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Thread: My homemade black powder

  1. #3621
    Boolit Buddy
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    Well, I'm about 100 pages in now. I can say I am incredibly impressed with the quality of powder you guys are able to make! I know that I want to start making some.. the problem is that I have too many hobbies two little time and have recently spent a lot of money, so if I spend any more, I'm afraid my wife might strangle me! Also, I'm trying to complete bathroom gutting and renovation number two done before my baby comes in june. Then I also have to start shooting my bow for hunting season this fall, do load development for my smokeless hunting rifle I'll be getting back sometime soon, and have to learn more about how to shoot black powder out of my new 45-90. I'm completely new to cast bullets and black powder. So, I'm right at the point of biting off more than I can chew! Haha, that's how I operate though.

    So I've been thinking about sourcing all of the parts and materials and a couple of the pieces had me a little worried. I have the little Rock tumbler but I don't cast lead, so I'm not able to poor lead into copper pieces to make good grinding media. But, I figure I might be able to just buy some precast round ball from the sporting goods store, and Hammer those suckers into my cut copper pieces. Or, spend some money and risk my wife killing me and by some hardball or lino type lead ingot and a dipper, then melted in an old pot and poured in the copper pieces.

    the other part that I was worried about is the compression. I have a 4 ton bottle jack, but it is also a harbor freight and doesn't hold pressure with a darn, so I'm thinking I might not be able to get up to the 2500psi requirement. So, that leaves me with buying either the 6 ton A-frame press, or the 12 ton press. Or buying a strong bottle jack and making my own frame, but the cost of metal I figure would put me in the ballpark of just buying the 12 ton press.

    Then also there's the compression die. I messaged fly to see if he's still making his dies, but haven't heard back from him. not having read all the way through the thread yet, I don't know if he has stopped! I don't have any metal working capability, and I'd rather not try to do the PVC pipe method.

    The last part I was worried about is good wood. I live in utah, so there's not a whole lot of Willow around, certainly not black willow, and probably not silver maple. But, I do have a Paulownia tree in my backyard. I know it's extremely fast and highly regarded for fireworks, but is it any good for a rifle? I thought I read a few pages back from where I currently am in the thread that fly said it makes great charcoal for powder. Is it any good?

  2. #3622
    Boolit Master
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    It sounds like you want to Jump in with both feet all at once.
    You can start off slow , and build up your new hobby as you go.
    Find the three materials and don't worry about wondering what is Top notch until you confirm how involved you want to go in you new branch of your Hobby Tree.
    Aquire things as they come along.
    Doing things in small steps as they become available will also let you see the progression of the different methods you use.
    For the most part , I look at making my own powder , so I have an idea of what our forefathers had to deal with when they had no access to just buying their powder.
    Now I like making my own because of limited Availabity and price .

  3. #3623
    Boolit Mold
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    I bought a puck from woodys, since I never heard from Fly.

    https://www.woodysrocks.com/store/p2...uck_Press.html

  4. #3624
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    thick pucks are gonna break down into chunks that still cause trouble getting em through the coffee grinder - thin ones are so much easier every way.
    I agree - I learned this lesson early on - thick pucks suck! I used my laser engraver to cut plastic disks out to fit my puck.

    I bought a puck from woodys, since I never heard from Fly.

    https://www.woodysrocks.com/store/p2...uck_Press.html
    Neat! I hope Fly is OK. Have not seen him in this thread for some time.

    Only thing I don't like about the Woody's puck system is it looks like the outer ring is made of steel. Good from an aluminum-on-aluminum galling problem, but bad from a sparking point of view. Probably not an issue but everything I use that involves BP making is non-sparking currently.

  5. #3625
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    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    It sounds like you want to Jump in with both feet all at once.
    You can start off slow , and build up your new hobby as you go.
    Find the three materials and don't worry about wondering what is Top notch until you confirm how involved you want to go in you new branch of your Hobby Tree.
    Aquire things as they come along.
    Doing things in small steps as they become available will also let you see the progression of the different methods you use.
    For the most part , I look at making my own powder , so I have an idea of what our forefathers had to deal with when they had no access to just buying their powder.
    Now I like making my own because of limited Availabity and price .
    Yea, I figure for this if I'm going to go in then I should give myself a good start with the equipment at the outset rather than spending more by upgrading later (because I know I will!!) I used to work in the brewing industry. I found out a long time ago it's legal to homebrew, so I started doing it and slowly upgraded over time. I love it! I love making stuff at home from raw ingredients. Considering this combines my love of shooting and creating something, I'm sure to love it. I also want to get a hawken at some point, but that's down the line someday.

