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Author Topic: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?  (Read 395 times)

Offline MountainDevil54

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Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« on: November 02, 2017, 06:06:55 PM »
This topic is ALWAYS popping up by the new shooters.

What black powder sub is a good choice for my rifle?

The experienced shooters always reply with the typical response of, NONE! Real black powder only for me!

Well, that's just to darn easy of an answer! Is it the wrong answer? No! It's probably the best advice you can get if you are shooting a traditional muzzleloader.

Real black powder ( Goex, Olde Eynsford, Swiss, Graf & Sons, etc ) will give you the best results when it comes close to 100% ignition in a cap lock.

Now, some folks like myself, simply can not justify spending the upfront money on ordering real black powder online for a 5lb minimum order.

I am not going to go through the history of when such and such powder was made or who made it or the pressures it makes. All that stuff means jack squat to the normal every day shooter and personally, I could care less as it is very boring to read about.

As always - Never shoot Smokeless Powder in a muzzleloader!


Pyrodex, Triple 7, American Pioneer, Jim Shockey's Gold, Alliant Black MZ, Alliant Blue MZ are accepted powders for muzzleloaders. Always refer to your owners manual or contact the maker of your muzzleloader.

Now back to the original question.... What is the best black powder sub to use in a cap lock muzzleloader?

Let's take a look at your rifle...

I mostly shoot Traditions brand muzzleloaders, but have a long history with CVA sidelocks, as well as Lyman sidelocks.

Over the 18 years of muzzleloading, my #1 Black powder sub has always been Pyrodex RS.

Pyrodex has been around since the 70's and is an extremely good, consistent and powerful powder. One downside, is that its bulky and can get stopped up in some breech plugs and either hang fire or misfire all together. Lyman/Investarms are the worst for this happening do to their tiny powder channels and lack of funneling to help shift the powder under the nipple.

Investarms/Lyman breech, we can see a slight hole where the powder channel is cross drilled. There is zero funneling to help the powder move under the nipple. Coarse powders often will just hit the bottom of this breech plug and stay there rather than flowing out and under the nipple as it should. In this rifle, I prefer to use Pyrodex P which is a much finer grade of powder and flows very easily. Pyrodex P is 3fg equivalent and again, is a powerful, clean burning powder that sets off easier than Pyrodex RS - Select.


Now changing over to the Traditions/CVA rifles, we have a much better designed breech system that actually is funneled, larger in diameter, and catches the powder and puts it under the nipple. Pyrodex RS does fantastic in my rifles and so, I buy a lot of it.


Now, we hear of the hang fire issues with the black powder subs. Yes, they do require more heat to set off than real black powder, but that's the trade off.

This IMO, is not a powder issue, but a Nipple issue. Not all nipples are designed the same, some funnel the flash channel to flash hole poorly, some use flash holes smaller than .028", some even have undersized shafts that allow the percussion cap to fit loose. If your spark plug in your cars engine fit loose and allowed the compression to escape before detonation, your engine would not run smooth, it would hiccup, or in this case, Hang fire.


The  Best nipple to use with the black powder subs is hands down, the Knight Red Hot nipple. Your percussion caps fit snug to where you may have to use the hammer of your rifle to push  the cap on all the way so it is fully seated. A nice tight sealed fit. The flash hole diameter ( around .030" - .031" ) is large enough the handle the volume of gasses and put it directly into the powder rather than hit you in the face with those painful showers of spark and gas. The Flash Channel to Flash hole transition is beautiful and not rounded off at the bottom so the gasses bounce back. Everything about this nipple flows smoothly and efficiently.


Just recently I bought some Treso nipples to try out. Amazing accuracy! However, the flash hole is super tiny and this nipple does nothing but hang fire with Pyrodex RS due to that tiny, restricted flash hole. It however is a fantastic nipple when using real black powder.

So what it boils down to for me... When I use a black powder sub, I use a lot of Pyrodex RS and top it off with a Knight Red Hot nipple. This gives me great accuracy and reliable ignition that I can depend on.

If you are shooting a Lyman/Investarms muzzleloader, My suggestion is to go with Pyrodex P for easier flow under the nipple, and of course, the Knight Red Hot Nipple.[/center]

While we are on the subject of the nipple..

What Anti-Seize do I use on my nipple?

Silver high temp anti-seize for automotive works great but can be messy, CVA nipple grease, TC Gorilla grease, work well. My favorite by far however, is your typical White Plumbers tape. Just wrap the threads once and the nipple threads are actually sealed from both fouling AND weather. Super easy to clean up and the greatest thing of all, it will not melt and run into your powder charge like some of the listed anti-seizes above.

CLEANING PYRODEX:
Some may cringe and say " Ahhh, that stuff will rot yer bore " Well... After all the years and hundreds of pounds of Pyrodex, I would have stopped using it had that been the case. You clean Pyrodex just as you do Real black powder.... A little warm soapy water, scrub it clean, change the water once more, swab the bore clean, dry it, a shot of alcohol to remove moisture, follow up with an alcohol patch and dry patches. The alcohol is a must with any black powder or subs. To much moisture sits on top of the breech plug or in it and that alone causes rust issues. Follow up with your favorite and most trusted gun oil

Online JasonG

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Re: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2017, 07:09:00 PM »
Thanks for the write up! I sent you a pm regarding the round ball size issue recently. Did you get it?

Offline T-Bone

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Re: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2017, 11:38:05 AM »
Very nice write up...However, I prefer Pyrodex RS Select over regular Pyrodex and on your cleaning, I heavily suggest not doing the final bore and exterior metal wipe with any lubricate made of a petroleum origin; as it will react with black powder or BP substitutes and give you corrosion. I use T/C Bore Butter...No rust problems.
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Offline MountainDevil54

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Re: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 03:55:12 PM »
really? bore butter contains paraffin wax... Petro....

Offline T-Bone

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Re: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2017, 06:04:58 AM »
really? bore butter contains paraffin wax... Petro....

Actually, beeswax...The reason the old time muzzleloaders did not deal with a lot of rust was their use of lubricants like beeswax and whale oil.

30+ years of using the stuff on the bore and exposed metal after the light soupy scrub...NO RUST.
" America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

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Offline MountainDevil54

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Re: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 04:01:28 PM »
zero beeswax lol, its chap stick.

If it works, fine, not for me! Its a terrible product and has a long history of it being poor.
http://www.ctmuzzleloaders.com/ctml_experiments/corrosion/corrosion2.html

This was the LAST time I ever used bore butter/wonder lube.

Offline T-Bone

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Re: Black Powder Substitute - What's a good choice?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2017, 02:09:31 PM »
https://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=251139

https://www.fieldandstream.com/answers/gear/shooting-gear/whats-deal-thompson-center-bore-butter-good-bad

"To each their own opinion" with nothing personal BTW. Too often a difference of opinion becomes something personal.

I'm done.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2017, 02:15:43 PM by T-Bone »
" America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."

                                                      Abraham Lincoln