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  Filler material instead of wads
« on: November 15, 2007, 17:43:51 PM » by RB
Just thought I'd share what I used to use instead of wads, ahead of the powder charge. Used to as I have not shot BP for ages now, it's great fun, probably more than cartridge, but I don't have the time for everything.

To the uninitiated, black powder needs to be compressed to work properly, yet the target loads used on paper mean that only say 1/3rd or less of the chamber is actually filled with powder. This causes problems because the rammer that pushes the balls down on the charge often does not go that deep, and also the closer the balls are to being rammed flush to the chamber mouth, the better the accuracy. So a filler is used on top of the powder, to take up empty space. Wads are available for the purpose, but are not necessary.

It is possible to use some other filler material. Semolina was recommended, but through experience I found that this was very fine and would be pressed between the ball and the sides of the chamber, eventually building up a ring which would make subsequent balls close to impossible to ram home properly.

I then started using Polenta, ( which is basically finely ground maize (the Americans call maize corn).

As to how to, and how much to use - easy. I keep it in one of the small (1 litre) gearbox oil plastic cans with integrated elongated narrow pouring spout, the type you pull out of the top after you break the seal on a new can.

After placing the charges in the chambers, I just liberally fill the chambers flush to the top with the polenta, it takes me less than 5 seconds to do this.

You will find that the balls will ram down firmly to practically the perfect position maybe 1/8" to 1/4" below flush.

Shoots perfectly too and leaves no ill effect to show for it, excepting that once in a while you may need to clean the internals from some stray grains.

As an aside I feel that the black powder compresses harder in this manner than with a soft mushy wad ahead of it, which possibly improves consistency - as all your loads are compressed to the same degree. Furthermore, irrespective of the charge you use, the amount of filler self-adjusts.


The Bright Side: "Sir! We're surrounded!" - "Excellent! We can shoot in any direction!"

  Re: Filler material instead of wads
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2007, 17:38:06 PM » by futru
I as a ex-keen BP shooter, totally agree with your theory. I used to use wads in the beginning. Than one day they were out of stock. I tried breadcrumbs, YES BREADCRUMBS! They are available from the cupboard more than the other stuff. The good results I got were amaizing. I'm still using it when I shoot BP.

  Re: Filler material instead of wads
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2007, 17:54:57 PM » by karbine
That would go down well with Birdlife Cheesy "see, not only are we not hunting birds, but we're distributing toasted feed as well" Smiley

  Re: Filler material instead of wads
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2007, 10:20:13 AM » by SharpShooter
When I shoot BP I tried almost everything as a filler.  I tried out ready made wads, self made wads out of punched-out felt, tissue paper wads, semolina, ground animal feed, cork, borra-takka, and an array of other things.  Then I settled with something unique which nobody else other than me used (as far as I know).  Crazy as it sounds I use couscous!  Although particle size is coarse and not fine, I found out the right amount to pour in the cylinder chamber so that when ramming down the lead ball it just a fraction of a millimetre below the cylinder edge, almost flush.  To much of it, and it won't compress and the lead ball will then need to be pulled out.  With the right recipe, I managed to obtain constant and reliable shots (of course when used with the proper commercial black powder).  With a bit of training, both physically and mentally, I managed to obtain good results too.
I know of fellow shooters which did quite well too, using other types of filler material.  Good filler material can be just about anything, the basic rules of the game for filler are: (1) must be of same particle size (2) must preferably be non-compressable (3) same amount must be used every time for each shot and (4) must not be ready combustible (preferably non-combustible).

  Re: Filler material instead of wads
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2007, 10:51:16 AM » by dvd
amazing stuff what one learns on here!!

I bet it smells nice too when it exits out of the barrel, a bit similar to toasted bread I would think.
Perhaps if someone uses some sort of meat based packing and then we can have a whole line of shooters producing the typical Bar B Q smell!! Grin

Seriously, what one experiments with is endless and if it works, why not.
I do not shoot black powder but from what I can see, it is an interesting art in itself and well suited for developing personal recipies, shooting ones that is Smiley
All the best and happy shooting.

  Re: Filler material instead of wads
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2007, 14:31:43 PM » by RB
Yes quite a few options for use as filler material - but apart from being suitable, the main advantage of Polenta in a BP revolver is that you just fill the chambers flush while rotating the cylinder so the excess is wiped off, and it compresses just the perfect amount for the balls to seat just fractionally below flush. Thus it is extremely quick to use, takes no more than 5 secs to fill all chambers to the perfect qty rather than having to measure out each chamber.

In a rifle or any single shot gun of course, this is not an issue as you can ram anything down any distance, it won't matter.

On the other hand, mince meat will only produce .44 cal mini-burgers...


The Bright Side: "Sir! We're surrounded!" - "Excellent! We can shoot in any direction!"

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