Author Topic: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?  (Read 52829 times)

Harnic

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #50 on: October 14, 2011, 09:42:52 PM »
Bob, there's no question subs generate more pressure & as you point out, likely have a very different pressure curve.  The 70 gr equiv load I tried of 3f H777 seems very similar to 70 gr of real bp as the point of impact didn't change, but in my Ruger Old Army revolver, I have chronographed a substantial difference in velocity which has to translate to higher pressure.  Maybe the vent in my rifle helps equalize the pressure?  Maybe E. Ogre can pipe in here & offer information on pressure curves with subs?  I need to take the Chrony out next time I shoot subs in my rifle & test for any variances in velocity between the 2 powders.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 09:45:21 PM by Harnic »

Offline Roger Fisher

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #51 on: October 15, 2011, 01:55:55 AM »
We have serious problems getting next to black powder up here, but no problem getting the subs.  So a hunting but worked with 777 quite a bit to see what it would take to make it work.  He was able to get good performance only one way- He dropped a 10 grain charge of Goex 3f down the bore before adding the 777, then used the same Goex 3f for prime.  While I have Goex 4f on hand and he tried it, he disliked it in the bore under the 777 for the main charge due to it's tendency to blow out the vent while seating a ball, occasionally resulting in slow ignition or failure to ignite the main charge, IIRC.  In our wet climate 3f has actually proven to be a more reliable and trouble free primer than 3f, so that kept him from having to use three powders.

I haven't tried it myself, but since he just moved and left me with six jugs of 777 3f, I will probably get around to it someday.

Is it worth all the trouble if you have ready access to black powder?  Not on your life.  Is it something to keep in mind against a day when you can't get the black?  Absolutely.  I'll switch to subs and keep shooting, rather than giving up in a pout when I can't get black.  I could stretch a remnant pound of precious black a long ways that way.

BTW- He also tried using 777 3f for prime and main charge too, with no black whatsoever.  In an hour of trying I think he got one bang.
A few years ago I noticed anew shooter struggling to get ignition with his flinter.  We were trying to do our own thing at this shoot. Finally found he was using either said 777 or pryrodex.  We gave him some Goex and solved that problem..  Trouble is haven't seen him since. ::)

Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #52 on: October 15, 2011, 02:18:35 AM »
   Great topic!. Although I never intend on using subs, it's good to know what is going on with them.Anything that is salt or chlorate based stays clear of JP Beck,lol. BTW,chlorates in my business eats stainless pipes.(clo2)

As I understand this phenominum, Vomitae - it is due to the chlorate's anfinity to the iron molecules inside the stainelss itself that causes this as I understand it.  Ogre noted once about a cat-walk above some vats of chlorate, collapsing due to being eaten from within. The mere 'fumes' were enough to disintegrate the iron mlecules inside the stainless. He hoted the stainless upon examination appears to be honeycombed. Who knows how long this took - does it really matter?

This in itself promotes my caution towards chlorates.

Harnic

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #53 on: October 15, 2011, 02:34:36 AM »
A barrel isn't supposed to last forever Daryl.  After all, we have to support our many fine makers & replace ours from time to time!  ;)

Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #54 on: October 15, 2011, 02:41:23 AM »
Sure - wanna buy me a 16 bore to replace the 14? Less recoil & less lead, but still just enough of each.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #55 on: October 15, 2011, 05:14:09 AM »
Bob, there's no question subs generate more pressure & as you point out, likely have a very different pressure curve.  The 70 gr equiv load I tried of 3f H777 seems very similar to 70 gr of real bp as the point of impact didn't change, but in my Ruger Old Army revolver, I have chronographed a substantial difference in velocity which has to translate to higher pressure.  Maybe the vent in my rifle helps equalize the pressure?  Maybe E. Ogre can pipe in here & offer information on pressure curves with subs?  I need to take the Chrony out next time I shoot subs in my rifle & test for any variances in velocity between the 2 powders.

When this 777 first came out and I took it apart and identified what was in it I had questions on possible pressures.  Beyond any question Hodgdon looked at this closely during the experimental batches leading up to the final product.
I noted that in my mule ear .50 cal round ball rifle the 777 came close to the then available Swiss powder.  That told me that the 777 produced pressures close to those seen in the Swiss powder.  Nothing to get excited about in most ml guns.

