Black Powder for Self-Reliance – Component 1, by M.B. Creating Black Powder.


(Continued from Component two.)

Introductory Disclaimer (Repeated):
Creating black powder, when secure in the author’s experimental encounter, can be harmful. The author and do not endorse producing black powder, and you do so at your personal danger. Creating black powder could also be in violation of the laws in your jurisdiction. You are accountable for compliance with all laws in your location. Neither the author, nor, are accountable for your use of the facts in this report. The processes described herein are hence for informational purposes only.

Security Note (Repeated):
Black powder can be harmful if there is a gap in between the powder and the projectile, when the firearm is loaded. When loading a muzzle loading firearm, be certain to seat the projectile firmly, so there is no empty space above the powder. This consists of cap-and-ball revolvers, which can have no space in between the powder and the ball or bullet, despite the fact that wads can be utilised to fill the space when a light powder charge is utilised. When loading black powder cartridges, there should be no empty space inside the cartridge. You may possibly have to have to use a wadding or other “filler” more than the powder to take up the space inside the case.


Black powder is ignited in firearms with a selection of procedures. The initial actually sensible technologies was the flintlock. The hammer held a piece of flint, or a related mineral. When the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell, the flint would strike the steel frizzen and shower sparks into a pan of powder and ignite the key powder charge in the barrel. Despite the fact that the a lot more ancient matchlock could potentially be a lot more trusted, the flintlock was a price-efficient firearm that could be kept loaded and prepared at an instant’s notice.

Flintlocks are normally recommended for survival when the retailers are closed. When it is correct that a devoted craftsman and shooter can retain a flintlock operating just about indefinitely with no resupply, the flintlock can be difficult for newbies. In some areas [without rocky creek bottoms], appropriate “flint” is challenging to come by. Moreover, the percussion technique has some positive aspects of its personal.

It is no coincidence that after percussion technologies became extensively obtainable, it started to replace flintlocks in most areas, in particular in military firearms. Percussion firearms use a smaller metal cap with sensitive chemical compounds in it to set off the key charge. The cap is placed on a cone, or nipple, which has a tiny hole in it, major into the breach of the firearm. When the cap is struck by the hammer, the chemical compounds in it ignite and in turn ignite the key powder charge.

Percussion caps are much less impacted by moisture than the loose fine-grained powder utilised to prime a flintlock. Despite the fact that a very good flintlock in very good hands can be incredibly trusted, percussion is a lot more trusted in much less skilled hands than a flintlock. The action is easier and a lot more compact, and is usually less difficult to sustain and repair.

1 of the greatest positive aspects of the percussion cap is that its smaller size makes it possible for it to be utilised in black powder revolvers. A .44 black powder revolver is a potent weapon that can nevertheless do the job, even although the earliest productive percussion revolver, the Colt Paterson, debuted 183 years ago!

Tap-O-Cap and Percussion CapsA percussion cap is also less difficult for the typical particular person to make than a single could feel. For my experiment, I utilised a Tap-O-Cap tool that is almost forty years old. It was made to make caps from aluminum beverage cans, and I’ve created a lot of percussion caps from soft drink cans more than the years. This time, although, I utilised a discarded roasting pan for the caps that had been utilised with my homemade powder. The priming material is toy paper caps (as utilised in old style “cap guns”).

Percussion nipples can be created by cutting a piece of a machine screw to length, drilling a hole by means of it, and reshaping a single finish to accept a percussion cap. It is less difficult to obtain nipples proper now, but they are fairly easy devices [for any machinist] to improvise in a pinch.

Vital Security Note: You should put on security glasses when producing or handling percussion caps!


Offered the easy shape of a percussion cap, it is not surprising that tools are obtainable to make your personal caps at property. The Tap-O-Cap, nonetheless, has lengthy been out of production. They are hard to locate for sale, even on net web sites such as eBay. A probable replacement for the Tap-o-Cap, from a business referred to as Sharp Shooter, is their “#11 Percussion Cap Maker.” It is is now obtainable for $44.95, but I have not had the chance to test a single however. It makes use of a item referred to as “Prime-All” to fill the percussion caps. The business sells it as 4 harmless chemical compounds that are mixed properly to make the priming material.

