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Thread: BP compression

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
    bigted's Avatar
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    BP compression

    I would like to enter a challenge to all.

    The basis of this challenge consists as such;

    My "education" in BPRC loading and shooting was and seems to continue to be that substantial compressing real black powder is necessary to accuracy and fouling control in conjunction to BPRC loading and shooting.

    Recently I have been made aware that ... at least MY ... loading lets say 45-70 for instance ... that substantial compression is required to try to repeat volume of the old "baloon" cases .

    It was pointed out to me that upon compression ... crushing the powder kernels is unavoidable. Upon this "crush" ... there becomes an inconsistent volume of the kernel size that entered the case in the first place. Mainly that upon compressing ... now we have obtained some fines in our column that in no way can remain consistent.

    In my experience in trying to cram in the reported amount of powder grains ... that upon disassembly of these compressed cartridges ... I find very fine powder that did NOT enter that case when loaded.

    Also another thing I find is a glob of black powder that has been compressed into a solid instead of individual kernels that entered the case upon loading.

    These two conditions make me concerned as to the consistent burn quality's that are needed for accuracy and I suspect fouling that I find so troublesome.

    Just a beginning to questions I have considered as to the "why" of my un-satisfactory results overall concerning MY experience with this portion of the shooting and loading venue.

    So here is my challenge ... provable arguments concerning the compression of and certainly crushing and deformation of black powder kernels ... therefore consistency both in accurate shooting AND the fouling that plagues us all.

    Makes no common sense to me that accurate and consistent shooting is possible ... for me and others ... with muzzleloading rifles loaded with the same powder with simple balls ... and be able to load n shoot for as long as I want to with no foul out occurring and loading with a long stick and relative certainty of NO COMPRESSION.

    What say ye? Has this conundrum occurred to any one else ... and if so ... what conclusion have you reached with repeatable results?
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    If you've ever tried to break down one of the original factory loads, you'll find that many of them the powder was compressed.
    The thing about the modern cases not holding the same as the balloon head is more of a myth than fact, in those old cases you might get 2 maybe 3 grains more powder in.
    If you read stuff the ODG's wrote, they recommended not compressing moist powders, but recommended it for dry powders..Back in the day there were 3 or 4 types of powder made by each company, unlike today where there are 1 maybe 2 types of powder from the only outfits still producing black powder.
    If you stop and think about it for a minute, when you charge a muzzle loader you drop the powder down a 30 in or longer drop tube, that in just a couple of minutes will then become the barrel..
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Interesting Don. I have never broken down an original cartridge. Never had a balloon head case for comparison. So thanks for the info.

    I am aware of the long drop tube effect when loading a muzzle loader ... what seems different to me is the resultant continued accuracy with a projectile that could not be more UN aerodynamic and to be enabled to continue loading and shooting accurately with no more fouling control then loading another patched ball ... now that I type this it occur's that the very act of shoving a lubed, patched ball down the barrel ... consist's of patching the bore.

    Thing is with that muzzle loader ... it gets no compression except for the gentle shove of the ram rod pushing the patched ball onto the powder charge ... using the very same powder that I have been compressing the crud outta.

    Don ... do you consider the powders now-a-days as being moist or dry? And what ingredient in the making of black powder makes it moist?

    Thanks for your reply ... been awhile since we conversed on here. Happy holidays
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    Ted the one thing that muzzleloaders do that cartridge guns don't is vent pressure thru the nipple/flashhole.
    I think that probably Swiss and Olde Eynsford are quite close to what would of been considered moist powders. Regular Goes and Schuetzen and KIK more towards the dry powders.
    MerryChristmas to you and yours.
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Chill Wills's Avatar
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    So here is my challenge ... provable arguments concerning the compression of and certainly crushing and deformation of black powder kernels ... therefore consistency both in accurate shooting AND the fouling that plagues us all.

