Measuring Black Powder     by Rowdy Yates
How do you measure Black Powder or it's many substitutes? 
Do you use a volumetric measure or do you use a scale? 
I've often heard discussions that indicate that smokeless powder is measured in grains weight and Black Powder is measured in grains volume. Now I've done a fair amount of reloading over the years, but I've always been somewhat confused by these comments. 
Why the confusion? Well if you think about it, unless you weigh each charge on a scale then all gun powder, smokey and smokeless, is measured by volume. For many re-loaders smokeless is kept track of by weight and Black Powder is kept track of by volume simply because BP requires the filling of a given space so that a slight to heavy compression is exerted against the powder when seating the bullet. The amount of compression used is dependent on the obtained standard deviation and accuracy of the round, but then that's another article. 
For the most part, I keep track of BP and the subs by weight, the same as smokeless and keep a list of powder charges by name, granulation and weight. 
Example: 44 WCF
Powder granulation charge bullet
Goex FFg 34 grains 200 rnfp
APP FFFg 24 grains 200 rnfp
Clearshot FFFg 30 grains 200 rnfp
Its fairly easy to see that these charge weights are not in volume.
I do it this way because it is much easier for me to keep track of a given charge for a given load, just as it is with smokeless powder. In my opinion, volume measurement for Black Powder is a field measurement for front stuffers only and is inferior to tracking a measurement by weight. Getting an exact weight measurement may not be so critical for cowboy shooting but once you have worked up a load, it allows for a greater consistency than just filling the case X full and mashing a bullet on it. 
So, to follow my own rules, I first set the powder drop by the desired weight of the powder being used and then measure the selected charge in the case to make sure it is getting the correct compression and everything is set up correctly. When using a scoop it will be identified by the name, granulation and scale weight of powder that it will hold when it is used to scoop from a container and leveled off. With this information I'm then ready for the loading session. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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