I am going to reload 32-40 black powder cartridges and need some tips.

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by bluesea112, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    West, TX
    I have an old Winchester 32-40 that was handed down from my grandfather. I have boxes of empty brass, and I would like to reload them using my homemade black powder (recipe also handed down).
    I have never loaded black powder cartridges, and there is no mention of it in any of my manuals.
    It is my understanding that black powder cartridges are loosly filled to the top with black powder, and the bullet compresses the black powder slightly when it is seated in the cartridge. Very simple and very fast.

    Do any of you guys have some knowledge on this subject that you could share with me?

    Thank you, in advance, for your help.

  2. Popgunner

    Popgunner Active Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    Yup I've done it with a few different cartridges.

    You're right that you fill the case completely-whatever the caliber. To leave airspace can be dangerous with BP. You can also get set up with a "drop tube" to get more BP into your cases if you want a tiny bit more power.

    When you seat your bullets you often get a crunching noise so be prepared for that.

    Expect to get your gun all cruddy & be ready to clean it.

  3. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    West, TX
    Thank you for confirming that for me. I sure wish smokeless cartridges were that easy to load.
  4. inplanotx

    inplanotx Active Member

    Jan 28, 2002
    Just to add one more thing. Static electricity is NOT your friend. Plastic drop tubes are a real no-no! Good luck.

  5. Waldog

    Waldog Member

    Jun 7, 2007
    Look on the Rifle/Handloader magazine web site. One of their authors, "Duke" Venturino, has written extensively about loading black powder cartridges. The NUMBER ONE RULE when loading BP is your tools must be spark free and static free. This means brass. Number TWO, you have got to load lead bullets only with a GENEROUS supply of lube. If you don't use the right type of bullet/lube combo you will get about 2 accurate shots and the rest will be all over the target. The lube keeps the BP fouling soft. Without it, the fouling gets hard and fouls the lands and grooves in the barrel, resulting in a "smooth bore" with zilch accuracy. Number THREE, BP charges need to be compressed "slightly". I think Duke recommends 1/16" compression but, you will have to verifly that and don't take my word. Loading BP ain't hard but, there is a lot more to it than loading smokeless.
    Just in case you don't know, you can load reduced smokeless charges that would be safe in your vintage gun. It's a a lot easier and less aggravation than BP.
  6. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    everything they said plus....

    how old it the brass? If it sat around with Black powder residue, it could have made the brass brittle.

    Do yourself a favor and get new brass. it's cheap insurance. and make sure you clean and dry it after shooting it.
  7. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    West, TX
    Thank you for your advice guys. I will keep all of that in mind.
  8. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2005

    Don't even THINK of making your own BP unless you really want to visit with all the Dupont employees that 'went across the river' ! Making it takes specific knowledge, equipment and skills and even the best blow up a powder maker or two regularly. Buy FFg.

    Absolutely use new brass and magnum primers, or at least a "hot" primer.

    Use a drop tube to get better ignition and reduced fouling. Use a gas checked bullet or get the right size arch punch to make a .030" cardboard powder card to put twixt powder and bullet. You should feel a slight 'crunch' from compressing the powder about .060" to put the bullet on the crimp cannalure. This bullet seating depth regulates the amount of powder you can use and BP is shock sensitive so be conservative with compression.

    These are extremely thin walled necks so extreme care must be taken to prep case mouths and when seating the bullets. Bullets must be flat nosed and crimped in order to work in the tube magazine.

    Deprime and wash cases with detergent and water and dry thoroughly immediately after shooting and before reloading. Cleaning a Winchester is harder than a Marlin because you can't remove the bolt as easily as I recall. Hot water and soap works here too. Or you can find one of the products specifically designed to clean BP. Hoppes or smokeless cleaners won't work and can do harm to an old gun.

    I load the same cartridge with BP. I got dies from RCBS and lubed/checked lead bullets from Mt. Baldy. If your haven't done it, slug the barrel to check on the size you need. I wouldn't shoot jacketed bullets through a barrel that old, the steel is too soft to stand up to the wear. >MW
  9. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    West, TX
    Thank you for your concern, but I have been making my own black powder for years. Buying commercially produced black powder is scary to me. All of the bp manufacturers use a different recipe, so not any two ffg powders will have the same burn rate. I know the burn rate of my powder, and it is as consistant as the sun rising in the morning. The big difference between commercial bp burn rates come from the type of wood used to make the charcoal for the BP. Willow, for instance, burns EXTREMELY hot. On the other hand, oak burns much cooler. If one manufacturer uses Willow charcoal for their ffg, and another one uses Oak charcoal, you will have two ffg black powders with different burn rates and temperature differences.
    I agree that making bp is a hazardous hobby. I have been making it for 20+ years and have the burn scars to prove it. The wisdom I have gained with age is that explosions and fire are guarenteed when making bp, so plan accordingly.
    Thanks for the loading tips, and I appreciate the Mt. Baldy info. I will give them a shout. I think I will stick with gas checked bullets instead of punching cardboard. The way my luck goes, the hot embers from the burned cardboard would start a brush fire on my property.
  10. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2005

    I'm curious how you 'proof' your powder....... >MW
  11. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    West, TX
    When I was first learning how to make bp, I used to scoop out a sample of my powder to run lines with. I would run a thin line of my powder 6 feet long, and then I would run a thin line of store bought ffg powder an arm length away for the same distance. Then I held a stick with glowing embers in each hand and touched them down on the lines at the same time. At that point we were off to the races. Depending on how fast or slow my powder burned compared to the store bought ffg, I could tell if I had f, ff, fff, or ffff.
    I have been making it for so long, I don't have to run store bought powder next to it anymore. I can just run a line of my powder by itself and know right away what my burn rate is.
    If I misunderstood your question, let me know, but I think proofing the burn rate is what you were asking about. correct?
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