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Thread: Can you reload a modern gun / shot gun with Black Powder in SHTF Situation?

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    Default Can you reload a modern gun / shot gun with Black Powder in SHTF Situation?

    Okay, it's SHTF time I'm running out of ammo. I have the means to produce projectiles and I \have primers but I am running out of gun powder. I have lever action and bolt action rifles and a pump shot gun. I can make my own black powder. Can I reload w/ BP in a SHTF situation and not destroy my guns. Would one gun be more tolerant of it then others?

    In a pinch could zinc pennies or other coinage be used in a shot gun, I've seen quarters used in the movies but would it be practical?

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    If you think gun control is the answer, look what happened in Australia when they banned all hand guns in 1996? NEW LINK! 8/3/2013
    Try here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4tS0DGDf0I
    or here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyS3CEIbpJo

    English Warning "Our Gun Ban caused 40% jump in Gun Crime" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTyCD2n6HAQ


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    If, and that is a mighty big ‘IF’ you did have the means to produce black powder, it will then depend on what caliber your rifle is. Obviously if it was originally a black powder cartridge (44-40, 45 Colt, 45-70 etc.) it will work a lot better than something like a .308 or a .223. There is a reason black powder cartridges all had larger bores. My suggestion would be to buy more powder.

    Don’t believe everything you see in the movies. In theory you can use dimes in a cly. bore 12 ga. Supposedly Billy the Kid used a shotgun loaded that way to kill one of his jailers when making his famous escape. I don’t know what they were using in the movie but a quarter mikes out to about .952”. The bore of a 12 gauge shotgun is only .729". The bore of an 8 gauge shotgun is still only .853”.

    Quarters would probably work in a 4 gauge if you have one.

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    Yes you can load with black powder in modern cases, in fact a few "modern cases" were black powder originally, 45-70/90/110, .303 Brit & 30-30 being the better known ones.
    There are problems though.
    You can't get the energy output from BP that modern powders give you, & big cases are a help, but the .303 only takes 58.1 Gr of FFFg (trust me I've tried everything & that's IT)! Because of this you get reduced velocities compared to smokeless, so you're better off loading lead bullets, not jacketed. The BP fouls modern rifling pretty fast as well so you better plan on a lot of bore cleaning. You also need to clean as for B/P not smokeless as well.
    Last edited by plonker; 10-19-2011 at 02:40 PM.
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    I would disagree that the 30-30 started out as a BP cartridge, since it was designed as the first commercial smokeless cartridge.. One thing that cartridges did have in common that started out as BP and switched to smokeless, is that they started out with much heavier, unjacketed, lead bullets, many paper wrapped.

    Unless you have prepared in advance by having appropiate molds for the bullets.. finding or making appropiate bullets for BP loads and making primers or reliable primer material is going to be either harder, bullets, or more dangerious, priming compounds, than making BP ..

    There are easier options that are far less dangerious ( when done properly by trained personel using the right equipment) and much better suited for use in smokeless powder cartridges if all you lack is propelant.. ammonpluver would be the easiest.. it does have drawbacks.. very hydroscopic and can crystalize if stored where temps exceed 90 degree F /32.1 degrees C .. and when crystalized it produces much higher chamber pressures .. but making it is a simple physical mix of properly prepared charcoal and ammonium nitrate ... you can do a goggle search and find various recipes giving different proportions .. here is one example .. http://www.freewebs.com/lpumsun/ammonpulver.html .. it is smokeless and it does have energy levels that compare well with smokeless powders. Likewise, priming compound can be made with the right equipment and materials .. and if you are going to go that far why not just make smokeless powder or cordite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordite ( article gives recipes for various propelants and types of cordite).

    The real issue is production of useable quanities and having a real grasp of the various safety issues. The IRA set out on a suicide bombing spree once, as far as anybody could tell .. they were targeting public transportation buses.. blew up about 8 IIRC before one of the bombers with thier bomb turned themselves in to the Brits because he was of the opinion the IRA was just trying to kill bombers since they all had been given a more traditional target and were just trying to use the buses to get there... turns out it was a cold and dry winter.. and the bombers, just by sliding across the bus seats to sit down were generating enough static electricity to prematurely detonate the bombs.. none of which were supposed to be a suicide bomb.

    Lets assume, just for the sake of arguement you made some BP .. exactly how would you go about testing it to see if your first attempt was done properly, and was, in fact useful or suitable to use in a cartridge, and if you did happen to devise a test , how would you know what the results meant.. and how would you know if your second batch was the same as your first.

    You can legally , if stored properly, store up to 50 pounds of smokeless powder by Federal regs.. at 140 to 300 rifle loads per pound that is 7000 to 15000 reloads.. having enough brass on hand to load and reload that many rounds , to say nothing of bullets and primers should be problems enough for most folks ..

