A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dangerous Information!

Webster's Online Dictionary

http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/gunpowder

"In the USA, standard grades of black powder run from the coarse Fg grade used in large bore rifles and small cannon though FFg (medium and smallbore rifles), FFFg (pistols), and FFFFg (smallbore, short pistols and priming flintlocks). "

The above information is not correct.  Accepted grades for calibres are: Up to .45 calibre 3FG. .50 calibre & larger 2FG. Same for pistols. 3FG can be used in larger calibres providing the recommended powder load is adjusted to lower the pressure. 4FG should NEVER be used as a main load, NOT in any ammount. This 4FG is a very fine powder & a modern invention to be used to prime the PAN on flintlock guns (priming horns & special priming powder was not used in the 18th century). If you were to load a gun with 4FG/ffffG, it will likely explode the barrel causing death or injury to anyone standing in the close vicinity.

PLEASE NOTE: There is no contact address on the above site, so I am unable to contact them & correct this error.

4 comments:

elmo iscariot said...

I have no experience at all with black powder arms, so this is an honest question from ignorance: When they say "smallbore, short pistols and priming flintlocks," is it possible they're using American punctuation?

That is, they may not be saying "for smallbore and short pistols and priming" but "for priming and for pistols that are both smallbore and short barreled," that is to say, derringers. I don't know what the safe practice is for loading derringers, but recall reading an article (possibly at the Box o' Truth) about derringer penetration testing in which the tester found that he couldn't get much velocity out of it because the bullet was leaving the barrel before all the powder burned.

In a modern smokeless pistol, you fix that problem using a faster burning powder, so it seems reasonable to do the same in a BP derringer. Is this a reasonable conclusion, or one of those cases where following my intuition will lose me some fingers?

Le Loup said...

You could be right Elmo, but that is not how I read it. Had I not known about powder grades & pressures, I could now be using 4FG in my little .32 calibre!!!
Something this important should be made very clear, & leave no room for misinterpretation.
Thanks for your input Elmo, as always very much appreciated.
Keith.

elmo iscariot said...

I agree with you. The phrasing is ambiguous, and is made worse by differences in serial comma use.

The material in question is mirrored from an older revision of the Wikipedia article on gunpowder, where somebody has now slightly rephrased the note, but left it vague and potentially dangerous.

Frankly, this seems like material that should be covered in long-form specialized instructional articles, not in a general encyclopedia or dictionary entry.

Le Loup said...

Totally agree Elmo.
Regards, Keith.