With a Tap-O-Cap, I can turn a strip of aluminum into a pile of empty percussion caps with pleated sides. The Tap-O-Cap came with a paper punch, which can be utilised to punch the centers out of toy paper caps. A smaller piece of wood dowel (I use a piece reduce from a bamboo skewer) is utilised to gently press 3 toy caps into every single newly-formed cap.

The caps I have created with a Tap-O-Cap more than the years have worked surprisingly effectively, but caution should be utilised with cap-and-ball revolvers. Due to the fact of their pleated sides, the homemade caps can not match as tightly on the nipples as No. 10 or No. 11 percussion caps. It is probable that the loose match could be the trigger of a chain fire, exactly where firing a single revolver chamber sets off a single or a lot more of the other chambers. As you can see in the photo at the prime of this report, there is lots of fire present when a black powder revolver is discharged.

Due to the fact of this danger of chain fire, I load and shoot my revolver as a single shot when making use of homemade caps.

If I decided to carry a completely-loaded black powder revolver making use of homemade caps, I would likely attempt to squeeze every single cap to guarantee that it match tightly on the nipple. I would then meticulously apply a handful of drops of molten wax to seal about every single cap, to attempt to avert a spark from obtaining below a single of the caps. I of course would not pour wax from a lit candle!

A far better course of action would be to hoard my provide of Remington #10 factory-created caps and place them on 4 of the 5 loaded chambers. The chamber that was initial to come below the hammer would have a homemade cap on it. If I only required to take a single shot, I would prevent making use of a factory cap for that shot with this process.


Blackpowder RevolverI tested my homemade powder and percussion caps with an Uberti replica of the 1863 Remington New Model Army revolver in .44 caliber (essentially it is a .45). This is the gun that is usually — and erroneously — referred to as the “1858 Remington.” The Remington “NMA” is an great design and style and is well-liked with Civil War re-enactors and black powder shooters. It has a strong prime strap, as opposed to the Colt styles and therefore is a robust revolver with a somewhat modern day appear. The Remington also has security notches in the cylinder, enabling a relatively very good degree of security for carry with six loaded chambers. I will continue to advise loading 5 and lowering the hammer on an empty chamber, nonetheless.

Ballistically, the Remington tends to make very good use of black powder. It also has an eight-inch barrel for greater velocities. Its deep chambers enable for the bigger charges of powder than some other .44 cap-and-ball revolvers. It was simple to load 35 grains of powder. I was capable to load 40 grains, but the quantity of powder compression was a lot more than I think about secure. Smaller sized charges can be utilised, of course, by seating the bullet or ball deeper in the chamber to rest against the powder.

This report describes a “worst case scenario” test. I imagined a particular person who did not have access to the best elements for loading the revolver. I utilised hardware shop and grocery shop chemical compounds, although I did obtain my charcoal from a chemical business, as I could locate no willow trees developing anyplace close to me. By the way, willow charcoal is extensively thought of to be the finest.

For lead, I scavenged lead from the backstop of a neighborhood pistol variety, imagining that a particular person could have to use what ever scrap lead they could locate. The lead turned out to be significantly also challenging and triggered difficulties for me. Additional on that, later. For the caps, I attempted a roasting pan that I discovered in the trash at a barbecue. It was utilised only for serving and cleaned up effortlessly.


Non-petroleum lube is required when shooting black powder. I created up a smaller batch of homemade “bore butter,” melting 1 ounce every single (by weight) of olive oil and beeswax in an empty cat meals can in a pan of water. I utilised the 50/50 recipe mainly because I reside in the Deep South and would be shooting in summer season heat. The components are well-liked, but some shooters use as significantly as 4 components oil to a single component beeswax for lube that will not freeze strong in the depths of winter. The popular recipe is a single component beeswax to two components olive oil or other fat. Do not use a fat that includes salt, such as bacon grease.

I utilised a cat meals can mainly because I obtain the plastic lids that match them. These cans are wonderful for mixing and storing several lubes for shooting. To make lubed felt wads, melt some lube in a can and stir in the wads till the lube is utilised up. Leave the wads in the can and let it cool, then place a lid on it. A further practical sort of can is a recycled shoe polish tin. The tiny, rotating “key” on the side is incredibly handy when hands are slippery just after shooting cap-and-ball revolvers!

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Component four.)


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