Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blackhorn 209 Powder

The Blackhorn 209 functions this 3" Benelli

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. 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 or call 406-234-0422

Any one who loads for black powder arms should definately give this powder a try

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.
23 X 209 170 grain (32-40) CCI 200 1507 es 32
23 X 209 170 grain (32-40) WW mag 1541 es 71
30 X 209 245 grain (38-55) CCI 200 1517 consistent
30 X 209 245 grain (38-55) CCI 250 1526 very consistent
45 X 209 300 grain cast (45-70) 1492 consistent
35 X 209 400 grain cast (45-70) 1325 consistent
24 X 209 200 grain cast (44-40) 849 es 60
40 X 209 300 grain cast (12.17 X 44 1402 es 39
14 X 209 158 grain cast 38 spec CCI 550 738 (model 15 4” consistent
16 X 209 158 grain cast 357 CCI 550 880 (Ruger 6&1/2” consistent
16 X 209 158 grain cast 357 CCI 550 762 (S & W 2 &1/2” v consistent
10 X 209 115 grain cast 32-20 WW sp 586 Colt 6” ok
10 X 209 115 grain cast 32-20 FED SR Mag 587 Colt 6” consistent
55 X 209 300 grain cast 45-90 WW mag 1656 consistent
50 X 209 400 grain cast 45-90 WW mag 1469 nice
69 X 209 535 grain cast 45-120 WW mag 1692 ouch
10.5 X 209 200 grain cast 41 L Colt 41 mag reformed CCI 350 642 consistent
53 X 209 385 grain cast 11 mm Gras WWLRM 1669 good load

53 X 209 385 grain cast 11 mm Gras CCI 250 1655 es 12
49 X 209 385 grain cast 43 Spanish WWLRP 1577 nice
13 X 209 135 grain COP JAC 9.4 Dutch 619 high es
11 X 209 180 grain cast 9.4 Dutch 557 ok
25 X 209 165 grain cast 30-30 1606 consistent
25 X 209 165 grain Spitzer 30-30 1565 ok
33 X 209 165 grain cast 303 British 1869 consistent
38 X 209 165 grain cast 30-40 Krag 1972 consistent
24 X 209 250 grain cast 45 Colt RP cases 803 consistent
24 X 209 250 grain cast 45 Colt Starline cases 799 consistent
16.5 X 209 230 grain cast 45 auto 679 very consistent
16.5 X 209 230 copper plated 45 auto 655 consistent
30.5 X 209 140 grain cast 6.5 Dutch 1765 high es
30.5 X 209 160 grain RN 6.5 Dutch 1604 high es

The 11 mm Gras benefited from using Blackhorn 209

I have developed a load that is suitable for shotguns. It is 70 grains of 209 and 1 & 1/8 oz of shot. I use a thin wad as the powder takes up a lot of space. A Winchester AA or similar shell works the best. The load functions a 3" benelli with no problems where upon it won't function with a low brass load. Penetration of the 209 load seems to be adequete for bird hunting.

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. 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 though I haven’t finished the work there yet.

47-70 cartridge made in the 1880's

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 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

The 43 Spanish really perked up when fed Black Horn 209

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