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Smokeless Powders

winchester smokeless powders
Black powder is wonderful stuff. It always behaves in a totally predictable manner. Increase the charge or reduce the charge by 10%, 20%, 30% and you’ll always get the results expected.
The smokeless powder does not so behave. It operates efficiently only within a rather narrow range of pressure. A one-grain increase in powder may produce a very dramatic increase in pressure while a one-grain reduction in powder may reduce pressure so much that it doesn’t burn at all. That is why there are several dozen different types of smokeless powder produced, many different powders are required to serve the various needs in rifle, pistol, and shotguns. Good old black powder can do it all, so long as one accepts rather mundane velocities
Every gun shop has shelves full of manuals for reloading smokeless powder. Those manuals are absolutely necessary because safe and effective smokeless powder loads can be developed only in a well-equipped laboratory. If you have access to such a laboratory you probably could develop a safe smokeless powder load for your ML rifle but it would require weighed charges exactly as specified and the load developed for one firearm would not be applicable to any other.
Savage did produce a muzzleloader for use with smokeless powder. It was based on their very strong and safe model 110 centerfire action. There have been several of those very strong and fully enclosed actions totally wrecked by a slight overcharge or by substitutions of the wrong powder, or by some unexplained phenomenon. It is very dangerous to go experimenting on one’s own even with modern firearms designed for smokeless powder and vastly more dangerous to play around with smokeless in a muzzleloader. Even when working with “book loads” in modern firearms one must start light and work up charges in small increments, sometimes 1/10 of a grain. One “reads” the cartridge case for signs of excessive pressure such as sticky extraction, flattened primers, and case head expansion, warning signs that pressures are becoming questionable and one should back off. The muzzleloader gives no such signs, one has no way of knowing if the shot fired produced 5,000 PSI or 50,000 PSI, no warning before she blows!
winchester smokeless powders
winchester smokeless powders

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