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Black Powder

No discussion on CAS is complete without mentioning Black Powder. In dear old Blighty we are stuck with the fact that any handgun we use has to be a front stuffer that uses black powder! Yes, there are modern nitro conversions for your cap & ball revolver but they only use a small charge of powder and, sometimes, in the heat of competition, it is hard to tell if you have actually fired a gun!! But that is only one opinion; they are more than welcome in any of the comps we hold, they are all part of the fun.

To “acquire & possess” Black Powder in the UK you need to have an Explosives License, available from you local police firearms department, and it’s a freebie. Once you have it you will need to get a “Recipient Competent Authority” (RCA) from the HSE, another freebie, so that you can legally transport it from the retailer to your home. That’s about as deep as we are going to delve into the laws around BP, if you want more information please contact us. For the BP substitutes such as Pyrodex and 777 you don’t need an explosives license, they are classed as propellants just like that new fangled nitro (white!) powder.

One of the problems with using Black Powder is its corrosive nature, this is also true of substitutes, Pyrodex is even more corrosive, 777 is much less corrosive, but they are all corrosive, period!

For best accuracy, you need to compress Black slightly, with the other two the ball should just rest on top of the powder charge. With all of them it is important that there is no gap between powder and projectile. If you are going to use a light load in your gun, fill the gap with something, baking soda is a good filler, or just use wads.

One of the great myths about Black Powder clean up is the need for all kinds of obnoxious chemicals to do it, we tend to pooh-pooh that philosophy! What’s wrong with plain old water? We have heard of people putting their revolver in the dish washer, without the grips, of course. But you don’t have to go to that extreme, our method is to spray everything with WD40 when we’ve finished shooting, once home take out the nipples and dump them in some cold water and leave until we need them again (we have a spare set ready to go), the next step is, when we have the inclination is to scrub the barrel and cylinder out with a brush and cold water, once satisfied that they are clean, rinse them with boiling water to dry them, and then give everything a coat of water resistant oil. Dead simple!! Using 777 you will find that the cleanup is really quite simple, simpler than this method, but do clean, or it will rust.

It is even more important that you clean after using Pyrodex due to its more corrosive nature. It is more corrosive because it has a higher water content, which leads to more acid formation when fired. It is the higher water content that takes it out of the realms of explosives, so it’s a trade off.

One of the down sides of the Black substitutes is that they are harder to ignite, and there are people who make nipple conversions so you can use shotgun primers instead of the usual caps, making ignition more of a certainty. The author has never experienced this problem personally, but it’s obviously out there.

One of the things you will notice about 777 is that it is more powerful than either Black or Pyrodex, but that is offset by its convenience.

Probably the most important thing you need to know about all of these is that you do not need to weigh your powder charge, everything is done by volume, which does lead to an easier time! If you have an OCD personality, and you really, really do need to weigh your powder charges just remember the golden rules outlined above; no air gap and slightly compress Black powder.

As always we can, and will provide all the help we can, all you have to do is ask.

Charles Goodnight
  Charles Goodnight
  Doc Holiday
Doc Holiday
Seth Bullock
Seth Bullock
Roy Bean
Roy Bean
©Shooters of The Cast Iron Shore 2016