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Shooting & Reloading - Mausers, Big Bores and others >> Muzzleloaders & Blackpowder

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EDELWEISS
.333 member


Reged: 22/11/05
Posts: 317
Loc: Gettysburg
Leaving a BP Loaded
      #345546 - 05/10/20 12:18 AM

How long can I leave a BP firearm loaded? Does using a substitute help/hurt?

Ive always heard that I should clear and clean a muzzleloader after a day of hunting but Ive also heard that many firearms have been found after years with a loaded barrel.

Im finding it hard to believe guns were cleared every day "back in the day"

Thoughts


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Vladymere
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Reged: 11/08/15
Posts: 177
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: EDELWEISS]
      #345549 - 05/10/20 02:33 AM

I have a Ruger Old Army pistol that I left loaded for several years. When I did discharge the arm and cleaned the weapon I found all cylinder chambers where pitted. Not pitted to a dangerous degree or making the pistol unusable but it chaps my butt none the less.

We all know that black powder residue is hygroscopic but I had not realized unfired black powder is hygroscopic also.

If you don't have a need to keep the firearm loaded then unload it and clean it.

Vlad


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Daryl_SModerator
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Reged: 10/08/05
Posts: 21442
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Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: Vladymere]
      #345554 - 05/10/20 03:47 AM

I believe the length of time you can get away with leaving a BP rifle loaded without damage to the gun, depends a lot on the lubricant used on the patch.
In Vladymere's instance off the chambers being pitted, I'm not sure.
BP powder as it is, is usually not particularly susceptible to absorbing moisture on it's own. Perhaps it is possible the Ruger was not well cleaned before loading, or the powder used was GOEX or other brand from a period when the powder actually broke down due to the potassium nitrate used in the mix.
Black powder substitutes that use perchlorate in the mix should not be used in any ML gun. That is all I will say on that subject, other than perchlorates ie: chlorates fouling is VERY corrosive to iron molecules. BP fouling causes oxidation of the metal surface it is on, when the humidity is above about 35%.
Chlorate and perchlorate fouling does not need the humidity to be that high (35%) in order to absorb moisture from the atmosphere & turn into an acid which actually dissolves, has an affinity towards iron molecules.
Use perchlorate 'powders' at your own peril.
When using track's mink oil or Neetsfoot Oil, I have left my 14 bore that was "fresh" loaded for up to 3 months, without damage. Mind you, it was not fired, then reloaded & left loaded.
"Back in the day", guns were poorly looked after, were shot very little compared to what we do today with them. As well, even though they were not shot much, their bores needed re-boring and the rifling "freshed" often. This was due to the quick wearing of iron & the poor care of the guns leading to their bore rotting state.

EDELWEISS - you have probably heard or are well aware of the damage caused to a bore by using "corrosive" primers. Those contain just a tiny smidgen of the chlorates used in many of the phony powders, which can total up to 17% of their composition. Think about that quantity for a minute.

--------------------
Daryl


"a rifle without hammers, is like a Spaniel without ears" Edward VII


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EDELWEISS
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Reged: 22/11/05
Posts: 317
Loc: Gettysburg
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: Daryl_S]
      #345570 - 05/10/20 08:40 AM

Thanks Im asking for two reasons. First Im planning a two week hunt and didnt want to have to load and clean it every day. Second I was toying with the idea of carrying a BP revolver as a self defense gun "just because" and "for show" when I work in the gun shop. I suppose I can shoot and clean it every week or so.

Ive got a couple different guns I had toyed with "carrying", (LeMat, Starr DA, and 1860 Colt--maybe even the 20ga Howdah) all are repros but I dont want to ruin them. As I said it just for fun and to be a bit showee...

For the hunt Im going to use my 72 cal Pedersoli Double Rifle.


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85lc
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Reged: 19/01/18
Posts: 156
Loc: Georgia, USA
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: EDELWEISS]
      #345571 - 05/10/20 10:18 AM

I have left a BP ML rifles loaded for a couple day hunt and never had an issue.

--------------------
RB


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Daryl_SModerator
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Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: 85lc]
      #345572 - 05/10/20 11:47 AM

Well, the LeMat is all business with 9 44RB's and the 20 bore in the middle.
I do not foresee a problem for being loaded for a week.

If a slip of leather is place on the rifles nipples and the hammers of the rifle lowered on those overnight, just to seal the load,
they should be just fine. The greased (hopefully) patches will or should be sealing the tops of the loads.

