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Thread: How many shots to expect before foul out?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Jul 2012
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    How many shots to expect before foul out?

    My 45 Colt cartridges are loaded as follows:

    Starline cases - annealed (the annealing stopped blow back)
    CCI 350 Magnum primers ( for the vitamins to reduce/tighten ES)
    Powder charge is 35 grains of GOEX 2fg (not a gamer load)
    Bullet is a cast SAECO #955 RNFP .452” 264 grain 20:1 alloy (not a light gamer bullet)
    Lubed with homemade Emmerts Improved.

    The firearm is a new Miroku made Winchester 1873 rifle with a 24” barrel.

    Question: How many shots, using the above mentioned load should I expect before powder fouling destroys the rifles accuracy ballooning the group.

    Back story: I’ve had several range sessions previously with this M73 but only fired smokeless powder under copper plated or my cast bullets.

    About a week ago I fired this M73 rifle with my black powder cartridges.
    This is the first time I tried my black powder SA revolver cartridges in this rifle.
    The target made it obvious I fired too many BP shots as the group size was ~10”x10.5” for 60 shots at 57 yards bench rested. The last 40 shots were done from a standing position firing at 10”square steel plate. Most of those shots rang the steel.
    So I fired the contents of two 50 round MTM cartridge boxes 100 shots total.
    This was far too many shots to reveal the rifle true accuracy potential.
    I was going to just shoot one box of ammo that was the plan but I was having so much fun I couldn’t resist opening the second ammo box.

    When I got home I started washing out the cartridge cases.
    The next day I cleaned the rifle. I forgot to wet the fouling and just pulled a wet patch through breach to muzzle with my Dewey cable pull through tool.
    The patch slid though the first ½ of the barrel then encountered considerable resistance as it traversed the crud ring. Subsequent patches pulled through easier and easier I did see some tiny silver flakes obviously lead abraded off by passage through the rough fouling build up in the front half of the barrel.
    I was using a 7:1 mixture of distilled water:and Ballistol (moose milk) for the first time as the powder solvent. After the bore felt clean, I looked down the bore with my bore light in the chamber and freaked out. It looked like the whole bore was coated in partially lifting flakes and streamers of lead. I spent a long time brushing and patching out, put never seeing any lead on my patches. Another look through the bore and saw zero improvement. Then I noticed just inside the muzzle white droplets of moose milk the I realized that I thought was fuzzy lead in the bore is just the oil and water beading up like rain drops on a waxed car. I pulled dry patches through and took another look, the bore was clean and shiny.
    The Starline cases had been annealed, an experiment to see if the blow back I was getting when firing smokeless powder could be reduced. The experiment was a big success fired cases had a slight oily feel on the outside no black fouling none one any of the 100 cartridges fired. I removed the side plates and action guts wiped each part off with a white paper towel, no black fouling was present in the action or in the magazine tube. All my 45 Colt cases now have been annealed.
    The next experiment will be to see how long the cases will stay clean between annealings.
    Because I fired too many shots in one range session I don’t know when I got lube failure with the SAECO bullet I had hoped it would carry enough lube for a 24” barrel.
    Obviously I will have to experiment with my rifle in a more controlled test with fewer shots onto more targets to find out at what shot count my groups grow to unacceptable size.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I normally clean my BPCR rifles between stages at a match or groups when testing. At a match that's usually around 15 rounds or so. testing is 10 rounds. Its not the through cleaning they get at home but 3-4 passes of a brush with windex and a couple dry patches. A blow tube giving 2-4 deep breaths can extend the string keeping fouling soft.

    I use emmerts improved for lube also, I pan lube my bullets and shoot as cast my cake cutters are .005 over bullet dia to the lube is slightly compressed when seated. My barrels are 30"-34" in length and 38 cal to 45 cal. With my bullets I start getting a nice grease ring at the muzzle after 7-10 shots

    You don't mention the compression on your powder. I have found this to be important. With the right compression fouling diminishes and consistency goes up. I chronograph my load workups and Have found that as compression increases fouling goes becomes lighter and more manageable, Standard deviation and Extreme Spread also drops, to a point then they all start to climb again. In my work ups I have found Swiss to be around.060 compression, Olde Ensfode around .125-.180 And Goex is higher still around .250+. This is in rifle cases 38-55 40-65 45-70 and 45-90 with heavy for caliber bullets of 360 grns to 550 grns.

