View Full Version : Eating Some Crow

Dave T
09-17-2018, 12:24 PM
I started another thread here about my adventures with chronographing 45 Colt Black M-Z rounds and ended up saying I was going to give up and spend the money to acquire some real black powder.

Well I did that, buying a couple cans of Old Eynsford FFFg. My first trip to the range was "eventful". My arthritic hands don't enjoy full BP 45 Colt loads like they used to so my ammo was 31g of FFFg behind a 256g RNFP lubed with SPG. First 5 rounds went OK but before I finished the second cylinder it started dragging. By the 10th round I had to index the last round by hand as the fouling was so thick between the barrel and cylinder.

Now I should probably explain this was shooting my latest acquisition, a late production USFA 45 Colt, one of their "Pre-War Models" complete with the black powder frame. This gun is so well fitted, with a minimal barrel cylinder gap it just didn't tolerate the BPs fouling build up. I was pretty disappointed thinking I would have to relegate it to smokeless powder reloads, but...

A week later, while loading up for my next trip to the range, I noticed 20 of the Black M-Z rounds I had intended to chronograph but were now just setting on the shelf since I thought I was giving up on Black M-Z. I decided to take them along and see how the USFA like them as one of Black M-Z's claims to fame is reduced and easy to manage fouling.

After shooting about 60 rounds of smokeless loads I got to the Black M-Z rounds. The first five went off with satisfying clouds of smoke and that odd smell it has. The cylinder was turning freely so I fired another five (I only load five rounds, starting with the hammer down on an empty chamber). The cylinder still turned easily and continued to do so for 4 cylinders (20 rounds total).

Looks like I will be shooting fake black powder in my fake "Colt SAA". And having said I was giving up on Black M-Z, I have to say crow doesn't test so bad with a little salt & pepper, and a lot of salsa! (LOL)


Der Gebirgsjager
09-17-2018, 02:28 PM
Interesting, to be sure. Have you ever tried Pyrodex Ctg. ?

09-17-2018, 03:05 PM
Pyrodex is the LAST powder I'd ever use!

09-17-2018, 03:42 PM
Sounds a great deal like a fouling management problem to me or too light a charge not building enough pressure to consume the powder completely enough. Real BP fouling will eventually build up enough to almost lock up the cylinder but it shouldn't foul out that quick and especially in a cartridge revolver.

09-17-2018, 05:44 PM
31 grs FFFg and 265 grs boolit, lubed with SPG, does not sound like too light a load or a lubing problem.

Locking up after 10 rounds however is extraordinary. Especially with OE, that tends to have somewhat less fouling and take to softening better than subs. Then, any fouling lock up should take at least 30 rounds, and should be due to fouling of the arbor. If the fouling is at the cylinder gap, and locking the cylinder up, there's something going on there such as misalignment. It's definitely just powder residue and not any lead? The only other thing that comes to mind is insufficient crimp? The primer is unseating the bullet and pushing powder out the case mouth before ignition gets well underway?

In any event, seemingly not a problem as you are getting decent ignition with M-Z and are happy with it. I prefer OE to all other options, but to each his own.

Dave T
09-18-2018, 03:21 PM
Years ago I tried Pyrodex and soon learned it is more corrosive than black powder could be. No thank you!

My 31g load of FFFg is compressed at least 1/4" and the crimp is solid. The Black M-Z load filled the case to about the same level so it got the same compression and crimp.

Holding this USFA revolver up to a bright light when it's clean I can only see a minimal barrel cylinder gap (don't have feeler gages). Turning the cylinder the gap looks uniform to my 70 year old eyes so no misalignment of the cylinder. My other USFA single actions are similarly close fitted but this one is the tightest of them all.

Given my druthers I would preferred to shoot real black powder, based on years of experience loading it in cartridge guns and chronographing the results. Black powder can be amazingly consistent, delivering single digit extreme spreads in some cases. The wide velocity spreads of the Black M-Z loads I tried turned me off to the propellent. Now having a functional gun when shooting Black M-Z has changed that thinking, hence the after taste of crow pie. (smile)


09-20-2018, 06:07 PM
Try wiping the face of the cylinder off when you reload. Use bore butter on the cylinder pin too. Really helped my cap guns when shooting matches for cowboy shooting.

Dave T
09-21-2018, 11:34 AM

When I tested my FFFg loads I had to squirt Ballistol on the B/C gap while holding a rag under the gun. The drippings on the rage were used to wipe off the cylinder face. That's the only way I got through those black powder loads. Yea it can be done but it's kind of a pain.

The ease of shooting with Black M-Z (all 20 rounds without a hitch or need to clean anything) made me a convert to that powder. It doesn't hurt that it's way cheeper and I can drive to Sportsman's Warehouse in 5 minutes and get a pound anytime.

Ya know, I may be getting a taste for crow. (LOL)


09-21-2018, 11:45 AM
Congrats on the new toy. Your USFA is one of the few remaining items on my "buy on sight" list.