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Thread: BP compression

  1. #21
    Boolit Master


    rfd's Avatar
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    i have always built cartridges and loaded muzzleloaders with black powder and no air space 'tween powder and projectile.

    i have never experienced ringed or blown barrels and have only seen images in articles that show ringed and blown barrels that their authors have attributed to black powder air space.

    myth? i have no hard evidence, but i'm not dumb enuf to take any chances in a possible myth being a myth until someone shows proof of it all being said myth.

  2. #22
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigted View Post
    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?
    Plenty of proof (ringbulged barrels) exists for short started ball in muzzleloaders - there the shorted ball is obviously performing as a barrel obstruction - sooooo somwhere between that distance and the ball seated on the powder there is a point at which the unsafe becomes safe - how much airspace ? I would rather someone else tested that theory while I will continue to ram the patched ball home and load my catridges with just enough compression that I dont have to ponder on that either.
    How much compression or lack of it ? Shoot the thing I reckon !!.... over the chronograph if you have one - low extreme spread and good group - is a good load !

    Back in the day when we used to leave a rifle in the corner of the feed shed or the workshop in case some pest thing needed shot - mud wasps were a real problem - seen several decent barrels cooked that way even a 22/250 - nice little bulge about an inch down !

  3. #23
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    The question about compression or not can only be answered by your rifle and the target. Reloading these bpcr's isn't a whole lot different than loading smokeless. What works in one rifle may not work worth a flip in another rifle.
    Air space and barrel rings are likely a combination of barrel steel, bullet fit to the barrel, lube etc. We know that some of the ODG's that breech seated bullets and those that muzzleloaded their cartridge guns did in fact may times find their best accuracy with an 1/8 inch gap between the case and the base of the bullet. We also know that with a bore scope some of those old rifles show slight ringing in the chamber where that air space was .. Many of the old reloading sources from back in the day said to be sure the bullet should be in firm contact with the powder, I suspect that's still good advice today.
    Winchester did an interesting test on their 76 rifle after one of the pundants of the day said that action was to long and therefore weak. It's an interesting read what the rifle they did the testing with had happen to it, altho neither the action nor the barrel came apart.
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  4. #24
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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?
    You guys haven't convinced me yet that 3-4 years of Swiss powder is bad. That's because I'm sitting on 39 lbs of it and am hoping it's all a fragment of your imagination. I just opened a case of 2014 and have 14 lbs of 2013 that i picked up from a friend who can't shoot any more. I tried some of each in a new Ballard I bought from another friend's estate. It's hell gettin old and losing friends. My best loads produced groups about 4 1/2" and 5". Nothing great but I think it will do better and I'm going to mount a scope on it this spring to make sure it's the load and not me shooting irons.
    I've been watching the Shiloh board with Semtav's 200 yd match going and the first 14 best groups in irons are shot with Swiss. They can't all be shooting old powder. I think Kurt is the only one shooting OE. If you watch the scores of matches in BPCN, both silhouette and LR, they have continued to go up during those so called bad years of Swiss. If it is bad powder, wouldn't you see an overall drop-off in scores. A couple over on the Shiloh board that are good shots with Swiss are buying some OE and it will be interesting to see what the can do with it this winter.

  5. #25
    Boolit Master
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    I have used two lots of Swiss 1.5 that I think are from 2013, assuming I'm decoding the lot numbers correctly.

    010.213 worked extremely well in my Shiloh 2.4" rifle. It's what I used to place second in Robert's Creedmoor match this year as well as set the 1000 yard record. It has also produced a couple of minute of angle 10 shot groups from prone at 300 yards. I used way more compression than most do with Swiss. 0.275". I have a 14 shot string with a velocity SD of 3.6 FPS. This is probably the best long range load I've ever shot, and the best velocity stats too I think. I'd love to have another case of that lot!

    270.613 works quite well in my two .40-65 rifles. Both have shot quite well in Silhouette and Mid-Range. Again, piles of compression. In my silhouette rifle, testing from prone at 300 yards I shot 36 rounds into the 600 yard reduced target. 20 landed in the X-ring, another 13 in the ten ring, and 3 shots in the 9 ring, one of which was the first cold bore sighter. Again quite excellent. I've also used the same load to clean the turkeys a few times, not the rams though sadly.

    I have some 2016 powder that I have not yet tested much so I can't say much about it.

    I also have some 2017 powder, Swiss Fg that seems really good so far.