    By the way.. in this isolated case, the vast majority of Government Regulations involved all have a real good basis in safety and reality , far more than most government regs, and you should know, understand the why, and follow them carefully.. not because they are a reg , but because they are a safe practice.
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    The 30 30 was black powder in it's first year 1894 .

    In 1895 it became the first 'smokeless' powder

    cartridge .

    Also , I think it would be fine to load shot shells

    with black powder but don't forget that it is corrosive.



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    I just went with the OP's assertion that he has primers & projectiles, & is capable of making BP. After all it is his scenario after all so the reins on such things are in his hands.

    I've made up some BP loads as experiments, it's actually the opposite of what you'd think till you do the test. You cant blow up a modern gun with smokeless (unless you do something monumentally stupid like leaving an air gap in the case.) Mainly it's trying to get enough BP in the case to be satisfactory in power. In my case I made up a couple of BP loads for friend who wanted to get the ol' "Victorian experience" firing an Enfield. I loaded a 220 Gr round-nose lead bullet, filled the case utterly with FFFg & shook/vibrated, tapped & compressed as much as humanly possible then seated the projectile. It was still a pretty wimpy load with light recoil but a satisfactory amount of smoke so he was happy. (The original used a solid, compressed pellet at a higher charge weight of 71.5 GR, but I could not find a way to duplicate the pellet which was loaded into a primed case before it was necked down. (Try getting OSHA approval for that process today!)

    Old time blank trick is to fill the case with FFFg push a block of regular house soap down over the neck, give 1/2 turn & pull away. Voilla! a loud, smoky blank that leaves a cleaner in the bore. (note: all blank firing precautions apply, that plug of soap exits with a lot of force!)

    Would I do it that way?
    Different question entirely.
    Last edited by plonker; 10-19-2011 at 02:31 PM.
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    Yeah... I was going with needing the right projectiles to make a BP load effective, knowing that regular smokeless type projectiles probably won't have enough velocity to expand at the lower velocities and aren't heavy enough to make clean kills at any useful range.

    Folks always seem to underestimate the hazards of just storing BP, much less making it .. smokeless powder is so much less regulated than BP because it is so much safer and reliable and predictable. Given what it costs to properly make good BP , smokeless powder is cheaper to buy , easier to store, and reliable for much much longer than BP on a pound for pound basis .. and you get many more loads per pound..

    Do the math ,most modern cartridges cases can hold 30 grains , maybe 40 grains , at best less than 50 grains of BP .. While 30 grains of BP is a fair 44 cal pistol load , some pistols load up to 75 grains ( Walkers) .. 45-50 cal BP Rifles usually start at 75 grains and some go up to 150 grains.. That makes a modern rifle in a typical 30 cal cartridge, using about half the powder of a BP rifle, pistol loads really, and firing a pistol weight bullet .. 44 cal round ball is about 138-140 grain , get into conicals and you can see 180-200 grain bullets .. There is nothing magical happening here, you can't get blood from a turnip, you use BP pistol loads and BP pistols round ball bullet weights, regardless of bullet shape, .. you get BP pistol velocities and energies and range out of a modern rifle, not much more than that... and woe be unto those who try this on a rifle with a gas system.

    if you want to go with BP , and all you are going to get out of a 30 modern rifle is BP pistol performance at best.. why not just get a BP pistol to start with.. really nice ones are fairly cheap. However, in SHTF situation, you have to ask yourself.. do I want my poistion revealed by clouds of powder smoke? well, do you ?

    Couldn't resist a little Josie Wales when talking BP.
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    I reloaded some 38 Specials using 21 grains of FFg some years ago to see how they felt. Worked fine. In a book I read on reloading the 45-70 with black powder the author said to use magnum primers because they burned hotter.
    The 30-30 was a smokeless powder cartridge from the beginning, at they same time the 32 Special was developed, the idea behind that was the shooter could use factory smokeless rounds, then reload with more readily available black powder.

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    Do the math ,most modern cartridges cases can hold 30 grains , maybe 40 grains , at best less than 50 grains of BP
    By test the slow, obsolete, rimmed .303 takes 58.1GR of FFFg, possibly a hair more with a better technique, so I don't see where the "less than 50 Gr" part of that comes from, particularly at there are cases with higher capacities, such as the 300WinMag.

    I agree this is less than the factory's 71.5 Gr pellet which drove a 215Gr bullet at 1850FPS. Pretty anemic by today's standards, but with the 215 (or 220) gr round-nose hard cast lead it wouldn't be quite as inoffensive as you might think. Even my reduced 58.1 Gr load drove a 220 gr bullet at 1530FPS, not horrible, even if not a thousand yard load. That's why those old BP guys liked heavy bullets I'll bet. BP pistols ruin about 850~950 FPS BTW even with a stiff FFFg load so the longer barrel & heavier bullet of a rifle definitely is above cap & ball load intensity.

