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Thread: Are over the powder wads necessary?

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    Are over the powder wads necessary?

    Loading for a 45-70 trapdoor Springfield. Use a compression die to seat the blackpowder to the correct depth so the bullet doesn't have to. Is it necessary to use an over powder fiber wad?

    Thank you,

    Pat

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    i wouldn't bp load without a wad because it will protect the base of the bullet, somewhat seal the bore, mitigate some of the bp residue, and deter leading. drop fill yer powder into the case, push in a wad (LDPE, milk carton, tablet, felt, veggie, whatever) and then compress. after the wad i always added 1 or 2 newsprint wads to insure the main wad won't travel down the target on the bullet's base. there's lots to experiment with bp loading for greasers or paper patched bullets.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    100% what Rob said !/Ed

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    my 45/70 and 45/75 both shoot much better with overpowder wads (also my 38/55)
    Doesnt seem to make a difference with the 44/40
    I use HDPE poly that I cut from 10 litre water containers in the 45's and juice box in the 38/55
    Have not been able to find LDPE poly except at a ferocious price to import. Someone told me tupperware ?

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold
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    Where can I get a punch to cut wads?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    buffalo arms sells both hammer and press wad punches. while the hammer punch is both cheap and effective, the much more expensive fred cornell press wad punch is top shelf for making hundreds of wads from newsprint to thick felt and everything in between fast and effortlessly, and i've been using .45 and .40 versions for decades.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I just buy wads and cards.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have to agree with what has already been stated above. I have always used a compression die, if for no other reason than making sure my powder column was the same height, and I want something between the die plug and the powder. I have just shot loads with only wax paper between the powder and the bullet as a test, and they shot surprisingly well. As a rule, I use a wad (gasket material or ldpe) and a wax paper disc on top of the wad. In my mind, loading accurate BP loads is a recipe and I stay with the same ingredients.

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master


    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    Alternate opinion;

    I conducted extensive accuracy testing of over powder cards/wads at 200 and 300 yards with my 45-70 target trapdoor (1884 barrel and receiver) using BP loads under the Rapine 460500 and Lyman's 457125 cast of 20-1 and 16-1 alloys. I also use a compression die so the bullet is not compressing the powder but loaded on top of the powder or card/wad. Card/wads were of vegetable and paper (milk carton) using bought and home made from .002 through .006" thickness.

    I found not difference in accuracy (2 foulers then 10 shot groups) at 200 or 300 yards between loads with card/wads over the powder and when none was used. Hence, I do not bother with a card/wad over the powder.

    I suggest testing some in your TD as that's the only way to know for sure with your rifle. I suggest testing Water's vegetable wads of .003 and .006" thickness. That will tell you if they're necessary or not in your loads for your rifle.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    I "punch" wads and disks using a 45ACP brass chucked in my drill press and file the edge a bit. Run as fast as it will go and cut a half dozen disks or 1 wad and push them out of the case via a drilled out primer hole. When i want to do a lot of disks (hardly ever use wads) I chuck up a 45-70 case that I have turned the base down on to fit the drill press and get 50 disks cut before pressing them all out of the case via a drilled out primer hole and a brass rod.

    I really don't think I'll be cutting any more though, PC boolits have made my hollow base 405gr boolits perform better than anything else I have ever tried. I'm getting clear from SMOKE so i can keep the aesthetics.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I'm sold on over powder card wads in rifle cartridges.
    "In general, the art of government is to take as much money as possible from one class of citizens and give it to another class of citizens" Voltaire'

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  12. #12
    Boolit Master Lead pot's Avatar
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    The far left bullet was shot without a base wad.
    If you don't use a bullet to hard they will shoot ok. Those bullets are .44 caliber shot using the .44-90BN with 105 gr of 1.5 goex express powder.
    The only problem you might run into not using a wad is gas cuts if the alloy is to hard this one did not have that problem.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Lead pot; 03-07-2020 at 07:44 PM.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have no where near the experience that most here have with blackpowder but I’m with Larry Gibson as that is what I found with my Trapdoor. With the Lee HB 405 it made a huge difference as the wad was sticking in the hollow base. With flat base I found no difference at all that I could tell.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I use a .060 napa rubber fiber wad and 2 tracing paper wads in most my flat base loads. These range from 38-55 to 45-90. I have found improvements here in accuracy and also fouling control.

    The heavy wad is to protect the base of the bullet and aid in the powder compression. It seems to also act as a scraper for the previous shots fouling some. The
    2 tracing paper wads insure the heavy wad dosnt stick to the base of the bullet.

    With a hollow based bullet the wad is likely to become fixed to the base causing problems.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carrier View Post
    I have no where near the experience that most here have with blackpowder but I’m with Larry Gibson as that is what I found with my Trapdoor. With the Lee HB 405 it made a huge difference as the wad was sticking in the hollow base. With flat base I found no difference at all that I could tell.
    wads are never used with hollow based bullets - defeats the skirt of the base design, as you found out.

    however, a wad or wads are Mandatory with flat based bullets for sundry reasons already posted.
    "Owning a handgun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper

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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