Author Topic: How Much is too Much Powder  (Read 13511 times)

Offline TommyG

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How Much is too Much Powder
« on: October 30, 2017, 03:26:18 AM »
Over the years I have heard this mentioned about black powder guns and never really gave it much thought as I usually spend time on the bench until I find what works to my satisfaction in the gun.  But I heard this again recently and thought I would run this by you guys for your more experienced opinions.  The claim is that beyond ??? grains of powder you are simply wasting powder and shooting unburned powder from your rifle.  I am inclined to believe that this is true as only so much can burn until the projectile leaves the barrel, but are there other factors that come into play here?  Does a certain gun work better in some cases when the ball is sitting at a certain distance from ignition?  Like I mentioned, I will work my loads from lower charges upward in 5 gr. increments until I find what groups best, but on some of my guns the best grouping charge will definitely fall into too much and unburned powder category according to some.

Black Hand

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 04:05:41 AM »
Stop overthinking - shoot the gun where you get optimum accuracy & precision...

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 04:08:24 AM »
I agree. Work up to the most accurate load. I doubt it will be an overload.

Offline Dan'l 1946

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 04:09:18 AM »
   What you first run up against is the law of diminishing returns. The extra powder does not increase velocity to a meaningful degree and may diminish accuracy as well. That said, there is a point where you will just be blowing unburned powder out the muzzle.
    Not sure what you mean by "sitting a certain distance from ignition". I expect that you know to seat the ball firmly on the powder charge, so could you explain the phrase?
                                                                     Thanks, Dan

Offline D. Taylor Sapergia

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 04:21:34 AM »
Every rifle/gun will develop a maximum velocity with some charge of powder.  More powder will diminish the velocity, as the burning gases are pushing powder that does not get consumed in the bore.  But your accuracy load will be reached long before that happens.  As much as all that is interesting, absolutely maximum velocity has no use in target or hunting.
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Offline smylee grouch

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2017, 04:23:06 AM »
Crazy me but I was always told that black powder burns in a flash manner and unless you have an extra short barrel all the powder will flash/burn in the first half or before of the length of the barrel. This sounds like a good question for the Mad Monk.

Offline TommyG

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2017, 03:03:22 PM »
Dan, yes I do seat the ball firmly on the charge, mark my ramrods, etc..   I guess what I mean by "distance from ignition" is simply does where the ball sits in the barrel(when firmly seated on the charge) have anything to do with downrange accuracy?  I am thinking not, but like I said originally, you guys have decades of experience and I am curious about the notion of too much powder.  What prompted me to post this thread was I have heard that anything over 70gr. in a .50 is too much, I recently heard a fella saying that anything over 60gr in a .54 - is too much.  I just cannot agree with those statements, even though they are experienced guys making them.  My .54 groups best with 95gr. of 2F, which from what I have read in this forum is not too much powder, but yet according to some, I am simply blowing unburned powder out the muzzle.

Turtle

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2017, 03:30:10 PM »
not saying this has merit, but I used to know someone who used to shoot increasing loads over snow till he saw unburnt powder. never tried it.

Offline Bob Roller

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2017, 04:53:29 PM »
I think it was Norman Brockway from Vermont back in the 18&whenevers that shot over snow
to determine when to stop loading too much powder. Now that real black powder is around $30
or more a pound it pays to take a close look.The Medina Hawken has a flask with it the throws a
maximum of 85 grains for a 58 caliber gun. The flask has an adjustable spout.The old measure was
to lay a ball in the palm of your hand and pour powder over it until it was JUST covered.That works fine
and my own grandfather 1873-1972 used it and told me about it..

Bob Roller

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2017, 05:35:42 PM »
I've heard for so many years about covering the ball in your hand with powder. Has anybody tried this and checked to see how much powder that is by volume?

Offline EC121

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2017, 05:40:02 PM »
To get an idea of the amount of ejecta, lay an old bed sheet or two in front of your bench and see how much powder collects after a few shots.  A local thrift shop might have some used bedsheets.
Brice Stultz

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2017, 05:48:02 PM »
You can go back on this forum and view Denny D. video's of the Flathead boys shooting and see quite a bit of ejecta  coming out of the muzzles. I'm assuming that is fouling that is being forced out and not unburned powder granuals.

