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Written by: William A. Roberts

Powder Measures

The Belding and Mull powder measures produced in the 1960s are excellent measures for black powder if the brass powder reservoir tube is used. These measures occasionally show up for sale in various muzzle loading publications. The old Lyman No. 5 and 55 measures are also fine, consistent powder measures. For those who demand the minimum powder weight variance, several electronic scales are available, and pre-weighed charges can be placed in glass vials for storage. Avoid the use of plastic with black powder, as there is some potential for static electricity to ignite the powder. Hand pouring from a can into a volume measure can be done accurately, but consistent effort and practice are required to achieve uniform loads. It’s advised to check a load by weighing after adjusting a volume measure to assure the desired load weight is achieved.

Drop Tube

A drop tube is simply a 3/8-inch brass tube with a copper or brass funnel soldered on the end. A brass shoulder is soldered about four inches from the funnel and a soft material such as leather or plastic faces the shoulder and acts as a stop to position the tube. The drop tube is placed into the barrel, and the powder charge is poured through the tube. The end of the tube rests about a half-inch above the top of the powder charge in the barrel. The purpose of the tube is to keep powder from touching the moist wall of the bore. It also compacts the powder in the breech just by the gravity fall.

Cleaning and Loading Rods

Due to the fast twist in the barrels, a rotating handle must be used on both the cleaning and loading rods. The Dewey brand cleaning rod is excellent for the job. Cleaning rods may use a large patch wrapped around a jag, a large patch wrapped around a nylon brush, or a mop-type cleaning attachment. Patches are made from 100% cotton flannel or other suitable and very absorbent material. The loading rod is fitted with a plastic tip recessed to fit the nose of the bullet, and a plastic guide that fits into the barrel muzzle to prevent the rod from rubbing the bore during use. After selecting a loading rod, it should be marked with a notch, groove, or band of tape flush at the muzzle when the rod is down on the correct load. This will enable the shooter to perform a quick visual check at each reload to assure that an improper load (involving either powder or bullet) or inadequate seating hasn’t occurred. And in the heat of battle of a match, such an occurrence is altogether too frequent.

Bore Cleaning Solutions

For cleaning between shots, several liquid solvent cleaners for black powder are currently marketed. Any will do a satisfactory job if used properly. A suitable liquid cleaner can easily be made using a quarter-cup of water-soluble machine cutting oil, a squirt of dishwashing detergent, and a quart of water. The cleaning patches should be soaked with liquid, wrung out by hand, and placed in a sealed plastic container. When the humidity is low, the moistened patches rapidly dry out if not kept in a sealed container.