stepping back in time - black powder .22 Long Rifle

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w44wcf
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stepping back in time - black powder .22 Long Rifle

Post by w44wcf » Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:31 pm

Several years ago I became interested in shooting some .22 long rifle black powder cartridges, just like they did back in the late 1800's, early 1900’s. I had often wondered how the accuracy would have held up shooting a magazine or two full in a lever action rifle back in those days of yore.

In a search for information, I came across some data in an 1896 U.M.C. catalog. It indicated that their .22 Long Rifle b.p. cartridges were loaded with 5 grains of black powder and a 40 grain bullet. An 1897 Marlin catalog indicated 5 grs. of a “special black powder”. The mid range trajectory at 100 yards was shown at 4.44”. Based on that, the velocity would have been in the 1,000 – 1,100 f.p.s. range.

The fact that the description, “special black powder” was used, would seem to indicate that it may have been especially formulated to produce less fouling in the small .22 caliber bore, thus assuring repeatable accuracy for a number of rounds. In addition, the “special black powder” would give the necessary ballistics required.
Image

Now to try and replicate the vintage b.p. .22 L.R……….
COMPONENTS:

BLACK POWDER –
Goex FFFG – A .22 L.R. case would not contain a complete 5.0 gr. charge.
Goex FFFFG – same
Swiss FFFG – Being more dense, I found that a .22 LR case would hold the complete 5.0 charge with a little space to spare.
Swiss FFFFG – same density as Swiss FFFG.

BULLETS –
A gas checked style .22 bullet would be needed since the gas check shank would be used as the heel.
Lyman’s 225107 – 38 grs. - unfortunately this bullet mold has been discontinued, but a friend provided me with some bullets from his mold. NEI has an equivalent in their .224-39-GC
Lyman 225438 – 45 grs. – o.a.l. too long to cycle through the mag. but shot well.
NEI .224-45-GC – 45 grs – o.a.l. too long to cycle through the mag. but shot well.
Alloys – w.w. + 2% tin added; 20/1 lead tin
Diameter - .225”
Bullet Lubricant - SPG

Making .22 L.R. black powder cartridges –
1.)Remove bullet from a .22 l.r. cartridge - I found that the best way to do that is to grab the bullet with a pair of pliers and twist it to the right (or left if you are left handed) while holding the cartridge in the opposite hand. Then, dump the powder.
2.)Expand the neck – Using a special tool of the proper diameter, the crimped portion is expanded slightly to accept the heel of the .22 cast bullet.
3.)Charge the case with 5.0 grs. of Swiss b.p.
4.)Seat the bullet – I used a special die to do this, compressing the powder slightly.
5.)Reduce the crimp area to back to .225” outside diameter – loaded cartridges were run nose first into a .225” H&I sizing die.
Image
l to r std. 22 L.R. / 38 gr. bullet b.p. / 45 gr. bullet b.p.

It is a bit of work, but the results were worth it. I tested both Swiss 3F and 4F, and both worked well. With the 38 gr. bullet, velocity in the 24” barrel of my Marlin 39A ran an average of 1,055 (3F) and 1,128 f.p.s.(4F). With the 45 gr. bullets, the velocity ran about 50 f.p.s. less.

5 shot groups at 50 yards ran pretty much the same as what that rifle is capable of with iron sights and my aging eyes using standard velocity ammunition…. about 1 ½” with some groups running somewhat less.

The report was kind of neat....like a miniature boom :D

Interestingly, I found that accuracy did not deteriorate as the shooting continued with 30 rounds having been fired (the most I have reloaded at one time). The moist residue left by Swiss b.p. has certainly helped make that possible.

Pretty neat stepping back in time.......I'll have to get busy during the upcoming winter months to get a batch of these cartridges loaded. THey are fuunnn to shoot. :D

w44wcf
aka w30wcf (smokeless)
aka John Kort
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
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.22 W.C.F. .30 W.C.F. .44 W.C.F. cartridge historian

mdeland
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Post by mdeland » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:26 pm

Thanks for the post and the interest to under take such and endeavor. I to have thought about how the BP .22s would do in the accuracy and fouling department.
I found your post most interesting and hope you will share more of your rediscoveries as they are uncovered.
It sure would be fun to do an accuracy comparison with a match rifle between target smokeless and BP loads.
I wonder if the priming you are forced to use in your hand loads makes any difference as it apparently did when smokeless cartridges were being developed?
Heeled bullets themselves are an intriguing idea that I wonder about for BPCR use.
Right off hand the .22 and Martini .310 are the only ones I can think of that were very successful. Seems I also can recall some early revolver cartridges used them as well but not sure. MD

Timberlake
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Post by Timberlake » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:35 pm

WOW!

w44wcf,

I read your post with pleasure and amazement that anyone would do what you did. I've often wondered myself what folks in days of yore had to put up with shooting .22's.

