Friday, December 15

Blackhorn Gunpowder 209

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Blackhorn 209

Recently I was given a sample of a new muzzle loading propellant to test out. According to the label it is meant for modern muzzle loaders using a 209 shotgun primer hence its name. One thing I found out right off is its low density as the kernels are hollow. It comes in a conventional 1 lb can but contains only 10oz of powder.You could say it is the black powder equivalent of Trail Boss. The powder is black and looks like an extruded powder such as 4895. However the kernels are hollow which makes it less dense. I was told that making the grains hollow makes it more difficult to manufacture hence more expensive. Another plus with this powder is it meters very consistently in a powder measure. They also carry the AA line of powders which I count among my favorites. They can be contacted at www.blackhorn209.com or call 406-234-0422

Since I do a lot of obsolete cartridge firearms I decided to load in some of my rifles chambered for the oldies. I loaded it the same as I do black powder or a substitute meaning that the loads are slightly compressed. There is no information regarding loading this powder in cartridge firearms so I am on my own. Right away I found that you can’t put a much of the 209 in a case as other black powder and the various substitutes that I have worked with. For instance in a 38-55 case 30 grains is about all that will fit where I can put 40 of the others in the same case. Anyway I loaded some with a 245 grain cast bullet and chronographed. In spite of the lesser amount powder I obtained some pretty impressive velocities in the 1500 fps range. I know that the chronograph is working fine because the recoil felt like 1500 and I did some other loads with known velocities. That may not be scientific but if you are familiar with a certain gun you can tell the difference between 12 and 1500 feet per second. I ran two loads one with standard primers and the second with a magnum brand. There was a little difference but it wasn’t enough to worry about. All the loads I shot so far were consistent indicating good ignition. I used some in the 45-70 with a 300 grain bullet and like the 38-55 it produced good velocities with a lesser amount of powder then the black powder and its substitutes. For now I am going to treat it like the other powders I am using such as Clean Shot and various Pyrodex and black powders. That means that I will not allow any loads with airspace because like the others it may be a danger. However the lab informs me that they have shot loads that didn’t fill up the case and obtained decent results though the velocities were low. Here are some loads that I shot and chronographed.