    I would hate to try to prove anything to anyone.
    Blanket statements and rules are hard because not all powder makes and brands are equal. More, lately the very good Swiss powder has had some quality problems post 2013 lots.
    Simply put in my experience, very good powder, well made and dense, will shoot outstanding with little to no compression. Match load testing could be done with one can of powder and have some to spare.
    Even more simply put, compression (with great powder) is incidental. In other words, fill the case and adjust up or down a grain or two to find the best barrel time for match accuracy. In this case, best barrel time means bullet exiting the muzzle in the vibration cycle)

    Before the 2013 and 2016 lots of Swiss powder I have poor experience with - that is, all cases and lots of Swiss shot by me were dated 1999 to 2009 were extremely dense and consistent. The same match load work-up with any of these powder lots was successful.
    It has come out that the Swiss supplier of Kno2 (Israel ) in about 2013 was unable to deliver their very high quality product to the Swiss. The powder produced after this interruption made with a substitute KNO2 was in short, less dense and for us, the consumer, less accurate across most lots produced. It is rumored that some poor lots were blended with better powder to make a marketable product.
    Sometime in or after 2016 the KNO2 supplier in Israel was able to deliver again and hopefully these later powder lots will return to the high quality and consistency we have come to know. I have not tested any but a few friends I talk with have been buying and testing these late production lots. I still have some older good powder but not much and I can't last too many matches, so I am saving my $$ until I can better rely on getting a good case .

    Good luck with the compression thing. I think it means very little when starting with a good powder product. I could be wrong with some lots and some brands of powder.

    BTW- I almost forgot, I wish and hope for Santa to drop a vintage case of Swiss powder under the tree of all who reads this! Merry Christmas!
    Last edited by Chill Wills; 12-24-2019 at 09:20 PM.
    Chill Wills

  6. #6
    Boolit Mold
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    Muzzleloaders do in fact have issues with fouling, and most wipe between shots (if shooting for accuracy, not hunting). Fouling will make seating the projectile very tough in very few shots if you do not wipe. The exception is when one uses a wet lubricant for patch lube. Then the seating of the patched ball is the wiping.
    Cory

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    When I get a new case of powder ( usually Olde Ensford or swiss) I work up the load again or at least test it.

    I work up starting at no airspace no compression, just drop in the case from a 3' drop tube with a slow pour. The work up from there. I work up in 2 grn increments. adding powder and and compression as I go. I watch accuracy, fouling, velocity, and fouling. These loads are choreographed and standard deviation and extreme spread are watched here. I normally blow tube between shots and clean every 10 rounds.

    What I see with most powders is as the compression goes up the Sd and Es goes down and velocity slightly increases. This continues to a point then reverses and they start to raise again. I normally shoot for in the 1150-1200 fps range with most.

    What might be interesting is to set a good accurate measure to a medium that meters very good ( smokeless powder, sugar or something granulated ) to throw say a 100 grn charge by weight. Empty and blow out measure with canned air. Then with out changing the measure throw 10-20 charges and average of a lot number or given powders. This would show the difference in densities of the samples. Same cavity different weights = different powder densities. Better would be to use a measure capable of 200 - 300 grns.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Interesting fella's. Good points all.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigted View Post
    Interesting fella's. Good points all.
    Bigted
    I have to admit that trying to duplicate old timey loads is (or has been) the main driver for me with compression
    I make my own powder - density is less than factory but it takes compression more readily - so we pretty much end up at the same place
    I measure the level of compression by effort required on the end of the handle rather than distance travelled - I reckon anybody using a compound loading press to run the compression die has NO CLUE at all to the amount of effort applied unless you pay attention to the sound of powder grains poppin in there.
    My major focus for accurate loading the last couple years has been a Uberti model 76 in 45/75 and to a lesser extent 45/70 in an 1886 repro and a sharps. The 76 has done well - five shot groups under an inch and a half - and I would bet that at least half of that group size is operator error rather than a deficiency in the load or the rifle - simply I have reached my limit at that point with tang sight and 70+ year old eyes .
    I shoot over the chronograph to convince myself that I should be doing better - have fired several strings of ten without cleaning between shots and ES around ten FPS (a couple times inside that number) the Uberti is a piece of cake to clean afterwards so I figure we have fouling reasonably sorted (grease groove boolits)
    Next time I load I can give you a scale reading off my press if you think its of interest - also might be interesting to make a comparison to commercial powder - they are certainly different.
    The info regards later Swiss is interesting - there was some blurb last year about South African powder and much much lower density - maybe there was some copycatting happening?
    cheers
    joe

