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Author Topic: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets  (Read 14816 times)

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Offline Omnivore

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Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« on: August 25, 2014, 10:18:04 PM »
Reading about cartridges used in revolvers during the period surrounding the War Between the States I discovered mention of cartridges made of "compressed powder" as opposed to the more common "consumable envelope" cartridges made from paper or skin, or the occasional metal foil cartridges.

I've been wanting to try the new-ish Pyrodex 30 grain pellets, cemented to a flat base bullet as an analog to the compressed powder cartridges of old, for a long time.  I got some sodium silicate at the local drug store a few days ago, drew some of the liquid into a syringe, and as a test, used it to cement the Pyrodex pellet to the base of the Lee 200 grain grease groove bullet (450-200-1R).

It worked!  Not only that, I was cementing to already pan lubed bullets and it worked.  I wiped the bullet bases clean using a paper towel on a flat surface, rubbing the bullets along the towel surface for just a bit.  Squeeze a drop of the silicate, also known as "water glass" onto a bullet base, stick the pellet on, center it up visually, and by that time the silicate is beginning to harden.  Done. I keep 45/10 mm, 100 quantity plastic ammo boxes around, so I dropped the new pellet cartridges in one of those and it was a near perfect fit.

Tonight I took 33 of these cartridges out for test shooting.  I took only my gun belt slung over my shoulder, a snail capper around my neck, ear plugs on a tether around my neck, some paper targets and a roll of tape.  THAT'S ALL.  No shooting bag, no flask, no wads, no grease, no anything else.  The results?  In a word;

AWESOME!   _l

Everything I dreamed it would be and more, because those cartridges are super easy and fast to load, and I hadn't anticipated that.  I figured I'd need to fiddle around a little bit to get the bullet heel down in the chamber as I've done when loading the bullets separately.

Just ONE teeny little PROBLEM; I remembered why I quit using Pyrodex several years ago.  In firing 33 shots (that was all the bullets I had cast up) I noticed, on two of the shots a very slight ignition on delay.  About as fast you could possibly say "buhDOW!"  I'd guess about 30 milliseconds delay between the cap explosion and the bang.  Probably enough to throw off your shot unless you're more disciplined than I.  Two shots out of 33.  Not terrible, but not great.  I'd normally expect to fire twice as many shots and not notice one delayed shot.

I fired two, six-shot targets but the first one sucked because I pulled some shots.  The one pictured was a little better-- Three and seven eighths inches at 21 yards.  I've only ever done slightly better than that group size at 25 yards with this gun.  I maintain that the four shots that went into one and three eighths inches are indicative of the gun's potential but so far I haven't been able to prove it.

The rest of the 33 shots I spent having fun on some cans I found in my pickup (I drove tonight). And fun it was.  Those big, soft lead slugs really tear up steel cans.

SO; the compressed powder cartridge of old is back, but it needs a kicker charge at the rear, and that would slow down the process of making them, or loading them, depending on how you handled it.  I'm thinking a two or three grain charge of 4F or 3F sandwiched between to flat disks of cigarette paper, stuck to the back of the pellet with a ring of gum Arabic, but that would require some tooling.  Or one layer or cig paper stuck to the back of the pellet, holding a wee bit of BP against and inside of the pellet, which also take some doing.  Better yet, Hodgden would start placing a kicker on the back of the pellet like they do for rifle pellets.

Unlike the Pyrodex rifle pellets (and in spite of the product description at Cabela's) these pistol pellets don't have any ignition layer at one end.  On the rifle pellets I've used, they're very obvious, so if these pistol pellets had them I think I'd see them.
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Offline Prospector

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2014, 11:01:59 PM »
Thanks for that great report Omnivore!  It sounds like you came up with a great idea.  I may have to get some of those pellets and try your idea.  On thing concerns me, though.  It has been a long time since I used sodium silicate. How hard does it set up?  Is there any danger that it will harm your bore?  The nickname, "water glass" makes it sound like like it gets very hard.  I know it is not real glass, but it does make me think. 

As far as a booster charge, it would be nice if you could find out how Hodgdon attaches the booster charge to their rifle pellets.

