PBcastcoTitan ReloadingWidenersInline Fabrication
RepackboxMidSouth Shooters SupplyRotoMetals2Load Data
Reloading Everything Lee Precision
Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Performance Differences Between a Substitute and Black Powder in a Cartridge

  1. #1
    texaswoodworker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    Performance Differences Between a Substitute and Black Powder in a Cartridge

    In a cartridge like 45 Colt of 44-40 WCF in a revolver, what is the difference in performance between a BP sub like Pyrodex P, and Black Powder? Will the Pyrodex foul less? How about accuracy?

    And please, stay ON TOPIC this time. The last thread was closed because a couple members wanted to cause trouble. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master In Remembrance
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    South Jersey
    You can do your comparisons using these 2 links ...


  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Southwestern Ohio
    I shot BPCR Silhouette for fifteen years and used nothing but black powder. My favorite, by a considerable margin, was Swiss (more powerful, more consistent, and some more expensive).

    However, I won several pounds of Pyrodex P in matches and decided to try them. I was competing in BPCR and they had side matches limited to fixed sighted revolvers and black powder or certified substitute. I bought Mike Venturino's book, "Shooting Sixguns of the Old West" and followed his advice. It worked so well that I never changed it. By the way, I can recommend Mike's book without reservation. You can get it from Amazon at a reduced price. I have a Ruger Bisley Vaquero:

    The Bisley shoots to the sights at 25 yards (holding center) and has an excellent set of sights. I used a case full of Pyrodex "P" and compressed 1/16" when seating the bullet (just like I do with Swiss 2F and 3F). The bullet is Lyman's 452664 sized to .452" and cast of 20/1 lead/tin. I used Winchester large pistol primers. The gun shot under 2" (mostly grouped around 1.5") at 25 yards off a rest. My particular handgun would allow me to shoot 70 shots before the cylinder started to bind from fouling. I used Emmert's home mix lube (similar results to SPG). After a ten minute clean up using home mixed "Friendship Speed Juice" I was ready for another 70 shots.

    I chronographed those loads at 900+ fps. Using the Lyman 250 gr bullet makes for a seriously good field load.

    After the days activities were over, I again cleaned with Friendship Speed Juice, dry patches, then preserved with Ed Harris' "Ed's Red". A couple of days later, I again went over the revolver with Ed's Red. I never, EVER, had any issues with rust or corrosion and the clean up was painless.

    When I ran out of Pyrodex, I continued to use Swiss. 2F gives slightly less performance than 3F (and similar to Pyrodex) and also gives somewhat less felt recoil. I recommend 2f, as a matter of interest. They both shoot well, but a day's shooting of 3f gets tiring from recoil. Yes, these rounds recoil.


  4. #4

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    over the hill, out in the woods and far away
    In shooting the Ruger Old Army revolver, I got best accuracy and least fouling using Pyrodex P, but the only black powders I had to compare with were Goex and Elephant. I could shoot all day using Drydene Pyroplex grease and never had any cylinder binding problems. Using .457 round balls cast 1:40 tin/lead and 30 grains bulk measure of P with a Walters felt wad under the ball to achieve compression I could maintain 2-inch groups at 25 yards over a long series, alternating between three cylinders fitted to my revolver. I used a separate loading stand for loading the cylinders, brushing the chambers, but not the bore between reloads, and using a cake decorator to inject the Pyroplex grease. Use CCI caps with Pyrodex, RWS caps with black.
    The ENEMY is listening.
    HE wants to know what YOU know.
    Keep it to yourself.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    East Tn
    BH 209 is the cleanest of the subs has been my experience too but it's also the most expensive! Actually I personally consider BH 209 to be more of a smokeless that can be used in place of BP rather than a true sub because it actually has characteristics much closer to smokeless than any BP sub. I really liked the stuff and while it can be argued that ten ounces is about as much powder by volume as the true subs, at least I have seen this pointed out several times, the fact is it simply costs a lot more to shoot per round and if a person is going through a lot of rounds the cost difference can be significant. Still it's a great powder and performed amazingly well in my 45-90, I think I may have just sat here and talked myself into buying another jug or two of the stuff!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

    BrassMagnet's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    SE Missouri
    I do not consider myself an expert on black powder or black powder substitutes.

    Genuine black powder is an explosive. It can be hard to find and possessing it can cause some problems, especially in quantity.

