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#582570 10/23/20 08:19 PM
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vern21 Offline OP
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Question: What is the best way to pack powder in BPE rifle ammo cases? Drop tube, compression die, or vibrating the case once filled with powder?

Jim

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I use all three actually...

My droptube is equipped with vibration and compression is another factor in any bp loading.

What powder and bullets are you intending to use?


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vern21 Offline OP
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OE 1.5 with 300-350 gr grease groove lead in a .450 BPE.

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Jim, not my favorite powder, but it will work. Plan on significant compression after drop tubing, up to as much as 3/8" maybe more in that case.


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vern21 Offline OP
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Vibrating the case after using a drop tube gives me enough room for a card wad and bullet. I wondered if one method was better than another.

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When I get back to a real keyboard I can explain more. But you described a zero compression load which is a great starting point. From there go up 2 or 3 grains at a time maintaining overall length with increasing compression.


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vern21,
Second BrentD.

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Jim,
I'm back home now and have an antelope resting in the freezer. With a keyboard and more time, I can ask a few questions. But first, the difference between vibrating and drop tubing is unclear and debatable - recently a topic of discussion on the Shiloh forum. I use both at the same time because it makes the process move smoothly. One or the other is adequate. Compression is another thing and generally at least a little is required and it is best done with a dedicated compression die, NOT a lead bullet.

What are your goals for your rifle? Hunting, target shooting and plinking are all different and may require different things to optimize your rifle.

Are you shooting a double or a singleshot? I'm imagining a .450 BPE in a 3.25" case.

If you are hunting or expressly wanting to shoot a fouled bore, you may consider blow tubing between shots or a grease cookie in addition to wads. There are lots of good lubes out there for the bullet and cookie but there are lots of wrong ones for blackpowder too. If you are more interested in target shooting, then wiping between shots may be preferred. And then there are paper-patched bullets which are my passion, but again, it depends on what you want to do.


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vern21 Offline OP
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Brent,

Congrats on the freezer fill. Double rifle, .450 3 1/4 BPE to hunt and plink. My eyes wont allow much past 100 yards any more with open sights. I have 300 and 350 gr bullets greased with SPG. I would like to try paper patching, but have had no luck locating bullets around the above weights.

Just trying to understand. If one uses a compression die, how does that differ from vibrating, if the finished level in the case is the same after each process?


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Yes, bullets that sort for an express rifle are hard to find in paper patch form. My smallest/shortest at about 1" long and 410 grs. My rifles have faster twist. Most paper patched bullets are over 500 gr. Grease grooves will probably be better for your uses.

So, drop tubing or vibrating will only fill the case with so much powder. The physical limit this way is far less than any safety threshold so it is normal to start with a load that will vibrate or drop tube to a level that will just fit under your bullet with a wad and no compression. This is effectively a minimum load for that bullet and wad combination.

To a different load means adding more powder - and that necessitates doing something to create the space for it, and compression is what gets you there.

So let's back up.

Start with bullet seating depth. The bullet normally would be engraved through the first band in a target load. But they will not seat easily in a fouled barrel so figure that you may want to back off from that just slightly. Put the first band on the rifling but not into it more than a minimal amount. That overall length (OAL) with that bullet and your wad will determine how high your powder column must be to fill the case, and thus your minimum load with drop tubing or vibrating.

Next add 2 grs of powder to that total and drop tube that into the case. Your bullet will sit too high to meet your OAL, so compress it with a compression die (buffaloarms.com).

Continue adding powder in 2 gr increments until you find a load that shoots well and you are done.

That's a bit over simplified, but that's the process in a nutshell. You can compress black powder up to 3/8" easily. At some point, you will have so much compression that the brass will bulged and the case will not chamber. With luck, you will have an accurate load before then, but if not, there are ways to deal with that as well.

Good luck and let us know how you do. I believe there are others here that shoot bp in similar cartridges. They may have some additional suggestions.


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vern21 Offline OP
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Will do, although I might not get to it for a while. Thanks again.

Jim

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