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Thread: Energy and Density of Powder

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    Energy and Density of Powder

    I picked up some 2013 Swiss 1-1/2 at our last match from a friend who is no longer able to shoot. I found that comparing equal volumes of my last powder to this 2013 powder, it was 4 grs less by wt. than my old powder. I don't have a chrony so was wondering if I'll see a 25-30 fps drop in velocity with this powder. Reason I ask, is I'm shooting my 45-70 in 2 weeks at Lodi and I consider it marginal at times at the longer distances. It shot quite well on practice day at our LR match in Harris with 70 grs of my old Swiss.
    Is the energy in the mass of the powder or the volume or isn't it a big deal??

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    its long but if you get the time, read the making your own black powder thread, they discuss and compare a lot of different powders with swiss seeming to be the top of the line and the benchmark for comparing powder.

    I am still learning and perfecting black powder so ymmv. swiss usually has more punch than most any other powder. was the swiss you were using the same granulation. if you were shooting 1f and this is 1.5f than a few grain difference would be expected.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old-Win View Post
    I picked up some 2013 Swiss 1-1/2 at our last match from a friend who is no longer able to shoot. I found that comparing equal volumes of my last powder to this 2013 powder, it was 4 grs less by wt. than my old powder. I don't have a chrony so was wondering if I'll see a 25-30 fps drop in velocity with this powder. Reason I ask, is I'm shooting my 45-70 in 2 weeks at Lodi and I consider it marginal at times at the longer distances. It shot quite well on practice day at our LR match in Harris with 70 grs of my old Swiss.
    Is the energy in the mass of the powder or the volume or isn't it a big deal??
    In almost twenty years of Swiss available here, I have had two cases of Swiss that were lighter, less dense, and like you say, about 4 grains per load, than other regular density cases. Interestingly, the energy was up on both. Examples: equal volume of lighter lots produces more velocity than regular density lots . or Equal by weight + even greater velocity.

    In my limited experience with two lots, the less dense lots are HOT!
    Chill Wills

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    In almost twenty years of Swiss available here, I have had two cases of Swiss that were lighter, less dense, and like you say, about 4 grains per load, than other regular density cases. Interestingly, the energy was up on both. Examples: equal volume of lighter lots produces more velocity than regular density lots . or Equal by weight + even greater velocity.

    In my limited experience with two lots, the less dense lots are HOT!
    FWIW
    Processing blackpowder - I think there is a fine and very wiggly line between industrial process and art form

    Chrono Test of blackpowder in a 45/70
    low density screened powder vs higher density pressed pucks
    both made from the same batch of meal so raw ingredients were identical
    density established by filling a shell to the top, tapping twelve times and refilling then weighed
    screened = 63 grains
    pressed = 74 grains
    (For comparison goex does 80grains)
    Rounds loaded with identical weighed charge of 63 grains gave velocity average less than 10 FPS different, and also similar shot to shot variation - under 30FPS
    The screened powder required heavy compression to get the charge in
    The point of it all ? energy per gram using identical components and then loaded to same density in the case --nuthin in it !

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    One variable is the ash content of the wood used.....varies around 10%.....so if you make powder with something without ash,its more powerful,but no longer has the charcoal structure,which is important in the distribution of nitrate.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Sorry indian joe, but I got lost. Especially the "The point of it all ? energy per gram using identical components and then loaded to same density in the case --nuthin in it ! "

    Old win in case yuo got lost on my post.
    My two light density 25 lb cases were hot ones producing fast velocity.
    Last edited by Chill Wills; 08-28-2018 at 10:55 PM.
    Chill Wills

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    Sorry indian joe, but I got lost. Especially the "The point of it all ? energy per gram using identical components and then loaded to same density in the case --nuthin in it ! "

