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Thread: What do the F's and g's in blackpowder mean?

  1. #1

    What do the F's and g's in blackpowder mean?

    I've just bought a few "pocket cannons" for christmas presents. The seller suggests using FFFFFFg powder (or finer).

    I've not used black powder before and I have some questions:
    - What do the F's mean?
    - What do the g's mean?
    - When I ask for it at the shop how do I say it? "Five-F g"??

  2. #2
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    The "F" is the measure of the screen the corning of the powder will fall though. I forget the exact measure but 5fg means that the grains(g) will pass trough a screen with five divisions per square something. I don't remember the unit of measurement though. I believe it's a barleycorn which has three to the inch but I can't really say for sure.

    5Fg is a very very fine powder, you might as well use meal powder that has no corning at all!

  3. #3
    Using a very very fine powder makes sense. Its a small cannon that shoots BBs.

    When I buy supplies should I ask for "the finest blackpowder you have" or specifically ask for meal powder?

    http://www.pocketartillery.com/purchase.htm

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    When they ask how much you need, say more than half a peck but less than an firkin, unless they have a deep discount for hogsheads or butts.

    Parker

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    The "F" is a size measure of the grains of powder, The "g" stands for grain.. The more "F"s the smaller the individual grains are. Largest sporting powder is 1 F or "Fg". The smallest is 4F or FFFFg.
    The smaller the grain size, the faster the powder burns.
    This site may be of some help. http://www.skylighter.com/fireworks/...ize_Charts.asp


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    I would ask for the 5f. Meal powder is somewhat... archaic to begin with and jargon as well. I doubt the average clerk would know the meaning.

    For the record, meal powder comes straight out of the ball mill and has no corning at all. However, if it shoots bb's buy the grade that is cheapest and crush it by hand with a porcelain mortar and pestle. or if you have a rock tumbler put in enough powder for ten or eleven loads and a handful of lead balls (the bigger caliber the better) and let it run for three or four hours. This will crush the powder to a fine enough texture for the smallest barrels.

    (Disclaimer- use the rock tumbler in a dry area outside with a switched outlet and a loooooooooooooong extension cord! The chances of ignition are very small by not non-existent. )

  7. #7
    Thanks for the info everyone!

    One last question. I intend to buy one large jug of powder and then split it apart into smaller batches to go with each cannon. What size and type of container can I safely parcel blackpowder into? Is it possible to buy smaller sized jugs of it?

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    Black powder comes in one pound cans. How small a charge are you wanting? You can use small pill containers or make cartridges.

    Oneshooter
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  9. #9
    Black powder comes in one pound cans. How small a charge are you wanting? You can use small pill containers or make cartridges.
    Not sure yet. I suppose since I got 5 of these little cannons, parceling out the 1lb can into 3-4 oz quantities would work.

    I'm familiar with handling and storing modern smokeless powder. Is blackpowder radically different? No static, no light, no sparks.

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    No static, no sparks. Blackpowder is a simple compound that is quite stable. Light dosn't affect it( unless it is concentratd!) if it gets damp it can be redried, carefully! When the USS Cairo was raised after 107 years in the mud of the Yazoo River, the loaded cannon on board were found to have still active black powder in the barrels!

    Oneshooter
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    If it were me... I would have my brother solder an empty .22 cartridge to a piece of wire and use it as a scoop. Perhaps using a tubing cutter to trim the length so it holds the proper amount of powder. Then your main container wouldn't matter as much. Plus you have the benefit of scoop, pour, place the ball, prime and fire.

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    There should be black powder dippers available somewhere if you can't get someone to make one for ya.
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    I assume that F means "Fineness."

    g means "graphited." Most black powders are graphited but in the day, there were grades that were not coated, and would have been listed simply FF instead of FFg.
    I have a few facts and a lot of opinions.

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    Hi Jim,

    If my uncle was to be believed the G was short for grained.

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    1F is about the size of aquarium gravel, 2F sea salt, 3f table salt, 4f playground sand, and 5f dust.
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    I'm not sure if there are any legal problems with putting the black powder in another container but the batfe does class it as an explosive, so it wouldn't surprise me that they have something on the books.

    You might see if you can get some powder flasks from Cabelas or someone to put in with the cannons. Hodgdon used to have some quarter pound powder bottles. I haven't seen any in years but they might have some empties sitting around. You might give them a call and see if you can get a half dozen of them cheap.

    jim
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    I got some 4Fg for my 1/4" bore carronade, and it gives a pretty good pop even without any wadding at all.

    I guess I over loaded it, and the powder toward the muzzle acted as a wad.

    Hatcher has said that finer powder burns faster up to a point. If it gets too small, the packing of the granules slows down the transfer of the flame --at least as loaded in a barrel. Sorta like having one single big grain of cannon powder in the barrel, I guess.

    Got some 1/16" fuse for the touch-hole. What are you going to use for fusing?

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    Hmmmmmm.....

    I always associated the F with "Fantastic" and the G with "GREAT!"

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    Sources and info.

    In addition to (or instead of) Cabela's, THE source for powder horns and flasks, in fact just about ANYTHING Black Powder, is http://www.logcabinshop.com/

    They've been around for a LONG time. They were even mentioned several times in the BP Rifle chapters of Foxfire #6
    ----
    Meal powder, and all the FA grades of BP, are only commercially available to people licensed by the BATFE, for explosives.

    https://www.skylighter.com/fireworks...arts.asp#grain

    The number of F's refers to size of grain.

    The G is government classification for "Sporting grade" while the 'A' refers to blasting grades (lic. req.) As you can see from the skylighter chart, there is quite a bit of comparison. (This last, from a phone conversation with the splendid folks at Skylighter)

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