View Full Version : Trailboss and big BP cartridge

02-18-2016, 01:22 AM
I'm new to BP and cast boolit reloading, but been loading smokeless since the 60's. I'm trying to get get all my stuff in a sack to start loading 577/450 martini-henry ammo.
My question is ,can this cartridge be loaded with trailboss powder? It seems like it would be a lot less hassle if you could. I'm slowly getting all the stuff to shoot it as a charcoal burner but as I said. If I've offended anyone, they have my abject apology. It's just that
waiting for components from England is a pain.

Don McDowell
02-18-2016, 01:41 AM
Trail boss is a smokeless powder that is very fast on the burn rate, chart. It developed awfully high pressures at about 3/4 of the velocity of blackpowder. In that martini you would be much better to use real black than a smokeless.

02-18-2016, 01:50 AM
I Played with trail boss in the big cartridges a few years ago. wouldn't touch it again. If you want something simple, try BH 209.

02-18-2016, 06:59 AM
as don has already posted, trail boss is not a bp sub, it's high nitro smokeless that can be loaded into most any cartridge, but it's the gun and its build that's a far more important consideration. these guns work better with bp, but it's not easy to throttle down bp and achieve acceptable accuracy. ditto for using subs. for low powered, low recoil big cartridge loading and shooting, that's where certain smokeless powders work best. if low power loads are the goal, i'd look to aa5744 over trail boss for any gun that can properly handle smokeless, else yer relegated to nothing less than pure black.

02-20-2016, 03:52 AM
It is a lot easier to use black powder in cartridges like the 577/450 than to faff on with smokeless.

If you must follow the smokeless route then do a search as it has been on Cast Boolits many times before.

country gent
02-20-2016, 11:06 AM
Black Powder loading isnt really any harder than smokeless a couple extra steps maybe but its a simple process. Cleaning is easier than some of the subs I feel also. Also with these period firearms the smoke and dull thud are more appropriate and accurate. Its a fun process rewarding when you get it all just right. Start with a charge thats no air space in the case when bullet and wad is seated and work up from there adding 2 grns more powder and compression to the load. Youll be surprised what these rifles are capable of doing with the loads meant for them

02-20-2016, 11:17 AM
country gent, you are right on the money, sir.

i find bp is actually easier than smokeless, for both loading AND cleaning.

such a joy to shoot and quite accurate to boot.


country gent
02-20-2016, 02:29 PM
I was given 2 lbs of triple seven to test in my sharps when it firs came out and it produced higher velocities than advertised ( only time I have badly leaded that 34" barrel) And the fouling was nasty to clean. Pyrodex seems like I need to clean 2-3 days to get it all. Havent worked with BH209 but have heard its fouling is hard to remove, I believe they make a special solvent for it. With Black powder in my cartridge guns I clean every 10-15 rounds with windex vinegar. A few sprays in the bore 3-4 strokes with a brush and 3 dry patches keeps the bore shooting well. After the session same cleaning and wet bore with shooters choice kroil mix 50/50. When I am home I clean bore, the first patch comes out a light grey. Wet again with Shooter choice kroil mix and wipe gun down with a solvent soaked patch then an oiled patch. dry bore and run patch thru bore with bullet lube in it.Mining lead from that 34" tube was no fun at all. If a substitute is required I would recomend trying the black horn 209 if data can be found.I have heard it does shoot good.

Don McDowell
02-20-2016, 02:55 PM
BH209 isn't to hard to clean, just use normal cleaning solvents. Their 209 cleaner does work well, but isn't necessary.

02-20-2016, 03:21 PM
Trailboss is good for making up "cowboy" level loads. The idea behind it was bulk to avoid double charges. It's good for that. Avoid top end loads and it's great. Forget velocity with this powder. Keep it mild and it's a good powder. Plenty accurate for me in a 45-70 or .444. Try it and see for yourself. And you can leave your gun for a week after shooting with no problem.

John Boy
02-20-2016, 03:40 PM
I Played with trail boss in the big cartridges a few years ago. wouldn't touch it again.Absolutely, because Trail Boss was not developed for big cartridges

02-22-2016, 10:50 AM
Some folks mistake Trailboss for a kind of BP sub but it's definitely NOT!!!! That stuff can indeed produce pressures out of proportion to the velocities it makes (vs most any other powder including BP and the subs) although it usually remains safe in "most" guns. Looking at the Hodgdon data is real eyeopener for those that think TB is a good sub for real black, it has it's uses I suppose for those who want very low velocities at pressures normally associated with much faster loads but it's a mistake to think it's even close to a one-for-one sub for Black.

I found BH209 kind of spendy to shoot but never hard to clean, it cleaned very easily using the same cleaning products I use for normal smokeless, personally I consider BH209 to be more of a bulky smokeless powder than a true BP sub, except for a bit of added smoke producing ingredients and that light Greyish residue it leaves it's otherwise much more like smokeless than real Black or any of the other subs.

