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Course Outline

Black powder is the only type of powder that should be used in muzzleloaders. However, synthetic substitutes, such as Pyrodex®, also can be used. Be sure to use only approved substitutes. Don’t use modern-day smokeless powders in black powder firearms. Smokeless powders can cause serious injury if used in 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
  • Black powder substitutes 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.

Pyrodex is a registered trademark of Hodgdon Powder Co., Inc.

Black powders for muzzleloaders
Do not use smokeless powder
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