Smokeless vs Black Powder ammo

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by w1spurgeon, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    Is there a way to tell if an old centerfire pistol is designed to fire BP or smokeless ammo? I have heard that as a rule of thumb any pistol manufactured after 1910 is safe for smokeless. Hard to believe that this one date fits all pistol makers. So how does one tell?
  2. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    There is no date certain for the use of smokeless powder. It is the type and amount that is important in any gun, old or new. In other words with the exception of perhaps a flint lock and then only because of ignition issues smokeless powder can be shot in anything. Colt for example came out with there single action Peacemaker in 1873 and while sometimes the early models are referred to as black powder guns, it is only because smokeless powder had not yet been invented. I load smokeless powder in everything I shoot including Damascus barreled shotguns and been doing it for over 50 years and I haven't hurt anything yet.
  3. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    In the very late 1900's most of the manufacturers switched steels to account for the completely different pressure curve of smokeless powder ammunition.

    It is unsafe to shoot smokeless powder ammunition in any gun that was not intended for it. You can get away with it if the loads are mild enough but the life of the gun is still reduced as the sharp pressure curve can do damge to milder steels.

    Be safe and don't use smokeless powder in black powder guns. You and they will last much longer if you use black powder in black powder guns. Mike Venturino has several good books out on shooting black powder guns.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b...ipbooks&field-keywords=mike venturino&x=0&y=0

    This is my opinion and yours may be different.

    LDBennett
  4. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I was thinking the operative phrase in muddober's statement was, "haven't hurt anything yet".

    LD, there has got to be a better way to say that. I know that you were talkin' about the "oughts", like ought three, ought seven, ought nine. Just like sayin' the late 1920s. But the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw "late 1900s" was 1997, 1998, 1999. "The man's insane. What's he mean, they converted to stronger steel in the late 1900s? They did that in the early 1900s." :p
  5. w1spurgeon

    w1spurgeon Member

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    I understood exactly what you were saying Mr. Bennett.

    So, the concensus is that I should shoot BP cartridges in guns designed for that. My question is: how do I find out if a specific pistol was designed for smokeless? Is there a reference book on the subject?
  6. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

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    I feel LD got it right on the difference in the pressure curve. I always try to stay within design. Reading a book or two about it before any undertaking is good advice.
  7. CampingJosh

    CampingJosh Moderator

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    I don't know of any book that would be a reference on all guns; there are several manufacturer-specific books that should be of some help.

    It's quite possible that two of the exact same model from the exact same maker--made in different years--would be on different sides of the OK/not OK question.

    Your best bet is likely to find a book about the history of your manufacturer and see what it says about your model, including date of production for your s/n.

    Other than that... maybe post up info/pics of the gun on that "Ask the Pros" forum.
  8. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Sorry about the date mis-statmenet. I meant the late 1800, and actually the 1890's. The first successful smokeless cartridge, the way I hear it, was the 30-30, introduced in the Winchester 1894 (Model 94) in 1894. The Colt Peacemaker was introduced in 1873 (I believe) so examples after about 1900 are probably safe to use with smokeless powder but I will refer you to the Venturino books on exactly what serial number range becomes safe for smokeless powder. Even smokeless Peacemakers should not be hot loaded beyond the reloading manuals as the design is no match for a modern Ruger Single Action for strength. Laying the two guns side by side will easily reveal that.


    The Venturino books cover a lot of common vintage pistols and rifles available today. Mike shoots in Black Powder competitions and BP guns are probably his first love (not counting his wife). If mike says it about vintage guns I believe him!

    LDBennett
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