    I'm also going to be doing a buffler hunt this fall and my goal is to get one with my 45-90 using BP (hopefully my own).

    I love playing with stuff and figuring it out. I think after I get started on this, my experimentation will be with different intermountain west woods (even though that's probably been done) and different ways to improve my charcoal making and processing abilities!

    One thing that drives me crazy though, is not having the right tool for the job!

    Quote Originally Posted by MisterStyx View Post
    I bought a puck from woodys, since I never heard from Fly.

    https://www.woodysrocks.com/store/p2...uck_Press.html
    I didn't know anyone was actually selling them now! I did an internet search but didn't see that link. Are there any other manufacturers?

    Fly is the old timer who didn't start the thread, but jumped in early and provided tons of great info and help to many people over at least 5or 6 years. Seems like a great guy from his posts in this thread.

  6. #3626
    Boolit Master
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    I think you might be going in the right direction pressing your powder if you shoot cartridge guns.
    You density and weight per volume will be higher .
    But for front stuffers , screened powder works great.

  7. #3627
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    I have the little Rock tumbler but I don't cast lead, so I'm not able to poor lead into copper pieces to make good grinding media.
    I wouldn't worry about it. I think my little lead-filled copper cylinders work great (I have virtually zero caking when I empty my tumbler canister), I think you can probably do well with other kinds of media. Just make sure it's non-sparking. .75 or .69 caliber lead round balls will probably be fine.

    The equipment you need is pretty light to get started.

    Harbor Freight Rock Tumbler double-drum $65:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/dual-d...ler-67632.html

    Assuming it has the same power, you might do better with the single-drum version because the double-drum version is not strong enough to spin two full canisters at the same time anyway:'

    Harbor Freight Rock Tumbler, single-drum $53:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/3-lb-r...ler-67631.html

    12-ton Hydraulic Press $140:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/12-ton...ess-33497.html

    Digital Scale $12:
    https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01E6RE3A0

    40 screen $10:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFS99C2

    30 screen $10:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFS0QBU

    20 screen $10:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K3725WQ

    Puck Die $50:
    https://www.woodysrocks.com/store/p2...uck_Press.html

    Propane Burner $40:
    https://smile.amazon.com/GasOne-B-51.../dp/B07W733BFQ

    There may be cheaper options for some of these things elsewhere. Fly's puck was cheaper (and all aluminum, which I like).

    You'll need a few other odds and ends, like Tupperware containers, plastic spoons, plastic spatulas, and ball mill media. You'll also need at least a gallon paint can to make charcoal (or just buy charcoal). If you don't have something to cook the charcoal on, you'll need that, too.

    So basically figure about $300 or so in equipment to get started. One nice thing is that some of these tools are quite useful for other shop use other than just making black powder.

    Then, of course, you'll need ingredients.

    Once you get going, you can make black powder for about $4 a pound or less. Commercial powder now costs close to $30 a pound delivered. So, for the cost of the equipment to make BP, you could buy about 10 pounds of commercial black powder.

    I go through about 10-12 pounds of powder a year in competition and practice. I would love it if I could make my own that was as good as commercial. So far, I have not achieved that with my first batch of poplar-based powder. It worked well, but is dirty compared to Goex. I will be testing my first batch of willow-based powder tomorrow.

    But even if I can't match commercial powder, it is great to know that now I can absolutely without a doubt now make perfectly serviceable black powder. Combined with my flintlock musket, I can now go to the shooting range and enjoy shooting or even put food on the table no matter what happens to the price of guns and ammo.

    Steve

  8. #3628
    Boolit Master
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    And that is the best thing about making your own BP.
    You bank away knowledge that can make you independent from the trends in our economy and politics.
    You still retain the ability to buy factory stuff if you need it.
    But for most BP shooting , the homemade stuff will fit 80% of your shooting needs.
    And the money you save doing more shooting , can then pay the price for the 20% of factory stuff you might need for special things like hunting or cartridge gun shooting.

  9. #3629
    Boolit Buddy
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    Tonight I loaded up 15 cartridges with 56 grains 3F homemade willow BP behind an RCBS-500M sized to .578. I will compare these with the same bullet loaded with 56 grains 3F Goex.

    I also made up 9 rounds with the RCBS-500M sized to .576, loaded with the service charge of 60 grains 2F homemade willow BP, to compare with 10 or so cartridges I had made up with the same bullet and the same charge of 2F Goex.

    I'll shoot these through a chronograph tomorrow.

