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  #1  
Old 05-29-2009, 11:46 AM
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Homemade Black Powder


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Just wondering if anyone here makes their own black powder?




Herne
  #2  
Old 05-29-2009, 11:52 AM
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i make my own black powder.. i bought a tub of sulfur and a bag of potassium nitrate online.. just grind up barbeque brickettes for the charcoal

i use a mortar and pestle to mke it... since its wood it doesnt spark.. and i bought a 300 and 800 micro set of screens to filter granule size to FFFG if desired
  #3  
Old 05-29-2009, 11:55 AM
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OK so if things got really bad could you substitue home-made BP for the commercial smokeless if needed? How do you measure the self made BP when making it, what ratio to what?
Greg
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Last edited by rhino57; 05-29-2009 at 12:03 PM.
  #4  
Old 05-29-2009, 11:57 AM
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That's cool. I use an old rock tumbler as a ball mill and different cheese graters for granule size.


Herne
  #5  
Old 05-29-2009, 11:57 AM
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i have a small scale that measures in grams, i use that to measure the ingredients and charge
  #6  
Old 05-29-2009, 12:54 PM
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I'm not sure if this subject is legal. Anyway you have to use a certain type of wood for charcoal for best results. I think it was willow. I was a kid so I don't recall. I used a door screen for granuation. It would dry and you just tap the screen and you have uniform grains. I would not recommend making any. I almost burnt my eye and was lucky it stopped burning into it. Blackpowder will burn underwater because it needs no oxygen. We made something like pyrodex too but I don't remember how. Blackpowder is dangerous and I'd suggest buying it instead. You will get proper granulation too.

Last edited by @bullseye; 05-29-2009 at 01:17 PM. Reason: warning
  #7  
Old 05-29-2009, 03:55 PM
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In this country the old-time powder plants were built where there was willow or hazel wood available for charcoal. You need softwood charcoal that is porous and absorbent for the damp phases of the compounding.

I expect it is illegal to make the stuff in most any populated area due to fire code, at the least, if not some ordinance directly regulating explosives. It would be absolutely illegal to sell any you had made without a Federal explosives manufacturing license, I'm sure.

All that said, a search of the web turns up all the necessary information already, so I don't see a need to ban mention of it here. I would be uneasy if what was said here actually seemed to be promoting the practice, however, as it is more likely to be undertaken by youngsters who don't know how to keep their fingers intact than by adults who can afford to just buy the commercially made powder and save themselves the bother.
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  #8  
Old 05-29-2009, 06:29 PM
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In Michigan it is still legal to make it for your own use. As you said you can not sell it. I was asking because I have seen more than a few U-Tube videos of people that are lucky to still have all their fingers. The popular thing I guess is to use an electric coffee grinder and is just plain crazy.


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  #9  
Old 05-30-2009, 06:36 AM
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YIKES! A coffee grinder with a static-sensitive explosive really is asking for trouble. Especially in a closed container. Some of the old factories mixed the charcoal and sulfur separately to get their grinding done. They ground the potassium nitrate separately and only mixed it with the other two ingredients after they had added some water. One of the old pyrotechnics books I had didn't even think a mortar and pestle were safe. It advised using a small rubber-lined rotary tumbler with a half dozen half-inch antimony balls added to do the grinding without making sparks.
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  #10  
Old 05-30-2009, 06:53 AM
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That's why I use the rock tumbler. It works great and no sparks.



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  #11  
Old 05-30-2009, 10:48 AM
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People have been making blackpowder for what now, six or seven hundred years and with all that experience, knowledge and safety practices the plants still blow up now and then so it certainly is a dangerous practice to make the stuff in your kitchen. It can be and is being done but why push your luck? Even if you have no problems it is doubtful you can ever produce powder the equal of Goex.
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  #12  
Old 05-30-2009, 04:37 PM
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I just like knowing I can if I ever have to. It is what makes the flintlock my favorite weapon and an American tradition. No matter how bad the economy gets or how expensive the ammo, I can always put meat on the table.


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  #13  
Old 05-30-2009, 04:50 PM
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The original Firefox book had a description of a method for survival emergencies. It included making the saltpeter from human waste. What a joy. But its there for you to read, should circumstances come to that.
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  #14  
Old 05-30-2009, 05:14 PM
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That's where I learned to make it LOL. I fell in love with that series of books back in the late seventies early eighties. It also had a chapter on how to make flintlock rifles.


