Black Powder & Bullseye ??

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Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 5/30/2018, 1:10 pm

First topic message reminder :

The club I belong to has a group that shoots black powder guns once a month, on the same range we use for Bullseye shooting.
    http://www.hrpclub.info
I got to wondering if there is any Bullseye competition using these guns.  I'm guessing not, but am curious.

Years ago, I wanted to try it, but everything seemed way too complicated.  Then I got a black powder gun from a friend, but have never used it.  I keep thinking I'll go to one of those get-togethers, and see what it's like.  Getting together with people who know about something is the best way to learn.

Anybody else here do that?
Sounds like a low-key way to have an enjoyable day doing something very different......

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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 9:28 am

mikemyers wrote:Tim, when you first wrote this, it sounded infinitely more plausible than the idea that something coming out of the gun was going to make a u-turn, and get behind the ball/bullet in another chamber.  Still, it seems like a HUGE number of people think it's for the chain fire prevention.  

When you get time, maybe you can say more about loading, and seating depth.  The Ruger Old Army manual says you CAN fill the chamber with powder, and then press in the ball - and that this is NOT a good idea for accuracy.  Is 20 grains of powder a good starting point, or what would you recommend?  Regarding filler, do we want the chamber "filled" to the end after the ball is pressed in place?  And while I'm asking that, should the ball be pressed in until it reaches the powder/filler and just starts to compress the mix, or should it be pressed in much harder?  

Since this is Bullseye (as I see it), I'd like to follow whatever you recommend.

(The only thing I will continue to do differently than anyone else, is use just one chamber, until I feel more confident about everything.)


So it gets a little confusing because I’ve been addressing both “target” shooting methods and “plinker” shooting methods. For target: I load 18 grains of 3Fg Goex. 20 grains in any pistol is kind of the magical rule of thumb “try it and see if it works” kind of thing. So yes, try 20 grains. You may find your gun likes slightly more or slightly less or you may have exceptable results with 20 grains in which case you may not feel the need to experiment any further at the time. 

Load procedure for me: 

I load my cylinder in a separate press off of the gun frame. So this will be a little different for you but you can still do this “on the gun”. I measure and drop a powder charge in each chamber but only five. Never six. At the match we are not permitted to load more than five at a time. 

Then I use yellow corn meal coming out of a snack shack yellow mustard bottle. I’ve cut the tip shorter so the opening is bigger to help with the flow of the corn meal. I fill each chamber to the top so the corn meal overflows some. Then I use my finger and swipe flush and clean away any and all excess corn meal so each chamber has an 18 grain charge, and the remaining volume is cornmeal. I don’t pack any of it. I try not to disturb it. Let gravity do the work and keep it consistent. 

While loading powder and cornmeal, don’t go tapping the cylinder to get the stuff to settle so you can get more in there or keep the powder level. That won’t make a difference. And all you’re doing is changing how the cornmeal sits. Keep your load technique the same for each chamber and let gravity do the work. 

So now we have powder and corn meal flush. On a press I use a .454 ball and seat the ball into the chamber with the sprue facing straight up and the seam line from the casting pointed toward the middle of the cylinder. The idea is that each chamber is loaded the same. Each ball enters the forcing cone the same. With you loading on the gun and the chamber loaded as it is, it will be hard to seat the ball. You will need considerable force to get it in there. My press gives me the leverage to force the ball into a chamber that’s already full. That’s why I say it’s a compressed load. The cornmeal compresses the powder somewhat. Pressure increases. 

When the ball is seated, it should cut a solid ring of lead off the ball as it enters the chamber. It’s the chamber cutting the ball - not the press. The ball should be slightly oversized than the chamber. This is what creates your seal so there isn’t any leakage of gas around the ball as it’s fired (or for fairy tale believers this also insures there’s no ability of a frontal ignited chain fire). By the time the ball is loaded in a chamber and then is fired and swaged by the forcing cone it comes out the muzzle more like a bullet than a ball. 

So now we have the powder, cornmeal, and a ball. I use white lithium grease to cover the tops of each chamber. It is a bullet lubricant and helps keep fouling soft. That’s all. Not a chain fire stopper. 

Cap each nipple and blaze away. 

I’m not sure what else I can detail out. This is my load, and loading procedure and I’ve won the Nationals 2015, 2016, and 2017 and each year won the revolver agg, and hold one national record with the revolver.