Offline the_law_man01

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2014, 11:11:49 AM »
Would it be possible to find some way to spray a mist of the stuff on the back of the pellet sprinkle some black on it? Maybe do that for a couple layers. Might get you a grain or two for an ignition booster.
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Offline jdurand

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2014, 11:38:15 AM »
In fireworks manufacture we need to coat time fuses so they light off.  A typical way is to dip the end in nitrocellulose lacquer and then dip it in course BP.  You need to leave the sharp edges of the grains exposed to catch the fire.  The NC lacquer burns (it's just single base smokeless powder dissolved in acetone) and you have a nice bang in the sky the appropriate number of seconds after the shell is fired.
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Offline Omnivore

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2014, 12:07:01 PM »
The law man; you can't really mist it.  It's consistency is similar to corn syrup.  You might could put a light coat on the pellet base by swabbing.

Jdurand; interesting.  All you'd  need then is some acetone.  Dissolve some smokeless in it, dab a little on the back of the pellet and dip it in 3F.  Sounds doable.  I might try that.

I found some more of my cast Lee 200s, so here's a shot of the cartridges as used yesterday.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.   James 1:25 (KJV)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.   James 2:12. (KJV)

Offline Omnivore

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2014, 12:08:22 PM »
Oops, I mean HERE is a shot of the cartridges.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.   James 1:25 (KJV)

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Offline Mad Dog Stafford

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2014, 12:15:03 PM »
Hi Omnivore, are you leaving a lot of air space after you ram those home?
I mean, how deep are you ramming these?
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Offline Omnivore

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2014, 01:00:28 PM »
Quote
how deep are you ramming these?

Not sure I understand the nature of the question.  You ram them same as any other load.  Well, pretty much.  The pellet instructions tell you not to crush the pellet, so I ram them firm against the back of the chamber.  Since they're quite a bit smaller than chamber diameter, and since they have a hole running through the center, there is of course some air space, but this would be by the Pyrodex pellet design rather than any decision made by the user.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.   James 1:25 (KJV)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.   James 2:12. (KJV)

Offline the_law_man01

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2014, 07:14:02 PM »
Oops, I mean HERE is a shot of the cartridges.

Very nifty!

How tough are they? My 45 Colt cartridges rattle in those ammo cases just a smidge. Are they strong enough that you could carry them in a case into the field while hunting or the like and trust they wouldn't fall apart? (Of course I know this is relative and assuming you aren't just banging them around and carrying on.)
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Offline SourMashII

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2014, 07:17:42 PM »
Hi Omnivore, are you leaving a lot of air space after you ram those home?
I mean, how deep are you ramming these?

Obviously not balls deep....

(it's a conical jpke....)
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Offline the_law_man01

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2014, 09:18:16 PM »
Hi Omnivore, are you leaving a lot of air space after you ram those home?
I mean, how deep are you ramming these?

Obviously not balls deep....

(it's a conical jpke....)

 )L$
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Offline Omnivore

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2014, 10:20:20 PM »
Quote
How tough are they?

Tough enough I think.  As I said in the OP I broke one just to see how much pressure it would take.  For the time being, I'm satisfied they can be carried in the field in holes drilled in wood, same as you'd carry a paper cart.  Sort of how those wood cartridge packages were made, only in a belt pouch.  Depending on the quality of the paper carts I've made, I'd say these pellet carts are at least as strong.  Don't know for sure yet without more experimentation.

As for using nitro cellulose mixed with acetone, I'm having second thoughts.  Even the equivalent of one grain of smokeless in the mix could increase chamber pressure significantly.  Some of the little pocket pistol cartridges are loaded with only two grains or so of smokeless.  I'll have to see how much smokeless would mix with the acetone to produce enough of a glue to grab onto enough 3F to make a suitable "kicker charge" at the back of the pellet.  This IS playing with fire.  I may try plain old sodium silicate, or some other relatively inert binder.  Hmm...maybe a glue stick, such as you get in the office supply section.
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.   James 1:25 (KJV)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.   James 2:12. (KJV)

Offline Omnivore

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2014, 07:14:38 PM »
Quote
It has been a long time since I used sodium silicate. How hard does it set up?  Is there any danger that it will harm your bore?
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.   James 1:25 (KJV)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.   James 2:12. (KJV)

Offline SourMashII

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2014, 10:16:55 PM »
I suck at technical terms, so I'm not gonna even try...

What if a feller mixed up some of that acetone/smokelss goo, threw in some holy black, pured out a shit ton of 30-35gr charges (obviously mostly acetone, and minimally smolkeless,try for a 1-2 grain average by volume per poured pellet) and then made his own Pyrodex pellets, with the Holy Black?
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Offline jdurand

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Re: Revolver cartridges made with Pyrodex pellets
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2014, 10:22:31 PM »
Never tried glued powder, I've only pressed BP into a solid for my rocket motors.  The intent there is to have it only burn from the end, NOT go bang.
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