    Old win in case yuo got lost on my post.
    My two light density cases were hot.
    hmmm I thought i knew what I meant
    Density of the two powders - different processing - if you read the make yr own thread - one of the problems (proly the biggest) is getting density into the powder - thats really difficult to do.
    So in a muzzle loader no problem just cut a bigger measure and work a load out, who cares if it takes another half inch of barrel space ...but in cartridges ... no spare room.
    As far as process goes - screening powder is way easier and quicker and you lose much less in fines - but the density is way less - all the Gurus tell that pressed is way better stronger powder than screened - some of the confusion here likely comes from measuring vs weighing (no such thing as grains measure but just about everybody does that) - I have no idea what triggered me to test what I did - except that the screened stuff - you can just keep squooshing it in - 5/8th inch compression on a scooped charge (less using a drop tube of course) -- so I took the exact same weight of less dense powder - made from the same meal base - and I squooshed 63 grains of it into the same 45/70 cases as the 63 grains of more dense pressed powder (I also use 63 grains of GoEx in that same rifle/load) - have to say I was surprised at the result - thought there would be a decent difference - but no.
    I would guess that the less dense Swiss you fellers have seen as "hotter" is very likely a different type of charcoal than normally used - would not be surprised if it was a bit cleaner burn but that not guaranteed.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Okay. Now I understand.
    Chill Wills

  9. #9
    Boolit Man
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    Thank you CW. That is what I was looking for. I was hoping I wasn't giving up any velocity with the less dense powder. I always had the mindset that the energy was in the mass of the powder but what Joe pointed out is a lot of it depends on the manufacturing process. I remember reading once that the quality of the powder can be controlled somewhat by how long it's in the roller mill. It is surprising that the less dense powder gave you greater velocity. I load by compression so I fill my case with 1-1/2 Swiss until I get between .050" and .070" of compression and that seems to give me my best accuracy.
    Last edited by Old-Win; 08-29-2018 at 09:12 AM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Man
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    If 2 identical cartridge cases were loaded with equal volume of BP, the only difference being the density of the granualation. The bullets are seated to the same COL.
    The amount of compression on the powder will be the same because the powder is only differing in density of individual granuals. It is not different in granulation size so this keeps the compression equal too. The actual measured weight of powder in each case will be different due to the higher and lower density of the individual grains of powder.

    Which cartridge will show the higher MV?

    Two schools of thought here:
    1) - The cartridge with the heavier weight of powder has more “fuel” therefore will make more gas volume which makes more gas pressure in the bore when it burns. So this cartridge will have the highest MV.

    2) - The cartridge with the less dense powder will be faster because the flame will rip through the less dense granules faster (more oxygen present locked within the granules) making these granules act more like a finer granulation size. This causes higher pressure so the less dense cartridge has the higher MV.

    My choice is #1 for the higher MV, due to the higher density = more fuel to burn. But this is opposite of what poster #3 Chill Wills observed.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master




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    Comparing home made to commercial could be apples to oranges because of manufacturing process or the charcoal used or even the charcoal processing. Early on in my making of home made BP I tested a ML with weighed charges of home made pressed and corned against a commercial powder (don't remember which now) and came up with very little difference in velocities. The volumes of those loads were drastically different.
    I was making the powder for my 40-65 primarily and was using Swiss then for match shooting. What I found was that my home made, grain for grain by weight was giving more velocity than Swiss. I could only get about 53 or 54 gr in the 40-65 case but 65gr of Swiss. The homemade was giving me about 1200fps and the Swiss 1275fps.
    For grins and giggles I have tried my homemade at 300 and 500yd. At 300 it doesn't do too bad against the commercial, At 500yd it is a whole different ball game. In fact I even tried some in my new 40-50 Shiloh a month or so ago and was pretty impressed with the group against Old Eynsford. It was larger but not hateful. I get 53gr of OE in that case and only 42 or 43 of HM. I never checked velocity but the group was definitely lower on the target. Of course my HM is mostly used for hunting so minute of deer at 100yd is all that I am shooting for and it does that very well. I have taken 2 with BBCR and 1 with my Hawken and a number of squirrels with the trade gun and shot. The fines make great pan priming powder.

    Bob
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenjoytj View Post
    If 2 identical cartridge cases were loaded with equal volume of BP, the only difference being the density of the granualation. The bullets are seated to the same COL.
    What I tested was the opposite = cases loaded with equal weight of different density powders
    The amount of compression on the powder will be the same because the powder is only differing in density of individual granuals. It is not different in granulation size so this keeps the compression equal too. The actual measured weight of powder in each case will be different due to the higher and lower density of the individual grains of powder.
    So now how do we measure compression ? I guess most measure that by distance the plunger moves - but if we go to a true compression - and measure the amount of effort on the press lever - I bet the less dense powders take more plunger travel to get to the same level of pressure
    Which cartridge will show the higher MV?