    With that said, I've had some really nice results and low SD's with Old Eynesford 1.5. I have a 15 shot string recorded with an SD of 3.9 fps. That load shot well, but my scores got a little bit higher when I switched to Swiss. I will play with OE 1.5 some more this year though.

    I will say that sometimes I've had OE 1.5 work screamingly well in my .45-70 PP rifle. Last time out with that powder I shot 9 shots at 219 yards and put 7 of them into 1.3" from prone. Then two really big flyers in the 9 ring (600 yard reduced target) which were not impressive. I've had similar results in my .45-90 PP rifle. Shockingly tight core groups and then a couple of crazy flyers.

    With respect to air gap, I've shot a fair bit of breech seated bullets with black powder and an air gap. Anywhere from zero ( by filling the gap with a felt wad ) to 0.125". No problems ever, but most of this has been using new guns with modern steel. I have a couple of original schuetzen rifles, but I don't shoot them very much at all. I mostly take 'em out of the safe and just look at them

    Chris.

  6. #26
    Boolit Master
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    Bob,
    You may not believe that there were (are) problems with Swiss, but I certainly do. I've proven it to myself. More to the point, when you look at who is shooting well and you see what they are shooting, you will (or at least I have) realize that you can't win without good powder.

  7. #27
    Boolit Master Lead pot's Avatar
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    There a lot of die hard Swiss users and it is/was/? a good powder. I use it but with the last case I shot up a couple weeks ago I have to see some good reports in the future before I buy another case. I have worked some very good loads using the OE Just last weak I put 9 out of 10 shots in a 1-3/4" group @ 200, one walked out and this was using 1.5 F OE I seldom use in a lesser caliber than the .44-90 Bn or the .50-90. It really surprised me that it shot as well as it did in the .40-65.
    I feel that I should not rely on just one powder or one way loading. Yes I spend a lot of time shooting 3,5,10 shot ladder loads using different types of powder/bullets/wads but it serves a lot of purposes finding accuracy and trigger time that is just as important as a accurate load.
    I haven't set up a chronograph for many years. I look at the holes in the paper to tell me if a powder load has potentials. I don't care if one powder shoots 30 fps faster than the other I look at the holes.
    I have good days and bad days and it seems like the older I get the bad are starting to show up more.
    But the enjoyment putting hole through paper or busting bowling pins hasn't changed.

  8. #28
    Boolit Buddy
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    Brent, I'm sure there was probably a lot or two out there that wasn't as good as the rest and you probably ended up with one of them. I do find it hard to believe that all those years when everybody was saying "shoot Swiss", it's the best thing out there that now all of a sudden it's not as good as everybody was told it was, but you are right, it definitely takes a good powder to put your shots where you want them.

  9. #29
    Boolit Master
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    Hey Bob,
    There is a lot of direct info compiled on this Swiss powder subject. I have been in contact with a fair number of competitors who's ability are proven and I have charted their info on Swiss powder lots in an excel spreadsheet. Our experiences have been the same. We all have had cases of powder that were far less dense ("fluffy" - my word) in a multi year range that acted like it wanted to shoot but did not produce reliable match accuracy. Because results are subjective and can be hard to verify, caution is the way I have approached this data. I would hate to spread unfounded rumors. That being said, I don't want to expand here on all that I think I know. I will only say this much and quit while I am ahead.
    The interruption of a key high quality ingredient to powder and the substitution of a lesser one can cause havoc on the performance any BP product. In the case of best quality BP, this seems to be true in spades.
    Many (all ?) the production lots from parts of at least three years were affected by the substitution. Not all lots were affected to the same degree. Blending we are told was used to adjust the performance of some lots.

    AND, Some lots during the production window in question do shoot well. However - Many do not produce BPCR match accuracy.

    We are told current production has resumed with the original KNO3 supplier.
    We are hopping Swiss will return to its old status, that of high density, high quality and very little variation lot to lot.
    Chill Wills

  10. #30
    Boolit Master
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    CW,
    the most recent lot of powder in the USA that I know of is 3 April 2018. This is the lot that both Woody and I are working on.

    It is very fluffy. Might be the least dense Swiss powder I have seen yet. It seems to "want to shoot" but you know how that is. We are not there yet. The old stuff was just load and go.

    I wonder how many rifles have been sold or rebarreled because of this. I know of several, and I came within a whisker of rebarreling two or even three of my target rifles because I thought it was anything EXCEPT the powder.