The only thing that rattled me was if these "strong" powders are used in one of the Spanish-made in-lines there could be problems.  But in our ml guns with the fixed breech plugs I could see no danger.

Hodgdon put a lot of thought into this 777 powder.  When I first tested it I remarked that if bp were to become unavailable I would switch flinters over to percussion and shoot the 777 in them.  Good velocities even in reduced charges and easy cleanup.  But if one gets carried away with the charge sizes one may expect to see some baked on fouling in the bore ahead of where the projectile sat on the charge.  Which I saw in some of my Swiss powder testing.  If you get powder combustion gas temperatures up close to the melting point of potassium carbonate (in the residue) you will see this fusion and sticking to the bore walls.  Then you simply back off a bit on the charge size.

In my mule ear lock GPR the 777 worked almost perfectly.  The side lock Trade Rifle was another matter entirely when it came to reliable ignition.

When the in-lines firing plastic saboted pistol bullets started to really sell Pyrodex presented problems in them.  I watched this at the gun club one evening when shooting my flinter with Hilljack.  Guy and his wife showed up with two brand new Knight "disk" in-line rifles.  They came with a box of Pyrodex pellets and a bag of disks holding 209 shotgun primers.  Nothing to clean the bore's with.  So the guy loads up with two pellets and fires the rifle.  Very accurate.  Loads and fires a second shot.  When he went to load the third plastic sabot it would not seat down on the pellets.  He had to pull the breech plug and drive the sabot out the muzzle.  So I loaned him some cleaning patches and my bottle of Lehigh lube.  He then repreated the two shots with the third stuck.
Now the punch line to this was as he was going through this he was lecturing Hilljack and I on the evils of dirty black powder and unreliable flintlocks.  For the whole time!  Sounded like a stuck record!  The funny part is that he was at the table next to us and his problems cut Hilljack's rate of fire with my .45 caliber flinter.

When I first looked at the 777 and took it apart it was clear to me that they removed most, if not all, of the potassium perchlorate found in Pyrodex to get rid of the little crysals of potassium chloride found after firing it.  The problem with the plastic sabots was that as you pushed one down the bore the little crystals would be forced into the surfaces of the sabots to a point where you simply could not push them any further down the bore.
Then compared to Pyrodex they increased the ballistic strength to get velocities up.  The in-line crowd expected near smokeless velocities.  Without the smokeless pressure surge.

When 777 first came on the market they stated that it was intended for in-line ml rifles.  They did not recommend that it be used in sidelock guns.  Now we see that evolved to where it is suggested that the breech of a flintlock first be primed with a little black powder and then black powder in the pan.  The breech prime of BP working like the little bag of bp in large-caliber artillery loadings as an "intermediate primer".

E. Ogre

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #56 on: October 15, 2011, 06:19:37 AM »
I should not post when I am running a fever ::)

Dan
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ottawa

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #57 on: October 15, 2011, 04:43:55 PM »
mite have missed it but when the pellets first hit the market you  had to look at them too load them correctly they had a small charge of real BP on the bottom meant to go towards the breech end they did this so to make sure the pellets went of with the #11 caps. then they switch too musket caps then to the 209 primers and stopped  using the real BP booster as the 209's were hot enough now the are using a .25 casing and .25 primer as the 209's may cause the charger to jump a bit before going off. never had a prob. with the loose stuff with caps only if I didn't prime my flint er with real BP. had one load and the last in my flint er burned so slow all the gases went out the vent and the ball only half way up the barrel.

Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #58 on: October 15, 2011, 07:02:45 PM »
mite have missed it but when the pellets first hit the market you  had to look at them too load them correctly they had a small charge of real BP on the bottom meant to go towards the breech end they did this so to make sure the pellets went of with the #11 caps. then they switch too musket caps then to the 209 primers and stopped  using the real BP booster as the 209's were hot enough now the are using a .25 casing and .25 primer as the 209's may cause the charger to jump a bit before going off. never had a prob. with the loose stuff with caps only if I didn't prime my flint er with real BP. had one load and the last in my flint er burned so slow all the gases went out the vent and the ball only half way up the barrel.

ottawa- I don't understand the glowing statement. Is this .25 a special primer?- I've never heard of a .25 casing primer nor have I seen one.  The casing is from what? There is a shotshell primer designated a #239 Federal IIRC, but it is 209 size just as all shotshell primers. It is the hottest shotshell primer you can buy. The guys are using it in plastic shotshell and brass shotshell cases to ignite slower buring rifle powders they are experimenting with. Is this the one you are speaking of?

Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #59 on: October 15, 2011, 07:03:28 PM »
Ogre - when did 'they' change the formula?

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #60 on: October 15, 2011, 09:02:23 PM »
Ogre - when did 'they' change the formula?

A good question.  When I had first looked at the MSDS I noted the listing of potassium perchlorate yet I could not find any measurable amount when I took my sample apart in water and evaporated it to look at the various crystal shapes.  The shape of the crystals gives an idea of what they are.

After a few weeks I looked at the MSDS from another view versus what I had found in my sample.  The main ingredient, sodium dinitrobenzoate sulfonate was not listed as such.  Just as a proprietary ingredient.  In other words a company secret.
At that time I had just finished up 6 months of communications and raw material samples with a man working in the ATF improvised explosives devices forensic lab.  So I contacted him regarding what I had found in the 777.  He then obtained a sample and verified my findings through their GS/MS equipment.

I suspected this.  Had they developed an entirely new formulation powder they would have had to spend a bundle of bucks on getting it certified through an independent lab.  A lot of time and a lot of expense.  But if you make a modification to an existing formulation you can generally avoid all of that.  So the MSDS info may not be an exact match to what I found to fit into the idea of a slight modification to an existing product formulation.
The patent for Pyrodex had expired several years before this 777 came out.  So anybody could have made it on a commercial basis and not been involved in patent infringement litigation.

After working with the 777 for awhile I came to realize that the switch from sodium benzoate to the dinitro version was a logical evolution to cure a few problems seen in 20 years of use of Pyrodex in the field.  The switch to the dinitro benzoate eliminated the need for the healthy slug of perchlorate seen in Pyrodex.  The chemical texts describe this dinitro benzoate as being highly reactive with charcoal.  Which the sodium benzoate is not.

Then there had been field use problems with Pyrodex in that if you did not store it properly it would undergo chemical change.  Not a change that would cause it to blow up or blow up a gun.  The chemical change would result in erratic ignition properties, erratic muzzle velocities and finally it simply would not work.
There is a previous post that describes this in the poster's gun.


E. Ogre

Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #61 on: October 15, 2011, 09:18:27 PM »
Thankyou for your time and expertise in this thread, Ogre.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #62 on: October 15, 2011, 09:35:14 PM »
To pick up on the subject of chemical stability in these two powders.

Pyrodex contains potassium perchlorate and elemental sulfur.
Here is what Tenny L. Davis's "The Chemistry of Powder & Explosives" has to say about this combination.

Page 456
Primary Explosives, detonators, and Primers

"Sulfur ought not to be used in any primer composition, whether fulminate or non-fulminate, which contains chlorate unless an anti-acid is present.  In a moist atmosphere, the sulfuric acid, which is inevitably present on the sulfur, attacks the chlorate, liberating chlorine dioxide which further attacks the sulfur, producing more sulfuric acid, and causing a self-catalyzed souring which results first in the primer becoming slow in its response to the trigger (hang fire) and later its becoming inert (misfire).

I should point out here that with the elemental sulfur in black powder you have 3 to 5% of the charcoal as "ash".  The ash being mainly a carbonate that acts as an anti-acid in the powder in amounts more than adequate to prevent any "souring" action over very long periods of storage.

Back to Pyrodex in this.
According to the original patent covering what became Pyrodex the powder is packaged with about 1% moisture in it.  The patent claims that without the 1% moisture content the powder does not work as it should.
Now the problem really starts if additional moisture is allowed to get into the powder if the containers in which it is being stored.  So a shooter using Pyrodex must take care that the containers are tightly sealed to prevent any additional moisture from getting into the powder.  It is not normally a common problem but it has happened with some shooters while others have never experienced it.  When stored properly the Pyrodex will hold up for years.

