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Thread: New to Black Powder

  1. #1
    mb3 is offline
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    New to Black Powder

    I am new to black powder shooting and have a couple of questions. I recently purchased a Armi Sports CS Richmond rifle and it appears to be well made. I would like to try shooting .58 cal minnie balls through it but I am not certain about the powder charge or process. I had read that when shooting Minnie balls a patch is not needed, is that true? In regard to the powder charge, is a standard powder charge of 50 to 60 gr of black powder (for .58 cal) a good starting point? Last question: How do paper cartridges work, are they only for Minnie balls or can they be used with a standard ball?
    Thank you.

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    Muley Gil is offline
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    Re: New to Black Powder

    Welcome to the world of muzzleloading. I've been shooting black powder since 1969, and I'm considered a youngin' among the members of the N-SSA.

    Full service loads are not needed for target shooting. I would start with 40 grains of FFg or FFFg of real black powder under a Minie ball.

    No patch is used with a Minie ball.

    Paper cartridges held the Minie ball and the charge of powder. We use plastic tubes containing the powder charge, capped by the Minie.
    Gil Davis Tercenio
    # 3020V
    34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
    Great, great grandson of Cpl Elijah S Davis, Co I, 6th Alabama Inf CSA

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    mb3 is offline
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    Re: New to Black Powder

    Thank you for the info. Is it necessary to use a paper cartridge with a Minnie ball or can the powder charge be placed in the barrel, capped by the Minnie ball? I have never heard of using a plastic tube with the charge and Minnie ball (not surprised as I know nothing about BP). Does the tube go in with the rest of the charge?

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    Joe Plakis, 9575V is offline
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    Re: New to Black Powder

    Where are you from we might be able to better assist you by having you hook up with our membership at a shoot.
    Joe Plakis XXVIII
    Middle-Atlantic Region
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    "Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better." John Kotter

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    Jim_Burgess_2078V is offline
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    Re: New to Black Powder

    Just to clarify, original Civil War rifle-musket cartridges were paper wrapped. To load, the soldier tore off the powder or tail end of the cartridge with his teeth and poured the loose powder (60-grain service charge) down the barrel. The Minie bullet was then removed from the paper, inserted into the muzzle and then seated on the powder with the ramrod. The cartridge paper was discarded (no laws against littering back then). Cartridge paper was loaded to help wad loose fitting .650" musket balls in .69 caliber smoothbore muskets but not with Minie bullets that had much closer tolerances in rifle-muskets. As previously noted, we generally use plastic tubes to hold our powder charges and bullets today. Loose powder (most of us use between 40 and 50 grains FFg or FFFg) is poured from the tubes into the muzzle prior to inserting the bullet. We drop the empty tubes on the ground and harvest them for reuse after shooting. Wouldn't want you to think we put the cartridge tubes in the gun.
    Jim Burgess, 15th Conn. Vol. Inf.

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    mb3 is offline
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    Re: New to Black Powder

    I am in south Florida. I appreciate the information you have provided me. Jim, thanks for the clarification; it makes sense. I often wondered how you would get ignition with the powder covered by paper. I guess given the period, pre measuring your charge and having it set with the Minnie ball could be a lifesaver. In regard to the patched musket ball; how does the shooter determine what thickness of patch to use/ I have seen them offered in many different thicknesses? I have also wondered about which would be better the pre- lubed or standard patch? Do the pre- lubed patches eventually dry out?
    MB

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    mikea is offline
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    Re: New to Black Powder

    MB-
    There are a few of us active N-SSA members in Florida, and I am in Clearwater. I shoot at the Wyoming Antelope Club here in Pinellas County and at Knights Trail off I-75 outside Venice. If you will PM me contact info I will be happy to contact you & try to help you. When I first started in this I was ready to pull my hair out trying to get a rifled musket to shoot worth anything until I had the great good luck to run into a veteran N-SSA member who put me on the right path.
    Basically, for minie bullets you need to shoot PURE LEAD bullets that have been sized .001 to .003" less than the ACTUAL measured bore diameter of the rifle you are using. For target loads most of us use between 40 to 50 grains (by weight) of 3F powder, or about 10% more 2F. Bullets need to be lubed in the rings and base with a black powder lube. As others have said, we use plastic tubes in lieu of paper cartridges, and no paper is put in the barrel. The rounds are made up ahead of time and carried to the range. The usual practice is to put the powder in the tube and then push the minie bullet in nose down. When shooting, you remove the bullet, pour the powder down the barrel and insert the base of the bullet in the muzzle and ram it down on the powder charge.
    For patched round ball, there is no "magic formula". Its a matter of finding a powder charge, patch thickness & ball diameter that works for your gun. For two .50 cal. rifles I own, I have had good luck with .490 dia. balls, .015" pillow ticking patches lubed with Ballistol and 75gr (by volume) of 2F powder.
    This is just some of the basics - there is a lot more but its not really difficult and is a lot of fun.

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