you are doing anything wrong so don't take it that way. Weather conditions (humidity) has an effect on how BP burns. And of course, range distance determines load but you might try cutting back on y9ur charge some and just see what happens. If conditions are just right, your ball may be out of your barrel before all the order burns. OR . . . . it might just be "one of those things". I've experienced the same thing on several of my rifles but have always chalked it up to humidity at times. If you are wiping between shots, it shouldn't be an issue to worry about.

    I have also always used FFG in 45 and under and FFG in 50 and over - but let's face it, we've all been short of one or the other granulations and substituted one for the other - but I've always adjusted charge when doing so.

    The old gunsmith always told me to start with 1 grain per caliber - i.e. (example) 50 caliber - 50 grains) and then adjust your load for the job you're doing. I've always found that to be a good starting point and depending on the distance, I might add or subtract. 80 grains seems like a good "deer load" but a might bit heavy for target work unless it's long distance - but - it all depends on the rifle too. Every one is different.

    Just some random thoughts on my part and we all have different ones. Again, it may just be a weather condition thing and I highly doubt that there is anything wrong with your rifle. A nipple change may give you a better (less fouled) flame changes to the breech but if the charge is going off, then the nipple, caps, etc are doing their job.

    Good luck and it sounds like you have a couple of nice rifles!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Now you know why a few B/P fellows profess using less is best vs 80-90-110 measured charges. I've always thought those B/P shooting individuals were frugal?

    Nope!~~ Just smarter than I. i.e. "Waste not.~ Want not"
    "JUST A OLD DEPLORABLE THAT'S IRREDEEMABLE."

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BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
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