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Thread: To use Drop Tube or Not

  1. #1
    Boolit Master



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    To use Drop Tube or Not

    When loading .45/70 cases with BP, I’m always trying to get the most powder I can fit in, depending on the different combinations of wads and grease cookies I’m trying out. I always compress the powder. I don’t see any difference in the amount of powder I can get in, whether I use a drop tube or not. I understand the benefits of the drop tube if you’re not compressing, but don’t see any if you are compressing. Any benefits I am missing not using a drop tube? More consistent burn rate?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Using a drop tube settles the grains together before compression
    for better deflaguration ignition of the powder column. Vibrating the powder has the same effect settling the grains together
    Regards
    John

  3. #3
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    Using a drop tube settles the grains together before compression
    for better deflaguration ignition of the powder column. Vibrating the powder has the same effect settling the grains together
    This I understand Is important when the powder is not compressed, but when compressed it seems to me that there are no longer individual grains. It’s just one solid block with all the air squeezed out.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    That would depend on how much compression and what grain size.
    QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES?

  5. #5
    Boolit Mold dirtball's Avatar
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    A drop tube (I use 30") tends to compress the bottom of the powder column more that the upper part. Compression dies compress the top part of the column more that the bottom. So I use both which ends up with the same amount of powder and a more evenly compressed column. Which for me has resulted in better groups.
    JMHO

    Dave
    "How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual... as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded, controlled, supervised, and taken care of."
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  6. #6
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I use both a drop tube and very slow poor then add the heavy wad and compress to depth. I find that when you pour the charge out after the drop tube about half pours out and the rest hast to be "loosened" up with a tool. then the compression die finishes and evens it up giving very consistent seating. I dont see a lot of difference in the chronograph numbers between one or the other or both really.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregLaROCHE View Post
    This I understand Is important when the powder is not compressed, but when compressed it seems to me that there are no longer individual grains. It’s just one solid block with all the air squeezed out.
    What John boy posted is correct not debatable ,(try it )used it in my C Sharps 74 (45/70) .I even use a 30 incher in my TC Renegade side lock front stuffer for more consistent compression shooting @700 yds

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtball View Post
    A drop tube (I use 30") tends to compress the bottom of the powder column more that the upper part. Compression dies compress the top part of the column more that the bottom. So I use both which ends up with the same amount of powder and a more evenly compressed column. Which for me has resulted in better groups.
    JMHO

    Dave
    what he sez!!!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    in the may issue of the SSE periodical (single shot exchange), mr. lee shaver's byline explains how his busy daily schedule forced him to ditch drop tubing and powder weighing in order to save time for building ammo for a forthcoming Raton match. to throw his black powder charge he used a lyman 55 measure (what!!? a plastic hopper for black powder!!?). later, at the south africa international match, he set a world record and won the world championships with cartridges built in the same manner - measured bp direct to the case, no drop tube, no scale.
    The only government I trust is the .45-70 ....

  10. #10
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by John Boy View Post
    Using a drop tube settles the grains together before compression
    for better deflaguration ignition of the powder column. Vibrating the powder has the same effect settling the grains together
    That is the theory/myth. I never could find any difference between weighed tube dropped charges before compression or just throwing the powder charge [I also use a Lyman 55] into the case and then compressing. That testing included chronographing, actual pressure measurement and on target results at 200 yards. Others have evidenced the same such as with rfd's example;

    "in the may issue of the SSE periodical (single shot exchange), mr. lee shaver's byline explains how his busy daily schedule forced him to ditch drop tubing and powder weighing in order to save time for building ammo for a forthcoming Raton match. to throw his black powder charge he used a lyman 55 measure (what!!? a plastic hopper for black powder!!?). later, at the south africa international match, he set a world record and won the world championships with cartridges built in the same manner - measured bp direct to the case, no drop tube, no scale."
    Larry Gibson

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

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master Don McDowell's Avatar
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    But all the same there are a number of very good scores being shot and matches being won in BPTR by folks that weigh drop and compress if necessary...
    Long range rules, the rest drool.

