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Choosing The Right Powder

Dan Kindig

Which brand should you select?

There are really only two choices when picking a propellant for a muzzleloading firearm today, black powder or Pyrodex. There are two brands of black powder available now, GOEX and Elephant Brand. GOEX is made in America, a direct descendant of the Dupont Powder that has been around since Colonial times. Elephant Brand is made in Brazil, is a little less expensive,and works very well.

All black powder leaves remarkable quantities of residue in the bore, and since the residuewill draw moisture and cause corrosion, the residue, or fouling, must be removed completely before the gun is put away. In fact, we find it can help your accuracy if you run a damp patch down the bore between shots. This not only removes some of the fouling that can reduce accuracy, but also reduces the chances of a spark left in the barrel. We have often seen 50 yard groups expand from the size of a silver dollar to the size of a basketball when the shooter failed to clean between shots. You need not clean before a fast second shot in a hunting situation, but you may find it quite helpful when sighting in, target shooting, etc. Cleaning a black powder firearm need not be a major task, but it MUST be accomplished at the end of each day's use!

Pyrodex is a black powder substitute and is safe and acceptable. When dispensed in a volume type measure, as is commonly used in muzzleloading, Pyrodex is equivalent to black powder (i.e. 60 grains of Pyrodex will produce the same velocity as 60 grains of black powder). Pyrodex is more expensive than black powder, but develops very little residue in the bore. While it is less fouling, it is very corrosive, and a detailed cleaning and oiling is ABSOLUTELY necessary at the end of each day's use!

Expect to pay about $7.00/lb. for Elephant Brand, $9.00/lb. for GOEX and around $12.00/lb. for Pyrodex. One pound of black powder will yield between 70 and 110 shots, while one pound of Pyrodex will yield about 10% more.