    That the new powder is still really fluffy suggests that there is more to the KNO4 story.

  11. #31
    Boolit Master Lead pot's Avatar
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    The lot of 1.5 Swiss I just finished was 04/05/2015 I still have a few cans of 3F Swiss that has been shooting well with a lot# 26/02/2018 And this is the most recent lot I have used and this 3F I did not have to make any adjustments over the last 3F

  12. #32
    Boolit Master

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    I also had a low-density batch of Swiss 1F that didn’t seem to perform that well, at least in the loadings I previously used. Don’t write down the lot number, but it was the first batch I received with the pink labels rather than the blue ones, maybe two or three years ago.

    Some of the problem may have been me. I couldn’t get the normal 80gr into even an unsized shell, so I made a funnel and ram that would bootheel the stuff in there anyway. I certainly may have overcompressed the powder, and, in my experience, Swiss doesn’t tolerate much compression. The grains are hard and break up at the top of the column, whereas the softer Goex seems to “squish” more evenly throughout the mass.

    And, of course, my shooting abilities haven’t improved with advanced age and decrepitude, either.

    Now that we have Zack Taylor’s description of how he gets every new case he buys shooting in his .45-90 (in the latest BPCR News), I doubtless should have started with smaller volumes of the new batch and done the usual off-the-bench load workup all over again from the get-go. But I figured one of the things I was paying extra (a lot extra) for was that amazing level of consistency, like we see in canister smokeless powders.

    I don’t really understand the original question. Seems like apples and oranges to me. Squirrel-head accuracy at 45 yards, 2-inch groups at 100 and minute-of-deer at 125 with a round-ball muzzleloader isn't the “accuracy” we seek at 500 M with a BPCR. Steve Garbe recommended compression back when the only powder available was Goex; he has pointed out that parameters have changed since then with the proliferation of other powders. And, of course, every rifle can have it’s own personality.

    I wouldn’t doubt that the Swiss powder is blended, and would assume that all of them are blended and tested to some kind of standard. I worked for Coast Fuse, Inc., and we had a DuPont Blend Chart where we blended different lots (“fast” and “slow,” to be technical ) of Goex and tested the mixtures in extruded lead tubes to get the mandatory burn rate of two minutes per yard in safety fuse. I would guess that something of the sort is done by every powder manufacturer, whatever the application.

  13. #33
    Boolit Master
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    Well I do hope they get it all sorted out. A case of powder is a big expense, particularly if it proves to be no good.

    I know that Zack has also had good luck with lot 010.213 so it seems to be one of the good ones.

    Chris.

  14. #34
    Boolit Master
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    Chris,

    I know of 2 good batches of 2013 powder, one of 2015 and maybe one of 2016. I know of quite a few people that have quit long range in frustration of their inability to shoot well suddenly. They blame themselves as often or more often than they blame the gun. Now I wonder if powder might have been the problem. I have seen other circumstantial evidences as well. But the best is to give someone that is currently shooting really well a pound of a suspect powder and watch what happens. Jim Kluskens and I did this last August. The results were stunning.
    Last edited by BrentD; 12-30-2019 at 09:47 PM.

  15. #35
    Boolit Master
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    Brent, the problems you had last year were caused by bad powder then? That's got to be frustrating.

    I'm quite happy with the 010.213 & 270.613 lots of Swiss 1.5 but I have little left. I have only enough of the 18/01/2016 1.5 Fg to work up a load for my .45-90 and shoot a few matches. I hope that new batch pans out.

    One of the things I haven't yet done is to drop a bunch of charges from each batch to compare their density.

    I can say that OE 1.5 is not always 100% consistent. I had a partial case that was extremely slow. The very first batch I used was the best. I placed 4th in the Wyoming state midrange match with it and first expert in the Byers state midrange match. This was with my .40-65. The next lot I got was the slow one. It was terrible, from what I remember it was down about 80 fps with poor accuracy.

    Chris.
    Last edited by Gunlaker; 12-31-2019 at 01:12 AM.