EDIT: Ok sorry I’ll add a couple things here: When seating the ball, the chamber is full to the top already from powder, and cornmeal prior to the ball being added in. So seating it will be difficult. It will require some umph. With what force you can manage to get the ball in there, you may not be able to get it to go down very far below the surface of the chamber anyway. So don’t worry too much on seat death right now. Not until or unless you get a stand alone loading press that gives you strength and controllable seat depth. So just just press the ball in until it clears the face of the chamber. And you want to make sure you’re using the correct size ball not only for seal reasons but also - the bigger the ball, the more likely is to seal and a full seal means full contact inside between the chamber wall and the lead ball which means more gripping surface. Less likely to inch forward from recoil of another shot and cause a jam like we see in poorly crimped 38/357 cartridges.


Last edited by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 9:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Jon Math on 8/30/2018, 9:36 am

Do you use a drop tube, or is the revolver chamber just not deep enough for that to make any difference?
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 9:41 am

Jon Math wrote:Do you use a drop tube, or is the revolver chamber just not deep enough for that to make any difference?

I use a funnel but for the powder, not the cornmeal and no, I don’t use a drop tube. Too short of a distance to matter.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Jon Math on 8/30/2018, 9:56 am

Tim:H11 wrote:
Jon Math wrote:Do you use a drop tube, or is the revolver chamber just not deep enough for that to make any difference?

I use a funnel but for the powder, not the cornmeal and no, I don’t use a drop tube. Too short of a distance to matter.

Thanks!  I just picked up a Le Page target pistol do you think that barrel length is enough to make using a tube worth wild?
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 10:05 am

Jon Math wrote:
Tim:H11 wrote:
Jon Math wrote:Do you use a drop tube, or is the revolver chamber just not deep enough for that to make any difference?

I use a funnel but for the powder, not the cornmeal and no, I don’t use a drop tube. Too short of a distance to matter.

Thanks!  I just picked up a Le Page target pistol do you think that barrel length is enough to make using a tube worth wild?

I know the international guys think it’s important and I’ve seen some non-international (American Standard) guys use them too but honestly most of the shooters I know don’t use them. I don’t see it’s use making too much of a change if you’re swabbing between shots.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Jon Math on 8/30/2018, 11:34 am

thanks, I do know they like them over seas
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 2:30 pm

Thanks for all the detailed information.

For now, I'll stick with 20 grains, because that's what Bob uses.  Once I'm shooting on my own, I'll check out 20 and 18.

Corn meal - from Google:  "is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies". 
If I just buy it off the shelf, maybe Quakers, or Aunt Jemima, is that going to be the right stuff?

You wrote "I load my cylinder in a separate press off of the gun frame."
For now, I'll load in the gun, just one chamber.  Once I'm used to using the gun, I'll load 5, as you describe, off the gun.  There are quite a few presses listed for sale - can you recommend one you think is best?  I'll look around later today.  

Bullseye vs. plinking - for me, just Bullseye.

"So seating it will be difficult. It will require some umph."   If filling the cornmeal to the top of the chamber results in a LOT of force being needed, to minimize the chance of hurting my shoulder, will there be any problem in stopping below the end of the chamber, so the ball only needs to be forced in until it is within the chamber?  And then I'lluse grease, both for barrel lubrication and keeping the peanut gallery from yelling about chain fires...    :-)

Ruger specifies a .457" diameter bullet.  I will check for that ring that gets sheared off.  Speaking of the balls, I bought ones from Hornady.  I can't find anything that will allow me to:  "seat the ball into the chamber with the sprue facing straight up and the seam line from the casting pointed toward the middle of the cylinder.
I can't see anything, or feel anything.  Maybe Hornady just has better balls?     :-)

Considering your record, and your knowledge, I plan to do everything exactly as you do it, as I learn how.  That is very, very impressive!!!   Are there any publications that go out for Black Powder and the competitions?  


