About the Study Guide

This study guide is for Green Mountain Conservation Camp students or anyone who wants to review their hunter education. If you need a Hunter Education Certificate, you must pass the online course and the Homestudy Class.

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Black powder is the only type of powder that should be used in muzzleloaders. However synthetic substitutes, such as Pyrodex, also can be used. Don't use modern-day smokeless powders in muzzleloading firearms. Use only the type of powder that is recommended by the manufacturer of the muzzleloader. Using the wrong type of powder in a muzzleloader can cause serious injury.

Do not use smokeless powder
Black powders for muzzleloaders

Black powder is made of potassium nitrate (saltpeter), sulfur, and charcoal. When ignited, it causes a dense cloud of white smoke. It comes in four sizes or granulations.

  • Fg: Coarse grain typically used in cannons, rifles larger than .75 caliber, and 10-gauge shotguns or larger
  • FFg: Medium grain typically used in larger rifles between .50 and .75 caliber, 20-gauge to 12-gauge shotguns, and pistols larger than .50 caliber
  • FFFg: Fine grain typically used in smaller rifles and pistols under .50 caliber and smaller shotguns
  • FFFFg: Extra-fine grain typically used as a priming powder in flintlocks

Pyrodex® and Clear Shot are black powder substitutes that can be used in amounts equal to black powder, but loading may vary. Be sure to get instructions from a qualified gunsmith for loading procedures. Substitutes are not recommended for use in flintlocks because they may not ignite from sparks as easily.