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Loading the Black Powder 45-70
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April 23, 2022 - 10:03 pm
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I was talking with a friend today at the shop.  He shoots competition with many different manufactures and calibers all using black powder.  He mentioned that when smokeless came out the flash hole size changed.  Modern cases may not have the correct black powder flash hole diameter.  He told me I need to read Loading Cartridges for the Original 45-70 Springfield Rifle and Carbine by J. S. Wolf.  He has passed away but his wife Pat was still selling the book.  He says you need to be using the correct diameter if you are shooting black powder in modern cases.  He told me the correct drill size but that was a couple hours ago so now I forgot.  Another thing that his fellow shooters are doing is using hollow base bullets.  These expand better.  He says your groups will get tighter.

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April 23, 2022 - 10:34 pm
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Chuck,  I think there are all sorts of beliefs out there ref black powder.  There is a BPCR competitor at our gun club, does rather well on a broad range of cartridges, but all in various single shot breech loaders.  He uses whatever brass he can get, with his favorite for .45-70 being Starline.  He does nothing with the flash hole, but is particular with his primer.  Think he uses Federal magnum large rifle primers.  Others he talks about use pistol primers.  The thought process is about getting complete ignition of the long powder chain, which may hint at the idea of slightly enlarging the flash hole.  This is  hear say as I don’t shoot black powder personally.  He keeps trying to talk me into it though if that counts!  Tim

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April 23, 2022 - 11:06 pm
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Chuck said
I was talking with a friend today at the shop.  He shoots competition with many different manufactures and calibers all using black powder.  He mentioned that when smokeless came out the flash hole size changed.  Modern cases may not have the correct black powder flash hole diameter.  He told me I need to read Loading Cartridges for the Original 45-70 Springfield Rifle and Carbine by J. S. Wolf.  He has passed away but his wife Pat was still selling the book.  He says you need to be using the correct diameter if you are shooting black powder in modern cases.  He told me the correct drill size but that was a couple hours ago so now I forgot.  Another thing that his fellow shooters are doing is using hollow base bullets.  These expand better.  He says your groups will get tighter.  

Haven’t read that one, but I have Paul Matthews books on the subject, & no mention of enlarging primer holes.  The SPG handbook doesn’t either, but it makes a big issue of using Magnum primers, which would probably compensate for any size diff in modern primer holes.  Of course, the best “compensation” is a pinch of fast smokeless at the bottom of the case, though modern BP comp rules prohibit doing so. 

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April 24, 2022 - 2:01 am
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I dabble with Holy Black from time to time but hardly an expert. I can, however, tell you on good authority that your rifle (smokeless or BP) will yell you what it likes if you’re patient and paying attention. Rifles have personalities and sometimes a load will take on a personality as well. Some powders and loads may prefer different primers. Some loads may very well like a bit larger flash hole but that is most likely because a shooter tried it and it worked for his rifle and load. I’ve never tried it but have heard of others having success with it. A hollow base may stabilize better in a certain twist rate barrel due to its length or it may simply obturate better to engage the rifling. 

Black powder rifles are often capable of amazing accuracy and consistency and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ll never fully understand how or why. That may be why someone coined the term “Holy Black”. When it works like it should simple black powder and a very basic lead alloy bullet in a rifle designed 140 or so years ago can accomplish some awe-inspiring feats. I don’t need to know why or how.

 

Mike

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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it. -Woodrow F. Call, Lonesome Dove
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April 24, 2022 - 4:51 am
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TXGunNut said  A hollow base may stabilize better in a certain twist rate barrel due to its length or it may simply obturate better to engage the rifling. 

  

Original purpose of hollow base was to allow slightly undersized bullets to be loaded quickly into a fouled bore when cleaning between shots was impossible; i.e., in battle.  The famous Minié bullet is the prime example.  But target shooters with time to clean between shots did not regularly use them.  

But they were also used in some smokeless cartridges for the same reason: obturation.  A number of BP cartridges were originally intended to fire “heel” bullets of full groove dia., but later smokeless loadings of the same cartridge used bullets that fit entirely inside the case, so were smaller in dia. than the heel bullets. These employed a swaged hollow base for the same purpose as the Minié.

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April 25, 2022 - 4:49 pm
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In my quest to shoot the Henry and 66 I have been buying original cartridges that someone has tried to shoot because they are cheaper.  I have not found any hollow base bullets yet but others have. 

I don’t have any black powder cases that I would want to pull apart to check the flash hole size to compare them to the modern cases I have.  In the world of long range, primers, primer pockets and flash holes are closely looked at.  I use Lapua brass and really don’t worry about them being out of spec. or varying from one to another in any dimension.  Primers and seating depth is another issue altogether.

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May 28, 2022 - 8:35 pm
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I shot BPCR with considerable success after going to big matches and talking to match winners.  The scope National Champion ran the range and I learned from him, going from D class to AAA in eight months.  I used a Winchester/ Browning BPCR IN .45-70.  YOU DO NOT DRILL FLASHHOLES.  My rifle did it’s best with Federal Match pistol primers and Winchester brass.  The Wolf book contains many errors.  

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