General discussion > Black Powder Shooting

Bore Fouling

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I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Mad Monk's recent, and very informative, posts on black powder.
I would very much like to know what he has to say on this subject.

Maybe I can start this thread off.
Bore fouling results from the combustion of black powder. Roughly 56/57% of the volume of powder burned, results in solid fouling.
Much of this is blown out the muzzle, but that which adheres to the bore lining, is what we have to deal with when reloading.
A too-loose or too-dry a patch and ball combination will result in the accumulation of fouling, shot to shot which will inhibit loading
and wiping/swabbing/cleaning/patching the bore will be necessary to continue to load and shoot.  Having to do this 'cleaning' by
one of it's many names can introduce a problem of it's own, that of pushing some of the fouling down into the breech where it may
interfere with ignition of the next charge.
If using a combination that actually reaches to the bottom of the grooves "at least" and at best shows some compression in the bottom
of the grooves, along with a wet enough patch, the resulting fouling, shot to shot, will not be allowed to accumulate, shot to shot and
thus loading remains easy for an entire day's shooting (depending on the condition of your bore, of course). A rough bore will collect and
built fouling, regardless of the combination used.
If the ball and patch does not fit well, shot to shot velocity and pressure will be varied more than it should and as a result, your accuracy
will not be as good as it can be.
"When you load the next one, you clean the last one", so there is never any fouling buildup in the bore.  There will be some at the breech,
which does not appear to effect accuracy in the slightest.
Patched ball picture from Lyman's Black Powder Handbook - It is as relevant today, as it was in the early 70's.

smylee grouch:
Another point about a tighter ball/patch combination over a lose one is that the clean up is easier. You are cleaning essentialy the fouling from one shot where as with a loose combo you will be getting blow by and more fouling build up.

Several years ago, when I was new (with a different screen name), Daryl told me to try a very snug, wet load.

It worked.

I like my loads snug n’ moist. The point about seeing threads on the patches engrained in the ball even at the grooves is a great idea. It makes sense. It doesn’t leave a place for fouling to accumulate. When I had my .40 I shot .400 round balls with .018” pillow ticking moistened thoroughly with my mouth’s moisture, and good fire all day and cleanup was a breeze. This was even out here in bone dry Nevada.

Three posts with some excellent advice.
Mad Monk kindly sent me his paper on bore fouling.  It was a very informative and quite technical read and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject.  I also had an opportunity to read his booklet on the Swiss black powder.  It too was an excellent read and contains a wealth of information that goes well beyond Swiss powder.
With the exception of hunting loads, I am a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of spit patches.  I made the switch about twenty years ago and it has made a world of difference.  If memory serves correctly, Daryl prompted me to give it a try.  No more cleaning between shots, no more fouling ring at the breech, flashes in the pan are now a rarity and cleanup is a breeze.
Thanks Daryl!!
I am neither a proponent of loose loads nor of particularly tight loads.  Although I do tend to use a short starter at the bench, my objective is to be able to load with just the wood ramrod when I want to.  A .495 ball and .016 spit patch fits the bill well in my .50 cal. Green Mountain and coned Getz barrels.


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