From my look at the 777 I would say it that it is less critical of storage conditions.  Which is another improvement.


E. Ogre

Offline LynnC

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #63 on: October 16, 2011, 05:17:53 PM »
With Harnic having success getting 777 as the main charge to go off in his flintlock, perhaps the ignition point has been lowered as well.........Lynn
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Harnic

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #64 on: October 16, 2011, 05:46:40 PM »
With Harnic having success getting 777 as the main charge to go off in his flintlock, perhaps the ignition point has been lowered as well.........Lynn
Could be Lynn, or or may be the White Lightning touch hole liner.  When I load a charge of whatever in the chamber, you can easily see it right at the touch hole.  As I said, the ignition is only slightly slower than 3f bp, definitely faster than most Italian replica flintlocks.

Offline bob in the woods

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #65 on: October 16, 2011, 08:09:20 PM »
If I have some Pyrodex that is in the original containers, stored properly, how would I know if the chemical composition is still stable? Are there any signs other than slow or no ignition ?  How long can I reasonably expect it to last ?  I'm not used to powders with a shelf life. :( I'm still using 4198 from 30 years ago,and I've got .45 -100 ammo for my Sharps that I made up 10 years ago.  [Goex cartridge]
Maybe its time to use up the P for stump blowing  8)

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #66 on: October 16, 2011, 08:42:41 PM »
If I have some Pyrodex that is in the original containers, stored properly, how would I know if the chemical composition is still stable? Are there any signs other than slow or no ignition ?  How long can I reasonably expect it to last ?  I'm not used to powders with a shelf life. :( I'm still using 4198 from 30 years ago,and I've got .45 -100 ammo for my Sharps that I made up 10 years ago.  [Goex cartridge]
Maybe its time to use up the P for stump blowing  8)

You really can't tell until you try and shoot it.  If you get vertical stringing indicating a good bit of shot to shot velocity difference this is a good indication it is going over the hill.

E. Ogre

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #67 on: October 16, 2011, 08:49:17 PM »
With Harnic having success getting 777 as the main charge to go off in his flintlock, perhaps the ignition point has been lowered as well.........Lynn
Could be Lynn, or or may be the White Lightning touch hole liner.  When I load a charge of whatever in the chamber, you can easily see it right at the touch hole.  As I said, the ignition is only slightly slower than 3f bp, definitely faster than most Italian replica flintlocks.

Probably right on the mark with your thoughts.  With my percussion rifles.  Where the nipple fired directly into the powder charge the ignition was fast and certain.  But move the nipple just a bit away from the charge with the "sidelock" and it was nothing but problems.  But other shooters with different sidelocks reported positive ignition.
Must have something to do with the loss of heat if the flame has any distance to travel.  With the T/C and Lyman sidelocks the nipple directs the flame down where it then makes a 90 degree turn and goes through a narrow passage before hitting the powder.  I suspected that with this design there was some cooling of the flame and gases from the cap ignition.

The factory flinters are sort of noted for a long hole in the vent.  Cut different ones in half to look at the length of the vent passage and powder position.

E.Ogre

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #68 on: October 16, 2011, 09:01:47 PM »
Quote
If I have some Pyrodex that is in the original containers, stored properly, how would I know if the chemical composition is still stable? Are there any signs other than slow or no ignition ?
One indicator is the color of the powder.  Pyrodex is black.  If it starts to take on a grayish coloration, it has degraded.

Also, the shot to shot muzzle velocity for Pyrodex has always been poor.  Whereas a load of Swiss powder might vary less than 10fps between shots, Pyrodex can be as much as 50fps which can have a significant effect on your bullet strike at longer ranges.
Dave Kanger

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ottawa

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #69 on: October 16, 2011, 10:33:49 PM »
they modify the breech to take a .25 cal cassing with the primer  in it is suppose to be just as hot but not as big of a bang to push the charge up the barrle a liite befor it gose off.now you can order the breech that way.

Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #70 on: October 17, 2011, 02:35:20 AM »
TKs ottawa- who modifies the breech? What .25 casing - .25 Auto or merley a 1/4" diameter closed tube? Are these .25 casings with primer a product for sale in stores or a home made remedy for a perceived problem?
« Last Edit: October 17, 2011, 03:46:28 AM by Daryl »

Offline LynnC

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #71 on: October 23, 2011, 09:16:42 PM »
Update - I got hold of a little 777 and tried it in my 36 flinter - one shot.  30 gr (no booster of BP) and like Harnic you could see it thru the vent.  Primed with goex 3fg.  You could hear about all the prime burn then the barrel went off.

Seemed like a long time.

I next loaded 3fg and it went off near instantly - Much Faster.

With a BP booster 777 probably would work fine.

As a main charge alone I would have to really work my steadiness of hold.  I don't think I could hit squat......
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Offline Dphariss

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #72 on: October 23, 2011, 10:55:43 PM »
mite have missed it but when the pellets first hit the market you  had to look at them too load them correctly they had a small charge of real BP on the bottom meant to go towards the breech end they did this so to make sure the pellets went of with the #11 caps. then they switch too musket caps then to the 209 primers and stopped  using the real BP booster as the 209's were hot enough now the are using a .25 casing and .25 primer as the 209's may cause the charger to jump a bit before going off. never had a prob. with the loose stuff with caps only if I didn't prime my flint er with real BP. had one load and the last in my flint er burned so slow all the gases went out the vent and the ball only half way up the barrel.


ottawa- I don't understand the glowing statement. Is this .25 a special primer?- I've never heard of a .25 casing primer nor have I seen one.  The casing is from what? There is a shotshell primer designated a #239 Federal IIRC, but it is 209 size just as all shotshell primers. It is the hottest shotshell primer you can buy. The guys are using it in plastic shotshell and brass shotshell cases to ignite slower buring rifle powders they are experimenting with. Is this the one you are speaking of?

I may have missed something...
But anyway.
I can only assume he is referring to a 25 ACP primed case.  ???
Why anyone would go to the trouble is beyond me. Its possible to make a sealed breech primer  set up that will simply screw into a standard nipple thread in most cases.  This was common back into the 19th century in slug guns.
Set up for a small pistol primer the effect would be the same as a small pistol primer in a cartridge case. But would be easier to use.
There are Berdan primers that are .250 diameter I think that this was the primer used in 303 British ?
But I doubt that anyone would bother with a Berdan primer when Boxers are much more common and have a built in anvil.

Dan
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hookie13

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #73 on: October 24, 2011, 12:31:34 AM »
Wow, what a topic.

Here in New Zealand black powder is getting very hard to get..because of new legistlation and rules surrounding its storage retailers wont touch it, also carriers cannot touch it without special permits.

Therefore we are having to look at substitutes.

What I think must be remembered here is that each rifle is different and a good shooter knows his/her rifle; what suits my rifle in powder or loads may not suit yours at all.

I have a quantity of black powder that I will only use in my flinter when that runs out if I cant "find" anymore I will most probably use it as a very attractive wall hanger.

However I also have two percussion rifles and I have been trying Triple 7 in them..in my long rifle with a very slow twist its a waste of time (at present) but in my Hawkin (fast twist) replica it shoots as well if not better than Goex and cleaning is a breeze.

So in answer to your simple question, "is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?" my simple answer is, "yes", in one of my percussion rifles it is excellent and I will continue to use it.

Hookie in New Zealand


Daryl

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Re: Is Hodgdon 777 in FFFG a good alternative for black powder?
« Reply #74 on: October 24, 2011, 03:13:18 AM »
That's what I figured, Dan- concerning a .25ACP case, or perhaps just incorrect nomenclature and/or a misunderstanding.

The primers are easily made - I made one when I lived in Smithers and could not get percussion caps.  The one I made, was build using a poor man's lathe - my 3/8" electric drill held in a bench vice, along with a tap and die kit, of course. It's amazing what you can get away with in the way of tools, when you need to.

If finding BP was impossible for us, I'd simply convert all guns to caplocks and shoot the phony pdr.