Black Powder or Pyrodex and Other Smokeless Propellants
Whether to use Black Powder or Pyrodex is a question often asked, and subject to a great deal of debate. Despite being touted as substitutes, or similar performance, there is quite a difference between Black Powder and Pyrodex (or similar substitutes). It is always important to remember that both Black Powder and Pyrodex like propellants are always measured by volume, never by weight. Also remember that not every grade of Black Powder or Pyrodex is appropriate for every kind of muzzle loading gun, and always consult published loading guidelines where available.
Pros and Cons of Black Powder
|- Cheaper than substitutes
- Less corrosive than substitutes
- Easier to ignite
- Can be used in antique guns
- Can be used in brass (or open frame) guns
- Soluble in water
- Can be shipped to any UK mainland address on receipt of Black Powder Certificate
|- Requires a separate Black Powder license & storage box
- Hygroscopic - attracts moisture and corrosion
Black Powder has been used in firearms since time immemorial, being the only propellant available for muzzle loading guns until the invention of Pyrodex in 1976. Many shooters will swear by Black Powder, and refuse to have anything to do with substitutes.
It is worth bearing in mind that using Black Powder does carry more risk, and can be dangerous when handled improperly or carelessly. That said, reams of information for loading and shooting Black Powder in virtually every kind of firearm, both modern and historical, exists.
In the UK, Black Powder requires a separate storage box and a separate licence (see a link to our blog at the foot of this page) to buy. Provided you have a Black Powder Certificate, we can ship Black Powder to any UK mainland address, upon receipt of your actual Black Powder Certificate (not a photocopy). See the foot of this page for more information.
Pros and Cons of Pyrodex (and similar)
|- Preferable when used indoors
- Propellant, rather than explosive
- Shippable to any mainland UK address
|- Harder to ignite
- More expensive than black powder
- Not suitable for all muzzle loading firearms
- Hygroscopic - attracts moisture and corrosion
- Can require solvents to clean
Pyrodex and similar products are fairly new to the muzzle loading market, only existing for the last 40 years or so. As a result, little manufacturers loading data exists for it. Given the perceived lack of trust in muzzle loading substitutes, many clubs will not allow them to be used.
On the other hand, substitutes do have a significant advantage over Black Powder when used in doors, in that they produce less smoke and are therefore less irritating to shooters, particularly when shooting multiple shots through a revolver. Black Powder substitutes are however, harder to ignite than true Black Powder, and hangfires or misfires may occur, particularly when using flintlocks or no.10 size percussion guns.
As of 2019, an Explosives Certificate is also required to buy Pyrodex, as it's classification has changed as regards to explosives licensing. The differences between the two therefore, are narrowing.
What Kinds of Black Powder Are Right For My Gun?
We stock our own brand of Henry Krank Black Powder, available in coarse, medium, and fine. We are also the UK importers and distributors for Swiss black powders, which use the Anglo-American Fg scale of grading. Our black powder is in 1/2kg containers, Swiss powder (excluding OB) is in 1kg containers, both are within required dimensions for storage within black powder storage box parameters.
Grade of Black Powder (product code)
|Henry Krank Coarse (1323C)
|Large bore shotguns, punt guns, cannon
|Henry Krank Medium (1323B)
|All rifles and shotguns, some larger bored pistols
|Henry Krank Fine (1323A)
|Single shot pistols, revolvers, small caliber rifles, priming
|Swiss No.1 FFFFG (SWISSN1)
|Small caliber percussion pistols & revolvers
|Swiss No.2 FFFG (SWISSN2)
|Flintlock pistols, percussion pistols, revolvers, shotguns
|Swiss No.3 FFG (SWISSN3)
|Medium caliber rifles, larger shotguns, small cannon
|Swiss No.4 1 1/2FG (SWISSN4)
|Larger caliber muskets, percussion rifles
|Swiss No5 FG (SWISSN5)
|Larger caliber shotguns, wild fowling guns
|Swiss Fuse OB (SWISSF)
|Very fine powder for flintlock and fuse gun priming
What Kinds of Black Powder Substitutes Are Right For My Gun?
We are stockists of the popular Black Powder substitutes, including Pyrodex P, RS and Select, and Triple7, FFG and FFFG. As these are available without any licensing requirements, these can be shipped to any UK mainland address. All Black Powder substitutes are sold in 1LB containers.
Brand & Grade of powder (product code)
|Pyrodex P (3502)
|Muzzle loading pistols, revolvers, smaller caliber rifles
|Pyrodex RS (3502A)
|All calibres, rifles & shotguns primarily
|Pyrodex Select (3502B)
|Superior grade RS, suitable for rifles & shotguns
|Hodgdon Triple7 FFG (3502D)
|For use in rifles & shotguns
|Hodgdon Triple7 FFFG (3502C)
|Muzzle loading pistols, revolvers, rifles of small calibre
What To Do If You Choose To Use Black Powder
Firstly, I would advise reading our blog on joining a Black Powder club, and how to get a Black Powder Certificate. Also, research the kind of gun you intend on shooting, and recommended loads from the manufacturer (if possible). When used properly, Black Powder is easy to load and shoot in any muzzle loading gun, but care must always be taken, and dangers observed, when using Black Powder.
What To Do If You Choose To Use Pyrodex or Similar Black Powder Substitutes
Solid research and knowledge is essential to proper use of Black Powder substitutes. As with reloading or muzzle loading of any kind, be certain of the correct load for your gun. Remember, Black Powder substitutes are less dense than true Black Powder, and charges are NOT equivalent. Black Powder substitutes are also dangerous when used improperly, and attention and thoroughness are essential to good, safe shooting. Remember, Black Powder substitutes should not be used in antique guns, use true Black Powder only.
Shipping of Black Powder
Please call us on 0113 256 9163 or email us at [email protected] for a shipping quote. You will need to supply a list of what you would like to order and your postcode. Once we have found the most economical way of shipping your goods we can then process your order over the telephone (we will require your original Black Powder Certificate and RCA document).
Shipping of Pyrodex & Other Black Powder Substitutes
Please call us on 0113 256 9163 or email us at [email protected] for a shipping quote. You will need to supply a list of what you would like to order and your postcode. Once we have found the most economical way of shipping your goods we can then process your order over the telephone.
For more information, please either telephone or email with any further inquiries you might have. Also be sure to see our blogs below for more in depth discussion on shooting muzzle loading guns.