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A  QUESTION FROM ANOTHER BOARD ON WHAT TO LOAD IN A .56-50 SPENCER



I have helped a guy in NY and he used Unique. It was an original carbine. Bannerman's still had parts and he bought a breechblock. It was converted to CF. He also used FFG Black powder. If you go the Blackpowder route, fill the case with powder so the bullet compresses the powder, about 3/8" when seated. BP has to be compressed equally to be very accurate in cartridges, even shotshells.

Titegroup will be a relatively small charge, Unique will take up twice as much space in the case as Titegroup does. Both powders will allow the powder to shift in the case and the ignition rate will be different causing erratic pressures and inaccuracy. Is there any reloading data for the 56-50 with Alliant 2400 or IMR 3031? If not use Unique, if you must use that new fangled smokeless powder and after you drop your powder charges take a round tuft of kapok or pillow stuffing material (that is a bit larger than the inside of the ctg case) and stuff it in the case with a pencil, pushing it to the back of the ctg case to keep the powder against the powder. Do not crush the kapok filler and insert it with the case in the vertical position.  Load the bullet as usual.
 
If you use the Holy Black, cleaning is relatively easy with Murphy's Oil Soap (MOS). Use 1/4 cup of MOS in 1 gallon of water. Swab the bore and wipe down the action with the solution, let the MOS set for 1/2 hour. Put dry patches down the bore and wipe dry the action and any part affected. Use a good gun oil on the outside of the rifle but you need a non-petroleum oil to swab the bore with. Petroleum oil and BP fouling makes brick hard fouling in the bore when fired. In the olde days, knowledgeable rifle shooters used Sperm Whale Oil to preserve the bore of their firearms. By the way, be sure the base of the bullet is wiped clean before loading, to prevent lube from getting into the powder.  See below about BP lube.
 
When loading a straight walled case (such as a .45-70) with the holy black, get a wad cutter you use with a hammer a wad-cutter board and some poly wad material. To find your load measure , FFG in the case until the powder is compressed 3/8" when the bullet is seated on the powder. Before loading the bullet, insert the poly wad and compress it with a compression die. Seat the bullet (lead cast of course .001" over bore diameter) and do not roll crimp if firing in a single shot rifle. Set the seater crimp die to remove any of the bell left on the neck of the case. Also, use magnum primers on all BP loads for uniform ignition.  Do not use conventional bullet lube with the Holy Black. It will harden the fouling and accuracy will be horrible. I make my own BP bullet lube: Crisco and beeswax 50-50. You have to mix the 50-50 mixture in an old saucepan and heat it slowly.  If you heat it too fast, it can catch fire. Also, NEVER, heat this stuff on the stove in the house. I use a Coleman single burner stove for this purpose.
 
The poly wad keeps the soft BP lube on the bullet from leeching lube into the powder charge. Some people say to use cardboard wads but the lube can get into the powder with cardboard wads.
 
I would never fire smokeless in a rifle like the Sharps. I had Pedersoli Sharps and a Rossi 1892 carbine in .44 Magnum. I never fired anything but BP lead loads in either of them. Once you shoot all BP loads in a rifle or pistol, the bore gets seasoned. Kind of the way a cast iron frying pan is seasoned. It makes cleaning easier and it seems BP fouling is not as difficult to deal with.
 
My loads in the Pedersoli Sharps would shoot 3/4" center to center off the bench at 100 yards. When I shot in my first BP Ctg rifle match, I scored a few points under Expert with my BP .45-70 loads, even tough the mid-range trajectory was over 20 feet above the line of sight.
 
Good shooting, if you load BP, you will have the end of the range shed to yourself. People do not like to gag and wheeze while shooting.

All the tools mentioned above are available at www.BuffaloArms.com
 
One last thought, I think this new fangled Smokeless powder is only a fad, it can't last. :bigtu: 

Doug
 

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Great information there Doug, as always.  There are some firearm enthusiasts who get caught up in one or two particular types of firearms and become relative experts in that area (like 1911's, single action pistols, side-by-side shotguns, double rifles - et cetera) and never become very knowledgeable in other areas.  Doug, then there are those like yourself who are very knowledgeable in many areas of firearm history, development, and shooting of all sorts of weapons and freely give of their time and knowledge.   Sometime I think about the movie, "Little Big Man" - remember that, the story of a man who grew up and lived in the 1800's and went through many phases in his life - kidnapped by and raised by Indians, lived with whites, buffalo hunter, scout with the army, scout with Custer, et cetera.... the movie chronicled the "phases" of his life ......With guns and shooting I have gone through "phases" - but have never drifted far.  
You provided the fellow with very good information and if you don't mind I will just add a couple things.  I have an affinity affliction for balck powder - from the first time I fired a TC Hawken right on through building flintlocks and shooting black powder cartridge rifles.
As for the BPCR, I have no experience with a .56-50.  I do have quite a bit of experience with the .50-90, .45-90 and .45-70.  I have sold most of my single shot BPCR (mostly Sharps) but do still have a Winchester Highwall in .45-90 built by Ron Long and Steve Garbe.  For those not familiar with those cartridges, pictured below is (from left to right) a .50-90 loaded with a 550 grain paper patched bullet, a .45-90 loaded with a 495 grain Jones bullet which is also pictured, a .45-70 loaded with a 310 grain bullet, and for comparison is a .308 Win.
<img src="http://i1238.photobucket.com/albums/ff494/willm4590/A-BPCR-1_zpsa74e0662.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo A-BPCR-1_zpsa74e0662.jpg"/>

To add to your comments:
Cleaning barrels- I have used Murhy's Oil Soap and it works great.  I have also used Simple Green right out of the bottle and it works great - (some people use Windex-Vinegar, works great) just dry the bore after it is clean and if stored for extended periods treat with a light oil or a grease (one that can be cleaned out easily) - never use teflon in the bore (IMO).  If stored for short term I lube the bore with my bullet lube.

