Author Topic: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder  (Read 977 times)

Offline JW

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Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« on: June 10, 2019, 09:35:57 PM »
I had an interesting phenomenon happen to me for the first time on Saturday and I’m wondering if anyone else has experienced anything similar…

I was shooting paper on Saturday with my .54 longrifle. After a few groups and before I headed back inside to work on Saturday chores, I took some offhand shots from about 50 yards. After the second shot, I loaded the bore with about 60 grains of powder and a ball with a sloppy wet spit patch (which is what I usually use in warm weather for target shooting). Now, there was a several minute delay from the time I rammed the ball down and actually pulling the trigger as I was searching on the ground for something I dropped. When I finally primed and pulled the trigger I heard the “woosh” of the priming followed by a slight delay and then the sound of the ball hitting the plywood downrange. No report or crack from the rifle but clearly the ball went downrange.

My first reaction was, “what in the heck just happened???” since I was absolutely certain I put 60 grains of blackpowder down the barrel before I rammed the ball. Now, either I dryballed and the priming alone sent that ball downrange OR, my wet patch compromised that load (after it sat for a few minutes) and the priming charge set off just enough powder to send the ball downrange.

I have loaded with spit and let the gun sit for more than a few minutes before, but I was using wasps nest or something in between ball and powder in those circumstances. I didn’t think the time spent searching the ground was enough time to compromise the load. Apparently it was. I swabbed the bore after and there was definitely more fowling down there than normal. Anyone else discharge a ball with just prime?

What impressed me most was walking up to the plywood and seeing a new hole toward the bottom. The hole wasn’t all the way through the 3/8th of inch pine plywood, but enough to make me realize that even with essentially 0 grains of powder, that .530 ball would have really put a hurt on a living creature.

Offline hanshi

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2019, 12:59:08 AM »
Prime in the locks pan can't, by itself, expel a prb.  I would speculate that a small amount of the powder charge did ignite with just enough force to send the ball down range.  A similar scenario occurs when a bit of powder is trickled behind a "dryballed" prb.  I've done this many a few times - ahem - and mostly the ball only makes it a few yards.  I have had the prb exit with enough force to be quite dangerous. 
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Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2019, 01:11:56 AM »
Did you feel any recoil when this" squib" load went off?

Offline bgf

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2019, 04:38:05 AM »
A guy next to me at a match was shooting a flintlock that made a very slight whooshing sound...  I thought he was jus using a very light load until after 2 or 3 shots, he said his balls were not hitting the target.  When we looked at the target through a good scope, we could see the balls were just denting it.  The reason was that he had put the charger spout on his priming powder can (4f) and was loading with that! 

Offline JW

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2019, 04:47:11 PM »
Scientists are still debating...

I'm sure that a small amount of powder in the bore was ignited... That's how everyone removes a dryball, for instance. I really wasn't sure if priming alone could move a ball down the bore... I suppose it doesn't make sense.

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 05:42:46 PM »
One way to find out. ;)
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Offline Levy

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2019, 06:40:32 AM »
I shot at a squirrel with a .25 perc. original rifle and only the cap popped.  I pulled the nipple and sprinkled a little bit of 3fff in the hole and reseated the nipple and tried to fire it again.  the ball went about halfway down the bore and stopped.  I pulled the nipple and sprinkled some more in, tapped on it some and put a little bit more in to insure that it would exit the bore.  I reseated the ball.  As luck would have it, a squirrel jumped on the base of a tree about 20 yds. away and I figured give it a try since you have to fire it anyway.  I aimed at the squirrel as I normally would, fired and killed the squirrel.  Doesn't take much powder to move a .25 ball and make it lethal.  James Levy   
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Offline Darkhorse

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2019, 07:50:44 AM »
You said you loaded with 60 grains of powder in your .54? Then loaded a ball with a sloppy spit patch? So what makes you think you shot a hole in plywood with 0 grains of powder?
Most of that spit would have been squeezed from the sides when the ball was seated leaving only the spit on lower radius of the ball. Being the caliber was .54 more spit contacted the powder but not enough to ruin the entire powder charge. If you had been shooting a .40 even less would have been saturated and you would have heard a louder report.
If you had dryballed then I would consider the results unusual. But you didn't dry ball, you loaded 60 grains of powder. That whoosh you heard was a combination of prime and the remaining powder.
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Offline JW

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2019, 05:26:57 PM »
Thank you, sir. I was being somewhat facetious. I assume a small amount of powder ignited, it was just surprising that there was no notable report, not even air rifle level.

Really, this was a long-winded way to remind myself and others that even the smallest amounts of powder can put a hurt on someone.

Offline hanshi

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2019, 10:09:23 PM »
It really doesn't take much powder to make a prb lethal; and the bigger the ball, the bigger the danger.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2019, 11:33:03 PM »
Shuks, it only took me 110 gr. of 2f and a 495 ball to punch through my shooting decks deck.  ;D  I was checking out some rifles zeros before a hunting trip and when I was going to switch from the flinter to my sons perc. I was going to snap a cap on the deck to make sure the flash channel was clear and there was some spilled 4f on the deck so that should just blow away when I snaped the cap. Well yes I found out the gun was loaded and yes I got a hole in the deck. When people ask about the hole I tell them its a knothead knot hole.  ;D  :) Lesson learned.  :-[

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2019, 06:55:45 PM »
IMO, anytime you use a sloppy wet patch, you’re asking for it. It only take a small amount of moisture trickling down one of the rifling grooves to the center of the charge to put you in a dangerous situation. Same thing goes for shooting in drizzle, or light rain. Even a big drop of sweat dripping off the end of your nose in the middle of the loading process can create an unsafe condition.

  Hungry Horse

Offline Pete G.

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Re: Shot a hole through plywood with 0 grains of powder
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2019, 09:23:42 PM »
  When people ask about the hole I tell them its a knothead knot hole.  ;D  :) Lesson learned.  :-[

If it's not a hole then just what is it??? ;D ;D ;D