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Ladies and Gents,

Planning on getting started loading black powder for both .45-70 and .45 Colt. Am curious as to the safety and efficacy of perhaps using wax paper as wad material. Not sure of the thickness of average supermarket wax or parchment paper but would think it should work effectively at separating the bullet base and preventing grease migration to the powder charge. What say y'all?

I'll be loading for one each Browning/Miroku 1886 22" SRC and 26" rifle and a USFA pre-war revolver.

Saint Elmer's advice of just fill up the case, strike off the excess with a knife blade, cram the bullet on top any old way and go sounds damn attractive but I'm certain better results can be achieved using some sort of wad.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 

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When they say "no air space" between powder and bullet when using black, they mean it. A piece of paper won't cut it. I would highly recommend that you do some more study on the use of black powder. I would also recommend you use one of the modern black powder substitutes instead of black. For handguns, there is nothing better than VV N32C Tin Star. It has all the use characteristics of black, but doesn't leave all the crud and residue of black. It also has 100% load density, so you can fill all the airspace to get proper ballistics with the old black powder cases. 5744 was also made as a black powder sub for the big black powder rifle cartridges.

A good load for .45 Colt with N32C is 8.6 gr under a 250 gr RNFP. 100% case fill, and 900 fps from a 7.5" just like the original 1873 factory ammunition, but none of the crud you get with black.

But, I can't emphasize enough that if you do use black, follow the rules of black powder use.
 
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Thanks, Rifter. I appreciate the info. I fully understand the need for not leaving any airspace in the case. I was curious as to whether wax or parchment paper was a viable material in terms of permitting proper compression and avoiding bullet base melting or powder contamination while maximizing case volume. I'll definitely look at N32C and 5744.
 

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When they say "no air space" between powder and bullet when using black, they mean it. A piece of paper won't cut it. I would highly recommend that you do some more study on the use of black powder. .........
I always use hornet nest material between my FFg and my patched round ball.
I have always been under the impression any "gap" is bad.
What am I not understanding??
My load is 110 grains of FFFg under 54 cal Patched RB on top of a wad of nest material.
 

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Well...not sure where you got the idea you needed wadding in the 45 Colt. I've loaded and fired BP 45 Colt rounds/guns since 1985 and never used a wad of any kind. Unless you store your loaded black powder ammo primer down and bullet up in a warm climate or building "grease migration" just isn't a problem. Back when I had 45-70s I did load a thin card wad cut from tablet backing or milk cartons, not for "migration" but just because the base of the bullet would be exposed to more burning powder over a greater distance than would be the case with any handgun loading.

For the 45 Colt 250g bullet over 30g of FFg will duplicate (close enough) the 1874 version of the Ordnance round and 35-36g of FFFg behind a 255g bullet will duplicate the original full power load. Use soft alloy bullets and lots of SPG lube. I used to own 1st Gen Colts but now I'm shooting USFA black powder framed SAs like you. (smile)

My 45-70 loads were a 405g cast bullet over ~65g of FFg. That was for the Browning and Winchester1886 rifles I owned. I also loaded a 510g RN over 61g FFg for the No 1 Rolling Block sporting rifle I had. Shot that one in BPCRS matches a few times.

Some folks fear cleaning black powder guns as much as some folks fear Covid. Without getting political, cleaning black powder guns (and fired brass) is worth it for the fun of shooting old style guns and their cartridges and experiencing what it was really like for those who came before us.

Dave
 

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Well...not sure where you got the idea you needed wadding in the 45 Colt. I've loaded and fired BP 45 Colt rounds/guns since 1985 and never used a wad of any kind. Unless you store your loaded black powder ammo primer down and bullet up in a warm climate or building "grease migration" just isn't a problem. Back when I had 45-70s I did load a thin card wad cut from tablet backing or milk cartons, not for "migration" but just because the base of the bullet would be exposed to more burning powder over a greater distance than would be the case with any handgun loading.

For the 45 Colt 250g bullet over 30g of FFg will duplicate (close enough) the 1874 version of the Ordnance round and 35-36g of FFFg behind a 255g bullet will duplicate the original full power load. Use soft alloy bullets and lots of SPG lube. I used to own 1st Gen Colts but now I'm shooting USFA black powder framed SAs like you. (smile)

My 45-70 loads were a 405g cast bullet over ~65g of FFg. That was for the Browning and Winchester1886 rifles I owned. I also loaded a 510g RN over 61g FFg for the No 1 Rolling Block sporting rifle I had. Shot that one in BPCRS matches a few times.

Some folks fear cleaning black powder guns as much as some folks fear Covid. Without getting political, cleaning black powder guns (and fired brass) is worth it for the fun of shooting old style guns and their cartridges and experiencing what it was really like for those who came before us.

Dave
Thanks, Dave. Duly noted. Wishing I had bought 2 USFAs when they were in production. They really are amazing in their build quality and function. Alas, they're too pricey for me to go after now. Considering a Standard Mfg. as a companion to it.
 

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If you compress the powder with a card wad or paper, it is still compressed, same as it would be if the bullet was a slightly deeper seating design. Commercial black powder loads in the 19th century frequently employed a paper-patched bullet which had paper over the base and a twisted pigtail of paper tucked into a hollow in the bullet base to boot. That not only didn't hurt anything, many preferred it for the resulting absence of metal fouling and that they could drive a soft lead bullet to higher velocity with it because it prevented stripping of the bullet.

If the paper patch is unfamiliar but interests you, see if you can find a copy of one of Paul Matthew's books on the subject, The Paper Jacket or The Practical Paper Patched Bullet.
 