--------------------
Daryl


"a rifle without hammers, is like a Spaniel without ears" Edward VII


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EDELWEISS
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Reged: 22/11/05
Posts: 317
Loc: Gettysburg
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: Daryl_S]
      #345587 - 06/10/20 12:45 AM

Quote:

Well, the LeMat is all business with 9 44RB's and the 20 bore in the middle.
I do not foresee a problem for being loaded for a week.

If a slip of leather is place on the rifles nipples and the hammers of the rifle lowered on those overnight, just to seal the load,
they should be just fine. The greased (hopefully) patches will or should be sealing the tops of the loads.




Hahaha Living near Gettysburg inspired me. Anybody can carry a Glock (and I do) but theres something cool about going retro. Im torn between the LeMat and Starr DA. The LeMat gets credit for "Say hello to my little friend" and the I sorta like the double action feature of the Starr.

Thanks for the tip on leather on the nipples.


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Vladymere
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Reged: 11/08/15
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Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: EDELWEISS]
      #345590 - 06/10/20 02:42 AM

Edelweiss,

I would think that leaving a BP firearm loaded for two weeks would not be detrimental to the chambers/bore/

In my instance, with my Ruger Old Armey, I left it loaded for probably three years (1980 -1983) while living in Columbia, SC, a very humid locartion.

The pistol had been well cleaned and lubricated prior to loading though I may have fired a cap on each chamber prior to loading as I had learned to do for initial loadings to insure the nipple and chamber are clear. If so perhaps the primers caused the chamber pitting issue.

Daryl_S has suggested also that the powder may have contributed. I don't remember what powder I used.

Again though, for what you are looking to do you should be fine.

Vlad


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EDELWEISS
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Reged: 22/11/05
Posts: 317
Loc: Gettysburg
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: Vladymere]
      #345597 - 06/10/20 07:07 AM

Thanks guys, Im gonna give it a try in the revolvers (as the hunt isnt scheduled until the end of January). I think Ill try a week at first then maybe a couple weeks and if thats ok maybe a month but I cant see more than that; after all theyre meant to be shot.

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szihn
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Reged: 24/06/07
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Loc: Wind River Valley, Wyoming
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: EDELWEISS]
      #345606 - 07/10/20 02:11 AM

I am a full-time gunsmith and started my career doing restorations on antiques back in the early 70s. Because of the job, working on old guns was the norm.

I bet I have working on at least 2 dozen guns that were loaded when they came in and all those that had not been wet were fully capable of firing.
Black powder has 3 basic components. Potassium Nitrate, sulfur and charcoal. None of those will break down with age. So if the potassium nitrate is not devolved and washed away it never goes bad, or breaks down. Sulfur is a natural mineral that is found and mined in the fist place. Charcoal can break down over hundreds of years by sunlight, but if kept dark it will last as least as long as the pyramids in Egypt (it's been found in sepulchers and was as good when found as when it was placed there.)

So if the gun is kept correctly and not immersed under water, a weapon loaded with black powder will fire no mater now long ago it was loaded.

The guns I worked on in the 70s were loaded in the days of the Civil War or "Indian wars" and never unloaded. They may as well have been loaded the day before I got them. ALL (as in 100%) were still 100% capable of firing.


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Daryl_SModerator
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Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: szihn]
      #345608 - 07/10/20 02:57 AM

As regards the powder, I was referring to the contaminated saltpeter that was used by GOEX or other MFG'ers at one time, as noted by Bill Knight on the ALR forum. Bill was testing powders from various manufacturers at that time.
I shot off 3 or 4 pounds of American Deadshot in the 70's that had to have been made prior to the company blowing up in 1898.
It was the best powder I've ever used and was said to be second only to Curtis and Harvey's #6 Diamond Grain sporting powder of the 1880'a+.

--------------------
Daryl


"a rifle without hammers, is like a Spaniel without ears" Edward VII


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93x64mm
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Reged: 07/12/11
Posts: 2168
Loc: Nth QLD Australia
Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: Daryl_S]
      #345641 - 07/10/20 11:06 PM

Quote:

As regards the powder.....
I shot off 3 or 4 pounds of American Deadshot in the 70's that had to have been made prior to the company blowing up in 1898.......




Know you been a round a while mate..........bloody good for you age then!!!
Guess it should have been 1998 instead???


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Daryl_SModerator
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Re: Leaving a BP Loaded [Re: 93x64mm]
      #345644 - 08/10/20 03:52 AM

LOL - as I wrote, I shot this stuff in the 70's - should perhaps have said 1970's. The company blew up in 1898 as noted.

--------------------
Daryl


"a rifle without hammers, is like a Spaniel without ears" Edward VII


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