  10. #10
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    yes, the swiss bad lot era was BAD. i say "was" in trust that their powder components are back to quality levels. their inferior powder was a waste of money ... and time. i hope they get their act together and need to be reprimanded for pulling an expensive kno2 hoax on their customers.

    anyhoo, having done some fair amount of testing with compression for .45-70 cartridge builds for gov't chambers in the past, and then/now with .45-70 paper patched bullets for modified tighter PPB chambers, compaction was more important to my loads for consistent accuracy than any amount of compression more than 1/16" or so. even with the somewhat lower volume PPB brass (due to the reforming for the tighter chamber) these PPB cases will hold more powder due to the 1/10" PPB set in the case mouth as lots more swiss 1-1/2f compacts in the case, in the order of 78 to 83 grains, with that light compression.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    Having shot a fair amount of UMC 45 Colt loaded with 40 grs. of black powder, believe me on a couple of duds I broke down the powder was compressed a lot. The failure to fire was due to dead primers. Nothing gets your attention like setting off 40 grs. of black powder out of a 5 1/2" Colt barrel. I was very impressed with that load.

  12. #12
    Boolit Buddy Huvius's Avatar
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    I've pulled apart an original Eley cartridge (450/400 2-3/8") and the powder was definitely compressed - had to use a pick to get it out.
    There was very little in the way of fines in there though and the individual kernels were very hard and very shiny, looking as though they had some sort of lacquer or coating on them.
    They certainly held up well to compression.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    What is the weight of water capacity of cartridge case in 45-70:
    - a modern solid head case.
    - a balloon head case.
    - a Bennet inside primed case (if it existed for 45-70).

    Add variations in case wall thickness between lots and different manufacturers.

    I suspect that the “70” the 45-70 ctg name is a nominal goal the manufacturers strived to reach but were not to worried if the brand and lot of powder they were charging cases with that couldn’t hold the stated charge in the case lot being charged that day.

    Damp powder dry powder? In a southern state in non air conditioned factory, all the powder would be pulling humidity right out of the 100% humidity atmosphere.
    Not to worry, a little moisture will turn to steam upon firing and add a small amount of steam pressure to the blast.

    If a muzzle loading rifleman spends considerable time developing his most accurate load, why would a cartridge loading rifleman not do the same thing? Load what works best for you in your gun.
    What if loading a tall case, we loaded in several steps, compressing each step as we work towards maximum case fill and perfect bullet seating. Should we start worrying about how the burn will be disturbed as it struggles to burn through the several toughened walls of compressed powder place in it way.
    There is no way to pick compressed BP powder out of a charged case and not create some powder dust. The quantity observed on powder removal would be far less than that was created during initial compression. The dust will find a new home clinging to a different powder granule further down the powder column.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master
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    yes, the swiss bad lot era was BAD.
    I've read this mentioned several times. What lots were bad? What was bad about it?
    Last edited by John Boy; 12-26-2019 at 04:05 PM.
    Regards
    John

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    I've read this mentioned several times. What lots were bad? What was bad about it?
    shotgun size groups, where 2" suddenly becomes 24" ... or more. at the very least it was a lot or two from 2013, but there may be other years involved.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Some of you may enjoy reading this:

    or not.

    Compression. ... or lack of it.
    https://www.assra.com/cgi-bin/yabb/Y...m=1576546839/0

    Carry on
    Chill Wills

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    I've read this mentioned several times. What lots were bad? What was bad about it?
    Forget what's bad. The key is to find what's good (and available).