    In my reading, I have found two smokeless powders which were designed to replace black powder for black powder cartridge guns. I haven't looked very hard, but I have only seen black powder rifle cartridge loads for these two powders. They are IMR 4198 and Accurate 5744. Lyman #4 Cast Bullet manual frequently lists 5744 as the most accurate load. I have been told IMR 4198 is the go to powder for .45-70 reloading with cast or jacketed.

    I have purchased the various black powder substitutes to try in the muzzleloaders I have recently purchased.
    I used to shoot fffg in a T/C .50 Hawken, but back then all of the stores carried black powder. Most stores were limited to keeping less than five pounds in stock back then. I have not seen any stores with real black powder in stock recently. So I have to experiment with what I can purchase.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Southern Arizona
    I recall reading that Pyrodex was formulated with potassium perchlorate to raise the ignition temperature high enough so it qualified as a "flammable solid" rather than an "explosive" under the DOT test criteria of the time. It also had a small amount of sodium benzoate added, as the inventor noticed that it crystallizes in flat, slippery flakes, and never completely burns when the charge does. The result is that the fouling offers a slippery surface that does not continue to build up, allowing a considerable string of shots without wiping or cleaning.

    I used a lot of Pyrodex "CTG" back in the day in my Garrett Sharps .45-70. A small amount of Pyrodex P on top of the CTG charge, under the boolit, increased the accuracy noticeably.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
    Knarley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Central Minnesota
    Quote Originally Posted by texaswoodworker View Post
    In a cartridge like 45 Colt of 44-40 WCF in a revolver, what is the difference in performance between a BP sub like Pyrodex P, and Black Powder? Will the Pyrodex foul less? How about accuracy?

    And please, stay ON TOPIC this time. The last thread was closed because a couple members wanted to cause trouble. Thank you.
    From what I have heard from the guys who have used Pyrodex is that it is real hard to get cleaned out of the gun.
    One of the guys I shoot with loaded his 44-40 with Pyro-P and I'll tell ya, it was a handfull to shoot.
    Another gent. that I know too was using Pyro in his ML Pistol, and was having problems till he went to black.
    I personally will not use Pyrodex, it's hard to light, and I have had some bad experience with it hunting. (But that's just my opinion)

    The problem with black,in a pistol, is the lube one needs. There just isn't really any where to put it. I have thought on putting a grease cookie on top of the cylinder as I do with my cap guns, but find it easier to use APP that needs no special lubes. If you are looking at it for "Cowboy" shooting, it should be fine, just be aware of the cleaning problems that are alleged to part of Pyro.

    Hope this helps a bit,

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    texas city tx.
    knarley, put your lube between the patch and the bullet(ball) in your revolvers. I shoot a 1860 colt open top
    with 30 gr's of FFG black powder. with the lube between the wad and the bullet I've shot as many as 60 rounds(ten cylinders of 6) with out cleaning the gun. I also camfered the cylinder to make the whole ball go into the cylinder.(its a tighter fit) and I haven't had a chain fire yet! camfering the front of the cylinder doesn't take much. jsut a few turns with your camfering tool will do it. then there's no more Crisco on top of the cylinder! you don't need it any more. I use wonder lube, Rig universal grease and/or one other that I got from Dixie gun. using this loading system I have almost no grease on the outside of the revolver, and I run one or two patches down the barrel and twist a patch in each cylinder hole and the gun is clean. (I shoot steel plates with it in the Houston area(Friendswood).

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Chesterfield Mo.
    When using Pyrodex to shoot BPCR matches I and my friend wanted to use it rather than black so we wouldn't have to use a blow tube between shots and could shoot a full match without cleaning but our accuracy was not as good as black specifically Swiss. What we found out is that when Swiss is poured into a long case like the 40/65 we were using it would always be the same height whereas Pyrodex varied the most with others like Goex being in between. None of the good shooters used Goex either which made us start to think to see what the differences were. Turns out, it was the shape of the powders and how they stack and if you pour the powder into a case very slowly taking maybe 10 to 15 seconds, they all stayed the same height which made the compression of the powder the same every time just like the Swiss will without doing it and the accuracy was identical then. I made a vibrator out of a hair dryer motor by putting an offset wheel on the shaft and installing pieces of metal with holes in them in a funnel with a tube below it. Different size holes would make the powder go through faster and slower so just experiment until you get what you desire. How much the powder is compressed is very important for accuracy and when the depth of the powder is always the same so compression is the same, accuracy goes way up.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
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