    Two schools of thought here:
    1) - The cartridge with the heavier weight of powder has more “fuel” therefore will make more gas volume which makes more gas pressure in the bore when it burns. So this cartridge will have the highest MV.
    Thats a good theory but there are so many variables - its not that easy
    2) - The cartridge with the less dense powder will be faster because the flame will rip through the less dense granules faster (more oxygen present locked within the granules) making these granules act more like a finer granulation size. This causes higher pressure so the less dense cartridge has the higher MV.
    BP carries its own oxygen within the chemical structure - the reason finer grade powders burn faster is because of more surface area for initial ignition - I think the less dense is hotter because it is made with lighter charcoal from faster/cleaner burning wood - but thats only a theory too - (willow,paulonia,balsa make really fast powder - lots of harder timbers dont)
    My choice is #1 for the higher MV, due to the higher density = more fuel to burn. But this is opposite of what poster #3 Chill Wills observed.
    .......

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    Load to the same volume.
    LG
    Hav'n you along-Is like lose'n 2 good men

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpy grits View Post
    Load to the same volume.
    LG
    Because? Why?
    Chill Wills

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    Because? Why?
    To duplicate compression etc.
    Listen to the target, and see if the sight settings are the same.
    LG
    Hav'n you along-Is like lose'n 2 good men

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpy grits View Post
    To duplicate compression etc.
    Listen to the target, and see if the sight settings are the same.
    LG
    Grits
    I am working with ungraphited coarse grain powder FFg and Fg - its not easy to get a consistent charge with a scoop measure so for my long range loads I weigh it. It probably doesnt matter what method (weigh or scoop) we do so long as its really consistent we should get decent results at the target - but either done poorly (inconsistent charges) we can not expect accurate shooting ---- where to draw the line is entirely up to the shooter --- 50 and 100yard offhand plinking is a different deal than longer ranges. I dont ever want to be able to blame gun or the load for my own lack so I load carefully and test shoot - then if I can slack off and still get a result I do it - have a 44/40 that I just line the emptys up on the bench, fill em brim full out of my powder horn (36 grains of FFFg), compress and seat a boolit, fast and close its more accurate than I am - If I was trying for a rested group at 200yards I would take more care with loading - maybe would not make a difference - maybe it might?

    I think somewhere in here we do need to recognise that volume and weight are not the same thing ----a VOLUME measure that holds 80 grains weight of Goex, takes 75 grains weight of HM pressed powder and takes 66 grains weight of HM screened powder ........but if I load 80 grains by weight of those less dense powders I get the same result in velocity of the projectile (or close to same).

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I have never said volume and weight are the same. Just a place to start with a new lot of powder.
    I've been loading match grade BPCR loads for many, many years for .45-70 & .45-90 Shiloh Sharps rifles. These are loaded by weight, for consistency.
    I also load BP for SASS/CAS shooting.
    I do not use a 'scoop'-Just a MVA powder measure.
    When I get a new lot of BP. I will load the first batch of BPCR loads, and see what the targets says about making load adjustments.
    LG
    Hav'n you along-Is like lose'n 2 good men

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumpy grits View Post
    I have never said volume and weight are the same. Just a place to start with a new lot of powder.
    Never said ya did - however a lot of newbies assume they are the same partly because of how the rest of us interchange the terms without making the distinction -

    I've been loading match grade BPCR loads for many, many years for .45-70 & .45-90 Shiloh Sharps rifles. These are loaded by weight, for consistency.
    I also load BP for SASS/CAS shooting.
    I bin doin this a while too - me father brought the first batch of Blackpowder home for me in 1963 - 5 x 1 pound bottles packed in his carry on bag on a DC3 from sydney
    I do not use a 'scoop'-Just a MVA powder measure.
    Nice unit ! action very little different than a scoop tho
    When I get a new lot of BP. I will load the first batch of BPCR loads, and see what the targets says about making load adjustments.
    LG
    Do you get much variation from batch to batch of the same brand and grade?

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    Yes-One batch of Goex had 7+gn of difference. 2-4gn is common.
    I only use Old 'E' 2F now, and it has been outstanding in consistency.
    I order in 50lbs lots.
    I have found the MVA to be faster, and far more consistent than any scoop.
    LG
    Hav'n you along-Is like lose'n 2 good men

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