    Assuming hard cast heavy lead bullets, without a jacket, you can mold them with little equipment round a campfire, I've done so with help from an old BP shooting buddy who showed me the technique. That's where we got the "Victorian" loads for my friend from. So it's while not the perfect solution it could be a working one in extreme situations.

    The OP said "I have lever action and bolt action rifles and a pump shot gun." I think he realizes the gas gun is not a realistic option. Heck it's sort of what killed the "Bang" rifle & had us adopt the 30-40 Krag.

    Me? Heck I'll stash 10 Lb kegs of IMR4895 as it will reload 99% of what I shoot & with, boxes of modern bullets, & primers & a Lee Loader. 3 or 4 50 cal ammo cans at the destination, tucked away for a rainy day will do the job nicely. Even with a full-house .308 running a 165 Gr Sierra HBPT GameKing at 2550FPS it'll load me 1,500 rounds & I can't think what I'd use that volume of ammunition on.

    I'd have to stash the powder because this state allows only 8Lbs of powder (reducing to 5 soon) & then only if in a separate dwelling, not even semi-detached is allowed powder storage. Federal regs are frequently overridden by tighter state & local ones, so do check what your community allows before going with the "You can legally , if stored properly, store up to 50 pounds of smokeless powder by Federal regs" as a working limit.
    Last edited by plonker; 10-19-2011 at 03:11 PM.
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    The answer is YES, some of them. Shotshells, straight walled case in rifles and larger revolver cartridges lend themselves to the use of BP better than some others. Many were, as stated above, BP cartridges in the beginning and many are still loaded that way by folks who enjoy the shooting of BP. Pump, lever, bolt and Single Shot rifles and shotguns as well as revolvers tend to be better subjects for BP cartridges than are semi-autos. If you want to get into that type of shooting, try out http://castboolits.gunloads.com/ . Lots of info there on all aspects of the areas you touched on.
    Last edited by Drhall762; 10-21-2011 at 08:07 PM.
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    Black Powder and heavily necked Cases do not compute...Only straight cases or slightly necked cases will work with Black Powder...Mauser stopped experimenting when the had reduced the 11mm BP case ( M71) down to 9,5mm (Turkish M87) They ahd tried with smaller ( 8,5 and 9mm calibres) but found that with BP, there just wasn't enough Powder capacity.

    As to the .303, the original Rubin case ( 1885) was almost cylindrical with a pellet of Compressed BP topped by a brass ring crimped into the 45 cal neck, to hold the 8mm cal bullet...only the ring would let go, and block the barrel.
    The Brits improved this in 1888-89, with the Mark I BP load, a case with a solid tubular pellet of compressed BP, and then the case tapered, shouldered and necked down around the Powder...that's how they got 71 grains pf BP into a .303 case. But soon overtaken by Cordite (NC-NG )Load.

    NO other Modern Case has used BP in its original form, except the transitional 8x60/56R Kropatshcek case...sized down from the original 11mm Gras (BP) case, to a smooth flowing shoulder 8mm; it used BP in granulated form, and functioned reasonably well in the M1886 BP load...but was soon replaced by the M1899 Nitro load ( to the same pressures), and the Case shortened (Neck opnly) to 8x56R. (Kropatschek).

    Using BP in Modern cases is really a SHTF scenario, one would be better off either recycling other CF NC Powder, or making NC powder from old stock Nittrate Movie Film ( very hard to find these days) the way the Khyber Pass pathans used to. By the time one was using BP, one would be casting lead Bullkets, and probably reloading the primers as well (can be done, and reasonably safely...note Video from Libya...guy "remanufacturing" Dead primer 6,5 Carcano ammo.

    Shotgun cartridges are a totally different proposition...they certainly can be reloaded with Black powder, but forget about using "Plastic" Wads and shot tubes... back to tthe greased felt and card wads; even the shot can be "rough" cast, or even "cut" from lead sheet. The primers then remain the only hold up...but once Shot gun primers could be reloaded (and still can) by dismantling the Battery cup and putting in what is basically a Berdan Cup ( either new or re-filled.)

    So where there is a will there is a way.

    The only real problem is loss of Power, and the cleaning up after shooting....but then, in a SHTF situation, cleaning a gun is the very least of your problems....

    ".... always keep a rifle, and cartridges in store..." (1907, Henry Lawson, Australian Poet, and working class pioneer journalist and novelist)...he was referring to possible Northern Invasions --ie Russians or the "Yellow Peril" well before WW I.

    Regards,
    Doc AV
    Last edited by DocAV; 10-19-2011 at 06:16 PM.