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2017, 05:49:18 PM »
 At a candle shoot years ago, a competitor decided that by supercharging his rifle he could shoot high, and the cone of hot gas would blows the candle out. It would have worked except that the unturned powder that contacted the flame created a little extra fireworks, and the unburned powder that went low imbedded itself in the candle.

  Hungry Horse

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2017, 05:53:47 PM »
Black powder isn't very efficient. I think you'll find when you've worked up the most accurate load that it still blows out unburned powder.

Offline hanshi

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2017, 10:51:17 PM »
Black powder is very "flashy" stuff and makes fireworks if it gets too near a flame.  Barring a ridiculous load of powder, it's unlikely any BP exits the bore unburned.  Even with normal loads a huge, billowing ball of flame can be seen when shooting in the dark.  Anything near this flame is burned.  No proof, but....
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Offline P.W.Berkuta

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #15 on: October 31, 2017, 08:05:29 PM »
I think there is some amount of un-burned powder that exits all barrels. Some of the powder is ignited and exits as sparkling particles or un-burned particles. You see this in modern (mostly pistols) as well as muzzle loaders (rifle, shotgun, & pistols). Here is a 45 cal rifle barrel of 32-1/2" shooting 50 gr of Goex 3F under a .440 ball and a .015 lubed patch. Look close about 2 to 3 feet in front of the muzzle and you can see "sparkling particles" and probably some un-burned particles we don't see.


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Offline yulzari

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2017, 08:35:53 PM »
It has long been established that the powder burns out in the first few inches of the barrel. The hot gas continues to expand and add to the acceleration of the bullet thereafter. What you see coming out of the barrel are the hot products of combustion condensing into glowing particles. It is these cooled that form the particles left on the ground after firing as well as the fouling when they condense upon the inside of the barrel. The true sporting powders like Swiss have slightly more saltpetre than the theoretical ideal to promote more heat and thus more pressure even with less gas production. In considering internal ballistics it is common to focus upon the chemistry of the conversion of the powder to gas but the effects of the heat of combustion greatly raises the pressure of the gas when released. Consider the internal combustion engine. The fuel/air burns and produces gas but it is the heat from the burning expanding the fuel/air combustion produced gas that does the work. In the case of the black powder gun the charcoal is the fuel and the saltpetre makes the oxygen. Then the heat of the process expands the produced gas. Thus the description of a gun as a 'single stroke free piston internal combustion engine'.
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Offline Daryl

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2017, 08:44:27 PM »
It has long been established that the powder burns out in the first few inches of the barrel. The hot gas continues to expand and add to the acceleration of the bullet thereafter. What you see coming out of the barrel are the hot products of combustion condensing into glowing particles. It is these cooled that form the particles left on the ground after firing as well as the fouling when they condense upon the inside of the barrel. The true sporting powders like Swiss have slightly more saltpetre than the theoretical ideal to promote more heat and thus more pressure even with less gas production. In considering internal ballistics it is common to focus upon the chemistry of the conversion of the powder to gas but the effects of the heat of combustion greatly raises the pressure of the gas when released. Consider the internal combustion engine. The fuel/air burns and produces gas but it is the heat from the burning expanding the fuel/air combustion produced gas that does the work. In the case of the black powder gun the charcoal is the fuel and the saltpetre makes the oxygen. Then the heat of the process expands the produced gas. Thus the description of a gun as a 'single stroke free piston internal combustion engine'.

Exactly! No matter the load, there are always sparks as shown in that photo.

As Taylor noted, you will reach a point of diminishing returns when increasing the powder charge.  My 14 bore is case in point.  82gr. 2F produces 1,220fps.  110gr. 2F produces 1,300fps.  165gr. 2F produces 1,500fps.  200gr. 2f produces 1,700fps, 330gr. 2f produces 1,770fps.