    I'll also be paying attention to how dirty the barrel feels on loading and the dirtiness of the patches on cleaning between strings of fire.

    Steve

  10. #3630
    The puck die from woodys is super high quality. Very nice finish aluminum. Just an FYI, though they charge $20 shipping so your total for the 2.5" comes out at $70.

    Great product and very fast shipping. Highly recommended.

  11. #3631
    Anyone else here worry about introducing lead to your BP by way of the milling media?

    Im not too keen on huffing lead smoke while i shoot. Legitimate concern?

  12. #3632
    Boolit Buddy
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    I get my lead levels in my blood checked every year as part of my annual physical, due to casting boolits which I have done for about 10 years now. Never had an issue. I've only shot homemade powder once though. Guess I'll see at my next physical!

    Steve

  13. #3633
    Quote Originally Posted by maillemaker View Post
    I agree - I learned this lesson early on - thick pucks suck! I used my laser engraver to cut plastic disks out to fit my puck.



    Neat! I hope Fly is OK. Have not seen him in this thread for some time.

    Only thing I don't like about the Woody's puck system is it looks like the outer ring is made of steel. Good from an aluminum-on-aluminum galling problem, but bad from a sparking point of view. Probably not an issue but everything I use that involves BP making is non-sparking currently.
    I just got a puck from woodys. While the pics on the website show a steel outer ring, as you commented, what i actually recieved is completely aluminum. Its also very nice, tho i havent yet used it. I will post pics later, if anyone is interested in seeing.

  14. #3634
    I see common reference to lead casting media coloring product, such as potassium nitrate, grey. I understand thats not a concern for fireworks applications, but it would seem probable that lead will end up in a BP shooters lungs.

  15. #3635
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by maillemaker View Post
    I wouldn't worry about it. I think my little lead-filled copper cylinders work great (I have virtually zero caking when I empty my tumbler canister), I think you can probably do well with other kinds of media. Just make sure it's non-sparking. .75 or .69 caliber lead round balls will probably be fine.


    The equipment you need is pretty light to get started.

    Harbor Freight Rock Tumbler double-drum $65:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/dual-d...ler-67632.html

    Assuming it has the same power, you might do better with the single-drum version because the double-drum version is not strong enough to spin two full canisters at the same time anyway:'

    Harbor Freight Rock Tumbler, single-drum $53:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/3-lb-r...ler-67631.html

    12-ton Hydraulic Press $140:
    https://www.harborfreight.com/12-ton...ess-33497.html

    Digital Scale $12:
    https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B01E6RE3A0

    40 screen $10:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFS99C2

    30 screen $10:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KFS0QBU

    20 screen $10:
    https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K3725WQ

    Puck Die $50:
    https://www.woodysrocks.com/store/p2...uck_Press.html

    Propane Burner $40:
    https://smile.amazon.com/GasOne-B-51.../dp/B07W733BFQ

    There may be cheaper options for some of these things elsewhere. Fly's puck was cheaper (and all aluminum, which I like).

    You'll need a few other odds and ends, like Tupperware containers, plastic spoons, plastic spatulas, and ball mill media. You'll also need at least a gallon paint can to make charcoal (or just buy charcoal). If you don't have something to cook the charcoal on, you'll need that, too.
    WOOOOeeeee thanks for that detailed list of supplies. I have it all in my head but haven't written it down yet, so you just did it for me

    I have some 1/2" copper scrap left from my bathroom renovations that I haven't done anything with yet, so maybe I'll just cut those up, get some local .50 cal hornady balls from the store and hammer those puppies in there. I also found a couple people in the classifieds selling lead ingots and one is selling wheel weight ingots. So, maybe I could just get an old stainless pot from the thrift store and put it on my propane burner outside to melt. Get a lead ladle and do some pouring! I also see there is linotype lead on amazon for $30/5lbs. Not a terrible price I don't think. so maybe I can get some of that, do my makeshift pouring, and save the rest to blend with pure lead later when I do start casting.

    I have the thumlers tumbler a-r1. It's a single drum (3lb barrel?) model. It says the barrel OD is 4.25x5". Well, my kid has it. I'll "borrow it".

    Hydraulic press - I don't have one. I have a 4 ton HF bottle jack, but no frame. I found a small frame shop press for $15 that uses a porta power but does not include the porta power. Should I try to find a porta power to hook up to this thing rather than getting a large upright shop press? The only porta power I saw for sale at HF was 10ton and it was $300... so that one is out.