Cleaning Cases - this is critical, blank powder residue will ruin your brass.  I generally take to the range with me, a jug (gallon in size)of a simple green solution, or Dawn solution or Murphy's Oil soap solution or some shooters use a Vinegar solution,  de-cap the cases as soon after it is fired as practical and put it in the jug for soaking - at home the cases are thoroughly washed and polished.  (I bet the stainless steel pins that SubGunFan has taught us about would work great - some shooters use corncob, some use ceramic media).

Bullet Lube - I used SPG,  -SPG Lube, or I have made my own using a 50-50 mix of beeswax plus avocado oil.

Powder compression - Doug had good advice - use a drop tube, use an over powder card and use a compression die. If you try to compress the powder charge with the bullet, it will distort, bend, ruin the bullet.  Bullets for BPCRs are (should be) cast from 20:1 to 30:1 lead:tin mixes, no antimony so they are relatively soft.

Over powder cards - you can make your own or simple to buy them.  John Walters, Moore OK makes great ones of varying thicknesses in all calibers.....probably cheaper to buy than to buy the punches.  

Primers - use magnum, large rifle primers.

Read and study - if you shoot black powder cartridge rifles (BPCR) I suggest you subscribe to The Black Powder Cartridge News, Steve Garbe editor. BPCR News

Doug, I am not hi-jacking your thread, just thought I would add a few comments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No problem, that is what we have the forum for. The .56-52 is slightly bottle necked and card wads don't work in it. I should have mentioned the brass. I used to keep a Lyman tong tool with me at the range and de-prime the cases fore dumping into the MOS solution. There are synthetic oils available for use in ML firearms. Once I worked on a Catholic Church. They had a fire and i got all the lead from the stained glass windows and all the nearly  100% beeswax candles. When I made bullets for my 1873 Springfield, I felt I had God on my side.

I have dabbled in most of the shooting sports and types of firearms. I have really enjoyed the experiments.

Doug
 

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Some folks swear by magnum primers, but a survey of top BPCR shooters will not find a consensus. I'd expect that 75% use standard primers, but to each his own. The old dead guys didn't use them.

One warning when using vinegar to clean cases: don't leave the cases in the vinegar for extended periods of time. Take separate the brass and go with plain water, then soak in whatever cleaning solution you like. I have used all the ones Doc mentioned, and they all work. Lately I have experimented with Oxy Clean, and it seems to work well, though Simple Green or MOS work as well. You don't need a strong concentration of either to clean brass, but a stronger concentration helps when cleaning out a bore. I carry sealed Tupperware containers of dry patches and soaking patches to the range with me so everything is ready to go.
 

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Bullet Lube - I used SPG, -SPG Lube, or I have made my own using a 50-50 mix of beeswax plus avocado oil.

Powder compression - Doug had good advice - use a drop tube, use an over powder card and use a compression die. If you try to compress the powder charge with the bullet, it will distort, bend, ruin the bullet. Bullets for BPCRs are (should be) cast from 20:1 to 30:1 lead:tin mixes, no antimony so they are relatively soft.

Over powder cards - you can make your own or simple to buy them. John Walters, Moore OK makes great ones of varying thicknesses in all calibers.....probably cheaper to buy than to buy the punches.

Primers - use magnum, large rifle primers.

Read and study - if you shoot black powder cartridge rifles (BPCR) I suggest you subscribe to The Black Powder Cartridge News, Steve Garbe editor. BPCR News

Doug, I am not hi-jacking your thread, just thought I would add a few comments.
I have gone back to shooting and experimenting with my black powder cartridge guns, especially primers. After reading, studying and talking to a lot of the top shooters I have switched to standard primers....... In fact I have experimented with (and posted in this forum) using under-powder wads to reduce/slow the force of the primer flash. I have also used a thin card under the primer I self. Using the under-powder card and a standard primer will reduce the dislodging of the bullet by the primer force and allow for a uniform powder burn.......accuracy is improved.
Keep reading, studying and experimenting - we are never too old to learn........
 
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You might also give trail boss a try
 

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There is another alternative, American Pioneer Powder. It smokes like Holy Black, but without most of the hassle. APP can be loaded on a press, you don't need bullet lube, it makes it's own and cleans up just as easy. Also I'd suggest using either Ballistol or equal parts hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and Murphy's. The peroxide cleans, the alcohol dries and the Murphy's lubricates, so you don't have as much of a chance of getting rust and pitting.
 

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So I can find this tread later as I intend to utilize some of the info within.......plus I don’t have anything useful to add.
Now that's good thinking! I shoot BP a few times a month in cartridge, shotgun and cap and ball so if you ever have a question just let me know I'd be happy to help.
 
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