Wads behind bullets cardboard/cotton etc?

Discussion of BPCR loading techniques, SAFETY, Case Cleaning and Prep, Indexing, BP Choice, Primers, Wads, Compression, Drop Tubes, Vibration, Load Testing, etc.
Repairman Jared
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Wads behind bullets cardboard/cotton etc?

Post by Repairman Jared » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:56 pm

Originally when I started loading bpc's I loaded my bullets right on top of the charge since then I have watch a few videos of people putting a cardboard card behind and or cotton balls etc citing that it protects the back of the bullet from deformation? Sounds like hogwash to me but I though I would ask about it, I however do like the idea of using part of a cotton ball or other similar material behind the bullet just to make sure all the air space is taken up.

I only load with good clean bp subs so lube is not that much of a concern for me but otherwise do any of you guys use cards etc behind your bullets? Only other concern I have is the wad being on fire down range I purchased a bag of poly-fil to use instead of cotton but have not shot any of my loads with it yet.

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Re: Wads behind bullets cardboard/cotton etc?

Post by Arnie » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:36 pm

No such thing as good clean BP subs but yes a wad will protect the base of the bullet from being deformed .

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Re: Wads behind bullets cardboard/cotton etc?

Post by Brent » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:49 pm

Almost all of us use card wads or LDPE wads (LDPE = Low Density Poly Ethylene, plastic). They are usually 0.030-0.060" thick. They not only protect the base, they prevent gas cutting and a host of other things. They are made slightly larger than groove diameter of your bore (e.g, 0.460" in a .45-70). Cork, High Density Poly and some other things are used, but we pretty much NEVER use fibrous poly (like pillow stuffing material) or cotton balls or anything like that. It's not about filling the case, it's about sealing the charge behind the bullet. Your fibrous poly material may melt and create a hell of a mess in the bore. I would bet on it.

If you think you don't have to worry much about lube - I think you are mistaken. But I'd be surprised if anyone here shoots substitute BP, so we could be wrong. I doubt it though. I STRONGLY recommend real blackpowder. That is the single most important thing you can do. Swiss 1.5 Fg can be shipped to your door if necessary. It would be the best place to start, because if it won't work, nothing will. It's not cheap, but most things that are worthwhile cost a few bucks.

Loading BP cartridges is really easy and pretty darn safe, but starting with good ingredients is critical. I don't think your power or wad material and possibly lube are appropriate. It could be a long uphill battle to make them work, if it is possible at all.
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Re: Wads behind bullets cardboard/cotton etc?

Post by martinibelgian » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:29 am

Wad being on fire? And the polyfil not being heat damaged (like melting,...)? If you have checked any wads that were fired, you would notice there aren't even any scorch marks on them, much less are they burning... Even newspaper wads come unscorched out of the muzzle of the rifle. now, cotton balls do tend to 'smoke' when used as filler.
Then again, you're NOT using BBP, so no real reason to worry about air between powder and bullet, wiping between shots etc. But make no mistake - most subs are probably more corrosive than the real thing. Not to mention accuracy usually is quite a bit less.

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Re: Wads behind bullets cardboard/cotton etc?

Post by gunlaker » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:15 am

I wouldn't worry too much about wads catching fire. I don't think that they are in contact with the fire long enough to transfer the heat needed to ignite them. I've recovered lots of wads and have never seen scorch marks on any of them. The hot black powder residue and sparks coming out of the muzzle are another story. I caused a small plant to ignite and smoke profusely in Wyoming once while shooting prone :-).