LOADBULLETVELOCITYCOMMENT

23 X209170 grain(32-40)CCI 2001507es 32

23 X209170 grain(32-40)WW mag1541es71

30 X209245 grain(38-55) CCI2001517consistent

30 X209245 grain(38-55) CCI 250 1526very consistent

45 X209300 grain cast (45-70)1492consistent

35 X 209400 grain cast (45-70) 1325consistent

24 X 209200 grain cast (44-40)849es 60

40 X209300 grain cast(12.17 X 441402es 39

14 X 209158 grain cast38 spec CCI 550738(model 15 4”consistent

16 X 209158 grain cast357CCI 550880(Ruger 6&1/2”consistent

16 X209158 grain cast357CCI 550762(S & W 2 &1/2” v consistent

10 X 209115 graincast32-20WW sp586Colt 6”ok

10 X209115 grain cast32-20FED SR Mag 587Colt 6”consistent

55 X 209300 grain cast45-90WW mag 1656consistent

50 X 209400 graincast 45-90WW mag1469nice

69 X 209535 grain cast45-120WW mag 1692ouch

10.5 X 209200 grain cast 41 L Colt 41 mag reformed CCI 350642consistent

53 X 209385 grain cast11 mm GrasWWLRM1669good load

53 X 209385 grain cast11 mm Gras CCI 250 1655es 12

49 X 209385 grain cast43 SpanishWWLRP1577nice

13 X 209135 grain COP JAC9.4 Dutch 619high es

11 X 209180 grain cast 9.4 Dutch557ok

25 X 209165 grain cast30-301606consistent

25 X 209165 grain Spitzer 30-301565ok

33 X 209165 grain cast303 British1869consistent

38 X 209165 grain cast30-40 Krag1972consistent

24 X 209250 grain cast45 ColtRP cases803consistent

24 X 209250 grain cast45 ColtStarline cases799consistent

22 X 209250 grain cast45 blank cases CCI 350786very consistent

26 X 209200 grain cast45 blank cases CCI350906consistent

16.5 X 209230 grain cast45 auto679very consistent

16.5 X 209230 copper plated45 auto655consistent

30.5 X 209140 grain cast6.5 Dutch1765high es

30.5 X 209160 grain RN6.5 Dutch1604high es

72 X 2091 oz slug12 ga1082slow

60 X 2091 & ¼ oz slug12 ga1036consistent

Another observation is this powder smokes but not a much as some of the others. It burns clean not leaving much residue in the gun or case. I have found very little residue in the cases and the outside is very clean with the exception of a couple of the smaller rounds. The cases have soot from low pressure loads in such calibers as the 9.4 Dutch. With black powder or Cleanshot there is a lot of residue in the cases which must be cleaned out prior to reloading. Sizing the case usually helps with that. If you don’t tumble it first the black powder and Cleanshot adhere to the case walls and sizing will knock it off. The barrel is clean as it is advertised as being non corrosive. In the interest of accuracy 209 is made from nitrocellulose which classifies it as a smokeless powder. That should be clarified. Also it isn’t particularly pleasant to inhale. I tried 25 grains in a 44-40 case as a blank but the powder didn’t make much noise and due to weak loads jammed the gun. Other then large rifle cases it probably isn’t suitable for blanks. I haven’t experimented much in that area. Shotguns are another area that I am currently working on and there seems to be some potential there.

I loaded some in a 12 gauge and after some fiddling around I got a decent load , if fact we shot some quail with the load. To be honest there is no advantage to using it unless you want to experiment. Also I did get it to function a Benelli semi reliably so if you want to experiment you should have some success using it. Also it will cycle my Llama 45 auto though velocities are somewhat low.

The good and bad on 209:

For the good news it is clean burning and consistent even in small guns where the velocity is low. It meters well through most powder measures though if you have a small orifice you might want to watch for bridging. In cartridge rifles it is head and shoulders above black powder or any substitute if velocity is desired. It is also accurate and consistent. I have chronographed rifles from 25-20’s to the 45-120 so I have some experience in this area. In such rifles as the 11 mm’s and the 45-120 the loads produced are really potent. In fact with the 45-120 and a 535 grain bullet it will rattle your teeth and bruise your shoulder while producing a velocity of 1700 fps. However for big game it will do the job.Even after an extended shooting session the barrel is clean as is the cases. Accuracy equals or beats anything on the market. It produces safe pressures in black powder arms though you might want to keep an eye on it in very large cartridges with black powder type guns. It is very expensive but since you use from 30 to 40% less then the other powders that will help with the costs to an extent. It is available in the stores that I checked such as Bass Pro and Sportsman’s. It cost around $30 per 10 oz can so it definitely isn’t cheap. You will have to decide if it’s worth it. Also since it is difficult to ignite it is not suitable for any caplock or flintlock weapon.

The lab was kind enough to send me quite a bit of data showing velocities and pressures of various guns. The pressures shown are safe in black powder guns while their velocity data was within the ball park of my own. They use a universal receiver while I tested mine with regular guns. Though I have never experienced it I was told that it can produce rust in some conditions. A damp climate might enhance that problem. The solution is to clean the gun after shooting it. For smaller handgun and rifle cartridges there in no reason to use it as it doesn’t do any better then other powders meant for them.

Shooting the 45-120 with a 535 grain at 1700 was an experience that I don’t care to repeat very often. It definitely rattled the teeth. The Gras was also somewhat frisky but like the 45-120 loads were very consistent. The 43 Spanish also did well with this powder. All in all I find that this powder produces higher velocities then black powder or any other substitute I have tried especially in the larger rifle rounds. I hope to use the French Gras on a buffalo with 209 as the propellant. I have no doubt that it will deliver the goods. It is a very worthwhile addition to anyone who shoots black powder type arms. My shelf will always have it around.

Bob Shell

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