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

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824tidbit
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Reged: 22/01/16
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Loc: USA
Wad used between powder and patched ball
      #277326 - 30/01/16 08:11 AM

Gents,
Could you describe the use of a "wad" between the powder charge
And patched ball.
What type/ kind of wad is used and when it is appropriate.
Thank you,

Geo


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Huvius
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: 824tidbit]
      #277328 - 30/01/16 09:04 AM

For muzzle loaders, I have only used wads in cap'n ball revolvers. The wads are either a waxed card (card stock or milk carton with a smear of lube over the ball) or a felt wad soaked in lube such as an ox yoke wad or wonder wad with no lube over the ball.
In a patched ball rifle I see no need for a wad unless there is just not enough lube in the patch to keep fouling soft.
I do use cards and wads in my paper patch bullet rifle too but that is a different question altogether.

--------------------
He who lives in the past is doomed to enjoy it.


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Wayne59
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Huvius]
      #277343 - 30/01/16 01:34 PM

The use of the wad in cap and ball revolvers between powder and shot is supposed to eliminate chain firing between cylinders (witch is not a good thing). I have fired revolvers for thirty years or so with and without them without a problem. If you don't use the wad use a good coating of grease over the ball. Back one hundred and fifty years ago they didn't have wonder wads.

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Rancid_Crabtree
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Wayne59]
      #277344 - 30/01/16 03:05 PM

I hardly ever use patched round balls any more, but when I do there is never a wad between the patched ball and the powder.

As mentioned, in cap and ball revolvers there is the very real hazard of multiple discharges where the round being fired ignites one or more of the other charges in the cylinder. There is an over powder waxed wad and it seems a second wad over the bullet is recommended too.

I just did a web search that brought up a website stating that waxed felt wads over the powder and under a patched ball reduced group size (yes they were selling the wads too) and you may have heard someone parroting that, to my knowledge the backpowder target shooters don't use them for whatever that is worth.

In regards to revolvers, my Dad taught me to use crisco over the top of the bullets to prevent chain discharges and also to keep the powder residue soft. Messy for certain, and I am certain there are better ways to do it but hey, it's how Dad taught me and since he isn't around any more to say anything different I suspect I'll keep doing it that way for a while more.


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Birdhunter50
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Rancid_Crabtree]
      #277356 - 31/01/16 12:24 AM

I used to shoot percussion revolvers quite often back in the 60's and 70's. I've only had one chain fire and that was with a Ruger Old Army using Crisco over the balls on a hot day. I don't know if I just didn't get enough of the grease where it belonged or if the heat made the grease run out, but it fired the chamber in line with the barrel and the ones on each side of the barrel. Three shots at once using full powder charges! I thank God that Bill Ruger built some nice strong revolvers!
There was no damage to the gun from this happening and the only wounds I received were a sliver or two of lead and a thoroughly deflated ergo. Bob


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DarylSModerator
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Birdhunter50]
      #277363 - 31/01/16 06:16 AM

Today we know to use a much oversized ball in cap and ball revolvers - so there is a ring of lead shaved from the ball when it is seated. A greased wad, like Elmer's felt hat, or OxYoke itself will prevent chain fires- or should. In days of old, chain fires happened more often due to the issue nitrated paper ctgs. issued for the service revolvers.

Couple years ago, a friend bought himself a repro Walker 1847. He found a cheap mould for .440" balls at a garage sale and bought it, intending to use it in the cap and ball revolver.

I told him to measure the chamber mouths and buy a mould .004" larger than the largest chamber mouth - usually a .454" works, .457" for the Ruger. He wanted to save his money for powder and caps so he used the undersized ball- figuring he would patch the balls with cloth like in a ML rifle.

The resulting chain fire was 4 out of 6 loads going off, with the bottom chamber being one of them, driving a ball into the loading rod port and bending the frame.

Some people who will not or can not load a tight ball and patch load in a rifle, obtain somewhat improved accuracy by putting a wad between a patched ball and the powder in a rifle. The reason for their improved accuracy is that the patch helps to seal the powder gasses and flame behind the ball, not blasting past & frying their too-thin patch as was happening before. Escaping powder flame, frying patches from around the ball is not conducive to good accuracy.

The increased velocity is the result of the wad sealing the powder gasses behind the ball, much as a grossly undersized bullet fired in a modern rifle will have less velocity & normally accuracy than one that fits the groove diameter.

HOWEVER - if you use a decent/proper ball and patch combination, there will be NO improvement in accuracy and NO increase in speed over the patched ball in the rifle, in comparison.

