View Full Version : 38-55 win black powder substitute

02-20-2019, 08:55 PM
[smilie=1: I have a marlin 1893 trapper in 38-55 but the barrel is B/P only so i am looking for a smokeless substitute load that will work with my lead cast 249 gr boolits and not be too much for my barrel. Any past experience or advise would be great

02-20-2019, 10:46 PM
Caveat: this worked for me, it may not work for you.

I had to do similar recently but with my 9.3x72R.
I used BM2 (approx 3031 equivilant).
I measured case capacity with polenta and started out low with powder and using polenta as the filler.
Ie: case capacity 50gns polenta, started with 15gns BM2-35gns polenta.
Worked my way up 1gn up on powder and 1gn down on polenta.
Ie: 15gn powder-35gn polenta
16gn powder- 34gn polenta etc.
Note that the powder i use and polenta are similar but not exact in volume.
I ended up with a low power load that groups nicely.
Downside is you need to move the chrony right out as polenta messes with the sensors.

Sent from my SM-G955F using Tapatalk

dead dog
02-20-2019, 10:55 PM
What is polenta ?

02-20-2019, 11:00 PM
What is polenta ?Corn meal

Sent from my SM-G955F using Tapatalk

02-21-2019, 10:07 AM
[smilie=1: I have a marlin 1893 trapper in 38-55 but the barrel is B/P only so i am looking for a smokeless substitute load that will work with my lead cast 249 gr boolits and not be too much for my barrel. Any past experience or advise would be great

if the barrel is truly rated only for bp why load with smokeless?

is this a real 1893 or a modern clone?

if really a 19th century gun, i'd stick with black. if modern, AA5744 is a recognized smokeless that was made for 19th century cartridge rifles.

02-21-2019, 03:07 PM
bashkev, here's some data from the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook:


03-02-2019, 07:49 PM
yes it is a real 1893 short rifle 16 inch barrel and thank you for the page Skipper

03-02-2019, 08:51 PM
I have found Alliant Black works great. Low pressure, lotsa smoke, smells good and fouls about 1/20th as much as real black powder. Load is by volume (not weight) just like real black.

03-03-2019, 08:31 AM
Hello bashkev,

Alliant Black MZ might work, I've loaded it in 45 Colt & 44 Colt cartridges. A little confusing loading info, their web page load data states in a muzzleloader it requires heavy compression but in cartridges you are supposed to go by weight rather than volume. I contacted Duane at Alliant asking about spacing between bullet & powder, he replied "For metallic cartridges, the charges are by weight. These weights were tested to meet industry standards in pressure." The 2018 Alliant Reloaders Guide doesn't list the 38-55 and I'm sure if you contact them they will tell you that they have not done any testing with that cartridge. He also told me that it was not safe to run this through my RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure. Black MZ still sells for $9.99 lbs. at Sportsmans Warehouse.


03-03-2019, 11:41 AM
Alliant Black DOES work. I shoot it in 38-55, 45-70, 45, 50 and 61 cal MZs. Even works in Flinter w/4FG in pan.

Alliant site says to load by volume NOT weight (see link below). In cartridge guns, I've had no ignition issues w/non compressed loads although any load does not leave much airspace. Ex. 60 gr in 45-70.


03-03-2019, 01:33 PM

Read what you linked to, for Muzzleloaders.
from your link,
Helpful hints for best results with Alliant Powder's Black MZ
•Our experience through testing and hunting has been that best results are attained in the 50 caliber muzzleloader using 90 grains volumetric of Black MZ with sabot bullet weights of 240 grains to 260 grains.
•Make sure that the barrel is clean and totally dry (swab barrel with dry patches until there is no evidence of moisture).
•Black MZ functions best when heavily compressed by the seated sabot.
•If you need further help or information please contact us at 800-276-9337.
Now send them an email and ask what loads for your 38-55. http://www.alliantpowder.com/questions/default.aspx


03-03-2019, 01:43 PM
Well, Alliant Black is a BP substitute. BP works in both cartridges and MZs. I have shot 5 lbs+ in both cartridges and MZs. If you have contrary experience, I'd be interesting in reviewing it.

In shooting almost every BP substitute over the past 20 years, I have never found one that would not work in cartridges. Again, if you have evidence to the contrary, please share it with us.

Here is a wealth of info on using BP subs.



03-03-2019, 07:11 PM
Trail Boss. Slam dunk easy and a piece of cake....and often quite accurate.

03-04-2019, 06:22 AM

Apparently you are the Expert, I should have asked you.
All I stated is what was on the web sight and what was in the 2018 Alliant Reloaders Guide,
along with what Alliant told me in an email asking about the differences.