    Any pictures on what to put underneath the bottom of the puck die when putting it into the press? I was thinking about that yesterday. I'd need some type of very flat metal plate to put on top of the jack piston but it would have to be pretty thick. Maybe a 1/4" thick steel plate? Might be able to load the puck die with powder with the die sitting on top of the metal plate outside of the press. Then hold it all together to get it into the press.


    I have a couple of great digital scales.

    Thanks for the links on the grading sieves!! All I was seeing on amazon were the lab testing sieves for $60 a pop. Those cheap ones look like a great alternative.

    I have a propane burner.

    Puck die: I'm not sure about that woody's die if it uses a steel sleeve. I want all aluminum. If slippyrider got an aluminum one from them, maybe i should order that.

    retort: I was going to pick up a clean paint can today (all mine at home have the darned plastic bottom). I have some paulownia wood from my backyard tree drying in my toaster oven on convection. I set it at 200F convection overnight and weighed the wood before starting. I'll weight it every 8 hrs until it seems it doesn't change much. Then I'll throw that stuff into my paint can and let it rip! I also have a thermocouple for my multimeter that I'm pretty sure is temp rated up to at least 800F, so I'll make an extra small hole in the can, stick my thermocouple in and seal around the wire. That way I can moderate my temp to be somewhere around 600F, or whatever that magic number is for keeping more creosote in the charcoal and making the fouling "softer" or "wetter". It would be nice if I could come up with a makeshift rotisserie for this paint can to get a super even heating through the charring process.



    Quote Originally Posted by LAGS View Post
    And that is the best thing about making your own BP.
    You bank away knowledge that can make you independent from the trends in our economy and politics.
    You still retain the ability to buy factory stuff if you need it.
    But for most BP shooting , the homemade stuff will fit 80% of your shooting needs.
    And the money you save doing more shooting , can then pay the price for the 20% of factory stuff you might need for special things like hunting or cartridge gun shooting.
    I'd like to have a source of powder that is completely independent of market trends too! I also love the experimentation part of it and that it will be MY powder Though, it wouldn't taste as good as homebrew.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlippyRider View Post
    I just got a puck from woodys. While the pics on the website show a steel outer ring, as you commented, what i actually recieved is completely aluminum. Its also very nice, tho i havent yet used it. I will post pics later, if anyone is interested in seeing.
    What size did you get? I was thinking I should get the 2.5", but I'm not sure if that is referring to the sleeve height or the diameter of the piston. I'd like a smaller size one so that I can go with a 6 ton A frame press from HF if needed. And it's all aluminum?? I was thinking maybe the sleeve was steel and was just polished as they said. Their wording makes it sound like the sleeve is steel. Maybe the steel sleeve is referring to the piston remover part.

    I am also worried about having lead contamination in the powder. I was wondering, if a person were to buy some of the super hard lead alloy from rotometals on amazon, maybe that would be hard enough to not loose much lead into the powder. or, a person could use the copper pipe method and sweat some copper caps onto the end of the pipes to make "jacketed" tumbling media.



    If only it were a simpler faster process to refine my own sulfur and kno3. Then

  16. #3636
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
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    I'm only about 100 pages into the thread and haven't seen a ton of info and experimentation on the charcoal quality side of things. if my paulownia wood burns clean enough to use regularly, then I'll start experimenting with how to make the absolute best and most consistent charcoal with that stuff.


    I also have a golden rain tree (several) in my yard because th eprevious homeowners were evil. That tree is the bane of my existence. It's extremely fast growing, so maybe it will make a decent charcoal. Hopefully it's good so I have a great excuse to cut them all down

  17. #3637
    Boolit Mold henryinpanama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlippyRider View Post
    I see common reference to lead casting media coloring product, such as potassium nitrate, grey. I understand thats not a concern for fireworks applications, but it would seem probable that lead will end up in a BP shooters lungs.
    Very unlikely if shooting outdoors. The dangers of lead are highly exaggerated. Shoot outdoors, have adequate ventilation when casting, and don't eat it and you will be fine.
    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

  18. #3638
    Boolit Buddy
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    If anyone is collecting wheel weights, (this is the Cast Boolit place), using the zinc ones you sort out to cast tumbling media is an idea. Either round ball, or cast into 1/2" copper pipe sections.

    Just be sure to use a magnet to sort out your steel wheel weights. They WILL NOT melt for you. I got all excited about this idea, and threw all my out sorted wheel weights into a big pan on the propane turkey fryer. I wasted a good bit of propane waiting for that mess to melt before I realized my error. MAN did I feel STUPID when I did....