In the small bore muzzleloading rifles, like .32's up through .45, as used in my tests with wads, I could not get as good accuracy using wads as without them, just normally patched balls. The difference, ie: accuracy loss was not great, as the group sizes only increased to double normal 50 yards.
Average groups ran 1/2" to 1" with normal patches & no wads while up to 2" with the same patches and using wads between patched ball and powder.

I will note here, I used a 1/10" card wad cut from a monoploy board between the grease patched patched ball and powder back in the 80's & 90's for hunting with my .69 cal. rifle. That 14 bore did not care accuracy wise, whether the load had an additional wad or not, unlike the small bores where any change in loading, changed the accuracy.

The reason for that wad, was to protect the powder from the Mink Oil on the patch - as I thought there might be some contamination. Subsequent testing reveals that those "concerns" were unfounded and thus I no longer use the wads to protect the powder in my hunting loads.

When using 165gr. 2f in the charge, there was no difference in speed nor point of impact, wad or not, even after 6 month's storage as initially loaded. Such tests take time- obviously, usually year after year. Last Sunday I fired off the hunting load that I had loaded in my 14 bore, on the 10th of October, no wad. The ball struck fair, right on the spot the bead covered on the plate. Mind you, it was at the normal Moose range - 25 yards. A moose has a large X ring, so ever a little windage or elevation would not have mattered. As it wasn't he shot struck center and went off without any delay.

If using a small powder charge, like in a squirrel rifle, a barrier wad might be a very good idea if storing the gun with a load and patched ball as happens on farms, etc, if needed to have your smokepole loaded for livestock protection. A modern gun might be a good idea in that instance.

Note, if the gun has been fired at all & then reloaded, it needs to be cleaned. Thus the 'new' load must be pulled or fired off so the ML gun can be cleaned first, then loaded a-fresh if desired.

Note, here, a muzzleloader is not considered loaded, if there is no cap on the nipple, or powder in the pan. With flinters, it is a good idea to stick a quill or vent pick into the vent to prevent ANY migration of powder into the pan. Do NOT dry-fire a flinter that has a charge and ball in the barrel. Even though the pan might be empty, there have been instances where a spark has actually entered the vent and ignited the charge. I have never seen this, BUT - I would not tempt fate in this manner, nor trust my good luck to keep me safe.

edited to add the last paragraph.

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


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V

Edited by Daryl_S (31/01/16 09:15 AM)


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Longknife
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: DarylS]
      #277754 - 10/02/16 05:49 AM

I had a chain fire on my first BP revolver. I got the revolver on Christmas day in about 1973, a gift from my wife and my first BP gun. The Shop where she got it also sold her some balls to go with it. These balls were very uneven and out of round, they appeared to be tumbled with lots of flat spots on them. After loading we all went to the back yard to see this "spectacular" event, and spectacular it was!!!! When the gun went off the noise was deafening, the flash was blinding, the smoke covered the whole yard, and the recoil was just about unbearable... I really didn't know what to expect so I attempted to cock to fire the next cyl. That was when I discovered the action was locked up...upon inspection there was a ball stuck in the frame where the loading lever rests and the other 5 balls were gone!!!...ALL SIX chambers had ignited. Miraculously the gun or myself was NOT damaged! I then started using Crisco and shot this brass framed revolver for many more years...We all still laugh about the time I tried to blow my self up on Christmas day......Ed

--------------------
Longknife


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2152hq
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Longknife]
      #277761 - 10/02/16 09:38 AM

I have a .50cal flint rifle I built using a GreenMtn 7/8 a/f bbl. I use store bought .490 RB. I use heavy denim cloth for patch material and it requires a short&long starter.
With the same load that I generally use at the range of 65gr FFg, the rifle will group better with a 50cal over powder wad (1/8") than w/o. Not by a lot,,but it's very noticable especially at 100m.

I had these wads along with filler and overshot wads all in 50 cal for another M/L smoothbore long since gone down the road. I thought I'd give them a try in the RB rifle a couple times out in different combinations and loads starting 2 summers ago and the Ov/Powder wad got good results.
These wads aren't particularly tight fitting in the rifle, they do fit & slide squarely and easily down the bbl. So I doubt they play much if any bore seal role.

Does it prove anything?,,No not really other that in one case (this one) for some reason the rifle liked the combination. It may balk at them if I changed ball dia, patch material or patch lube (1:1 crisco & T/C Bore Butter) or switched powder type,,ect.

For now, I like it, it works good. It wasn't meant to clean the bore as the lube and tight patch I use allows 30 or more shots before I clean the bbl. No crud ring down in there even at that many shots but I feel I owe it to 'her at that point.


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DarylSModerator
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: 2152hq]
      #277765 - 10/02/16 11:16 AM

Sounds good. Use what works and makes you happy.

