May 2008

Muzzleloading Propellants: Blackhorn 209 Earns an ‘A’

Though nearly twice as expensive, Western Powder Co.’s 209 formulation shot accurately, consistently, and cleanly. We also liked Triple Se7en, but we wouldn’t buy Shockey’s Gold.

Muzzleloading propellants have lagged behind propellants in cartridges for some time, this despite the great increase in inline popularity and use that continues today. Sulfur-based propellants are hygroscopic and filthy, promoting gun corrosion, requiring immediate cleaning, and are horribly inefficient. Blackpowder, a mixture not a compound, leaves behind about 50% of itself as fouling. Performance- and convenience-minded sportsmen have long looked for a better way.

The prevalent blackpowder replacement for decades has been Pyrodex. Though synthetic, it also contains sulfur and generates sulfur salts that continue the corrosion problem. In the opinion of many muzzleloading enthusiasts, it is even worse than blackpowder in the corrosion and cleaning departments. Yet, for many years that is what muzzleloading shooters have been stuck with.

Over the years, various volumetrically measured gas-generating compounds have been introduced. Due to marketing problems, production problems, and quality-control problems, many of these products have vanished from the marketplace. This includes such products as Black Canyon, CleaR-Shot, and various other compounds. So, with this history behind us, what are the best muzzleloading propellants today?

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