Herne
  #15  
Old 05-30-2009, 07:21 PM
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Nick,
Got the Firefox info. Thanks. Now back to my original ?. Can BP be used in place of smokeless if needed?
Thanks guys,
Greg
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  #16  
Old 05-30-2009, 07:45 PM
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The late gun writer Elmer Keith, in his writings, reported assembling some black powder loads for the 1911 .45 ACP. According to him it worked, functioning the pistol.
Just how long he doesn't say. Black powder fouling would build quickly and jam the gun quickly, I would guess.
Interestingly, when John Browning was developing his .50-caliber machine gun he used cartridges loaded with black powder. He hadn't found a suitable smokeless powder for the cartridge, but also wanted to determine its reliability.
The .38 Special was originally a black powder cartridge. It would transition fine. So would the .357 Magnum.
Smaller auto cartridges like the .32 and .380 ACP would probably not work so well with black powder. It would be difficult to enough black powder in the case to reach a workable pressure level.
Most of today's cartridges could easily be loaded with black powder. Velocity would be low, compared to most smokeless powder loadings, but the darned thing would go BANG.
Soft lead bullets, lubricated with natural substances such as lard, beeswax, vegetable shortening, etc. would be best with black powder. Jacketed bullets, when used with black powder, tend to foul the bore quickly and cause inaccuracy.
Petroleum-based lubricants, when mixed with black powder, create a hard, tarry fouling. A moist lubricant is required to keep the black powder fouling soft, for easy removal by each fired bullet.
Black powder fouling is slightly abrasive. It would accelerate wear in semi-autos and moving parts heavily covered in it. But I think you'd have to fire thousands of rounds to notice any wear.
Incidentally, Browning also invented the Auto 5 shotgun at a time when black powder shotgun shells were common. It was designed to function with either black powder or smokeless rounds. It has no piston, no gas chamber, to become fouled by black powder.
If you wish to experiment with black powder loads in modern guns, remember that black powder fouling is hygroscopic. That is, it attracts moisture. Black powder fouling also contains a substance similar to ordinary table salt. Because it contains salt, and attracts water, it causes rust in short order.
So don't risk your favorite pistol, rifle or shotgun to try black powder loads. If possible, use a stainless steel gun to discourage rusting.
Both gun and deprimed cartridges should be cleaned right away with hot, soapy water. This will dissolve the salts in the fouling and flush them away.
And yes, even the cartridges must be scrubbed clean or the fouling will quickly corrode the brass case.
Probably the worst gun you could use black powder in is the AR15. It has the ****able gas system that blows fouling right back into the receiver area. So, with each shot you'd be blowing even more black powder fouling into the breech and bolt.
Any modern arm will take the pressure generated by black powder. However, most probably won't take the fouling for long.
  #17  
Old 05-30-2009, 08:15 PM
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Gatofeo,
Just what I was looking for. So BP is highly corrosive. But if need be revolvers, single shot or bolt rifles would be the first choices to load. I won't ever do it but was just wondering if commercial powder wasn't available if it could be substituted? OK 1 other question how would you know how much BP to load in a case. Just fill it to the level right under a seated bullet?
Thanks again,
Greg
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  #18  
Old 05-30-2009, 08:25 PM
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I would guess it would be the least trouble in straight-walled cases. Load full and go?

If I'm wrong, someone please correct this.....
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  #19  
Old 05-30-2009, 09:45 PM
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Black powder burns best when it is slightly compressed. Thus, load to nearly the top of the case, then use the seated bullet to compress it.

As for straight vs. necked cases, that is only a concern if you seek accuracy of the highest order, for shooting at targets from many hundreds of yards.
From what I have read, black powder cartridge shooters prefer straight-walled cases for black powder. But they need to squeeze every bit of accuracy they can, because they compete against each other.
For survival purposes, to knock off the occasional deer or defend your home, black powder in necked cases will work just fine.
After all, some of the 19th century black powder cartridges used necked cases with good effect.
There are many requirements to creating an accurate black powder load:
1. Bullet alloy must be comparatively soft, not more than 1 part tin to 20 parts lead. This is about BHn 10. Wheelweights are about BHn 9.
2. On the larger capacity cases, a Magnum Primer assists ignition.
3. Bullet lubricant must be of natural origin, such as lard, beeswax, bacon grease, vegetable grease, vegetable oil or a combination of these.
4. Bullet design - It should have numerous grooves, of ample depth, to hold plenty of bullet lubricant.
5. Rate of rifling twist of the arm. Though I've never tried it, finding an accurate load with a quick rifling twist may be difficult. Compare the 1 turn in 7 inches rate of the 6.5X55 Swedish to the .45-70 with its 1:18 to 1:22 rate and you'll see what I mean.
6. Bullets with absolutely flat bases tend to be more accurate with black powder. Bevel base bullets, from what I have read, aren't as accurate. But again, this comes from Black Powder Cartridge shooters and their accuracy requirements are more stringent than that required for subsistence.

The modern guns most amenable to black powder cartridges would be the revolver, single-shot, lever-action, double-barrel, bolt-action or pump-action.
Cleaning becomes a big concern when using black powder.
Any action that is complicated, that makes it difficult or impossible to reach black powder fouling in it, will eventually gum up or rust.
Single-shot and double-barrel actions would seem to be ideal, but they are deceptive. Often, it is difficult to access the assembly and springs that drive the trigger and hammer or firing pin. This may require a very long screwdriver or socket wrench to remove the bolt that holds the stock to the frame.
Mauser-type actions are fairly accessible for easy cleaning. Some lever-actions are easily accessed, others are difficult.

This is an interesting, "what if" exercise to ponder but I warn against anyone making their own black powder.
As has been pointed out, even the most modern black powder manufacturing plants, with all their sophisticated automation and safety requirements, still go up with a BOOM from time to time.
If such a place can explode, what chance have you in your kitchen or workshop.
And let me add, that anyone who uses a coffee grinder to mill black powder is an idiot.
Alas, too often the idiots survive but end up destroying someone else's life.
  #20  
Old 05-31-2009, 02:43 AM
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Yes, but its better with a larger bore in rifles. Revolver rounds will work OK but there will be a lot of fouling. Semi auto pistols or rifles probably wont function. Could be used as a manually operated gun. If you want to buy something for black, the 44/40, 38/40 were designed for black.
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