Speaking off that, can you post some of your targets?  Any videos of you shooting?
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Jon Math on 8/30/2018, 2:45 pm

Being from the North it is not uncommon for the Red’s Best brand of corn grits to be on the reduced rack as the expiration date come close.  You Southern boys would put grits on ice cream but up here they are not that popular at all so it goes unsold.  A one pound bag will last you a very long time.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 3:31 pm

Tim:H11 wrote:.......Load procedure for me........I load my cylinder in a separate press off of the gun frame. So this will be a little different for you but you can still do this “on the gun”. I measure and drop a powder charge in each chamber but only five. Never six. At the match we are not permitted to load more than five at a time.........
After looking at lots of websites, and lots of google images, I finally found one loader that I like.    Actually, after talking to Jerred at the company, there are two loaders, with a second one that is designed to work on several other guns.  The basic one is fine for the Ruger:

https://powderinc.com/product-category/cylinder-loader/



If I'm going to continue to use this gun, I like the idea of loading five chambers in the loader, under control, as you have described, and then moving the cylinder to the gun, adding the caps, and shooting.  

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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 3:53 pm

One more post, and then I'll move on to other things for the rest of the day - my head is spinning from so much information.

Tim, I wish I had started with this page before I started to ask questions here - there are three pages, and a goldmine of information.  I would have been asking better questions.  However, thanks to you, and the other people here, I actually understood most of what he wrote.

http://www.curtrich.com/frontiersmen.html

I think for me, one day a week will be for Black Powder, and the rest of the time will be back to regular Bullseye, no smoke...      :-)
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Jack H on 8/30/2018, 5:12 pm

Tim:H11 said
"So it gets a little confusing because I’ve been addressing both “target” shooting methods and “plinker” shooting methods. For target: I load 18 grains of 3Fg Goex. 20 grains in any pistol is kind of the magical rule of thumb “try it and see if it works” kind of thing. So yes, try 20 grains. You may find your gun likes slightly more or slightly less or you may have exceptable results with 20 grains in which case you may not feel the need to experiment any further at the time."

I have had a Ruger Old Army blue gun for a long time.  Never shot it but am anxious now to do so.  Long ago (1970s) I shot with Joe Williams, mostly for fun.  (Joe has The Gun Works in Springfield OR, nice old guy)  Joe did the loading for me as I shot modern guns.  I think Joe said use 23 grains FFFg.  Somewhere around here is a measure cup and some caps for it.  I found the FFFg.  I guess I need to find caps, balls, grease, and maybe cornmeal.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 6:30 pm

Jack H wrote:........Somewhere around here is a measure cup and some caps for it.  I found the FFFg.  I guess I need to find caps, balls, grease, and maybe cornmeal.
Since you've already done this, you probably know more than me, and you've certainly had more experience than me.  I've got a lot of "Do Not ......" from Bob; I can post them here if you want.  

Just one thing you might not know about the Ruger.....
(If you don't have the Instruction Manual, call Ruger at 336 949-5200 and ask them to send you the Instruction Manual for the Old Army.  It's free, and they will be happy to send it to you.)

On the right side of the gun, ahead of the cylinder, there is something that looks like a screw head.  Before you use the ram, make sure it is turned all the way clock-wise, and clicks in place - if you look on the other side of the gun, you'll see what is happening.  This "Basepin Retaining Pin" is what you turn CCW so you can dismantle the gun.  But when using the ram, if this Pin isn't locked in place, you will bend part of the loading mechanism.  Bob also emphasized how important this is, and if you read up in the Ruger Black Powder Forum, you'll see where people who didn't know this damaged their gun.

I expect to meet Bob next Tuesday and get more experience at using my Ruger.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 7:24 pm

Mikemyers the picture you posted of the loading press is a good one. But not much in the way of providing a repeatable seat dearth. Unless it has a set screw somewhere I missed. Simply have a machinist make you a jag for your caliber that has a lip. The lip will touch down on the face of the cylinder and then won’t be able to go any further. Bingo. Repeatable seat depth.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 8:09 pm

Tim:H11 wrote:........Simply have a machinist make you a jag for your caliber that has a lip. The lip will touch down on the face of the cylinder and then won’t be able to go any further. Bingo. Repeatable seat depth.
Tim, I just sent an email to Jerry, who is the president of the company.  Jerred, who I spoke to earlier, is his son.  

How much below the end of the cylinder do we want the ball to be?
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 9:00 pm

mikemyers wrote:
Tim:H11 wrote:........Simply have a machinist make you a jag for your caliber that has a lip. The lip will touch down on the face of the cylinder and then won’t be able to go any further. Bingo. Repeatable seat depth.
Tim, I just sent an email to Jerry, who is the president of the company.  Jerred, who I spoke to earlier, is his son.  