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Thanks, Nick. I think that's sort of what I'm considering. That is, using a paper wad, that I think will be as thin as practicable, to permit the greatest volume of powder in the case. Am I off the mark with this sort of thinking?
 

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Thanks, Nick. I think that's sort of what I'm considering. That is, using a paper wad, that I think will be as thin as practicable, to permit the greatest volume of powder in the case. Am I off the mark with this sort of thinking?
The difference is powder capacity between a case loaded with the wax paper and a another loaded with a “grease cookie” (two thin fiber wads separated by a layer of beeswax) is minimal and will not affect performance in any meaningful way except that accuracy should be enhanced. The “cookie” does more than protect the base of the bullet. The pressure of firing forces the beeswax out onto the bore and softens the residue of the BP.
About using the smokeless propellants mentioned. If you want to shoot BP cartridges, use BP..
Cleaning a BP gun is simple. You are, essentially, washing the barrel. If you clean your firearms after a shooting session, cleaning up a BP firearm takes about the same amount of time...except that you are using soap and water instead of Hoppes.
 

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Thanks, Pete. I plan on using Ballistol to mix up some moose milk to clean and soak cases. I'm thinking I'll run with BP, either Swiss or Elephant if I can find some.
 

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In my experience, going back to the early '80s, there was no need for using wads between black powder and cast bullets in 45-70. I cast gas checked bullets weighing 400-420 gr. from RCBS, Lyman, and NEI moulds in the old Lyman no. 2 alloy (90% Pb / 5% Sb / 5% Sn), sizing them to .459" in a Lyman lube sizer, and using Remington brass, CCI-200 primers, and duplex black powder loads (7 gr. SR-4759 over the primer under 63 gr. FFg) which, according to one source, burned more cleanly than straight black powder loadings. Dropping the FFg through a long tube made for easy slight compression of the powder when seating the bullet. In firing from 20 yards, penetration testing using saturated newspaper tightly packed in cardboard boxes as medium produced fair bullet expansion and wound channels almost twice as long as those made with smokeless loads using the Speer 400 gr JFP and 53 gr. IMR-3031 maximum load listed in the Speer manual. I carried my duplex loads in a Marlin 1895SS with Microgroove rifling while hunting deer and black bear on the Canadian border in both Maine ('84) and Vermont ('86), but never got a shot at either animal. Cleaning the barrel after firing those duplex loads was fairly easy, and there was no leading of the bore. With Williams FP aperture rear and hooded ramp bead front sights mounted on the Marlin (and my having 20/20 vision back then) accuracy of the duplex loads off a best rest at 100 yards produced groups no larger than 3", averaging closer to 2".
 

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Thanks, Pete. I plan on using Ballistol to mix up some moose milk to clean and soak cases. I'm thinking I'll run with BP, either Swiss or Elephant if I can find some.
BP is good and clean up isn't that difficult with water and some use dish soap also. If you check out the Shiloh Forum there are a big bunch of folks using BP with lots of helpful suggestions. BP is available from Buffalo Arms on line and also Track of the Wolf Swiss and Goex's Old Einsford some prefer that it's cleaner and hotter. With the 45-70 2.1 case and 405gr bullet you can fit a full 70gr of powder and a little compression use a compression die not the bullet it will deform the nose. With a lever gun you will have to crimp the bullet some. I second the use of SPG and also cast bullets at 20-1 alloy.
 

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Ammunition makers in the black powder era were very much aware of the necessity of preventing air space between the powder and the bullet. Various methods were used to do that, depending on the cartridge and the load. When the US Army reduced the load of the original .45-70 load from the 500 gr infantry load to the 405 gr. cavalry carbine load, they utilized a cardboard tube in the base that effectively reduced the case capacity for the lighter load. Archeologists at the Custer National Battlefield at the Little Big Horn, have found dozens of expended cases that still contain the cardboard tube Other loads, as has been noted, used various types of card or disc wads depending on the type of load.

As far as original loads in the .45 Colt, my own testing found that 34 gr. of FFg under a 250 gr. RNFP of 1:20 alloy gave a very consistent 900 fps in a 7.5" Blackhawk. Accuracy was excellent, and ES and SD numbers were very tight until bore fouling became a problem. That load also had 100% load density. 8.6 gr. of N32C Tin Star gave essentially the same results (875 fps) in the same gun, both using Starline brass. The advantage goes to Tin Star, however, since accuracy didn't deteriorate due to fouling buildup. Since it was designed as a black powder substitute by VV, pressures were the same as black, as well as load density.
 

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I own 2 Browning 86's (rifles) and have had a SRC. I've shot a few loads with black powder in each. You'lll find the best accuracy with smokeless powder in these guns. No messy cleanup either.
 

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BP is good and clean up isn't that difficult with water and some use dish soap also. If you check out the Shiloh Forum there are a big bunch of folks using BP with lots of helpful suggestions. BP is available from Buffalo Arms on line and also Track of the Wolf Swiss and Goex's Old Einsford some prefer that it's cleaner and hotter. With the 45-70 2.1 case and 405gr bullet you can fit a full 70gr of powder and a little compression use a compression die not the bullet it will deform the nose. With a lever gun you will have to crimp the bullet some. I second the use of SPG and also cast bullets at 20-1 alloy.
It should be noted that the original .45-70 load used a 500 gr. round nose. The case was either an inside primed or coiled brass type of construction that held 70 gr. of black powder. The later 405 gr. load was a balloon head type case and used less than the 70 gr. charge, utilizing capacity reducing wadding or cardboard tubes to regulate air space. A modern solid head case will not hold 70 gr. of powder without heavily compressing it, and that shouldn't be done. There are enough examples of original ammo that have been broken down to verify all that over the years.
 
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