September 24, 2010
I recently tested the FFFg variation of Hodgdon's new black-powder substitute, Triple 7, in three cap-and-ball revolvers. I only planned to test it in one gun, but the velocities achieved varied so greatly from Hodgdon's printed data that I decided to expand the tests in an effort to understand the discrepancy.
The Hodgdon website shows 25 grains equivalent of Triple 7 FFFg produces 763 fps in a steel-framed 1858 Remington revolver. The same charge in my Cabela's 1858 turns in a reading of 954 fps. Quite a difference. Results were similar in an 1860 Colt Army and a Dixie Arms .36-caliber Whitney. My velocities were 150 to 200 fps faster across the board than what Hodgdon shows in its data. I'm stumped for an answer but am convinced my data is accurate. I even ran each load through two separate chronographs. At this point, Hodgdon and I have agreed to disagree, and I invite any of you who have an opportunity to chronograph some Triple 7 loads in your revolvers to come to the Gun Talk Forum (handguns.com) and let me know your results.
Triple 7 is not a true equivalency powder, meaning you cannot always use the same measured charge you normally use with black powder. It produces a bit higher pressures per volume than black but is safe in modern firearms in good condition as long as Hodgdon's data is adhered to. The Hodgdon website lists data for a wide variety of guns.
Velocities aside, this propellant is very clean-burning and I feel offers those who shoot cap-and-ball a convenient alternative to black powder. Revolvers do not stiffen up from fouling nearly as quickly with Triple 7, and cleaning a gun after use is amazingly easy. Fouling seems to just vanish when water is applied. Even after extensive shooting sessions, the second or third wet patch run through the bore comes out clean. All other parts of the gun can be wiped clean with a wet cloth. Hot water is not required either. Water straight from the tap works fine, although I prefer using hot tap water so that the moisture evaporates more quickly.
After firing hundreds of rounds through the three revolvers, there are no misfires to report. I was also impressed with the consistency of velocities. Accuracy was superb, even with a fouled bore.
I predict we will be seeing a lot of Triple 7 in the future in Cowboy Action competitions. This powder maintains the attributes of black powder yet eliminates the excessive fouling, messy cleanup and strong sulfur smell.
Suggested Retail: $22 for a one-pound canister.