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Joined: 04/22/2003
Posts: 19
Triple 7

In the thread "New to this" in one of the posts a statement is made about Triple 7 being nitrocellulose based. This concerned me because it sounds like a great new product, but my state doesn't allow MLs to use Nitrocellulose based powders for hunting, and I didn't want anyone thinking a ML can shoot normally shoot nitrocellulose based powders.

I emailed Hodgdon and asked them. To quote their response:

"There is no nitrocellulose or nitroglycerin in Triple Seven. It is a pyrotechnic mixture just like blackpowder or Pyrodex."

For anyone out there who doesn't already know: NEVER use Nitrocellulose based (smokeless) powders in a muzzleloader.

Just wanted to make sure there was no confusion.

bitmasher's picture
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Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
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Triple 7

That's interesting, Rkensparc. Nitrocellulose based powders are fast burning, so I assume the reason they are illegal in MLs is simply because they give quite a bit more energy to the projectile thus boost the velocity beyond what would be considered "primitive".

I assume that it isn't banned in MLs for safety reasons, because using a correct load (read less powder required than comparable black powder) and with modern forging processes a barrel breach is not likely. Although I may be wrong on this.

Out of curiosity what is a typical recommended black powder based on?

I'm not a ML but have reloaded regular rifles a bit (not much though). I always just assumed that the distinction between black powder and modern powder was the burn efficieny. The visible smoke from a black powder being produced simply because the soot is a byproduct of incomplete burning of the powder (not enough 02 at combustion). The different burn efficiency being achieved by variations in the granularity and chemical composition.

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Joined: 04/22/2003
Posts: 19
Triple 7

Not being a chemist I can't go much deeper than the little bit I've picked up here and there:

First, yes it is possible to built a muzzleloader that can handle smokeless powder (i.e. nitrocellulose based) loads. Savage makes such a gun, and it is very controversial, because many muzzleloading enthusiasts, myself included, are worried that shooters will ASSUME that because the Savage ML can handle smokeless powders any ML can. This is not true, the metals used for muzzleloader rifle barrels is not, and cannot handle the pressures generated by smokeless powders, and attempting to shoot smokeless powder in a ML a very dangerous proposition. The reasons many states do not allow Nitrocellulose based powders is, to my understanding, a way to prevent muzzleloader hunters from using powders and guns that can essentially transform a primitive (less than 150 yard) rifle to a rifle capable of shooting out to 300 and 400 yards (basically a single shot modern rifle). Safety has to due with the fact that ML manufacturers do not design their guns to handle pressures seen in modern rifles.

I don't have the numbers for pressures generated by black powder but lets look at a black powder cartridges: the 44-40 wcf (the old cowboy's .44) . I choose this cartridge because I load and shoot it with both black powder and smokeless powder. This cartridge was introduced by Winchester in 1873 to go with their new and improved lever action rifle. The 44 designate the caliber, and the 40 designates grains of black powder (by volume). When loaded with black powder the case is filled almost to the brim with powder and the bullet, when seated, provides some compression. When loaded with smokeless powder (Titegroup) I use 5.5 grains (by weight), I have to be very careful when loading this old cartridge with smokeless because the case size is so large compared to the charge that a double charge easily fits and is almost impossible to detect, even under close inspection. But both loads (smokeless and black) perform about the same. True you MIGHT be able to use a very small about a smokeless powder in a muzzleloader, but I don’t know of any published data (except for the Savage gun, and to only be used with the savage gun), but the concern is that shooters will use similar loads (40 grains of black equals about 40 grains of smokeless), and blow their guns and themselves up.

The black powder substitutes, like Pyrodex, Clean Shot, Clear Shot, and the new Triple 7 are not smokeless powders, and do not contain nitrocellulose, and are specifically designed to match black powder performance (Based on a volumetric measure), but eliminate two of black powder's ills: namely low combustion point (around 450 degrees) and the excessive, corrosive fouling.

Bottom line: Never, never, never put smokeless powders in your muzzleloader. If you choose to do so, make sure your life disabilities insurances policies are up to date, and that they cover stupidity

One last comment Nitrocellulose powders are only fast burning when the combustion is compressed. In the open black powder burns so fast is is classified as an explosive. In the open smokeless powder burns much much more slowly and is classified as a propellant.
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[ This Message was edited by: rkensparc on 2003-05-01 10:48 ]

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Triple 7

Thanks for the info. Sounds like the reason for no nitrocellulose in ML's is simply:

- safety
- keeping the primitive in "primitive hunting" Wink

I did some digging around and found that black powder is sulfer (and sulfates), charcoal (loosely structured slightly oxided carbon), and potasium nitrate. From this it is the reaction (burning) is limited by the amount of oxygen fed to the system. Thus the explosive nature in the open air.

Nitrocellouse is nitrated cellulose. Cellulose is very common (the primary cellular difference between plants and animals is a cellulose shell that wraps it cell, cellulose puts the strength in wood. cellulose is in all plants.) and composed of carbon in ringed sheets with oxygen bound to it. So nitrocellulose has quite a bit of oxygen within it to help run the reaction if the stuff get hot enough to start falling apart. The reaction here is probably limited by how hot it can get and how quickly.

Well I have learned something from this thread, prior to this, I had not really thought much about powder chemistry. It just worked!

Here is a link to a site that discusses making nitrocellulose:

http://www.powerlabs.org/chemlabs/nitrocellulose.htm

[ This Message was edited by: bitmasher on 2003-05-07 22:21 ]

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Location: Ouachita Mts. Arkansas
Joined: 10/30/2003
Posts: 23
Triple 7

This is all very interesting I had never given much thougth about powder chemistry

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Location: Idaho
Joined: 09/20/2003
Posts: 138
Triple 7

You can build a ML that will take smokeless powder. We used to make them out of old 06 barrels.
The big reason for not using smokeless in a ML is the burn rate.
Comparatively smokeless burns so fast it seems to explode with pressure while BP burns to pressure. That pressure builds and gets the patch and ball moving down the barrel tell the pressure reaches its maximum.
The rate ate which smokeless burns it creates pressure that exceed the rate at which it can it can escape from behind the bullet out the barrel. So something has to give barrel and in most cases the firing system IE flint hole or out the nipple and taking the hammer off. Also the ML barrels them selves are not made to with stand the pressures of smokeless.
To give you some comparison I use 130 grains of 3F behind a 463 bullet in my 54cal for hunting elk.
How much would that equate to if a person used smokeless im not sure I don’t reload or shoot much center fire anymore.
Velocities have little to do with being primitive while some stated do not allow inline BP rifles for black powder hunts a lot do.
It is truly amazing the speed that these guys are getting but I have to ask why you would want to when you could simple just load one shell at a time in any 06 to get the same out come

[ This Message was edited by: captchee on 2003-11-04 19:56 ]

[ This Message was edited by: captchee on 2003-11-04 19:57 ]

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Location: Florida,USA
Joined: 08/21/2003
Posts: 1550
Triple 7

This is all very interesting and a learning experience for me. I to have never given it much thought. it did, in fact, just work !!
Threads like tis one is why I am here to begin with. Thanks to all of you here for this very interesting insight into something I never gave much thought of.

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