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    Some of you may enjoy reading this:

    or not.

    Compression. ... or lack of it.
    https://www.assra.com/cgi-bin/yabb/Y...m=1576546839/0

    Carry on
    Chill
    There is reference in there to airspace between ball and charge in a frontloader not being a problem ???
    Question is how much airspace is not a problem?
    There are a lot of ringbulged barrels around (and probably plenty of blown ones too) to prove the point that somewhere along the barrel length - airspace morphs into the ball becoming a barrel obstruction and a dangerous deal.

    This "not a problem" idea could easily tempt a newby to shoot a load where they were unable to fully seat the ball due to dry fouling - how much air space is ok then becomes very important. .

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    And the plot thickens. That is not the first time that I have read about air space not being the bugaboo that is oft repeated.

    So now we seem to be at the ... not only no compression, but now the discussion is turning to air space between powder and boolit/ball.

    Do we have repeatable proof about the barrel bulging or splitting do to air space between powder and boolit? I have read many many times the admonition to NEVER HAVE AIR SPACE BETWEEN BOOLIT N POWDER. Now to think and stop hear say ... I do not think I have ever read published proof of this being fact ... have never read proof positive that it is not either tho. One feller states that he has loaded cartridges that are not 100% full beneath the boolit and never having a problem. Another fella claims to have bulged barrels by doing so.

    Reminds me of the 4F powder loading spoof that has been dis-proved as dangerous and will develope severe pressure. Turns out to be nonsense ... wonder if this is all made up crud that got momentum by the old grapevine.

    Reason I began this is in the loading of CARTRIDGES with black powder ... is compression wanted or needed? This air space could be in the same arena and need confirmation or busted ... WHERE ARE THE MYTH BUSTERS WHEN WE NEED EM?
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  20. #20
    Boolit Master trails4u's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigted View Post
    I would like to enter a challenge to all.

    The basis of this challenge consists as such;

    My "education" in BPRC loading and shooting was and seems to continue to be that substantial compressing real black powder is necessary to accuracy and fouling control in conjunction to BPRC loading and shooting.

    Recently I have been made aware that ... at least MY ... loading lets say 45-70 for instance ... that substantial compression is required to try to repeat volume of the old "baloon" cases .

    It was pointed out to me that upon compression ... crushing the powder kernels is unavoidable. Upon this "crush" ... there becomes an inconsistent volume of the kernel size that entered the case in the first place. Mainly that upon compressing ... now we have obtained some fines in our column that in no way can remain consistent.

    In my experience in trying to cram in the reported amount of powder grains ... that upon disassembly of these compressed cartridges ... I find very fine powder that did NOT enter that case when loaded.

    Also another thing I find is a glob of black powder that has been compressed into a solid instead of individual kernels that entered the case upon loading.

    These two conditions make me concerned as to the consistent burn quality's that are needed for accuracy and I suspect fouling that I find so troublesome.

    Just a beginning to questions I have considered as to the "why" of my un-satisfactory results overall concerning MY experience with this portion of the shooting and loading venue.

    So here is my challenge ... provable arguments concerning the compression of and certainly crushing and deformation of black powder kernels ... therefore consistency both in accurate shooting AND the fouling that plagues us all.

    Makes no common sense to me that accurate and consistent shooting is possible ... for me and others ... with muzzleloading rifles loaded with the same powder with simple balls ... and be able to load n shoot for as long as I want to with no foul out occurring and loading with a long stick and relative certainty of NO COMPRESSION.

    What say ye? Has this conundrum occurred to any one else ... and if so ... what conclusion have you reached with repeatable results?
    Over simple explanation from my standpoint....but consistency is in the process. If you do everything EXACTLY the same, every time, then you'll have consistent rounds, pressures, velocities, etc.. If you crush it all the same way, every time, with controlled processes, then it's all the same, right?
    "Do not follow where the path might lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" Ralph Waldo Emerson

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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