  16. #36
    Boolit Buddy
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    Just a few comments. CW, if you were told that Swiss Powders was using potassium nitrate from Israel I think you were fed a pack of BS. Being a retired science teacher I have a little understanding of it. We used to use it as an oxidizer in several lab experiments and demonstrations. It is very common throughout the world and I don't understand why they had to go all the way to Israel to get the potassium nitrate especially if it was a time where it was an inferior quality. A quick search online found potassium nitrate in 50 lb bags at a purity of 99.8% at $66. I'm sure larger quantities would be much cheaper yet. Black powder is a mixture and the qualty of the mixture is controlled by the quality of the roller mill and how long the ingredients are in the roller mill. I was told this by the importer of Swiss powders in Texas when Swiss had a bad batch years ago. Internet rumor had it as being poor charcoal because of the drought in Europe. He told me the quality of the powder had nothing to do with the drought as the wood for the charcoal was cut several years before the drought . He told me that they blew up their new roller mill and had to use an older mill to mix the ingrediants at that time but as soon as the new roller mill was rebuilt, the powder quality would be back to what it was but who knows I could have been fed a pack of BS myself . If Swiss powders was using low-grade potassium nitrate it was for cost-cutting reasons not because the good stuff wasn't available. As far as the density of the powders goes, I have no clue unless it has something to do with the time that the mix is in the roller mill. There was a good article about 15 years ago in the Black Powder Cartridge News about the Swiss Powder Company. If I find time I'm going to go see if I can't look it up as I've got all those old copies in my shed. Remember this is just my take on things and no reflection on anybody here.
    Bent Ramrod, I feel like you do that age has had a lot to do with my scores lately. I can't shoot prone anymore at long-range because of arthritis in the neck so now I am sitting up. My vision is also gone to pot cuz I've only had one good eye all my life and I'm putting off the cataract surgery till the last possible moment. I've started shooting with a scope which works great until we get wind shifts and then I can't keep up because I lose my zero. I just need more practice with it. I usually shoot fairly well at the Quigley but had a terrible time last year on Sunday because when it was my turn to shoot the targets were shot up pretty well and when the sun went in and out I couldn't see them anymore. Trying not to make up excuses but that's just the way it goes. Sometimes you can see them and sometimes you can't.
    Chris, if we're stuck with good or bad powders by the luck of the draw, as you say, it's a very expensive way to find out which ones are good and which ones are bad. As Brent and Michael have pointed out, they show that some of these lots are not good so what do we do with them? We can't spend $600 looking for a good batch each time we think we've ended up with a bad batch. I guess I'll be waiting for somebody to come out of the Wilderness and clue me in, but I still enjoy shooting long range and I'll be there trying until I can't anymore.

  17. #37
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Busetti View Post
    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.
    I also can attest to this. I watched a you tube where a fella loaded and shot 40 grains 3F GOEX and commented on the power and recoil ... sooo ... I went rite out and crammed 40 grains of 2F ... instead of the 3F ... and after compressing enough to seat a Lee 255 grain boolit lubed with SPG ... loaded 20 of these and took my second gen Colt infantry model ... went to the range to see what all the huff was about.

    It is no wonder to me that the US Army requested a lighter load with a lighter boolit for the troops.

    Those puppys really hammer. Real power involved there. My only regret ... and I may address this regret in future ... is not setting up the chronny to see what was actually happening instead of just the FEEL of them and recoil.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  18. #38
    Boolit Master
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    My main inquiry here was and is to the question of Black Powder compression and the resultant amount of fines, solids and regular kernels involved in the case and more importantly ... the repeatability of these results of three different kernel sizes found after compression.

    I do not doubt results found in targets of very successful shooters found in the winning circles and the runner-ups.

    My thought is in the how of compression in the repeatable way and theory of this necessity in contrast to a no compression to ... in addition ... a small air gap inside the case.

    Thanks for the reply's from everybody.

    Happy new years
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  19. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by BrentD View Post
    CW,
    the most recent lot of powder in the USA that I know of is 3 April 2018. This is the lot that both Woody and I are working on.

    It is very fluffy. Might be the least dense Swiss powder I have seen yet.
    Brent,
    I just changed to a new lot of Swiss - the old lot from may 2017, the new from November 2018 - and I was absolutely surprised at the difference in weight between both lots: I was reloading for my 32-20, and a volume setting that previously gave me 17.9 grs of 1 1/2Fg now gave me 19.7 grs with the new lot, which is considerably heavier. That is a LOT of difference, given the small volume of powder thrown. A difference of 10%. Imagine that when loading a 45-70... 70grs becoming 77 for the same volume?

  20. #40
    Boolit Master
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    Gert
    Swiss really seems to have lost the handle on consistent density. It is stunning.

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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