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master
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    If charging with a drop tube or vibrating or what ever is so important ... consider this:
    Harry Pope set a 200 shot record that still stands today shooting 200yds at the Walnut Hill Range
    * Shooting breach seated reloads with a felt wad cap that had black powder 'just poured ' into the case... shooting OFFHAND
    Regards
    John

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have found that with 3F swiss, the "depth of the fill" makes little difference
    whether I use my helical 24" drop tube or just a funnel.
    OTOH, Using Swiss 1.5, there is a significant difference- My usual loads for
    my 40-65, or 40-72 fit nicely into the cases from the drop tube.
    but WILL flow over the top if I just use a funnel.
    If I used, for example, a KIK 2f load I use, that needs more compression down to the desired depth
    I would have to fashion a case mouth extension to hold the powder under the compression die.


    I expect Harry Pope was Likely using 3F in that 32-40...…
    and he could easily have poured slowly from a bit of height into the funnel.
    Notwithstanding Harry's excellent marksmanship, I think that a bit of variance
    in the BP charge would have been less critical for Offhand shooting.

    beltfed/arnie

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    A lot of the old “40-rod” benchrest shooters in Shooting and Fishing like Rabbeth and Chase just poured the powder into the (single) case that they used over and over. However, many of them said they “tapped the case” to settle the powder before adding a wad and breech seating the boolit.

    How much they tapped the case generally isn’t mentioned, but obviously it took the place of the drop tube to remove some of the empty space between the powder granules.

    The drop tube business for cartridge loading may have been an offshoot of the muzzleloader vs breechloader long-range accuracy debate going on in the 1870s. The muzzleloading barrel obviously acts as a “drop tube” in loading, and for a long time it was thought that muzzleloaders were more accurate than breechloaders. Eventually, the breechloaders caught up; no doubt refinements in manufacturing operations and fouling management were necessary as well, but powder settling, by whatever means, was still thought to be important.

    I use a drop tube in all my BPC loading. I notice, with Fg powder, that the powder takes less volume in the case when drop tubed, and the case can be tipped at a higher angle before a drop-tubed charge starts pouring out of it. This indicates to me that the powder granules are more closely interlocked in the charge. This loading refinement seems to help my groups, so I do it. Check your loads with/without drop tubing on a target, off a bench, and see if there is any difference.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    The main use I have for a drop tube is loading paper patched ammo. The powder charge won't fit in the case without the drop tube. Grease groove loads have plenty of room so I just throw those straight from the belding and mull measure's tube.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    Exactly like Nobade said: I was referring to PP loads where my cases are filled to within 0.060" or so from the mouth of the cases thru my 24" drop-tube
    in order to get the "found" good load into the case.
    just enough to thumb seat a 0.060 LDPE wad and then compress slightly to allow about 0.100" or so for the base of the finger seated
    bullet.
    beltfed/arnie

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    How about using a compression die and compress the powder in stages.
    A tall 45-70 case might benefit from a series of compression cycles.
    Try adding 25 grs then compress down hard as this is where the case is the thickest.
    Then add another 25 grs and compress again, then add the final quantity and compress as required.

    There maybe a limit to the compression where your chosen powder granulation burn rate is changed into something much slower like a course powder pellets that are used in a large cannon.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenjoytj View Post
    How about using a compression die and compress the powder in stages.
    A tall 45-70 case might benefit from a series of compression cycles.
    Try adding 25 grs then compress down hard as this is where the case is the thickest.
    Then add another 25 grs and compress again, then add the final quantity and compress as required.

    There maybe a limit to the compression where your chosen powder granulation burn rate is changed into something much slower like a course powder pellets that are used in a large cannon.
    I tried that, it shot terrible. Won't do that again.

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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