Thursday, March 24, 2016

First Batch of Black Powder .44-40 WCF Handloads

Tonight I loaded up my first batch (hopefully of many) of black powder .44-40 handloads for my Cimarron Uberti 1873 Sporting Rifle.

Here are a bunch of charged cases in the loading block:


Black powder is usually measured by volume, and that's what I did. I used the same volumetric measure I use for my muzzleloaders, set to 35 grains.

A lot of guys who load black powder cartridges use a drop tube to allow the powder to fill the case slowly and take up less room. I don't have a drop tube, but if you look in the picture above, you can see that the funnel I'm using is a couple inches long. It's actually a powder flask filling funnel from Ted Cash. I can pour the powder from my measure from a few inches above the funnel and have it all go down into the case, so it's almost as if I have a short drop tube.

This resulted in a slightly compressed charge, which is what you want with black powder.

And here's 50 loaded rounds, with an unloaded bullet:


My recipe consists of:
  • Virgin Starline brass
  • Federal Number 150 large pistol primer
  • 200 grain .428" RNFP soft cast bullet from Desperado Cowboy Bullets
  • 35 grains by volume of Swiss 3Fg black powder

I got a sample pack of 100 of the bullets to try out. Most commercially cast bullets are hard, with a BHN in the high teens to 20 or more. However, these are around 8 to 9 BHN. At .428" they may be a little undersized for the Uberti's barrel but I'm hoping they'll bump up due to being soft and using black powder. One thing I'm concerned about is if they'll carry enough lube for my rifle's 24.25" barrel. If not, I'll see a fouling buildup towards the muzzle. I have another 50 of these bullets. If it turns out they don't carry enough lube I'll load the remainders on top of some Unique.

Aside from the sample pack of .44-40 projectiles, I also got a 100 count sample pack of .358" 158 grain RNFP bullets to load in my Rossi 92 .357 Magnum. Yup, I plan to load up some black powder .357s, just because.

I have a good stash of Goex 2Fg and 3Fg, and some Swiss 3Fg. The Swiss powder is much cleaner burning and more energetic than Goex (and this is reflected in its price). For shooting Goex loads in my rifle I think I'm going to want either a bullet with a larger grease groove, or use a bit less powder plus a lubed wad under the bullet.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to get out this weekend to make some smoke. I'll follow up with a range report on how these cartridges worked out.

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