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BP Drop Tube

Eminent Member Registered


I'm ready to load my 1st BP cartridges...want to try .45-70 initially.  I'll be using data for the 405gr LFP from the Lyman Black Powder Manual & hand charge each case.  Does not show this Goex FFg starting load to be a compressed load.

Is a drop tube necessary, recommended, or just "sauce for the goose"?  If the former, what length is best?  


Mongo Slim

Topic starter Posted : June 4, 2018 10:57 am
Active Member Registered

Maybe I can help. I shoot 45-70 BP. My bullet is 500r, cast. I use 55gr FFg, dropped down a 24" long 1/4 copper tube. I cap it off with a .030 fibre wad, then measure the BP column height with a 0.457+ gauge to determine compression. Normally, compression works out at .100 to .125. I top them off with a hand pressed bullet. The drop tubes settles the powder better and many good BP shooters use it before compressing the powder to their secret amount. One thing to do: trim all your brass to the same length and check it before loading, write it down. Makes the round more consistent with ignition and BP height placement, or so I am told by more seasoned BP shooters.

I am shooting a High Wall model 1885 made by Uberti. I seat on the rifling and push a patch through after each round.

Doe this help you? I am told by others, my loaded round will travel to 1,000 yards but I have not tried yet. It's not bad to 500 and with the right eyesight [read bionic new eye lens], maybe I can hit the 350 all five times. When we get to 500, it should be even more stable.

Posted : June 6, 2018 5:50 pm
Blackpowder Burn
New Member Moderator


Lots of different methods used by folks.  The 55 grain charge of FFg BP and 405 grain bullet is the old standard cavalry carbine load.  It's pretty mild and most folks find it very comfortable to shoot.  I load that with a 0.030" fiber wad, compressed just enough to seat the bullet to the crimp groove.  This makes a dandy Cody Dixon load and general hunting load.  If you want to stretch it to 300+ yards you should probably use the 500 grain class bullet like Slick does.  

The drop tube does allow the powder to settle better and you need less compression to get the proper overall depth for the bullet.  I use a 24" tube, which is most common.  You can purchase a 45 caliber compression die from Buffalo Arms (www.buffaloarms.com) and other places.  The folks at Buffalo Arms are a BP shooters best friend and really nice folks.

Also, be sure to use a bullet lubed with a BP lube (SPG, etc.) - not the hard crayon colored lube that most cast bullets have.  You need enough lube so that you have a "wet muzzle" when shooting.  If you do that, bore fouling will not accumulate and bore cleaning every few shots is not required.  It all comes down to the bullet design carrying enough of the right type of lube.  I shoot an entire match (30+ rounds) and never clean the bore.  A blow tube, however, is also a good idea.  A few puffs of air through the bore also helps to keep fouling moist so it doesn't accumulate if the lube quantity on the bullet is marginal.

Lots of little tips and tricks, but all very rewarding when you make a big cloud of smoke and drill the target at 500 yards without a scope! 

Posted : June 8, 2018 11:25 pm
Eminent Member Registered

Great info, BP......

That 55gr load sounds perfect & is close to the 60gr FFg load in my manual, which makes no mention of the 0.030 card.  Wolf's .45-70 book does reference a 59gr load compression by bullet only without the need for a die compression plug so I'll throw a few 60's together (gotta order the cards) & see what my shoulder says.  

Topic starter Posted : June 10, 2018 5:12 pm