02-26-2016, 07:00 PM
i dont even use solvent or anything to clean 209 powder out of the barrel of my muzzleloaders or 45/70/s or 3 cowboy pistols. its very clean but clean up as soon as your done shooting. one day left the ruger old army sit one day dirty and was harder to clean but not bad. lover that powder.

03-02-2016, 07:23 PM
I have several BP cartridge guns, some original and other replica, but I always use straight black powder for the originals and sometimes Pyrodex or other substitutes in my repros. I don't know, I just feel they were made to shoot the real stuff, so I do. In my Martini Henry carbine, I back down to 60 grains FFG as the full loads kick too hard. Americans were pansies I guess, they dropped from 70 to 55 grains powder and 500 to 405 grains on the bullet whereas the Brits kept the same load for either the rifle or the carbine.

Chief Ten Beers
10-22-2019, 10:16 PM
I use my Trail Boss for .45 Colt cowboy loads only. Anything else I load for, I use what I have that's listed in the book. ;-)

10-23-2019, 08:17 AM
TB is the only smokeless thats safe to use in a 577/450,due to hangfires and duds even with suggested smokeless loads........Im not saying its ideal,or best,just that its the only nitro powder that ignites reliably in such a big case...And Im not saying to use a casefull,just use around 20 grains ,or a little more,with a 400 grain bullet......and not a 458 bullet either .......if you want a cheap mould ,the go with the Lee 400gn 476 cal .......this bullet only has small grooves ,no good for black,but plenty for TB.

10-23-2019, 01:32 PM
Yes and no, since I have actually used Trail Boss in the big ones I will state that although not the best, it will work. The caveat here is for light loads only and with care. In the 43 Mauser which is close to yor Martini, I have used a maximum of 15 grains for right at 1000fps with a 380 grain paper patch bullet. I did this in an attempt to lessen the recoil form the 75 grains of FFg and the same bullet. It worked and was somewhat accurate grouping onto about 3 /12" at 100 yards. Not stellar but adequate. But other powders did better. iN the 40-65 10 grains for a miserable 975 fps and so so accuracy. Here the recoil was not a problem so it was quickly back to FFg.

If there were a serious reason to absolutely use T/B in the Martini I would try the 15 grain load, knowing that it would be underpowered and would not shoot to the sights. I would not be tempted to load hotter than that as I would fear stressing the old gun due to pressure rise.

10-23-2019, 07:02 PM
The OP should read up on the results being had with the foam draught excluder rod by many experienced shooters........ achieving reliable ignition of the medium burn IMR type powders,which previously gave misfires.......Incidentally ,this makes a reliable shooter from the book recommended 4198 /400 gn load .......But to any beginner ,you must repeat 100 times .....no,no,no to .458 dia bullets,and no ,no,no to using the Lee dies .(Lee shellholder at $10 is a bargain tho)

10-23-2019, 07:54 PM
if you must use smokeless for 19th century cartridges, and refuse to use real black powder, just use aa5744 and be done with it all. it's a very accurate powder that's expressly made for these cartridges and is not case position sensitive. i would not use trail boss, at least not ever again.

from the aa website ...

What makes Accurate 5744 such a special and unique product?

It can best be described as a fast burning Rifle or slow burning Magnum handgun double base “hybrid” powder, having the typical chemical composition of handgun powders i.e. 20% NG – and the geometry of a typical extruded single perforated rifle powder.

Rifle applications:

This makes the powder very ignitable, which makes it ideal for low loading density applications, such as reduced loads on bottle neck rifle calibers, and low performance “straight case” designs, such as the old “black powder” calibers i.e. 45-70 45-110 50-110 etc.

The powder is virtually insensitive to powder position, and there is no need for “fillers”. It will deliver consistent results at low performance levels. Although there will be some un-burnt powder (see paragraph below) the performance will remain consistent.

Due to its ignitability, any strength rifle primer can be used.

Handgun applications:

This powder makes for an excellent powder in large capacity handgun calibers such as 44/45 “Magnum” types or “std” cases with similar capacities. With some of these calibers full power or close to full power is achievable, usually at full case/maximum loading densities. The powder can also be at reduced levels in handgun calibers, but with same effect re un-burnt powder. (See paragraph below)

Un-burnt powder granules:

Although, this is a powder recommended for reduced/low performance loads, it cannot be completely efficient (clean burning) at very low Pressure/performance levels of <18000psi.

It still is a modern, high-density, smokeless powder, with limitations regarding complete combustion at very low chamber pressures. With nitro-cellulose based “Modern” powders, the burn rate and pressure are directly proportional.

This means that some level of un-burnt powder will be present, constituting the remainder of some of the powder granules. This cannot be improved with primers or crimp etc, the only way to eliminate this, is an increase in chamber-pressure.

11-03-2019, 06:46 PM
In point of fact ,Kynoch put out a smokeless load commercially for 577/450 for over 50 years,as a replacement for blackpowder.........the nitro "powder" being actually sticks of cordite.They also manufactured commercially for the same period a nitro load for 577 Snider.