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    I understand the whys and why nots on the brass cartridges, it makes sense.

    Why would you have to go to a greased felt and card wad and what is a greased card wad?

    On the shot gun, I guess just about anything could be used as a projectile as long as it is made out of softer material then the barrel is made out of. I have heard of rock salt being used. I'd guess that would be used in a muzzle loader. What other options would you recommend for shot gun projectiles?. I suggested pennies since zinc and copper is very soft. Could glass marbles be used? Or, here's one for myth busters, could you get away with using an Ice slug as long as you sealed your powder and kept it dry?
    If you think gun control is the answer, look what happened in Australia when they banned all hand guns in 1996? NEW LINK! 8/3/2013
    Try here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4tS0DGDf0I
    or here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyS3CEIbpJo

    English Warning "Our Gun Ban caused 40% jump in Gun Crime" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTyCD2n6HAQ


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    Glass aside from ending up in your food and ice have very low sectional density .. they will slow down very fast .

    making lead shot.. heck, making a lead shot machine, is easier and safer than making BP.
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    I don’t care what yur girlfriend keeps telling you, size dose matter. Especially in reloading.

    A penny Mikes out to about .750” a 12 gauge is bored .729” IF you do somehow get them stuffed into a case and then somehow get that stuffed into the chamber please let me know so I can take cover before you set that bomb off.

    If you insist on shooting zombies with coinage stick to the dimes. And make sure it is a cyl. bore shotgun. If it has a full choke things are going to get exciting, as a full choke measures only .680" and them dimes are coming in at .705" . You may also want to consider using old dimes that are made out of real silver as they should also prove effective on the werewolves and vampires.

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    I've seen this thread, or it's twin several times in multiple locations & I always have the same thought about the idea of hand-loading BP into something in the event of a major melt down.

    If you were prepared why the heck didn't you just load more ammo before "the fall" & store it safely?
    Tip from an archaeologist to a collector: "If it actually says 'B.C.' right on it, it's probably fake"!

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    Quote Originally Posted by plonker View Post
    I've seen this thread, or it's twin several times in multiple locations & I always have the same thought about the idea of hand-loading BP into something in the event of a major melt down.

    If you were prepared why the heck didn't you just load more ammo before "the fall" & store it safely?
    In this case, I am in the process of reloading and storing. I have more gun powder guns then BP. I came across something that just beg to ask the question. I did some searching on this forum and could not find the answer, so I asked.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger Z View Post
    ... A penny Mikes out to about .750” a 12 gauge is bored .729” ...
    If I ever got desperate enough to use coinage, and they would not fit, I am smart enough to get out a hammer and beat them down to something that would fit. I ask about pennies naively thinking they would have fit. Since pennies are so soft and mostly zinc, not worth anything much. I figured they could have been used as a projectile with little work.

    Quote Originally Posted by AmmoSgt View Post
    Glass aside from ending up in your food and ice have very low sectional density .. they will slow down very fast .

    making lead shot.. heck, making a lead shot machine, is easier and safer than making BP.
    Yea, my bad, I wasn't thinking a bout density, I was just thinking in a SHTF self defense scenario the marbles could be quite devastating.
    If you think gun control is the answer, look what happened in Australia when they banned all hand guns in 1996? NEW LINK! 8/3/2013
    Try here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4tS0DGDf0I
    or here -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyS3CEIbpJo

    English Warning "Our Gun Ban caused 40% jump in Gun Crime" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTyCD2n6HAQ


    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

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    Pennies work, sort of, in a 10-ga (nominal bore .775"), but fact is coins don;t really make good projectiles. Box of Truth tested them at one point IIRC, and the results were not suggestive of "Hey guys, this is a great idea just in case".
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    You might be better off with finishing nails. Flechettes anybody?
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    Quote Originally Posted by plonker View Post
    You might be better off with finishing nails. Flechettes anybody?
    They ain't gonna act like the flechettes Uncle issued back in the bad old SEA days - no little fins at the back to keep them pointy end forward. We had a flechette round for the 40mm GL (and some experimental ones for 12-ga shotguns), and they worked poorly in practice. Even the big Beehive rounds ("Dial-a-Dink" some called them) for 90mm and 155mm worked out less than fully as desired and intended. A load of finishing nails in a shotgun would be something that would work poorly at close range and not even that well at any distance at all (and probably be hard on the bore as well). A roll of coins would likely be better (but that doesn't mean good). JMO.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Years ago someone tested a submachine gun with black powder hand loads,and it ran through a lot of them before gumming up too badly.Glad I didnt have to clean it.Your SHTF rifle should always have more than one box of ammo.Some guys have cases of ammo.The real shtf rifle...is a bow.Makes no noise.Ever see what a broad head does to a deer? Rifles tell everyone where you are,a bow makes them guess.

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