    I would recommend experimenting with compression some. A wad between the powder and bullet, in your case .030 thick ( I use Napa rubber fiber gasket material for this). Maybe even using a blow tube. Watch the muzzle for a lube star to form.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master Lead pot's Avatar
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    Do your rifle a favor.
    Clean it when you get home not a day or so later.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy


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    Quote Originally Posted by Lead pot View Post
    Do your rifle a favor.
    Clean it when you get home not a day or so later.
    I second this motion!

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    You want to clean your rifle at the range! Also take a one-half gallon large mouth plastic jug to the range, fill half-full of water and a BIG squirt of Dawn detergent into the water. Decap your brass at the range after each stage and drop in the soapy water. After the drive home pour the rinsed, decapped brass into a large collender and rinse under the outdoor faucet. Then place the cases in a rotary tumbler with ceramic media for two hours. Then transfer brass to pyrex dish standing on their bases and place in the sun or in winter in front of the wood stove until they are dry and clean, usually about 3-4 hours.

    Saeco bullet does not have enough lube capacity for use in a black powder rifle. May work OK in a shorter revolver barrel with SPG or Confederate Army Lube. You'd be better off with a Big Lube bullet or similar Accurate design:

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    Last edited by Outpost75; 12-30-2018 at 01:54 PM.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    What Outpost said. Clean the rifle first! The brass will keep or else dump it in a jug of water.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  7. #7
    There are a lot of variables that affect BP fouling.
    Your lube, humidity, temperature, speed of firing, bore condition etc.

    I would suggest running a swap through every 5-10 rounds and if you take break of more than 15 minutes. Lever guns are a bit of a challenge as the breech isn't easy to access. The pull through if it works for you or chamber an empty case and use a bore guide with a rod from the muzzle.

    As mentioned, different lubes and bullets with large or lots of lube grooves can make a difference.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy Randy Bohannon's Avatar
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    I have two of those rifles in 44-40 and they will never see anything but B/P. Accuracy has been excellent and a breeze to clean. every 10 shots I swab the bore with 45 cal. Pro Shot patches wetted and wrung out with Napa oil and water,one dry patch. Then I use the Shiloh lead/bore conditioner with tight jag at the end of the day ,wipe everything down done.. Have never seen a speck of lead or rust.
    Use Winchester brass to get the max. amount of B/P with least amount of compression. A fat bullet .456" with one big lube groove and soft alloy with SPG lube.Winchester brass is thin enough that it's not necessary to anneal and get good clean burn using a good tight taper crimp.
    Several companies make depriming hand tools for depriming at the bench, They are invaluable to get the primers out of brass before getting them wet,it's a mess otherwise and primer pockets come out clean using the the scaper provided on the tool.
    Buffalo Arms sells custom expanders and compression dies to fit your dies they are about $20 ea. and worth every penny to help make excellent ammo that shoots good and not a hassle to put together.Your best powders will be Swiss 1.5 /2FFg and Old Eyensford 1.5/2FFg. velocity and accuracy for me has been with O.E. 2F in the 44-40.,it would be my starting point in the 45 Colt.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    I shot nothing but black at cowboy matches. Our rifles were 66, 73, and 92 replicas in 38 spl., .357, and 44-40. A match typically had 5 stages with 10 rifle targets per stage. Trying to get all 50 shots usually resulted in accuracy loss and missed targets. So after 20 rounds I'd take take a 4 foot long hank of heavy string trimmer cord with a big knot tied on one end and the other end cut off at an angle with a sharp knife to leave a sharp point. I kept a tin of patches soaked in Ballistol and water, pierce the sharp end of the cord thru the middle of a 2"x2" patch, open the action and pull the patch thru from breech to muzzle, thereby not pushing powder fouling into the action. One wet, one dry kept our rifles and carbines running accurately.

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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