Welcome to Episode 171 of Gun Guy Radio! This is the podcast that shines a positive light on the firearms lifestyle. I’m Your host Ryan Michad and this is your weekly dose of positive firearms talk, without the politics. This week, I’m joined by Matt Hoffman to discuss both of our journeys into the blackpowder shooting world! It can be a little overwhelming or confusing figuring out how to enjoy a blackpowder handgun or rifle, and hopefully hearing our experiences will help you out with yours!
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With that, we will head into the Main Topic: Entering the Blackpowder Handgun & Rifle World!
Main Topic: Entering The Blackpowder Handgun & Rifle World
Shooting blackpowder can be kind of scary for someone who isn’t familiar with it. Once you know all the rules for safe use, blackpowder can be a very fun and rewarding experience. It’s also very inexpensive to get into. I was able to buy the revolver (1851 Pietta Navy Colt .44) and all the stuff I needed for under $200. Definitely a fun hobby to get into.
Matt, you’ve shot both loose blackpowder and cartridge right?
Difference between Blackpowder & Smokeless Powder:
Blackpowder, for lack of a better term, “explodes” compared to the burning action of smokeless powder. Blackpowder is a mixture of several things including sulfur and it is also corrosive. Smokeless Powder is nitrocellulose based and has more of a “controlled burning” action. Different powders burn at different rates and intensities. Smokeless powder usually has a pretty quick pressure curve, reaching a given peak pressure really fast. With blackpowder, there isn’t such a variation. You have blackpowder, and it comes in four different grain sizes: Fg, FFg, FFFg and FFFFg. The different grain sizes that you use depend upon what firearm you are shooting. Fg and FFg are appropriate for cannons, mortars & larger caliber rifles. FFFg is typically used in the smaller bore rifles and the cap-and-ball revolvers. FFFFg is usually only used to prime the pan on flintlocks. Using ANY smokeless powder in a blackpowder firearm will typically result in the gun being destroyed and potential injury to yourself. If you shoot your firearm with real blackpowder, a thorough cleaning regimen is required to prevent damage, as it is corrosive. I shoot blackpowder substitute and it works perfectly fine for me.
What do I need to shoot BP revolvers without pulling my hair out?:
-First, you need the proper sized caps. Most revolvers take #10 caps. Some revolver require the #11 caps, which are slightly larger. Some people use #11 caps on a nipple that is meant for #10 caps and they pinch it to make it fit. I do not recommend this, as some people believe it can lead to a chain fire if the caps don’t fit properly. You can also replace the nipples on the gun to fit the cap size that is most readily available to you.
-Second, you need powder. I recommend a blackpowder substitute, simply for ease of cleaning. I use American Pioneer powder, and I could only find it in the FFg granulation around my area. I definitely recommend finding FFFg granulation if you can though.
-The most important thing when loading is your powder measure. Most of the new blackpowder kits have a brass adjustable powder measure that comes with the gun. THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL PIECE OF EQUIPMENT. I have heard people say just stuff the chambers full and seat the ball. NO! That kind of advice makes me tear my hair out. You need to measure each charge so that way you know what you're shooting. Some powder flasks have a set measure built into the nozzle. I do not like these because it can allow the unknowing to pour powder directly from the flask into the chamber. DON’T DO THIS! The gun could have an ember still smoldering in the chamber which can ignite your charge and your flask, turning it into a hand grenade.
-Chain fires are a concern of many new blackpowder revolver shooters. There are two methods of preventing this. One is to use one of the many lube products that are out there on the market today. These prevent the ignition from one chamber reaching the other chambers. Another really effective way is to use roundballs that are slightly oversized. When you seat the ball, it shaves a ring of lead, signifying that a good seal has been achieved.
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