Well, now I know. While I have no desire to do what you did regarding the re-loading, I'll keep your well written post......just in case. Thanks.

TL
2nd GUSA
"I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically... 'That government is best which governs not at all'."

Thoreau

Jim Watson
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Post by Jim Watson » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:01 am

Great stuff, I had read of the practice but not in such detail.
Pictures and descriptions of the expanding and seating tools would be interesting.

Once upon a time, long, long, ago, you could buy primed .22 rf cases to be handloaded with your choice of powder and bullet. Too much liability for the Internet Nanny World now, I guess. Nor much market volume.

Coal Creek Davis
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Post by Coal Creek Davis » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:28 am

Very interesting, it is always good to see someone do instead of just wonder.
It has created some questions for me. What kind of rifling does your Marlin have, Micro-groove, or Ballard? Marlins, which fired black powder .22’s, would have had the Ballard rifling.
It would also be interesting to see the results, in regards to accuracy, when different brands of cases are tried.
Can you post some pictures of the tools you used to do these loads?
It also leads me to ask this of other readers. Has anyone done any experimenting with cartridges like the .22 Hornet or .22 Bee using Black Powder

Kurt
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Post by Kurt » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:58 am

When I was a Kid you could buy .22 black powder shells at the local farmers elevator for 18 cents a box and also some less smoke 22's
I used to get this ammo because my favorite cow boy heroes shot guns that smoked so I had to shoot guns that smoked :lol: and the old 06 win pump and old lever Meridian shot them real good.
I pulled some of the rounds apart to see what is inside and the powder was a lot finer than 4 F it was more like dust.
Man I wish I still had some of the Peters and Remington shells or just the empty boxes :lol:

Kurt
The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery Winston Churchill

w44wcf
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Post by w44wcf » Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:54 am

mdeland wrote: I wonder if the priming you are forced to use in your hand loads makes any difference as it apparently did when smokeless cartridges were being developed?
MD

Good question. I was using Remington cases but the possibility exsists that perhaps another brand of rimfire might give better results....another project.....
I had thought about using Aquila which uses Eley priming but after dissecting a couple, I found that some of the smokeless powder was sticking to the priming. A pic of the priming in several brands is below.

mdeland, Timberlake, John Boy, Jim Watson, Coal Creek Davis, Kurt,
Thank you for your interest and kind words. John Boy, I'll bring some along the next time we meet in Ridgway. Kurt, thank you for the additional information.

Below is a pic showing the tools I use to make .22 B.P. ammunition. After assembling the cartridge, I wipe SPG lube on by hand. I could get creative and have a .225" H&I type die made with one lube groove at the proper location to lube the bullet when the cartridge is in the die.
Image

Priming compound pic
Image

w44wcf
aka w30wcf (smokeless)
aka John Kort
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
NRA Life Member
.22 W.C.F. .30 W.C.F. .44 W.C.F. cartridge historian

w44wcf
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Post by w44wcf » Sun Nov 08, 2009 9:19 am

Coal Creek Davis wrote: It also leads me to ask this of other readers. Has anyone done any experimenting with cartridges like the .22 Hornet or .22 Bee using Black Powder
Coal Creek Davis,
I have tried b.p. in the Hornet to try and replicate the early .22 W.C.F. cartridge. I found that the type of primer used makes a HUGE difference in velocity variations and groups. I'll look through my notes and post more within the next few days.

w44wcf
aka w30wcf (smokeless)
aka John Kort
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
NRA Life Member
.22 W.C.F. .30 W.C.F. .44 W.C.F. cartridge historian

Jim Watson
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Post by Jim Watson » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:02 am

Thanks for the pictures of tooling.
I think.
Winter is coming on and idle hands are the Devil's Workshop.