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


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V


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Sarg
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Longknife]
      #277778 - 10/02/16 08:39 PM

Quote:

I had a chain fire on my first BP revolver. I got the revolver on Christmas day in about 1973, a gift from my wife and my first BP gun. The Shop where she got it also sold her some balls to go with it. These balls were very uneven and out of round, they appeared to be tumbled with lots of flat spots on them. After loading we all went to the back yard to see this "spectacular" event, and spectacular it was!!!! When the gun went off the noise was deafening, the flash was blinding, the smoke covered the whole yard, and the recoil was just about unbearable... I really didn't know what to expect so I attempted to cock to fire the next cyl. That was when I discovered the action was locked up...upon inspection there was a ball stuck in the frame where the loading lever rests and the other 5 balls were gone!!!...ALL SIX chambers had ignited. Miraculously the gun or myself was NOT damaged! I then started using Crisco and shot this brass framed revolver for many more years...We all still laugh about the time I tried to blow my self up on Christmas day......Ed




Scary stuff that, I had my Webley Wedge Frame 54Bore do that on my first ever outing, 3 went off & loosened the frame a little I think !

Sort of put me off BP revolvers & the dam caps jam the action up to, I can see why a knife & sword were needed to !

Never Jam, Never Empty them !!


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lonewulf
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: 824tidbit]
      #280252 - 03/04/16 10:37 PM

Quote:

Gents,
Could you describe the use of a "wad" between the powder charge
And patched ball.
What type/ kind of wad is used and when it is appropriate.
Thank you,

Geo





Revolvers aside, the only time I've used a 'wad' between a black powder charge and a projectile is when I have been shooting reduced loads in a BP metallic cartridge rifle. This is done to eliminate a potentially lethal air space between the powder and the bullet.

When shooting patched round ball I have always seated the patched projectile directly against the charge. I have never found a good reason to do otherwise.

If you're shooting flat-based conical projectiles, you could place something like a card disk made from a milk carton between the projectile and powder charge if you wanted to protect the base of the bullet from gas cutting or you wanted to reduce the potential for contamination of the powder charge from bullet lube.


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DarylSModerator
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: lonewulf]
      #280276 - 04/04/16 02:09 AM

Do check accuracy if using a wad, though. Only my 14 bore rifle doesn't care if a wad is used or not.

My small bore rifles, .32, .40, .45 and .58 lost noticeable accuracy when a wad was added to the load.

With grease of oil lubed patches, a wad is not required - although peace of mind can be valuable- one less thing to be concerned about.

The powder does not 'seem' to become contaminated in the slightest - even though I have left my hunting rifle loaded for several months. Ignition and POI have been unchanged.

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


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V


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lonewulf
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: DarylS]
      #280463 - 07/04/16 11:03 AM



Daryl, I think you make a very valid point about the potential impact on accuracy.

In the case I mentioned, if the card disc 'wad' was to remain adhered to the base of the projectile after it exits the bore, accuracy may well fall away. Equally, of course, if the base of the projectile is being cut by gas, accuracy will almost certainly go south. How you resolve this dilemma I really don't know. In some cases it may be a case of just selecting the lesser of two evils - whatever that may be in your particular case.

There is a somewhat similar problem with paper patched projectiles. I'm a huge PP bullet fan (it just seems like such an beautifully elegant solution to leading - and PP bullets look so cool) but, there is always the potential for a portion of the patch, or more precisely, the twisted tail section of the patch, to stick to the base of the projectile after it exits the muzzle. Trimming the tail from the patch can help BUT it also greatly increases the potential for 'patch slip' while loading a M/Ler.

Life, as they say, was never meant to be easy............


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DarylSModerator
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: lonewulf]
      #280475 - 07/04/16 03:04 PM

I don't know anything about shooting PP bullets in a muzzleloading rifle. That is one discipline I never pursued, although for a time, was interested.
I don't need a wad or barrier between my cloth patched ball and the powder as I get 0 gas blowby.

If you are getting blowby, but not immediately visible, due to the patch not being burned or incinerated in worse-case scenarios, you can see the blowby's result if looking closely enough at a recovered patch.

Look at the base of the patch that was between the ball and the bore - if there is minor blowby, you will see a small brown streak - ie: scorch, radiating out towards the outside edge of the patch. This can be quite prevelent, or just barely seen. Any brown scorch mark from gasses getting past the patched ball, shows a weak combination & usually one that will not shoot as well as a tighter combination. Now, even though there is some minor blowby, you may still never need to wipe the bore while shooting, but it will generally not be as accurate as it can be.

