Reloading Cartridges with .
Triple Seven and Pyrodex
by Timothy P. Banse
Both Triple Seven and Pyrodex, direct replacements for conventional black powder, can be used to reload brass cartridge cases. The procedure is as simple as the sea is salt and you can use a powder measure designed for smokeless powders.
Triple Seven In Cartridges:
That said, there is one particular element of knowledge base that cannot be overlooked. Know that both blackpowder and Pyrodex are very inefficient by smokeless powder's standards. Which requires seeing aside what one knows about smokeless powders and embracing the old ways of doing things.
The first point is vitally important: Only use data specifically developed for Triple Seven FFG only. Restated for emphasis, use load data exactly as listed. Use either card or polyethylene wads measuring up to .030" in thickness to protect the base of the bullet. Loading density should be 100% with light compression not to exceed .100". HOdgdon esting shows Triple Seven performs best when the bullet just touches the powder. Be careful not to allow any airspace between the base of the bullet and the powder. Do not reduce load volume with filler wads or inert filler material such as Grits, Dacron or Grex. Do not heavily compress the powder charge. Using filler wads, inert fillers or heavy compression may cause a dangerous situation, which could cause injury and/or death to the shooter, bystanders or damage property. Do not create loads for cartridges not listed. Contact Hodgdon Powder Company for recommendations concerning other loads.
Pyrodex In Cartridges:
Pyrodex works best in straight walled cases, but also works satisfactorily in bottle necked cartridges so long as certain caveats are observed. EXTREME WARNING: Never allow an air pocket in any cartridge loaded with Pyrodex. Load density must be 100% by light compression. No problem: Loaders can accomplish 100% load density in either one of two ways:
1. Fill the case with powder to a level that provides light compression of the powder (1/16" to 1/8") when the bullet is seated. Similarly, bottle necked cases must be loaded in the same manner.
2. In straight walled case, insert a card or polyethylene wad between the bullet and the powder charge thereby protecting the base. Size wads to the internal diameter of the cartridge case. There can be no voids in the assembled cartridge. Just like with Triple Seven, NEVER use filler material.
A word of caution. The long drop tubes I have seen are plastic. Plastic tubes and funnels in the correct humidity and temperature are an invitation to static electricity. I use an aluminum funnel and I tap the case if needed. Maybe too many years in the service as an armorer, but they drilled the hazards of static electricity into my head permanently.Plastic drop tubes are forbidden in black powder reloading rooms. Static electricty etc... I use a 14 inch brass tube with funnel on the top and tapers to .30 for the loads. and yes, they will allow you to 'pack' more into the case if needed. They slow down the actual filling process allowing the grains of powder to nestle in and eliminate the voids caused by simply dumping the powder. My Shiloh Sharps in 45-70 could NEVER get 70 grains in the case without the tube. This 24" drop tube is designed to reload a single case, or simply twist the tower 180 degrees to be used with a loading block. The 3/8" brass tube and funnel will prevent any static electricity that you get from plastic parts.
Be advised that burning Pyrodex leaves behind corrosive residue, albeit, the fouling is softer than the crud produced by blackpowder. Similarly, just like conventional black powder, firearms burning Pyrodex should be cleaned with with natural cleaning solvents.
Also important to know, cartridge cases that have been fired with Pyrodex require special care in order to prevent corrosion. As soon as possible after firing, de-prime the cases and immerse them in solution of 50% water and white vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar neutralizes the corrosive residues remaining in the case. Limit soaking time of the cases in the vinegar to 10-minutes for the simple reason that soaking for longer may etch the brass which will shorten case life. When dunked in the 50/50 solution, you will see bubbles and alkaline crud rising up out of the cases. After about ten minutes, rinse the cases with clear water. Finally, dry, then polish, in a tumbler with corncob or walnut shell media.