Your inputs please!

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Old Gun Guy, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Old Gun Guy

    Old Gun Guy Member

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    I love to restore old H&R and I.J. revolvers. Some of them are classified as "black powder only". However, I was told on numerous occasions from reloaders and cartridge company technicians that the modern day .32 S&W and .38 S&W cartridges are loaded to the same specs as their black powder counterparts, and were chronographed at the same muzzle velocities. They all said that if the "black powder only" revolver is in good shape, and checked by a competent gunsmith, that it is safe to fire modern loads in them.
    Is this correct? I don't reload, and therefore I am not too knowledgable on the subject. Your inputs would be very appreciated.
    Thanks in advance!
    Old Gun Guy
  2. RandyP

    RandyP Member

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    I reload but wonder if the chamber pressures would be excessive even with similar chrono results?
  3. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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  4. the morning light

    the morning light New Member

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    Yes, the .38 S&W and the .32 S&W can be reloaded with smokeless powders. The .32 S&W with a solid frame in good condition can be reloaded to maximum loads and the break top models, use starting loads only are recommended. From 1940 on the factory loaded with smokeless powder for the .32. The Lyman 45 edition recommends that you slug the barrel on .32 S&W and cast bullets as close to your groove measurement as possible as barrel diameter varied considerably and accuracy can be effected.
  5. scrat

    scrat New Member

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    If you were reloading the best powder to use on that i would imagine would be Trail Boss. otherwise i would stick to GOEX
  6. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    While you can match black powder ballistics with smokeless powder you can not match the pressure curve. Black powder's pressure curve is lower but longer whereas smokeless powder pressure curve is much sharper with more impact over a shorter period of time. The impact may eventually do damage.

    Some may choose to use factory smokeless ammo in a black powder only gun, but I most certainly would not! It may work fine for a while but the fatigue of the metal builds up over time. If you value the gun and your safety then don't shoot smokeless powder ammo in a black powder only gun.

    LDBennett
  7. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Several things wrong here.

    Yes, you can load them with smokeless. This was not the question. The question was is it safe to shoot smokeless loads in black powder guns.

    Yes, the solid frame S&W can take a lot (although it was invented in 1896, and S&W recommends you not shoot smokeless in guns made before 1909). The question was about H&R and Iver Johnson break-top guns, though.

    Lyman does, indeed, recommend slugging the barrel. They also say WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THE USE OF RELOADS IN REVOLVERS OF THE TOP BREAK DESIGN DUE TO THEIR AGE AND RELATIVE WEAKNESS. If you're going to quote the manual, to back up your position, you should quote ALL of what they say.

    "From 1940 on the factory loaded with smokeless powder for the .32." So? Cor-Bon makes kick-ass 45 Colt loads, loaded with smokeless powder. Would you recommend that I shoot them in my 1874-vintage 1st Generation Single Action Army?
  8. the morning light

    the morning light New Member

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    I was on page 162 of the Lyman 45th edition. It just says to use starting loads only for top break models. What reference are you using?
  9. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    Lyman Pistol and Revolver, 2nd Edition, from 1994.

    Also, Lyman 47th, page 370. "We no longer suggest the use of reloads in revolvers of the top-break design, due to their age and relative weakness. Lyman 47th is from 1992.

    My Cast Bullet Handbook, from 1973, says to use the starting loads, but it's 37 years old. You might want to think about getting a newer book.
  10. the morning light

    the morning light New Member

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    Yes, It is getting pretty old, thanks Alpo.
  11. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    I would add that there is more to the strength of a gun than just the shape of the metal. There is the metallurgy of the frame and cylinder.

    Big changes in the strength of steel occurred in the late 1800's and early 1900's and again around the time of WW II. Guns made before the stated time of pre-1910 may have old metallurgy metal in them and as such may not be strong enough for modern smokeless powders. Heed the warnings!

    LDBennett
  12. army mp

    army mp Member

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    As usual great info and resources, Alpo and Bennett. Could not agree more. Every thing I have read over the years. Has pretty much been. Not to load BP guns with Modern Smokeless powder or factory loads. Not worth the possible consequences.
  13. the morning light

    the morning light New Member

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    I agree on that. I have an old rolling block that I had to make a mold of the chamber and rifling and mic to figure out the caliber which I determined to be .43 Spanish. After buying components to reload I used Varget powder(don't remember the charge without looking it up) and a little puff of Dacron fiber to hold the powder against the primer.

    Well, I was a little apprehensive about firing it at the range. In fact I fired it from a standing position while the rifle was on the bench. No pressure signs, old relic shoots good. I haven't shot it in a while, but I think I will take you guys advice and try black powder or equivalent when I shoot it again.
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