How much below the end of the cylinder do we want the ball to be?

I have no clue. Ideally you'd want it flush.The top of the ball's arc or curvature should be flush with the face of the cylinder. If you were to just have it maybe 1/16'' below that'd be fine too probably. Just so long as each shot goes the same. Here is a very crude picture of what the jag looks like. Use your imagination. The striped portion is obviously the screw. The dotted line shows the inside curvature is the arc of the ball. As you can see it comes up to about flush with the outside flat portion - which contacts the face of the cylinder as a stop. Now, the width of the jag doesn't have to match the diameter of the chamber. It's shouldn't really. If it did and you were off center just a bit while seating the ball then you smash the jag into the chambers edge. 

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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 9:19 pm

In the NMLRA I hold the record for the 25 yard Limited Time Fire target with the Revolver. 100-7X. 



Here is a 50 yard flint lock pistol pistol target I shot.


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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 9:22 pm

Hmm, what if we just made something that would clamp onto the OD of the ram; it would be large enough to extend beyond the chamber, and it could be moved up or down as desired, to get any depth we wanted.  

If the ram had a "slot" on one of the sides, we could even use a set screw to lock it in place.  I will pass these ideas on to Jerry.  
Here's the simple version, it just clamps around the ram, if it's clamped in place 1/4" above the end of the ram, the ball will end up 1/4" below the end of the cylinder.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 9:25 pm

Wow - of all the videos I have seen on YouTube with people shooting black powder, not one was getting a good group, let alone what you got!!!!

I understand your revolver (sort of); I haven't got a clue as to how the "flint lock pistol" even works.  50 yards......   double wow.  Are there any videos of these events?

Very, very impressive!!!!!!!!!!


I tried to find a website, but I could only find a page on the facebook.  ....and this:
https://www.ssusa.org/articles/2018/6/4/muzzle-loading-2018-nmlra-national-spring-shoot/

When you get time, can you write more about your guns?
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 9:53 pm

Google and visit YouTube in search for the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA). Look for pictures of muzzle loading target pictures in a Google image search. 

Your ring clamp idea has a risk of failure. If the constant use and abrupt contact the ring makes against the part of the press it stops on - causes the ring to shift slowly over time because it fails to stay put (because it’s not tight enough or because it’s stripping out) then shot after shot will be loaded at a different depth. Try it. See if it works. 

The benefit of different seat depths only apply to wether or not you’re loading with less filler, or wonder wads or playing for real and loading it as I do with cornmeal to the top.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 10:33 pm

You're right - I agree.   Might fail.  

If you did set a proper depth, I guess we could press a pin through the rod, and the pin would stop it at the proper depth.  

I'm way, way, way ahead of myself though.  The only black powder shooting I've done is this past Tuesday, and that was about six rounds, loading them with Bob catching my mistakes.  I need to crawl before I can walk, and walk before I can run.  More later - now I need to get some sleep.....
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 10:35 pm



Last edited by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 10:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/30/2018, 10:53 pm

No... well yes but no. That’s the NMLRA and Friendship but you need to check out the pistol line where there's less... crazy people. The AR was an abomination. The inline and optic guns don’t speak much to keeping tradition alive.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/30/2018, 10:54 pm

Tim, I replaced it with something better - haven't been able to find what you suggested yet.  Will search more tomorrow.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by Tim:H11 on 8/31/2018, 7:16 am

mikemyers wrote:Tim, I replaced it with something better - haven't been able to find what you suggested yet.  Will search more tomorrow.

That’s international. Look up on YouTube NMLRA and Mike Luma. Or Phil Piburn’s videos. He’s got some pictures posted. I don’t know if his wife kept up the account, he passed away.
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Re: Black Powder & Bullseye ??

Post by mikemyers on 8/31/2018, 11:16 am

Tim:H11 wrote:Mikemyers the picture you posted of the loading press is a good one. But not much in the way of providing a repeatable seat dearth. Unless it has a set screw somewhere I missed....
From Jerred:    


The brass ring on the handle has a set screw on the other side to set your depth. You cannot see the screw in pic on the brass ring. That will provide a repeatable seat depth.  The picture was taken on the opposite side and does not show set screw.




Here's another photo I found, but it's taken from the same side - they will take a new photo, and I'll do the same:



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