Kurt
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Post by Kurt » Sun Nov 08, 2009 10:14 am

Seems like just recently not long ago I heard that Remington produced some .22 black powder shells again???

Kurt
The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery Winston Churchill

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Tasmanian Rebel
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Post by Tasmanian Rebel » Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:37 pm

Outstanding report.! I echo some of the readers above and I don't think I would have had the time to do what you did. I find it amazing also that you were able to shoot that many rounds with BP and without accuracy going into the toilet. It ought to be a lesson here somewhere for us that shoot the bp .38's, .40's, and .45's. I wonder how clean the 3 and 4F Swiss was burning in those loads. I wonder if it's a heat generation deal with our bigger bores and foulouts when no blowing or wiping. Your post leaves me with more questions. Thanks again for your endevor.
Keith Lay

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Hobie
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Post by Hobie » Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:43 am

This is soooooo cool! Thanks for sharing your experiment with us.
Sincerely,

Hobie

"We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend." R. L. Stevenson

w44wcf
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Post by w44wcf » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:10 am

Tasmanian Rebel,
Thank you for the kind words. Regarding the continued accurate shooting for 30 rounds without cleaning......perhaps there is some relationship between the amount of powder used in relation to bore size, total bore volume, or bullet sectional density or a combination thereof(?). I need to repeat the test again in the spring to verify that the first try wasn't a fluke.

Interestingly, I had a similar experience with .22 W.C.F. SWISS b.p. loads in my Win. '43 .22 Hornet rifle. The best group I fired (sub 1" @ 50 yds.) came after 25 rounds were expended without doing anything to the barrel. I was using a gas checked bullet though since this rifle has some machining marks in a portion of the bore.

coal creek davis,
As a follow up to the best primer I found for b.p. in .22 W.C.F. BP loads in the Hornet, the CCI500 gave the best results.....but even so, velocity variations are +- 50+ f.p.s. I am going to try using a primer wad to see if that helps.

Also, I now have some REM-UMC 1 1/2 primers made in the 1920's so I am going to see how they perform. I was also thinking about putting a "cap" in an ironed out expended primer to see what that does. :idea:

The worst primers that I tried were the small pistol magnums and small rifle's .....velocity variations of 200+ f.p.s.!! :shock:

Hobie,
Glad you found it interesting. :D

w44wcf
aka w30wcf (smokeless)
aka John Kort
aka Jack Christian SASS 11993 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
NRA Life Member
.22 W.C.F. .30 W.C.F. .44 W.C.F. cartridge historian

Kurt
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Post by Kurt » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:44 am

W44wcf.

I think it has more to do with the chamber and throat design than the size of the case load or bullet diameter.
Just about all .22 rim fire chambers still have the lead bullet lead that starts at the chamber wall to the top of the land from about a 4° to 8° lead from what I been able to measure from chamber casts in .22 rim fire rifles and vintage Sharps and Remington rifles.
My .44-90 BN has a 5° lead from the neck wall to the base of the land and so has my Pedersoli .45-90 that I recut the throat in with a 4° tapered lead a little flatter than the .44/2-5/8 BN has and I can load and shoot both rifles with out using a blow tube or wiping patch between shots and both will stay on a 8X12 steel swinger at 200 yards with out a loading problem using a GG or PP bullet. The Pedersoli Quigley rifle only has the barrel sights on it.
Yesterday I was out again shooting cases empty that have been loaded for more than a year for the Quigley and just using barrel sights I loaded and shot with out fouling control and seldom missed that iron and never did I have a problem loading even with the PP bullets.
Once you start to shoot with out using a tube or patch the fouling gets to a point were it does not get worse unless you get a lead build up.
I emptied more than 50 rounds yesterday a combination of PP and GG bullets and I absolutely found no lead in the .45-90 or the .44-2-5/8 on the patch when I cleaned, none.


Kurt
The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery Winston Churchill

Orville
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Post by Orville » Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:37 pm

Kurt
Cutting those shallower leads at the end of the chamber sure does away with lead and paper rings dosn't it.
I used 7 degree cutters on the 44-77 and 45 2 7/8.
Charter Member O-G-A-N-T

Shooting grease groove bullets in a sharps is new technology and just a passing fad.

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