The 165gr. load, the most accurate load in this rifle, is about the most that is reasonably comfortable offhand, it is max. as far as I am concerned. Too - it simply staggers moose, out to 100yards, my furthest moose kill with it.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 08:50:24 PM by Daryl »
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Offline Arcturus

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2017, 09:47:28 PM »
It has long been established that the powder burns out in the first few inches of the barrel. The hot gas continues to expand and add to the acceleration of the bullet thereafter. What you see coming out of the barrel are the hot products of combustion condensing into glowing particles. It is these cooled that form the particles left on the ground after firing as well as the fouling when they condense upon the inside of the barrel. The true sporting powders like Swiss have slightly more saltpetre than the theoretical ideal to promote more heat and thus more pressure even with less gas production. In considering internal ballistics it is common to focus upon the chemistry of the conversion of the powder to gas but the effects of the heat of combustion greatly raises the pressure of the gas when released. Consider the internal combustion engine. The fuel/air burns and produces gas but it is the heat from the burning expanding the fuel/air combustion produced gas that does the work. In the case of the black powder gun the charcoal is the fuel and the saltpetre makes the oxygen. Then the heat of the process expands the produced gas. Thus the description of a gun as a 'single stroke free piston internal combustion engine'.

Excellent post.
Jerry

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2017, 10:27:28 PM »
So as an example, if you shot 100 gr. of 2f out of a 32" long 32 cal gun, say 25 times, and had a sheet of poly out there collecting the ejecta, you could fold the poly,drain it into a pile and try to burn it to see if there was any unburned powder in the pile. Would that be some thing doable to prove one way or another about the unburned powder question? Also, would a tightly patched round ball load burn the powder more effectivley than a less tighter load?

Offline Shovelbuck

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2017, 11:27:35 PM »
I agree with yulzari. Plenty of sparkley things to pick up off a white sheet from a Walker firing 60 grains.

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Offline longcruise

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2017, 07:38:41 AM »
I've heard for so many years about covering the ball in your hand with powder. Has anybody tried this and checked to see how much powder that is by volume?

I tried it with a .50 cal in an actual shooting situation.  It seemed somewhat anemic compared to my standard 70 grain hunting load.  A bench top experiment would determine what actual loads would be produced by the method and how consistent they are. 

It may seem to be a way of keeping things simple, but when you actually do it under field conditions it's clearly not so simple.  The use of a well organized powder measure and horn is easier and faster.
Mike Lee

Offline Larry Pletcher

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #22 on: November 01, 2017, 03:03:41 PM »
A few years ago I was frustrated by sparks ruining a photo project.  Bill Knight (Mad Monk) taught me something that is showing up in this discussion.

We can be mislead at times by the amount of sparks leaving the muzzle upon firing. I was using Goex in my photography, and Bill suggested changing to Swiss.  He explanation was that the sparks were pieces of burning charcoal because Goex was not grinding the charcoal as finely as Swiss. Switching to Swiss allowed me to complete the photo.

You can demonstrate this for yourself using the test that Bill gave me.  He suggested placing a measured amount of Goex on a saucer, adding water and stirring until no more will dissolve.  When rubbing a spoon around in the mix.  You can feel the undissolved charcoal as grit.  When I repeated this test with Swiss, I could not feel any undissolved charcoal. Bill mentioned that Swiss grind their charcoal almost to dust.

I suggest this only to point out the powder differences, and that sparks from the muzzle can be misleading unless the brand of powder is known.

Regards,
Pletch
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Offline Bob Roller

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2017, 03:36:14 PM »
The next time I take a muzzle loader out to shoot I am going to see if 49 year old
GOEX sparks more that Swiss. What is the current price gouge now for Swiss??

Bob Roller

Offline OldMtnMan

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Re: How Much is too Much Powder
« Reply #24 on: November 01, 2017, 05:20:02 PM »
About $24 lb for Swiss depending on where you buy it.

I gave up paying the money for Swiss. I kind of like Graf's/Schuetzen now. It's even cheaper than Goex and it's cleaner burning and some say a hair more power too.