We have been shooting black powder cartridge rifles for many years and have found it an extremely rewarding and challenging pastime.
The following is what we do to work up a load. We don’t guarantee that our techniques will work for you.
Ordering the right size Bullet
When I want to shoot a .458 bullet, I make a bullet just short of .459 and size it in a .458 sizer. This gives me a perfectly round bullet. This helps me control neck tension. I feel that correct neck tension is one of the most important requirements of a load that shoots well.
The bore riding portion of the bullet we use is .001” to .002” under the bore diameter. This helps the cartridge load easily when the bore is fouled.
I use a ladle to pour my bullets.I use a 30-1 alloy. My lead pot holds about 35 lbs. of alloy. I cast bullets at 750 degrees and heat my mould up before I cast in it.
We weigh the bullets to within 1/10 of a grain and sort them into groups within 1/10 of a grain.
I lube my bullets in a luber sizer.
I prepare my brass by making the primer pockets uniform inside & out. I clean the inside of the neck of the brass with a bronze brush. I size and expand my brass to .001” to .002 “smaller than my bullet size, which gives me the correct neck tension.
We try several primers when we work up a load. Some primers work better with some powders than other powders. We test black powder, primer, and compression combinations until we find a load that shoots well. We shoot groups of 12 or more shots over a chronograph and use wind flags to identify wind changes.
We try different black powders to find the powder that works best with the bullet, primer, & compression combinations. The powder is weighed to 1/10 of a grain on an electronic scale. A 24” drop tube is used to pour the powder into the cartridge.
We use Walter’s vegetable fiber wads. I also place a newspaper wad between the bullet & the other wads.
I start out with a load in which the bullet just touches the rifling. The loads that I am shooting now are jumping up to.01” before they contact the rifling. I don’t index the bullet into the case or the cartridge into the rifle.