If there is ANY blowby, the patch is too thin, or the ball too small. It's a rather simple problem to fix, ie: thicker patch, or larger ball - or perhaps both if the patches are completely incinerated. Had one guy on a different forum note that he had to wipe just about every shot, but could never find any spent cloth patches. I suggested he get down on his hands and knees and looks for black, burnt shards of twisted cloth. He checked again and indeed, found those. He wanted to load by pushing the patched ball into the muzzle with his thumb and I told him if he did not need a short starter to get a tight ball and patch started, he'd never get the accuracy nor clean shooting we enjoy.

When shooting lubed conicals in a BP ctg. rifle, I generally place a hard card wad between the bullet and the powder - 1/16" to 1/8" thick. I use an alloy that will allow the black powder blast to upset the bullet to fill the grooves. Thus, if the bullet will obturate to fill the grooves, and the lube is of the proper type (BP lube) and of sufficient quantity, there will be no leading and no hard crusty fouling. If the bore fouls towards the muzzle, more lube is needed and I use a grease cookie as noted below.

I like to use 50:50 WW and pure lead mix for BP grooved lubed bullets. The brinel # will be about 7 or 8.

For paper patched bullets, I use almost or pure lead and bullets that only just touch the lands AFTER patching. You can shove the patched bullet through the bore and it will have light marks on the paper patch where it rode the lands. This size of patched bullet can be seated out as far as you want or need and the fouled bore will not stop it as it will a groove diameter patched bullet. The lube ball between the 2 wax paper disks (the late Paul Mathews suggestion) will soften the fouling, breech to muzzle and leave a lube star at the muzzle. The reason for wax disks is to let the powder flame to melt & mix with the lube and spray it with the fouling onto the bore to keep the fouling soft. It works for me and my brother both, in our .45 3-1/4" chambers.

So - powder, then wax disk, the lube ball, then wax disk, then 1/10" card wad, then PP bullet. I came to prefer flat based bullets in my Sharps .45 3-1/4" as that is the mould we bored.

2 at 460gr., 2 at 580gr. My rifle preferred the 580gr. bullets. Taylor re-ground the nose of a fraction or number drill that cut a mould to case a .438" bullet. After patching, they came out at .4505". We plunge cut (drill press) an old Lyman 4-cavity .44 mag bullet mould, the #429303 I just happened to have. The cavities bored a bit rough, but no matter, 1.3" at 100 meters off bags was good enough for 5-shot groups. Mine RB rifle won the 300 meter match we put on locally, using this load. I think Taylor came in second or third with his Sharps. He used a similar load, but with more wads and a shorter 400gr. PP bullet. His rifle preferred a masking tape wrap for the paper. Go figure. It would shoot into 1 1/2" at 100 meters. That barrel only had 1 1/2 THOU deep rifling and this was the only "cast" bullet with black powder we could get to shoot smaller than a 6" group - for 8 years of trying.



If the bore fouls breech to muzzle, you did not use a black powder lube.
If the bore fouls only at the muzzle, you did not use enough lube.
If the bore fouls only at the breech, but not at the muzzle, the lube was too hard.

If after firing at least 6 shots, you cannot shove a dry patch through the bore and remove ALL fouling, you did not have sufficient lube to do the job required.

Note, the longer the barrel, the more lube you will need.

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


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V


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Heelerau
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: DarylS]
      #384233 - 17/04/24 08:02 AM

I have found using a greased felt wad, card over powder in a larger bore rifle with a slightly rougher bore than is ideal seems to shoot a lot better. I have a .72 English hunting rifle that. I am still cleaning the bore up. In fact I have to start again as the rifle was destroyed in a fire and I had it subsequently rebuilt. The barrel being of wrought iron was not affected by the fire. I have since re proofed it and been shooting it again . I have also done this wad over powder in a .62 original Baker sporting rifle with a similar improvement in accuracy .

--------------------
Keep your horse well shod and your powder dry !


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DarylSModerator
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Heelerau]
      #384258 - 18/04/24 02:58 AM

Never hurts to experiment. Good to see you back, Gordon.

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


"a gun without hammers is like a Spaniel without ears" King George V


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Tom_H
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: DarylS]
      #384728 - 08/05/24 07:15 AM


I shoot my .58 flintlock with 2 felt wads.
The rifle stopped shooting well; round ball (.010 patch finger started, GM barrel).
Tried three patch thicknesses (.010, .015, .020, and 2x.010) and all were equally bad.
Fired all thicknesses with a felt wad, slightly improved.
Moved back to .010 patch but with 2 felt wads and it turned out 2" groups at 100yds.
Go figure.

Cheers and good shooting.
Tom

--------------------
Carbonation without fermentation is tyranny


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Longknife
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Re: Wad used between powder and patched ball [Re: Tom_H]
      #384906 - 18/05/24 11:06 PM

Tom , did you recover any patches and see if they were damaged?

--------------------
Longknife


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