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  19. #3639
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighUintas View Post
    WOOOOeeeee thanks for that detailed list of supplies. I have it all in my head but haven't written it down yet, so you just did it for me

    I have some 1/2" copper scrap left from my bathroom renovations that I haven't done anything with yet, so maybe I'll just cut those up, get some local .50 cal hornady balls from the store and hammer those puppies in there. I also found a couple people in the classifieds selling lead ingots and one is selling wheel weight ingots. So, maybe I could just get an old stainless pot from the thrift store and put it on my propane burner outside to melt. Get a lead ladle and do some pouring! I also see there is linotype lead on amazon for $30/5lbs. Not a terrible price I don't think. so maybe I can get some of that, do my makeshift pouring, and save the rest to blend with pure lead later when I do start casting.

    I have the thumlers tumbler a-r1. It's a single drum (3lb barrel?) model. It says the barrel OD is 4.25x5". Well, my kid has it. I'll "borrow it".

    Hydraulic press - I don't have one. I have a 4 ton HF bottle jack, but no frame. I found a small frame shop press for $15 that uses a porta power but does not include the porta power. Should I try to find a porta power to hook up to this thing rather than getting a large upright shop press? The only porta power I saw for sale at HF was 10ton and it was $300... so that one is out.

    Any pictures on what to put underneath the bottom of the puck die when putting it into the press? I was thinking about that yesterday. I'd need some type of very flat metal plate to put on top of the jack piston but it would have to be pretty thick. Maybe a 1/4" thick steel plate? Might be able to load the puck die with powder with the die sitting on top of the metal plate outside of the press. Then hold it all together to get it into the press.


    I have a couple of great digital scales.

    Thanks for the links on the grading sieves!! All I was seeing on amazon were the lab testing sieves for $60 a pop. Those cheap ones look like a great alternative.

    I have a propane burner.

    Puck die: I'm not sure about that woody's die if it uses a steel sleeve. I want all aluminum. If slippyrider got an aluminum one from them, maybe i should order that.

    retort: I was going to pick up a clean paint can today (all mine at home have the darned plastic bottom). I have some paulownia wood from my backyard tree drying in my toaster oven on convection. I set it at 200F convection overnight and weighed the wood before starting. I'll weight it every 8 hrs until it seems it doesn't change much. Then I'll throw that stuff into my paint can and let it rip! I also have a thermocouple for my multimeter that I'm pretty sure is temp rated up to at least 800F, so I'll make an extra small hole in the can, stick my thermocouple in and seal around the wire. That way I can moderate my temp to be somewhere around 600F, or whatever that magic number is for keeping more creosote in the charcoal and making the fouling "softer" or "wetter". It would be nice if I could come up with a makeshift rotisserie for this paint can to get a super even heating through the charring process.





    I'd like to have a source of powder that is completely independent of market trends too! I also love the experimentation part of it and that it will be MY powder Though, it wouldn't taste as good as homebrew.



    What size did you get? I was thinking I should get the 2.5", but I'm not sure if that is referring to the sleeve height or the diameter of the piston. I'd like a smaller size one so that I can go with a 6 ton A frame press from HF if needed. And it's all aluminum?? I was thinking maybe the sleeve was steel and was just polished as they said. Their wording makes it sound like the sleeve is steel. Maybe the steel sleeve is referring to the piston remover part.

    I am also worried about having lead contamination in the powder. I was wondering, if a person were to buy some of the super hard lead alloy from rotometals on amazon, maybe that would be hard enough to not loose much lead into the powder. or, a person could use the copper pipe method and sweat some copper caps onto the end of the pipes to make "jacketed" tumbling media.



    If only it were a simpler faster process to refine my own sulfur and kno3. Then
    Wow! Sounds like we have another "Thinker" on the crew here. That's great, and welcome!!

    I strongly recommend that you go with a 12 ton press. A 6 ton press is just barely able to provide enough pressure. Also, you must realize that the larger the diameter of your pressing die, the more pressure you need. What you want is 2700 to 3500 psi, and I would shoot for the higher half of that range...

    Vettepilot
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

  20. #3640
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
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    Jack/Press force required for 2.5" pressing die:

    A=pi*r squared.
    A=3.14*(1.25"*1.25")
    A=3.14*1.56
    A=4.9 square inches

    3000 psi Compression Force desired:

    3000 * 4.9 = 14,700 lbs.
    14,700/2000 = 7.35 tons

    Vettepilot
    Last edited by Vettepilot; 04-17-2021 at 08:26 PM.
    "Those who sacrifice freedom for security, have neither."
    Benjamin Franklin. (A very wise man!)

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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